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The Mix Master: Working With A Legend

       
When we sat down with Mix Master Mike over a year ago to create the ultimate DJ headphone, we started from scratch. There were DJ headphones on the market, obviously; our own SK Pro, for instance. This was different.

We wanted to create something totally new and next-level, a headphone that would blow the doors off existing technology, melt ears with its sonic brilliance, and turn heads with cutting-edge style and design. We wanted a headphone that made others obsolete, a ‘phone so tailored to DJing, you couldn’t help but realize it was designed by a DJ. The only way to do that was to get inside the mind of a wax wizard and figure out what he wants, even if he doesn’t know yet that he wants it. Who better to help us design for the future than the legendary Mix Master Mike?

Mike has been in the game almost as long as the game has been played, and he’s seen it all. From witnessing the evolution of iconic hardware like the SL-1200 and teaming with icons like DJ Qbert and the Beastie Boys, to creating scratch techniques never seen before in competition, Mike knows literally everything about the DJ industry. When we approached him about the project almost two years ago, he embraced it and made it his own.

Mike had been a Sony guy for years, but when we told him we wanted to build this headphone to his own specs, the opportunity was too good to pass up. Little did we know what was floating around in his head. The sheer amount of input from Mike was more than we could handle.

He got specific with practically everything, from the size and placement of the mute button, to the angles and shapes and material feel of the headband and earcup swivel joints.

On the user side, Mike saw things we didn’t. Even simple stuff like the idea that DJ’s might be left- or right-hand dominant, and would want the ability to insert the cord to either earcup depending on personal preference.

Portability is a key aspect for a DJ like Mike, who travels from coast to coast and around the world to do his thing. Making a foldable, full-size headphone with so much tech packed into each driver cup was a challenge.

The case had to be compact, heavy on protection, and cool to look at. Two padded, flexible shells sandwich the headphone in a crush-resistant armor suit, while flexible leatherette gussets and a YKK watertight zip wrap 360 degrees around the sides, so you can collapse the case when not in use.

Dual cords—one for DJing and one for daily use—make the Mix Master a true do-it-all companion for your ears. Use the heavy coil cord when you’re on the decks, and switch in the mic’d straight cord for jamming and recapping the epic set with your peeps on the flight home.

When the time came to discuss how the headphone should look, we were in for another surprise. Turns out Mike is heavily into space travel, futuristic technology, humanoid robots and what he calls “alien culture,” believing that music transcends Earthly boundaries and three-dimensional human cognition. Accordingly, his headphone had to come from another world, “like the headphones in the cockpit of a spaceship,” and scream “I AM FROM THE FUTURE” to any onlooker.

Acute angles, high-gloss finishes, metallic accents and a “Transformer-like” appearance make the Mix Master stand out from the headphone crowd.

If the ear pads remind you of the interior upholstery in an exotic sports car, that’s intentional.


Mock-up to final, 4 months. Final design to 3d model, 4 months.

Model to functional prototype, 6 months. Prototype to golden sample, 6 months.

Sample to production, 4 months.

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