Monday, March 26, 2012

Copyright Concerns For Digital DJs

The world of intellectual property law is quite relevant to musicians, especially DJs and producers that sample other people’s material in performance and composition. In this article, we provide some general tips for navigating this confusing, potentially treacherous landscape, so read on as we explain the basics behind laws that apply when remixing in your bedroom or playing a mashup routine live.

Please be aware that this article is written from the perspective of United States law. The spirit of most other national copyright laws is similar that of the U.S., but there often are important differences.

The Basics of Copyright

 

A copyright is an exclusive right, granted by the government, to the author of a particular work. This includes (among other things) the right to copy and distribute the work, the right to be credited for the work, and the right to determine who may publicly perform, adapt, or benefit financially from the work. For the purposes of this article, you can think of a “work” as a song. However, the copyright to a musical composition covers not just the final mix, but  all of the original stems in a master recording as well!
There are two “sides” to music copyrights: a master side and a publishing side. I’ll go into greater detail later, but for now it’s enough to know that the master side covers the sound recording (and every stem used in the mix of that sound recording), while the publishing side covers the underlying composition (the music and lyrics upon which the sound recording is based).
“Infringement” is the legal term for violating someone else’s copyright.
This might take the form of (among other things)
  • illegally copying or distributing a song
  • failing to give proper credit to the owner of a song
  • playing, remixing or financially exploiting a song without proper permission.
The implications of all of this may come as a surprise, but before you faint with concern that your next gig will be in the prison yard, take a deep breath. Unless you’re running PirateBay, MegaUpload, TorrentVortex or another nefariously-named haven of content theft, it’s unlikely that you’ll be making new friends behind bars (at least as a result of your musical endeavors). However, if you want to:
  1. Avoid being sued for copyright infringement
  2. Make as much money as possible from your own originals and remixes
Then continue reading for tips to help you navigate and take advantage of copyright law!

Production

 If you write and produce music, you probably already know that registering a copyright in the ‘States is pretty easy. You fill out a form at copyright.gov, pay $40, and send two hard copies of your work to the U.S. Copyright Office.

In typical government fashion, it takes the bastards between four months and four years to make things official, but your copyright will run from the date they receive your application. I’d strongly recommend doing this for any original music you produce. Also, be aware that master and publishing copyrights are registered separately.

Official Remixes

 Using and protecting music that you create from scratch is a bit of a no-brainer. Remixes are more complex. Legally speaking, a remix is a “derivative work”; that is a new work based upon an original work. According to the letter of the law, you need permission from the copyright holder of the original work in order to create a derivative work.

If an artist or label sends you a song to remix, that probably constitutes sufficient permission to create a derivative work (though it’s a good idea to at least have some written record of that permission – even it it’s just an e-mail). What an official remix opportunity like this doesn’t always do is determine who will own the resulting remix.
As mentioned, the master side of a copyright covers every stem in the mix, and the publishing side covers the lyrics and music. Since your resulting remix is likely to be comprised of stems, lyrics and music from the original combined with new stems and new music written by you (or a third party), the resulting ownership breakdown is by no means obvious.

Many artists/labels will address this complication by paying you a flat fee in exchange for your release of all rights to the remix. That saves a considerable accounting headache for the label and these days may be as much as you’re ever likely to see from royalties anyway.
Be aware that these sorts of issues are negotiable.
You can and should discuss copyright issues with the owner of the original song. By doing an official remix, you’ve written at least part of a new song, which means that you’re entitled to a proportional part of the publishing side of the new copyright. If you’re not being paid anything up front, that’s all the more reason to ask for this.
If you’ve produced original stems that went into the remix, you theoretically own part of the new master also. The problem here is, if an artist/label releases your remix as part of an album or EP, adding you to their accounting program and paying you a fractional royalty percentage will be very annoying (and it’s something many smaller labels are just not equipped to do). Paying percentages on the publishing side of a copyright is less of a headache for labels because performance-rights organizations like ASCAP, BMI and SESAC do most of the dirty work. Just make sure you register with them if and when you do receive a songwriting credit, otherwise they feed your royalty to Marc Anthony.

Copyright When Playing Out

 

Live performance is a different story altogether. If the songs you play are your own, there’s likely nothing to worry about. With most DJs, unless you’re Daft Punk or Deadmau5, this is probably not the case. When you play other peoples’ music, there are copyright implications. In that situation, the artist whose music is being played is entitled to a public performance royalty (again, generally handled through ASCAP or BMI).
Fortunately for you, industry custom dictates that these royalties are the responsibility of the club, not the DJ. If you’re mixing songs and not just playing out full tracks, there are additional considerations to be aware of. Creating a live remix during one of your sets is not usually a problem, provided that you own the mp3s, CDs, or vinyl that you’re using and the venue at which you’re mixing pays the appropriate public performance royalties. Selling or distributing a live or unofficial remix, however, brings in a different set of rules.

Bootleg Remixes


The copyright significance of unofficial (bootleg) remixes is complex and ultimately depends to a large degree on what you’re trying to do with the remix in question. When you remix a song, you’ve created what copyright law calls a “derivative work”. Generally, one is supposed to have permission from the original copyright owner to create and/or distribute that derivative work. Without this permission, you’ve committed infringement.
There is, however, a doctrine of copyright law called Fair Use that creates a limited exception to this rule.
Fair Use is a defense to copyright infringement designed to encourage innovation, parody, and other beneficial results. The applicability of Fair Use to a given case is analyzed through four questions, which I’ve contextualized below. Here are the questions as they would relate to an unofficial remix:
  • What was the purpose of the remix? If it can be viewed as a progression or commentary on the original, you’re better off than if it simply tries to “cash-in” on a tune that someone else wrote.
  • What was availability of the original song, and had it been released yet? It’s tougher to claim Fair Use if your remix is based on an advance or an unreleased track, because copyright law strives to protect the decision-making process of the original author as he decides whether or not to make his work public.
  • How much of the original song did you use in your remix? Looping just two bars of bass from the original with a host of new stems is much more likely be viewed as Fair Use than playing a song start-to-finish and adding a few vocals.
  • Has your remix diminished the value of the original song to the copyright holder? This isn’t confined to the idea that people might prefer the remix to the original when buying a record (since everyone’s doing so much of that lately); it’s relevant to licensing opportunities in film, television and commercials as well.
You get the idea-  there’s no quick or easy way to determine if the Fair Use defense will work to protect you from copyright infringement. The answers to the above questions are balanced among each other, and no individual answer makes or breaks the case. Additionally, know that Fair Use is an affirmative defense, like claiming insanity at a criminal trial. It is you (the alleged copyright infringer) that must prove your remix fits within Fair Use; no one will assume it to be so.

Lessons From The Past

 Many of you will remember how Danger Mouse’s 2004 mash-up album of Jay-Z and The Beatles, The Grey Album, was a massive internet sensation and critical success. It was also distributed for free.

