Thursday, November 14, 2013

Is the HID/Rekordbox enabled CDJ's a waste if you use them with DVS software?

Recently, I engaged in a Facebook debate where a friend of mine directed a post to another friend of mine who is a CDJ-2000Nexus owner, asking if don't they think it's a waste to be using the CDJ-2000Nexus as a controller? For the sake of security, I will refer to the poster as DJ Cane, and the Nexus owner DJ Lite. I quote the post as follows:

"DJ Lite, doesn't hooking a laptop up to some cdj's to Mix music seem like a waste of some perfectly good cdj's and defeat the purpose of owning them to mix? What are kids doing these days I see it all the time now and don't get it!???"

He further added this comment.

"I totally understand what you mean [other dj] with the plug and play off a computer to make it easy if you aren't familiar to the operating system on a cdj's but, I'm more referring to the people who know how to use them have prepared music but just choose to turn their cdj's into giant expensive computer controllers."

Here is my response.

  "Actually DJ Cane, if you are referring to the thought that a CDJ's best use is ONLY with Rekordbox, that is very incorrect. Don't get me wrong, a lot of the features like quantize and ahem beat sync, along with the beat and loop effects are exclusively on CDJ-mode only. However, you're not giving enough credit to the HID control system that the first CDJ-2000 along with all present generation CDJ's are equipped with. HID control is more advanced than simple MIDI control, that is because it can not only accurately detect high resolutions of rotation (which is important for accurate jog wheel motion), it can ALSO display parameters such us waveforms and playlists onto the CDJ-2000 and CDJ-2000Nexus LCD screens.

What's the big deal about HID? Up until HID was invented, the only way to use a DVS program like Serato or Traktor was to use a timecode CD similar to timecode vinyl on a turntable. The biggest setback to CDJ users who added a DVS system to their setup is that they lose a lot of the functions that a CDJ would have, like using the main cue button, the hot cue buttons and the loop. That is because "relative mode" is relative to the position of of the song on the software, and not the position the CD timecode signal. The closest you can get to a near-CDJ experience is to use absolute mode, however, the initial cue of a track will have a minor delay to catch up to the timecode position that you can clearly hear, as well as the fact that you have to always reset your cue points for every song as you play, which can be inconvenient and time consuming.

The HID system, which was a joint development between Serato and Pioneer and is also applied to Native Instruments Traktor, was created so that the DVS user can finally bring home the 100% CDJ experience home to their software. That means that the hot cues, loop buttons, and the main cue and play buttons function EXACTLY as if you were only playing on a CDJ. And the fact that your playlists can be viewed and selected on the LCD screen, means you can literally put your laptop HIDDEN and away from view, and no one would even know what program you are using. The added bonus to the MIDI functionality is the fact you can reassign knobs and buttons to trigger effects and transport controls as well.

The truth is, the present generation Rekordbox/HID enabled CDJ's has MULTIPLE functions to use it. The obvious use is what EVERYBODY does which is, plug a USB stick, and play it as is. But you have to remember there was further development so that the CDJ can be used as a CONTROLLER, which is actually very new to the CDJ as a standalone deck. In one gig, one DJ would never use ALL the functions of the CDJ, because it wouldn't be practical for one DJ to switch around between Serato, Traktor, and Rekordbox. HOWEVER, I have done a set with two other DJ's, where in one night, we switched between Traktor HID mode, Rekordbox, and Serato HID mode.

The fact to recognize is, the CDJ is made to be used 3 main ways: 1) Rekordbox mode 2) Serato HID control mode 3) Traktor HID control AND soundcard mode. And the funniest part is, there are even native mappings for Virtual DJ and Ableton Live as well that can be used with the CDJ.

So I don't think DJ Lite is wasting a perfectly good set of CDJ's, in reality he's using them in a rare way that most people aren't aware of. The only time I would say someone is wasting their CDJ-350/850/900/2000/2000Nexus is when they still use a Timecode CD, because literally, you're making the CDJ function no better than an older CDJ-800. Not everyone has to use a CDJ the way Tiesto and Armin van Buuren use it, just walking up with a thumbdrive. The reason why those things are SO expensive is because, there is more technology on it, that any one DJ will ever figure out. And yes Dru Soy we have had this conversation, 3 years ago, when I was excited about the potential of HID control."


"^^^ And if everything I rambled above went over anyone's heads, I will gladly would love to demonstrate the use of HID control with Serato Scratch Live tonight at 10pm at Joker's when Open House kicks off"

"Also, because of the HID system, did you know on Serato and possibly Traktor, you can have the CDJ-2000's control the software in Internal Mode, and have Relative Mode linked to a turntable? That's not possible with Rekordbox alone."

  
"One last thing, to say it's a waste as I quote from DJ Cane to "turn their cdj's into giant expensive computer controllers", the fact is, the CDJ IS A CONTROLLER. You're either controlling a USB stick OR a computer. You're sorting digital files from either a USB source or a DVS software played back from a SOUNDCARD. Now unless you're playing CD's, the present generation Rekordbox/HID enable CDJ's is a MULTI-PLATFORM CONTROLLER that gives you OPTIONS. It's the most universal single decks created in our time." 

Monday, November 11, 2013

My thoughts on Reloop's newest turntable, the RP-8000 with MIDI functionality.


I am a bit pleased to see someone is taking charge of the turntable market. Sure Vestax, Stanton, and Numark were good competitors to Technics, and still are competing despite the discontinuation of the SL-1200, but I feel like the whole turntable market hasn't really innovated anything new.

