PLAYdifferently Model 1: Hands-On With Richie Hawtin

Dedicated fans have carefully been watching for every chance to see the new Richie Hawtin / Andy Rigby-Jones mixer collaboration, but finally the 100% analog PLAYdifferently Model 1 mixer has been publicly announced. Watch DJ Techtools’ world-exclusive explanation and demo video with Richie himself after the jump, as well as a Boiler Room live stream today.

Richie Hawtin Demos PLAYdifferently Model 1

Key Features

Welcome to a mixer design that’s significantly different from almost every DJ mixer out there. From a quick glance, most DJs would notice a few obvious unique things: no crossfader, instead there’s six faders with studio-style caps, and there’s a few more knobs on each channel than just a simple gain/EQ.

PLAYdifferently Model 1 Top
(click to zoom)

This is a fully analog mixer, built in the UK, and it has an impressive feature set. Here’s an overview of the most notable:

  • 6 stereo channels
  • Contour filters: Individual low Q LPF and HPF for each channel, “designed not to add colour to the sound as they are swept across their frequency range. Due to the low Q , these filters only cut, they do not boost”
  • Master Filter: this is a filter that’s separate from any individual channels – you can assign any of them to it – similar to other Xone mixers
  • 2 stereo sends + returns: each with an assignable filter and low cut, they also can be assigned to the mixer filter.
  • Two Cues: Specifically designed for two DJs to use this mixer concurrently, there are two separate cue systems for previewing audio

EQ-section-play-differnetl

  • Sculpt EQ: “a semi-parametric swept bell filter, and consist of two controls, FREQ which sets the centre frequency and CUT/BOOST which adjust the gain or attenuation at this frequency. The level of cut/boost is asymmetric; maximum boost is limited to +8dB, while the cut is extended to -20dB. Sculpt has a wide Q and a frequency range that covers almost seven octaves.”
  • Master EQ: an overall EQ that effects the master output
  • Booth Out EQ: a two-band EQ that allows adjusting of the booth output
  • Drive Control: Every input on the mixer has a Drive knob, which allows you to adjust “the level at which the channel pre-amplifier clips the input signal, thus creating harmonic distortion as an effect”.

Model 1 Inputs and Outputs

PLAYdifferently Model 1 rear
(click to zoom)

Similar to the feature set, there are some major industry firsts on the PLAYdifferently Model 1, including:

  • 3.5mm Record Out port on the top right of the mixer above the VU meters
  • XLR and 1/4″ Master Out
  • 1/4″ Booth Out
  • 2 pairs 1/4″ Aux outputs
  • 2 pairs 1/4″ Return
  • DSUB IN/Out: Two serial ports, conforming to TASCAM DB25 connector standard, allows multiple channels to be sent to and from high-end soundcards
  • 6 RCA Inputs: three of which can be switched to phono
  • Mixer Linking ports: You can also link together multiple Model 1 mixers for use with multiple performers or in order to expand the number of channels. When linked, mixers share one set of outputs and the Cue systems work across all mixers.

The technical details on this mixer are incredibly detailed, and with a design and prototyping process of over two years, it’s no wonder. The full user guide with complete technical specs will be available on the official PLAYdifferently website here.

The Model 1 Design + Production

PLAYdifferently MODEL 1 - angle side corner view
(click to zoom)

The mixer has retained a lot of the design language and interface styles that are present on Allen & Heath mixers because it’s co-designed by the Xone series mastermind, Andy Rigby-Jones, and ultimately the mixer will be manufactured by Allen & Heath, only with PLAYdifferently branding.

Price: £2500/$3650, £50/$73 flat rate shipping worldwide + taxes.

Release Date: At time of press, it’s still unclear when the mixer will be available to the public but we’ll update this article when those details become available.

Boiler Room Livestream

As if our video and the specs detailed above weren’t enough of an opportunity to nerd out on the new PLAYdifferently Model 1 mixer, there’s a Boiler Room with Richie scheduled for today (Tuesday, May 3rd) at 20:00 CEST (that’s 11:00AM PST, 3:00PM EST).

Dubfire b2b Richie Hawtin Boiler Room Berlin DJ… by brtvofficial

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  • MoMo

    FYI, the mixers are now shipping. But…..I decided to hold off on this purchase because I have a Rane MP-2015 and to make my current set-up standalone (no laptop), I’d have to spend >£10000 Vs to accomplish what I already have.

