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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Build your own scratch DJ controller

If DJing originated in the creative miuse and appropriation of hardware, perhaps the next wave will come from DIYers inventing new approaches. No need to wait, anyway – you can try building this scratch controller yourself.

DJWORX has done some great ongoing coverage of Andy Tait aka Rasteri. You can read a complete overview of Andy’s SC1000, a Raspberry Pi-based project with metal touch platter:

Step aside portablism — the tiny SC1000 is here

In turn, there’s also that project’s cousin, the 7″ Portable Scratcher aka 7PS.

If you’re wondering what portablism is, that’s DJs carrying portable record players around. But maybe more to the point, if you can invent new gear that fits in a DJ booth, you can experiment with DJing in new ways. (Think how much current technique is really circumscribed by the feature set of CDJs, turntables, and fairly identical DJ software.)

Or to look at it another way, you can really treat the DJ device as a musical instrument – one you can still carry around easily.

The SC1000 in Rasteri’s capable hands is exciting just to behold:

Everything you need to build this yourself – or to discover the basis for other ideas – is up on GitHub:

https://github.com/rasteri/SC1000/

This is not a beginner project. But it’s not overwhelmingly complicated, either. Basically…

Ingredients:
Custom PCB
System-on-module (the brains of the operation)
SD card
Enclosure
Jog wheel with metal capacitive touch surface and magnet
Mini fader

Free software powers the actual DJing. (It’s based on xwax, open source Linux digital vinyl emulation, which we’ve seen as the basis of other DIY projects.)

Process:

You need to assemble the main PCB – there’s your soldering iron action.

And you’ll flash the firmware (which requires a PIC programmer), plus transfer the OS to SD card.

Assembly of the jog wheel and enclosure requires a little drilling and gluing

Other than that it’s a matter of testing and connection.

Build tutorial:

Full open source under a GPLv2 license. (Andy sort of left out the hardware license – this really sort of illustrates that GNU need a license that blankets both hardware and software, though that’s complex legally. There’s no copyright information on the hardware; to be fully open it needs something like a Creative Commons license on those elements of the designs. But that’s not a big deal.)

It looks really fantastic. I definitely want to try building one of these in Berlin – will team up and let you know how it goes.

This clearly isn’t for everyone. But the reason I mention going to custom hardware is, this means both that you can adapt your own technique to a particular instrument and you can modify the way the digital DJ tool responds if you so choose. It may take some time before we see that bear fruit, but it definitely holds some potential.

Via:
Rasteri’s SC1000 scratch controller — build your own today [thanks to Mark Settle over at DJWORX!]

Project page:
https://github.com/rasteri/SC1000/

Thanks, Dubby Labby!

The post Build your own scratch DJ controller appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

NI’s moving haptic wheels could change digital DJing: the new S4

DJing techniques are all built around moving turntables – around record players. The biggest news from Native Instruments today is that the company is finally bringing that tactile, kinetic experience to a digital controller you might actually go and buy. Meet the TRAKTOR KONTROL S4 MK3.

In the beginning, of course, there were turntables. And even though a digital file has nothing to do with a turntable, the gestures born out of the older analog, mechanical technology are tough to beat. Look at it this way: if you needed to represent the playback of a sound, and allow physical control with human hands over speed and time, you might actually arrive at the solution of a big spinning wheel with resistance. (Think about clocks, for instance.)

Native Instruments has had a big role in popularizing digital vinyl control, and later has had some of the most sophisticated jog wheel sensing. But a turntable with control vinyl can be unreliable and impractical, and controllers, no matter how good their sensing, don’t give much in the way of haptic, kinetic feedback. You can push them, but they don’t really push back. So those jog wheels have more in common with controls for video decks than they do audio. And in turn, NI has fallen behind in recent controllers, venturing into a side track (excuse the pun) working with touchpads, which proved even less sensitive and tactile than the wheels they replaced.

The solution: make something that moves, that responds the way a real-world object would in terms of resistance and gesture, and map it intelligently to software. It’s a haptic, digital wheel. You get advantages over the mechanical-analog solution, too: greater reliability, flexibility (you can adjust how it behaves interactively), lighter weight, and lower cost. Plugging real turntables into computers is novel and interesting, but it’s still impractical, like plugging old telephone switchboards …. oh, wait. Uh… sorry, forget the metaphor, as everyone is into Eurorack which is exactly using old telephone switchboards.

