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.

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.

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.

Jazzy Jeff, Shiftee Show Us Turntable as a Musical Instrument

Serato and Native Instruments may have a fierce rivalry when it comes to tools. But at the end of the day, the leading DJ vendors exist for one reason: they’re there to support musicians.

And I do mean musicians. Watching new routines from Jazzy Jeff and Shiftee, you really see the turntable emerge as a virtuoso musical instrument.

They’re released as promotions for Serato (Jeff) and Native Instruments (Shiftee). And the tools are important: they’re there to allow these players to make use of their skills, to do more than just select tracks like a jukebox.

But this really is about engineering supporting the human body, supporting physical gestures. I think they also tell us something about who DJs can be in the age of digital DJ technology.

Jazzy Jeff is Philadelphia’s Jeffrey Allen Towne, here covering a Run DMC classic that has me tingling with nostalgia as a tail-end gen Xer. Now could be a perfect moment in his career – a time when young people are rediscovering hip hop DJ roots, and perhaps not so hung up on the DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince association. (Well, or maybe those young people will have additional associations; I’m sure The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air lives on on Netflix and so on.)


What’s great about Jeff is that he draws that connection from the early days of hip hop and rap to modern turntablist technique. And he does so in a way that seamlessly melds tools – the perfect person to show of a digital vinyl control system, in other words.

There’s just one problem. Watching Jazzy Jeff “DJ” is to DJing for a lot of us as listening to a Horowitz performance is for someone who keeps a piano unplayed in the living room. We’ve got the furniture, but we haven’t got the chops – it’s almost like we’re not even involved in the same activity.

Don’t get discouraged, though. Because listening to Jeff I think can be inspiring for anyone working on DJing and live PA.

In particular, in a follow up interview with Serato, Jeff talks about melding the producer and DJ in him. Making a DJ set sound like it was produced in a studio, he says, is: “putting that production brain and that DJ brain together.”

He also has encouraging things to say about DJ culture and the art of DJing. He talks about the importance of “becoming more well-rounded DJs – not only play selection, but your technical skills … your showmanship. To me those are all the things that will end up making a great party.”

And whether or not you’re a great scratch turntablist, Jeff has some words that should encourage you to branch out a little on song selection. Asked about the influence of iPods, he reaches a surprising conclusion about “shuffle mode”:

“I started to realize that people started becoming a lot more accepting of you playing a wider range of music at different times of the night… you can just throw something left-field… because everyone is used to iPods.”

And just saying tech should be “invisible” doesn’t mean it’s less important. It means it’s actually more important:

“The end goal is for the gear to be transparent and … it to be about the way that you deliver the music. … And that’s why I think sometimes the gear doesn’t get enough credit.”

I’ll let Jeff close with these words from Jeff’s SoundCloud. These are important, because I’m sure people can feel now like they are obligated to follow rules, too:

I came up in the Music (Business) where there were rules and guidelines to the way things were done. It never made sense to me. I felt like you can own your own studio,make your own records and put them out how & when you want and even shoot your own videos. I’m soooo happy to finally be in that place now. I hope you enjoy the music i’m putting out now as much as i’m enjoying making it. Welcome to my Independence!!

Uh, that’s one of the best SoundCloud blurbs ever.

And then there’s Shiftee

I’ve been (unintentionally) putting off publishing this story, and then along come Native Instruments with a new S8 video. But here, you’ll be hard pressed to keep your eyes on the S8, because DJ Shiftee is dazzling.

It’s perfect putting Shiftee in this category. He’s a short Amtrak trip up the eastern seaboard, a native New Yorker. But he’s also the younger generation, literally born as Jeff was coming up in the world.

Native Instruments is a company founded by techno-heads in a techno capital, but just as a piano can play classical and jazz, there’s really nothing about Remix Decks or big mixer control surfaces that says anything about genre. I have to rely on the press department for track IDs:

Alt-J – Left Hand Free (Lido Remix)
Low Pros – Who Wanna Play (Feat. Que)
DJ Shiftee – Uh Yo And Also Yo

These are, I’m told, some seriously hot tracks as far as what people are listening to. I only know they’re seriously hot tracks to my ears.

Shiftee is a master turntablist and turntablist educator, too – he’s on the front lines of making sure this tradition stays alive.

Let’s close by talking gear, though, this being CDM.

Jeff vs. Serato

What I like about Jeff’s setup is that it’s versatile but rigorously minimal.

The Pioneer DDJ-SP1 is actually a really cool controller for Serato, one that ought to give Traktor fans some envy. You get four-deck control on pads with a bunch of performance modes – Hot Cue, Roll, Sampler, Slicer, Auto Loop, Hot Loop and Manual Loop. That makes for something that nicely recalls the MPC and dedicated loop hardware, not just the usual DJ business.


And it’s all nice and small. You get all this mileage without giving up a bunch of space.

