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

The post Reloop’s new RP-8000 MK2: instrumental pitch control, Serato integration appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Streaming music is coming to DJ software, but one step at a time

Streaming is coming to DJing. Last week saw new announcements from Tidal, SoundCloud, Serato, and several other software makers. But progress is uneven – expect these features at first to be primarily about discovery, not what you do at a gig.

The news this week:

SoundCloud announced coming support in Traktor, Serato, Virtual DJ, Mixvibes, and more:
Just announced: Soon you can access SoundCloud’s catalog of music directly through your DJ software [SoundCloud blog]

Serato announced support for SoundCloud Go+ and TIDAL premium and HiFi subscriptions in forthcoming DJ Lite and DJ Pro releases. They didn’t post even a news item, beyond sending a press release, but TIDAL added this minisite:

http://tidal.com/serato

The markets

First, before talking about the technology and the deals here, we need to first talk about what “DJ” means. Across that spectrum, we can talk about three really different poles, as far as use cases:

Wedding DJs (read: people taking requests). This is the big one. You can tell, because when streaming site Pulselocker shut down, there were screams from people who were playing wedding gigs and suddenly lost access to their music. This isn’t just about a technological shift, either. As American music markets have fragmented and mainstream pop music has lost its hegemony – and as DJing and music consumption have become more global – the amount of music people might request has grown, too.

Whatever you think of wedding DJs, you can imagine weddings as a place where global cultural and technological changes are radical and inseparable. And that’s good, because I don’t know about you, but if I have to hear “At Last” one more time, I may try to drown myself in a punch bowl.

If you have to take requests, access to all music becomes a need, not a luxury.

DJs playing hits. There’s also a club DJ crowd looking for big hits, too, which tends to overlap in some ways with the wedding DJs – they’re going for popularity over digging deep in a particular genre. That means that certain big hits that a particular streaming site has (cough, Tidal) become relevant to both these groups. (I was recently schooled on the importance

Underground DJs. More at the CDM end of the pond, you’ve got DJs who are trying to discover new music. Tidal might not be so relevant here, but SoundCloud sure is.

If you routinely tab back and forth between SoundCloud and your DJ app, integrating the two might have appeal – even for underground digital diggers.

The question of what DJs in each of these groups would want to do with streaming also varies. There’s discovery – some people are looking to play tracks on their digital DJ decks without first downloading, or for integration of streaming sites. There’s playing in actual gigs, with a live Internet connection. Then there’s playing gigs where you don’t have an Internet connection – more often the norm – where you might want tracks from a streaming collection to be synced or cached to storage.

How the DJ streaming landscape just shifted

Amsterdam Dance Event last week tends to center on the business of electronic dance music, so it was a stage for some of the players to crow about new achievements – even making some of those announcements before the solution is fully available.

In particular, DJ software maker Serato and streaming site SoundCloud were vocal about their coming solutions.

Some takeaways:

These solutions are online only. Let’s start with the big disclaimer. Downloads are here to stay for now, because these services work only when online, and standalone decks are left out.

Streaming tracks are fully integrated – I’ve confirmed that at least with Serato, who say when you’re connected, the tracks cache and perform just like locally stored tracks. But that’s when you have an Internet connection.

Pulselocker, the service specifically focused around this idea, had offered the ability to store tracks locally. None of these integrations offers offline access, at least initially. I’ve been told by Serato that if you lose an Internet connection mid-track, you can at least continue playing that track; you just lose access to other streaming content.

Wedding DJs or some clubs where you can rely on an Internet connection I expect will take advantage of streaming functionality right away, for DJs who take requests. For DJs who prepare music in advance, though, it’s probably a deal killer.

(Pulselocker was acquired by Beatport earlier this year, a sign that the big players were making their moves.)

Once upon a time, there was Pulselocker. But the service was acquired by Beatport, and nothing yet offers offline functionality as it did. (Blame licensing?)

SoundCloud and Serato are looking to get ahead of the curve – while we wait on Beatport and Pioneer. SoundCloud is partnering with all the major software vendors. (Only Algoriddim, whose djay product line for desktop and mobile is already integrated with Spotify, was missing.)