Let me start over: these wheels feel great, and for digital DJs, finally allow the kind of feedback that make digital fun to play.

No matter how much you love vinyl, being able to DJ with digital files matters. Pressing vinyl carries some cost in time and money, and translates into unsold inventory for lower-demand items. Digital DJing is important because it allows independent underground labels with small budgets to put out music and let DJs play it. And it’s essential for times when you can’t carry record bags. What’s exciting about the new S4 is, it finally makes digital DJing start to feel less like a compromise.

NI aren’t alone in going this direction. DENON have their own standalone player, the Denon DJ SC5000M. Like the S4, it’s motorized and gives tangible feedback. How does it compare? I have no idea, as I haven’t tried one in person, though you should absolutely go check out the extensive story on DJWORX:

EXCLUSIVE FIRST LOOK: Motorised Denon DJ SC5000M Prime

If anything has a chance of unseating Pioneer’s ubiquity in booths, it’s a rival maker replacing lifeless wheels with moving ones – assuming Pioneer don’t quickly respond with a CDJ-3000NXSmove or whatever they want to call it.

But as for independent DJs, here’s the thing: that Denon deck costs US$1899 per deck. So your rig will cost around 4 grand even before you add a mixer.

The S4 MKIII by comparison will be available in November for USD/EUR 899 for the entire package. So that’s within reach of the an aspiring DJ.

NI let the press get our hands on the new S4. And in just a few minutes of playing with it, I was already hooked.

Here’s what you get with those “high-torque” motorized jog wheels:

Three modes of haptic feedback: jog, turntable-modeling operation (vinyl-style beatmatching), and “beatgrid adjust” (something new and specifically digital – you can actually feel simulated bumps where your grid is located)

Visual feedback. The RGB light rings around the wheels aren’t just for show: they provide additional visual feedback, and it looks like they’ll be adjustable/configurable (or you may even be able to switch them off if you want).

High-res displays: waveform strip, track title, loop length and activation, key, BPM, plus Stem and Remix Decks. You don’t get touchscreens this time round – though you’d be pretty greedy to ask for them with those two wheels, of course. But the displays, like those we’ve seen on Maschine, are really nice and information-rich.

STEMS and Remix Decks: Oh yeah – love them or hate them, the two signature TRAKTOR features are back, and benefit from those great screens. STEMS remains a compelling idea, and it seems while its obvious application for tracks with vocals hasn’t caught on, it has a niche following in some techno circles. Remix Decks remain a clever way of loading up samples and extras.

Built-in audio interface, multiple inputs: Oh yeah, remember how I complained yesterday that the new Pioneer XDJ-RR has only one stereo input? This has inputs on each channel. So you can add vinyl or other machines and add in records or play hybrid sets. There are multiple microphone inputs, too.

Faders that are dirt and particle-resistant. All-new “Carbon Protect” faders are inverted carbon strips that help keep foreign substances from gumming up your faders. Nice.

A new TRAKTOR. The other important story here is that TRAKTOR itself gets a major updated – the long-anticipated TRAKTOR 3. And there’s lots of good stuff there, which I’ll cover separately.

So, for around a grand now, you have two new “intermediate” options for DJs that look really promising. There’s Pioneer, with their Rekordbox-ready standalone all-in-one – upside, no computer and full compatibility with CDJs, downside, not really a mixer. Or there’s NI, with their TRAKTOR S4 MKIII solution, adding a new kinetic experience and mixing capability while actually coming in at a lower cost than previous flagships. Requires a computer, yes but … can also do a bit more. And the wheels move.

The question to me is, is the S4 MKIII good enough that you’ll want to lug it to gigs. Because then Reakordbox compatibility ceases to matter, and you show up with something different. Stay tuned for a hands-on.

