Monday, April 16, 2012

NEW: Pioneer HDJ-1500 Headphones

My love of headphones is well documented. My industry leading group test of pretty much every headphone that matters is equally well documented too. So when something headphoneish hits my inbox during my 2 week holiday, I cannot resist breaking the enforced rest period to post it up for you. It seems that Pioneer are properly filling the wide gap between the lifestyle HDJ-500 and the pure pro HDJ-2000. Say hello to the HDJ-1500.


 
 
Pioneer launches the HDJ-1500 – Professional DJ headphones 
10th April 2012: Every DJ knows that a spectacular set requires high-quality headphones. Enter the HDJ-1500s, the pro-DJ headphones that deliver flawless sound reproduction and impressive durability in a seriously stylish package.
The latest addition to Pioneer’s professional headphones range, the HDJ-1500s owe their crystal-clear sound quality to increased output levels, a lower impedance and an exclusive soundproofing chamber specially developed by Pioneer.
The HJD-1500s’ copper-clad aluminum wire voice coils guarantee accurate reproduction of deep base notes and superbly balanced sound across all frequencies. And the exclusive soundproofing chamber eliminates outside noise so DJs can easily monitor the beat –even in the loudest of venues.
Ruggedly built, with lightweight but durable magnesium alloy parts, the HDJ-1500s are perfectly designed to endure the rigors of frequent professional use. And the urethane memory foam ear pads hug the ear for maximum comfort even during the longest sets.
Available in two stunning colors – classy chrome black and sleek deep silver– the HDJ-1500s look good in every venue, while the included carrying pouch means they’re perfectly portable.
Key features of the HDJ-1500
Superb sound quality
With high-quality components, the HDJ-1500s deliver perfectly balanced sound across all frequencies. The headphones feature copper-clad aluminum wire voice coils, large 50 mm driver units, rare earth magnets and 38μm-thick diaphragms, guaranteeing accurate reproduction of deep base notes and clear delivery of other low to medium frequencies, such as kicks and snares. Output levels are 1 dB greater than Pioneer’s HDJ-1000 headphones, and a lower impedance offers even greater sensitivity, so DJs get pristine sound reproduction every time, regardless of what device the HDJ-1500s are hooked up to.
WORLD EXCLUSIVE: groundbreaking soundproofing component
Monitoring tracks on a heaving dance floor is a breeze with the HDJ-1500s, no matter how rowdy the party gets. Sound insulation around low and medium frequencies (300 Hz to 1,300 Hz) has improved by an impressive 4 dB compared to the HDJ-1000s thanks to the innovative sound-isolation chamber on the bass reflex port, which eliminates background noise.
Durable design for professional use
The HDJ-1500s’ moving headband and hinges are composed of rugged yet lightweight magnesium alloy to withstand the rigors of professional use. Plus, the single-sided cable can be easily replaced if it gets damaged, further prolonging the life of the headphones.
Supreme comfort with interchangeable urethane foam ear pads
The narrow ear cup design creates a tight seal on your ear to block out external sound, while the low-resilience urethane memory foam ear pads make sure the HDJ-1500s are easy on the ears even during prolonged use. The included ear pads can be replaced with the HDJ-EP01s –open-cup protein leather ear pads which sit around the ears and are sold separately –so DJs can choose the best option to suit their comfort and listening style.
Available in two colors: chrome black and deep silver
DJs can coordinate their headphones with the club, the studio, their kit, their set, their clothes or even their mood as the HDJ-1500s come in two striking colors–classy chrome black and sleek deep silver.
Included accessories
The compact carrying pouch means the headphones can be safely transported to the club or the studio in style. The HDJ-1500s also fit perfectly in the slim and lightweight HDJ-HC01 carrying case. Accessories such as USB memory sticks and SD cards can be stored in specially designated pockets within the carrying cases for added convenience.
Main specifications – HDJ-1500
Description Enclosed dynamic stereo headphones
Impedance 32 Ω
Sensitivity 108 dB
Frequency range 5 Hz to 30,000 Hz
Maximum input 3,500 mW(JEITA)
Drive units φ50 mm domes
Cable length 1.2 m single-sided coiled cable (approximately 3.0 m when extended – removable type)
Plug φ3.5 mm stereo mini-jack (gold-plated, two-way, screw type)
Ear pads Polyurethane (leather type)
Weight 285 g (excluding cable)
Included accessories φ6.3 mm standard stereo adapter (gold-plated, screw type) and carrying pouch
The king is dead, long live the king? Sitting between the HDJ-500 and HDJ-2000s, these look to be the logical successor to the HDJ-1000. We can but hope – those cans are getting old, and no amount of wacky paint jobs is making them look like part of the new era of Pioneer headphones.