Looking at how "standard equipment" evolved in the past 10 years, I saw the birth of the CDJ, that for a while, actually affected the sales of the Technics to the point that they came down in price as far as $399 when I worked at Guitar Center in 2006. The M5G's were $699 during this time as well, the price you can buy used ones for today. However, with DVS software like Serato and Traktor on the rise, I don't think the turntable, even though I am not a user myself, ever left the circle. It seems like it's more the choice by the open format, hoip hop, and showcase DJ's; while the EDM guys are on CDJ's or controllers.

Up until now, the only turntables designed for DJ use with midi functionality has been custom 1200's with built in dicers. I know Vestax developed a turntable that was an all out midi controller, but that was meant to be more of an instrument, that a DJ tool to trigger hot cues, loops and samples. What I like about this new RP-8000, is that it's the first turntable to take cues from the Technics, the innovations of Stanton, innovations from Numark, AND innovations from custom modified 1200's.

To explain, the aluminum finish, rectangular start/stop buttons, S tone arm, and overall look and feel (at least on photo) is made to make a Technics user feel comfortable and at home. Of course, like most newer turntables, they gave it a second start/stop button on the lower left corner. Since this is a Super OEM turntable, it's likely to be built in the same factory as some of Stanton models as well as other brands. In fact, it's using the exact same tone arm as a Stanton ST-150, which was Stanton's best S-arm turntable. The digital pitch read out is reminiscent of the Numark TTX's pitch control. If that wasn't Numark-like enough, they even included a feature that people didn't realize that the second generation of TTX's actually had; the torque strength adjustment. Many DJ's don't realize, that from all "pro" turntables, the 1200 actually had the weakest torque. Stanton, Vestax, and Numark all head a bigger stronger motor that Technics, which was why those turntables were always heavier. Some DJ's and turntablist found the strong motor a little too strong. Numark developed selectable torque strength, and Reloop seems to be the first manufacturer to follow that idea. And up until now, the only way to get midi trigger buttons on the top of your turntable was to either place in some dicers, or have them custom meshed into the body. It looks like Reloop answered that demand.

Now I have only seen this turntable in the DJBooth.com article, but a few things I could think to improve it would be, a vertical pitch fader including it's display; and a tonearm as advanced as Vestax's A.S.T.S. tonearms. Let's be real for a second, if you are using DVS software to DJ with, sound quality is not an issue from record to needle. What is more important is stability and gain from the timecode records. A straight arm would have been a better choice here, especially one like Vestax that canhave the turntable positioned up to a 45 degree angle. Maybe that would be overkill, but I don't think it would cost more to have the Stanton STR8 tonearm in place of the ST-type ones.

Now this is totally my own speculation, and I could totally be proven wrong depending how well Reloop markets these tables, but even if these decks are everything they promise to be in reality as they are on paper, I have a doubt in my mind that they will take off. I think one of the main reasons companies like Stanton, Numark, and Vestax never really put much effort in creating new products for the turntable market lately, is because turntable users, specifically Technics users, will always be loyal to Technics. Don't get me wrong, I give a lot of credit to Technics build quality with the SL-1200 but let's be honest, they weren't exactly a great DJ gear company. They just made a good turntable, that's it. Technics was known for two epic fails, their DJ CD player that was supposed to compete with the Pioneer CDJ's, and the mixer that went along with it. Despite companies making higher torque motors, digitally accurate pitch adjustment, turntable alternatives like the Pioneer CDJ and all the media players that followed it including motorized platter players like on the Numark CDX as well as newer Numarks and Denon decks and controllers; the Technics users, whether they scratched, juggled, or not, remained loyal to their Technics. A few moved over, but it seems like the common rider request for open format DJ's across America are still Technics SL-1200MK2's or higher. It doesn't matter if you give them more torque, less skipping, or make the turntable look and feel like a 1200, I think the loyalist are wired to choose the Technics. My speculation for that reason is simply because, there is no other DJ product in history, that lasted over 30 years, unchanged. Nobody can argue that the 1200 gained a lot of trust.

Working DJ's tend to be conservative, and want to make sure they have a product they can rely on and know they can get help with. Despite dealing with skipping when someone walks across a flimsy stage, or getting subharmonic feedback from the subwoofers to the needles, there's more people that can help you repair an SL-1200 than let's say, a Pioneer CDJ, or a Numark TTX. There's only two products I see that work in the DJ world, either a product that completely moves away from the classic turntable, like controllers and arguably the CDJ; or a product that preserves the 1200, like all DVS software and the accesories that go with it, like Novation Dicers. Anything that tries to mimic a turntable, doesn't seem to have a long shelf life. The Numark CDX was a pretty cool invention for the time but many of it's users reverted back to turntables when DVS software was on it's rise. Denon had many fumbled attempts which included the DN-S5000 and 3500 until they got something right. Turns out flanger and echo effects are as important as stability.

On a side note, what I don't understand is when DJ's, especially younger DJ's, use turntables, don't scratch, but insist on using turntables. Some admit it, some don't, but for the ones that do, they say they want to maintain a certain respectable image. For some it's the acceptance of older DJ's, for others, it's being an accepted image in a market you're trying to be a part of. My question has always been, if you're in a market trying to conform and preserve an image, how exactly do you expect to stand out? I understand if you're an older DJ, and turntables are something you are comfortable with. But the on going rhetoric of "I'm upgrading my controller to Technics". Technologically it's not even an upgrade. Now if you're studying or are capable of turntablism, I definitely respect that. But when I see other DJ's with booking power judging other DJ's and not booking them because they use a controller, I find that kind of silly. I mean, how about we judge them for how they sound, isn't that what matters? The value of any artist isn't about what he uses, more so how well he uses it. To what F** does it matter, what he's using, if he sounds just like you when he uses it? If the guy with the controller sounds like you, he doesn't have a problem; however, you might when he tries to take your job, possibly for less money (undercutters). So unless you an make yourself sound better on turntables, are just both guys who beatmatch and pick songs. There's nothing about having a controller that says a guy can't read a crowd or program his set, nor is there is anything about DJing on Technics that makes you more creative. There should have been a label on every Technics SL-1200 box that says, "talent not included". Anyways, I've rambled away from the subject, I think Reloop is on to something with this new deck of theirs, we'll see if the Technics users bite on this one.
My response to the article "'Ghost-Producing' is EDM's Dirty Little Secret"
Original Article: http://blogs.laweekly.com/westcoastsound/2013/07/edm_ghostproducing_david_guetta_ghostwriting.php