Here’s proof meanwhile I did get on the prototype, complete with Chinese factory stickers:

Yesterday’s entry from Pioneer:

Pioneer’s latest DJ all-in-one wants to help you get ready for clubs

Last major TRAKTOR news was way back in fall 2016 – so TRAKTOR 3 is very welcome:

Traktor 2.11 is here, and a bunch of stuff now works together

The post NI’s moving haptic wheels could change digital DJing: the new S4 appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Pioneer’s latest DJ all-in-one wants to help you get ready for clubs

The modern CDJ – and resurgent vinyl – have won over the DJ market in many genres and corners of the world. But that leaves a problem: it’s expensive to duplicate this setup and home. Pioneer’s latest all-in-one promises to be more reliable, and closer to the club experience.

It’s bad news for the likes of Serato and Native Instruments, as well as for would-be rival players like Denon, but Pioneer have done a pretty impressive job of entrenching themselves in the club. And once you get to the venue, you see the reason: it’s way easier to show up with a couple of USB sticks than an entire computer and controller rig, and far easier to start playing when those decks are already plugged in. No solution, including the CDJ, is 100% reliable – I know some DJs carrying CDJ firmware on USB as well as previously-tested Rekordbox backups for good measure, which is smart advice. But CDJs have far fewer reliability problems than computer/OS combinations, clearly.

It’s really outside well-equipped clubs where there’s a gap to fill. And Pioneer have been aggressively positioning themselves for everyone in those scenarios, too. That includes their growing range of Rekordbox controllers, which have the advantage of doubling as prep tools – star tracks, make playlists, and you’ll have all that history on your USB sticks when you go to the club. And these controllers are also (finally) following the layout of the CDJ more closely.

But maybe you don’t want to play a controller at home or in the studio. Practicing delicate beat matching or more advanced looping techniques might leave you wanting a couple of CDJs. And even in the used market, these things are damned expensive. The same price point that makes sense for a club with a liquor license is enough to break the hearts of cash-strapped DJs. I’ve seen DJs advise using older CDJs but… these to me are just a waste of money, as they’re generally no fun to use; Pioneer’s later decks are the ones with wheels and functionality that you want (especially if manual beat matching and extra performance technique is the whole point of the investment).

The budget solution is obviously an all-in-one standalone deck. We’ve just been waiting for Pioneer to get it right – and the XDJ-RR might be it.

Just as the company did with its decks, Pioneer keeps iterating in the all-in-one category. So they’ve had portable units like the Aero that were a bit too far from the real decks. Or, they’ve had hardware like the XDJ-RX2 which came closer to a two-CDJ-and-mixer configuration, but were priced out of budget for a lot of people. (The RX2 hit US$1699 street

It’s not quite mobile, but it is reasonably luggable – just over 11 lbs / 5.2 kg, and even with a case available. That could be a solution for DIY events, especially given CDJ rental costs.

So that sounds like a solution to me. You can invest in this, carryit to venues that don’t have new CDJs, and practice and make mixes while still playing CDJs when you DJ out. (That’s actually even more important to those of us who play live sets, because there’s just no way we’re carrying a performance and a DJ rig around.)

Checking the specs, you also get a nice little set of bells and whistles:

Full-featured decks: 7″ screens, all that USB stick support, standalone operation, nice big wheels – curious to see if these feel the same as an NX2 – if so, I’m completely sold.

Effects: Dub echo, pitch, noise, filter “Sound Color FX” plus echo, reverb, flanger “Beat FX.”

NXS2-style performance features: Beat loop, auto beat loop, slip loop, beat sync, quantize

Mic input

Two USB ports for easy DJ changeovers with computers

Two headphone outs (plus the usual XLR and RCA masters)

There are still lots of reasons you might opt for an actual mixer, though. Unlike even some of the computer solutions from Native Instruments and others, this isn’t really a mixer – there’s just 1 aux RCA input. So you can’t add turntables, which is a pretty major downside for a lot of people (and maybe a reason to just opt for a DJ mixer, computer, and controller at home). I’ll be looking at some of those computer configurations for comparison soon, including Pioneer’s.

You also have the issue of repairs: if anything breaks here, you have to repair the whole all-in-one.

It still feels like someone ought to rethink standalone digital DJ hardware and present some other option. But on the other hand, right now, the XDJ-RR is unquestionably the most cost effective, complete standalone solution for making a two-CDJ deck setup without the actual CDJs.

Pioneer doesn’t always move quickly, but they do move effectively. You’ve got an all-in-one solution that refines functionality, is 40% lighter an even cheaper than the previous model RX2, and starts to focus more clearly on what the market wants.