    The lack of a sound card is the current deciding factor but the price gets up there because:
    – £2550 for the Model 1
    – £2000 for a pristine soundcard
    – £3500 for two CDJ-2000NXS2s and
    – £2500 for two Toraiz SP-16

    I’d hate needing and carrying all that just to have what I have already with the MP-2015.

    Rane got sold so who knows but having a Rane MP-2015 makes me a little spoiled on being able to just hook-up my laptop for the work I do with Ableton Live, Akai MPC Touch and the DVS option alongside my mostly 90% vinyl set-up.

    I know that there are better options like buying CDJs and Toraiz SP-16 to accomplish both alongside the mixer but it wouldn’t make me happy using the Model 1’S line faders. I’d really be “playing different” than myself and kinda just like everyone else with all those things that didn’t come naturally.

    Most can understand that I’m comfortable I’d gladly take the £10,550 option but I don’t see it as reasonable

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  • Appart from the price which for most DJs is expensive (but not for a touring pro), this mixer is (at least) giving “new” tools and “new” ways of transitioning between tracks and that Sculpt EQ is what would be missing from my actual Rane MP2015. Missing the crossfader but then you can mix without one also…

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  • Santiago Gonzalez

    anyone knows the track at 30 s econds?

  • djdemand

    Ok, I understand this is not for me but it seems some things don’t really need to be changed just to be “different”. I can understand how this would be incredible for a talented “Artist”/producer like Richie Hawtin and others but the typical DJ not only wants something different, we want simple things like a crossfader. Don’t see a use for this outside of the EDM market, but I definitely see the quality in this product.

  • drno

    lol. it’s hilarious what DJ’ing has become.

  • LILJAY199

    still would like too see more vids about the eqs..

  • Frasier Linde

    This is just what I wanted in a DJ mixer! Of course my design has a few more tweaks…

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  • Dubby Labby

    I find it a bit expensive in front of custom mixer made from API500 and mixer part of modular synths combination but anyways it points me towards a “dubwise” focus with actual tools. I think “PlayDifferently” is more like “ReturnToDubwise” from the POV of actual Djing/LiveAct. Analog and sound quality at core makes it even more “roots” in concept plus Digital media feed (Traktor) makes it far away from purism…
    Seems also the personal approach from Richie Hawtin for the same idea behind djm2000, Moldover Smartmixing, Traktor Stems and all the “Make your own Remix from playing with the music”. Not suited for everyone and more near to the Killmydj of the other day that most people could accept xD

    For the poor (like me) garageband on iOS with Live Loops and the right sound card could bring us some of “the Flava” 😛

  • dibb

    So what about a “Ultimate DJTT DJ Mixer Contest”? PLAYdifferently Model 1 vs. Funktion One FF6.2 vs. Rane MP2015 vs. E&S DJR 400 vs. Isonoe FP vs. ARS 9000 vs. stpVx Phoenix vs. A&H Xone:DB4 vs. Pioneer DJM900NXS2 vs. …? Let some audiophiles blind-test and rate these mixers sound quality in a controlled setting (Tony Andrews comes to mind). Now that would be fun! 🙂

    • Nik Howard

      Love the idea

      Think I know which Tony would go for

      • dibb

        Would he be able to pick his own mixer in a blind test? 🙂 I think that would be very hard in a lineup with such insanely good sounding mixers.

    • B

      You should check laurin joell schaffhausen on facebook, he done it already

      • dibb

        Thanks for tip. Actually I did check him out just after the MP2015 was released. With all these new mixers being released it would be nice to see a new test.

        • B

          That would be nice, would love to hear how this sounds in comparison to the rest.

    • None of the analog mixers would stand up to the top digital mixers, though, and there a few other 24/96 top-of-line digital mixers that would need to be added to the short list. Tony is now using DSPs for delays and crossovers, so comparing the analog mixers would be completely pointless.

  • Jason Healey

    I think Richie just wanted his own custom mixer. good for him for having the money to manufacture it. I hope he does some sort of give away contest. In the meantime i’ll keep my Xone 62

  • Tim Overdijk

    and the better quality!!??? i don’t think it will sound better than a rme on a 92……

    • B

      I think it does, the rane mp’s and even the djm900 nxs2 sound way better (if reviews are to be believed) then the X92

      • Tim Overdijk

        it’s often what goes in that makes the differens……

        • b

          Youre right, but i think an rme into this, will sound way better then the X92.

          • Tim Overdijk

            i’m not so sure… but i want to test that stuff in the near future

      • orge

        Recently sold a Xone 92 after picking up an mp2015. I can vouch for the fact that the mp2015 sounds v noticeably cleaner than the 92, as I had the chance to A/B them. I also used an RME sound card into them to eliminate bias due to the source.

