Rotary mixers cause quite the trouser trauma in some circles. They’re boutique, niche, and usually have a price tag to match the hand-made nature. The knowledge and craftsmanship that goes into them is stunning, leaving some of us wishing that similar levels of care were lavished on regular mixers. Well it seems that Mastersounds has decided to step outside of their previously rotary exclusivity to tap into the profoundly deep knowledge of former Xone mastermind Andy Rigby Jones to make the Mastersounds Radius 4V and Linear 4V, new four channel analogue mixers that tip their caps to club mixers while retaining the rotary ethos.
There’s a few things happening here so I’ll break it up neatly, just as the Mastersounds PR does:
4VRadius and Linear flagship mixers
Building on the success of the award-winning Radius DJ mixers, the new MasterSounds flagship 4V range comprise premium 4 channel DJ mixers aimed at clubs and DJs requiring a conventional DJ toolkit with “no compromise” audio fidelity. Available in both rotary and linear fader options, the Radius 4V and Linear 4V encompass the pinnacle of audio excellence, equipped with the highest quality components.
There are 4 fully-featured channel strips with Aux send (switchable pre or post fader), input level trim, illuminated input select switch, a super smooth 3 band asymmetric equaliser, large illuminated Cue switch, high quality faders (TKD for the Linear 4V and Alps for the Radius 4V) and 10-point LED VU meter.
To the right of the channel strip features a 3-band Master EQ/Isolator, Master and Booth level controls, headphone monitor with split and Cue/add mix control.
Below the master section is a high-quality Penny & Giles crossfader, with contour control to adjust the curve from smooth mix to fast cut.
Two 36mm illuminated analogue VU meters provide accurate signal level monitoring of the mix buss, these automatically switch to monitoring the Cue level when a channel Cue is activated. If the signal level is excessive, the VU meter illumination will change from warm white to bright red.
At the heart of the 4V are four matched dual triode valves (tubes) which form part of the input buffer stage to the VCAs. The valve’s high input impedance minimises loading on the preceding stages but provides low output impedance to drive the VCAs, whilst the valve’s natural compression smooth and warm harsh transients. Careful circuit design around the valve minimises noise and distortion.
A new split composite/passive RIAA stage featuring Vishay 2% Polypropylene capacitors, close tolerance thin film resistors and JFET pre-amplifiers provide outstanding fidelity from the turntable inputs. All circuit coupling is through bypassed Panasonic electrolytics to preserve this fidelity throughout the entire signal chain.
The icing on the cake is a pair of Burson V6 Classic fully discrete operational amplifiers, providing world class summing for the fully balanced main mix buss.
- Two models, one rotary, one with faders.
- 3 band EQ per channel plus master EQ/isolator.
- Includes a Penny & crossfader with curve control.
- Pre or post fader sends per channel.
So you can see why I say that certainly the linear 4V tips its cap to the booth. This combines the best elements of the wider world of boutique rotary and club mixers in one box, but also pushes beyond what is currently done. The per channel sends is an excellent feature, and the crossfader in particular fills a need often voiced, although not quite to the same degree as the stpVx Phoenix, which is a beast to cut on.
So this is about quality and flexibility, bringing a lot to the table and ticking more boxes that the existing Radius range. Time will tell if a 2V model is coming.
Next up is an effects unit:
Complementing the 4V, the new MasterSounds FX unit is designed to perfectly integrate with the entire MasterSounds DJ mixer catalogue, maximising the use of both the Aux send system and mix insert feature in a way no other FX unit can.
FX offers three products in one box – an analogue emulating FX section with analogue output, an analogue filter unit, and an analogue distortion system.
Analogue emulation provides 8 high quality FX, 3 delays, 3 reverbs, a subtle noise effect, and a pitching delay.
The FX are designed to blend into the mix rather than dominate the music, though there is considerable scope for adjustment of various effect parameters (delay regen, filter frequency etc) using the additional controls provided. The interface is pure MasterSounds, with effect selection on a rotary control (though there is a 3-bit binary LED counter), giving the unit a classic feel.
Below the FX section is an analogue filter, offering 3 filter types (high-pass, low-pass and band-pass) along with controls to adjust the cut-off frequency and resonance.
As the Filter section uses the insert function found on MasterSounds mixers, the entire mix is routed through it, expanding the feature set of each mixer. When the Filters are switched off the output from the FX processor is still fed through the low-pass section, providing additional scope for effect manipulation. The high-pass and low-pass filters are each activated by pressing the large illuminated switches and selecting both switches the filter to band-pass. Zero crossing detection circuits help to minimise filter clicks during activation.