And yeah, my inclination with my own cash would be to opt for this over one of the DJ controller/mixer options around the same $1k price.

I just wish they’d given us two inputs. That’s a bit… painful. I’ll try to get an RR in for review, as I think this is becoming an increasingly invaluable tool for anyone making clubs or dance music part of their musical life.

More:

https://www.pioneerdj.com/en/product/all-in-one-system/xdj-rr/black/overview/

Previously:

Pioneer’s $250 DDJ-400 will appeal to DIYers, iOS users, too

The post Pioneer’s latest DJ all-in-one wants to help you get ready for clubs appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Forget vinyl: here’s a DJ rig with two Amiga 1200 PCs

Computers will never die. Now they’re even old enough to be retro. So watch a DJ rig that combines two Commodore Amigas for MOD DJing, thanks to recent software.

“The kids are coming up from behind. I’m losing my edge. I hear that you and your band have sold your turntables and bought Amigas.”

The beauty of this approach is, those Amigas play MOD files – tracker-based music sequences with elaborate, hyperactive sounds from the golden age of video game composition and chip music. And just as you really want to hear certain things on tape or digital or vinyl, some music really lends itself to that format.

And yes, there really is (fairly) new software for this – new Amiga software, no joke. It’s called PT-1210, and it transforms vintage Amigas (or Atari ST) into a kind of CDJ for MOD files. It debuted – where else, at a demoscene/hacker conference – at Revision 2014 in Saarbrücken, Germany. Here’s how the developers describe it:

PT-1210 Mk1 is a Protracker Digital Turntable, that is, a computer program that will let you play your Amiga Protracker module files (.MOD) as if you were playing with CDJ turntables, inspired by gwEm’s STJ. Think of it as Traktor for the Protracker generation.

Hilarious banner:

That software is the work of Akira (concept/UI), h0ffman (concept/code), and tecon (testing). It’s even written in Assembler code for maximum performance on vintage hardware. Grab it here:

http://pt1210.abime.net/

Atari ST fans, this Amiga creation was in turn inspired by Atari ST software with the same aim, by gwEM, cleverly dubbed STJ:

http://www.preromanbritain.com/stj/

The rig in the video at top:

Small monitors (for analog video output)
Mono-to-stereo adapters (since the Amigas have mono output)
DJ mixer
SD cards (in place of floppy disks, which means massive supplies of MOD files)

They found their MOD files at ModLand

Oh yeah, there are even instant doubles – you can load up the same track on both machines.)

Beat matching is still a thing here, so you get human sync by your ear rather than something electronically locked in. (That’s also beautiful, frankly!)

To show off all this goodness, the RetroManCave YouTube channel goes to these folks:

Retro Ravi – https://www.youtube.com/user/the4mula
8bitmixshow – http://8bitmix.com/

Okay, so that’s the tech stuff. But now the important bit – can you make a compelling DJ set with this rig? Here’s one answer, from Ravi:

Thanks to Noncompliant for the link! Can I request my favorite MOD at Berghain this Saturday, Lisa?

https://www.noncompliantmusic.com/#!

Don’t just want to DJ, but produce, too? Check this out:

The 90s are alive, with a free, modern clone of FastTracker II

The post Forget vinyl: here’s a DJ rig with two Amiga 1200 PCs appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Forget vinyl: here’s a DJ rig with two Amiga 1200 PCs

Computers will never die. Now they’re even old enough to be retro. So watch a DJ rig that combines two Commodore Amigas for MOD DJing, thanks to recent software.

“The kids are coming up from behind. I’m losing my edge. I hear that you and your band have sold your turntables and bought Amigas.”

The beauty of this approach is, those Amigas play MOD files – tracker-based music sequences with elaborate, hyperactive sounds from the golden age of video game composition and chip music. And just as you really want to hear certain things on tape or digital or vinyl, some music really lends itself to that format.

And yes, there really is (fairly) new software for this – new Amiga software, no joke. It’s called PT-1210, and it transforms vintage Amigas (or Atari ST) into a kind of CDJ for MOD files. It debuted – where else, at a demoscene/hacker conference – at Revision 2014 in Saarbrücken, Germany. Here’s how the developers describe it:

PT-1210 Mk1 is a Protracker Digital Turntable, that is, a computer program that will let you play your Amiga Protracker module files (.MOD) as if you were playing with CDJ turntables, inspired by gwEm’s STJ. Think of it as Traktor for the Protracker generation.