        J

  • Martin Wilson

    What is a semi-parametric filter? I thought they were either parametric or… not.

    • Emile V

      It’s an established name for a parametric eq usually without bandwidth/q control

  • orge

    I’m wondering if Ean is going to be using this mixer going forward? He must have had access to it for much of its development, so it would be interesting to know if it fits with his style of playing?

    J

  • TheOneTakeTrackPhenomenon

    Cocaine is a hellovadrug

  • Luka Perin?i?

    I just cant seem to find anything revolutionary in this vid.

    The price is around 2600 pounds -_- so it HAS to sound good and warm and all that (like Rane MP2015, only 2.5 cheapper).

    I dont want to diss mr. Hawtin…Good for them, all great, but …

    This is like a Pioneer DJM 1000 and Xone DB 4 and Xone 92 had a baby …

    In fact this is the upgraded Xone 92 with individual filters + master filter or it can be said “a better Xone DB 4” with 6 channels.

    Still nothing revolutionary, just something nice that somebody did it.

  • Fatlimey

    Nobody mentioned the Tascam DB25 interfaces? 8 channels of balanced analog audio both input and output. It’s a good solution for dense connections in a small space, looked scarily like an old SCSI port for a moment there. http://www.cablefactory.com/wiring/DB25%20tascam%20Male.pdf

    • Andy Green

      interested to see how that DB25 works. this could also as a basic summing box with to send returns , further justifying its cost.

  • guest guy

    keep in mind that the audio accompanying the video has been compressed to 192 kps and for it to have that warmth on those filter sweeps, man, is insane — never felt that with Pioneer gear — too silver-y of a tone

  • c

    I hope later model includes built-in audio interface in the mixer…

    • Mat

      The DJs who could afford this probably would be using one or two external RME audio interfaces anyway, and a built in one would not be up to that capability or quality.

  • killmedj

    I’m sure there’s an excellent reason for not having USB connectivity, But for me that would make a huge difference.

    • Tristan ‘Twiz’ Mackie

      It’s an all analog mixer. The db25 does look like an awesome feature though for people who would like to run audio through an interface.

    • orge

      Most pros will be using this mixer with a standalone studio soundcard (e.g. By Motu or RME). There are a number of reasons for this reliability/fault tolerance, availability of drivers, versatility.

      In a professional context, these considerations will be more important than the convenience/cost saving of using an internal sound card.

      J

      • killmedj

        True, but seeing as this is a Hybrid DJ/Performance mixer, and that hopefully it would be a permanent installation in clubs, I would have loved to have seen some direct connection abilities. That being said I commend them for committing to the concept of maintaining “High Standards” so I can see where USB connectivity could hinder this.

  • Tim Overdijk

    it has no normal eq, but maby that’s a good thing for all the pre mixed
    set boys out there.. turn one dail and track goes down, turn another
    dail and your other track cums up, ‘look mammie i’m a dj!!!!!! and the price???? i’m bit dissapointed , xone 92 forever i guess……

  • LILJAY199

    someone please explain in detail how the eqs work

    • Jacob Stadtfeld

      Uses lo and hi pass flters instead of traditional EQ. So to take the bass out, you’ll turn the bass filter knob up.

    • Tim Overdijk

      it don’t…. it’s not there no multi band anyways…. so derp….

  • LILJAY199

    so how do the eqs work? im confused

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  • OmnilimbO

    Overall a pretty solid looking mixer, though I really have some big reservations regarding that EQ. It seems like the EQ control set is very… what’s the word here… limited, particular!?! Pretty sure I would still want to have access to a more traditional 3-4 band EQ per channel at times, rather than only this new Sculpt setup.

    This Boiler Room stream will hopefully shed some light on this.

    • B

      As a fellow db4 owner (know your name from the forum) i think that when you master this eq, you can do way more then simple cut and boost, i think this demands subtler knob movements, but in the movie it sounds fantastic, those hats really pop & groove.
      My concern is, i really want one, but i wonder if the quality is a step up from the db4.(cause this is also made by A&H) I was an early db adopter, and it was a real pain in the ass for 5 years. (Now its as new thanks to numerous repairs) but i dont want to go thru the same proces with this, wich is even more expensive now then the db4 was back then.