However, Danger Mouse didn’t clear the samples. While Jay-Z and Paul McCartney both made public statements in approval of the Grey Album, EMI (owners of the Beatle’s White Album masters) raised a legal hell-storm and put the fear of god into anyone and everyone who had a hand in distributing MP3s from the Grey Album.
EMI eventually backed off, and Danger Mouse got away unscathed. Some say this was because the Grey Album constituted Fair Use; others say it was due to the horrifically bad publicity EMI would have received if they’d proceeded; still others believe EMI eventually crumbled under pressure from their stable of artists (wishful thinking, if you ask me).
Two important takeaways from this tale: first, always remember that an artist’s permission to remix or distribute a song may very well be meaningless. Many artists (even big ones) don’t own their own masters – at least not outright. Second, in the world of copyright infringement, being an artistic revolutionary is much safer than being a profiteer.


 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Reloop Beatmix Announced, Designed for Virtual DJ


Straight off the Musikmesse 2012 floor is Reloop’s new Beatmix controller. While we’ve seen tons of controllers ship with an included version of Virtual DJ, Reloop is claiming that this will be one of the first controllers on the market designed specifically with VDJ in mind. The two-channel controller keeps it simple with minimal bells and whistles – see the full details inside!


Manufacturer: Reloop
Price: $249. 
Release Date:
End of July.
Key Features:
Simple but feature-packed layout and Reloop’s large jogwheels
What’s Missing:
 VU meters and balanced outputs







 
 

Each of the two decks feature two of  Reloop’s signature jog wheels which are extra large and flat with sensitivity control, full effects control, the standard Reloop Trax Encoder for browsing and loading tracks, and 70mm pitch faders.
The Beatmix will ship with the custom Reloop version of Virtual DJ LE, and is also compatible with Serato Intro as well as any software that supports MIDI configuration. Reloop is also touting the “Beat Mash” mode, which allows for simple chopping up of samples and loops. This is software-based, and will most likely take advantage of Virtual DJs built-in slicer-style effect.
The unit includes an onboard USB soundcard with two RCA outs- one as a master, and the other as a Rec/Booth out.
With a focus on a two deck workflow but an equivalent style and design to the Terminal Mix 4, we’re wondering why Reloop didn’t just call this the Terminal Mix 2!

Taking On Native Instruments

With the announcement of the Terminal Mix 4 at NAMM earlier this year, and now the announcement of the Beatmix, it’s clear that Reloop is looking to grab a piece of the pie that Native Instruments has seen so much success from in the last two years. We’re betting that the price will be comparable if not better – but still waiting on Reloop to share that information!


Technical Specifications

Mixer section:
  1. Classic 2-channel mixer design
  2. 1x Pro Longlife crossfader
  3. 2x volume controllers with Pro Longlife linefaders
  4. 2x 3-band EQ dials
  5. 2x gain dials
Player section:
  1. 2x 14cm touch-sensitive, 2-part jog wheels for scratching, cueing, etc.
  2. Different jog modes (Scratch and Pitch Bend, Quick Search)
  3. 2x high-resolution pitch faders without locking point
  4. 1x assignable encoder, 3x assignable controllers
  5. 16x buttons for pitch bend, effects, Beat Mash, auto loop, cue points, sync, cup, cue, play and shift
  6. Single-coloured glistening red illumination
Master Section:
  1. Cue mix, headphones volume, sampler volume and master controller
  2. Extra large Trax Encoder for quick and easy music library browsing (with 4 load buttons)
  3. Dimensions: (w) 420mm x (d) 274mm x (h) 41mm
  4. Weight: 1.9kg (net)
  5. Incl. Virtual DJ LE Deck Reloop Edition and USB cable

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Pioneer HDJ-2000 – now in gleaming Black




While they probably won’t admit it, DJs are an image conscious bunch. Get the colour wrong and they just won’t buy it. But Pioneer didn’t get it wrong with their flagship HDJ-2000 headphones. They’ve sold by the crate load, and it looks like they may well sell a few more now with the addition of a new Black model – the HDJ-2000-K, and finally a hard case too.
Back in my 2010 review I said this:
In The Box: Nothing special here – the prerequisite screw adaptor and a soft bag. I’m thinking that at this price though, a hard case would have been welcome.
 Yay  - they listened. Sadly, it seems like an optional extra rather than an included one. But at least it’s available for existing owners too.
And that’s all there is to it. Available almost right away for $349/£269/€320 and $40/£22/€35.


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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Pioneer RMX-1000 Announced: New Remix/Sampling Device

Pioneer has announced the Remix Station RMX-1000, a brand new external effects device designed to act as a live remixing and sampling unit in a DJ setup. Three’s no doubt that Pioneer has seen the success of software-based effects controllers like the Kontrol X1 and seen an opportunity to make a standalone unit that fits into the modern DJ workflow. Is it ready for primetime, and will the price match the feature set? Read on to find out and watch the star-studded promo video.





 

Overview

Manufacturer: Pioneer
Price:
$999 MSRP
Release Date:
June 2012
Key Feature:
Four distinct effects sections allow for diverse high-value effects
What’s Missing:
Multiple inputs would make the unit more powerful -especially when not using a mixer with effects send/return

Four Sections of Effects Control

Scene FX: These effects are designed to create buildups and breakdowns, and are controlled by the knob in the circle selector on the right side of the unit. Build up effects, which add sounds to the mix, include Band Pass Filter Echo, Echo, Noise, Spiral Up, and Reverb Up. Break down effects, which cut sounds apart and remove elements, include High Pass Filter Echo, Low Pass Filter Echo, Crush Echo, Spiral Down and Reverb Down.
Release FX: These effects are used to either eliminate the playing music and leave just the output of the FX on the RMX-1000, or it can be used in reverse, eliminating the effects and letting the track carry on. This behavior can be triggered in three different ways: echoing, vinyl break, or backspin.
Isolate FX: If you’re not DJing with an isolator mixer, this section will allow you to emulate that effect. In addition to isolation, there are three effects that can be applied to an isolated band, meaning you can affect just the highs, mids, or lows of the playing track. The effects are Cut/Add, Trans/Roll, and Gate/Drive.
X-Pad FX: This is the section used for adding/playing samples on top of the playing mix. The samples are triggered with the touchpad, and while Pioneer includes simple Kick/Snare/Clap/Highhat, you can load your own samples with a SD card (see below photo).

Remixbox Software  + VST and Controller Functionality

Similar to the way that other high-end Pioneer gear can save a users settings to a SD card, the RMX-1000 offers the same custom user profiles that can be set up using the included Remixbox software. Just get it dialed to how you like, and then bring your SD card with settings to the club!
Pioneer has also developed a VST that they promise will allow users to emulate the effects of the RMX-1000 that will be included, and the unit can also be used as a USB controller for that same VST.

