Reloop’s new RP-8000 MK2: instrumental pitch control, Serato integration

Like the relaunched Technics 1200, the new Reloop decks sport digitally controlled motors. But Reloop have gone somewhere very different from Technics: platters that can be controlled at a full range of pitches, and even play scales. And the RP-8000 MK2 is a MIDI controller, too, for Serato and other software.

Oh yeah, and one other thing – Reloop as always is more affordable – a pair of RP-8000 MK2s costs the same as one SL-1200 MK7. (One deck is EUR600 / USD700 / GBP525).

And there’s a trend beyond these decks. Mechanical engineers rejoice – the age of the motor is here.

238668 Reloop RP-8000 MK2

We’re seeing digitally controlled motors for haptic feedback, as on the new Native Instruments S4 DJ controllers. And we’re seeing digital control on motors providing greater reliability, more precision, and broader ranges of speed on conventional turntables.

So digitally controlled motors were what Technics was boasting earlier this week with their SL-1200 MK7, which they say borrows from Blu-Ray drive technology (Technics is a Panasonic brand).

Reloop have gone one step further on the RP-8000 MK2. “Platter Play” rotates the turntable platter at different speeds to produce different pitches – rapidly. You can use the colored pads on the turntable, or connect an external MIDI keyboard.

That gives the pads a new life, as something integral to the turntable instead of just a set of triggers for software. (I’m checking with Reloop to find out if the performance pads require Serato to work, but either way, they do actually impact the platter rotation – it’s a physical result.)

238668 Reloop RP-8000 MK2

Serato and Reloop have built a close relationship with turntablists; this lets them build the vinyl deck into a more versatile instrument. It’s still an analog/mechanical device, but with a greater range of playing options thanks to digital tech under the hook. Call it digital-kinetic-mechanical.

Also digital: the pitch fader Reloop. (Reloop call it “high-resolution.”) Set it to +- 8% (hello Technics-style pitch), or +/- 16% for a wider range (hello, Romanian techno, -16%), or an insane +/- 50%. That’s the actual platter speed we’re talking here. (Makes sense – platters on CDs and Blu-Ray spin far, far faster.)

With quartz lock on, the same mechanism will simply play your records more accurately at a steady pitch (0%).

The pitch fader and motor mechanism are both available on the RP-7000 MK2, for more traditional turntable operation The performance pad melodic control is on the 8000, the one intended for Serato users.

Serato integration

I expect some people want their controller and their deck separate – playing vinyl means bringing actual vinyl records, and playing digital means using a controller and computer, or for many people, just a USB stick and CDJs.

If you want that, you can grab the RP-7000 MK2 for just 500 bucks a deck, minus the controller features.

On the RP-8000 MK2, you get a deck that adds digital features you’ve seen on controllers and CDJs directly on the deck. As on the original RP-8000, Reloop are the first to offer Serato integration. And it’s implemented as MIDI, so you can work with third-party software as well. The market is obviously DVS users.

The original RP offered Cue, Loop, Sample and Slicer modes with triggers on the left-hand side. Plus you get a digital readout above the pitch fader.

On the MK2, the numeric display gives you even more feedback: pitch, BPM, deck assignment, scales and notes, elapsed/remaining time of current track, plus firmware settings.

New playback and platter control options on the Reloop RP-8000 MK2.

The pads have new performance modes, too: Cue, Sampler, Saved Loops, Pitch Play, Loop, Loop Roll, Slicer, and two user-assignable modes (for whatever functions you want).

Reloop have also upgraded the tone arm base for greater reliability and more adjustments.

And those performance modes look great – 22 scales and 34 notes, plus up to 9 user-defined scales.

For more integration, Reloop are also offering the Reloop Elite, a DVS-focused mixer with a bunch of I/O, displays that integrate with the software, and more RGB-colored performance triggers and other shortcuts.

https://www.reloop.com/reloop-elite

One of these things is not like the others: the new kit still requires a laptop to run Serato.

If I had any complaint, it’s this: when will Serato do their own standalone embedded hardware in place of the computer? I know many DJs are glad to bring a computer – and Reloop claims the controls on the deck eliminate the need for a standalone controller (plus they have that new mixer with still more Serato integration). But it seems still a bummer to have to buy and maintain a PC or Mac laptop as part of the deal. And if you’re laying out a couple grand on hardware, wouldn’t you be willing to buy an embedded solution that let you work without a computer? (Especially since Serato is an integrated environment, and would run on embedded machines. Why not stick an ARM board in there to run those displays and just read your music off USB?)