      • OmnilimbO

        Hahaha, yup, you got me pegged right. And yes, the DB4 has been a thorn in our side since the beginning. I had to go through 4 or 5 units, and multiple repairs and support tickets before it worked right, and even then the A&H support for the mixer is horrible. All in all my long lived love and support of A&H died with all the disappointment that came with the DB4, which is so sad seeing the potential that mixer had, and still has. All that to say that yes, I really hope that this PlayDifferently line is a far cry from the sadness A&H/Xone has been giving us for years now. Seeing that the MODEL1 is 100% analog and UK built brings back a good amount of my faith for this mixer, but only time will tell. I wish them the best of luck and a bright future. They may be the ones to finally pull me from the Xone brand.

        • B

          I agree, this is also my 6th unit, wich now is working as it should have done from day 1.
          Yeah, i feel you, db4 support is not good, however customer support has been second to none in my case.
          Anyway, this model 1 certainly looks better quality, but its stil A&H build, could have been a Xone product in my eyes. To bad those first batches cant be tested in shops…i hope they will eventually be sold thru regular channels, so i can spend time with it.
          (Something i did not do with the db4, since my blind trust after owning a X92)

          • Volt

            Awesome concept !!!! I’d realy like to try one before I buy one !
            Anywayz, I’ve owned a DB4 for over 1,5 yrs now, used it for 4 to 6 hrs. every week since, barely ever play with the isolators or eq’s anymore, got used rather quickly to the sound shaping filters on top. The only hiccup is a fickle filter on/off knob…

          • uncletones

            Ah! The DB4 owners section. Mine is just back from the repair shop. On its day it is hard to beat, but heart breaking piece of kit. I see this new mixer as the XONE 93. I think it will fit RH’s style perfectly. IMHO the boiler room didn’t do it any favours. I only watched bits and pieces, but you couldn’t hear the mixer for the FX. This video was much better. I would say the sound is excellent, but too analog for today and still too much cash for me though. Rane MP2015 is more interesting and affordable.

          • orge

            Heh! MP2015 “affordable”…! 😉

            J

          • uncletones

            Yes! A large dose of relativity required!

        • mikefunk

          A&H clearly cannot handle audio interfaces in their mixers. Mine XoneDB2 was and still is pain in the ass made in China, crashing drivers piece of mistake. Most horrible part was completely ignorance of their staff. Lack of support and simply hiding head in the sand. I will never trust this brand again. They are simply not trustworthy.

  • Scott Carritt

    $3650 and no usb sound card????

  • Quenepas

    This reminds me of the Aira MX-1 but with the quality turned to 11. A control hub to connect a bunch of mainly analog gear to output their unadulterated sound plus a few filters per channel. For the price I would get an MX1 with a few analog stuff like a Minitaur, minibrute, Minilogue… a bunch of mini stuff overall haha

  • Rolfski

    Great idea, I love it. Just not for your average DJ. Still I like the idea of shaking up the established DJ mixer market.

    • Tim Overdijk

      what with this price……. looks more like following pioneer in there price skeem….. this thing will not get me off my 92…… nothing new and inproved did so far…..

      • blackavenger

        It’s “scheme” 😉

        • Tim Overdijk

          thanks!!

    • aldo hernandez

      It can be the greatest mixer ever but that price tag comes with a very steep barrier to entry. It’s strictly an audio mixer, there is no usb, and alternate bus outputs. This looks like it might be the ultimate club in house mixer.

  • genieVSwahnsinn

    Is this serious? Over 3000 € for a blender? Which normal earning DJ should be able to afford it?

    • Tim Overdijk

      exaly my point….

    • Martin Wilson

      Pretty sure that normal earning DJs are not part of their target market.

  • Lu Ynoji

    usb audio card would( like the db4,2, recent pioneer etc) be great
    could use some usb hub ports, also great
    those knobs look flimsy tho?

  • deejae snafu

    i find it ironic that DJs have the highest price equipment on stage, and get paid the least of most musicians.

    • Don Stone

      apparently you’ve never seen the price of a nice guitar.

      • Or piano.

        • deejae snafu

          i dont often see someone playing an actual piano on stage… im talking about your typical musicians playing at a local venue, not elton john one night only with eddie vedder. when i get hired to DJ i often get paid 100-300 dollars, to drag 6 thousand dollars worth of gear on stage, while maybe having one or two drinks on the house. the next night i show up to see a 6 piece “funk” band playing shitty fender guitars and a drum set with some remo heads, a trumpet from the salvation army, getting trashed on house booze to the point where they can hardly play, and the bar owner complainaing that they cost him 900 bucks. this is the norm. not people bringing some 80k guitar out to play , or dragging out a baby grand. get real guys.