They do seem to take their design lead from the 2000s, but revert to a more familiar hinge mechanism. The HDJ-1000 look is there, but updated – this I suspect is to appeal to the huge user base who are looking for an update to the HDJ-1000s, but don’t really want to stray too far familiar territory or brand.
I like the specs, but it’s the detail that counts. All new isolation technology, replaceable pads and cables, as well as an optional hard case – and available in black and silver. Which would you choose?
I’m certainly looking forward to testing them – I liked the HDJ-500 once they’d been fixed, and loved the HDJ-2000 which I’ve previously described as “head sex”. The HDJ-1500 have a lot to live up to – not just sitting comfortably in current range, but also matching up to the legacy of the venerable HDJ-1000.
Still waiting for confirmed global prices, but Pioneer USA list these as $209 suggested retail price. So my guess is a street price no more that $199, but possibly lower.
UPDATE: £149/€189 prices confirmed.















 

Turntablist Video Friday: On Da Spin


I'm bringing back the Turntablist Video Friday series due to popular demand, but this week we are kicking it off with something a little different than usual. There is a new web DJ video series coming out called "On Da Spin". During this online series, there will be feature interviews along with other footage from known and unknown DJ's. Each webisode will showcase the DJ and gives them a chance to give their opinion and insight on their musical experiences. This first webisode features DJ Mel B! Check out the video and see for yourself.




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Pioneer DJ Wins 5 Awards at WMC 2012

The Pioneer DJ Division won a total of five awards the 27th annual International Dance Music Awards held at the recent 2012 Winter Music Conference, including Manufacturer of the Year and Best New Product award for the DDJ-T1 DJ controller. Pioneer DJ also won awards for Best Headphones (HDJ-2000), Best CD player (CDJ-2000) and Best Mixer (DJM-900nexus). Check below for more information and for the full press release.

PIONEER AWARDED DJ MANUFACTURER OF THE YEAR

Pioneer Honored in Five Categories at the 27th Annual International Dance
Music Awards
LONG BEACH, Calif. - (March 30, 2012) – The Pioneer Electronics (USA) Inc.

Professional Sound and Visual Division (Pioneer DJ) won five awards at the
2012 Winter Music Conference (WMC)  held on March 22,  including the
prestigious Manufacturer of the Year for 2011 and Best New Product award
for its new DDJ-T1 DJ controller.  Pioneer DJ was honored for three other
award categories including Best Headphone (HDJ-2000), Best CD player (
CDJ-2000)  and Best Mixer (DJM-900nexus).  These awards highlight Pioneer’s
technological contributions to the industry and commitment to bringing the
very best product offerings and experiences to the DJ community.




Celebrating its 27th consecutive year.


Celebrating its 27th consecutive year, the WMC’s week-long gathering in
Miami,  Fla.  is considered as one of the most popular music gatherings in
the world,  attracting thousands of DJs,  producers and music industry
professionals from over 70 countries.  More than 100,000 attendees take
part in the annual music event that incorporates over 400 mini events,
seminars,  workshops,  parties and over 1,400 artists and DJ performances.
The International Dance Music Awards (IDMA)  put on by WMC is the only
longstanding awards event dedicated to the electronic and dance music
industry.  The   awards   highlight   innovative artists,  products and
technologies from the previous year.




