Friday, February 14, 2014

My thoughts on the possiblity that Pioneer is working on a DJ turntable



Well after explaining why I don't think Pioneer will ever produce a turntable, I find my own foot in my mouth when a few fellows tell me about Qbert's slip of the tongue regarding his secret project with Pioneer. While I am surprised Pioneer would do this, since they've held true to their revolutionary jog wheel for 14 years; I am not surprised that Pioneer is making this move at this specific time. For the longest time turntables barely evolved and companies like Stanton, Numark, and Vestax didn't do much upgrades to their decks to catch up with the digital age.

The Pioneer CDJ competed directly with the Technics during th first few years due to the fact you can now scratch and mix your own music you produced without needed to press it on vinyl. However, the introduction of Digital Vinyl Systems like Final Scratch and Serato Scratch Live gave traditional DJ's the option to preserve their turntables. Two markets separated in this and the majority of Hip Hop and Open format DJ's stayed with the Technics while the majority of EDM DJ's of the time went with the CDJ. Over the years the most advanced turntables were custom modified Technics, with built in Dicers. Every turntable company had it's strengths in each deck. Numark and Technics both had a digital pitch control; Numark had selectable torque as well as interchangeable tonearms; Stanton and Numark had one of the heaviest and strongest motors; and Vestax had the most advanced tone arm, as well as a MIDI controller turntable.

However, with the discontinuation of the Technics, and not much upgrades to the big three, Numark, Stanton, and Vestax, a European company called Reloop comes out of nowhere and introduces a turntable, with selectable torque like the Numark, and MIDI buttons like the customized Technics with Dicers. This was the first time a turntable producer, took the demands of working DJ's and applied it to their deck.

Where does Pioneer fit in this? Well they know the CDJ never truly replaced the turntable. It was a nice competition for a while, especially when the Technics really lowered its price in 2005 when you could buy a MK5 for $399 and an M5G for $699; which today you can find a used one for. However Pioneer traditional as a business in the DJ market, are never the first ones to ever introduce anything. There are very few things Pioneer DJ ever introduces, and most of the time, it is an improvement to a current type of product. The only thing off the top of my head Pioneer ever introduced into the market, was a tabletop, turntable-like, CD player, the first CDJ-300 back in 1994. Since then, Pioneer was kind of the company that lurked and waited for other developers to create a demand for a product type. Before they introduced the fully vinyl emulatable CDJ-1000, Numark and a few other Super OEM companies were already releasing vinyl "scratchable" CD players. They weren't the best nor did they satisfy the turntable DJ's needs. Once that interest was sparked, Pioneer comes into the market with a bang with the CDJ-1000, the first CD player that you can manipulate like vinyl.

Fast forward a few years, if you pay attention to Pioneer, they are always the last to apply new technology to their line of products. For example, MP3 capable decks were already available during the release of the CDJ-1000MK2, and by the time MK3 came out that was MP3 capable with CD's, decks with hard drive or flash drive were already available. In fact it took Pioneer all the way to 2009 to apply flash drive capabilities to the CDJ line with the introduction of the CDJ-2000.

This is not to say Pioneer is behind. It's similar to Apple and their Mac line. It took so long for them to apply USB 3.0 on their computers. The similarity is that Pioneer waits for technology to mature, and for the market demand to mature, before they introduce their new product. I actually like this because you're not getting experimental technology. This isn't saying Pioneer doesn't come up with new developments applied to their products, but they are never the first ones to introduce the general product type, whether it's a deck, mixer, or media player. However there are times they also came in too late, like with their DVJ decks. The price of those decks and the investment in DVD's, as well as the movement into HD technology, but most especially because Serato Video and Virtual DJ was a far more affordable and efficient option, the DVJ's lived a short market life.

Now, the Tecnhics are discontinued and Numark, Stanton, and Vestax are barely moving with their turntable lines into the digital DJ age, so Reloop steps to the spotlight with their brand new turntable. Like I said, Pioneer never makes the first move. But the fact that someone made a forward looking move, it's not unbelievable that Pioneer has taken interests and began developing something new. Their famed jog wheel had a great 14 year run and may now stand along side with this new turntable they're developing with Qbert. Or maybe who knows, maybe Qbert isn't working on a turntable. But for Pioneer, with all it's gear from the controllers, the CDJ's, the mixers, and the effects boxes, as well as it's partnership with all major DVS software developers, stepping into the turntable market is their move to complete their monopoly empire.

