Network: All mixed up, but still wondrous

My Technology; DJ Carl Cox tells why his sounds will never be `phased' out
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The Independent Culture
THERE ISN'T a lot of technology a DJ needs, other than two turntables and a mixer. My Pioneer DJ500 mixer has a built-in effects unit and with this you can enhance and remix sounds.

Most people have trouble using the left and right, up and down and the EQ - the graphic equaliser, bass and treble - and concentrate on what they are doing with the mix. I have that down to pat, so I'm looking at other ways in which I can be more creative.

This machine costs between pounds 800-pounds 1,000. Although a half-decent mixer without the special effects box would cost you about pounds 400, it could cost as much as pounds 2,000-3,000 to get all the effects separately. An example of built-in effects is a function to delay two records (a delay is when one record is a beat behind the other record). Normally, you would do this manually. But you can make the mixer do the work - it's like automatic driving.

There is also a phase effect which joins two signals together so you can flange two records at the same time. A flange is when a signal goes into the playing record and the flanger changes the frequencies, so you get a swirling effect. There are different styles of flanging. For example, with two records exactly the same, if you move one forward or back on a turntable, you can create an effect. Again, it could be done by hand, but it's hard.

The pitch shifter is the one thing you don't have access to on the decks. With this machine I can take a voice and pitch it down two octaves to make someone sound like Barry White, or up an octave for a Pinkie and Perky effect. The pitch shifter means you can have great fun with beats, rhythms, bass lines and sound when playing the record out. It changes the whole concept of the sound people are used to hearing. No other mixer has this effect. It's amazing. It allows me to push myself a bit more and be more wondrous.

I use the mixer according to the nature and aura of that particular night. Because of the my status, I can play Des O'Connor and they still dance. They know what to expect. But if I really push the elements and overuse the mixer, a lot of them aren't used to it.

When you DJ for an hour or hour and half, you get the feel of the crowd and can then start to get more creative. You never know what to do, but at some point it starts to feel comfortable and you might begin flanging or delaying a few things. People pick up on it, especially when listening to records they know.

As soon as I heard about the DJ500 mixer I got on to it straight away. Normally I would think "not another mixer on the market". For instance, Pioneer has these CD players called CDJ500 which allow you to loop, sample and mix CDs.

You can DJ with CDs, but it's so much fuss. It's like operating a box of number configurations and it's very cold and calculating. Unless you are that way inclined, what comes out is quite mechanical. I have never seen anyone use CDs in a live situation when it worked well, and they tend to struggle. I just wouldn't be enjoying myself, which is the bottom line.

So this mixer in a sense has changed my perception of what a DJ can do live. And for me, having got used to it, it takes me a little bit beyond what many DJs can achieve.

If someone hears a record they know and you have done something to make them hear it differently, then people get interested in what you have created. It makes people think you are working for a living, and not just being a DJ who stands there.

Carl Cox will be appearing at the Lynx music event, Location Apollo, on 17 October. Further information is available on the Lynx hotline (0845 6000260)