Hilarious banner:

That software is the work of Akira (concept/UI), h0ffman (concept/code), and tecon (testing). It’s even written in Assembler code for maximum performance on vintage hardware. Grab it here:

http://pt1210.abime.net/

Atari ST fans, this Amiga creation was in turn inspired by Atari ST software with the same aim, by gwEM, cleverly dubbed STJ:

http://www.preromanbritain.com/stj/

The rig in the video at top:

Small monitors (for analog video output)
Mono-to-stereo adapters (since the Amigas have mono output)
DJ mixer
SD cards (in place of floppy disks, which means massive supplies of MOD files)

They found their MOD files at ModLand

Oh yeah, there are even instant doubles – you can load up the same track on both machines.)

Beat matching is still a thing here, so you get human sync by your ear rather than something electronically locked in. (That’s also beautiful, frankly!)

To show off all this goodness, the RetroManCave YouTube channel goes to these folks:

Retro Ravi – https://www.youtube.com/user/the4mula
8bitmixshow – http://8bitmix.com/

Okay, so that’s the tech stuff. But now the important bit – can you make a compelling DJ set with this rig? Here’s one answer, from Ravi:

Thanks to Noncompliant for the link! Can I request my favorite MOD at Berghain this Saturday, Lisa?

https://www.noncompliantmusic.com/#!

Don’t just want to DJ, but produce, too? Check this out:

The 90s are alive, with a free, modern clone of FastTracker II

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Pioneer and Serato get two-laptop B2B DJing with dual USB audio

One way to keep laptops from disappearing from DJ setups: let more laptops come to the party. Pioneer’s new US$999 flagship controller for Serato does just that, with more connections and two independent USB audio interfaces.

You might expect the monster, flagship controller for DJs to simply fade away – replaced by either standalone hardware at the higher-end, or more mobile devices on the go. But someone must be buying these things, because they keep showing up. Serato’s steady parade of performance features in DJ Pro offers good reason to be loyal to the software, while both Pioneer and Roland vie to give those users solid controllers.

In the case of the DDJ-SX3, this revision emphasizes getting more social – bring more humans in on your session, and connect their mics, instruments, and laptops more readily. And sure enough, with a $999 list in the USA, you do get a lot of functionality – standalone mixer and Serato control surface, both.

It’s also telling that Pioneer place the film about the new release in a studio situation, featuring Mr Woodnote and Mr Switch in the intro:

What’s interesting about the RX3 is in an otherwise incremental update, the new gear, shipping early in June, focuses on stuff that lets DJs relate to crowds and one another:

There’s dual USB support. There are actually two independent USB audio interfaces here — one for each USB port. That means changeovers between laptops are seamless, one laptop doubles for the other if one crashes or catches fire or gets stolen or has vodka spilled on it, and you can also seamlessly play B2B.

More mic. There are twin mic inputs on the rear of the controller, plus a third dedicated mic input on the front. So the front mic lets you talk over a four deck (or two laptop x two deck) setup without occupying a mixer channel, and also keep two mics

The SX2 had the two rear jacks; the SX3 has the three mic configuration. Pioneer and Serato have also added more processing options for the mic: level, EQ, low-cut filter, reverb, compressor, plus (with Serato connected) Serato’s own “color” effects.

So let me explain something. Sitting here in the middle of Berlin, a bunch of minimal/industrial techno DJs are welcome to get puzzled by what I just described. But that’s because you don’t do anything with microphones at your parties. Obviously people who do will find this very useful. (And, hey, techno heads, you could. I just watched Juan Atkins and Model 500 last night, and those guys use mics on every single song. Plus easy mic access could mean this DDJ works well in radio / podcast / streaming situations, too – without requiring an additional mixer.)

Lower latency jog wheels. One of the things I really liked about the new Roland controllers for Serato is their support of extreme low latency. That’s essential if you’re playing with sync turned off or even want to scratch with the wheels as some do.