Something to think about. Now while "production" is what makes DJ's famous, at least in the EDM world, as oppose to "performance", is having a few tracks produced by someone else entirely wrong? Now maybe leaving the impression that the given famous DJ made the track when he didn't can be a dishonest practice, let's think about it from an artist and performer point of view.

When you think of all Michael Jackson songs, you don't think about every writer, composer, perhaps even the dance choreographer that developed or assisted in the music video as well as the live shows. You don't think about the lighting guys on the stage, the pyros, the camera work, or the musicians that recorded the instruments. You think of the "experience" as Michael Jackson (the show).

Now let's bring it to something more familiar. Hip Hop music has been notorious as being a sample based form of music; many times not giving credit to the original sample's owner. Despite the controversy, the tweaking and editing of samples is accepted as an artform and part of the music's history.

Has the current world of EDM made us forget what a DJ really does? Isn't a DJ a person who plays "other people's" music? It's silly that people just don't know the difference between a DJ and a producer, and that when a DJ actually does a few things to be a DJ, people get all riled up.

So in a nutshell, I don't find it wrong if a superstar DJ has a team of ghost producers. People came to see a "show". I do would wish they would be more honest and crediting of it; at least say it was a collaboration with a new artist. In reality, what they do behind closed doors is really their business. I find it funny that if an artist is caught in one instance where they had to "lip sync" a set or had a ghost producer, produce a song, people act like this superstar was never capable of DJing or producing. I would even argue that some of the superstar's best work, was BEFORE THEY BECAME SUPERSTARS. Let's be fair, we really don't know the responsibilities behind the work it takes to set these shows up and make music, when you are that big, famous, and busy. Before they were superstars, they had more time in the world to concentrate on their music. I'm not defending poor work or lazy work when it comes to being an established artist. But I will say, from experience, that when you're busy traveling, your mind is not all there to sit down and make music.

And really, the people getting screwed are not the people buying the record or going to the show. They paid for a song and show and they got a song and a show. It doesn't change the quality of the song, whether the track was good or bad. The only person truly getting screwed is the ghost producer himself, who sold his song to a superstar for easy cash. But even then, let's be smart. Corporations have employees that develop innovations all the time that the corporation takes the credit for. Music is a money generating industry, and every superstar artist is just another franchise. And to call it a "dirty secret", really? Any ounce of common sense would have let you figure this out a long time ago.

Friday, September 27, 2013

When is a DJ, no longer a DJ? (Why I don't call myself a DJ anymore).

There's a certain mislead persona that comes with calling yourself a DJ, almost a baggage. While playing music and moving dancefloors is something we all do, everybody's idea of what you as an individual is very clouded by everyone's misconception of what you are. It can range from "please DJ my wedding," to, "you don't have the new 2Chainz song. You call yourself a DJ?" Rather than explaining my individual specific production and performance, I think it's more logical to just say, "no, I don't call myself a DJ". It also means I don't have to conform to the expectations of other DJ's of their definition of what a "real DJ" is suppose to do or use because I am simply not them. Maybe I used to be, maybe what I do is related, but if there is a messy definition of rules, regulations, and expectations, that are clearly off from what you do, maybe the best thing to do is define yourself and market yourself in a manner than separates you from what the status quo thinks you are. Don't get me wrong, if I am simply playing pre-recorded music, and perhaps even rocking a dancefloor with it, maybe I can only limit what I do to what is called DJing. But if there's a few extras thrown in there, and someone who doesn't know me, hear's the word "DJ", whatever their idea of a DJ is, is marked, before they hear me and potentially book me.

There's even the whole pride DJ's take in being "open format". DJ's who play everything. Is playing everything really all it's about? A little bit of this and a little bit of that so you have a little something for everyone in the room. While you want to keep everyone happy, isn't there an old principle that says, "when you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one"? An idea I got from Jon Taffer the bar consultant is, "don't have something that is everything to everyone. Have something that is everything to someone." With that idea applied to "DJing" you can "cater" to a room, which will "get the job done". Or you can take the ideas of open format, and extend it to taking them where you want to go. Some DJ's can scratch and juggle multiple genres of tracks, which is awesome if that's where your passion lies. But what if there is music you want them to taste? In fact what if there's a place you know they don't know that they want to go? I mean don't get me wrong, DJ's all the time have done this; giving the crowd what they want, to gain their trust so they will follow where you want to go. And not all crowds wanna go "there" so reading them is important. But the point is, there is a clear line between simply giving a "service" of a good time, and leaving the crowd with "impact". Impact can be riskier because in actuality, you run the higher risk of turning off some people. Don't get me wrong, if a venue owner or promoter hires you for a specific job, then you should definitely do that job and have it as your prime directive. But in certain events, places, maybe even short moments within a night, there are always those chances to deviate from what is simply expected of you.