Tech Specs

Inputs: RCA x 1 and Phono (1/4”) x 1
Outputs:  RCA x 1 and Phono (1/4”) x 1
Data Port: USB-B port x 1
Sampling rate: 48 kHz
External dimensions: 13.14” (W) x 6.18” (D) x 2.24” (H)
Weight: 2.86 lbs

Final Thoughts

We’re pretty sure that the RMX-1000 is going to be a hit among high-end effects DJs like the ones shown in the promo video, but with a price point of $999, it’s not exactly gear that most mid-range clubs and small DJs will be able to add to their setups without doing a bit of saving. Pioneer does offer some of the best external standalone FX in the DJ world on their high-end mixers and the now old-hat EFX-1000, so we do expect that the unit will be incredibly fun to use.


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DJ FAME OR SHAME

DJ Affecta - Fetish In The World




Topless Dj AFFecta



DJ Tanya Cox



T-DJ Milana



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Saturday, March 17, 2012

ROY MALAKIAN




 

GenreProgressive house/Techno

Current LocationBeirut - Lebanon

Contact Info

Websitehttp://www.roymalakian.net


Biography
Roy Malakian was born on January 12th, 1982 to a Lebanese-Armenian father and a Lebanese mother.At only fifteen years of age, he started listening to refined rock music for notoriously reputed bands the likes of Eloy, Porcupine
Tree & Pink Floyd to name a few.Not forgetting the rock sounds he grew up on,
he intermingled into house tunes and acquired a turntable on which he began spattering his passion for music.
In 2003, his debut as a deejay at Lebanon’s number One Radio One,was very quickly followed a few years later,by his syndicated show "THE PULSE" which remains to this day one of the most popular radio shows in Lebanon.
From Beirut’s beach resorts and discotheques, he expanded into Europe’s finest clubs, perceiving the relentless flow of interaction between him and the crowd as each piece of music is seamlessly mixed.
His gigs now evolve in Lebanon’s beach resorts and discothèques,massive events such as Tiesto’s after hours in Lebanon, Sied Van Riel,Beirut’s Peace Parade, Danjo, George Acosta and more to come.
Based on this success, Roy Malakian came to a decision to consume more time on
productions, and is now releasing tracks based on years of musical
experience.
Released on mistiquemusic label, “Solitary Soldier” his track,
found at Beatport and supported by Paul Oakenfold and praised by many
other artists from the global underground music world.
Most recently, Roy Malakian’s Solitary Soldier has reached the Top 10 of the RA charts :

http://www.residentadvisor.net/dj-chart.aspx?id=9655&chart=20237


For the past decade Roy has performed in several events and beach parties all over Europe notably in Greece,Italy, Spain and Belgium amongst others..
The thrust continues with bookings from different countries all over
the world for Roy Malakian,most recently featured at the Smirnoff Exchange Program in Thailand,as he continues to pound tunes that move him and move others.
In early 2011, Roy will be releasing several tracks, one of which will feature the talented American artist Marcie Joy,who had hosted Roy on her show:- "Marcie presents Behind The Lyric"- all the way from Boston,Massachusetts in the United States.
Currently featured on his show "THE PULSE" every saturday night, on Lebanon's Radio One, Paul Oakenfold who delivers an episode of his own selected tracks, as well as Roger Shah and Eddie halliwell, followed by Roy Malakian and his latest selected underground and Progressive house sounds.
Highlights of his show- "The Pulse" can be heard every saturday night on Radio One 105.5 and 105.1FM in Lebanon,as well as numerous worldwide fm stations and online radios.
Furthermore and in addition to being hosted himself on multiple global radio stations, Roy Malakian has featured on The Pulse
many international and well respected artists the likes of: Judge Jules, Chris Fortier, Sultan,Danjo, MarcusSchulz, Fred Numf, Thomas Gold and more.
Roy Malakian releases weekly sessions of his carefully selected songs,put into "episodes", and available online for downloads.


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Friday, March 16, 2012

Red Bull BPM DJ App Now Available

The Red Bull BPM DJ app is now available via the Apple App store for iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch. The app is free to download but you must pay to unlock features via in-app purchasing to unlock the true potential. This is the second iteration of the first BPM DJ app which allows DJ's to use their own music to mix the two decks available within the app. This new version adds looping, slip mode, beat and block aligned seeking, beat snap, and auto pitch adjustments. Check out the press release below for more information. 





RED BULL BPM DJ APP NOW AVAILABLE

BPM DJ, the next level in touch device DJ’ing
December 2011, Amsterdam – The Red Bull BPM DJ app is now available via the Apple App store for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. Download the app for free and get extra features to turn your mobile device into a complete DJ setup via in-app purchasing. Also available: the new Output Booster that solves the problem of the low output volume of the iPad and iPhone.
Over the past two years, the BPM team has put countless hours in developing the best touch device DJ application possible. The highly enhanced new version takes yet another leap in pioneering this form of modern DJ’ing. Some key features in the new BPM DJ app include looping, slip mode, beat and block-aligned seeking, switchable beat-snap, and automatically adjusted pitch range.
The BPM DJ app has two decks, two effect engines and a mixer, and was designed, developed and tested by professional DJ’s. BPM DJ’s high usability and stability standards make it a perfect tool, suited for any event; from a small after party to a major club night. You can expand your possibilities by obtaining the various Packs through in-app purchasing. You can choose:
-    Use your own music (use your own tracks and playlists from your music library)
-    Performance Pack (an advanced looping engine with auto, bounce and many other effects)
-    Pro Output Pack (unlock all output modes to have the most flexible DJ setup)
-    Premium Pack (all available features at once, at a discount rate)
An essential piece of additional hardware is the Output Booster, a nifty device that solves the problem of the low output volume of the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch. The Output Booster boosts the volume of your device by 30dB, so pump up the volume! The Output Booster is available via the accessories page on the website. It’s the perfect Christmas gift for every professional DJ!
The Red Bull BPM range of apps further includes BPM Play, a fun app to play with your favourite music, and BPM MasterOut, which enables you to add a second stereo channel to your set-up for pre-fader listening on a second device.

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Engine: Denon’s Answer to Rekordbox


 Last week, Denon made an official announcement of their new Engine software, setting Pioneer’s Rekordbox squarely in their sights in their quest to rule the CDJ/media player controlled DJ booth. Does Engine have what it takes to eat away at the industry giant, or will Pioneer’s time-tested workflow stand fast? Read on to find out our take on this battle.

When Pioneer introduced Rekordbox in 2010, CDJ users wary of plunging completely into laptop-based performance were given a way to enjoy some of the key benefits of DJ software (pre-stored loop and cue points and hot cues, virtual crate management, quick track searches, etc.) without having to work off a computer during shows. It was as a suitable middle ground between the old and new, promoting the interface and familiar form factor of traditional DJ media players, alongside the greater dynamism and creative flexibility of software-aided performance.
With the introduction of Engine, Denon users will be able to benefit from similar capabilities as well – but how do the software stack up?

