in Reading

Reblogs for 20110115

  • Arc, A New Design from monome Cre­ator: After Grids, Encoders

    You’ve just cre­ated the design that, more than any other, was the sig­na­ture of elec­tronic music mak­ing in the first decade of the 21st Cen­tury. What’s your sec­ond act?

    Hav­ing made the monome grid con­trollers the biggest design hit in music cre­ation in the last few years, then moved to a farm in upstate New York to do some … farm­ing (really), monome’s Brian Crab­tree now and Kelli Cain have made pub­lic what’s next. Think really big knobs. 

    The design makes some sense to me, intu­itively, already. Livid tried the obvi­ous solu­tion of com­bin­ing encoders with arrays in its Code, but hav­ing a big clus­ter of encoders, while inter­est­ing, seems that it’d have lim­ited appli­ca­tions. It works for Livid, but given the wide­spread impact of the monome, you’d expect some­thing more gen­er­al­ized, more uni­ver­sal.

    Arc could be that. They’re large, “ultra-high res­o­lu­tion” encoders. The monome sac­ri­ficed sen­si­tiv­ity for quan­tity with an array of on/off tog­gles; Arc does the reverse. The idea is pre­sum­ably that you’ll really care about these big knobs. Two- and four-knob ver­sions are promised; the four-knob vari­ant seems like it might have the great­est appeal, depend­ing on the price dif­fer­ence. The visual feed­back on the side are “high-density LED rings,” but they also have “vari­able bright­ness,” mean­ing that they could be more visu­ally com­pelling than is appar­ent in still pho­tos.

    In addi­tion to being knobs, each knob is a push-button. Unlike the monome, it’s hard to see this being the only con­troller you’d use. It is easy to imag­ine it used in con­junc­tion with another con­troller, though, monome or oth­er­wise. I’m imag­ine that as on the monome, you’ll be able to mod­ify the design to add tilt sen­sors and the like.

    Like the monome before it, the arc makes no sound. It requires com­puter soft­ware and the OSC (Open­Sound­Con­trol) pro­to­col in order to con­trol soft­ware, con­nected through a USB port. And so like the monome, you can expect that a lot of its value will be soft­ware inspired by the qual­ity of the design and even the high-value con­struc­tion of the item. If it’s like its pre­de­ces­sor, the arc will be an attrac­tive win­dow through which clever soft­ware design­ers imag­ine new musi­cal con­trap­tions.

    The obvi­ous com­par­i­son here is to the hum­ble, US$45 Grif­fin Pow­er­Mate, a sin­gle metal con­trol knob that used USB. This promises to have more pre­cise visual feed­back and be a whole lot bet­ter made and open; on the other hand, any­one who was fond of the Pow­er­Mate in the­ory may be quicker to buy into the notion here. (flight404 aka visual leg­end Robert Hod­gin once did a whole live visual set with an array of Pow­er­Mates; he may prove ahead of his time if this catches on.)

    Pric­ing, details, media due later, with “orders and ship­ping in Feb­ru­ary.” I can say it’s real; I saw some ver­sion on Brian’s work­bench.

    arc [monome]

    I think, hav­ing passed on a trip to Ana­heim, that read­ers might like to get hands-on cov­er­age of the Arc, and a seri­ous look at whether the monome’s sequel will live up to the orig­i­nal. Do you agree?

    Side note: Peo­ple I’m talk­ing to are already won­der­ing what you would do with, you know, two big wheels. I refer you to Etch-a-Sketch (two wheels), your car (one big, nec­es­sar­ily high-resolution wheel)… I was ini­tially skep­ti­cal of how the monome would work as an instru­ment with no veloc­ity sen­si­tiv­ity, and was even­tu­ally won over by a com­bi­na­tion of inge­nious soft­ware and musi­cian­ship by its fan­base. I wouldn’t write off the min­i­mal­ism of this just yet.

    Update: stretta already has an app in the works for the arc. He men­tions that in a blog post with an adorable illus­tra­tion that, aside from being clever, sug­gests how many peo­ple will use this app. See the video after the jump – notice the Pow­er­Mate con­troller in the cor­ner of the video? It’s appar­ently stand­ing in for an arc. Get­ting the pic­ture?

    The design already shows the atten­tion to detail lav­ished on the monome. Pho­tos cour­tesy monome.

    This is not an arc video, in a demo by stretta. But the Pow­er­Mate fea­tured here could eas­ily be an arc. (That also sug­gests any num­ber of encoders you have handy could be a way of pro­to­typ­ing arc patches.)

