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How To: Install Serato SL1 inside your Mixer

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Disclaimer
: This is a custom modification and will most likely void the warranties on both your mixer and SL1 box (should something go up in smoke).  Tinker at your own risk.
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“Whats the point of doing this?” 

There are a lot of reasons why you should OR shouldn’t attempt to marry your mixer and SL1 box together. 

Pros:

  • Eliminates 4 RCA’s (2 LINE/2 THRU) and an external BOX from the picture thus, less clutter and less to worry about. 
  • Frees up my mixer’s LINE IN jacks, allowing me to have 2 extra, simultaneous auxiliaries – in conjunction with Serato (this just happens to be the case with my mixer, and will NOT work with all mixers ie. Vestax)
  • The custom factor; having something unique that cannot be bought.

Cons:

  • You lose the ability to *share* your SL1 box, or use it on another person’s mixer.  You would have to bring your mixer to their gig, or hope that they also have SL1.
  • If either the mixer or SL1 box should go bad, it will be more difficult to diagnose/repair the problem. It would suck to lose your mixer and SL1 box in one sitting.
  • You will probably void any warranty you have on either your mixer or the box.

Other thing to consider:

  • Space.  My Tascam XS-8 is a 10 inch mixer, and relatively big for a 2-channel mixer.  It’s also analog with no internal effects unit, so there is less to worry about and lots of space (unlike a DJM-909).  I could probably fit 2 SL1 boxes inside.  That’s not to say it can’t be done in a Vestax 05Pro, because it has – but the smaller a mixer is, the less space you have and therefore the more crammed it will already be.  I would also imagine that the soldering points on that PC board would be *smaller*, and more difficult to solder to.
  • Port placement.  After a bit of measuring and fitting, I only found 2 spots where I could fit my USB panel mount (to the back) without bumping into any pre-existing wiring or PC Board.  When I actually started cutting into the mixer’s case, my margin of error was maybe a 5mm.
  • SL1 Mic IN/THRU.  Although it can be done, I chose NOT to use my SL1’s mic ins/outs.  I no longer have the ability to record vocals.  Personally, I don’t mind.  I still have use of my mixer’s mic IN, and most of my talking is done with my hands. 
  • Your modding ability.  I’m not an engineer or even an electrician, but I’ve always had a love for building and destroying things.  I’ve had my share of modding successes and failures.  If you don’t know how to solder, I wouldn’t risk $1000 on your first guinea pig. 

Shoutouts to the DJ’s who proved it could be done:

  • Telly (Vestax PMC-37 Pro, Ecler NUO 4.0) using Traktor’s Audio 8
  • DJ Solo (Rane TTM56)
  • Kool Akiem (Vestax PMC-07Pro)

A special thanks also goes out to the modders at DJforums.com who offered advice and put up with all my stupid questions. (Telly, light-o-matic, pittsey,and Dave the Rave)

 Tools (that will make your life easier):

  • Low Voltage soldering pen.  I used a 12v pen with a fine tip.  This will prevent you from burning the plastic on the PCB.  This is important.
  • Multimeter w/ continuity check.  Eliminate the guesswork.

1. Disassemble your mixer.  This should be straightforward.  Take note of the location of different screws and plugs.  Being organized will save you from guess work when it’s time to put humpty back together again.

Stripped

2. I used my trusty Dodger’s Cap and various drug bottles to keep things separate.  I also drew visual aids to give you the impression that I’m smarter than I really am.


3. TEST and find your RCA connections.  Use a multimeter and make sure you’re hitting the right spots.  Too bad they don’t make these for women.  It just so happens that the RCA pattern is the same on my mixer, as it is on the SL1 box.  Nice.

4. Put in work.  Solder your mixer’s PHONO INs to your SL1 box Inputs, then solder your mixer’s LINE inputs to your SL1 Box LINE outputs.  Piggybacking bypasses the need to use separate THRU outs.  I used some shielded audio cable, but any decent gauge power wire will work here.  ALSO, make sure to clean the connections before your solder! Any type of oil or fader lube will cause your connections to be brittle!

5. Decide how you would like to run your USB cable.  This can be done a number of ways.  I thought about just running a USB cable from inside the mixer to my laptop, but that would leave a wire permanently sticking out of my mixer. Since I’m going through all this trouble, might as well make it clean.

Telly recommended this panel mount Type B Male to Type B Female Adapter.  I got mine from newegg for about $15.

I used a red marker and a post-it to create a measurement schematic (like an ink stamp) – which made my cutting job a bit easier.

Metalwork. I used a craftsman dremel tool and a cutting/drilling attachment to cutout what I needed.  This was not easy, and I ended up using an awl, pliers, hammer, and flathead screw driver to get it done.  If you don’t have the right tools, I suggest you find someone who does.  Having your drill bits go red hot and then break off randomly is exciting, but painful. 

Also, if you have the option I would suggest cutting from the inside.  If your drill slips (on the outside) it will be noticeable and chip the paint.

6. TEST everything before you put it back together.  Make sure your joints aren’t cold, kinked, or crossed.  Be strategic when you run your wires so that it doesn’t interfere with anything else.  Once you’re satisfied put it back together and try your shit out.  How you mount the box inside is up to you.  I literally used zipties, bottle caps, and hot glue (less permanent than expoxy).  Just make sure that tha pcb’s don’t touch each other, or any other connection in the mixer.

If you dun good, celebrate and have a bowl – because everyone knows DJ’s are pot-heads.

“Look Ma! No box!”

Happy Modding!

 

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