Rane Corporation, founded and incorporated in 1981 in Washington State, is a privately held company. The owners previously worked together in middle management positions at Phase Linear Corporation, a high-end consumer electronics company. With this background, they pooled over 40 years of combined audio experience to create Rane Corporation. Owners became separate department heads based upon their expertise. This organization created an unusually strong structure, since all department heads had a unique owner’s perspective in making it succeed.
Rane started out with four products aimed at small bands, designed to make their live performances better. With these products, Rane quickly established a new price-point for performance, quality and reliability. Rane products were priced below the top high-end equipment yet outperformed and outlasted them, but were still priced significantly above the low-end products—thus creating a new middle ground. A noteworthy testament to Rane’s design significance and reliability reputation, is that in their first two years of production, Rane designed and shipped eight new products—four of which are still in production today.
Rane first entered the DJ mixer market upon request from Richard Long of Richard Long & Associates (RLA). Richard Long was a famous sound designer for the biggest names in disco. He designed systems for Studio 54, Annabels (London), Regines (a chain of 19 clubs scattered around the world from Paris and New York to Cairo) and many others that were the vanguard of the disco era.
Richard approached Rane and asked them to redesign his famous X3000 crossover using their proprietary technology. This became the X3000A, built exclusively for Richard Long. They also co-designed a DJ equalizer called the Q5000. Based on his successful relationship with Rane, he persuaded them to research the DJ mixer market. They did and produced their first DJ mixer, the MP24 which rapidly became the industry standard.
After creating many more innovative DJ products following the MP24, Rane was attending an AES (Audio Engineering Society) convention in New York City in 1998. Four extremely talented turntablists introduced them to their art form and invited a couple of Rane guys to join them in their back yard for some tutoring. It was an eye opening experience for a couple of Joes from the sticks of Mukilteo. They felt privileged to be invited, not only to join in the turntablism fun, but also to be the company they selected to build their dream mixer. They knew Rane’s reputation in the club market and they understood Rane’s design philosophy.
The Rane product designers joined a handful of the city’s top scratch performers where they literally spread their ideas on the floor of Wiz’s apartment in Spanish Harlem and went to work. Thus began the anatomy of the TTM 54 Performance mixer. For three days, they enjoyed the company of Rolly Roll, Development, DJ Big Wiz, Sugarcuts, Marz1 and Peter Parker. They watched performances by DJ Quest, The Crash Dummies, The X-Men and many more. During their stay, they defined every detail of the mixer: features, control locations, knob size and feel, as well as fader feel and much more. Collectively, they created Rane’s first hip-hop battle mixer, which became one of the most successful products in Rane’s history.
The rapid evolution of DJ mixing is absolutely mind-boggling. When Rane began, they never imagined how huge the world of music mixing would become. Disco clubs of the 70s and 80s featured basic blending. Now the genres, techniques and methods have exploded into endless possibilities. The mixer is no longer just a tool, but instead, has become a musical instrument, a vehicle for self-expression. Applications for DJ mixers have gone far beyond what was originally envisioned. There may soon be as many styles of DJ mixers as there are types of guitars. The evolution isn’t over! New mixing styles continue to develop, leading to new demands on both performance and features. The lessons Rane learned in the beginning have served them well during this rapid evolution.