Saturday, 24 November 2012
The Magnificent Jazzy Jeff (Mixer)
This was the must-have mixer for every self respecting scratch DJ back in the late 1980s - the GEMINI PMX2200 JAZZY JEFF special edition with the wood panel sides. It wasn't particularly robust considering it was built for scratching with, and we were forever gluing faders back on to these things, but they still hold a dear place in our DJ hearts. Also that crossfader was so stiff it needed lots of WD-40 to loosen it up, and was prone to malfunction. But we didn't care - we just wanted to own a mixer with JAZZY JEFF's name on it. It did not mean we were magically capable of re-creating JEFF's incredible transformer scratch from the UNION SQUARE performance from 1986, but it certainly made us feel capable.
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Ahhh, you almost got it correct, but keep reading for Gemini's dirty little secret
The PMX-2200 was co designed by JAZZY JEFF AS A REPLACEMENT to the mx-2200 'MK2' mixer AKA the DJ Cash money mixer, which was the go to mixer for all scratch mix DJs in the late 80s and early 90s.
The reason the MX-2200 was popular was an initial design flaw in the crossfader which in turn became the start of faders with sharp cut in curves, as the crossfader on the MX-2200 didn't have a smooth fade transition it allowed DJs to cut and have a very presice almost on off, still a far cry from the sharp cut ins of today, it allowed Cash Money the power to transform over 'Play this only at night' in the 1988 World Technics DMC chanpionships which in turn converted almost everyone over to the MX-2200.
The mixer lasted a month if you were lucky and the faders were not really user replacable unless you could tear down a small basic electronic circuit and desolder from the PCB yourself.
Fast forward to the PMX-2200, the limited edition Jazzy Jeff version...
Jeff apparently arrived at Gemini headquarters with a stack of MX2200s to have faders replaced, then got talking with someone there as to designing a mixer with replaceable faders, great idea but the guys at Gemini really dropped the ball, as they arent known for cutting edge engineering and design and were more known to get a product made to fill demand in the market place, rather than innovate they would simply get the ball rolling on something that wasnt well thought out. Seeing this, mixer manufacturer, Melos, who was up on the requirements of brutal scratch DJs already had an PMX-2 on the market, with much more reliable faders and a sound that was worthy of a recording studio in comparison to Gemini's offering and at one important turning point DMC themselves advertised in magazines that they no longer support the use of Gemini MX2200s in the competition due to lack of parts and support from Gemini. DMC then commissioned Melos to be the mixer of choice for scratch DJS and to be the first official mixer for World DJ Championships
The PMX-2200 was then released with the now infamous Jazzy Jeff signiture and people started snapping it up, but something wasnt right, Djs planning on cutting and transforming only to realize the crossfader didnt cut like the last MX-2200 were gutted, add to that a poor preamp design that sounded terrible and noisy due to the Opamps used in the mixer, all to save a couple of cents in production. As a matter of fact alot of smart DJs replaced the Opamps and the faders with the more reliable Railglide faders of the mid to late 90s, but by then Vestax, Rane and technics all had battle mixer offerings on the market and Gemini's were used as doorstoppers.
The Jazzy jeff mixer is and was a dud, and compared to what was about to hit the market from Vestax, Rane, technics it would be soon forgotten and thrown in the trash.
The PMX-2200 Jazzy Jeff mixer maybe sought after for the nostalgic heads, but the real one to get is the non branded Jazzy Jeff mixer, the Gemini MX-2200, and if your even luckier a B.V.L version of the MX-2200 exists and is much rarer... And if your even luckier you might find the ultra rare MX-2200 unbranded which was licensed at the time to the UK and Australia.
P.S the 'Live at union square' routine was not performed on this mixer, according to reliable sources Jeff was using a Numark mixer as he did in the mid to late eighties as per the Parents just dont understand film clip..
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