And Serato are leading the way with Tidal and SoundCloud integration, replacing their existing Pulselocker functionality.

Timeframe for both: “coming months.”

There’s reason to pre-announce something here, though, which is to try to steal some thunder from some market leaders. Beatport and Pioneer are of course dominant players here. We know both are readying solutions – Beatport making use of that aforementioned Pulselocker acquisition, presumably. We just don’t know when those solutions will become available; Pioneer CDJ hardware in particular is likely fairly far into the future.

Just don’t underestimate the Serato/Tidal combo, or even Serato/SoundCloud. Those are big partnerships for the US market and genres like hip hop, both of which are big and growing.

DJ compatibility is a way to sell you subscriptions. Yes, artists and labels get paid, but there’s another factor here – DJing is becoming so widespread that it’s a way to upsell music subscriptions. DJing really is music consumption now.

Use Traktor, Serato, Virtual DJ, Mixvibes, and others? SoundCloud hopes you’ll buy a top-tier SoundCloud Go+ subscription.

Using Serato, and want to play some top hits in high quality? Tidal can offer Premium (AAC) or HiFi (including lossless FLAC and ALAC streaming) tiers.

In case you doubt that, both services will work with full integration using just a 30-day trial.

SoundCloud still lags in quality. Just as on the site, SoundCloud for now is limited to 128kbps at launch, as reported by DJ Tech Tools.

Yes, streaming DJs could represent a new revenue source. This is one potential bright spot here on the creator side. Assuming you can reach DJs who might not have purchased downloads on Bandcamp, Beatport, and the like, the streaming sites will divvy up those subscription fees and calculate revenue sharing for track plays by DJs.

What does all this mean?

It’s easy to assume this is all meaningless. Serious DJs playing big club and festival gigs – or even underground DJs playing with dodgy Internet connections and meticulously organized USB thumb drives of USB – you’re obviously not going anywhere near this when you play.

And those DJs taking requests at weddings and playing the latest dancefloor megahits, well, that’s relevant to you only if you’re producing those kinds of hits.

But there remains some potential here, even with these launch offerings, whenever they do materialize.

For all but the most specific boutique labels and artists, I think most music creators are trying to maximize exposure and squeeze revenue wherever they can. A whole lot of those labels do put up their music through distribution, meaning you can download directly on Bandcamp, for instance, but you can also stream catalogs on Spotify and iTunes. (Anyone who’s doing digital distribution has likely seen long lists of weird streaming and download sites you’ve never even heard of, but where your music gets dumped and … eventually ripped and put up on pirate music sites, too.)

If this gets more people on premium subscriptions, there’s hope. It’s better than people listening to your music on YouTube while you get paid next to nothing.

The real question here is how streaming integration looks. If discovering new music is really what this is about – at least until fast Internet becomes more ubiquitous – then the integrations need to actually make it easy to find music. That shouldn’t just be about some automated recommendation algorithm; it will require a whole new approach to DJ software and music tools. Or at the very least, these tools should make you want to sit at your DJ rig with some friends, punch up some new artist names and find tracks. They should be as appealing as going to a record store, thumbing through records, and putting them on turntables – in a virtual sense, anyway.

And what about ownership? I think it’s important for DJs to be able to differentiate between always-on access to all music everywhere, and their own music collection, even if the collection itself is virtual.

Why not put SoundCloud streaming in your DJ app, but offer one-click buying to add downloads?

Or why not use the cloud as a way to sync music you’ve already bought, rather than make it exclusively an overwhelming supply of music you don’t want, which you lose when you lose Internet access?

At the very least, labels who are already squeezed as it is are unlikely to savor the thought of losing download revenue in exchange for hard-to-track, hard-to-predict subscriptions. $10 a month or so seems utterly unsustainable. A lot of labels already barely break even when they pay for even basic PR and mastering services. Imagine the nightmare of having to invest more just to be found on streaming services, while earning less as flat fee subscriptions are divvied up.

There’s an idea here, but it’s far from being ready. For now, it seems like the best strategy is to keep your catalogs up to date across services, keep building close relationships with fans, and … wait and see. In a few months we should see more of what these offerings look like in practice, and it seems likely, too, we’ll know more about where Pioneer, Beatport, and others plan to go next, too.