There's also the extras you add in. DJ Enferno is one of the best examples of someone who took playing music and added all sorts of musical elements into his performance. Using an NI Maschine along with some keyboards, and advanced turntablism. If you know what he does, could you really just call him a DJ?  My friend DJ Mastamonk is another example of this. And I'm not trying to toot my own horn saying I'm "beyond" DJing. But there's so many expectations and misconceptions about what a "DJ" does that I feel misleads people to simplifying how they perceive you. Don't get me wrong, the innovations, artistry, and influence of what DJ's started, is the backbone to any form of performance of recorded music. But if you do things that are no longer common within that category, are you only a DJ anymore?

And a lot of my most respected influences and close friends are DJ's, and I am not discouraging anyone from taking interest in DJing. However, the DJ world has grown so much to the point that in some communities, and maybe as a world as a whole, the older DJ's that are discouraged from not gaining the same success as these superstars, share that bitterness and start imposing their personal opinions upon the younger generation. "Real DJ's only use vinyl; real DJ's only use Technics; real DJ's don't use auto-sync" all that nonsense. And the whole "the controller guy took my job". As a guy who played vinyl at the clubs 11 years ago, saw the CDJ movement, saw the Serato/Traktor movement, embracing the creative benefits of all this technology, I just don't want to be part of that small thinking that some, not all, DJ's have. It's like the whole DJ community became the bucket of crabs scenario. They didn't succeed, and they will pull down anybody who might try something new. Where's the creativity and innovation if DJing is nothing more than a set of rules? Do you want to be a the violin player of the orchestra, or the composer conducting it?

With all that said, I just want to move forward and not look to the past. I would love not just for me, but for the guys around me and the kids who listen to me, if I could just open a positive door where no one has to feel they have to be a certain way in order to make it. The whole artistry of DJing was "created" by someone thinking outside the box breaking musical rules. Now the innovations of yesterday have become today's rules. Take Grand Master Flash, founder of Hip Hop music, embraced Traktor and using a computer. The founders of Techno, Juan Atkins Kevin Saunderson, and Derrick May, they all embraced new technologies to both make and perform music. They weren't thinking, "how to be a real DJ"....all they were doing was making an impact by doing something different. I am no Enferno, I am no Craze, I am no Mastamonk, but I just wish for the truly passionate individuals to have an environment where they are encouraged to create rather than discouraged to keep it real. While I have great admiration for the DJ's who have influenced the world and have moved crowds and touched people, I think there has to be a line drawn between the overall persona of what is a DJ, and what is a "mix artist".

Friday, September 13, 2013

Rant: Apple downgrades the iPhone 5 to the iPhone 5C to widen difference for the iPhone 5S.

Ok, I think I get it now, I see what Apple did, which is still stupid but I get it. The new iPhone 5C is an iPhone 5 with a plastic body. The iPhone 5S is the actual "upgrade". The 5S does have a better camera and flash, like every upgrade should, but has things like a 64 bit operating system which was never explained in benefits other than an unnoticeable speed increase; perhaps there will be apps that justify this. And the the finger print security, which I'll leave you guys to think about it's usefulness.

So in a nutshell, Apple's marketing strategy is, in order to sell the new product, the 5S, they are downgrading the previous model the 5 into a plastic 5C to widen the value difference between the available models, while discontinuing the  5. The 5 that is being discontinued is essentially a better phone than the 5C because of the aluminum body.

Did Dr. Dre get a seat in the board of directors of Apple? This seriously does not seem like something Steve Jobs would have approved of.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Drum Pad (MIDI Controller) Scratching Tutorial Using Hot Cues in Serato Scratch Live

I figured this tutorial would be a great addition to my blog. One thing I noticed about the new Serato DJ is the fact it doesn't have a MIDI assignable pitch control. That will inhibit our ability to do this technique so let's get on the ball on the Serato forums to request a feature upgrade.



Friday, September 6, 2013

Serato DJ, Traktor Scratch Pro, & Rekordbox UNITED in One Setup






One of the things that I always wanted since the birth of the CDJ-2000 and the DJM-900Nexus mixer was to have a unified setup that gave you the OPTIONS to be able to switch between Serato Scratch Live, Traktor, and Rekordbox without the additional need for an external interface. The current way to achieve will always require the need for a Serato Interface such us the SL1, 2, 3, or 4.

After doing some research on the new Serato DJ enabled DJM-900SRT, I realized that the need for any external interface is no longer required. With Serato DJ being DVS enabled, it opens up the possibilities of a multi-application setup, on a setup that is simply 2 CDJ's and a mixer. The setup will also be possible on the DDJ-SX controller, if the 4 inputs, as predicted, will be utilizable via the DVS system.

Below are two ways to achieve the multi-application setup as to how to do it and the advantages and disadvantages. Please remember these setups have not been tested since the DJM-900SRT mixer has not been released yet. However, these configurations are based on the specifications made available by Pioneer, as well as existing information on the CDJ-2000Nexus. HID mode maybe a development that will also come some time later, and the setup may be limited to only timecode CD configuration in Serato DJ.


