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.