The post Streaming music is coming to DJ software, but one step at a time appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Streaming music is coming to DJ software, but one step at a time

Streaming is coming to DJing. Last week saw new announcements from Tidal, SoundCloud, Serato, and several other software makers. But progress is uneven – expect these features at first to be primarily about discovery, not what you do at a gig.

The news this week:

SoundCloud announced coming support in Traktor, Serato, Virtual DJ, Mixvibes, and more:
Just announced: Soon you can access SoundCloud’s catalog of music directly through your DJ software [SoundCloud blog]

Serato announced support for SoundCloud Go+ and TIDAL premium and HiFi subscriptions in forthcoming DJ Lite and DJ Pro releases. They didn’t post even a news item, beyond sending a press release, but TIDAL added this minisite:

http://tidal.com/serato

The markets

First, before talking about the technology and the deals here, we need to first talk about what “DJ” means. Across that spectrum, we can talk about three really different poles, as far as use cases:

Wedding DJs (read: people taking requests). This is the big one. You can tell, because when streaming site Pulselocker shut down, there were screams from people who were playing wedding gigs and suddenly lost access to their music. This isn’t just about a technological shift, either. As American music markets have fragmented and mainstream pop music has lost its hegemony – and as DJing and music consumption have become more global – the amount of music people might request has grown, too.

Whatever you think of wedding DJs, you can imagine weddings as a place where global cultural and technological changes are radical and inseparable. And that’s good, because I don’t know about you, but if I have to hear “At Last” one more time, I may try to drown myself in a punch bowl.

If you have to take requests, access to all music becomes a need, not a luxury.

DJs playing hits. There’s also a club DJ crowd looking for big hits, too, which tends to overlap in some ways with the wedding DJs – they’re going for popularity over digging deep in a particular genre. That means that certain big hits that a particular streaming site has (cough, Tidal) become relevant to both these groups. (I was recently schooled on the importance

Underground DJs. More at the CDM end of the pond, you’ve got DJs who are trying to discover new music. Tidal might not be so relevant here, but SoundCloud sure is.

If you routinely tab back and forth between SoundCloud and your DJ app, integrating the two might have appeal – even for underground digital diggers.

The question of what DJs in each of these groups would want to do with streaming also varies. There’s discovery – some people are looking to play tracks on their digital DJ decks without first downloading, or for integration of streaming sites. There’s playing in actual gigs, with a live Internet connection. Then there’s playing gigs where you don’t have an Internet connection – more often the norm – where you might want tracks from a streaming collection to be synced or cached to storage.

How the DJ streaming landscape just shifted

Amsterdam Dance Event last week tends to center on the business of electronic dance music, so it was a stage for some of the players to crow about new achievements – even making some of those announcements before the solution is fully available.

In particular, DJ software maker Serato and streaming site SoundCloud were vocal about their coming solutions.

Some takeaways:

These solutions are online only. Let’s start with the big disclaimer. Downloads are here to stay for now, because these services work only when online, and standalone decks are left out.

Streaming tracks are fully integrated – I’ve confirmed that at least with Serato, who say when you’re connected, the tracks cache and perform just like locally stored tracks. But that’s when you have an Internet connection.

Pulselocker, the service specifically focused around this idea, had offered the ability to store tracks locally. None of these integrations offers offline access, at least initially. I’ve been told by Serato that if you lose an Internet connection mid-track, you can at least continue playing that track; you just lose access to other streaming content.

Wedding DJs or some clubs where you can rely on an Internet connection I expect will take advantage of streaming functionality right away, for DJs who take requests. For DJs who prepare music in advance, though, it’s probably a deal killer.

(Pulselocker was acquired by Beatport earlier this year, a sign that the big players were making their moves.)

Once upon a time, there was Pulselocker. But the service was acquired by Beatport, and nothing yet offers offline functionality as it did. (Blame licensing?)

SoundCloud and Serato are looking to get ahead of the curve – while we wait on Beatport and Pioneer. SoundCloud is partnering with all the major software vendors. (Only Algoriddim, whose djay product line for desktop and mobile is already integrated with Spotify, was missing.)