Configuration 1:
Ultimate Serato/Traktor/Rekord Box with HID mode



Requirements:
(2) Pioneer CDJ-2000Nexus
(1) Pioneer DJM-900SRT
(1) Ethernet Switcher Hub (for Rekordbox option along with 4 Ethernet Cables)
(1) Laptop (Mac or PC fitting minimum requirements)
(1) Powered USB Hub (with 3 or more inputs and 4 USB Cables)
(1) Serato DJ Application with DVS enabled versions
(1) Traktor Scratch Duo OR Traktor Scratch Pro
(1) Rekordbox

(2) Technics SL-1200MK2 or higher turntables (optional)


Setup:
-Plug CDJ-2000Nexus (and turntables) to the desired inputs on the DJM-900SRT

-Plug the 3 USB Cables to from the CDJ-2000Nexuses and the DJM-900SRT to the Powered USB Hub, and one USB Cable from the hub to the Laptop

-Plug 3 Ethernet Cables from CDJ-2000Nexuses and the DJM-900SRT to the Ethernet Switcher Hub, and one Ethernet Cable from the hub to the Laptop

-Plug RCA or Digital audio cables from CDJ-2000Nexuses to desired inputs on the mixer (also plug the RCA of the SL-1200 turntable to desired inputs in the mixer)


Serato DJ Use:
When you open Serato DJ, you can use both the CDJ-2000Nexuses AND the optional SL-1200 turntables in a 2 to 4 deck setup. For added control, you can LINK the CDJ-2000Nexuses in HID mode for maximum playback and performance control and playlist display on the CDJ screen.

Traktor Use:
Open your purchased version of Traktor. In the setup, follow the steps to link the soundcards of the CDJ-2000Nexuses to the corresponding left and right deck outputs of Traktor as well as HID control link of the CDJ-2000Nexuses to to the corresponding left and right decks in Traktor.

Rekordbox Use:
Open Rekordbox and follow the steps to link the CDJ-2000Nexuses, Laptop, and it's data sources together. You can link up to two laptops in Rekordbox configuration by switching the Ethernet Hub to a second plugged laptop.


Pros:
-This one setup will allow you to have the options to choose your application platforms between Serato DJ, Traktor, and Rekordbox, whether it's on one Laptop or switching to another.

-Serato DJ will give you the best of THREE worlds: Timecode Vinyl, Timecode CD, and HID on the CDJ-2000Nexus.

Cons:
-Traktor will be limited to CDJ-2000Nexus HID controls only. Timecode control from the SL-1200's will require using a Traktor interface like an Audio 8 instead of using the CDJ-2000Nexus.

-The only application that you can switch from one computer to another seamlessly is Rekordbox using the Ethernet Switcher Hub.

-Applications must be closed in order to start another application. It may be possible to run applications back to back however it is highly not recommended because data confusion between the applications may occur.

Comments:
-HID mode may not be available for Serato DJ right away, and may require the use of Serato Timecode CD's until the update is released. (It took a very long time to get HID support for Scratch Live).

-The Loop Roll effect on the DJM-900SRT can be used as a transition when switching applications or switching Laptops.

-Native MIDI control from DJM-900SRT to Traktor will not be available like the DJM-900Nexus. However, with an extra MIDI interface, you can assign a MIDI map in Traktor to get MIDI control from the DJM-900SRT.

-DJM-900SRT cannot be used as a Traktor soundcard output like the DJM-900Nexus.

-I wish the DJM-900SRT had TWO USB ports like the Rane 62, Rane 64, and Rane 68.




Configuration 2:
Compact Serato/Traktor/Rekord Box with HID mode


Requirements:
(2) Pioneer CDJ-2000Nexus
(1) Pioneer DDJ-SX
(1) Ethernet Switcher Hub (for Rekordbox option along with 3 Ethernet Cables)
(1) Laptop (Mac or PC fitting minimum requirements)
(1) Powered USB Hub (with 3 or more inputs and 4 USB Cables)
(1) Serato DJ Application with DVS enabled versions
(1) Traktor Scratch Duo OR Traktor Scratch Pro
(1) Rekordbox

(2) Technics SL-1200MK2 or higher turntables (optional)


Setup:
-Plug CDJ-2000Nexus (and turntables) to the desired inputs on the DDJ-SX

-Plug the 3 USB Cables to from the CDJ-2000Nexuses and the DDJ-SX to the Powered USB Hub, and one USB Cable from the hub to the Laptop

-Plug the Ethernet Cable from CDJ-2000Nexuses and the DJM-900SRT to the Ethernet Switcher Hub, and one Ethernet Cable from the hub to the Laptop

-Plug RCA cables from CDJ-2000Nexuses to desired inputs on the mixer (also plug the RCA of the SL-1200 turntable to desired inputs in the mixer)


Serato DJ Use:
When you open Serato DJ, you can use both the CDJ-2000Nexuses AND the optional SL-1200 turntables in a 2 to 4 deck setup. For added control, you can LINK the CDJ-2000Nexuses in HID mode for maximum playback and performance control and playlist display on the CDJ screen. (Note that the DDJ-SX is already a controller for Serato DJ. HID support may be delayed and is also possible may be negated when used with the DDJ-SX).

Traktor Use:
Open your purchased version of Traktor. In the setup, follow the steps to link the soundcards of the CDJ-2000Nexuses to the corresponding left and right deck outputs of Traktor as well as HID control link of the CDJ-2000Nexuses to to the corresponding left and right decks in Traktor.

Rekordbox Use:
Open Rekordbox and follow the steps to link the CDJ-2000Nexuses, Laptop, and it's data sources together. You can link up to two laptops in Rekordbox configuration by switching the Ethernet Hub to a second plugged laptop.


Pros:
-This one setup will allow you to have the options to choose your application platforms between Serato DJ, Traktor, and Rekordbox, whether it's on one Laptop or switching to another.

-Serato DJ will give you the best of THREE worlds: Timecode Vinyl, Timecode CD, and possibly HID on the CDJ-2000Nexus.

Cons:
-Traktor will be limited to CDJ-2000Nexus HID controls only. Timecode control from the SL-1200's will require using a Traktor interface like an Audio 8 instead of using the CDJ-2000Nexus.

-The only application that you can switch from one computer to another seamlessly is Rekordbox using the Ethernet Switcher Hub.

-Applications must be closed in order to start another application which means music will have to stop. It may be possible to run applications back to back however it is highly not recommended because data confusion between the applications may occur.