As for Reloop, they’re totally killing it with affordable turntables. If you just want some vinyl playback and basic DJing for your home or studio, in December they also unveiled the RP-2000 USB MK2. USB interface (for digitization or DVS control), direct drive control (so you can scratch on it), under 300 bucks.

https://www.reloop.com/

Previously in phonographs:

The Technics SL-1200 is back, and this time for DJs again

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The Technics SL-1200 is back, and this time for DJs again

First it was dead. Then, it came back but … inexplicably cost four thousand bucks and seemed to be for audiophiles, not DJs. Now, at last, the iconic* Technics SL-1200 turntable is back, and in a newly-manufactured form that might actually suit DJs.

The pitch: take advanced tech, learned from Blu-ray players, and turn it into an accessible turntable that delivers the performance and playing style of traditional players, with greater reliability and better sound.

If you don’t particularly need the name “Technics” on your turntable, of course, this may not even qualify as news. Manufacturers from Pioneer to Reloop now make reasonably affordable turntables that expand on the legacy of the Technics turntable and enable DJs to play decks like an instrument.

A couple of years ago when Panasonic revised the SL-1200 name, it at first seemed the company was surrendering the DJ market to those rivals. The first SL-1200GAE/1200G was a heavy, expensive machine engineered to within an inch of its life for vinyl consumers and deep-pocketed audiophiles. (Okay, I want to say “suckers.” At least people with money to burn.) Bizarrely, there wasn’t much mention of the DJs or hip hop producers who made the SL series famous in the first place. (Wired got the first preview; Vinyl Factory commented on the company’s explanation of that $4000 sticker shock.)

Now, it seems, we’re back to reality. The new SL-1200MK7 has specs more like a normal SL-1200, has marketing and specs intended for DJs, and while we don’t know the price, at least returns to a normal weight (just under 10kg).

The SL-1200MK7 (aka the SL-1210MK7 in Europe) then can be fairly dubbed the first Matsushita/Panasonic turntable for DJs to come off the assembly line in nine years – and the first in nine years to be a direct successor to the 1972 original 1200.

Onboard, some new engineering, now again in the service of DJs:

Coreless direct drive motor – okay, first, Panasonic are again making a new motor, apparently even after the 2016 audiophile take on this. It’s a direct drive motor like the original, but Technics promises the torque of the MK5, but without the iron core that can cause cogging (inconsistencies that impact audio quality).

To put it more briefly – this is the kind of more reliable motor Technics was pushing, but this time not so damned heavy and expensive.

Also new:

Reverse it. Provided you have a compatible phono cartridge, you can enable a reverse play function accessed by hitting the speed selector and Start/Stop at the same time.

Scratch-friendly – with computer control. Here’s the surprise: you get new motor control Panasonic have borrowed from the development of Blu-ray drives, using microprocessors to keep the motor operating smoothly. The MK7 tunes that relationship, says Technics, to work across playing styles – including DJing. What else does that mean?

Pitch is digitally controlled. Greater accuracy of pitch adjustment is another side benefit, because the motor can respond interactively as you play.

Well, apparently the original silver color is now reserved for audiophiles.

But there’s no question this is a sign of the times. Where as the digital age first seemed to jettison old brands and old technologies, all of them are back with a vengeance, from film photography to turntables to synthesizers. And finally even the likes of Japanese titan Panasonic, Technics parent company, are getting the memo. Just like a violinist wants particular features out of a violin, a DJ has expectations of what a turntable should be – not only appearance or moniker, but engineering.

And, let’s be honest, there is something nice about seeing new Technics in production.

Now the question is, can Panasonic trickle down new advanced tech in motors and control, inherited from advanced Blu-ray players, to the traditional turntable? If they can, they might just be able to best some of the other commodity turntables on the market.

Full details:
https://www.technics.com/us/news/20190107-sl-1200mk7/ [Press release]

[Product page]

A timeline of Technics turntables

The SP-10 started it all – at least introducing the world to direct drive turntables. But notice it didn’t even have its own integrated tonearm.

DJ Kool Herc was far enough ahead of the curve that he started on the 1971 SL-1100, not the SL-1200.