  • Fresh DJ Gear at NAMM 2011: A Mas­ter List

    Since Jan­u­ary is upon us, that can only mean one thing: Win­ter NAMM and a fresh batch of DJ tech­nol­ogy guar­an­teed to pro­duce buyer’s remorse and gear envy. We’ve got a crack team of writ­ers and pho­tog­ra­phers embed­ded deep in the belly of NAMM work­ing hard to bring you details on all the gear, includ­ing what’s good, and what’s not.

    In this first post, we’ve com­piled a mas­ter list of new DJ prod­ucts at NAMM that might pique your inter­est. Then, in our fol­low up on Mon­day, we’ll com­pile a shorter “Best of NAMM” list, with in-depth videos and details on our favorites.


    Manufacturer: Vestax

    Product Name: Pad One

    Price: $249

    Release Date: Early Spring

    Key Feature: Heavy-duty milled aluminum chasis
    Downside: Heavy and Expensive for this controller class

    • 2 color back­lit pads
    • Nice feel and bounce to the trig­gers
    • Poor detec­tion of low veloc­ity hits
    • Shows each pad’s MIDI value on the LED read­out


    Manufacturer: American Audio

    Product Name : VMS-4 (Traktor Edition)

    Price: $599
    Release Date: Late March

    Key Feature: Ships with a 4-deck version of Traktor LE
    Downside: Ships with a 4-deck version of Traktor LE 

    • Same hard­ware  as the orig­i­nal VMS-4
    • New black skin looks nicer
    • Mod­i­fied con­troller labels that match Trak­tor


    Manufacturer: M-Audio

    Product Name : Torq 2.0
    Price: $49 (Existing 1.0 and 1.5 owners) $249 (everyone else)
    Release Date: February 

    Key Feature: Track Morph creates very unique crossfades that do complicated blends for you.
    Downside: The UI appears to have been designed as a visual maze intended to confuse the user or possibly as a educational example of  how not to layout a DJ interface. 

    • No con­troller don­gle required
    • Will work with all con­trollers
    • Track Morph effect is very cre­ative and inno­v­a­tive
    • 4 decks with inde­pen­dent lev­els, EQs, head­phone cues
    • Multi-Effect stack­ing fea­tures
    • More info on the Torq 2 prod­uct page, and a demo is also avail­able
    • 2.0 is now finally out after a long delay- is it too late? 


    Manufacturer: Hercules
    Product Name: DJ4Set
    Price: $249.99
    Release Date: April 2011

    Key Feature: Touch-sensitive jogwheels (a first for Hercules)
    Downside: Wobbly and poor platter action

    • 2 stereo ins and 2 stereo outs over built in USB audio inter­face
    • Ships with Vir­tual DJ LE 
    • Green or red back­lit jog­wheels
    • Switch­able into 4 decks (2 deck mixer) 


    Manufacturer: Rane

    Product Name: MP25
    Price: $1449
    Release Date: March 2011

    Key Feature: 12 stereo ins and 10 stereo outputs via USB
    Downside: Not Serato Scratch certified mixer

    • ASIO/Core Audio dri­vers
    • Multi-client dri­vers mean that you can stream audio from mul­ti­ple appli­ca­tions on one com­puter simul­ta­ne­ously
    • USB loop to VST on a host and back
    • 1 USB port
    • 5 stereo multi-channel track­ing to DAW


    Manufacturer: Rane

    Product Name: SL4
    Price: $899
    Release Date: April 2011

    Key Feature: 2 USB ports supports a dual laptop setup
    Downside: ASIO/Core Audio drivers but no Traktor Scratch support

    • Switch­able chan­nels from phono to line
    • 5 stereo in and out via USB
    • 96khz or 48khz
    • Aux input and out­put
    • Through indi­ca­tors per chan­nel


    Manufacturer: Izotope

    Product Name: Stutter Edit

    Price: $249 ($149 preview until February 14th)

    Release Date: Available Now

    Key Fea­ture: Instant beat may­hem avail­able across a MIDI key­board.
    Down­side: Requires a VST host like Able­ton

    • End­less pre­sets and one press stut­ters that sound great right out of the box, includ­ing patches cre­ated by BT and Richard Devine
    • Very playable com­bos and effects 
    • More awe­some infor­ma­tion and a trial can be found on iZotope’s site
    • We’ll be post­ing an awe­some video of Stut­ter Edit in action soon! 