Comments:
-HID mode may not be available for Serato DJ right away, and may require the use of Serato Timecode CD's until the update is released. (It took a very long time to get HID support for Scratch Live). Also note that HID support for use with the DDJ-SX may possible not be released because the device itself is already a controller for HID.

-The DDJ-SX will be nothing more than a mixer when used with Traktor and all special functions will be negated. However it may be possible to MIDI map the controls of the DDJ-SX to Traktor.


Also check out the Pri yon Joni Configuration
This setup allows you to use Serato Scratch Live (and soon Serato DJ) with 2 CDJ-2000Nexuses in HID mode with a Rane 62 mixer with the option to quickly switch to timecode ABS/REL mode using turntables.




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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Club Owner's Best Protection to His Sound System

A club owner friend of mine asked me, "I can't seem to get my DJ's to keep their music down to safe levels. What is the best way to protect my sound system?"

You can have a sound engineer and/or a DBX Driverack 260 limiting the master signal but one thing that remains the same is your DJ will ALWAYS crank it up. Remember, the DJ is NOT a sound guy, he is a performer; and whether it's good for him or not, he will experience ear fatigue through the night and he will continue to "crank it" to maintain his perception of "being in the zone".

The sound guy can keep taming his volume down while the DJ fights it until his DJ mixer goes into distortion, or he could crank it at a strong compression level and the music will just sound weird, but the best investment you can do, so the DJ doesn't have to crank it, is to get a big monitor system.

LET HIM BLOW HIS EARS AND NOT YOUR SOUND SYSTEM.

If he's in the zone, you can tame your master sound and he won't even know. In a piratical sense, his monitors have to be able to out-power the mains and its echo back to the DJ booth, so one monitor is not enough. Two maybe sufficient, but I found that at Union Bar in Iowa City, four is actually used effectively, with the added option of two subwoofers.

It can be a costly investment to get a good monitor setup, but remember, it's cheaper to replace or repair a few $200 monitors than it is to replace or repair a $10,000 sound system.

I personally don't crank my monitors too loud, just enough to drown out the mains so I can hear my scratching. But there are times the monitors are just not enough, which makes a DJ tend to crank the master. Club owners, if you want to keep this from happening, give him enough sound for himself. Telling him repeatedly to turn it down is futile, because what sounds loud at 11pm can be extremely quiet at 1am. Not to mention the years of abuse his ears have been, his perception of loud is not the same as yours, especially from the isolated position of the DJ booth.

Beats the Beats (Diagram of headphones that outperform and outprice the Beats by Dre line)

This is not a complete list, this is just a list of headphones I have tried that by price, comfort, performance, and ruggedness, can outdo any Beats by Dre headphones. You will notice some headphones I listed aren't even noise cancelling, that's because the noise cancelling mechanism in the Beats are practically worthless. I will say not all these headphones are "prettier" than the Beats, which is the only place the the Beats excel in; but a few are stylishly designed.

Serato DJ Will Not Support Legacy Hardware (Rane SL1 and Rane TT57 Mixer)

#djnews #djrelated #djlife #serato #seratodj #sl1 #ttm57 #nativeinstruments #traktor



When people first started chatting about it, I didn't exactly believe Serato was going to leave out a big chunk of their current market of SL1 and TTM57 users, which my guess is currently 90% of a Scratch Live users in the world. But after reading that it is true, I sat and thought about it again and I can see from a business point of view why they would do this.

While the official reason is because the SL1 and TTM57 soundcards have outdated technology, specifically their audio resolutions, I can't help but think that this is Serato's way of selling more of their newer units like the SL2, SL3, and SL4 as well as their mixer line of the Rane 61, 62, 64, and 68.

If you think about it however, and this is entirely my own personal speculation, I don't think this is entirely unfair. The way Serato's business model is, the software is free, and the purchased hardware propriety to the software is how you pay for the software development. As we all know, preowned SL1's and TTM57's can be hot commodities amongst working DJ's along with used Technics turntables. Some of these 57's and SL1's can make it to third, fourth, fifth hand, and so on. Serato is not exactly making a profit on used Rane hardware being resold. While it sucks for the legacy equipment users, I think this is their way to clean up second hand market that Serato sees no penny, which like I said, counts for what I believe is 90% of the Scratch Live world.

If there's one thing I expect in return for this inconvenience to my 57 and SL1 colleagues, it's faster development time from the Serato developers. No more late updates. Serato seemingly had quite a plateful this past year. When Serato DJ was released, updates for controllers were delayed from a promised Spring time to the Fall. The update that I waited over a year for was the HID support for Scratch Live and the CDJ-2000Nexus. HID is technology that was developed as a collaboration between Pioneer and Serato no the original CDJ-2000 but was strongly delayed with the Nexus.

I am not exactly a Serato only, or a Scratch Live only and I am always exploring the CDJ and Traktor platforms as well, but to the SL1 and TTM57 users, you have till 2015 to upgrade. If you bought your gear used, that means all the software development updates you enjoyed over the years you basically received for free. I'm not one to empathize with a corporation, but I can tell they have been falling behind. In the bigger picture of things, I predict some awesome developments from Serato's direct competitor, Native Instruments. A dual USB Z4 mixer would be nice.

Remember the Roland DJ2000 DJ mixer?

#tbt #djtbt #djthrowback #throwback #throwbackthursday #throwbackthursdays #djthrowbackthursday #djthrowbackthursdays #vintagedjgear #vintageinstruments



Any DJ's remember this mixer? The Roland DJ2000 and it's smaller brother the DJ1000 was a mixer quite ahead of it's time when it was released in 1998. It wasn't exactly the first mixer with DSP effects; the Pioneer DJM-500, the mother of all Pioneer 4 channel mixers, predates it by two years, however only consisted of simple delay based digital effects such as echo, reverb, flanger, and a pitch shifter.