And Serato are leading the way with Tidal and SoundCloud integration, replacing their existing Pulselocker functionality.

Timeframe for both: “coming months.”

There’s reason to pre-announce something here, though, which is to try to steal some thunder from some market leaders. Beatport and Pioneer are of course dominant players here. We know both are readying solutions – Beatport making use of that aforementioned Pulselocker acquisition, presumably. We just don’t know when those solutions will become available; Pioneer CDJ hardware in particular is likely fairly far into the future.

Just don’t underestimate the Serato/Tidal combo, or even Serato/SoundCloud. Those are big partnerships for the US market and genres like hip hop, both of which are big and growing.

DJ compatibility is a way to sell you subscriptions. Yes, artists and labels get paid, but there’s another factor here – DJing is becoming so widespread that it’s a way to upsell music subscriptions. DJing really is music consumption now.

Use Traktor, Serato, Virtual DJ, Mixvibes, and others? SoundCloud hopes you’ll buy a top-tier SoundCloud Go+ subscription.

Using Serato, and want to play some top hits in high quality? Tidal can offer Premium (AAC) or HiFi (including lossless FLAC and ALAC streaming) tiers.

In case you doubt that, both services will work with full integration using just a 30-day trial.

SoundCloud still lags in quality. Just as on the site, SoundCloud for now is limited to 128kbps at launch, as reported by DJ Tech Tools.

Yes, streaming DJs could represent a new revenue source. This is one potential bright spot here on the creator side. Assuming you can reach DJs who might not have purchased downloads on Bandcamp, Beatport, and the like, the streaming sites will divvy up those subscription fees and calculate revenue sharing for track plays by DJs.

What does all this mean?

It’s easy to assume this is all meaningless. Serious DJs playing big club and festival gigs – or even underground DJs playing with dodgy Internet connections and meticulously organized USB thumb drives of USB – you’re obviously not going anywhere near this when you play.

And those DJs taking requests at weddings and playing the latest dancefloor megahits, well, that’s relevant to you only if you’re producing those kinds of hits.

But there remains some potential here, even with these launch offerings, whenever they do materialize.

For all but the most specific boutique labels and artists, I think most music creators are trying to maximize exposure and squeeze revenue wherever they can. A whole lot of those labels do put up their music through distribution, meaning you can download directly on Bandcamp, for instance, but you can also stream catalogs on Spotify and iTunes. (Anyone who’s doing digital distribution has likely seen long lists of weird streaming and download sites you’ve never even heard of, but where your music gets dumped and … eventually ripped and put up on pirate music sites, too.)

If this gets more people on premium subscriptions, there’s hope. It’s better than people listening to your music on YouTube while you get paid next to nothing.

The real question here is how streaming integration looks. If discovering new music is really what this is about – at least until fast Internet becomes more ubiquitous – then the integrations need to actually make it easy to find music. That shouldn’t just be about some automated recommendation algorithm; it will require a whole new approach to DJ software and music tools. Or at the very least, these tools should make you want to sit at your DJ rig with some friends, punch up some new artist names and find tracks. They should be as appealing as going to a record store, thumbing through records, and putting them on turntables – in a virtual sense, anyway.

And what about ownership? I think it’s important for DJs to be able to differentiate between always-on access to all music everywhere, and their own music collection, even if the collection itself is virtual.

Why not put SoundCloud streaming in your DJ app, but offer one-click buying to add downloads?

Or why not use the cloud as a way to sync music you’ve already bought, rather than make it exclusively an overwhelming supply of music you don’t want, which you lose when you lose Internet access?

At the very least, labels who are already squeezed as it is are unlikely to savor the thought of losing download revenue in exchange for hard-to-track, hard-to-predict subscriptions. $10 a month or so seems utterly unsustainable. A lot of labels already barely break even when they pay for even basic PR and mastering services. Imagine the nightmare of having to invest more just to be found on streaming services, while earning less as flat fee subscriptions are divvied up.

