Toby *Spark teased us on Twitter/in the CDMo comments last month, and now has come out with some real details and an “expression of interest” (can we call that pre-preorder Toby?) page.


*Spark D-Fuser: short, exciting details.

  1. Two DVI inputs, one output (VGA compatible, with cable converters).
  2. Fade to black knob.
  3. Compatible with Matrox DualHead or TripleHead2Go
  4. Resolutions: 640×480. 1024×768. 1600×600 (Dual 800×600). 2048×768 (Dual 1024×768). 1920×480 (Triple 640×480). 1920×1080 (1080p).
  5. Price: Around £750 (€ 820, US$1200, AU$1300, ¥110,000)

The visualist community has been waiting a very long time for affordable, bare-bones video mixers. Most VJs just want a device which can crossfade outputs between sets (or during a crash), and then fade to black at the end of the gig. The other VJ Hardware Fantasy Poster Child is a digital video mixer. Not a mixer with scan converters, but a true, digital all the way, Laptop to Beamer, digital mixer.

That we’ve been served up both of these desires at once is fantastic news, but the truly exciting part is that the project is being managed by a member of the community, who actually understands live video performance. Toby isn’t trying to get rich off his fellow pixelgeeks, or fund some blue-sky project. He’s already got what he was looking for, and is now aiming to share it with the rest of us.

The community angle

By aggregating our orders we can get something more refined than what is possible to any of us individually. Currently, there are a number of footnotes in the setup of the controller and processor. This is where the firmware revision comes in: the video processor as available to any of us presently works but there are a number of issues in terms of setup. They are resolvable, but it boils down to this: the larger bulk order that can be placed for the video processor, the more the manufacturer is willing to tweak the device. And beyond the “can the number of EDID slots be increased to handle six resolutions in both 50&60hz” kind of issues, I’m hoping we can get a bit more creative: ‘add’ as well as ‘over’ blend modes, for instance.

My role

To be clear, I am approaching this as a community based project to get this out there, rather than becoming a consumer electronics company myself. I see the opportunity to join the dots between a community with pent up demand for such a device, a manufacturer of a product that would not sell to this community otherwise, and some small scale manufacturing and development to make it all happen.

This is obviously a project that is aligned perfectly with what CDM is about, so we will keep checking back in as it progresses. For now, VJs; yes you, person who has repeatedly complained about the lack of “affordable” or “digital” mixers, you’re about to get both. So head on over to the *Spark D-Fuser project page, read all of the juicy details, and then hit Toby’s expression of interest form.

  • This is very cool. Easily the most exciting new piece of kit since the DH2GO/TH2GO became the surprise VJ kit must have.
    Now to find a client with a job I can charge for me to buy this. I hope Toby sells a few of these to make it worth his while and to continue to improve. Of course 3x 1024×768 would be icing on the cake.

  • Toby, I am comfortable enough to express my man love for you. You rock.

  • vjwunderkind

    Me want. But I haven't had many gigs recently, let alone triple or dualhead stuff. But this gets me excited nonetheless.

  • Toby rocks! Now it's on the community to make it happen (as a real product)…

  • Exciting news!!! Love the compactness of it!!

  • really really interesting project.
    useful user generated product

    me with you

  • Sam

    Very exciting, from every possible angle.

  • absolutely brilliant. but I think £750 is too high. 1920×480 is too low.
    £500 and 2400×600 would smash it into the real world. everyone with a triplehead2go would have to have one.

  • @Leon: Really? Is there even an analog mixer on the market anywhere near that price? The cheapest truly digital mixer I'm aware of is the Edirol V440HD, which you can find for around US$10,000.

    From the comments we've been getting in the years since CDMo's inception, a "Sub-$1000" mixer is what everyone's been waiting for, and this is the closest solution thus far, by a large margin.

  • massta

    This is what we've been waiting for!
    You'll still need to purchase a Matrox device, but you already own one right?
    Why wait for a big time manufacturer when we can have one of our own take it upon themselves to create one for us?
    You have my support!
    If we sell enough, then people will be willing to pay for firmware updates or trade-ins!
    What are the real chances of this lifting off the ground?

  • massta

    Have to agree with Leon Trimble, something larger than 1920×480 would be nice (not so much me, but for those who work with large screens).

  • @massta: You only need the Matrox device if you want to mix to a DualHead or TripleHead output. It will mix standard single-screen setups out of the box.

  • @Jaymis i think you're right. of course, it is worth it compared to what's out there. but looking at when most vjs would have £750 it just pushes it out of reach of people who get £150-200 per gig. i want to see this thing go nuclear, and i think even £600 would make the pre order sales hit the roof.

