The Apex Mixer by Intimidation
Most of you high-minded ‘DJ’ types out there have probably heard of Intimidation through their highly successful ‘Blue’ series of mixers. Along with the ‘Don’ series, these mixers helped put a new face on the map as far as quality mixers at a reasonable (although not necessarily cheap) price. With innovations like kill switches (a set of three switches that, when turned off, will drop a whole track, each switch representing highs, mids and lows… thus allowing you to, say, drop the kick out, while leaving a synth and high-hat structure in place) and VCA punch buttons (which, unlike regular phono line switches feature a quick fade unheard by the human ear, whereas phono/lines almost always are complete cuts in sound, thus giving that handy popping noise that all of us MTX and Gemini users have come to know and hate), Intimidation is setting the standard for techno style mixers.
The Apex retails for roughly $300, a price that makes it well worth it if you consider the options. The only other mixer in its price range with similar capabilities would be a lower level Furmahn, which will cost about $80-100 more.
The Apex is a battle-style mixer, meaning it’s compact, about 9”x9” and features all-pro mixer style turn knobs, excepting the crossfader, which is still of course a horizontal slide fader. For each channel there is a main gain, which for the most part can be left at full volume. For volume setting there is a Pre-Fade Gain that features two LED displays, one to show the level of your source, and the other to let you know if you’re clipping. Although there is no master read-out display, with these handy tools I’ve found it to be almost unnecessary. In between each channel’s PFG and gain, you’ll find a three-dial EQ, bass, mid and high. For those of you that like to EQ effectively, this is it. Although Superstar DJ Shitbags may wow you with his manipulation of a 489 band EQ, if you know what you’re doing, this is all you’ll need. By simply turning the rotary dial left, you’ll hear a huge drop in the range you’ve chosen; compared to the EQ drop in similarly priced units, the APEX stands out. The crossfader is a joy to work on, and every amount of beating I’ve dished out, it has taken. Built with the aforementioned VCA, the sound is smooth and precise. An added plus: if your fader ever breaks down, Intimidation replaces it for free, and yes, the fader is 100% replaceable.
I’m not a huge fan of extras on mixers. Samplers were always built to be shitty and any effect they threw in was novel for about twenty minutes. The Apex offers up a little variety, but honestly I can’t see myself using these for an extended period. First up is a neat little toy that basically mirrors the stereo image being put out to create a flange effect. Termed ‘Phase Generator,’ this tool is put into operation by switching on a button, with an LED indicator to let you know when it is activated. To use the Phase Generator, two rotary knobs are supplied that allow you to gradually bring the effect in and out. When both knobs are opposite each other, the effect is either completely on or off. The second effect supplied is coined ‘Slaughter Chamber.’ In order for the Slaughter Chamber to be activated the Phase Generator must be activated. The basic premise of the SC is a phono line switch with out the work. For scratching, this is a great tool, although the effect is placed on the entire output. With two knobs you are allowed to determine the cut rate of the Slaughter Chamber, with a range from fairly slow to extremely quick. Also supplied are two ‘Punch In’ buttons. Placed on each side of the crossfader, these allow you to punch in (at full volume) the source opposite the side your crossfader is on… very good for those slap happy mixers like myself, also a good alternative to fader scratching if you can get the finger work down. Another quality feature is the panning knob. Unlike most panning levels on DJ mixers, the Apex comes correct with a pan that leaves the bass on both channels, as the human ear cannot tell where bass is emanating from. The highs and mids can fully pan from left to right with one turn of this charming spindle.
For the price, The Apex cannot be beat. For those of you considering a mixer purchase in the near future, this would be a good alternative to the MTX/Gemini/Numark styled boards that come with too many options and are prone to serious and quick breakdowns. With an almost dust-proof surface (excluding the fader, which, again, is replaced for free) this mixer is built strong for the long run. Check one out anywhere finer DJ accessories are sold.