Pioneer and Serato promise improved low latency performance. That’s a combination of a lot of factors. Pioneer wouldn’t confirm any solid numbers to CDM – those may not matter much, anyway, as what you really want is a test of real-world performance. But they did say the performance gains are “because of mechanical, software, driver and firmware improvements.” All of those elements do contribute to jog wheel latency, so I’m encouraged that they’ve addressed each step of the process. (And frankly, because Serato users are loyal to that DJ software, Serato should want both Roland and Pioneer gear to exhibit that performance.)

And the rest. Otherwise, the value proposition of the DDJ-SX3 is the same as the first DDJ-SX2.

You get a standalone DJ mixer with loads of I/O, combined with a controller with Serato DJ Pro features. The Serato side is all about those performance pads for hot cues, sampling and “Pitch Play”. Plus there’s Serato Flip (coupon included), and the option of upgrading to vinyl control features with Serato DVS. (I need to research where their video functionality fits on this controller.)

Pioneer and Serato also easily one-up Native Instruments by giving you both jog wheels and a touch strip for quick access. I think it’s all but certain we’ll soon see a refreshed TRAKTOR with similar functionality – touch strips are great, but just not all the time.

Where this fits in. Pioneer’s DJ controller line is now kind of dizzying, with a range of controllers for their own rekordbox software from compact to huge, and another line for Serato.

That includes what they call the flagship, the SZ2, which is even bigger. Confused yet?

But no mind. I think if you want Roland drum machine stuff built in, you’ll go with one of those controllers. If you want an all-in-one controller/mixer to use in the studio and then take with you, and you fancy the idea of other laptop artists playing, the SX3 is the one to beat.

The Roland options for Serato have those nice Roland drum machines and such built in, handy for producers. And the Serato options for their part efficiently target DJs doing edits, podcasts, and then transporting Serato practice from home/studio into the club directly.

The rekrodbox options are nice enough – the DDJ-1000 has big jog wheels with on-wheel displays, like a CDJ.

But to me, the big use case for DJs playing clubs on CDJs – which is now a whole lot of you – is going to be just finding something at home to practice on. rekordbox may play into it, but as organization tool for USB sticks before anything else.

So for the CDJ DJ, it still seems to me you’re likely to either beg and borrow time on actual CDJs, or buy used CDJs and a mixer, or consider all-in-one Pioneer offerings.

https://www.pioneerdj.com/en/product/all-in-one-system/

What I like about the all-in-one offerings is, you get standalone hardware that doesn’t require a computer, and still lets you practice on your rekordbox-ready USB sticks before you, like, trainwreck on some CDJs and empty the floor. More on that topic of practice gear soon. I would rather see DJs enter clubs prepared and comfortable than … not.

Here’s the thing: rekordbox and Serato now have a real corner on hardware choice. And Pioneer, by far, has every market segment covered, from entry-level mobile to high-end player to everything in the clubs. It’s kind of getting to be “which Pioneer stuff do I want?” – even for Serato users.

I could fault Pioneer for that, being the juggernaut they are. But then, it’s not just scale or the “industry standard” impact of the CDJ or market domination. If DJ makers want to compete, we’re going to need some new ideas.

Pricing is SRP £969 in the UK / 1099 EUR in Europe, both including VAT.

Pioneer DDJ-SX3

Serato DJ Pro

https://serato.com/dj/pro

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Roland gets you going on their DJ controllers, Serato with free samples

The Roland-Serato combination stakes out a clear niche: adding live techniques to DJ routines. Now some free sounds and videos will get you started.

There is a dizzying array of gear out there, and a lot of really similar. I’ll talk separately about the DJ-XXX line from Roland, but it’s pretty easy to sum up. All three units have built-in TR-S drum machines from the Roland AIRA line for 808 and 909 sounds, with the 505 and 808 adding additional dedicated controls and progressively more AIRA features and more mixer functionality. (The 808 even has a vocal processor on it.) And the Roland devices also give you more hands-on access to Serato’s sample playback and sequencing features. Combine this with wheels that are really, really good, and have uncommonly low-latency performance, and these are exceptionally playable controllers. (That’s what you can’t see in the photos – I’ve tried all this gear, and only the Roland controllers at the moment really feel responsive; other than that you’re into digital vinyl or CDJs.)

Roland obviously want to get your attention on those sampling features, as they’ve partnered with Loopmasters to release some free content.