1970: SP-10
World’s first direct drive turntable (the enabling technology that would enable DJing technique and scratching)

1971: SL-1100
Starts to look like the turntables we know (integrated tonearm and platter). Used by hip-hop pioneer DJ Kool Herc.

1972: SL-1200/SL-1210
You’d feel at home cueing and beatmatching on this, but – note that the speed control was on a dial. (The 1210 variation of this is a Euro-friendly model with voltage selection and black, not silver.)

1979: SL-1200MK2
The SL-1200 was already a standard, but the MK2 looks more like the template DJs recognize today. Influenced by a field trip to Chicago clubs, the engineers unveiled the MK2 with Quartz Lock, a big pitch fader (whew!), and other details like a vibration-soaking cabinet and rubber.

Later revisions added other minor improvements, but it was really the MK2 that looks like the template for all DJ turntables to come – particularly thanks to pitch being on a fader and not a tiny knob (once Japanese engineers worked out how artists in Chicago were using pitch).

1989: SL-1200MK3
Improvements largely around vibration.

1997: SL-1200MK3D
The end of the center click pitch controller (so you could get hairline adjustments around zero more accurately).

2000: SL-1200MK5
Sort of the gold standard here, based on tiny performance enhancements and details like brake speed adjustment. See also the MK5G variation, 2002.

2019: SL-1200MK7/SL-120MK7
All-new motor, digitally-controlled pitch, reverse play.

And yes, I agree with my colleague James Grahame of MeeBlip in thinking this is all becoming a bit like the modern Spitfire kit remake planes, the Submarine Spitfires.

All photos courtesy Technics.

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Pioneer really want to sell you a turntable, with $350 PLX-500

Pioneer clearly seek to own DJing – and they’ve now got a pretty solid play for every piece of that landscape. The latest piece: a direct drive turntable with USB connection, ready to play, scratch, or work with control vinyl (and Pioneer’s increasingly ubiquitous Rekordbox software). Price: US$350 – affordable enough to appeal to even casual DJs as a set of two.

Vinyl is fast looking less like specialist equipment or niche fad, and more like the last man standing in music sales and an essential part of DJing. So it fits that, even in the home, a turntable is suited both for DJing and playback. And that’s what the PLX-500 promises: it’s advertised as ready to scratch (thanks to direct drive operation) and is even compatible for cueing or scratching digital via Rekordbox and optional control vinyl.

The pricing is aggressive, relative to the other Pioneer decks: suggested retail US$349 or €349 / £269 in Europe.

Intro video:

This is the second turntable from Pioneer. So, that positions the PLX-500 as the “home” model, with the PLX-1000 street at about twice as much. That mirrors the way Pioneer has differentiated its digital players, with the XDJ series a the “home” model and the CDJ nexus for “pros.”

How do you decide which to buy? Well, the 500 is a plug-and-play solution for home users. So you’ve got built in preamps (so line in and line out are built in), built-in USB interface (mainly with an eye toward letting you digitize your vinyl collection), and a lower cost.

The “pro”-focused 1000 assumes that you’ll want to use your own turntable amp and interface – so that’s not so much diminished value as it is a nod to more serious users. You can detach input and output more easily on the 1000, essential for use in the booth and studio and whatnot.

But most crucially, the 1000 has what Pioneer tells CDM is a “durable platter designed for professional DJ-ing.” That’s really everything, because the whole selling point of the PLX-1000 is its unparalleled stability. In fact, I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews from DJs using the PLX-1000 everywhere it’s been installed. The verdict: it’s better even than the legendary Technics SL-1200 that had been the gold standard. And just in case you weren’t already seeing enough Pioneer logos in clubs, I’ve noticed the PLX-1000 has increasingly been supplanting Technics decks, especially as they’re retired.

So while I don’t yet know what the platter mechanism is on the PLX-500, it’s clear that’s the main thing you’re buying when you invest in a PLX-1000. On the other hand, home use is generally far less treacherous than a club install.

Ironically, of course, you can get a pair of PLX-500 turntables before you’ve even gotten to the cost of a single XDJ digital player. Tables have turned, so to speak.