There’s an idea here, but it’s far from being ready. For now, it seems like the best strategy is to keep your catalogs up to date across services, keep building close relationships with fans, and … wait and see. In a few months we should see more of what these offerings look like in practice, and it seems likely, too, we’ll know more about where Pioneer, Beatport, and others plan to go next, too.

The post Streaming music is coming to DJ software, but one step at a time appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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

The post Pioneer and Serato get two-laptop B2B DJing with dual USB audio appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

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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From Rane and Roland, competing visions of digital DJ gear

Roland and Rane each have products aimed at Pioneer’s offerings in the computer controller market. Both work with Serato software – but each represents a different approach.

If Pioneer’s hegemony in standalone players seems unshakable, there’s at least the computer arena in which to compete. Pioneer for its part has moved to strengthen its Rekordbox software as a computer DJ software rival to Native Instruments’ Traktor, Serato DJ, and others.

For the experienced touring DJ, that strategy may well be meaningless. If you view Rekordbox as a tool for prepping a USB stick that you play on the CDJs already installed in the club, you may not particularly care about what it does in a laptop/controller setup. But, there’s still a large market of people getting into DJing for whom both the Pioneer name and the company’s vertically-integrated offerings hold a lot of appeal.

The challenge for Rane and Roland – hook into the Serato platform instead, and try to be better than Pioneer at similar price points. And there’s some added maneuvering room here. Native Instruments’ Traktor line hasn’t really evolved much lately, hampered in part by aging flagship software. And I agree absolutely with DJ TechTools’ Dan White – it looks like Roland is poised to become Serato’s main hardware vendor while Pioneer and InMusic focus on their own integrated ecosystems. Also, you can often expect a Japanese manufacturer to have more patience to play a long game. Serato remains a big player in a number of markets (notably the USA and southeast Asia), so there’s some market to pursue.

But let’s consider each company’s angle.

Rane: A gimmick-packed battle mixer, a MIDI-only turntable

Rane, formerly independent, is now owned by InMusic. The Rhode Island-based music giant is the one that is gunning directly for Pioneer – not only with computer controller rigs, but also in the standalone player market. The new standalone Denon players are the first with any potential to unseat Pioneer’s ubiquitous DJ, by offering more features for the price. (I’m not going to comment on their odds, though – beating Pioneer’s entrenched position in the club market will be one heck of an uphill battle.)

For computer-based DJs, Rane has two offerings. One is a mixer packed with features, and one is a turntable re-imagined as a MIDI-only device.

Seventy-Two Battle Mixer

This is what happens if you cross Rane’s mixer tech with InMusic’s touchscreens and pads – and then go after Pioneer’s competing “Battle-Ready” DJM-S9.

Indeed, the Seventy-Two is essentially control-for-control a clone of the Pioneer mixer, with the addition of touchscreen, and in a Rane case.

The screen lets you access Serato’s waveforms and use internal effects. Like the Pioneer S9, the Seventy-Two features pads and controls intended for use with Serato effects, digital vinyl, and internal mixing. Unlike the Pioneer, those effects require Serato. (The S9 is more useful when used as a conventional mixer, in that it has internal effects.)

The controller can be assigned to other tools, though I’m unsure how access to the touchscreens works. (It might be hackable; generally these devices treat these displays as external monitors.) One commenter on DJTT notes that other Serato displays have been made to work with the popular Virtual DJ software.

US$1899, fourth quarter

http://dj.rane.com/products/seventy-two

Twelve – the computer-only turntable

This is the most interesting product of the bunch, to me. It’s basically a full-sized (12″!) motorized turntable, minus the tone arm and needle. So you can’t play records on it, but you can use it as a DJ controller. You connect it via USB, and then you have the tactile feedback of an actual turntable, without the hassle and unreliability of digital vinyl control.

Eliminating the tone arm may not please everyone. What you get in its place is what they call the “Strip Search” (which gives me not the most pleasant associations as a phrase, but okay). That touch interface at least has the advantage of hot cues, with access to eight points on a track you can access immediately – something you can’t do quite as easily by physically lifting and moving a tone arm, to be sure.

