Sasha’s Maven mixer and the Korg Zero 8

Last night, i was chatting with my friend MCB over IM. He was in Miami for this year’s WMC. Wish I was there too, but I’ve got too much to do up here in New York City. I asked him how many DJs he saw rocking Ableton or other digital DJ tools, and he replied that it’s pretty much all he saw in the few days he’s been there. He did see a couple of DJs spinning vinyl, but if wasn’t CD’s, then it was all computer driven.

We talked a bit about Ableton and I tried to give him a quick tutorial over IM on how to “warp” tracks and a few other tricks I’ve learned. He mentioned that everyone’s been talking about this “Maven” mixer that Sasha has been using. I looked it up and found two sites, Create Digital Music and MusicThing.co.uk, that posted photos of the custom mixer way back in 2005. It’s rumored that Sasha had it custom built based on available open source midi protocols and hardware.

Maven Mixer

Jesse Brede posted an analysis of the mixer on his website in 2007, after he snapped a photo of it when he opened for Sasha at the Sky Lounge in Austin, TX.

It’s 3-years and many different attempts at controllers to run DJ sets in Ableton. Korg has come out with its version of Sasha’s Maven, the Korg Zero 8.

Korg Zero 8

Korg’s ZERO8 is an 8-channel all-in-one “core station” designed for live performance artists, remix producers, and serious computer musicians providing a digital mixer, audio I/O, MIDI controller, and effect processor all in a single unit. Each channel can be switched between sources such as a turntable, CD player, microphone, computer, instrument, MIDI controller, or MIDI controller + audio to implement a sophisticated live mixing setup with the simplicity of a FireWire connection. This gives you an incredibly powerful and flexible tool designed specifically for live performance and remix production.

Designed for high-quality digital and analog audio ZERO LIVE CONTROL MIXER delivers truly professional-spec audio. It supports 24-bit 48 kHz high-resolution audio as standard, and can support up to 24-bit 192 kHz audio that’s equivalent to DVD audio fidelity. Along with the digital domain, analog components such as the input/output circuitry and power supply have been designed with painstaking attention to high-quality sound. The internal ±18 volt power supply design delivers plenty of headroom and excellent audio quality. The mic preamps are an ultra-low impedance design by Peter Watts, a veteran designer of numerous professional mixers throughout his tenure at the Trident Corporation in the UK and as chief designer and vice president for product development at Mackie Designs in the USA. Finally, the power supply is a universal design that does not require an AC adapter, ensuring that the world-traveling professional can get to work immediately, assured of the highest level of performance.

EQ Variety The EQ Selector is a completely new idea, providing an EQ section with eleven different simulation types. They cover needs ranging from corrective equalization to boldly creative sound-shaping, giving you a variety of EQ responses and curves, filter characteristics, and even isolator modeling that can be switched independently for each channel as needed. The stereo eight-channel ZERO8 provides an amazing eight units (independent for each channel).

FireWire control over audio and MIDI ZERO LIVE CONTROL MIXER contains a FireWire interface that lets you process and mix audio sources digitally, at the same time as performing MIDI control. Since ZERO LIVE CONTROL MIXER contains everything else you need (audio interface, mixer, effect processor, MIDI controller), setup is simple, making it an extremely convenient choice for the mobile computer-based professional.

A full complement of effects One particular advantage of the ZERO series is its powerful effect system. On the stereo eight-channel ZERO8, there’s one Insert effect, one Send effect, and one Master effect. For the Insert effects you can choose from eight effect types, and for the Send/Master effects you can choose from eleven effect types, meeting the demands of any live mix.

Next-generation KAOSS effects The stereo eight-channel ZERO8 uses its touch display as a realtime effect controller like the KAOSS PAD. You can manipulate a variety of effects while watching the graphics on the display, giving you an entirely new sense of control. This touch display can also be used to control MIDI and other settings simply by touching them, making it very easy to edit the settings.

A complete MIDI control surface By using the dedicated “ZERO Edit” software you can freely assign MIDI messages to the faders, knobs, push-type encoders, buttons, toggle switches, and X-Y pad.

This allows you to use the abundant hardware on the ZERO Mixers to control soft synths, DAWs, effects processors and much more. Since each channel of the mixer can be assigned to different functions you can be mixing the audio from your computer with one channel while adjusting MIDI parameters with another.