PLX-500_black_prm_top_low_0705

More details:

Signal path inherited from the PLX-1000. Pioneer says the 500 should borrow some of the great sound quality of the 1000: “The shortest possible audio routing from the stylus to the outputs reduces distortion, and the phono and line outputs mean you can connect directly to your sound system or powered speakers to enjoy warm sound.” (It’s funny to refer to something as new as the 1000 in this way, but – I’ve already heard a lot of mileage on the 1000’s. Well done, Pioneer.)

PLX-500_black_rear_low_0705

USB for recording. Digitize with the free Pioneer Rekordbox app – which will even detect silences and slice up tracks into different files for you, ready to tag. (Hmm, how long before even the tagging is automated, I wonder?) And of course, this also solves the problem of DJs just dabbling in vinyl – because they can just add their favorite records to their collection easily, with the hardware already on the decks and the software to which they’re accustomed.

PLX-500_setcut_DJM-750_low_0705

Scratching/mixing-ready. High-torque, direct drive – so yes, scratch turntablists can use this. (Will be curious just how it compares to the 1000s here, particularly). And Pioneer also offers a complete solution here – the “rekordbox dvs Plus Pack” which works with Pioneer’s JDM mixer and RB-VS1-K Control Vinyl. That makes the whole bundle a real rival to products like Native Instruments’ Traktor Scratch. (I’ll have to find out if it’ll be compatible with Traktor, too.)

You do have to pay for rekordbox for this use case, though – $/€139 plus a rekordbox dvs license key ($/€129) – or a €9.90/month subscription. (To be frank, Serato and Native Instruments are lucky Pioneer aren’t giving this away, too.)

The whole thing weighs under 11kg and comes with everything you need. There’s a USB and phono/RCA jacks. And you get a bunch of accessories in the box: slip mat, dust cover with jacket stand (cute), adapter for EP record, balance weight, headshell (with cartridge), shell weight, power cord, USB cord, audio conversion cord (Stereo pin plug (female) to stereo mini plug(male)) – all in there.

More:

http://www.pioneerdj.com/en/product/turntable/

All in all, I think this is a pretty powerful offering. With just one product, Pioneer are answering a lot of different users’ needs – from digitizing those records you just collected to being able to DJ with them to an inexpensive turntable that you can scratch on.

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Pioneer XDJ-700 is the $699 touchscreen CDJ to take home

xdj-700-front

We know Pioneer is dominant in the clubs. (Heck, as a brand, Pioneer is almost more of a sure thing than even Red Bull.) But as the global DJ population booms, is it something people will also take home?

Pioneer sure does seem to hope so – and as it gears itself toward DJs outside clubs, it’s starting to look more like a direct rival to Traktor and Serato and their ecosystems.

rekordboxdj-main

First off, there’s rekordbox DJ. rekordbox was already a ubiquitous tool for DJs to do before-the-gig set management – a kind of pre-flight tool for your USB stick before you headed into the dank nightlife underground and plugged into a USB stick. But lately, that same tool is looking, well, a whole lot like a cleaned-up Pioneer rival to Traktor. They’ve got the blue color-coded waveforms. They’ve got the same multi-pane interface. They’ve copied Traktor’s library view, down to the narrow rectangular artwork previews. Heck, Pioneer, a Japanese company, is even taking to spelling things with a ‘k’ – auf Deutsch. And, taking a page from the Serato/NI playbook, Pioneer is at last making their own “native” USB controllers designed especially for rekordbox – like the DDJ-RX.

That’s not to say rekordbox DJ is a slavish clone, either – which really ought to have NI even more worried. There’s multi-screen support, a clever way of chaining effects on pads, and simpler recording.

That said, DJs really associate Pioneer with standalone hardware. Playing on a CDJ, frankly, can be less stressful than DJing on a laptop, and feel more like working with decks in the traditional sense.

So, next up, there’s Pioneer’s play for getting you to take the whole CDJ home with you, too. (Okay, fine, “XDJ,” but let’s face it – anything with a circle on it that says Pioneer will now forever be known to DJs as “CDJ’s.”)

xdj-700-main

xdj-700-back

Enter the XDJ-7000. It’s a current-generation Pioneer deck with most of the bells and whistles – but skipping some stuff you probably don’t need in order to shave some weight, size, and cost off the unit.