“It’s an honor to be recognized by our peers in the DJ and music industry,”
said David Arevalo, senior marketing manager, Professional Sound and Visual
Division for Pioneer Electronics (USA) Inc.  “We want to continue to bring
the most innovative and technologically advanced products to market so DJs
around the world,  from aspiring DJs to professionals and everyone in
between, can perform to their utmost potential.”
Pioneer won the following coveted IDMA industry awards:
27th Annual International Dance Music Awards (IDMA) – More than two million
votes were cast from music enthusiasts to recognize the most innovative and
elite artists,  DJs, producers, equipment, manufacturers and labels in the
business in 57 award categories.
  ·  Best Manufacturer:  Winner –  Pioneer DJ – Pioneer was honored for
    outstanding   contributions to the advancement of the industry.
    Pioneer has won IDMA’s coveted Best Manufacturer award five years in
    a row, since the award category was first introduced on the ballot in
    2008.
  ·  Best New Product: Winner – DDJ-T1 – First available in February 2011,
    the DDJ-T1 is a DJ controller dedicated for use with Native
    Instrument’s   TRAKTOR®  DJ software and designed for the next
    generation of home and casual DJs who leverage digital music files.
    When the controller is combined with a computer, DJs of all levels
    have   access   to the same operability and functionality of a
    professional player and mixer setup along with excellent audio
    quality.
  ·  Best Mixer:  Winner –  DJM-900nexus – The high performance digital
    mixer is designed for today’s DJ performers and is an ideal
    complement to Pioneer’s latest CDJ line of players.  The DJM-900nexus
    offers a multitude of features including a variety of onboard
    effects,  increased sound quality, and direct PC connection to enable
    any DJ to perform to their utmost potential.
  ·  Best CD Player:  Winner – CDJ-2000 – The highly regarded CDJ-2000
    multi-format digital media player has features that DJs of all
    experience levels can use to enhance their mixing and scratching
    capabilities.  The player includes proprietary technologies such as
    rekordbox™  music management, 6.1” Full color LCD panel, Pro DJ Link,
    Needle Search and USB and SD card connectivity, which help reduce the
    DJ’s reliance on his or her laptop to access music files.
  ·  Best Headphones:  Winner - HDJ-2000 – HDJ-2000 is Pioneer’s highest
    performance headphone and provides exceptional sound that clearly and
    accurately reproduces audio,  a comfortable fit to minimize fatigue
    from long periods of use,  and high durability that withstands
    demanding conditions.  It is ideal for use in DJ environments and
    studios.

5 Free Max for Live Objects For Ableton DJs

One of the things that really sets Ableton Live 8 in a league of its own is the ability to create your own effects, instruments, and MIDI functionality using the extremely versatile object based programming environment, MAX/MSP. Suffice to say it has a notably steep learning curve, but never fear – there is an awesome community of programmers on the internet who build M4L patches and give them away for free. I’ve sorted through the archives and picked out five basic, but totally awesome M4L patches that I simply can’t live without.


Probably my favorite thing about Max4Live patches is that they run natively in Live. For me, that’s a really big deal because I never use any third plug-ins when I perform live. Call me crazy, but with an older Macbook, CPU optimization is crucial. Plus, when performing, I can’t afford to sacrifice even 2 milliseconds of latency-  I need my samples to launch exactly when I hit the button. So, discovering all these super low profile FX and functionality add-ons has been quite exciting. One final thing that makes these patches great is the open arms community around them that thrives on feedback, collaboration, and modification.
And, without further ado, here we go!

REVERSE (aka JC Reversr b004)

 

This neat little effect slaps right on any audio or MIDI track with audio output. It’s basically like a simplified beat repeat, but the great thing about it is that you can set it to “reversed” mode which makes it activate “reverse” repeat. When you hit the aptly named “woop” button, it snags a chunk of sound, reverses, and repeats it at the rate specified. You can also just use it as a regular repeat by toggling between “straight” and “reversed.” Not to say there aren’t a bunch of pre-existing plug-ins that don’t create similar reverse effects (such as Turnado, Stutter Edit, and DBlue Glitch), but as mentioned previously, the joy of these effects are in their simplicity, the fact that they run natively in Live, and their negligible CPU usage.
Cost: FREE.
What’s best:
Easy to use, sounds great, trippy, and really functional.
What’s missing :
 I’d love to see some filtering and pitch modulation parameters in the next version.
Download Link