Korg ZERO8 Live Control Console Mixer Specifications:

* Frequency Response: 10 Hz ~ 20 kHz +/-1 dB, -2dB @ fs 44.1 kHz, 10 Hz ~ 21 kHz +/-1 dB @ fs 48 kHz, 10 Hz ~ 40 kHz +/-1 dB @ fs 96 kHz, 15 Hz ~ 50 kHz +/-1 dB @ fs 192 kHz
* S/N: 93 dB (typical) @ IHF-A
* THD+N: 0.02 % (typical) 20 Hz ~ 20 kHz
* A/D Conversion: 24-bit, 64-time oversampling
* D/A Conversion: 24-bit, 128-time oversampling
* Sampling Frequency (fs): Internal 44.1 kHz, 48 kHz, 96 kHz, 192 kHz

Input 1-8(Line, CD/Line)
* Connectors: 1/4″ TRS phone jacks (balanced) L/R, RCA jacks L/R
* Input Impedance: 10 k Ohms
* Nominal Level;: TRS: +4 [email protected] GAIN = 0 dB (GAIN = -infinity ~ 0 dB),
* RCA: -10 [email protected] GAIN = 0 dB (GAIN = -infinity ~ +6 dB)
* Maximum Level: TRS: +22 [email protected] GAIN = 0 dB (GAIN = -infinity ~ 0 dB),
* RCA: +8 [email protected] GAIN = 0 dB (GAIN = -infinity ~ +6 dB)
* Source Impedance: 600 Ohms

Phono 1-3
* Connectors: RCA jacks L/R
* Input Impedance: 50 k Ohms
* Nominal Level: -44 [email protected] 1kHz, GAIN = 0 dB (GAIN = -infinity ~ +6 dB), RIAA compliant

Mic 1, 2 Input
* Connectors: XLR-3-31 type (+48 V phantom power, with switch),
* 1/4″ TRS phone jacks (balanced)
* Input Impedance: 3 k Ohms/XLR, 5 k Ohms/TRS
* Nominal Level: Hi: -60 dBu @ GAIN = 0 dB (GAIN = -infinity ~ 0 dB),
* Low: -40 dBu @ GAIN = 0 dB (GAIN = -infinity ~ 0 dB)
* Maximum Level: Hi: -42 dBu @ GAIN = 0 dB (GAIN = -infinity ~ 0 dB),
* Low: -22 dBu @ GAIN = 0 dB (GAIN = -infinity ~ 0 dB)
* Source Impedance: 600 Ohms

Guitar Input
* Connector: 1/4″ phone jack (unbalanced)
* Input Impedance: 1 M Ohm
* Nominal Level: -6 dBu @ GAIN = 0 dB (GAIN = -infinity ~ +6 dB)
* Maximum Level: +12 dBu @ GAIN = 0 dB (GAIN = -infinity ~ +6 dB)
* Source Impedance: 600 Ohms

Master Output
* Connectors: XLR-3-32 type L/R
* Output Impedance: 150 Ohms
* Nominal Level: +4 dBu
* Maximum Level: +22 dBu
* Load Impedance: greater than 10 k Ohms

Booth Output
* Connectors: 1/4″ TRS phone jacks (balanced) L/R
* Output Impedance: 150 Ohms
* Nominal Level: +4 dBu
* Maximum Level: +22 dBu
* Load Impedance: greater than 10 k Ohms

Ext Send 1,2
* Connectors: RCA jacks L/R
* Output Impedance: 150 Ohms
* Nominal Level: -10dBu
* Maximum Level: +8 dBu
* Load Impedance: greater than 10 k Ohms

Ext Return 1,2
* Connectors: 1/4″ TRS phone jacks (balanced) L/R
* Output Impedance: 10 k Ohms
* Nominal Level: +4dBu
* Maximum Level: +22 dBu
* Load Impedance: 600 Ohms

Phones Output
* Connector: 1/4″ stereo phone jack
* Output Impedance: 100 Ohms
* Maximum Level: 80 mW + 80 mW @ 32 Ohms

S/P DIF Output
* Connector: coaxial
* Format: 24-bit S/P DIF (IEC60958)

Firewire
* Connector: IEEE 1394 6-pin connector x2
* Format: IEEE1394a

MIDI
* Connector: IN, OUT

General
* Display: 160 x 104 pixel, LCD with backlight and touch panel
* Power Supply: AC Local Voltage
* Power Consumption: 52 Watts
* Included items: Power cable, CD-ROM
* Dimensions: 17.72″(W) x14.61″(D) x4.92″(H)
* 450 (W) x371 (D) x125 (H) mm
* Weight: 16.09lbs/7.3kg

You can grab the for $1,899. A high price to pay, for sure, but well worth it if you’re looking to master Ableton as a DJ tool. I think this is going to give the Allen & Heath X:Zone92 a run for it’s money.

I also found a video demo on YouTube:

https://youtube.com/watch?v=f0iGKzIf1f0

About Tony Zeoli

Tony Zeoli is a digital media strategist, innovator, and entrepreneur. He founded Netmix.com in 1995, which was considered by Billboard Magazine to be the "innovation and advancement of dance music on the Internet." Tony has innovated at the intersection of music and the Internet for the past thirty years as a project manager, product manager, information architect. He is also the founder of Digital Strategy Works, a WordPress web design and digital marketing agency in Asheville, NC.

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