That’s not to say it’s stripped down. For the price of a premium controller – heck, the price of a new NI deck that doesn’t do anything without being attached to a computer – you get a reasonable set of features:

  • A 7″ color touchscreen. Touch means you can both type searches into the browser (remember, no laptop), and zoom in on waves, show beat countdowns, etc.
  • Set up loops and cues in rekordbox, then trigger them here, plus see rekordbox metadata (this is a Pioneer box, after all).
  • Lots o’ quantization, in case you ain’t got rhythm: loops, cues, Beat Sync, the usual.
  • Load music via USB key, or USB/wifi connection to a computer (or iOS/Android via Pioneer’s rekordbox app).

What you lose: you don’t get that spinning display in the center of the wheel, and the wheel is smaller.

Upgrade to the $999 XDJ-1000, and you get that wheel, plus a dedicated reverse button and a Vinyl Speed Adjust knob, plus a minijack audio output labeled “control” (most likely for your headphones). I’m also curious to see these units in person to evaluate build and finish. Whatever the difference there, you’ll pay $300 and an extra kilogram for the privilege. (That speed adjust knob to me is the one thing you’d be most likely to miss.)

Now, if you are a laptop DJ but want to prepare in order to do an occasional CDJ (uh, XDJ) set, this might also be an option. USB-HID and MIDI support means the same hardware will double as a controller.

The XDJ isn’t exactly cheap – since we’re talking about two grand by the time you spend the cash for two XDJs and a mixer. But for those who do want to bring a CDJ home, this is one they might for the first time actually carry around. It’s 238 x 308 x 106 mm (W x D x H), and comes with a stand you can remove to reduce the height to 70mm.

xdj-700-side

xdj-700-left-nofeet

Also, Pro DJ Link connects this generation of players via LAN cable. That’s useful for syncing, but could also mean DJs could pool together their XDJs for multi-deck setups.

And you should note the trends here. Pioneer is getting slimmer than ever, more affordable than ever, and more computer-friendly than ever. As DJ controller gear for laptops is simultaneously getting fancier and pricier and bigger, I think that could mean the first real stand-off between the computer and dedicated player approaches.

That said, maybe someone can explain to me why Traktor is always the butt of jokes about “stupid DJs,” when XDJs now have exactly the same features as far as synchronization and quantization – and then some. Just how many visual references do you need to keep things in sync? These things are starting to look like the instrument landing on an Airbus.

My guess is, whatever trash talking may be going on, a lot of DJs will eye on the 700 for their home setups, even sometimes in conjunction with laptops. Or they’ll pick up older CDJs as clubs and DJs unload them.

News: http://www.pioneerdj.com/en/news/2015/xdj-700

Product page: (hmm, suggests a color other than black is coming, huh?)

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Numark NV for Serato: Every Digital DJ Control Method in One Box?

NV_angle_2

In the digital age, the metaphor for DJing has been fragmented. You’ve got big wheels, but they represent missing turntables and don’t provide visual feedback. You’ve got CDJs, but then the waveform and the wheel are still separate. You’ve got vinyl records, but then you have to look at a computer screen to see where you are in the track. (A recent presentation at the NIME conference projected images on the record – see below – but projectors lack enough resolution for cue points on the vinyl.)

The iPad is the one device that seems to get it right. It displays a waveform, and by touching the waveform, you can navigate the sound. The cost, though, is all the other tangible, physical controls – iPads’ virtual faders and knobs just aren’t as satisfying to use as the real thing.

Oh, and then you also have controllers that focus instead on trigger points and percussive slicing on a grid — essentially, the MPC as found on a DJ controller.

Numark’s NV is either the first of a new generation of controllers, or the last gasp of all the remaining idioms. Or maybe it’s a little of each.

Displays for waveform views of decks. You get color waveform displays as on something like a CDJ or your computer screen. You can’t touch them as on the iPad – but at least you don’t have to look at your computer. And the displays are really nice, a “1:1″ view of what you’d see on a computer display in Serato – at least of each deck. (For everything else, there are physical controls.) There are two dedicated displays, but you can switch them among four decks.

– and displays for library navigation. Just to make sure you really aren’t looking at that laptop, the displays double as a way of browsing your library.

Big wheels. As on the CDJ and many controllers, wheels stand in for the feeling of using a turntable deck.

Knobs and faders, mixer style. Dedicated EQ, filter, effect, mixing, and the like – real knobs and faders. The knobs are capacitive, so you can switch modes, including multiple filter modes that add, if you desire, effects. And these also allow you to add “effects tweaking, EQ kills, and filter sweeps” – though that stuff always makes me shudder a little in fear of hyper-active DJs.

