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I've had all my DJ kit since about 1995:

  • Pair of Technics 1210s

  • 1 x Boss Sampler/Sequencer

  • 1 x Kenwood KA3020SE Amp

  • 1 x Kam Scratch Mixer

  • Pair Mission 702 speakers

  • Pair Eltax Monitor speakers

The amp is probably going to die quite soon - it's leaking sound and getting crackly. I want to upgrade but not sure what I need in todays modern world. Currently the amp doubles up as our domestic amp and has a CD, tuner and twin cassette decks (I know) and a minidisc connected up to it ...

Questions

  1. Should I get powered active speakers and connect them directly to my mixer instead of getting a new amplifier? I've heard active monitors can be as loud as a hifi amp these days. I'd then look at getting a simple amp or perhaps one of those 'girly' micro hifi systems for the domestic stuff (I also have a loud iPod dock).

  2. Or should I replace with a similar amp? If so, can you recommend a suitable replacement? I've loved my '3020 for years it has loads of inputs and is neighbour-annoyingly loud ;-)

  3. Should I get something like a keyboard amp which would also allow me to plug guitar/bass/drum machine into it. If so, can you recommend something suitable?

  4. Should I look into digital kit e.g. digital amp and mixer? If digital amps exist ...? I know digital mixers do though are frighteningly expensive for the hobbyist.

Thanks for looking.

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Hey, I feel like you're messing a few things up there :)

So one by one:

 Should I get powered active speakers and connect them directly to my mixer instead of getting a new mixer? 

I guess you mean getting a new amp here? Because your mixer does still work, doesn't it? As for the new amp vs new active speakers discussion: I do have a pair of actives and I love them. Maybe the only disadvantage of them is that such active speakers are usually a little bit smaller and therefore you do not have the power to use them for a "real" party (with dancefloor and all), but as long as you just use them at home, the will have enough power - even for a small party with your buds :)

The other thing you mixed up was the "digital amp" thing. There is no such thing as digital amp. An amp simply amplifies (hence the name) the signal to a voltage level which is high enough for big passive speakers. This could actually done digitally as well as analog, but as a user you would not hear any difference (nor would you have to use a differnet kind of plugs)

  • Sorry, yes that was a typo - I did mean new amp. My mixer does work, but I wouldn't be averse to getting a new one. It too is a bit leaky on occasion. Digital amp - I think what I meant was a class D amp (e.g. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Class_D_Amplifier). But in my mind I was thinking of a box which would convert analogue sound into digital and (ideally) output via firewire or usb. Such a thing does not yet exist presumably? What kind of active speakers do you have? – 5arx Mar 17 '11 at 15:43
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    I have a pair of KRK Rokit G5. They're studio monitors, but I knew from quite few people who also use them for DJing. I like them. They are quite small, have a good sound and they surely are not too quite. As for the box: You can use an audio-interface and plug it into the mixer and then record the mixeroutput via USB or firewire. But then you still need a way to transport it to some speaker. – user645 Mar 17 '11 at 17:03
  • It occurred to me that I could use the Edirol USB audio interface which I use for recording stuff in Garageband to this end. And then of course there's my Mac. But 'box' -> active speakers sounds compact, less wire-y (Mrs 5arx hates wires) and somehow quite futuristic. Will check out the monitors. Thanks. – 5arx Mar 17 '11 at 22:12
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From an sound engineers point of view, you'd want to keep using the same speakers because you are used to their sound. So I would get a new amp(s).

  • Any recommendations ...? – 5arx May 3 '11 at 11:01
  • I'm not familiar with your speakers, so I can't really recommend anything. Maybe just match them up power wise, and then look at price and other aspects. – d-_-b May 4 '11 at 1:12
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If you're just working in a bedroom, then powered monitors will be more than loud enough for your needs. I've been pleased with my Alesis M1 Active 520s, which are a decent choice if you are on a budget.

If you need something to take to small venues, then I'd recommend checking out the Mackie SRM450.

  • 520s look good but not sure if I should go for the USB version or the regular. Which do you suggest? – 5arx May 3 '11 at 11:02
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    I didn't bother with the USB version as I had my own audio interface, and wasn't sure if I'd run into driver issues trying to run them both at the same time. – Mark Heath May 3 '11 at 11:13

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