MIDI QUANTIZE

Although Ableton does have a midi record function (edit –> record quantization) its a bit limited and you can’t access its parameters using midi, nor does it have a shuffle function for those among us who like to get funky. Pretty straightforward, just quantizes incoming notes to 1-1/64 based on the master tempo. There’s also a shuffle amount, as well as triplet mode for more advanced quantization modes.
Tips and Quirks:
Something I discovered is that since this effect is applied post incoming MIDI, if you record a MIDI loop with this effect ON, it won’t record as quantized, but it will quantize post-clip. An easy work around is to create a blank MIDI track, put the quantize object on it, then send the quantized MIDI to the MIDI track you want to play. This way the MIDI incoming to your track will record as quantized.
Cost: FREE.
What’s best
: Makes live looping a breeze and totally satisfying, get it right the first time.
What’s missing: I would like the MIDI to quantize pre clip, so that you wouldn’t have to do this little double track trick.
Download Link

LFO-One

 

The LFO-One is a fun and flexible tool for production or performance, again just a nice little simple object that does exactly what it says. Allows you to apply 1-3 LFO’s (low frequency oscillators) to any parameter in Ableton. Renders some tasty results especially when applied to FX parameters that did not previously have modulation possibilities.
Cost: FREE.
What’s best:
Enables modulation possibilites that were not feasible before. Also by combining the different LFO’s you can get some really interesting movement.
What’s missing: 
It would be cool if you could map the LFO’s to multiple parameters simultaneously.
Download Link


Already Played

 


“Ever had the problem remembering which tracks you already had played after several hours of DJing?
We all like to party, but sometimes when you’re a few deep, Ableton’s grid of clips can quickly melt into an incomprehensible mash of color and confusion. Protect yourself from the ultimate party taboo – don’t play conga line twice! In all seriousness, even the most sober and astute DJ is not immune to this ultimate foul. In the days of records (or even CDs) you could literally put already played songs in a pile or separate area, thus ensuring that you wouldn’t pick them back up and play them again. With Ableton it’s all up to you, your memory, and any kind of organization you may or may not have set up.
This extremely useful object changes the color of a playing clip and adds a prefix / suffix to the clip name after a predefined period of time, so you can easily recognize which clips have already been played. This makes navigating a complicated grid of stems, clips, and tracks significantly more manageable. As a DJ, it’s your job to monitor the dancefloor and provide clean mixes and entertaining track selections- so spend more time mixing and less time remembering everything you’ve played. Additionally Already Played keeps track of all played clips in a playlist (which you can export as a textfile). This is a great resource for those who want to share playlists with their fans for promotion.
Tips and Quirks
You have to put a separate instance of it on every track that you’re playing clips on.
Cost: FREE.
What’s best: Color marking makes it easy to see at a glance which tracks you’ve already played, without even having to read track names!
What’s missing: It’s a bit counter-intuitive to have to put a separate instance of AP on every track. In the next version, I’d like to be able to just slap it on the master and have it apply to all clips.
Download Link


Smaller M4L Patches To Also Check Out

 

Pitch Drop
This one delivers a simple but entertaining vinyl style break, as though you had just put your hand on the record and brought it to a standstill. You can adjust the time, but that’s it. (Download Link)
Visual Metronome
Super convenient for when you want to keep time but don’t want to listen to Ableton’s annoying click tone. Especially useful for performing live, when a click track would totally ruin the vibe. (Download Link)
Kapture
Had some difficulty getting this one to work but it seems awesome! Developed by Richie Hawtin, this allows you to save and recall all parameters of your Live set as a preset. I can’t elaborate much because as I mentioned it did not work for me, but I’m sure if I messed around with it for longer I could get it running. Give it a whirl and try your luck. (Download Link)


Motion Mod
A bit of a gimmick if you ask me, but… nonetheless still pretty fun to tool around with. Uses the built in camera on your laptop to track motion and control parameters by bobbing your head, wiggling your finger, etc. (Download Link)
Installation Notes
In order to use these objects, download the file from the provided link. The file will have an extension of “.amxd”. For organizational purposes, I keep all my “.amxd” files in a folder labeled “Max 4 Live patches” but you can call it whatever you like. To bring the object into Live, open Live, then open the finder, locate the file, and click/drag the .amxd file from the finder directly into Live (and onto a track). It’s important to note that some of these go on audio tracks and some go on MIDI tracks depending on what kind of effect they are. If you like the effect, you can save it within Live by clicking the save icon on the effect. Once you’ve saved it in this fashion you’ll be able to pull it up from within Live at any time by going into your presets for “Max MIDI Effect,” “Max Audio Effect,” or “Max Instrument.” If you still need help installing them, post your question in the comments or do a google search on how to install M4L objects.