Velocity-sensitive pads. Yes, you get 16 drum pads, which do everything you’d expect – triggering samples (with velocity if you like), jumping to cues and loops, and slicing.

Audio I/O. Thankfully with something this big, you don’t have to carry an audio interface. You get everything you need – booth/master RCA outputs plus balanced XLR outs. Nice. Sorry, I have to do this. Dear Native Instruments: You know how you say we don’t want audio jacks, as on hardware like Maschine Studio? We want them. I want them. I don’t know what focus group decided the audio jacks were unnecessary, but having lugged a Maschine Studio and an audio interface around and burnt through both of my MacBook’s two USB ports, I suspect this is the sort of focus group that would declare I don’t want ketchup or mayo on my fries (I want both, actually), and then would proceed to punch me in the face because they didn’t like my beard. I’m not the world’s highest-paid DJ or live performer, but I’ve found every gig I’ve played involved me, audio cables, and a PA, unless this focus group is exclusively working on network-distributed silent discos. Done with that rant, thank you.

numark_nv_rear_1200x750-624x390

NV_ortho-624x390

Ahem.

Back to the original question: does it make sense to combine all these features like this?

Capacitive knobs are a smart idea – they respond to twisting as do normal knobs, but also if you touch them lightly and don’t move them. We’ve seen them on other hardware, but they’re a good match for DJ controllers.

You also get an impressive complement of dedicated controls, all of it tailored to four decks, not just two.

And there appear to be some really terrific details as far as the Serato integration, including supporting different templates and customization (“Flips”).

And the price is impressive: $699.99 USD list (not street), with those displays, is a new benchmark to beat.

So, no question: for certain Serato users, this will be a godsend.

I just wonder about the number of clashing metaphors both here and in DJ controllers, generally. There are pads, like on an MPC. There’s a waveform. But you can’t touch the waveform. You control it using a wheel, which is a metaphor borrowed from the vinyl turntable. That wheel can’t do everything you need, so you also control the waveform with pads – like on an MPC. But all of that is in turn combined with something that looks like a mixer.

And once you add that many things together, you get something freakin’ huge. A lot of people swear by this layout, and it definitely looks possible to hide your laptop and not look at it. (That’s a very good thing.) But if you’re a DJ who needs to work in close quarters, you’re out of luck.

I’ve seen people use controllers like this and play really good sets. If you’re looking for a single controller that has pads and wheels and lots of dedicated controls — and you also don’t want to look at your computer screen — this could be your solution. And I’m happy to see displays here rather than something like an iPad dock (now doubly dated since Apple killed the connector that made them work).

I’m also interested to try those touch-enabled knobs.

The NV may be a lot of fun to play now; we’ll know as it ships. But it seems digital DJing hasn’t yet entirely escaped a mishmash of metaphors and history. From digital control vinyl to hardware that fakes turntables and mixers, we’ve yet to see hardware that seamlessly fuses the control method with the digital possibilities inside. The question now is, will these keep evolving, like a generation of animals emerging from the sea, shedding extra limbs no longer needed? Or will there be hardware that can do what the iPad (or even something like the monome) did: make a clean slate?

There, too, I suspect the answer to the either/or question is “yes.” If I’m right, it’ll be fun to watch.

http://www.numark.com/microsites/nv

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Laptop or iPad DJ? What If It Didn’t Matter? New NI Hardware, Mad Zach Demo

s4setup_ipad

That’s one small step for DJ hardware, one giant leap into the post-PC era.

Native Instruments today has updated their integrated hardware for Traktor DJs, the 4-channel Traktor Kontrol S4 and 2-channel Traktor Kontrol S2. But while the updates are nice, the biggest transformation is that you can watch a DJ working with these controllers alongside either an iPad or a Mac/PC laptop – and it really doesn’t matter which they’re using.

Oh, sure, the laptop is more flexible when it comes to storage, and NI’s iOS software still lags on some of the nice features of the desktop version, like added effects. But, if anything, the iPad is starting to look like it could someday have the edge. It’s smaller, it’s more focused on the task at hand, and its touchscreen excels at manipulating digital waveforms of the music being played. It’s both screen and interface in a way no other hardware or computer can be.