The thing that set the Roland DJ2000 apart was the fact that it not only had DSP effects of both delay and filter types, it was also MIDI capable, which I believe was the first ever MIDI capable DJ mixer. It was also the first mixer to link the BPM readout to the effects, as well the first mixer to include a Tap button for manual BPM entry for the effects. Like some historic Roland products like the TR-808 and TR-909, the innovations in the DJ2000 won't be realized until way after the mixer was discontinued. The 6 main effects including the Tap button can be found in future Pioneer DJM series as well as the cheaper Numark DXM and later X series.

One thing to realize about "house mixers" in 1998, is some house DJ's who used rotary mixers would actually supplement their setup with a frequency isolator. In a nutshell that means one big 3 band EQ with full kills per band. Mixers with full kill EQ was in demand during these years by the EDM DJ's of the time. So the frequency isolator section was quite a well thought out feature. I used to have a Gemini KL-10 (Executioner 10) myself because of the nice EQ AND kill switches it hand.

The thing that really set this mixer apart was the fact you could SNYC MIDI devices like Roland MC-505's and such to the BPM readout of the mixer. Before Apple Macbook Pro's, producers and DJ's were more dependent on actual hardware, and having their drum machines and synthesizers locked in with their mixer was groundbreaking.

I believe if this mixer was released today, with a few upgrades to the faders, including a crossfader curve control (innofaders would be nice); a few upgrades to the analog circuitry of the inputs, and MIDI parameters a little bit more spread out, I think this would still be viable mixer. Something to think about would be the fact that we are still currently at the early stages of the use of MIDI and newer developed forms of software control from DJ hardware. We have barely taken off with amount of control and DSP possibilities with current software and hardware and this mixer, a 1998 release, was truly foreshadowing the current world of technology in the DJ, production, and digital instrument communities.

The Lost Art of Setting Up Your Own Equipment

I know a lot of DJ's, mix artists, or whoever else who performs recorded music over a dancefloor, hates setting up equipment before a night. I know most would just love to have the turntables or CDJ's ready to go and just plug their laptop in and play when it's time. I guess I'm an odd ball because this is honestly my favorite part of my night. Don't get me wrong, I hate carrying the heavy stuff in, but once it's there, I'm in my zone.

This is the part where my friends hate how early I will show up to the club when we are out of town because I need that extra time to put all the toys together. I can be quite irritable when people tell me to hurry up because this is the most intimate part of my night. My setup is always changing gig to gig with variations between CDJ's, turntables, MIDI controllers, and HID setups. Not to mention getting the recorders ready for both crowd ambiance and direct audio. Then plugging in my Beta 58 cordless microphone and minimizing feedback around the monitors.  Also, there is an added variable of catering to the opening DJ's needs as well; some use controllers while others use alternatives to the CDJ.

The truth is, getting past the obstacles, and improvising around some challenges, and getting everything to work at it's possible best is the reward. I love doing sound check, when the club is still empty and you can get a taste of the sound system in the empty club and know its strengths and weaknesses. So after spider webbing wires, and improvising challenges, it just feels so much better to play on the instruments knowing the work you put behind setting it up.

It's like being able to race the car you built yourself onto the track. Every different time you go on the track, you tune something or have a new mod to make it drive faster or take that corner better. But in the simple sense of nothing more than two turntables and a Rane mixer, there's no risks or new ventures. Where's the fun in the same Serato screen with the same mixer on the same decks, over and over and over again?

CDJ-2000Nexus HID Control with Serato Scratch Live

Pri yon Joni Giglog 7/27/2013
Joker's Club, Des Moines, Iowa


With the brand new firmware and software update Pioneer and Serato released last week, we are so pleased to finally use the CDJ-2000Nexus's along with the Rane 62 mixer in full HID control setup. Special thanks to DJ Soulless for helping me setup the new firmware for HID mode.

Purpose:
To be able to use the CDJ's in HID mode along with Serato, while using a Rane 62, and a midi controller (Korg PadKontrol); while being able to easily switch to USB source mode, or CD mode (for those people who are have not updated, or are not comfortable using HID and prefer to use timecode configuration). I have also discovered since the Rane 62 is made to switch laptops, the CDJ HID control is easily switchable, simply by disconnecting and reconnecting to the next computer.

Gear:
(1) Apple Macbook Pro (i7, 4gig RAM)
(2) CDJ-2000Nexus
(1) Rane 62
(1) Korg PadKontrol
(1) Powered USB hub
(2) Passive USB hub
(1) Ethernet cable (linking both CDJ's)

Software:
Pioneer CDJ-2000Nexus Firmware Ver.1.13
Serato Scratch Live Ver.2.5

Setup:
-Both CDJ's are linked using Ethernet cable for when using USB source.
-Both CDJ's USB outputs are combined on the 1 passive USB hub for HID control.
-Powered USB hub takes in the Rane 62, Padkontrol (MIDI controller), and the passive USB hub. From here is connected directly to the computer.

Report (Pros, Cons, Discoveries, and Go Arounds):
-This setup makes switching between SSL, USB, and CD mode easier.

-This setup makes switching between SSL and Traktor possible (if native control update for Traktor is available), utilizing the HID control.

-This setup allows the following controls on SSL that is not available in TIMECODE mode: on screen CDJ control of crates and track selection, full functional CUE and PLAY buttons, on deck range and tempo buttons, on screen BPM display with hundredth of a decimal accuracy, CDJ HOT CUE parallel to SSL HOT CUE, and CDJ loop functions. By using SSL in full HID mode, the CDJ's control SSL in a way that is mirrored to how the CDJ's function exclusively. It makes SSL feel like you're completely playing off the CDJ's with CD's.