Maxed Out

It might not be breaking news, but Max4Live has democratized the world of Ableton Live like never before. Tons of people are making awesome M4L objects all the time and putting them out for free. They download fast, work efficiently, and run natively in Live. Often the people who make them are responsive to feedback and love to try new things – who could ask for more in a community?
Make sure to stay up to date on more awesome patches and M4L info at www.maxforlive.com.

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Review: Reloop Terminal Mix 4

It’s been a long time coming, but Serato controllerists may finally have a suitable answer to NI’s Kontrol S4. The Reloop Terminal Mix 4 all-in-one 4-deck controller complements Serato digital DJs quite well, incorporating important turntablist features. Traktor-using fans of this well-built controller can also rejoice in a couple of Traktor Pro mappings for either 4-deck or 2-deck/2 sampler use. Let’s see how it stands up to a little comparative testing

Manufacturer: Reloop
Price: $799 (MSRP) $599 (common retail price)
Availability: Shipping April 28, 2012
Communication: MIDI over USB (AC or USB powered)
Ships with: Serato DJ Intro and a Virtual DJ 4-Deck LE (Reloop Edition), power adapters, USB 2.0 cable. (Traktor Pro mappings will be available at product launch.)
Weight: 10.25 pounds (4.65 kg)
Dimensions: 20.3 x 12.6 x 1.7 inches (51.5 x 32 x 4.4 cm)
System Requirements: Mac OSX or Windows XP/Vista/7
The Good: Pro grade construction. Booth output with dedicated level control. Excellent audio quality. Tons of useful controls, included dedicated Filter per track, FX section per deck, looping, hot cues, sampling, and good track browser. Well-made jog wheels.
The Bad: No professional software included; only 2-deck Serato DJ Intro and 4-deck Virtual DJ 7 LE. Some features are in limbo awaiting software updates. Only one aux input.
The Bottom Line: The Terminal Mix 4 has everything it takes to become the go-to all-in-one 4-deck controller for Serato… except Serato. Until all the features are baked in and Reloop adds support for Serato Itch, the TM4 will have to settle for being a hell of a contender. It has the hardware quality, audio quality, and features to rank it among the top 4-deck controllers out there.

Build Quality and Design

While no NS7 in size, the Terminal Mix 4 is still a bit of a beast. It’s about the same surface area of the Kontrol S4, yet almost 3 pounds heavier. For that extra weight, however, you get the confidence of a really solidly built product. The chassis is mostly metal. There’s a plastic casing around the sides, but then also an aluminum faceplate on top. To a one, all of the extensive controls on the TM4 feel and perform at the highest standard. The jog wheels, faders, push-button rotaries, knobs, and rubber or plastic buttons all reek of top-shelf quality and are a pleasure to use.
Altogether there are 111 MIDI controls. Have a look at how the control sections break down before we get into the nitty gritty.
Mixer section:
  • Crossfader with adjustable crossfader curve
  • 4 channel strips, each with 60mm volume faders, dedicated filter knob with center detent, 3-band EQ with center detent knobs, gain knob, and fader start and headphone cue buttons
  • Master mix section, with master output knob, booth output knob, headphone volume knob, Cue mix knob with center detent and sample volume knob
  • Browsing section with large Trax push-button encoder, 4 deck load buttons, and 4 browsing shortcut buttons for direct access to Crates, layout views, etc.
Deck section x 2:
  • 15.5cm touch-sensitive, flat design jog wheels with a vinyl grip surface for scratching, pitch bending, and cueing.
  • Quick Search button lets you navigate to any part of a track extremely fast with the jog wheel.
  • High-resolution 14-bit 100mm pitch faders with range and keylock buttons
  • FX section with knobs and buttons for 3 effects, plus an endless rotary push-button encoder
  • Looping section with 2 encoders and 2 buttons
  • Hot cue/sample section with 8 2-layer buttons
  • Transport section with 4 rubberized buttons for playback and track sync.
  • Shift key for second-layer controls