In fact, the one show-stopping problem I have with Traktor DJ on the iPad – the fact that it’s too easy to accidentally switch off a deck with your finger – is resolved by having dedicated hardware.

On the other hand, laptop users benefit from this flexibility, too. If you still prefer the more-powerful features and expanded storage of a desktop, that iPad now serves as an adequate backup system. (Beer and MacBooks don’t make the best combo.) And furthermore, you’re no longer purchasing hardware for a dedicated system; the Traktor gear will work with desktop and mobile, NI’s software but also anything that supports MIDI. (I’m rather keen to hack these, in fact.)

The Hardware

As to the “small-step” incremental updates, they’re nice, too:

  • Updated design
  • 8 color-coded RGB buttons for triggering (as part of NI’s march to turn everything into RGB buttons)
  • High-resolution jog wheels NI claims send better data, with “aircraft-grade alumnimum plates”
  • Dedicated controls for Flux Mode (on iOS) and Remix Decks (on desktop)

US$799 / 799 € buys you the S4; $499 / 499 € the S2.

I’ll say this, too. Apologies to those of you in comments who think CDM should be trashing NI’s new hardware. But I find the designs to look and feel terrific, and I keep hearing good feedback from the folks using them. (Now, that doesn’t mean I’m not keen for some software updates – Maschine, Reaktor, better third-party controller support in Traktor, and so on being high on the list.)

But – let me say this again – the big news here is that this could well be the announcement when it was clear that iPads and perhaps other tablets would be on equal footing with laptops.

(Oh, and PS – because it is class-compliant for iOS, this also makes this controller more hackable for other solutions. Just sayin’. Come on, you know this is still CDM.)

The Kontrol S4. iOS/PC interchangeability is the big news story here, but updated hardware is both sleeker and more usable.

The Kontrol S4. iOS/PC interchangeability is the big news story here, but updated hardware is both sleeker and more usable.

The two-channel S2, viewed from the integrated audio interface cue jack. All images courtesy Native Instruments.

The two-channel S2, viewed from the integrated audio interface cue jack. All images courtesy Native Instruments.

The "high-resolution" platters and new aluminum build are a big part of the story here. We're keen to try them - and even try mapping them to other software.

The “high-resolution” platters and new aluminum build are a big part of the story here. We’re keen to try them – and even try mapping them to other software.

The Controllerist

madzach

Music technology is built as tools for humans, so it really only becomes interesting (or not) once you put a person behind this hardware. And NI chose well – Mad Zach. This talented musician and contributor to DJ TechTools does turn digital DJing into an instrumental skill. He’s a justification for the term “controllerist” if ever there was one.

The NI kit is nice, but this is as much an ad for Zach’s unique virtuosity, too. And the setting is perfect: it’s the abandoned control room of the power plant at Kraftwerk, the space above Berlin’s club Tresor. (Dear NI: please find a way to shoot a video relating to Reaktor there. Obvious, no?)

If you’re in Berlin, you can catch him on the 27th of September at a stupidly-affordable 3-hour workshop. I wish I could be there; I’ll be in Hamburg for Reepberbahn Festival, but I hope someone takes good notes for the rest of us.

And for anyone who routinely complains at this site for focusing on vendors, that’s not what his workshop is about – it’s about developing your musical chops, not any one product.

Looks great – details on the blog of Barb Nerdy’s Wedding, Berlin party collective:
DJ Tools workshop with Mad Zach [Support Your Local Ghetto]

http://www.madzach.com/

The post Laptop or iPad DJ? What If It Didn’t Matter? New NI Hardware, Mad Zach Demo appeared first on Create Digital Music.

Traktor Kontrol S4 DJ Jam

Click here to view the embedded video.

Controllerist Ean Golden puts the new Traktor Kontrol S4 and its range of features to the test in this performance, based around Ozzy Osbourne’s Crazy Train and The Prodigy’s Firestarter.

Golden creates a live mashup track using Traktor’s creative arsenal, from the effects suite to the looping and cue point triggering features and the new Loop Recorder, which he turns on and off using a footswitch.

In the follow-up video, below, Golden offers a tutorial look at the performance.

Click here to view the embedded video.

via NativeInstruments:

Also check Ean’s S4 routine “Phenomena” on the NI YouTube channel.

For more info on Traktor Kontrol S4, visit http://www.native-instruments.com/s4