-All native functions of CDJ-2000Nexus AND Rane 62 ALL WORK.

-Scratching sounds better in HID mode. It seems to have less digital crushing and screeching treble heavy noise.

-Unlike TIMECODE mode, HID mode has a fixed rotation marker on the center of the jog dial of the CDJ that seems to be relative to the song. When scratching and juggling in TIMECODE mode, I click my HOT CUE when the marker is at 12 o'clock. It is difficult to beat juggle fast when markers start anywhere else. I do not have this option in HID mode. Firmware/Software update from Pioneer/Serato, is to allow HOT CUES to be parallel with the rotation marker on the screen, or to begin at 12 o'clock for every HOT CUE point.

-When switching from SSL HID mode to a USB source on the CDJ, it is a little tricky. Let's say CDJ 1 has a USB flash drive plugged in, you simply press the USB button to switch to the flash drive. HOWEVER, on CDJ 2, given that your ethernet wire is connected between both CDJ's, you have to press LINK to open the USB source on CDJ 1…THE PROBLEM IS, if you are in HID mode, that option is not available. The current solution to this problem is, simply disconnect the USB wires that are connected to the CDJ's. This will disable the HID link, and allow you to open the USB flash drive from CDJ 2 when you click LINK. Firmware update I request from Pioneer is, when you click LINK, allow selection between USB source and HID mode.

-Because the Rane 62 is made to be able to easily switch between two laptops, it is possible to SWITCH HID CONTROL TO THE SECOND LAPTOP. In order to do this, you can simply DISCONNECT THE CDJ USB WHILE PLAYING. The music will continue to play in the software and not stop. In our setup, you simple disconnect the passive USB hub the CDJ's are connected to and transfer it to the second computer. You have to simply press LINK again on both CDJ's, and select DECK 1 for the left CDJ and DECK 2 for the right CDJ again.

-If in the event you want to switch from SSL HID mode, to SSL TIMECODE mode, simply have the SSL timecode disc inserted in both decks. Selected CD on the non-playing CDJ, and select REL or ABS on the corresponding deck on SSL.

-Because everything is now controlled internally without timecode CD processing, buffer setting can be lowered, however screen lag seems to be a little bit strong but this can either be a hard drive related issue or a RAM related issue due to heavy use of multiple USB devices. I predict a simple RAM upgrade should fix this problem.

-Not related to the HID mode but about using a MIDI controller, the Rane 62, unlike the Rane TTM57, requires of you a few things when using a MIDI controller. Typically, when preparing for a gig, you assign your MIDI parameters and save them in SSL. When using a TTM57 or any SL interface, your last setting will open when you open the software. HOWEVER, when you using a Rane 62, you have to ENABLE MIDI devices (for your first time) and manually load your MIDI settings. A software request from Serato, to allow last MIDI settings to open with the software no different from when using it with an SL1, 2, 3, and so forth.

-This configuration: 2 CDJNexus's, Rane 62, and PadKontrol, allows the user 3 sources of HOT CUES and 3 different ways to loop. DJ can use the functions from the CDJ, the mixer, and/or the MIDI controller. While the functions are similar, the positioning and slight variance in how they are enabled, allow ergonomic control increasing creative freedom.


Software Update Requests:

Pioneer:
-When switching from SSL HID mode to a USB source on the CDJ, it is a little tricky. Let's say CDJ 1 has a USB flash drive plugged in, you simply press the USB button to switch to the flash drive. HOWEVER, on CDJ 2, given that your ethernet wire is connected between both CDJ's, you have to press LINK to open the USB source on CDJ 1…THE PROBLEM IS, if you are in HID mode, that option is not available. The current solution to this problem is, simply disconnect the USB wires that are connected to the CDJ's. This will disable the HID link, and allow you to open the USB flash drive from CDJ 2 when you click LINK. Firmware update I request from Pioneer is, when you click LINK, allow selection between USB source and HID mode.

-Unlike TIMECODE mode, HID mode has a fixed rotation marker on the center of the jog dial of the CDJ that seems to be relative to the song. When scratching and juggling in TIMECODE mode, I click my HOT CUE when the marker is at 12 o'clock. It is difficult to beat juggle fast when markers start anywhere else. I do not have this option in HID mode. Firmware/Software update from Pioneer/Serato, is to allow HOT CUES to be parallel with the rotation marker on the screen, or to begin at 12 o'clock for every HOT CUE point.

Serato:
-Not related to the HID mode but about using a MIDI controller, the Rane 62, unlike the Rane TTM57, requires of you a few things when using a MIDI controller. Typically, when preparing for a gig, you assign your MIDI parameters and save them in SSL. When using a TTM57 or any SL interface, your last setting will open when you open the software. HOWEVER, when you using a Rane 62, you have to ENABLE MIDI devices (for your first time) and manually load your MIDI settings. A software request from Serato, to allow last MIDI settings to open with the software no different from when using it with an SL1, 2, 3, and so forth.

-Unlike TIMECODE mode, HID mode has a fixed rotation marker on the center of the jog dial of the CDJ that seems to be relative to the song. When scratching and juggling in TIMECODE mode, I click my HOT CUE when the marker is at 12 o'clock. It is difficult to beat juggle fast when markers start anywhere else. I do not have this option in HID mode. Firmware/Software update from Pioneer/Serato, is to allow HOT CUES to be parallel with the rotation marker on the screen, or to begin at 12 o'clock for every HOT CUE point.



Written July 28, 2013,
Pri yon Joni

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