Full 12” Vinyl with motorized platter to control playback
Traditional, familiar turntable layout, no need to learn something new
Strip Search with 8 hot cue triggers access
5.0 kfcm High torque motor with Hi/Low torque adjust for more traditional setups
4 decks of control so you can use one, two or more (switchable on the top right of the unit)
Extreme precision—3600 ticks of platter resolution for seamless performance
MIDI interface via USB that can be connected to the SEVENTY-TWO or your computer
33 1/3 and 45 rpm platter speeds
8/16/50% pitch with precise dual resolution detented slider
Top Panel rotary and traditional Motor Off switch, allows traditional wind down effects

Of course, this immediately begs the question, why not ditch the laptop and use this interface for a standalone player? I suspect someone will do that soon, whether it’s InMusic (with their Denon or Rane brands) or someone like Pioneer. And a 7″ rendition of this also seems a no-brainer. But this is already interesting.

And I almost totally want one. Almost, because the darned thing is a whopping US$799. I’m trying to figure out the person who will pay twice the price of a normal turntable for something that won’t play records. Wealthy … uh … Serato clinicians? Don’t know. But as technology, it’s interesting, and could be a sign of things to come.

US$799, fourth quarter

http://dj.rane.com/products/twelve

Roland: Affordable, low-latency controllers

So, if Rane has some really interesting but high-priced products – more demonstration of where things might go than something to buy right now – Roland brings us back down to Earth.

And that’s in stark contrast to where Roland entered, with the DJ-808 they added to their AIRA line last fall. The DJ-808 was cool, but … weird. It did Serato control, TR drum machine sequencing, and VT vocal transformations, but at a high cost – both in money and size.

But the new controllers from Roland bring price and size in line with competing options – enough that have probably become your best bet if you’re in the market for a Serato controller.

Both also have the same ultra-low-latency performance featured on the DJ-808 (though they lack the high resolution of the 808 platters).

The US$699.99 DJ-505 gives you most of what the DJ-808 did, plus a bundle of Serato DJ and Serato Tool Kit (for most additional features), and can be upgraded to Serato digital vinyl control.

The US$$299.99 still performs most of the controller tricks and TR functionality, with Serato Intro.

Both have TR (808 and 909) drum sounds and hands-on controls for them; the DJ-808 includes the full TR-S sequencer onboard.

The DJ-505 looks like quite a buy. It’s still a standalone mixer. It doesn’t have the VT vocal transformer effects of the DJ-808, but it still includes a mic input and some basic effects. And you get hands-on controls for both Serato and the internal TR sounds.

But as entry-level offering, the DJ-202 is no slouch, either – and it looks to be portable, too. Really, the only reservation you might have is buying into Serato as your DJ tool, depending on your preference. (Then again, if the Roland gear catches on, alternate tools like Virtual DJ may soon see support.)

The DJ-202 could also give Pioneer’s DDJ-SSB2 a run for its money.

In fact, figure that this low end of the market is where most of the sales is. (DJ TechTools observes that the Pioneer SSB2 is the best-selling US controller.)

And Native Instruments, while I’m a fan of Traktor, it really does feel like your offerings have fallen badly behind. Curious what your next move is.

https://www.roland.com/us/products/dj-505/features/

https://www.roland.com/us/products/dj-202/

Standalone, anyone?

At the low end of the market, it’s clear why computers aren’t going anywhere.

If people want into a music shop and want a DJ tool that’s flexible and cheap, there’s nothing quite like spending under $300 and getting a full-fledged system. In fact, even for a couple hundred dollars more, you might get something that works with your computer and still functions as a mixer. Even with cheap embedded computing and touchscreens, you can’t change the fact that people already own laptops (or iPads) with lots of internal storage and big displays.

But you also can’t change some of the problems with laptops. Bringing them to gigs and fitting them in a booth is a pain. Audio can be unreliable and tough to configure.

It’s still impressive to me that there are so few standalone options. Denon has its own CDJ rival and even an all-in-one (though massive and expensive) coffin.

But once you see products like AKAI’s new MPCs, which are essentially controllers with their own computer inside, it’s not hard to imagine where things will go. What about a DJ device you can take out of a flight case and plug directly into a mixer? There’s no question that makers like Roland, InMusic, Native Instruments, and others all have the technical capacity to make such a device.