Engine


Engine is a new cross-platform music management system for use on next-gen Denon network media players such as the SC3900 announced just two weeks ago. In many ways it is similar to Rekordbox, allowing users to analyze tracks offline prior to performances and save data such as hot cues, cue points and loop points, as well as BPMs and waveforms, for recall in the DJ booth. Like Rekordbox, it also offers advanced virtual crate management features, with iTunes playlist integration, as well as efficient track searches, tagging and organization.
The software’s GUI is similar to that of Rekordbox, with a dark, club-ready look dominated by gray and black. The top halves of both have a large waveform display and CD player-style buttons, and on the bottom halves are the crate browsers, both of which employ familiar, hierarchical tag-based facilities.

The Rekordbox GUI

Linking Up

The two music management suites also offer similar network capabilities. With the LINK function that was later added to Rekordbox, users were given the option of switching between playing tracks stored on USB drives and loading music files and attached data from laptops connected to the CDJs via LAN cable. Engine offers similar functionality upon release, with its PC-LINK feature.
Denon’s PC-LINK streams music stored on connected computers to the SC3900 over LAN cables, allowing DJs to enjoy the large display of their laptops while confining the actual control and audio processing and playback on the hardware media players. This also effectively gives DJs who would otherwise play off thumb drives a much larger crate to work with, and saves users the trouble of moving files from computer to external USB drive.
This network method presents distinct performance benefits as well- because all of the hard work happens on the SC3900, with Engine merely sending files to and between connected players, even lower spec computers have the potential to be used as virtual crates and performances can go on even if one’s computer freezes up.

iPad-friendly

 We were excited to see iPad integration in Engine, setting it ahead of Rekordbox. Perhaps as a means of making up for the relatively modest display on the SC3900 (compared to newer Pioneer CDJs), Denon has also released an Engine app for the iPad that lets users control USB devices connected to DJ media players, browse for and share tracks between 2-4 media players, and monitor activity on the networked “Engine-ready” hardware.

 









  

The iPad Engine App

For users of Engine’s PC-LINK function with a laptop already in the booth, the program’s iPad integration might seem frivolous. However, Denon DJs who gig without a laptop should find the iPad to be a very convenient control hub for Engine, as well as a much more detailed track info display than that on the SC3900.
Even if you do already have a laptop running Engine in the booth, the iPad’s touch screen seems to offer a very quick and easy way of browsing through one’s crates and sending files to networked media players, allowing for quicker searches, sharing and playback- a benefit that could be well worth the cost of bringing an extra piece of hardware to gigs.

Weighing In



The Engine Browser

All in all, there aren’t a lot of substantial differences between Engine and Rekordbox, so the choice between the two becomes a question of seeing what brand of equipment is available at the club or venue you play in. Using the iPad as a control hub between networked Denon media players is a very nice option to have.
One of the most frequent complaints users had about Rekordbox was how limiting its track preparation facilities is compared to those offered by full-scale digital DJ platforms like Traktor and Serato, and this criticism might be applied by some to Engine as well.
What should be realized is that Engine, as well as Rekordbox, are tools with very specific purposes. Both Engine and Rekordbox are undeniably useful for DJs using newer, network-capable Denon and Pioneer media players, respectively, taking away much of the hassle of playing, maintaining and organizing crates of digital music, and freeing up mind space for more creative and dynamic performances.

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EQ Mixing: Critical Techniques and Theory


EQ mixing is a cornerstone of solid DJing, a great tool that can add the final polish to a great DJ set. Learning the fundamentals behind equalization is a critical step in becoming an advanced DJ, so today we’re taking a closer look at the theory and techniques that make EQing one of the most important technical and creative skills in the DJ craft.  Continue on and we’ll take a closer look at those knobs…

SOUND BASICS

 

Sound is a term that we give to waves that oscillate at a rate that our ears can pick up and we decode.
Pitch is an effect of wave frequency. We don’t perceive all pitches to be the same volume, even if physically speaking they are. Consider white noise – The amplitude of all frequencies in white noise is equal, yet white noise sounds quite high-pitched.
We give more precedence to higher pitched noises when we hear them, and this is one of the main reason you have to use your ears when EQing tracks.

FREQUENCY

 

 

Most DJs have a basic idea of what ‘high’, ‘mid’ and ‘low’ mean for frequencies, and experimenting with your mixer/software will show you what they mean for your hardware and software.
Differences in character aside, the width of the bands will be more or less the same with different brands- but the power of the cut and boost for each band varies quite considerably between different brands.
An EQ with a ‘full kill’ will attenuate the EQ band until it’s silent, whereas a ‘shaping’ EQ will attenuate the frequencies without completely silencing them.  Full kill EQ is becoming the norm, and some top flight mixers, such as Pioneer and Allen & Heath’s latest efforts, allow you to choose the EQ model for a personal sound.

FUNDAMENTAL UNDERSTANDING

We’ve established that sounds are based around frequency and amplitude; why don’t two different instruments playing at the same volume and pitch sound exactly the same, and why can’t we simply cut out a specific instrument from a track?
The answer is down to a sound’s harmonic content. We hear sounds based on their fundamental frequency and their harmonic frequency, and for every sound playing at, for instance, middle C on the keyboard, there are harmonics of that middle C that are also triggered and are picked up by our ear in a giant mix. This is why nothing is as simple as ‘cutting the horns out’ of a track. A fairly pure bass sound will not carry very far into the higher frequency spectrum, but the character of a lot of melodic instruments is contained across the entire frequency spectrum.

When using EQ, it’s important to remember that principles of harmonic mixing still apply. If two songs are in different keys, simply substituting the bass of one for the bass may still result in a clash of harmonics.
EQ isn’t a magic set of dials that can turn your tracks into acapellas or pull out some Motown horns to drop over your latest dubstep banger, so we need to look at practical applications and techniques. Volume is the great determiner when it comes to EQ. When mixing two audio sources, the end result is louder than mixing just one – so EQ is a great way to balance each source and make room for both songs to live together.

 EQ Knobs: Not Magical Mashup Makers

Three Critical EQ Techniques for DJs:

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, successful EQ depends on both creative and technical use, two situations for using EQ that we can separate into different techniques.
  • Full Frequency Mix: As we covered in techniques, the frequencies of the instruments are spread across the range. Therefore many DJs EQ only to balance out songs and then mix using volume faders alone. EQ swapping or full EQ cuts are avoided at all costs.  This “full frequency” mixing is popular amongst house DJs where long mixing and gentle volume balancing is required.
  • EQ Blend: If track A is an instrumental track with harsh, attention-grabbing riffs in the mid range of the frequency spectrum and track B is a vocal track dominated by a vocalist’s performance, mixing the two together will result in an overcrowded midrange. To hear the vocals as we play the two tracks together, reduce the midrange of track A, giving the vocal in track B room to breathe in the mix. Cutting too much out of the mids in track A will create an odd effect because so much of the harmonic content that feeds through from the low and high ends of the spectrum will be lost, so carefully dial in just enough cut in track A to allow space for the vocal and pave the way for a more pleasant mix.
  • Swapping Basslines is a time-honored DJ technique. As mentioned, we tend to hear bass as comparatively quiet compared to higher frequencies. In order to counter the effects of this, cut out as much low end as possible from track A to make room for the bass in track B to mix in. Due to the fact that the bass takes up so much of the track’s overall energy, often there’s very little adjustment of track B’s mid and high range needed to keep the levels of the mixed output acceptable.
  • Tone Matching is an important technique that many DJs who didn’t start out by mixing vinyl will often neglect. Because digital tracks usually are delivered in a relatively similar EQ range, there’s often very little that needs to be done to make sure that your latest finds from this month’s Beatport techno section sit well together. But if you start adding in different genres and eras of music to the mix you might find things get a bit more disparate. Using EQ is a way to create smoother transitions from track to track; by literally equalizing the songs. Cut out the mids out of older tracks to allow for more gain in the overall signal, or perhaps boost high frequencies on vinyl (or vinyl rips), where the medium itself is limited in the higher frequency information it can contain.

