Once upon a time (the 1970’s) DJ’s were considered almost super human.
Taking the art of keeping party’s flowing through smart music selection one step further were the grandmasters of the turntable; DJ’s who made it their craft to manipulate, sample and cut drum beats, vocals and rhythm breaks from one record into another, whipping energy and vibes up while creating a freestyle sound and method of turntablism that was unheard of outside of their arena.
Many people agree that the birth of DJ culture as we now know it came in 1972; thanks to the arrival of the Technics SL-1200 turntable, but we’ll come back to that in a minute.
You see, it’s easy to overlook an integral part of all DJ setups; the mixer! Throughout the majority of the 70’s, rotary mixers were running club stereo’s and DJ’s were turning knobs to mix and blend. Arguably the most iconic rotary mixer is the Bozak CMA-10-2DL. The CMA set a new ball game by introducing separate bass and treble frequency eq ability along with isolated panning. The mixer was fully controlled by rotary knobs, without a fader in sight!
These days fader mixers are industry standard in clubs and DJ studios; but not many people realise that mixers offering the cross fader and up faders weren’t available until the late 70’s (with the exception of “Rosie”, a specially created DJ mixing unit in the early 70’s). Even though Rotary mixers are far superior with sound quality than faders, the reason we all migrated from rotary to fader was due to the cross fader curve and the ability to up fade (change the volume of separate inputs/decks).
Crossfaders allow for smooth transitions between separate decks, but DJ’s in the early Funk, Hip-Hop and Disco days started new routines of quickly cutting between records whilst scratching and mashing up records, bringing the turntablism that used to be exclusive out into the open for others to imitate and grow the culture further.
Now, let’s talk about the legendary Technics SL-1200.
Technics introduced a new style of turntable and DJ’s across the world found the direct drive (beltless) motor to have way better sound quality and reaction than belt driven turntables, especially when fine tuning a records playback speed. The direct drive motor and upgraded pitch fader made beat matching and bringing in a new song a lot more accurate and refined, but what really set the SL-1200 apart was how rugged enough the direct motor was to handle stopping and dragging back of a record without the need to endlessly replace belts or motors. Scratching finally had its own dedicated equipment!
Technics worked hard over the early 70’s to bring the same craftsmanship from the 1200 into a new, more improved model