    Manufacturer: DJ Tech

    Product Name: X10

    Price: $349 (MAP)

    Release Date: Available Now

    Key Feature: 2 stereo ins and outs over USB and 2 port USB hub
    Downside: Small, unknown quality on the faders

    • Ships with Image Line Deck­adance
    • Booth out­put and mas­ter out­put
    • Curve adjuste­ment for cross-fader and input fader
    • Reversible faders
    • Mix input


    Manufacturer: Numark

    Product Name: NS6
    Price: $999
    Release Date: June 2011

    Key Feature: 4 channel analogue mixer + software control
    Downside: Only 1 stereo output via USB; lighter than the NS7  — but still very heavy (approx 15 pounds) 

    • Strip search with LED loca­tion indi­ca­tor
    • Large 6″ jog wheels are sub­stan­tial, but not heavy
    • Good look­ing and well spaced lay­out
    • Too large for any stan­dard bag, this con­troller is more portable but far larger than the S4
    • Check out the com­plete stats at the Numark prod­uct page


    Manufacturer: Numark

    Product Name: Red Wave

    Price: $99

    Release Date: Febuary

    Key Feature: Flexible top makes it easy to form to your head
    Downside: We’re wondering what the audio quality is actually like in the club

    • Spe­cial “breath­able protein-leather” (anti-sweat) leather keeps your head dry and cool
    • Detatch­able cord
    • Closed-cup, noise iso­lat­ing design


    Manufacturer: iDJ Live

    Product Name: Numark

    Price: $99

    Release Date: March

    Key Feature: Can control a DJ application on an iPad, iPod, or iPhone
    Downside: Ships with no software; single stereo output or dual mono for cueing.

  • includes iPad stand
  • will work with iOS Core midi aware appli­ca­tions


Manufacturer: Mixvibes

Product Name: U-Mix Control Pro

Price: $369 MAP

Release Date: January 30th, 2011

Key Feature: Robust build quality

  • USB-powered MIDI con­troller
  • 4-channel audio inter­face (2 RCA in/2 RCA out), micro­phone jack input, 2 head­phone jack out­puts
  • touch-sensitive jog wheels
  • includes CROSS DJ soft­ware


Man­u­fac­turer: KB Cov­ers
Prod­uct Name: Trak­tor Key Over­lay
Price: $29.99
Release Date: Avail­able Now
Key Fea­ture: Matches the default Trak­tor Pro key­board short­cuts


Manufacturer: Novation

Product Name: Golden Dicer / Launchpad / Rane 68
Price: Not for sale – see below
Release Date: Golden Tickets come with every Serato interface purchase

Key Feature: Chance to win gold versions of a Dicer,  Launchpad, or Rane 68
Downside: There are only 25, 5 and 1 of each gold controller, respectively

  • More info on a spe­cial Dicer con­test on here on DJ Tech­Tools in a few weeks!


Manufacturer: Focusrite

Product Name: VRM Box


Release Date: Available soon

Key Feature: 108 DB range (MacBook output is about 20 db less); simulated multi-speaker sound
Downside: Only one output (headphone)

  • allows you to lis­ten to your mix in the head­phones as if you are sit­ting in a stu­dio
  • VRM tech­nol­ogy emu­lates all major stu­dio speak­ers so you can “hear” your mix on var­i­ous sys­tems with­out both­er­ing the neigh­bors or invest­ing in a huge stu­dio!


Manufacturer: Allen and Heath

Product Name: DB4

Price: $2899

Release Date: Available now in the US

Key Feature: Customizable onboard FX system
Downside: Only 1 USB port

  • Fully dig­i­tal mixer
  • Matte black alu­minum looks amaz­ing
  • Same tech­nol­ogy, sound qual­ity and con­vert­ers as I-live sys­tem
  • Fea­tures Quad FX Core DSP engine, mean­ing each chan­nel has it’s own effects unit
  • EQ zone is flex­i­ble (can select as a fil­ter or as one of two types of EQ)

The Top of the Rock Bottom

Man­u­fac­turer: Behringer

Prod­uct Name: DJX-900
Price: $299 Retail
Release Date: Q2 2011

Key Fea­ture:  spec­tac­u­larly afford­able
Down­side: USB in/out is lim­ited to one stereo chan­nel

  • mag­netic cross-fader (adjustable cross­fader)
  • 4-channel mixer, 1 mic input
  • over USB inter­face, 1 stereo-in / 1 stereo-out


Manufacturer: Pioneer

Product Name: DDJ-S1

Price: $1599

Release Date: March

Key Feature: Sleek laptop integration, jogwheels are smooth and solid
Downside: No joy for Serato Scratch Live users; designed for 2-channel use


Product Name: DDJ-T1

Price: $1299

Release Date: February 2011

Key Feature: Effects design mirrors Traktor setup, 4-channel support
Downside: Missing features from S1 – strip search, VU meters. 

Again, we’ll be post­ing more NAMM details, includ­ing in-depth “Best of NAMM” arti­cles on our favorite new DJ gear. Keep track of when we post new arti­cles by fol­low­ing us on our Twit­ter or lik­ing DJTT on Face­book.