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OFFICIAL: Traktor Kontrol F1 and Pro V2.5

Finally it's here - the much teased, misnamed and misunderstood Traktor Kontrol F1. This is a time when a new workflow demands new hardware, as well as new software to deal with it. So this is as much about the new Remix decks workflow as it is the accompanying hardware.

Firstly, watch this video of Shiftee being somewhat hyped by Greg Nice:







And read the press release:


Native Instruments Announces TRAKTOR KONTROL F1 and TRAKTOR PRO 2.5

New hardware controller with multi-colored LED pads to access the new Remix DecksTM in TRAKTOR PRO 2.5 software

Berlin, March 14th, 2012 – Native Instruments today announced TRAKTOR KONTROL F1, a pad-based, USB-powered hardware controller built to control the advanced Remix DecksTM in the included TRAKTOR PRO 2.5 software. TRAKTOR KONTROL F1 provides 16 multi-colored, touch-sensitive LED pads, an advanced global control section as well as an ergonomic mixer section including four volume faders and dedicated filter knobs. Designed specifically for DJing, the KONTROL F1 offers a DJ-centric workflow for launching clips in an intuitive way, allowing users to switch between up to 64 tracks, loops and one-shot samples on each deck.

TRAKTOR KONTROL F1 includes the full version of the TRAKTOR PRO 2.5 software, also available as a free update to all users of the TRAKTOR 2 generation. Version 2.5 introduces the innovative Remix DecksTM, giving access to a powerful loop suite made up of 64 slots, each able to hold loops, one-shot samples or even tracks. DJs can control up to four Remix Decks at once and save their work as an entire Remix Set with its respective beat grids, BPM and key information in a new file format that can be comfortably imported into a track deck via TRAKTOR’s browser.

TRAKTOR KONTROL F1 was designed specifically to control the Remix DecksTM and provides full and tactile control over the new feature, benefiting from seamless bi-directional software-hardware integration and offering full visual feedback through the multi-colored LED pads. Advanced parameters such as Punch mode and FX assignment can also be comfortably changed from the KONTROL F1 and four smaller pads at the bottom of the matrix stop or mute a group of samples. Controlling Sync, Quantize, Sample Size, Reverse and other functionality, the comprehensive global section also features a push encoder to switch through the four pages of the 16 pads and offers a ‘Capture’ button, which allows DJs to grab samples from running tracks of each track deck within the TRAKTOR software, both before and during the actual DJ performance.

Each regular track deck within TRAKTOR PRO 2.5 can be switched to a Remix Deck, thus offering dedicated transport, sync and tempo master controls. This allows DJs to control an entire Remix Deck via Native Scratch timecode control with vinyl or CDs, or using the jog wheels of the KONTROL S4 and KONTROL S2 hardware.

TRAKTOR KONTROL F1 was designed to integrate perfectly into any TRAKTOR DJ setup. With the same form-factor as TRAKTOR KONTROL X1, KONTROL F1 fits neatly alongside standard DJ mixers and the all-in- one DJ systems TRAKTOR KONTROL S4 and S2. The TRAKTOR Bag provides reliable protection for the KONTROL F1 during transport, and also doubles as a solid stand, elevating the KONTROL F1 to standard mixer and turntable height.
Pricing and availability
TRAKTOR KONTROL F1 will be available on May 30th for a suggested retail price of $279 / 249 EUR at authorized retailers and at the NI Online Shop It will ship with a full version of TRAKTOR PRO 2.5. All owners of TRAKTOR PRO 2, TRAKTOR SCRATCH PRO, TRAKTOR KONTROL S2 and TRAKTOR KONTROL S4 will receive TRAKTOR PRO 2.5 as a free update from May 30th.

Yep - just like you, I'm impressed, but utterly confused by what I've just seen. If I understand correctly, Native have just shoehorned a more production based workflow into a DJ product. They haven't bridged one software to another, but have approached the idea of loops and samples in a fundamentally different way, one that is very performance based, including scratching.





 First observation - why didn't they just use Maschine? Well strictly from an operational point of view, Maschine cannot display the different colours, which would make this rather complex workflow impossible. Hence new hardware that is actually easier to transport and tailored specifically for the workflow.

So you've got 4 decks, each with a filter knob and volume fader - that much is easy. Beyond that, it's really hard to decipher exactly what Shiftee is doing bar banging a lot of buttons. So let's pull apart the press release to try and make some sense.

It seems that what you have is a 4 x 4 block of decks, each with 4 slots for loops, samples or whole tracks. But then the same buttons have secondary functions to enable keylock, control FX, monitor the decks and enable "punch mode". Punch mode allows you to switch to different loops in one group instantly and still stay on beat.


And it seems that it's not just about working with prepared groups - you can also "capture" live performances, drop them into slots and use them in exactly the same way. And when you throw DVS control into the equation, what you get is a high powerful but complex workflow.

I was lucky enough to see Shiftee perform with the Kontrol F1 at NI's offices in LA this year. I was chatting with various NI people afterwards and since then too, and explained that while the new Remix decks workflow is pretty cool, it is also equally pretty complex and needs a lot of explanation - more explanation that a slick demo video with holographic overlays affords.

So hopefully more tutorial based PR will appear, and also less scratchy but more controllerist based demos too. I think I'm only going to understand it fully when I get a blank canvas setup in front of me and start to work through the features myself. 

Whatever happens, NI appear to have taken a lot of time to think through how DJs are wanting to work. And the end result appear to be not gluing existing applications together, but incorporating the feature where they're supposed to be. Words cannot express the number of facepalms I did when people were convinced that the Kontrol F1 was designed to run with the new Bitwig software, based on little more than bright colours and being based in Berlin.

That said, the speech that NI boss Daniel Haver gave us all in LA indicated that NI's 3 product groups will be working much better together in the future. As I keep saying, the lines between styles and genres are blurring. So expect to see more interoperability between Traktor, Komplete and Maschine in the future.