The mixer is a Serato classic – the Rane Sixty-Two. But I should note that today you also can choose the Allen & Heath xone:43C, a digital version (complete with sound card) of the analog-geared xone:43 we saw last week. More on that later.

Shiftee vs. NI

Not so much to say about the NI side of things. It’s an S8, the flagship controller. The bigger story here is how Shiftee is using it – especially since you can now get the same per-deck functions in a smaller D2 (and use another mixer for that bit).

He’s using it as a mixer for DVS control, fully exploiting the all-in-one capabilities of the unit.

He’s using Remix Decks.

He’s using Freeze Mode.

In fact, the latter two really show a digital approach with visual feedback – not just “playing” the turntables, but the software instrument, too.

Then again, there’s more in common between Shiftee’s and Jeff’s approach fundamentally than different: this is really about playing with your hands, and making something new.

By the way, don’t miss Shiftee’s routine for Dubspot, the training academy / platform, with Maschine in the mix. This is real live performance stuff – more live than a lot of “live” sets, giving DJ some real meaning:


So, tomorrow morning, we’ll have a bunch of new DJ gear. But I think this is at the heart of how the handful of master DJs make them into instruments.

A lot of us do occasional mixing, perhaps focusing our performance virtuosity on live PA sets, improvised electronic forms, acoustic instruments, electric instruments, the lot. But I’m glad that whatever happens with the evolution of DJing, it’s still allowing traditional DJ practice to evolve.

For someone, DJing is still about blowing recorded music on turntables wide open.

The post Jazzy Jeff, Shiftee Show Us Turntable as a Musical Instrument appeared first on Create Digital Music.

Turntable Meets Cello, Sax, Laptop: How Archie Pelago Uses The Bridge and Ableton Live

With laidback, exotic grooves and richly-coordinated interlaced cello, saxophone, turntable, and electronics, Archie Pelago’s music relies on some serious technological savvy. To be sure, all you really need to play instruments and computers and turntables together is to get into a room and start jamming. But to realize their specific musical vision, the trio of Hirshi, Cosmo D and Kroba have turned to an advanced Ableton Live rig, centered around The Bridge to couple Serato and Live. Here’s a look at their music – and all the gory details that combine to make their setup tick.

Grab the free EP for some music:

END004: Shrinin EP by Archie Pelago by end fence

To be honest, after a lot of launch hype, it hasn’t always been easy anecdotally speaking to find a lot of people using The Bridge. The software, combining Ableton’s clip-launching facilities with Serato’s digital DJ setup, perhaps demands a lot conceptually and musically of its users. But boy, are these three using it – and pushing its envelope to the breaking point. I caught up with virtuoso cellist and technologist Greg Heffernan (Cosmo D) at the lovely Percussion Lab party in New York. Greg sends a full description on how the setup works technically, as he originally wrote for the folks at Ableton (who I imagine were quite interested). There’s a lot to follow, so happily, there’s a gear diagram, as well:

Rig diagram courtesy Archie Pelago. Click for full-sized version.

To start, there are three of us. I play cello, Zach ‘Kroba’ Koeber plays saxophone and Dan ‘Hirshi’ Hirshorn is on two turntables + mixer. We play our instruments into and alongside Ableton, recording, manipulating and effecting our sounds on-the-fly. Dan provides the rhythmic foundation for our music and because of The Bridge, all of us are in sync with each other.

I’m running my cello into a MOTU Ultralite Mk3 Firewire interface, which is connected to my MacBook Pro running Ableton and Serato simultaneously. I use a Behringer FCB1010 foot pedal (connected via an M-Audio UNO [MIDI] interface into my computer) to record clips of my cello playing, cue effects and generally navigate around the Session View of Ableton. I record my cello live into the Session View as clips, then run these clips through an effects chain on an effects rack. I then use the two expression pedals on the FCB1010 to crossfade between my ‘dry’ cello sound into an effected sound. The effects are controlled with two Korg Nano Kontrols situated below my laptop. I also use a Korg nanoPAD to play sampled clips of various found audio.

Zach’s setup mirrors mine, to an extent. Using a mic to capture his live sax sound, he runs his signal into a Tascam US100 interface which goes his computer running Live. He uses his FCB1010 to capture and record clips of his own, alongside a Korg nanoKONTROL to control effects. The reason why we chose the FCB1010 and the Korg nanoKONTROL is because they’re relatively inexpensive, easy to carry around the city and on the subway, and have a lot of buttons, knobs and faders for their size. Zach’s computer is connected to mine via an Ethernet cable and his Live set is slaved to mine via Midi Sync, so we’re always locked in the groove together.