At the same time, would love other developers compete with Pioneer, because their products are pretty expensive and this high end monopoly needs a little shaking.

   A couple guesses on the model name.

TTJ-2000
TDJ-2000
TTJ-1200
TDJ-1200
TTJ-QX
TDJ-QX
TTJ-X1
TDJ-X1
TTJ-Q1
TDJ-Q1

Maybe there will be a super advanced version that can take a USB stick with an LCD screen and Ethernet connection.

TTJ-2000Nexus

Anyways, I'm going to the next NAMM show, end of story.


Here's the article from DJ Techtools
http://www.djtechtools.com/2014/02/05/pioneer-working-on-a-new-dj-turntable/

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Serato DJ 1.6 DVS Report



After using Serato DJ Thursday night, I report that the software is still buggy. I used it in timecode mode, with 1 MIDI controller. Here's my current analysis.

Computer specs:
Mid 2011 Apple MacBook Pro 15 inch
2.4 Ghz Quad Core
16 GB RAM
Mavericks OSX
750 GB 7200rpm HHD (200 GB used)
1 TB Lacie Thunderbolt HHD (for Serato Library)

Hardware tested on:
Rane SL3
Rane 62

Pros:
Tenth of a decimal BPM read out. Awesome for blends and quick mixing without headphones. Awesome for digitally accurate CDJ's but I would imagine it being jumpy on turntables.

8 hot cues.

Bigger color code section. No more color confusion.

4 deck use; awesome for 3 decks using SL3.

The purchasable Pitch n Time DJ is much more awesome sounding than the standard key lock. So much cleaner.

I thought the Base Pack effects was limited compared to SSL effects but I found almost everything I needed in the free Wolf Pack. Still looking for a Roll Out type effect.

Cons:
Rane 62 does not BPM sync effects to track. Must constantly use tap which takes too much time to get accurately.

Loop roll is not MIDI mappable. Go around is to use Serato Remote on the iPhone for loop rolls. Seems like loop roll is exclusive for purchased accessory hardware like the Pioneer DDJ-SP1.

Some BPM analysis off by 0.1

A few USB drop outs, but fixed when buffer moved from 2ms to 5ms.

Use of deck 1, deck 2, recorder, and sampler stuttered the buffer. Fixed when buffer moved from 2ms to 5ms.

MIDI settings did not save properly. All though I loaded the settings file, had to remap all the settings when going from an SL3 to a 62.

It may be a hardware issue but using Serato DJ seemingly robs more power from USB. I don't know how this is possible but my MIDI controller which is USB powered kept restarting, which never happened before.

Maximum pitch range limited to 50% as opposed to 100%. This may no affect practical mixing but limits my ability to do my MIDI drum pad scratch technique. I don't know how this affects HID mode. I speculate 100 is available in HID mode. Will do further testing.

Notes:
Have not tried HID mode with Pioneer CDJ-2000Nexus since there were too many reports of bugs.

Have not listened to the recording files to see if the limiter problem in the Rane 62 has been solved that was present when recording on Scratch Live on a Rane 62.





Conclusion:
Serato DJ still too buggy to be used. I would consider version 1.6 as to be treated as Beta. Serato seems to have neglected to fine tune important operational features. However, my understanding is Serato is low in engineering resources, hence why development can be slow and sometimes late. Which is why I believe Serato DJ was created as a more profitable system. Used TTM57's and SL1 boxes sold second hand do not make the company money for software use; so now they created DJ where not only does it support new hardware, but also has purchasable plugin upgrades. Serato has made a more efficient money making machine but has some bugs to work out for the program to be reliable.

I will be doing further testing in HID mode. I was supposed to do so last night but after all the bugs Thursday, I did not want to take a risk.

Currently I do not recommend Serato DJ for use, I tested it only in an opening slot situation and will not use it live until the next update.