It'll be interesting to see how Traktor's competitors react to this. Serato and Ableton's Bridge hasn't exactly set the world on fire. Bitwig shows some promise but nothing in the way of links to DJ apps. The One shows some movement towards production workflows. But the one to keep an eye on is Virtual DJ 8. It's a ground up rebuild and likely to feature Remix Deck style features. Seems that deck A to deck B just got a lot more interesting.

Ultimately, I think this looks great - really great - but needs some more explanation first for us to really get our heads around the features and possibilities.

Find out more about Remix Decks here, and about the F1 hardware here.

For the hard of reading, the F1 complete with Traktor Pro 2.5 will be available May 30th for $297/€249. And all users of Traktor Pro in its various forms will get a free upgrade. Well that's one common internet moanfest avoided right there.


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Sunday, March 11, 2012

BO18






 B018 was initiated by its present manager Nagi Gebran, who is a musician. He started his professional career as a drummer in pubs at the age of 12. He is the cofounder of “Wrong Approach”, and alternative Jazz Band.
B018 was the code number of an apartment/studio situated 18KM north of Beirut. From 1984 to 1993, Gebran lived in the unit B018. During the war years, he was famous for his “Musical Therapy” sessions held in his B018 apartment.
At the end of 1993, Gebran moved out of his studio, he decided to take the B018 public. The first public version of B018 was built in an industrial sector of the north east suburbs of Beirut. In its early days, B018 operated without a permit in a 200 SQM structure called the “Black Box”, its only access was a dirt road.The unusual music and strange atmosphere were the main ingredients of the B018 concept which quickly became a surprising reflection of the night scene in Beirut. B018 was a definite success. By May 1997, Gebran was forced to leave the premises. The B018 was searching for a new address.
Bernard Khoury is in charge of the architectural concept and execution, the scenography and furniture design of the new B018. The building is executed and ready to operate in a record time of 6 months. On april 18 1998, the new B018 opened its doors to the public at “LA QUARANTAINE” LOT#317.







DETAILS
Address: Quarantina, LOT N. 317
Type: Night Club
Tel: 961 1 580018
Mobile: 961 3 810618
Fax: 961 1 790820
P.O.BOX: 175 – 668
e-mail: info@b018.com
url: http://www.b018.com
Style of Music: Drum n Bass, House, Progressive, Breakbeat and Trance.
Resident DJ: Ziad opening set, Main Gunther & Stamina
Cover Charge: 15$ Door Entrance, Table Reservation 40$
Capacity: 300 person
Opening Hours: 9:00 pm till dawn (N.B: From 9:00pm till 2:00am Lounge, after 2:00am after hour.)






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lebanon's Night Life (as if there is no tomorrow )







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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Nightclubs as Research Labs (important)


This week, we’re featuring a TEDx talk by a researcher, Yale Fox. Yale focuses on studying the sociological elements in nightlife, and more specifically within nightclubs. This talk is a fascinating exploration of the factors at play and motivations that exist in club environments, click through to watch the talk and read an exclusive article on his work by Yale himself!







The Researcher In The Nightclub

My work focuses on how we can examine nightlife as a means of understanding society. Nightclubs are my research lab for a few different reasons.
First and foremost, there’s a different set of social rules within a nightclub. They’re known “mating grounds” where it’s more acceptable to step out of your regular character and approach members of the opposite sex. If you see a good looking individual at a grocery store you may not be obliged to walk up to them and say something, but the opposite is true in a bar or nightclub.
Secondly, nightclubs are accepted site of altered behavior – alcohol and other substances are consumed which have a powerful effect on the nervous system. Our biology is built up of drives that have evolved over millions of years to enhance survival. Similarly, on the other end of the equation is our sociology. For example, a primal urge could be violence, or to fight, despite knowing this can hurt someone and that it’s probably not the right thing to do. These two forces push against each other. In a nightclub environment, the push and pulls of these systems are manipulated.
Alcohol removes many of the top level, cognitive functions – stuff like manners, what we say and how loud we say it. The dis-inhibition of these functions makes the mechanisms of our prehistoric brain more pronounced, making nightclubs perhaps one of the most efficient machines for observing people.

You’re a DJ, Not A Scientist

It’s important to take the above factors in to account when crafting a DJ set and reading a crowd. It’s not only how much fun the patrons have throughout the night, but how they remember it. The use of alcohol and drugs effect not only how we experience the night, but how it is physically transcoded in our minds. Additionally, their mood going in and out of the night is drastically affected by the music.
Here is some evidence; Pay attention to the direct causal link between the stock market and what’s hot in the pop charts. Sure, it’s referencing the Billboard charts. Try to think more about the music and less about the content or what many people may consider as the “cheese.”
What is it that makes a song popular?
  • One in a million talent
  • One in a million timing
  • One in a million marketing

Until Next Time

Our mood and the music we listen to are directly linked. This talk hopefully has shed some insight in to the meaning of why we listen to music as a species. This is one of the few studies out there made for nightlife using empirical evidence. Please keep in mind, this is data based on aggregation and is not necessarily explicit to every situation around the world.


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Monday, March 5, 2012

Beat Thang Staff Review

Beat Thang Staff Review

Overview
The Beat Thang Mobile Production Studio by Beat Kangz is a portable music machine with the ability to integrate pre-loaded samples, sounds kits, and waveform editing in a pint-sized customizable beat-creating piece of hardware. The Beat Thang bills itself as the “worlds first fully portable mobile production studio”, allowing producers to craft beats without the need for a computer or even a wall outlet.

First Impressions
I was really excited to get my hands on the Beat Thang music production system. It came in a sleek black box and when I opened it, I was thrilled to see that only the actual unit, a USB chord, a power supply plug, and an extremely thin instruction manual was in there. This led me to believe that this would be simple to set up and begin using right away.

I was struck by the size of the Beat Thang when I opened the package. At about 11 inches wide, 9 inches long, and only 2 inches thick, the Beat Thang is by far the smallest beat machine we have ever used. Its diminutive stature makes the device easy to use on-the-go since it can fit on your lap or even a airplane seat-back table.

In picking up the Beat Thang for the first time I was surprised by its weight. Although much smaller than other production studios such as the Native Instruments Maschine, it was nearly double the weight of those units. This is expected, however, as the Beat Thang includes a battery which allows it to be used without being plugged in. However, one of the promo videos they have show Grammy-winning producer-songwriter, Dallas Austin, walking around, carrying it one hand and tapping on it. In my opinion this isn't realistic. You couldn’t comfortably hold the Beat Thang with one had for more than few minutes, let alone record a smooth bassline.


Setup
Setup is extremely simple, simply the turn the Beat Thang on and its ready to go. However I found it frustrating that both of the Beat Thang's audio outputs (main and 2 headphones) are quarter-inch connectors. In my opinion a system that bills itself as a “mobile production studio” should really offer either an RCA or eighth-inch headphone cable as options. Also, considering the price of the system (1,499 at Best Buy), you’d expect it to come with everything one needs to immediately get started. We would have liked to see a set of cables included in the box.