There’s no proof of ownership, so you can also give these things a go even if you don’t yet own the hardware. (Cough.)

Disclosure: CDM is partnering with Roland to release some of our own guides to the DJ-XXX devices.

Onto those sounds: the TR-S sequencer can trigger internal analog-modeled 808 and 909 sounds, which is a little like having a mini AIRA TR-8 in your hardware. (TR-808 and 909 sounds are there now; TR-606 sounds are promised, too, in a future update; 606 and 727 were rolled out to the AIRA TR-8 in the fall.) But when you’re ready for some different sounds, the TR-S can also be used together with Serato’s internal sample playback facility.

There are actually two separate DJ sample sets. They’re also delivered as WAV, so — for instance, I dropped these in an Ableton set as well as into Serato for a bit of messing about.

First, the ROLAND TR-S DJ SAMPLE PACK is available on the download pages of the DJ-202, 505, and 808, so for example:

https://www.roland.com/us/support/by_product/dj-505/updates_drivers/

That gives you a whole new set of kits. All you have to do is tick a box to approve a user agreement. Then you get a few megs of sounds organized into what they call 80s (yay!), Drum’n’Bass, EDM, and Trap (though you can gleefully ignore those genre labels if you like, they’re just kits).

More specific are the Loopmasters sounds. If you’re willing to sign up for a free Loopmasters account (if you have one already, you’re sent straight to the download), you can get another 13 megs of sounds. (You can even untick the box signing you up to the newsletter.) They’re here:

https://www.loopmasters.com/register

These aren’t so interesting on their own – these are mostly vocal one-shots, stabs, and sound effects – but they’re there more to show you what someone good with sample manipulation can really do on these. Watch DJ Skillz with the same kit. The takeaway – pitch manipulation and scratch skills can transform this into something else entirely:

That’s already been the strength of Serato – creating a core set of effects and sampling and sequencing features and then making it easy to access them. The Roland hardware lets you get responsive scratch results with wheels and without the hassle of digital vinyl, plus an intuitive layout for the other features of the software.

This all draws heavily from hip-hop, but I think even in other genres (hihi, techno) there’s potential for using this hardware to unlock hybrid sets where you jam on the kits or remix tracks – especially useful when you’re playing your own productions and want them to be recognizable but don’t want to hear them verbatim all over again. And that’s to say nothing of the potential for unlocking synchronized visuals, another Serato strength.

Here’s a look at that DJ-505 sampler access. (The DJ-808 is basically identical; the DJ-202 also can access the sampler but has fewer controls, so it’s a portability/cost tradeoff equation.)

And watch more of what this can look like in action – with OP, Recloose and DJ Spinna:

More on the DJ lineup and the rest of the AIRA line (neon green!):

https://www.roland.com/global/categories/aira/

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djay Pro 2 brings algorithms and machine learning to DJing

A.I.D.J.? The next-generation djay Pro 2 for Mac adds mixing and recommendations powered by machine learning – and more human-powered features, too.

When Big Data meets the DJ

The biggest break from how we’ve normally thought about DJ software comes in the form of automatic mixing and selection tools. One is powered by machine learning working with DJ sets, and one from data collected from listening (Spotify).

Automix AI is a new mixing technology. And hold on to your hats, folks, if the “sync” button was unnerving to you, this goes further.

When we say “A.I.,” we’re really talking machine learning – that is, “training” algorithms on large sets of data. In this case, that data comes from existing DJ sets. (Algoriddim tells CDM that was drawn from a variety of DJs, mostly in hip-hop and electronic genres.) Those sets were analyzed according to various sonic features, and the automixing applies those to your music. So this isn’t just about mixing two different techno tracks with mechanical efficiency – it’s meant to go further across different tempos and genres.