Controller Performance

 

The chunky knobs of the TM4 feel great. They have a nice grip, and the center detents are sticky, but not too sticky. If there’s any complaint, it would be that in order to pack so many high-quality controls on the surface, the knobs are packed pretty tightly together.
The crossfader, pitch faders, and channel volume faders thankfully all have their own feel to them. Made for expressiveness, the loose crossfader feels more like a pro DJ mixer crossfader, rather than the very controllery crossfaders you often see. The 60mm channel faders were the tightest of the faders, made for smooth volume transitions. However, the four channel faders weren’t exactly uniform in their resistance. Each of the 14-bit 100mm pitch faders (the TM4 supports ranges of ±6 to ±100%) felt a little looser than the channel faders — just enough to enter in tiny increments. Their precise response also felt pleasant across the various pitch ranges.



Among non-motorized controller jog wheels, the TM4′s wheel rank very high. To go along with their comfortable flat design, the generously-sized platters have a very responsive touch sensitivity and a remarkably playable action. Their vinyl-like surface grip is also a welcome inclusion. In the end, they’re still just controller jog wheels, but they are made for people who will actually play them.
The rubberized transport buttons are a treat to use, and I wish there could have been more of these brought to the front for cue points, loops, and samples. However, admittedly, that would compromise the more scratch-centric design of the TM4. The plastic buttons in the Hot Cue/Sampler sections feel durable and have a reliable response and action for you to play them as fast as you like. The operative word though is “play,” and buttons of this sort aren’t as playable.

Software: You Expect Us To Spin With This?

I happen to agree with the hype that Reloop makes over this being the first 4-deck controller made specifically for Serato. I’m a big fan of tight hardware/software integration, as we saw with the Kontrol S4 and S2. Even better on those NI controllers was that they actually included the software they were designed to control.
Unfortunately, Terminal Mix 4 only includes Serato DJ Intro and Virtual DJ 7 LE (Reloop Edition). The former is a 2-deck version of Serato that strips a lot of features, although it does still include effects and sampling. The TM4′s FX sections are functional in Serato DJ Intro for turning on/off the 3 effects per deck, selecting their amounts with the knobs, and using the Beats rotary for choosing the time signature for effects syncing.


However, Loop, Hot Cue and Sampler sections of the TM4 are only partially functional in Serato DJ Intro. Reloop’s site mentions that certain performance features in the sampling, looping, and hot cue sections, as well as other feature like intelligent EQ kill, will only be available with future software updates or with the “Pro” software.
We can only reason that once Reloop and Serato get full compatibility worked out, that the TM4 will at least be certified for Itch, which has 4-deck capability. Otherwise there’s not much point in paying $600 for an excellent 4-deck controller with no native 4-deck software integration other than Virtual DJ.
The Reloop Edition of Virtual DJ 7 LE that comes included actually does a pretty good job of utilizing the full controller layout of the TM4. Virtual DJ has come along over the years, and performs pretty well in terms of handling keylock over drastic pitch ranges, track syncing, looping, cue points, and effect quality. However some areas of the software aren’t as well integrated with the TM4, particularly with track browsing. Besides that, it’s just not a widely adopted program and not the thing that will attract DJs to the TM4.