Features
After playing with this for about 30 minutes, the best part I noticed about it was the sheer number of features and option you had at your fingertips. The Beat Kangz have loaded the Beat Thang with over three thousand different sounds in addition to hundreds of beats, patterns and loops. The sampler is great and allows you to waveform edit. It’s also relatively easy to edit sample start/end times. The Realtime Sequencer can be used to create patterns on the fly using quantize, swing, and individual bar lengths that can all be connected to make song. The Mixer with built in FX Change track, pad and pan levels is a nice touch especially when you’re just messing around jammin’ with other people.

One of the most unique features of the unit is inclusion of mod and pitch wheels on either side of the unit. These allow you to tweek the sound output as you are tapping on the pads. This makes it ideal for live sessions.

Once you have crafted your beat you can export it to your computer via the included USB wire or save it to a SD card. You can also import new sounds and kits from your computer.






The Beat Thang comes with a program that allows you to craft beats on the computer. We found installation to be simple and the program ran fast on a relatively new computer. Essentially the Beat Thang software gives you a “virtual device” on your computer that you can use to make beats rather than tapping on the actual device itself. You can use your mouse to navigate each button and knob on the device and the sounds and kits load instantly – whereas when doing this on the actual device there can be 1 or 2 seconds of load time. The advantage to this is that once you get used to using Beat Thing hardware, there is no learning curve needed to use the software and vice versa. The only notable difference we found is from within the software you can choose what patterns, kits, sounds, and songs using a folder-style set up at the left side of your screen. For people like me who are accustomed to this organization, it is helpful to select my sounds in this familiar format rather than cycle through them using a knob on the device.


Pro’s
This beat maker is made for hip hop. While other beat machines cater to a dance, house, or electro producer, the Beat Thang is clearly made for a hip hop head. The layout of the buttons makes a lot of sense for doing bass-lines and riffs. The buttons and controls are efficiently arranged. You don’t have to push them too hard but they are sensitive enough to recognize when you are trying to get a certain volume of sound.

The instruction manual is very simple and short. It’s definitely one thing they did right, you can easily find and read exactly what you are looking to learn. I’ve seen other beat machines manuals; they are about the same size as the Bible. The Beat Thang on the other hand? Only 20 pages long!
It has a Rechargeable internal battery which extenuates the portability of the system. It allows you to bring it outside or wherever you have speakers or headphones.
On top of this, I found the online tutorials to be thorough yet easy to follow. None of the hosts use engineering language or make assumptions that the user is very sophisticated. They speak in layman’s and go slowly which for a “noob” is nice to see and helpful.


Con’s
Although it is small, it is very heavy compared to other beat machines. Its not something you could use while holding in your hand as shown in some promo videos.
With the ease of scrolling through searching for songs with the data wheel and cursor knob, also comes the difficulty in finding exactly what you need. We are accustomed to searching with a keyboard. For example, typing “b-a-s-s” to find bass sounds or “s-n-a-r-e” to find different snares. Sometimes, I find it easier to type in a search box instead of twisting the knob. Luckily you can fall back on the software which makes searching for the right sound much easier.

The biggest con in my opinion is the cost. The Beat Kangz are asking you for $1,499 (exclusively at Best Buy) which is over double the cost of competitors like the Native Instruments Maschine. However, if portability is important to you, than that additional cost may be worth it.


Conclusion
To summarize, The Beat Kangz Beat Thang Portable Production System isnt for everyone, but it does have a number of cool features that make it a contender in the beat machine market. If you are a person who has strong experience in MPC’s or analogous machines then definitely check this out as it might be everything your old machine was not. Also, if size and portability are really important to you then you find anything on the market better than the Beat Thang. However, if you are on a budget and you don't see yourself crafting beats on the go, then this might not be the unit for you.



The world's first fully portable music production studio, The Beat Thang comes loaded with everything you need to make your own original Hip Hop, Dance, Pop, Dubstep and Electronica tracks in just minutes.

Fully portable, loaded with over 3,000 original and professionally mastered sounds, a built in mixer, effects rack, sampler, and performance keyboard - the Beat Thang gives you the tools you need to make music...just the way the Pros do.

After nearly 5 years of development, the Beat Thang levels the playing field - simplifying professional music production down to its core - redesigning the production experience in a way that lets any music enthusiast - beginner or pro - create music the way its meant to be made...in the moment. Forget about confusing menus, manuals and frustration - everything about the Beat Thang interface has been simplified to keep your time spent making more music, saving you valuable time while never compromising on features or functionality.

- Fully illuminated control surface: (Blang) So you can see what you’re doing in a dimly lit studio, stage or club.
- One octave pad layout with 8 banks so you can bang out beats OR play the keys over 8 octaves.
- 16 layers of velocity sensitivity per pad for emotive performance. Pad solo and mute for added remix control.
- On board Effects: Filters, Delays, Reverb, Chorus, Disintegrator, Overdrive, Distortion, Phaser, Chorus/Flanger, Pitch shifter, Vibrato Vinyl effect and more. The FX are open source LADSPA plug-ins so they are future expandable!
- Export .wav or .aiff files of your songs and loops for easy import to your DAW.
- Import .wav or .aiff through the USB to use as loops or samples.
- Record your own samples directly into the Beat Thang.
- Fully editable samples with clear waveform view. Edit start and end points. Normalize, Reverse and Resample to customize your sounds.
- Auto chop allows you to quickly create mash up parts and custom kids from your samples. Bust out that vinyl!
- Easy to use Real-time Sequencer. Create patterns in real time using quantize, swing, individual bar lengths and tap tempo, then string them together in SONG mode. Step sequencing also available.
- Mod and Pitch wheels let you put your own feel and touch to your sequences.
- Easy to browse file system that syncs with the Beat Thang Virtual PC application. 



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Production Gear: NI Dark Pressure Maschine Expansion

For the production heads out there that are making dance and club music, there is a new Native Instruments Maschine Expansion pack that will give you all the sounds you need to make the next club banger. For only $60, the owners of the NI Maschine and Maschine Mikro can purchase the new Dark Pressure Maschine Expansion that contains kicks, snares, high-hats, one-shot samples, pre-programmed Techno, Tech-house, minimal patterns, and so much more. Check out the press release and full video inside.

DARK PRESSURE brings the sound of tough underground dance music to your MASCHINE or MASCHINE MIKRO. With a focus on percussive one-shot samples, this MASCHINE Expansion also contains a wealth of pre-programmed techno, tech-house and minimal patterns, many created by renowned DJ/producer Steve Lawler. Watch the video to hear Steve Lawler talk about the concepts behind DARK PRESSURE as he puts the patterns to use in the studio and the club.