It’s also more than matching tempo. Automix AI will identify where the transition occurs, decide how long the fade should be, and apply filters and EQ. So, if you’ve ever listened to existing Automix features and how clumsy they are with starting and stopping tracks, this takes a different approach. Algoriddim explains to CDM:

The core of this tech is finding good start and end regions for transition between two songs, while also respecting the corresponding sound energies and choosing an appropriate transition accordingly (e.g. most likely EQ or short filter transition if you have two high energy parts of the song for the transition)

Then there’s “Morph” – which Algoriddim argue opens up new ways of mixing:

This actually goes beyond what a regular DJ can do with two hands. Morph not only syncs the songs but seamlessly ramps the changed tempo of the inactive deck to its regular speed as the transition progresses. E.g. in the past if you had a hip-hop song at say 95 BPM and an electronic track at 130 BPM, syncing the two and making a transition would leave the new track in an awkwardly rate changed state (even with time-stretching enabled). So as the transition starts, both songs (in this example) would be playing at 130 BPM but as we are doing a simultaneous tempo “crossfade”, the hip-hop track ends up being back at 95 BPM at the end of the transition. This ensures the tracks always play at their regular tempo and these types of mixes sound very natural, allowing for seamless cross-genre transitions.”

Also impressive: while you might think this sort of technology would be licensed externally, the whiz kids over at Algoriddim did all of this on their own, in-house.

On the Spotify integration side, and also related to automating DJing tasks, “Match” technology recommends music based on BPM, key, and music style. Existing Spotify users will be familiar with some of this recommendation engine already. Where it could be good for producers is, this means there’s an avenue by which your music gets exposed by algorithms. And that in turn is potentially good news, if you’re a producer whose music isn’t always charting the top of a genre on Beatport.

These “autopilot” features are all under your control, too: you can choose which parameters are used, choose your own tracks, switch it off at will – as you like. Or you can sit back and let djay Pro run in the background while you’re doing something else, if you want to let the machine do the DJing while you cook dinner, for instance.

Pro features, for humans

Okay, so at this point, djay Pro 2 may sound a bit like this:

But one of the disruptive things about Algoriddim’s approach to DJ software is, it has simultaneously challenged rivals both among entry level and casual users and more advanced users at the same time.

So, here’s the more “Pro” sounding side of this. Some of these are features that are either missing or not implemented quite the way we’d like in industry leaders like Serato and Traktor.

A new audio engine with master AU plug-ins. A rewrite of the engine now allows high-res waveforms, post-fader effects, higher-quality filters, plus the ability to add Audio Unit plug-ins as master output effects.

Integrated libraries. iTunes, Spotify, and music in the file system / Finder are now all integrated and can be viewed side-by-side.

Integrated library views bring together everything on your local machine as well as Spotify.

Smart filters. Set up dynamic playlists sorted by BPM, key, date, genre, and other metadata. (Those columns are available in other tools, but here you get them dynamically, a bit like the ones in iTunes.)

Keyboard Shortcuts Editor. There’s a full editor for assigning individual features to custom shortcuts – which in turn can also map to custom hardware or the MacBook Pro Touch Bar.

CDJ and third-party hardware support. Whereas some other players make their own hardware or limit compatibility (or even require specific hardware just to launch, ahem), Algoriddim’s approach is more open. So they’re fully certified by Pioneer for CDJ compatibility, and they include 60 MIDI controllers in the box, and they have an extensive MIDI learn function.

More cueing and looping. Version 2 now has up to eight cue points and loops, with naming, per song. (I recently lauded Soda for adding this.) You can also now assign loop triggers to cue points.

Single deck mode for preparation. Okay, some (cough, again Serato) lock you into this view if you don’t have authorized hardware plugged in. But here, it’s designed specifically for the purpose of making set prep easier.

Accessibility. VoiceOver support makes djay Pro 2 work for vision-impaired users. We really need more commitment to this in the industry; it’s also been great to see this technology from Algoriddim showcased at Apple’s developer conference. If you’re using this (and hopefully CDM is working well with screen readers), do let us know.

New photo / still image support.

And it does photos

Back to less club/pro features, the other breakthrough for casual users, weddings, and commercial gigs is photo integration. Drag and drop photos or albums onto the visual decks, and the software will make beat-matched slide shows.

The photo decks also work with existing, fairly powerful VJ features, which includes external output, effects, and the like. You can also adjust beat sync.

Still image support builds on an existing video/VJ facility.

Plus a no-brainer price

The other thing that’s disruptive about djay Pro 2: price. It’s US$49.99, with an intro price of US$39.99, on the App Store.

You’ll need Spotify Premium for those features, of course, and macOS 10.11 or later is required.

https://www.algoriddim.com/

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