Finally, the stereo distortion circuit is a sophisticated DC controlled, analogue asymmetric signal clipper, operated by a single rotary control. Additional circuitry monitors the level of the pre and post clipped signal, automatically applying make-up gain when needed, indicated by the side-chain LED. The distortion control adjusts the level from off (fully CCW) to subtle warmth (mid way) to hard clip (fully CW), but because the clipping is asymmetric it retains some warmth and character.
Both Aux In and Insert connections are on ¼” TRS jacks, with the Aux In being fully balanced. Two pairs of high quality balanced Neutrik leads are supplied with the unit, as well as a universal power supply, enabling plug and play use anywhere in the world.
Just to be clear here, “analogue emulating” means digital. And that’s absolutely fine, because in this day and age, digital effects (and audio for that matter) sounds outstanding, especially in the hands of Andy Rigby Jones.
When Mastersounds first started teasing this via the usual social media channels, they were especially vague about the routing, but there was a definite vibe of the FX only be suitable for Mastersounds mixer, a concept that we here at DJWORX thought was frankly silly and limiting.
I also had a secondary thought about how Mastersounds is a boutique brand, something that allows them to do things a little differently and more specific given the high quality short runs. This Mastersounds only approach means that a small number of people will buy them, a fact that will allow Andy Rigby Jones to deliver the necessary quantities at the required quality to fulfil the smaller demand.
Effects routing in concept is simple, but the hardware execution can be ridiculously complex, and near impossible to achieve exactly what is needed. The new V4 mixer is great in that you have control over how much of each channel goes to the FX, but my brain is getting frazzled at how the effects and filters are routed… or not… and where they get sent and inserted. Once we get our hands on this FX unit, we’ll be able to make way more sense of it all, draw block diagrams, and understand what makes the unit and the complementary mixers special.
Radius 2 and Radius 4 version 2
The existing Radius 2 and Radius 4 models get updated to v2:
In line with the new 4V range, MasterSounds existing Radius 2 and Radius 4 rotary mixers have undergone circuit redesigns to take audio fidelity to a new level. The JFET preamplifiers are used in the RIAA stages and in other key audio stages, all signal electrolytics are now Panasonic, plus a host of additional component type and value changes have been implemented. Moreover, the most significant change is the inclusion of the fully discrete Burson V6 Classic operational amplifiers with fully balanced mix buss on all models.
Other subtler changes are the fine textured black paint finish, adoption of Torx screws, and the fitment of vibration mounts in place of the hard rubber feet.
For the truly nerdy DJ purists out there, Mastersounds have made a power supply:
In response to customer demand, MasterSounds can now offer a linear power supply accessory for its range of DJ mixers, or as an external supply for the Technics SL-1210 turntable.
The power supply features a hybrid discrete regulator design, controlled by a very accurate IC voltage reference and feedback loop. Output voltage can be pre-set to 15V, 18V or 21V, with other custom voltages available by request. Output current is rated at 1amp continuous, but the supply can deliver more than double this for short periods. With a compact toroidal transformer, 1% tolerance metal film resistors and high-quality capacitors used throughout, long life and continued high performance are ensured.
The power supply is protected against over temperature and short circuit events, but crucially it also includes over voltage protection to prevent damage to any connected devices.
The unit is housed in a smart in-house designed steel chassis, with illuminated power switch and a light-piped bi-colour LED to indicate status (green = good, red = fault).
I’d love to be able to comment on this, but I’d be bullshitting, and someone smarter than me would tear me a second one for daring to try to sound clever. I’m sure some of you are soiling yourselves at the very thought of this power supply, but I’m quite certain that I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. Voltage protection is good though. Just ask my iMac. Well you can ask it now as I fixed the broken power supply after one too many surges.
The LinearPOWER PSU will be available for £299.
Mastersounds aka Ryan and Andy have been very busy indeed. They’ve built upon their original Radius rotary offerings, and opened up their range to a wider audience, but retained the things that make their brand special. It echoes exactly what I’ve been saying for over a decade now — make it high quality, and make it focussed. Forget the frippery, and service the core needs with outstanding quality and you’ve got a successful brand. And Mastersounds exemplifies this perfectly.
We’re looking forward to getting deep into these, if only to work out just what is happening with that routing.