Native Instruments Introduces DARK PRESSURE Expansion for MASCHINE
Berlin, February 14th, 2012 – Native Instruments today released DARK PRESSURE, a new MASCHINE Expansion, created in association with the acclaimed DJ and producer Steve Lawler and sound design house Loopmasters. The pack brings the sound of tough underground dance music to MASCHINE and MASCHINE MIKRO, containing an expertly crafted selection of kicks, snares, hi-hats and percussion samples as well as a wealth of pre-produced rhythms optimized for techno, tech-house, minimal and similar genres.
DARK PRESSURE includes 42 kits with over 200 corresponding pre-programmed patterns - many created by Steve Lawler himself, providing professional building blocks for the production of muscular electronic music. This is also the first MASCHINE Expansion to include 64 pre-sliced percussion loops for instant remixing.
All sounds and patches in DARK PRESSURE have been processed with pristine analog equipment as well as MASCHINE’s internal effects. The Expansion integrates seamlessly with any existing MASCHINE sound library and also contains 5 demo projects that showcase the character and scope of the library.
A smaller version of DARK PRESSURE is also available for iMASCHINE - the groove sketchpad for iPhone / iPod Touch.
DARK PRESSURE is available at the NI Online Shop for $59 / 49 EUR. The mobile version is available through In-App Purchase on the App Store for $0.99 / 0,79 EUR.


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HID VS Timecode: Comparing Digital DJ Control Systems


HID is one of those shady terms that we’ve all heard, but perhaps aren’t 100% clear on what it is and why we should care. It stands for Human Interface Device, which is a fairly sensible description of what it’s designed for: providing a way for things we interact with to talk to our computers. Today we investigate what HID is really all about and how it differs from timecode DVS systems.
Everything from Xbox pads to Apple keyboards uses HID to communicate with the computer, and there’s been a slow, quiet tide of HID DJ controllers coming in for a few years now too. What is HID good at, what’s it bad at, why do we blindly call any DJ controller a ‘MIDI’ controller, and what’s the point in hooking HID up when timecode works just fine? Let’s take a look.

 

     WHAT’S WRONG WITH TIMECODE?



Timecode systems (or indeed Serato’s comparable NoiseMap system) are great for reading location and
position information on a deck. If the common use for DVS is a user who wants to get the advantages of a computer based digital library but retain the control that they have from their existing decks, timecode/noisemap are the kings of digital vinyl. The user still has the ability to use a record, meaning that their analogue sound source now transmits audio that can be interpreted by a software system into digital information extremely transparently from the user’s perspective.
For CD deck users the deck is already a digital device that itself provides an emulation of a spinning vinyl; the user never touches the disk but instead manipulates a jog wheel that translates its movement to an approximation of how vinyl would behave under the same circumstances. With this level of abstraction, is timecode really the best way to create the link between a DVS and a CD deck?

                            YE OLDE CD

For many of us, CD is becoming an anachronism. The advances in technology over the past few years have allowed us to use computer systems and controllers to be not only our interfaces and libraries, but provide all of the horsepower for our setup too, with looping, effects, EQ, filtering and all of the other sound controls that we take for granted in a constantly updated and refined box. If all you use is CDs, more power to you – but considering that you’re a DJTT reader, you’re probably taking a laptop and a controller to your gig anyway, right? So what are the advantages and disadvantages of hooking up your computer to the CD decks and using them?
A big issue with using timecode CD is that any ‘smart’ functions of the CD deck when it comes to looking at the audio file, such as BPM detection, auto looping, and so on, won’t work – and functions that mess with the audio too much, like micro looping, will make the DVS think the signal is lost and either stop the audio or transfer playback to internal mode and start playing as normal. All the deck can see is the timecode audio, and it’s the DVS system that gets all the song information. Of course, you could use another controller to store loops and cues, but you’d have to be seriously enamored with the feel of a CD deck to use it at 50% power – which is why many of us have moved to controllers anyway.


When it comes to HID support, Serato are really leading the way with Scratch Live. Connect a Pioneer CDJ2000 to a computer running SL, and you’ll be able to control everything in exactly the same way as the native operation of the CDJ, including extremely precise platter control.
Compare the basic HID support for the CDJ2000 in Traktor to that of timecode and you’ll be disappointed by HID. However, in Scratch Live the control is perfect, and really shows what’s possible (Virtual DJ has a pretty great stab at it too). Because latency in HID is almost non-existent, HID can provide even tighter control than timecode – an audio signal that needs to be read and digitized before it’s useful.

                      WHY NOT USE MIDI?


HID runs over a USB connection (of course, it can also run over other connections, such as Bluetooth, if needed). There are some marked advantages over using MIDI, and these stem from the design of the protocol itself. MIDI pushes data to a host device, and so if you want to provide sensitive and accurate control you will often encounter problems with the signal getting overloaded. For instance, instead of just communicating information changes on a jog wheel platter, MIDI will continually relay the jog wheel’s positional information.
An HID device, on the other hand, has a pre-ordained information ‘pool’ for all of the controls that it is configured for, and the communication receives changes into these pools as and when they occur. Building the protocol in this way means that the data received is always within the acceptable limits of the controller’s design, and opens the door to high resolution jog wheel control, display synchronisation, and more.

                         HID DOWNERS


There are disadvantages to using HID, though – this should be obvious or MIDI would long since have gone to visit Fido at the farm. The first issue is that whilst HID is a recognized control protocol, it’s vastly more complex than MIDI. It can do more, but the niche functionality that MIDI has means that manufacturers and software developers can simply drop MIDI functionality into a controller and be reasonably certain that it’ll work fine. Doing the same thing for HID isn’t possible, and compatibility requires developers to work either with each other or reactively to make sure two devices work exactly right together – with no guarantee that all that work will be compatible with anything else.
The case of Pioneer’s CDJ2000/900 is a good example of the issues with HID. Pioneer has built HID control into their flagship CDJs, and in order to maximise compatibility they’ve included both a simple and an advanced mode. It’s up to software developers to decide whether they’d like to develop compatibility for what Pioneer has done, and to what degree. Serato have gone all in and created a more or less perfect connection, whereas Native Instruments’ version is a little more ropey (especially when it comes to high resolution controls like vinyl mode jog wheel manipulation).

JUST THE 411

All that said, what exactly are the benefits of using timecode? What are the benefits of using HID?
Timecode Benefits:
  • Want to scratch? Timecoded vinyl is the most realistic emulation
  • Works in almost all DJ CD players
Timecode Limitations:
  • Audio cables everywhere!
  • No information on the CD deck
  • CD deck functions like loop and reverse can cause problems for the DVS
HID Benefits:
  • Even less latency possible than timecode
  • Full use of all functions on the deck possible
  • High resolution control and advanced displays
HID Limitations:
  • Requires a USB slot for every deck (and at some point you’ll forget a hub)
  • Non-standard control requires compatibility to be arranged on a per controller/software basis
So, do you use timecode with CDJs? Do you use HID, or have an HID based controller that makes you look at MIDI with a pompous air of superiority? Maybe you’re still a pure CD/vinyl DJ. Let us know your thoughts in the comments!