While we wait, though, my prediction is this: when those hit, the whole direction of the market will change fast.

Bets, anyone?

The post From Rane and Roland, competing visions of digital DJ gear appeared first on CDM Create Digital Music.

Serato’s Ableton Link sync could change how you DJ

Quick! Name one good reason to use a computer running DJ software instead of just toting along some USB sticks to play on a CDJ! Well – one answer is, maybe your DJ set involves more than just mixing two decks. And with Ableton Link support, Serato is the first DJ software to open up to easy, peer-to-peer sync. It could change how you play.

Serato DJ 1.9.3. actually includes both Ableton Link support and the first steps toward finally implementing MIDI clock, too.

Let’s talk about Ableton Link first, though, as it’s the New Shiny.

Serato is one of three launch partners featuring Ableton’s new desktop SDK for Ableton Link, announced earlier this month. Link was something iOS users had ample access to, and Ableton Live users, and combinations thereof, but desktop support means still more possibilities.

Link doesn’t work like conventional sync solutions in that there isn’t a single “master” clock source that everything else “slaves” to – there’s no hierarchy. Instead, you have an arbitrary number of peers, any of which can move tempo for the others up and down. And Link works wirelessly – or even without a network, between different apps on the same device.

Actually, while Ableton Link’s creators like to refer to instrumental “jams” as the model, DJing is a good model, too. Until the advent of that infamous “sync” button, DJs never had a single timing source. You slowly move a deck or a drum machine in time with another.

I’ve been testing Serato’s Ableton Link implementation, and it’s a joy. In the place the usual “Sync” toggle would be on each deck, you instead see “Link.” Once enabled, that deck then can transmit tempo changes and receive them from other sources.

There are a number of nice use cases here.

  • You could Link Serato to Ableton Live. Let’s be honest – for all the advanced features in The Bridge, the ill-fated first Serato/Ableton collaboration – this is probably what 99% of you actually wanted to do with the two programs.
  • You could link two Serato DJs. Playing back to back, or making a smooth transition between DJs, is now possible on laptops.
  • You could link Serato to some iPad tools.
  • You could use a MIDI sequencer on an iPad, Link that to Serato, and then send MIDI clock to external gear. So imagine you’ve got Modstep running on an iPad, plugged via MIDI interface into, say, a Roland TB-03 or a MeeBlip. You can now jam over top DJ sets.

In short, it’s now much easier to do a “hybrid” live/DJ set on Serato than it is on any other tool. And sure, you could also match tempo by hand, but if the whole point of a hybrid set is busying yourself up with other stuff, why not take that load off your brain?

Cool as this is, a lot of gear is still in the world of MIDI, not Ableton Link. And if you’re just playing a 128 bpm solo techno set for four hours, old fashioned MIDI clock is just fine.

Serato has also quietly added MIDI clock output to 1.9.3. But curiously, they’ve locked its functionality exclusively to the new monster Roland DJ-808 hardware.

As a result, I was unable to test MIDI clock. I’ll have a look soon. There are some workarounds – you can connect to anything with Ableton Link support, and send MIDI from there. So I did try connecting to an instance of Live on the same machine and sending MIDI clock out of Live normally. That’s a bit of a pain, though, and MIDI clock messages aren’t exactly rocket science, so I hope this is a first step toward seeing MIDI throughout Serato.

1.9.3 brought other improvements, too, notably including a new MIDI mapping interface. I’ll look at that and explore the latest experience of using Serato in a coming review.

On the Mac, there’s also some updated support for El Capitan in the form of new drivers for the Rane interfaces. Sierra is not yet fully tested, but I’m hopeful that soon Sierra will be the way to go forward; I’d still be wary about DJing on El Capitan.

Check out the update here:

https://serato.com/dj/downloads

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Ableton Announces Link For Desktop Apps

Ableton Link support has developed into a ‘must-have’ feature for iOS music applications that sequence in the short time since it was introduced. By tempo syncing apps over a local network connection, the technology lets musicians forget the hassle of syncing up gear and focus on playing. Originally supported in Ableton Live and a number of iOS apps,… Read More Ableton Announces Link For Desktop Apps