          • This mixer isn’t for ‘typical musicians at a local venue’. Look at the features. If you can’t afford this mixer, then you’re not the customer. It’s really that simple.

          • deejae snafu

            did i ever say anything about the price of the mixer?

          • Ben W

            900/6= 150 per person

            Not really getting paid that much more and they have much harder and more consistent work. I also learned to DJ in less than a year and have spent years learning instruments and still don’t feel confident enough with them to play in public. It’s really not a direct comparison, it’s two completely different flavors.

          • deejae snafu

            i hear you, and im not trying to make any argument vs skill or anything like that, but be honest, an average solo musician has less invested themselves on stage at one time than a DJ.

      • deejae snafu

        sure there are always collector quality gear in any area, but your average guy in a band on stage is playing a guitar that costs as much as a decent mixer.

    • Don Stone

      Local bands have just as much gear as any local DJ. I used to work at Guitar Center and there were always kids in there that couldn’t afford $5K guitars buying them like they were nothing. DJs aren’t the only people with Gear acquisition syndrome.

    • killmedj

      My drums and cymbals would cost me well over $12,000.00 to replace plus I use a Macbook pro on stage plus ableton and various plugins (all paid for).
      Being a dedicated musician/DJ/producer is an expensive business =/

  • ioannis

    yes thats right pioneer what you can do now?always behind and expensive craps

    • Don Stone

      Pioneer will do exactly what they’ve always done, dominate the entire industry and have their mixers at 95% of festivals and major shows. This is a cool mixer and all but cake throwing, stage jumping DJs don’t care.

      • ioannis

        I agree with you the stupidity always dominates and the Pioneer well do that every year updating the same expensive models to take your money .

        pioneer turntable ? come on, what a joke
        pioneer mixers ?come on, xone for more than ten years the same product at the top of quality and sound inside and out
        speakers ? come on, … .
        ?nd when i see the dj mixing with cdj rolling the jog whell without moving pich…. come on ….
        industry ….come on ……basically i bored writing and explain my point.

  • Rob van Erp

    @ Dan white:

    from the website:
    Model 1 is only available direct from our website. Reserve yours today and be first to get your hands on an individually numbered edition of PLAYdifferently’s new mixer. Fill out the form below with your details, you’ll receive a confirmation email, and within the coming weeks we’ll send you a payment link to finalize your purchase. Orders will ship after June 30th.

    PRICE:
    £2500 plus £50 flat rate shipping word wide
    **Prices not including taxes.

    • Quenepas

      Seems these will be Built-to-order and will be extremely rare (no wonder at that price) this can be the highest quality mixer ever built…

    • Jake

      $50 flat rate shipping is cool. Thats a huge price tag though! Far out, $5300 NZD… Wont be investing in that in a great hurry. The latest latest Pioneer mixer is $4000 though… If your going to spend that much money, another $1000 is kind of worth the build and sound quality of an Allen & Heath. Not to mention the new Rotary mixers from Rane at a cool $4300….

  • And here we are yet again with another $4000 mixer. Looks nice but come the fuck on…

    • Jake

      Come the fuck on is right! I guess we all need to start charging more to match the inflation rate of DJ gear! Madness.

  • killmedj

    Yes please! Sounds so nice!

  • JayMan

    Look at the quality on that bad boy, I bet it’s sounds really warm and crisp. Prob the best mixer I’ve ever seen in a while, love the parametric eq and the master bus eq. Doubt it will ever see a nightclub unless especially requested though, plus Djs would be red lining due to getting lazy with PIO head room.

  • Jake

    No offence but “way more knobs on each channel than just a simple gain/EQ”? Looks like theres exactly the same number of knobs per channel as a Xone 92? Trim and 4 frequency shaping tools.

    • Jake

      That is pretty dam cool though! Drive, dual independent monitoring and fully link-able is pretty epic!

  • djas

    i really want to know more about Sculpt EQ

    • blub

      q and gain and freq probably

      • siclove

        semi parametric so fixed q i think

  • Rob van Erp

    at last there it is…..seriously very nice, but for now not within financial reach…2500 uk pounds…

    • Chris Bartholomew

      that’ll be £2500 BEFORE TAX, so (assuming VAT stays at 20%) that’ll be £3000 to you and me…

      • Rob van Erp

        pffff ill stick to my db4 for now 🙂 as for me its only a hobby, ie i am not making any money of it (yet ) so if i would decide to change it would be the model 1, a decent soundcard (rme) and a second laptop to run ableton or effects box….so easily running up to 4500 euro…:(

      • Mat

        I think they are made in the UK so that might be the VAT included price for there.