It’s always fun to get speculative mail from hungry small companies looking to get their stuff featured on DJWORX. We just don’t have the resource to cover everything that arrives in our inbox, so we have tended to be quite selective about what ends up in the Worxlab being put through the reviews assault course.
One such company is AVLifesavers , a small company dedicated to making those small but largely essential boxes that bail you out of the crap when everything is going horribly wrong. When Lonnie Bedell dropped me a line about reviewing some of his live sound accessories, I was initially less interested in small gadgets than perhaps liberal scoops of nextlevelness. But we’re all for getting the names of smaller outfits ingrained in your brains.
Thus I selected a handful of DJ friendly units, and Lonnie picked the one he’d like to see us pour over, and that unit being the Mini XLR Mixer. It’s a very simple thing — a passive three-way mixer, each channel having a gain control, and hardly taxing from a review point of view. But it is one of the most impressive things to ever come my way.
So I’m not going to review the unit at all. That’s not any kind of critique of the unit, but instead I want to talk about the impact this stunning mini XLR mixer made on me.
Now I’ve seen just about every shape, size, and quality of DJ gear over the last decade and a half. But I’ve never seen anything quite so bullet proof as these AVLifesaver units. And I don’t use bullet proof lightly — I genuinely believe that this would quite literally save my life should a bullet head in my general direction. And it’s quite possible that I could do some serious damage with it in my hands too. I certainly wouldn’t want one thrown at me, especially as I fear I’d fare worse than the AVLifesaver itself.
There is nothing I don’t like about the build of this unit. From the cast metal case, to the silky smooth metal pots (the best I’ve ever turned), to the ridiculously overspecced solid metal ports — this screams quality louder than anything I’ve ever used. And hand-built is always going to capture my full attention.
These AVLifesavers are just that — they have simple but important tasks, and set about doing them in the best way they can, and probably for ever too.
This is why this little passive XLR mixer made such an impact on me. My opinion of DJ technology is this — there is a core need that can be serviced by expensive bullet proof gear, and the rest of the ever-changing frippery can be added on via cheaper transient boxes. Why buy a whole new controller because a software company adds a feature? I want to stop the churn of new gear and create modern-day equivalents of Technics, but for every type of gear. And I want that gear to be built like AVLifesavers.
I would pay a serious amount of cash for a compact two channel mixer built to the specification of this XLR mixer I have in front of me. Give me a solid metal box with the smoothest pots, and ins and outs that I know won’t break. Give me the option to drop any faders (yes all channels) I want into it, and then subsequently smash the living shit out of it until I die. And then bury it with me, or launch it into space with my ashes inside it. Wouldn’t it be nice to pass the tools of our trade onto our kids?
BUT I DIGRESS
Getting back to the point of the story — AVLifesavers does a range of small tasks, but does them in a way that will see them outlive the owner. They’re built like tanks, and have a price tag to match the hand-built quality.
As a testament to their head turning nature, a couple of DJ related friends with a quality engineering bias came to the studio, and individually were drawn to this AVLifesaver, and were as impressed as I am with it, and subject to the same impassioned plea that I’ve posted above. And they agreed. It’s time for a manufacturer to step up and make a full mixer like this.
This XLR mixer is $95, but I’m quite certain much cheaper solutions break or get lost all the time. For this money, it’s guaranteed to last, and you’ll make sure you never lose sight of it either.
A QUESTION FOR YOU ALL
As DJs, what kind of units do you think AVLifesavers could make for us?
REVIEW: AVLifesavers Mini XLR Mixer
THE BOTTOM LINE
AV Lifesavers are the most simple but highest quality over-engineered boxes I've ever come across. They don't do much, but will do it for ever.
Ease of use
Value for money
Absolutely stunning build quality
Does one thing brilliantly
Some will freak at the price, but it's a buy once thing instead of constantly replacing.