Wait, you don’t own a listening bar? Well, if you did, you’d probably shortlist the Orbit.6. It’s a new “elite” rotary mixer by revered mixer engineer Andy Rigby-Jones, and launches his new Union Audio outfit.
For those of us who have been following Rigby-Jones’ projects, it might just make us start to like rotaries. Maybe. Rigby-Jones is a veteran of Allen & Heath from back to the 90s, best known for designing the Xone line. His designs are uniquely musical and well-conceived, whether or not you’re a huge Xone fan. We’ve already seen what happens when you take off some of the mass-market restrictions on components – Rigby-Jones collaborated with Richie Hawtin’s Play differently line. I got to tour that with Rich and Andy (and Rich’s father, as it happened) back in 2016 when it launched. The hegemony of Allen & Heath and Pioneer in the market have basically meant that booths have standardized, but the MODEL 1 remains a unique and inspiring design.
This is not Andy’s first rotary, though – he collaborated with MasterSounds on their new range. That effort has already helped the rotary to go from exotic niche tool to, well, at least slightly more popular niche tool.
But now he’s got his own line, Union Audio – and the Orbit.6 is its flagship. And in this era of parts shortages and mass-market consolidation, high-end rotaries start to look like keen business moves. And I’m not joking about venues like listening bars – popularized in Japan, the high-end bar with audio equipment is spreading in high-rent districts, and starts to look positively sensible as the larger nightlife industry struggles with ongoing COVID challenges.
But back to the mixer. While most of us don’t, in fact, own or operate our own high-end venue, you’ve got to admire the engineering work here.
- Six-channel rack-mounted analog
- Fully discrete internal signal path, all the way from channel in to mix out
- Four RIAA, eight line inputs
- Each channel has its own aux send, high-pass filter, and “heavily damped” rotary fader (they’ve built their own system for those, which they brand dampR)
- Master with EQ/isolator
- Custom VU meters
£4575 +VAT, including their own power supply unit.
Apart from the pound having crashed, I’d point out that isn’t really much more than you’d spend on a Pioneer DJM-V10. So there’s some room for high-end mixers for DJs of various designs.
I’ll be curious to see what else this crew comes up with. It’s certainly a beautiful device. And high-end with discrete components in 2019 may have seemed like some rich hipster thing, but in 2022 starts to sound like good survival practice for audio manufacturing, so this may well be the future. Plus, with that GBP conversion… okay, I can’t afford this, but maybe I can get myself a nice suit, add to my vinyl collection, and DJ while you sip some fine cocktails, which frankly sounds a nice evening.
The mixer maker is here: