Not all independent music gear makers last. And so we’ve learned this week that Rane, the Seattle area-based company founded way back in 1981, will see new ownership with a buyout by giant inMusic (of Numark, M-Audio, Akai, and related).

That means, if nothing else, a transformed landscape for DJ mixers. At one end, you’ve got the big conglomerates – Japan’s Pioneer DJ, America’s inMusic. At the other, boutique makers are staking out increasingly specialized, low-quantity product. This sheds still more light on the significance of the new mixer from Richie Hawtin and Xone creator Andy Rigby-Jones.

With Rane out, indeed, the other big name standing is Allen & Heath, the company distributing the Hawtin/Rigby-Jones PLAYdifferently line as well as continuing the Xone – the one mixer you might be most likely to see rivaling Pioneer’s DJM.

But with Rane caught in the middle, one has to wonder if we won’t see a rich new market for boutique DJ mixers in the same way synth lovers have turned to Eurorack.

On a cynical note, there may be a fresh source of engineers from Rane left redundant.

It seems the folks running Rane wanted out. Co-founders Linda Arink and Dennis Bohn have announced they’re retiring after the acquisition.

But DJ news blog DJWORX suggests that many Rane personnel are unlikely to survive the acquisition, writing:

The majority of the 60+ workforce will be “permanently displaced” at the end of July.
Some engineers will remain (from the HAL/install side) in Seattle.
The DJ side of Rane will be absorbed into the Numark/Denon team at inMusic HQ.
Manufacturing will be moved to inMusic’s contractors in the far east.

I can’t verify that information; DJWORX only quotes unnamed sources. But it’s a fair bet that some degree of change at Rane is inevitable. There’s simply too much overlap with existing staff and IP at Numark and Denon not to suggest some changes, apart from the already-announced changes in leadership.

That’s sad news, of course. As far as what this means for DJs, I would think — not a lot. Serato is tightly integrated with Rane offerings, it’s true, but they’ve since expanded hardware compatibility. Native Instruments, of course, even makes their own mixers – and this news demonstrates in part why that’s not a bad idea. On the hardware side, I’ve seen the Rane rotaries make some headway in the booth, but the MP series are in a funny niche – neither as specialized or beloved as boutique rotary options, nor as mass-market as more-popular Allen & Heath and Pioneer mixers.

It’s safe to say it isn’t the easiest time to be a mid-sized hardware maker, though, with titans from Japan and the USA making big quantities at tiny margins with tight control of the supply chain. I think as a result a lot of independent makers may increasingly look up-market. And then, no matter what happens, at some point founders do want to retire.

Here’s hoping inMusic and Rane deliver on the glowing promises in the press releases.

See DJWORX coverage for more

  • Well, big companies never acquire smaller companies for their HR and IT departments. It’s the products, the patents, or in some cases, parts of the specialized staff (i.e. the knowledge) that is being acquired. And that more often than not means the end to at least a part of the product lines (because they overlap with already existing offerings) and integration of others into new products to come. And it is always at the cost of a lot of people who lose their jobs and whose future looks uncertain, if not bleak.

    I was on the edge of buying Rane’s MP2014 not long ago. But it is a tad too large for the space I’ve got and – more importantly – it comes at a price point that is still just that bit too high to justify the expense for me.

    But I would be happy to learn about other rotary mixer options out there? Who else does similar products? And no, they don’t need to have that wooden side cheeks, and full USB integration is not required either.

  • Tony Scharf

    everything inMusic touches turns to shit. Good bye, Rane.

    • Joker One

      you “collect” all that modular gear, have a big ole’ studio, but everything you touch turns to shit too. where’s your music? if what I found online is what you call music then… lol. Nice. profile. photo. suburban. looking. DAD. ROFL.

      • countertrollerism

        nice. brand-new. disqus. account. only. commenting. on. the. Rane. story. obvious. inMusic. grunt.

  • TechBoy

    Sad news. inMusic makes all of their stuff in China, and with the layoffs at Rane you can bet that’s where future Rane equipment will be made. If you look at what happened with Alesis and Akai they’re going to keep some of the old staff around for a little and then lay them off once they’re done with them. I hope the existing Rane staff that stays on is aware of this.

    • Joker One

      Really? It’s hilarious how people think it’s sad when the sad news is the company was about to go bankrupt. Which means no jobs for all. I find it funny how within 2 minutes of a press release, all the “loyal” no body special DJ boys start saying how sad it is, etc. Just Google all the handle names of these guys who complain. Nuff said ROFL. Yeah, nice soundcloud song buddy, a bunch of fat wankers. ROFL

      • I googled that arkaei dude… turns out he’s quite the badass.

      • beedogs

        You must be that cunt Jack O’Donnell trolling us.

  • Will

    Sad news indeed.

    “(inMusic CEO) Jack O’Donnell is a bastard.” —Roger Linn

    Really sums it up.

  • Robin Parmar

    Though I never needed a DJ mixer or an installation for a house of worship, Rane were a great company to have around. Many a time I read their tech notes to learn some obscure audio fact made simple. Rane was that now-rare thing: an engineering company driven by engineers. They will be missed.

  • My first thought was this has to be a joke.