Oddly enough, until the TM4 includes compatibility with a 4-deck Serato version (hopefully both Itch and Scratch Live), the best software to use with it right now may be Traktor, due to…

Traktor Pro Mappings

If you’ve ever used hardware made for specific software, like the Akai APC controllers or Kontrol S4/S2, then you’re bound to be disappointed with using mappings such as the Terminal Mix 4′s Traktor Pro mappings.
It’s not that the mappings aren’t decent. So far there are two available — one for 2 decks/2 sample decks and one for 4 decks. But due to the inherent limitations of MIDI mappings and probably some development in progress, the Terminal Mix 4 just won’t be the same beast with Traktor that it could be in Serato without tighter integration.
For example, the Traktor MIDI mappings don’t take advantage of some of the TM4′s best features that were built with turntablist Serato users in mind, such as Crossfader deck assignment switches and the jog wheels. Track navigation in Traktor also doesn’t work as fully as in Serato. On the flipside, the TM4 Traktor mappings will let you work the effects decks, cue points, loops, and samples, but not with the same degree of control and integration as an S4 or S2.
Right now, Traktor is functional on the TM4, but I cannot recommend the TM4 for DJs who exclusively use Traktor. However, if you mainly use Serato and jump over to Traktor occasionally, the mappings will be a blessing, and a possible starting point for your own variations.

Audio Quality

We’ll use the NI Kontrol S4 and S2 as basis of comparison of the audio quality on the Terminal Mix 4. We’ve always praised the S4/S2 sound given that their components come from NI’s excellent stand-alone interfaces and they have admirable audio quality to go along with high output levels.




After side-by-side comparisons of the S4 and Terminal MIx 4 (conducted at the sample rate of 48kHz), I have to say that I was very impressed with how well the TM4′s audio interface held up. If anything the TM4 had a more detailed sound than the S4. The Terminal Mix pumped out chunkier bass, dirtier distortion, crisper high-end, and more nuanced vocals. I’d give the S4 points for better warmth. But the TM4 also put out higher audio levels, both on AC power and USB bus power. DJs needn’t to worry about low levels with the TM4.

USB Bus Power vs. Power Adapter

Like the Kontrol S4 and S2, the Terminal Mix 4 comes with an AC adapter but can also be run off of a fully powered USB 2.0 port. If the AC plug gets pulled while in use, the audio cuts off while the TM4 adjusts itself, and then the audio comes back on after about 8 seconds. If you put the AC plug back in while it’s operating on USB power, the audio again cuts off, but not for as long. It fades back in over 5 seconds.
On the plus side, the TM4′s LEDs did not appear any dimmer when on USB power, unlike the S4/S2, whose lights dim significantly on USB power. The S4 and S2 also reduce the headphone output on USB power, but the TM4 loses no output level on USB bus power. Both the main outs and each of the headphone outs stayed just as loud on bus power. It’s really quite remarkable what this unit can do on just USB power.

Front and Rear Tech Specs

 

Back Panel:
  • Stereo RCA auxiliary input a CD player, turntable, etc. — switchable from line to phono level
  • Grounding post
  • Main outs: balanced 1/4″ outputs or unbalanced stereo RCA outputs
  • Booth out: Stereo RCA
  • USB and power jacks
  • Power on/off button


Front Panel:
  • Crossfader curve control: Long to Cut
  • Crossfader assignment switches for each of 4 decks
  • 1/4″ Mic input with level and tone control
  • Input routing switches: bypass the mic and auxiliary input to the master output or run them through the software
  • 2 headphones outs: 1/8″ or 1/4″ stereo (both active at once), with tone control
  • Level and tone knobs push in to stay out of the way.

How It All Ties Together F

Because it’s a high-quality unit with a solid build, excellent sound, and a ton of great features, at $600, you could make the argument that paying a little more for the high-end software is reasonable. (And you could argue it the other way as well.)
As it stands right now, where the TM4 does not come with a version of the 4-deck Serato Itch, it’s hard to justify purchasing it. I have the strong suspicion that it will become an Itch-certified controller shortly after its release in May. After that, upgrading to Scratch Live will probably cost you a few shekels. It’s impossible to say right now, however, so we’ll just have to keep you updated.
Assuming that the TM4 does become Itch certified, I’d happily recommend it to Serato DJs looking for an all-in-one solution to use either as a main rig or as a secondary, practice, small-gig setup. Its combination of rock-solid construction, tight Serato integration, and price make it compelling. It is a worthy take on the Kontrol S4 concept for Serato users. With arguably superior sound, nicer jog wheels, and a price of $300 less, the Terminal Mix 4 might be an even better buy than the S4… once the software support catches up.


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