DJ Tech's DIF-1S Is A Dope Mixer, Perfect For A Cheap Budget

  1. Fade

    Fade

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    Having a DJ mixer is essential if you're a Hip Hop producer that samples. It's interesting though, because DJ'ing and producing go hand in hand for a lot of us, simply for that fact that it all relates to Hip Hop. Once you factor in the art of digging for vinyl - well, you start to get the picture.

    It can be difficult to find a solid DJ mixer nowadays because gone are the days when every pro audio shop had a wide variety to choose from. Scratch DJs started in the underground and then slowly rose to stardom throughout the 90's, then quickly ended up back in the underground. Because of that, turntables and mixers are now taking a backseat to controller-based setups, which are what most DJs are using because they involve computers. No more vinyl!

    But that is slowly changing. There have been many statistics coming out to show vinyl is making a comeback, so it's only fitting that turntables and mixers are too.

    Enter the DJ Tech DIF-1S mixer.

    A Mixer For A Cheap Budget And Simple Setup

    I've never been one to seek out tons of advanced features on a DJ mixer, instead, I like to keep things simple, and that's what's great about the DIF-1S. It's a 2-channel mixer that has 3-band EQ, a mini-Innofader, microphone input, booth output, and a Timecode Mode for DVS users.

    The build is solid, and the DJ Tech company thought of everything when building this mixer. The knobs are wider than normal and very smooth when turning, plus the layout is simply dope. One of the things that I always look for in a DJ mixer is a clutter-free layout, which is perfect for battle/scratch DJs. There are some awesome mixers like the classic Vestax PMC-05 Pro that are close, but still have a few things in the way. With the DIF-1S, the layout is the first thing that attracted me to it.

    Mini Innofader vs. Innofader

    When I first heard about the Mini Innofader, I was confused. I bought the original Innofader for my Vestax PMC-06 and had to use all the tools that came with it in order to install it to the mixer. As it turns out, this is standard practice for the Innofader design, but it also became a problem for manufacturers because of the size of the Innofader.

    This is how the Mini Innofader was invented.

    The Mini Innofader is pretty much the same as the original, but it has a smaller body along with the least expensive circuitry. This allowed the manufacturers to add the Mini directly to their line of new mixers and save costs at the same time.

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    So with the DIF-1S, the Mini Innofader is already inside of it, and I can tell you that it works beautifully. The main difference between the two Innofaders is that the Mini actually feels tighter than the original. I don't know if that has to do with the faders, or the actual mixer's design, but regardless, it works great. The Mini Innofader is contact-less, and boasts a life of over 4,000,000 cycles.

    What all this means is that you can do some serious (and heavy) scratching with this mixer and not have to worry about your crossfader bleeding (audio, that is). That was one of the biggest problems with faders from years ago - DJs would go through dozens of faders because back then, the faders were full contact, so the more you scratched, the more the prongs inside the fader would rub against the surface. That meant that the faders would start to "bleed" the audio, plus it would also give off lots of "click" sounds - and hiss. Not good.

    But none of that is an issue with the Innofader, and in fact, the DIF-1S is also capable of handling the original Innofader, so if for some reason you want to pop one of those in instead, you can.

    Comparing the quality of the DIF-1S to the Rane TTM-57SL, there doesn't seem to be much of a difference. The fader is really good and can hang with one of the best in the Rane. See and hear for yourself:



    The Timecode Mode Helps DVS Users - A Lot

    DVS, also known as "Digital Vinyl System", is what all DJs are using today. With programs like Serato and Traktor, you can have your entire music collection on your computer, and still play them by using vinyl records on your turntable. The way it normally works is that when you buy the software for either Serato or Traktor, it comes with an external sound card where you connect all the necessary cables from there to your computer and DJ mixer.

    The cables are provided for you, and you have to run them from specific outputs on the sound card, into your mixer. It's a great idea and works fine, but it can also be a pain. For example, I have Traktor, and the cables that came with the system are very short. This isn't good because the way I have my setup, it's impossible for me to use those cables - my sound card and DIF-1S mixer are too far apart.

    Enter the Timecode Mode.

    At first I was surprised that such a low budget mixer would have something that more high-end mixers would. But once I followed the instructions and hooked everything up, I was very pleased. So instead of trying to use the cables that came with Traktor, I can simply run some RCA cables from the DIF-1S to my sound card - no matter how far apart they are!

    It's simple: on the rear of the DIF-1S are RCA connectors that are clearly marked in a white background and labeled under "DVS". There are two sets of connectors for each turntable - Send and Return. Connect the "Send" outputs to the input of your sound card, then the outputs of your sound card to the "Return" of the mixer. Easy.

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    Once that's set up, all you have to do is flip the switch at the top of the mixer to "Timecode", which is in the middle position. The other two positions are Phono/Line (left), and CD (right).

    I can't stress enough how much easier it is to use a DVS setup because of these connectors, since I'm not forced to use the cables that came with Traktor. It's not that those cables are no good, it's just they were too short and I felt like Native Instruments was forcing me to keep my sound card positioned right behind my mixer.

    Hamster Style And Tight Cuts Are A Scratch DJ's Dream

    Another great feature of the DIF-1S is that you can reverse the crossfader and adjust the cut-in curve. This is great if you want to do a lot of scratching, and the reverse mode (Hamster style) is an added bonus. I'm not a fan of the Hamster style, but I know lots of scratchers prefer it, so it's good that they have that option.

    The curve adjustment is good too, and it's not just because the option is there, but it's also because the curves are actually really good. Believe it or not, there are some faders that don't have the proper curve adjustments, so DJs that want a really tight curve just won't get it. But that's not an issue with the DIF-1S. I like my cut-in curve to be very tight and quick, and that's exactly what I get. I find the cut-in is much tighter than my previous mixer, the Vestax PMC-06.

    There Is A Downside, However

    One of downsides is that there is no Master Cue option. What this means is that if you want to scratch with your headphones on, you can't. I prefer to use my headphones when I'm scratching so that I can hear everything and not bother my neighbors, but it's actually a minor setback. There are two things you can do to fix this issue:
    1. Use a "Y" cable, and plug that into the Booth Output, then connect your headphones to the other end of the cable.
    2. Connect your headphones to a separate mixer or amplifier that your mixer's output is plugged into.
    I have the DIF-1S's output plugged into a channel on my multitrack mixer, so I just connect my headphones to the multitrack. You can, however, buy a "Y" cable that has RCA male at one end (to plug into the Booth output), and 1/8" female at the other end (to plug your headphones into). Very easy solution.

    Apparently, DJ Tech has fixed this issue with their newer version, the DIF-1M.

    The Bottom Line

    Overall, I love this mixer. Over the years I have gone through a few mixers, some were dope, others not so good. From the Gemini PDX-25 "Techno Master", which had a crossfader that needed a hammer and chisel to move, to the Technics SH-DJ1200 that had me buying a new fader every few weeks - the DIF-1S is my favorite by far.

    It doesn't have all the advanced features you will find in a mixer like the Rane Sixty-Two, or the Traktor Kontrol Z2, but it does what I want it to do, which is to keep things simple.

    If you're looking for a mixer that is solidly built, has all the right features that you need, and will definitely fit your budget - the DJ Tech DIF-1S is for you.

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    Last edited: Jan 17, 2016