  • Of course, the less it costs, the more people will want and be able to afford it. £600 is a super attractive number too, as it pushes it into the mythical "Sub-US$1000" bracket. How it will actually work though, is that the more people who can sign up or preorder, the less it will cost 🙂

  • massta

    Leon, I agree on some of your points except for the price. I don't think most VJs perform to make money. Spending money for a solid performing HD mixer, which has the same cost of laptop and about half the price of a decent projector, isn't going to break most VJs bank. The real issue is performance, reliability and support. Concerns most consumers have when making a major purchase.

  • Becoming a VJ solely to make money is like learning ventriloquism to meet girls.

    Badly paraphrased from Merlin Mann.

  • maybe that could equally be becoming a vj to meet girls and a ventriloquist to make money.
    as for going digital someone just sold me a kramer 8×8 hd matrix for nearly nothing, so I'm deffo getting one of these and eventually some vga-cat6 line extenders, and seeing where the v4 fits in afterwards.

  • This looks aces! Good on Toby for doing something about it in stead of just bitching. It would replace our analog mixer completely, except for a few simple questions:

    – "Solo" / "Single channel passthrough" buttons, so you can cut between A and B by punching buttons (which we do a lot on an AVE5)
    – How's the lag on that thing?

    And, to move beyond what our AVE can do, how about decent A/B luma keying?

  • I love the idea of this, and would love to get one. My only question is "Why not make the plans opens source?" Aside from letting someone decide whether they want to build it or buy it, it would also allow hardware hackers to make improvements to it.

  • see… sbn already has usefull improvements that could be added by a talented and dedicated hardware hacker.

  • I just wish this product the best of luck. I think we may all be forgetting the time, effort and thought which has gone into this product. It looks like a multinational corporation has released this (regardless of if the poster is a is "a bit of fun")

    Its practical and functional and looks the part!

    I both agree and disagree with the price…. I do not, and won't for a while have a 'spare' £750. But I did then I would not think twice about buying one!

    As for 'extra' features then this is already mentioned on Toby's blog…

    "I’m hoping we can get a bit more creative: ‘add’ as well as ‘over’ blend modes, for instance."

    If I was able to help this product i'd be signing up right away, hope full the user who are able to help will do and this product will become HUGE!

  • Finally!
    I was wondering (like hundreds of us) why there was no such a simple pure mixer…
    Full support!

  • bilderbuchi

    mmmelt: afaik, this thing is based upon an existing hd video conference/switcher device. the mixer box maybe contains logic for the unit's rs232 interface, so i think open sourcing it won't fly..

    @max. resolution: i think the resolution limitation is grounded upon the maximum bandwidth the video box can process. that's the only reason i can come up with. how much of that can be influenced by firmware updates remains to be seen, but i'd think the more people buy it, the more the company will be willing to go out of their way to implement vj-related changes…
    damn, if only i could afford one right now, looks like a really promising piece of kit.

  • toby*spark

    hello all, just a quick note to say from the sign-ups i have an idea of actual interest so onto the next phase. more as it happens.

  • @bilderbuchi you're right. AFAICT It's probably based on TV One's 1T-C2-760 DVI Scaler:

    Based on feedback I got from Toby, I think he's amenable to open sourcing (ostensibly just his custom controller).

    But the processor can do Luma, Chroma, PIP, and A/B punches, along with lots of other cool stuff. Very cool!

  • mmmelt, thanks for the info. Looking at it, and its big brothers, makes me think building a console for one of those would be a fun – and affordable – project. Especially the C2-2250A looks promising, with DVI and analog inputs.

    Best of all, that can be had for less than a new Kaptivator, and around 1.5 times the price for a new V4.

    Even the RS232 interface looks dead simple, and using that protocol shouldn't preclude Toby – or anyone else – from opening the source to any control software they build. I'm thinking Arduino + RS232 chip, and if that's too sluggish, Arduino + Ethernet or outright Wiring. (The 2250A also takes IP control signals).

    Well, all in all maybe Toby can do some of what he suggests with regards to bulk ordering and firmware modifications. It would be huge if he could get additive + multiply blend modes in there!

  • brilliant! beats the hell out of a vixid… visual economics 101 !!

  • Is there any progress on this? Does it look like it'll be available?

  • There's definitely progress. I've got the parts here, and will have a demo unit functioning soon!

  • I have an issue…As I am very excited about this project and already saving up for the dvi mixer, I am quite concerned because I am in the process of buying a new macbook pro, which will not be supported with with TH2GO because of the sadly infamous mini display port. Has anyone encountered this issue? Possible solutions? Thanks! Cheers from Honduras!

  • FYI, displayport to DVI or VGA adapter works with no trouble on the TH2Go digital edition I have.

  • Yo Toby,
    Any news?