The linchpin of this whole setup, however, is Serato and The Bridge. In addition to my running Ableton, I have Serato running via a Rane SL1 [mixer] also connected to my laptop. Coming out of my laptop is a cable going into an external monitor. Dan uses this monitor to display Serato, enabling him to do what he does with his two turn tables, Serato control vinyls, and his Behringer DJ Mixer. Because of the Bridge, my Ableton rig is locked in with whatever he’s spinning, whether it be our original dubs or tunes that inspire us. With everything sync’d up, Zach and I, through our instruments and software, react musically and rhythmically to Dan’s DJing. Dan, via the effects on his mixer and control of his vinyl, reacts musically to us as well.

In terms of audio routing, my audio and Zach’s audio are running into Dan’s mixer, so he’s mixing our sounds as much as he’s controlling Serato.

The Gear

Cosmo D:
1 cello
1 MacBook Pro 13″
MOTU UltraLive Mk3 Firewire Interface
2 Korg nanoKONTROLs
1 Korg nanoPAD
1 Behringer FCB1010


1 saxophone
1 MacBook Pro 15″
1 Tascam US100 interface
1 Korg nanoKONTROL
1 Behringer FCB1010


1 Rane SL1 DJ Interface
1 Behringer DJX750 DJ Mixer
1 Dell 17″ Flatscreen Computer Monitor
2 Turntables (Technics SL 12000)
2 Custom needles.

Lots of cables.

In Videos

New York public radio station WNYU hosted the trio on their program Table Tennis. Three highlight excerpts below, followed by the full program for those of you who want it:

For those of you who aren’t quite ready to leap into The Bridge yet, but do want to loop your instrument, here’s a great place to start. Cosmo D talks about his live looping process in Ableton Live, at the site Bangbang.

And in an interesting way of visually interpreting their music, dancer Genna Baroni choreographs a dance to a track from the trio’s Chocolate Waveplates EP in a music video:

There – now no one has any excuse for not dancing at an Archie Pelago jam. The setting and videography is pretty informal, but it’s nice to see movement as a way of interpreting music.

Chocolate Waveplates EP Sampler [Slime Recordings] by Archie Pelago

And lastly, a live show from earlier this year at Glasslands in Brooklyn.

Official site:

Experimental Turntablism with dj sniff – Inside the Rig, Process, Playing Technique (CDM Video)

Behind records, dj sniff hides a no-display computer-based rig running his own software, extending the possibilities of what turntablism can be. Photo by Tanya Traboulsi.

dj sniff, aka Takuro Mizuta Lippit, has been a leading figure in experimental turntablism and experimental music in general. Following studies in New York and Tokyo, he’s been a key artist and curator in the scene, as well as a top practitioner of turntable technique that pushes the envelope of what the record player can do. I got to spend some time with him in the basement of STEIM, the cutting-edge “electro-instrumental” research center in Amsterdam, as he jammed on his rig.

Combining a computer running Max/MSP with interactive physical control and conventional scratching and mixing, Taku’s rig is a kind of hybrid meta-instrument, a one-man ensemble of sound. In our video, he first gives us an extended improvisation. It was literally just him messing around when I happened to flip on the camera; this flows out of him both as a soloist and with other musicians (including acoustic instrumentalists). Then, he walks us through that gear.

Some of what you’ll see, apart from the obvious turntables and a one-of-a-kind custom device of sniff’s own creation:
Mac mini
Cycling ’74 Max/MSP (you can’t see it, but via his custom patches, it’s doing the sampling)
Stanton SCS.3m Controller
Novation Dicer DJ Controller (the little, triangular device propped on the edge of the turntable)
Foot pad

The “Crossfader Trigger Sampler” is the heart of the rig, what Taku says he had to learn to play. It’s powered by a PIC18F microcontroller, though these days you might well choose a different option. (The device was designed in the pre-Arduino days.)

Take a look:

I’m listening now to dj sniff’s album, titled simply ep. It’s actually nearly a full hour of music, perhaps best described as experimental turntable jazz. I love Taku’s inscription on the back, from the liner notes, as it says a lot to me about the relationship of performance and recording media:

“With every scratch, our memory of a past is suspended and we hear and here the now.”

dj sniff is curating and playing STEIM’s PATTERNS + PLEASURE festival next month. We’ll be in Amsterdam, and will be doing a Handmade Music call; more on that shortly. I just hope I can fight through jetlag and make some music down in STEIM’s bowels.


More dj sniff:

Photo: Frank Balde.

At STEIM in Tokyo, 2008:

Hybrid Midi Turntablism Demo

Click here to view the embedded video.

Hybrid midi mode is a free firwmare download for the DN-S3700 & DN-S1200 players from the Denon DJ website. It supplies a constant clean timecode signal to Scratch Live in Hybrid Mode eliminating the need for timecode media.

In the video, UK DMC Champion JFB tests out Denon DJ’s new Hybrid Midi Mode with Serato Scratch LIve 2.1 and the Denon DN-S3700 CD decks, without timecode media.

Download and install Hybrid Midi Mode from these links: