DJ gear: Another revolution or will evolution do?

dj gear

NAMM 2014 is coming, and with it comes enormously heaped expectations by the masses on the various manufacturers to bring forth revolutionary game changing DJ gear by the stand load. But with increasing regularity, newly released shiny is met with a low pitched “meh” or a more shrill “EPIC FAIL”, which does prompt this question — have we become spoiled tech brats by too much revolutionary stuff, or have you truly squeezed the nuts of every single feature until they cry?

We have become somewhat accustomed to revolutions. First it was CDs, then DVS, then controllers, and finally touch screens, all of which to some degree have entirely changed the way we DJ. And with them have come a world of next-level features that are all too quickly classed as entry level, essentially leaving nowhere to go, and even the lowest beginner aimed controllers shoehorning samples in somehow, often to the detriment of the product itself.

So suddenly everyone has access to a seemingly endless menu of DJ tools, immediately turning sections of the buying public into rabid feature junkies who crave fix after fix to satiate their gear acquisition hunger. But we’re now at a point where there are no revolutions on the horizon, as all that can be done with DJing with current technology has been done. well probably anyway?

We only have to look at the last 12 months to see a slowdown in entirely new things. When NI’s Kontrol S4 mk2 came out, people were most definitely left with a feeling of “is that it?”. And just before Christmas, Denon’s MC6000 MK2 has done much the same thing, and has updated the previous version to simply be better. And as mentioned in previous stories, there’s actually a bit of a retro controller rebellion happening, with more a growing interest in the old ways (hence my Seratophone pastiche, which is not real BTW).

Thus the revolution is over, and DJs have a bewildering arsenal of tools with which to mangle, mash, mix, or simply play music to the gathered punters. But for some that’s just not enough. And regardless of whether they have truly mastered the gear in front of them, they want more.

But here’s the thing — for the most part, DJs are only required to play A to B and repeat until the lights are switched off. And as each DJ wants to take a step beyond this process, thus the feature set needs to expand, but the market narrows a little. Every DJ needs to play tracks, and have volume control. Most probably use EQ, but not every DJ uses loops, hot cues or effects. Even less will use samples, and a bare minimum will use things like remix decks or video. So with each creep forward, the path narrows. Adding new features means preaching to a smaller crowd, which is not good when the industry needs to make money more than ever.

It’s clear that new game-changing revolutionary features are going to be thin on the ground for some time, so in part this story is a cautionary “don’t get your hopes up” message for NAMM 2014. My feeling is that a period of natural evolution is coming, where existing things are done better, more efficiently, and more effectively. There’s also the interesting dynamic of software and hardware partnerships, where a manufacturer will come up with an idea, but they’ll have to wait for the  developer to implement it, and vice versa. Production will continue to overlap the whole “playing other people’s music” basis of DJing too, and probably be more about doing more with other people’s music rather than just making your own.

So I’ll finish this off with a question:

Do we DJs really need more new features? And if so, what more could you possibly want that isn’t available already? Or are you happy with what you’ve got but just wish they worked better?

  • http://twitter.com/Sofa_Snake Daniel Lawson

    great bit of artwork! what goes around comes around, nothing better than a dj beat juggling/scratching on a set of real turntables!

  • http://twitter.com/Sofa_Snake Daniel Lawson

    great bit of artwork! what goes around comes around, nothing better than a dj beat juggling/scratching on a set of real turntables!

  • https://www.facebook.com/arkaei.himself Ray Gabriel

    ok, DEEP question.

    • https://www.facebook.com/DJWORXHQ DJWORX

      Oh I know. I expect a deep answer from you as well over at DJWORX. Or else.

    • https://www.facebook.com/arkaei.himself Ray Gabriel

      you’ll get one… I’ve actually been thinking about that for the last couple of days.

  • https://www.facebook.com/arkaei.himself Ray Gabriel

    ok, DEEP question.

    • https://www.facebook.com/DJWORXHQ DJWORX

      Oh I know. I expect a deep answer from you as well over at DJWORX. Or else.

    • https://www.facebook.com/arkaei.himself Ray Gabriel

      you’ll get one… I’ve actually been thinking about that for the last couple of days.

  • happydan

    How many years were turntables a mainstay? A bit of stability will help us all catch our breath and give the manufacturers some return on their products! Though that’s not good for us. :-(

    • Jared Helfer

      For stability you need to slow everything down, and unfortunately that means it’ll be even longer before this stuff starts getting good. :)

  • https://www.facebook.com/pierre.bosznay Pierre Bosznay

    I think that the next big thing, and it is slowly starting, will be customized gears. Building your own gear could be quite exciting. Although, I’m still a bit old school and I need to touch things before buying them, therefore, I think that this can only work if such brands offering this possibilities get into shops, with well informed employees that can explain and show to you all the different possibilities. Ho wait, maybe I should have kept that for myself, and make it happen on my own…. :)

  • https://www.facebook.com/pierre.bosznay Pierre Bosznay

    I think that the next big thing, and it is slowly starting, will be customized gears. Building your own gear could be quite exciting. Although, I’m still a bit old school and I need to touch things before buying them, therefore, I think that this can only work if such brands offering this possibilities get into shops, with well informed employees that can explain and show to you all the different possibilities. Ho wait, maybe I should have kept that for myself, and make it happen on my own…. :)

  • andreimatei

    Excellent article. I couldn’t agree more. Things like Traktor got us here. You only need two CDJs, or two techs and a crate of vinyls, or either of those and an SSL box to rock a party. No need for 40,000 loops, effects, remix decks, etc. Something about the old way, the manual way, (or in the case of SSL — closer to the old way), feels most pure. Amen, Mark.

  • https://www.facebook.com/cgomez2012 Carlos Gomez

    To me less is more. I prefer DVS. I don’t see myself moving away from that anytime soon. Controllers have way to many buttons to mash. I like concentrating on the mix. When will all these new controllers coming out gonna stop?

    • http://www.mixcloud.com/heartyparty/ heartyparty

      Not all controllers have loads of buttons – I’m using a Denon MC2000, and it has a few but not loads so easy to keep it straight forward two decks and a mixer. I tend not to use loops or hot cues, but I do like the effects options. No need to mash away!

  • https://www.facebook.com/cgomez2012 Carlos Gomez

    To me less is more. I prefer DVS. I don’t see myself moving away from that anytime soon. Controllers have way to many buttons to mash. I like concentrating on the mix. When will all these new controllers coming out gonna stop?

  • https://www.facebook.com/seungjin.yun Yun Sinjin

    “…not every DJ uses loops, hot cues or effects. Even less will use samples, and a bare minimum will use things like remix decks or video.”

    so true. so many DJs around here demand the newest of the new and more and more features.. but the vast majority of them hardly use anything more than the sheer basics.

  • https://www.facebook.com/seungjin.yun Yun Sinjin

    “…not every DJ uses loops, hot cues or effects. Even less will use samples, and a bare minimum will use things like remix decks or video.”

    so true. so many DJs around here demand the newest of the new and more and more features.. but the vast majority of them hardly use anything more than the sheer basics.

  • b

    There is one thing that i want and that is : a universal track library where grids/loops/cues/hotcues are read by all software and or cdjs.

    • andreimatei

      That would be fantastic indeed. A standard format like ID3 tags are for MP3s but with the additional info.

    • Dan White

      Yep, wrote about that in my wishlist on DJTT for things to happen in 2014. I think we all want to be able to transfer library/collection metadata across every software: http://www.djtechtools.com/2013/12/23/dear-santa-a-dj-producers-wish-list-for-2014/

      • http://djworx.com/ Mark Settle

        And give users the power to pick and choose which software they want to use? Are you mad Dan?

      • Royce

        Yeesssssss, me also!! Got me a NS7II and I’m using it with Serato DJ and Traktor. Sync in Traktor is more advanced, so when I want to spin with Sync, I use Traktor. But when I want to freewheel for a bit, it’s definitely Serato! A universal library would be nice. Now I use Alchimie Zinc to sync library’s, but I still miss cue’s, loop’s and grids.

  • Dizzy

    I feel DJ technology has plateaued and offers anything any DJ would want. For example, take the Numark NS7 II… it is a piece of DJ gear that finally has everything I’d ever want in a DJ controller… moving platters, touch sensitive pads for loop rolls, samples, cues and loops, dedicated filter knobs, 4 deck capability, sync button etc. Granted I won’t use all those features all the time, but it’s nice to have them at my fingertips. The only new feature that I want (but don’t ‘need’) is the filter fade function on the new Pioneer unit. If new gear comes out without new revolutionary features then that’s ok with me, I have everything I need.

  • https://www.facebook.com/jared.helfer Jared Helfer

    And the answer commences. Maybe I can finish it in the next hour?

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  • Bulge

    I agree… the VCI-380 is so close to perfect for my use I can’t forsee needing an upgrade for sometime. Additions of direct DVS (maybe coming) and I would have loved a x-fader reverse… but again these last little tweaks will be achievable in software. I’ve got solid platters with LED markers, a mixer, solid build and it’s Serato flavoured. Vestax (or anyone) are gonna have a hard time topping it for me.

    • Jeremy

      Yep, me too. I used to have CDJs and a Vestax PMC 08 and my vci 380 can do everything they could do combined and much more besides… and saves me a load of space. What more does anyone need?!

  • Jared Helfer

    Here we go, my long response (feel free to ignore):

    As some quick background, for context, I initially learned to DJ in the mid 2000’s on turntables and then CD decks and moved to DVS from there and after a few years dedicated myself to laptops and controllers for a large number of reasons.

    What I learned was that when I moved from turntables to CDs and back to turntables for DVS I never really DJ’d any different. Yeah, I may have added a third or fourth deck in software, or thrown in effects, or looped more or less, but there wasn’t really any difference in the end result: playing other people’s music. I think something that is lost in a lot of this discussion is that once you move beyond playing pre-recorded music, you aren’t DJing anymore. And you need more tools than Traktor or Serato can offer while still being useful.

    The remix decks are a prime example. Back in the long-away days of Traktor Pro 2.0, we had the release of the sample decks. Now, I LOVED the sample decks. I found them intuitive, useful, and highly compatible with my improvisational style. If I found a loop I liked while mixing I could just drop it down and boom, continue on. The release of the remix decks completely removed that extremely useful tool and instead left me with Ableton lite. I couldn’t improvise as easily anymore, and I needed a specific tool to adequately use them, or to spend WAY too many hours creating an optimized MIDI mapping (which I did, a few times for manufacturer releases and still haven’t been able to bring myself to look at it again).

    In the interest of adding more features, the actually useful function of the existing tool was removed and replaced with something I’ve completely different. I am still annoyed by this, and while I understand there are a lot of work arounds, some easy and some not, I don’t want to spend the time recreating functionality that already existed and worked really well.

    But it was in the interest of new features. And that’s fine. I don’t blame Native Instruments, or consumers, it’s just the way it goes. I still use Traktor, mainly because I haven’t found an interface that I like more. So yeah, there’s that.

    The issue, as I see it, is that software has hardware manufacturers in a bind. Traktor and Serato have a TON of features. Between loops, hotcues, effects, copying tracks (instant doubles), loop recorders, samplers, and the rest of the kit and kaboodle there is no way any piece of hardware can be both convenient and elegant and contain every feature.

    And then the question becomes: do we need every feature, right? Of course not. I, for one, don’t need remix decks, full stop. And I would put money down that most DJs (like, 95%) don’t. I would really like four decks, but I know I’m in the minority of people who use them, and I find as I DJ live again that I really don’t need them. A sampler would be great for just dropping loops. Those in some effects, basic cue point control and loops/loop roll and I’m set. The problem is that most hardware that I have come across my desk, and I have seen a lot in the last two years, has to contain EVERY feature in the software. And that’s just not possible to do well in a convenient package.

    I’m a pretty good mapper. I’ve made some money doing it for individual people and DJ manufacturers. I can create pretty compelling maps, and I understand DJ workflow. But I also know that most of the stuff I do won’t be used because it isn’t necessary at all. But it’s believed that this is what DJs want. They want an all-in-one controller which does as much as possible, even if a lot of what they are looking for is either buried under layers, OR all at the top and not nearly as functional.

    The DJ culture we are looking at today is filled with people who want something that will help them be better than the competition. I think that is completely understandable. The thing is, though, that most of those tools are gimmicks. You can have all the hotcues in the world, or as many different effects at your fingertips, but is that really going to help you? Is it going to improve your sets or your critical thinking or crowd-reading? No. It’s going to give you more to focus on than what make us good: song selection and mixing. It may fine tune the experience, and give you that little bit to set you apart, but at that point you’re probably already pretty damn good and don’t need those things, they are just icing on the cake.

    The reason I think this sync argument is blown out of proportion is because it is arguing the wrong thing. Beatmatching is math, plain and simple. You have a song at 120 BPM and you need to mix in a song that’s 125 BPM. 1% of 125 is 1.25. 2% is 2.5. 4% is 5. Pitch it down approximately 4% and your song is beatmatched. Boom. If being able to do that makes me more legit, then we need to ask ourselves what being a DJ is, because that’s just a trick. If those songs don’t work together, or I mix them at incorrect points, then what good am I, really? But people are stuck on this thing because it isn’t “holding true” or whatever. Just like being told that using a laptop means you’re not really DJing because… needles? These are only tools to simplify getting to the end result (people dancing), but they don’t by default MAKE the end result better.

    Have you heard a DJ who can’t mix on vinyl? You give them a laptop and they’ll still not being able to mix. They’ll just have more songs they can’t mix.

    These tools we have at our disposal are coming faster than we can process them. Do I need 4 different kinds of filters for a DJ set? Probably not. But I have them, right? Will I ever use them? Maybe. I may use one, and my good buddy Tekki might use another, and Arakei may use a third. But my guess is most DJs aren’t going to use any of them. And, hell, I might not either. Most importantly, however, they probably aren’t going to spend the time finding out which one is the right one for their set and will just pick what some guy on YouTube, or here, or any of the other sites tells them is the right one.

    And the software developers have spent time finding these nuanced differences to add more features that don’t actually add any contextual difference to my DJ experience, or the crowds’ party experience.

    As far as I see it, the only thing that changed the way we DJ’d was software. Whether you’re on turntables or CDs you DJ the same way. Things become easier, there is more information readily available on screens, but all it did was change how you got your music from your hands to the crowd. The actual act changed very little. Two decks (or three, MAYBE four) and a mixer is still what we do.

    Software, though, brought all of this to a head. But the software is still working under this existing paradigm. Instead of being limited to what I can carry, or fit in a booth, I have my entire music collection with me. That changed everything, and since then we have been met with more and more things to augment DJing, but very little to simply improve upon the basic act. I am looking at two, or three, or four decks, and a mixer. And I still pick song A, pick song B, mix them and done, until song C needs to come in.

    But now I also have EVERYTHING at my finger tips all at once. I can loop and copy and paste, and have every effect available and am really only limited by the power of my computer, and eventually that won’t be a concern either because, well, computers are just getting so fast that it’s almost impossible to break them. And in that, we get lost. We start trying to fill in holes, and take up time that could be spent reading the crowd and mixing with samples and effects and things that we are told make us better but don’t actually improve upon the experience for the crowd.

    There’s no answer or right or wrong here, this is just where I see it. We are looking at too many tools without enough understanding of how to implement them, but we think we need to because the other guy is.

    We have lost sight of the forest of DJing for the trees of tricks.

    As far as the next step, the new (r)evolution, well, I think it’s going to be a while, but I’ll start with the problems as I see it and then get to the solutions.

    I have been a fan of modular controllers to augment primary controllers for a while, but they are extremely limited, mainly because they fall into the same pitfalls of the all-in-ones: when I get them they are set up to do a thing and I have to figure out how to make it do what I want. And that means mapping. And in tools like Traktor, that sucks, a lot.

    And then, the controllers don’t speak to each other. So if I switch a layer on controller A, controller B doesn’t know that anything has changed, unless I go through the extremely arduous task of linking them. I can use Bome MIDI Translator for this, and have, but that’s even more work and then I STILL need to deal with the frustration of mapping them in my software of choice. So I have these independent brains that do their own thing.

    And finally, my software isn’t optimized to be controlled. Serato and Traktor, as primary choices, are extremely difficult to map and heavily limited in what you can do. Why? Let’s be honest, it’s to sell hardware. Native Instruments no longer has the same incentive to optimize their mapping engine, and Serato never did, because of their current business models. That’s fine, once again, not a knock on either of them, but it’s the core reality. So if I don’t have any effects control on my hardware, and I will never use it, I still have to see it in Traktor. And if I only want one effect in Serato, I still need the whole pane available.

    This all wraps up as I think the future will be a truly modular, customizeable DJ experience with software and hardware that are truly integrated. I buy two units and snap them together and they work like one controller. When I plug them in the software recognizes what is connected and using a simple GUI I can select what things do. If I want to dig deeper then I can, either through a GUI or simple scripting because, really, there isn’t much that is truly needed.

    But what I end up with is a truly unique DJ experience that works how I want it to at all times. The real issue comes with integrating everything on the market. Frankly, that will never be 100% possible, but if there was just some standardization (all jog wheels send the same MIDI message at the same basic rate, and all play buttons are on the same message, or something along those lines) then software can easily parse what you have connected and customize that experience as well.

    Effectively, once modular control is done correctly, it won’t feel modular, it will feel just like using an S4 or an NS7MKII, but without needing to care what NI or Serato or Numark et al think I want to use to DJ because I can easily alter the experience without any hiccups or bumps, and then I can expand the experience easily without any roadblocks.

    Wow, that was long. So… discuss?

    • Jared Helfer

      I have two more thoughts to add, since this is the internet and I can do whatever I want and NOBODY CAN STOP ME!

      GroovinDJ brings up a point I left out and forgot to reference but I figure I can add it in. The SCS4 is a great place to start with this. It’s Smithson Martin had that great touch screen a while ago with direct integration to Traktor, but it was SUPER expensive.

      I think that the SCS4 was the first shot across the bow of ditching computers. It wasn’t wholly successful, but it wasn’t a terrible solution either. With Native Instruments creating the Maschine Studio, I think it’s only a matter of time before we see an S4 with two beautiful screens, and then only a matter of more time before we see an S4 that requires no computer, but is completely self contained. With computers getting smaller (check out the Intel NUC) and processing becoming almost inconsequential, and storage becoming cheaper and cheaper and cheaper…

      I’d love to leave the computer at home and have a reliable, powerful solution using a mobile device (NOT JUST AN iPAD) as a storage unit. That is likely to be coming soon with the S2, but damn I’d love to hook an S4 into my iPad for four decks and be able to connect an X1MK2 or an F1 for added functionality. We’ll see if that ever happens.

      • http://www.mobiledjforums.com/ GroovinDJ

        The SCS4DJ wasn’t the first shot. There was the Numark HDMix, based on their earlier D2 Director/DDS system and adding in a mixer.

        I think the main problem with it was the format. They put the players behind the mixer. There was an earlier design that never made it, with the players in front – but then the mixer was too far back.

        Denon got close too with their HD2500. Onboard hard drive but no mixer, and the display was too small.

        Now, almost every combi controller/mixer has a side-by-side layout – but Numark have dropped the all-in-one idea.

        • http://www.denondj.com/ Silvio Zeppieri

          GroovinDJ, the HD2500 display was relative to the depth and size of the 19″ standard mobile DJ format. Also this was at a technical period that predates iPad size devices and Color screen devices. In its release of March 2007 there were only a handful of MIDI controllers, unlike the vast +100 to choose from today. As a “start point” for this media player concept, I think we were close and could have used a followup model with more customer wants and needs, but computers and apps took over as core tools.

          • http://www.mobiledjforums.com/ GroovinDJ

            The issue with the HD2500 screen was that Denon divided it permanently in half. It left very little room for display of track and artist info. The split screen on the 2500 was the reason I chose the Numark D2 instead. I didn’t get an internal drive, but the D2 screen wasn’t split in two.

            I still use my HS5500s because for my needs they’re the closest thing to heaven, but even that screen wasn’t quite wide enough. Bring out a follow up to the 5500 with SATA hard drive and a wider screen, you’ll have a winner.

            • Jared Helfer

              The included SATA drive would be amazing in units like that. I liked the little bay the SCS4 included for a USB drive, but still, not the same. Give it a few years, though, and as hard drives come even more drastically down in price it’ll eventually get included.

              And while the SCS4 wasn’t the first attempt, I think it was one of the most solid deliveries. Its hardware design wasn’t an issue, but the onboard stuff took WAY too long to get snappy and smooth.

    • sandeep

      Precise

  • http://www.mobiledjforums.com/ GroovinDJ

    There are a few things I’d like to see. I’ve had the same list for some time now too.

    Less dependency on computers, more all-in-one devices that work standalone. An NS7 II with a nice screen or two and onboard hard drive would be nice.

    The ability for DJ software (or hardware) to warp tracks like Ableton Live. For some reason it’s still only DAWs that do this, and it makes sense to have it in DJ kit.

    DJ lighting with a USB connection so that the built in shows could be customised. Rather than needing a DMX controller to run your own shows (which puts many DJs off) you could then just load in the show you want and let it do it’s thing on S2L. Manufacturers could even have extra shows available to download. If the format was universal too, that’d be extra cool (like a MIDI file for DMX shows).

    • acemc

      “DJ lighting with a USB connection so that the built in shows could be customised. Rather than needing a DMX controller to run your own shows”

      I totally agree with this. All that we would need is a usb DMX dongle, let the dj software take care of the rest (obviously with the ability to program our own shows too). Although the hardware available seems to be at it’s pinnacle, software can still progress in leaps & bounds. It’s just a question of what they choose to focus on.

    • Yakov

      Hey, I agree about Ableton Live-style warping and that’s why my company Mixed In Key created something called Flow DJ Software. Check it out on YouTube – http://YouTube.com/mixedinkey1

      • http://www.mobiledjforums.com/ GroovinDJ

        Yakov, you’re saying that Flow warps tracks now? Back in November I asked about warping in Flow, and the replies from your staff implied that it might be added as a feature in a later version.

  • Some DJ

    In terms of hardware, more emphasis needs to be placed on usability, durability and quality control. Cheap, wiggly inputs and connectors, cheap, squishy pads and defective components should not be acceptable. For example, I have seen multiple DJs have issues with NI’s Kontrol S4 MK1 audio outputs (wiggly, poor connection), and I had my crossfader cut-in go bad on my Z2. Still waiting on NI to send me a replacement a month after reporting the issue.

    Disposable, cheap equipment should be unacceptable. Companies should focus on making a product that will handle abuse and simply work no matter what the conditions are like. Quality should be #1!!!

    A good example is Technics – my SL-1210MK2 is from the 80’s and still works like it’s brand new.

    On a side note I kind of wish the pads on my NI Maschine MK2 were better quality, like Akai pads on the MPC Studio / MPC Renaissance.

  • http://soundcloud.com/traye trayE

    Maybe a controller with direct drive like NS7, but from Technics ? :-)) Or a midi version of the DZ1200 ? No ? Okay.. :/

    • stevesweets

      With a little realism, this needn’t be an unreality. I figure what you’re aking for here is a direct drive, high resolution dvs controller.

      Nothing you’re going to say will bring back the technics brand. It sucks but its true.

      The v7 is so close to being perfect, except for some reason it has a soundcard. You really dont need that because you probably already have a serato/traktor soundcard. You don’t need a drive either, because its for dvs.

      The reloop tt, one feature back from perfection.

      Also… Am i really the only one who OFTEN shares a night with another dj? That is literally the ONLY reason why the ns7 cant work for me. It serms that rane so far are the only ones to have given the thought of dj switchover any real thought.

      • http://soundcloud.com/traye trayE

        I’m asking for a 10″ direct drive midi controller (single or double). Not with cd and usb and not from Numark. You get my point :-)

        Can’t count the times I’ve had problems with noise and vibrations. I love my 1210’s to death, but let’s look to the future eh ?

        And yes, I know the Denon 3900 comes close to this. But it’s too damn expensive..

        The DZ1200 midi without the cd slot would be the perfect thing. But as you said, nothing will bring back Technics..

        • stevesweets

          I really don’t mind if its numark. 10″ would probably be perfect. I’ve used the Denon 3900 and i’m not a fan, it doesn’t feel as nice as the v7 feels.

          If you get the feel right, you get the price right, and its not locked to one software, you’ll sell a ton of them, because everyone using DVS wants to feel like they’re playing with vinyl, and the same people probably are now fed up of dust-catching, groove skipping, expensive needles.

          I think they need to be single units, so you can use them with any software. Also, needs a usb hub, so you can daisy chain devices. Direct drive, yes. Adjustable torque? Maybe? Soundcard? I don’t think its needed, personally.

          HID, MIDI, whatever is needed to make it work across the board.

          At this point though, if numark announces a v7 mk2 (with buttons to do what a dicer does), or a v10? I’m sold.

          • http://www.denondj.com/ Silvio Zeppieri

            stevesweets, what feels odd to you about the 9″ platter SC3900?
            How long did you use it and how was it used? USB/CD/Hybrid mode?

            Others like 3x DMC champ, DJ Switch have said, its the closest thing on the market to an analog turntable.

            • http://soundcloud.com/traye trayE

              Yeah, but Switch got paid from Denon. And I don’t know why, but the cd, usb etc slots are kind of annoying to me..

              I have the little SC2000 from Denon and I have used their DJ equipment in the past, they are quality. But, the price of a 3900 in my country is 1000 euros. For about the half the price you can get a pair of 1210’s..

            • stevesweets

              I used it in hybrid mode and cdj mode. It felt way too light, and the torque felt too high. Perhaps it needed a better weight vinyl on top, or a better slipmat, but the v7/ns7/ns7ii have always felt much better to me – even without the familiar platter dots.

              Also, the construction isn’t tank-like, in comparison to the v7. This wouldn’t be a problem, if it were cheaper, but it’s not, it’s more expensive.

              True it does MORE, but that’s my point, I’m not entirely convinced more is needed. Less is needed, to keep the price down. It doesn’t need to play mp3’s, my dvs will do that. It doesn’t need to play cd’s. It needs to feel right, control decks, and have a few buttons for loops and stuff, and that’s it.

              My largest problem with denon isn’t the platter though, it’s the usability. I find their cue/start/play system confusing because its different to everyone elses (therefore infuritating) and each feature it does well appears to be poorly laid out.

              This is of course, just my opinion, but its price and usability are the things holding it back.

            • b

              Why is there still not an single deck full size cdj midi / hid controller that can also play usb sticks? (If it does not play sticks just as good) that is useable with all software?Something like a sc2900 or so but without the cd drive plus screens if it does not play media?

        • http://www.denondj.com/ Silvio Zeppieri

          trayE, in your opinion, what should the SC3900 price be?
          You can find it for less than $899 USD now.
          Probably cut $100 if we took the CD drive out, but do you need it as backup?

  • Mark Smith

    A Traktor oriented version of the Pioneer DDJ-SX/SR/SB line of controllers. What’s up with Pioneers Serato obsession all of a sudden?

    • http://djworx.com/ Mark Settle

      Ni doesn’t really do business with anyone else these days. Or need to do said business either, which does rather limit the options open to the likes of Pioneer. Let’s see what VDJ8 or the next versions of the other players looks like to see if that changes.

      • Mark Smith

        I hope VDJ8 starts a whole new evolution of controllers for their software. I happen to be a user of all three major DJ softwares and it seems that the controller manufacturers are steering towards the Serato direction and leaving Atomix in their proverbial dust. VDJ8 has to be that good to compete and also get the hardware manufacturers to start supporting their product on a much larger scale again. The mappings that are available for VDJ 7.4 are cool however I feel better integration is possible and I hope that happens with VDJ8 Versus the current 7.4. My favorite though of the three is Traktor with VDJ 7.4 second, and Serato DJ 3rd.

        • synthet1c

          you don’t need manufacturers to support VDJ, It will support any controller on the market already with an easy to use API.. and mapping isn’t as hard as traktor but still much more customisable. VDJ8 just needs to get the basics right to make it feel that it’s as solid as traktor and serato

          • Mark Smith

            I tend to disagree. I started out using the Pioneer DDJ-WeGO and it came with VDJ 7 LE. I immediately upgraded to the pro version. VDJ 7 and the WeGO are an awesome match made further great by the fact that Pioneer went the extra mile to develop a skin for it that matched what you did on the controller right in front of you on the screen. That was great. Just mapping something to work isn’t always great. Like for example people have mapped the Traktor Kontrol S2 to work with VDJ 7 however the L.E.D.’s do not work. Annoying. I could go and figure out how to map them and make them work however I don’t really want to deal with that.

            • synthet1c

              that’s not really true. The skin was made my djdad of atomix for pioneer, but really you or anyone can make a skin that looks like anything you want, and honestly djdad would have made one for the wego anyway as that’s what he does, there are many examples of non hardware partnered skins in the download section of the forum made by him and others.

              In regard to the S2 that is a limitation imposed by Native Instruments having a propriety communication protocol, Any other manufacturer that uses HID will release a schematic so you can map it to a different software, and if by some miracle you could find the messages for the LED’s VDJ would support it. Unfortunately NI don’t see it as a smart business decision to share this information,

              Also I didn’t say that partnering with manufactures was necessarily a bad thing, I just meant it’s not a required as VDJ is so customisable, and if you have a spare afternoon or two it’s pretty easy to pick up the basics.

              • Mark Smith

                Well said however I focus my time more on the music. I can certainly get into customization and mapping as I am capable and not afraid of getting my feet wet however I prefer to focus on my music and organizing/finding new music to play. I personally like Pioneer’s products and actually see that they have made a map for VDJ 7 for the DDJ-SB/SR/SX. I am going to study this more as I think either the SB or more likely SR will be my next controller to control Serato and VDJ when I use them. I really like the pads and the jog wheels as well as the overall feel and quality of their products. Some of the other controller out there look so generic however that is just personal preference.

  • Ajack

    I believe there is lots of room for improvements still. DJing is now in a place where it has to re-define itself to some extent. This is because just mixing from song A to B has become easy with new technology and it is highly probable that a decent auto-mixing software will soon appear. When that happens, there is simply no more need for a DJ in smaller bars and venues.

    When there is no more value in simple mixing of songs, DJs have to think of new ways to make themselves needed and appreciated. This is why I think DJing will slowly move into the direction of the live production performance. I believe quantized looping like in Ableton and Remix Decks is the way of the future and as these kind of methods evolve and become more fluent and there is more material available for DJs to purchase, DJing could turn into an act of constructing and remixing music live.

    Another way to fight the inevitable auto-mix issue is to enhance the visual show aspect of DJing. There is lots of room for improvements in video DJing and as someone pointed out, why couldn’t there also be some light DMX control inside DJ software also to have the DJ in complete control of the club sound and light.

  • tsutek

    I think the need for combining record playing and music making into the same process is going to increase in the future. The needs of a contemporary “Digital DJ” have been pretty much mapped out (IMO=keylock, sync, loops, hotcues, FX, filtering), so now it’s time to incorporate music making techniques/technologies into the equation. There’s still so much ground to cover, from generating CV signals for modular synths via DVS (CV scratching/juggling), to having a SC3900 type of a media player that actually samples audio on the fly, to having a Traktor / Serato deck as a VST plugin.. We are pretty nicely set for just playing records already IMO.

    In my mind I see a new instrument that is a hybrid of a complex sampler (like KONTAKT) and a turntable/DJ deck. The CPU power is there already. Just boggles the mind what one could accomplish with a tool like that!

    But all this is just from the technological perspective. Things have actually changed very little from the way DJs were operating already in the 80s – biggest change being the ability to have all of your records with you for every gig. Like a wise mind has already stated in this thread, having excess tools and options are not adding much to the experience “in the real world” – crowd reading, song selection and timing are still the dominating core values that make/break a gig.

  • Paco Loco

    You are right when you say there is no more revolution to come – everything that’s any real use has now been done.
    I think it will be 5 years at least until the next game-changing product, and I have no idea what that will be.

    In the mean time what amazes me is that there are new products coming out on pretty much a daily basis and yet still most of them are not what I want to buy.

    Why can’t I get:

    – A serious pro Traktor controller that does not have jog wheels. Lets face it – no-one who DJs electronic dance music ever scratches so for the majority of DJs they serve no purpose that can’t be fulfilled with a much smaller knob/touchstrip/whatever.

    – An serious iPad controller that is as compact as the iPad is but works seamlessly with it and charges it.

    – High quality modular controllers which are actually designed to function together as well as on their own.

    Seriously – I have money waiting and would buy all of these straight away if they came out tomorrow. I’ve literally been waiting years to buy these things. SOMEONE HURRY UP AND TAKE MY MONEY.

    • tsutek

      Wouldn’t the Z2 fit your bill for “professional Traktor Pro controller”? FWIW I find it pretty slick to use for non-DVS mixing just on it’s own..

      • Paco Loco

        It’s close.
        Main issue for me is it’s missing any sort of control for nudging or scanning through tracks (like the touchstrips on the X1 Mk2 for example).
        Also it’s not really portable, and I feel like it’s expensive if you are not using it with turntables or CD players – you are paying for a lot of features/hardware you are not using if you use it just as a controller.

        • shlom

          z1 + x1mk2 is basically a s2 without jogwheels, half the price, 1/4 the size…

          • Paco Loco

            This is almost true. It’s close to being what I am after.
            Although it’s 2/3 the size and 3/4 the price (here in the UK at least).

            The closest thing to what i am talking about is actually the Novation Twitch. If NI made the Twitch for Traktor I would be happy.

            • http://www.mobiledjforums.com/ GroovinDJ

              There’s nothing stopping you using the Twitch with Traktor. It’s a MIDI controller and Traktor can be used with MIDI controllers. Doesn’t have to be made by NI to work with Traktor.

              • Mr Wilks

                Duplicate. Delete.

            • Mr Wilks

              …and it even comes with a Twitch TSI file and a plastic overlay for Traktor in the box.

              It’s a near perfect controller, as said here.

              • Paco Loco

                I agree with you guys about the Twitch – it’s very good.
                I was imagining a twitch-like controller made by NI, which might improve on the existing twitch in the following ways:
                – Better build quality/durability
                – Higher audio output
                – Tighter Traktor integration than mapping can provide (e.g. like the control the S2/S4 give over remix decks).

                What’s really interesting is that if the twitch was midi class compliant it would also fulfil my second wish for a compact pro ipad controller… I have my fingers crossed for a Twitch Mk2 at some point which might do this.

            • C.J. Crawford

              The Novation Twitch works with Traktor. Just have to download the mapping and install into preferences. I use it every weekend. Also added a Midi Fighter Pro for controlling my effects.

  • Darren E Cowley

    For me i’d like the revolution to happen in the music, with tracks released as stems to allow for live remixing, not just one offs but full tracks, maybe a industry wide 8 track approach….

    • Crenshaw

      the general audience doesnt want to hear remixes, they just want to dance to original tracks they are familiar with..matter of fact is that most clubs could provide the music where no longer a DJ is needed..just a pre-recordered synq MP3 mix wich any non-DJ could make at home..press play on the laptop and that’s it..the days when the DJing was a profession are pretty much dying..god os no longer a DJ..superstar DJs can pack their bags and start working at the essembly line

      • Darren E Cowley

        I’m not necessarily talking about remixes, there are too many of them as it is, what i’m looking for is the deconstructed versions of the radio edits etc, so that you can bring the mix in the way you want to, maybe a piano here, a bassline there etc .

  • http://www.arkaei.com/ arkaei

    I’ve been pondering over this for a while, and it’s not just an issue with technology. It’s the DJ scene as a whole – equipment manufacturers are just trying their best to keep up with the development and survive, but they only end up adding fuel to the fire.

    This will be a long read and I’ll only get to the tech part later, so if you want to comment with tl;dr… you might as well do it now and save yourself the trouble.

    It’s increasingly frustrating to see DJs and musicians being reduced to their marketability. Promoters are now only looking for things that can be directly translated into money – the music doesn’t matter anymore. Diversity should be part of the program and it’s not, only because promoters are too lazy and too scared to take a risk when they should – so naturally, in the so-called “western society” (blaergh), most audiences have developed pretty uniform expectations over the last couple of years.

    People don’t know what to do with themselves facing, say, an (obscure) mexican swing-polka electrotrash grindpunk speedcore band at a festival because even hipsters never get to see stuff like this anymore – at least until, by pure chance, some would-be-trendsetter frustrated by the lack of NEW digs them up and, on his next coke high, declares (obscure) mexican swing-polka electrotrash grindpunk speedcore to be the next big thing. Once the news has been re-posted across the blogosphere, people listen to the SAME (obscure) mexican swing-polka electrotrash grindpunk speedcore band they didn’t care about a week before and go APESHIT – they don’t even know why.

    Soon afterwards, there are 500 new (and equally obscure) mexican swing-polka electrotrash grindpunk speedcore bands popping every month and they all sound the same… because there’s not enough diversity in clubs and at festivals in the first place, they just exploit that new trend to death – until even the originators of (obscure) mexican swing-polka electrotrash grindpunk speedcore either change their style out of despair, or just disappear. Most people don’t even develop the urge to try anything different until they know it’s safe – and why would they, knowing that the bandwagon game works so well with promoters? It’s a self-perpetuating cultural disaster – but as long as it generates revenue, promoters will never dare to break it. This is why I think artists have to force it to happen; only they can. But it won’t happen unless they’re made aware that this problem even exists.

    Some may argue it has been like this for a while, and yes, it has – it’s simply scaled up by several orders of magnitude. Because of how accessible digital production technology has become in the last decade, there are WAY more musicians and DJs out there than ever. People have lots of new ways to get their stuff noticed – but there are so many of them, all the promo routes get clogged up with things that have been done over and over again… created by people who perhaps didn’t intend to copy something (I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt here for the sake of argument, and because I don’t want to come across as a hater), but didn’t take the time to educate themselves before jumping into the game, hungry for quick success.

    Hardware and software manufacturers are not oblivious to this development, so they’re competing to provide even more complex (and at the same, 1-click easy) means of deconstructing and re-assembling music which would’ve worked just fine if you’d just let it play as the producer intended. Things that required long studio sessions to prepare can now be done live, and that’s very cool – but even with all the bells & whistles at our disposal, we should never forget one basic fact: producing good music takes time. Learning to DJ well takes time. In fact, learning to do ANYTHING well takes time. However, due to the “everything, now, for free!1!11!” approach cultivated by Youtube, people are looking for ways to cut that time short – and it shows in a horrible way. To be fair, I am no exception – but in order to really make my point, I have to start from the very beginning. Now would be the time to go grab a coffee.

    When I started DJing, it was about two Technics and a mixer, PERIOD. And it was good – but I’m a nerd, so it didn’t take long before I started looking for ways to go beyond that. I’ve tried very early versions of Traktor and was very impressed – I even played a couple of small gigs using a regular desktop computer with two sound cards, a bulky CRT screen, a keyboard and a mouse – imagine that, laugh and forget it again. Please. Thanks. Obviously, the payoff wasn’t that great – so I’ve switched to CD players for the sake of looping, key lock and playing my own poorly-produced bootlegs. I’ve used samplers and nearly every FX unit in existence – even building custom patchbays to do things that were impossible outside a studio environment, and insane flightcase/stand constructs to haul all that stuff to gigs. Eventually, I was doing things that made other DJs’ jaws drop every time, and I became confident to the point of arrogance. That’s why it took me a long while to realize one thing: my perspective was wrong the whole time. I had spent so much time working out crazy sound mangling techniques that I forgot what a DJ must never forget: how to look at a set from a dancer’s point of view. When you’re cramming as much noise into the frequency spectrum as possible, you will realize you’re doing NOTHING to improve your set – you’re effectively KILLING the flow and it’s damn near impossible to come back from that unless the whole crowd is on MDMA. Hold on… why are they on MDMA in the first place? I’ll tell you why. Because your music isn’t enough to release the endorphins they need to lose themselves dancing, that’s why. You failed as a DJ.

    Unfortunately, around the time I finally got that, NI came around with Traktor Scratch and the whole learning process was shot to hell – because holy laz0r beams, Batman, DVS are awesome and customizable MIDI controls allow you to do things that make hardware effectors look like cheap toys. PUSH ALL THE BUTTONS! Then there’s Ableton Live, which I had only used to make my own edits and bootlegs so far – it opens up so many creative possibilities, you could probably spend the rest of your life messing with it and still find new stuff every day. Because laptops were finally becoming powerful enough to take that crazy stuff with you and do it live, I’ve started participating in Beat Battles – producing an entire tune and performing it live seemed like an interesting challenge. I took that challenge and failed hard, getting owned and never passing qualification rounds for 2 years straight. But then I had gathered enough experience and started winning almost every single battle I took part in, finally taking a couple of IDA showcase championships – which again led me to believe I was doing it right, when in fact I was losing touch with actual DJing more and more.

    Every youtube video I was in consisted of aggressive noise, but because the musical cancer we now know as “EDM” was starting to spread, it worked – I was getting booked like never before and patting myself on the back for still doing things that most people would consider black magic and getting away with it. But then I started to get bored, because let’s be honest – taking over a packed floor at 3AM and going to town isn’t that much of a challenge. A crowd of drunk kids will literally take anything you throw at them and still scream “LOUDER! MORE! MELT MY FACE OFF!!”. Not gonna lie: it’s fun, of course it is – but even fun can get repetitive. #FirstWorldProblems. Luckily, I soon got to play my first huge festival gig ever, and I think it’s safe to say it saved me as an artist.

    The key experience here was that I was booked to play a 3 hour long chill-out set in the late afternoon instead of the acoustic equivalent of rape I had focused on for the last couple of years. This happened because a friend of mine was pretty impressed with the stuff I played while we were relaxing at home, and it turned out he knew a booker he then recommended me to. Obviously, I knew that excessive button pushing would only ruin the experience for everyone including myself, so I sat down and prepared a very smooth 45-minute downtempo live set, following it up with a carefully assembled selection of stuff I listen to at home – vinyl I have had for years, but never really played outside the bedroom, with BPM ranges that defied all attempts at beatmatching. I used the pitch to achieve somewhat harmonic blends (with vinyl, there is no key lock… ONLY ZUUL) and timed them as well as I could instead of forcing long crossfades between tunes that are impossible to mix – in short, this was the most basic DJ set I’ve ever played, so I wasn’t prepared for the overwhelming experience it would become. It was raining, so most people were sitting in tents around an empty, muddy dance floor; a sad image. I didn’t realize how well the set worked until people started coming over just to tell me how amazing the selection was and how they hadn’t heard this and that in years. Some stayed despite the rain, other went to get me energy balls and warm chai, placed indian incense sticks at the booth and were just incredibly, authentically HAPPY. This led me to re-discover a very obvious truth which is nowadays overshadowed by excessive stage shows: it’s not HOW you play. It’s WHAT you play – and WHEN you play it.

    With this, I believe I’ve come full circle. I consider this the very essence of DJing and to be honest, I’m ashamed for straying from it for so many years. Most younger people haven’t really had many opportunities to experience moments like that – both the majority of beginner DJs and young crowds who started going to clubs in the mid-2000s know little besides the shiny image of the modern rockstar DJ who is celebrated more than the people whose music he’s playing, and they want a piece of that cake. But… the cake is a lie.

    As I said before, there are many more of us out there than 10 years ago; this is why we’re now forced to spend more time networking and finding ways to stick out of the crowd than ever. We waste time on social media channels instead of getting creative in the studio. Then some dude like Ean Golden comes along and preaches how effect combos are the ultimate secret to unique DJ sets, and people who flock to sites like DJTechTools for guidance are learning technical intricacies (or really just downloading preset mappings without learning how to create their own) before they even have had a change to get a basic grasp on the basics. I’m not talking about beatmatching – this is the most rudimentary and irrelevant of all DJ skills. I’m talking about putting together memorable track selections and crowd control. Thus, the “show” aspect of DJing is growing while musical diversity is declining. Instead of digging for rare releases, a scary number of DJs stick to this week’s Beatport Top 10 and try to make up for the poor selection by “remixing” them “live”, which in most cases sounds horrible because they just don’t have the knowledge to pull it off and end up stacking more and more things on top of one another, no holds barred.

    At the same time, manufacturers seek to capitalize on the growing number of aspiring DJs and musicians by providing them with more and more tools to do just that. That is why we have such insane possibilities to unleash our ideas now. Sadly, all these wonderful toys are wasted on the majority of their users. More often than not, I see people using stuff like an S4 and two F1s on stage and expect a complex performance, only to be treated to yet another regular 2 deck mix sprinkled with in-your-face effects and the occasional one-shot fired from a remix deck that is theoretically capable of so much more. I could live with it if the sets were put together at least a hint of purpose and originality; after all, bigger names have put blinking lights on stage just for the sake of a show. But they’re not – most of them sound shockingly similar.

    Some of these guys got into the game to create a unique experience for themselves, to feed their ego by standing in an elevated DJ booth and commandeering a dance floor. Others genuinely want to create a unique experience for the crowd, but fail to realize it takes a LOT of research (DIGGING) and practice to get it right. The end result is disappointing in either case, but here’s where the promoters mess it up completely. Beginner DJs are cheap, but as most of them are playing the same stuff that headliners do, in the end they still get booked over people who’ve put years into honing their skills because they fulfill the crowds’ expectations to the letter. Arguably, that’s a DJ’s job – but here’s where I strongly disagree. Yes, DJs should definitely focus on keeping the audience happy. But they’re also opinion makers, so they shouldn’t be afraid to play something unexpected every once in a while. All our DJ heroes of old got to where they are because they did exactly that – they had the balls to play what THEY liked. They introduced us to sounds we didn’t yet know we loved, and they did it with nothing more than 2 decks and a mixer. Keep that in mind.

    When you have understood how important selection is, it’s perfectly fine to look into ways of pushing your performance to the next level. DJing has become a performance art for good, you can’t get away with playing from a corner of the room anymore. Personally, I would prefer it that way because I don’t like looking down on a sea of arms (and mobile phones) from an elevated booth – it just feels weird. Unfortunately, stage presence is key and you need to put on at least a bit of a show – in order to do that successfully, you need to get acquainted with technology. That means you need to put in WORK. Remember: thousands of other people can potentially grab the same Traktor mappings you think you found first and pick a couple of bangers from their favourite DJ’s Beatport charts. There is no way to set yourself apart just through that.

    Try thinking of things no one has done before, but remember that the people came to DANCE and not to watch you push buttons. I may seem like a hypocrite for saying this, because unless you’ve seen me play a proper DJ set and not some kind of trade show demo (which is about all you’ll find when you look for me on Youtube), you must think that excessive button pushing is my modus operandi – but I assure you, it’s not; I’ve learned my lesson. Showcases are different: you have ~3 minutes to do something crazy and turn people’s heads. This has NOTHING to do with DJing and they way I actually DJ. Maintaining a proper flow is KEY. If you’ve mastered a micro-routine and perform it at the right moment after whipping a crowd into a frenzy, that’s cool and it will most certainly elevate your set – but don’t build your entire performance around things like that, because you may end up being the only person who’s having fun. Again, this is my personal experience talking. Don’t EVER let the show part become more important than WHAT you play and WHEN you play it – find a way to combine them in a subtle way without breaking the flow.

    We have ways to do this several times over, and it’s wonderful – it just needs to crystallize so we can sit down and polish it. Do we really need anything more? Most features are just sitting there unused. Let’s look at what the market leaders offer us: 8 hot cues and loops per track, perfectly timed and synced instant loops and looprolls, up to 12 effects at once (although with the right equipment, it’s potentially infinite), copying tracks between decks, sampling in real-time, working with custom sample libraries, changing the key independently of the tempo plus the ability to trigger hot cues and even scratch on top of a playing track without affecting its actual playback position… Come on, what else could you POSSIBLY want to do with a finished piece of music? I don’t know, and apparently, neither do the people who design this stuff. That’s why you see an increasing number of people abandoning their computer-based setups for the sake of hassle-free CDJing, or even making the radical cut back to vinyl.

    Some features are just desperate attempts at incentivising people to experiment – like Traktor’s “Remix Decks”. They look and feel like a poor man’s Ableton, but they don’t even come close in terms of functionality and have a very uncomfortable workflow overall – not to mention you can only use them properly with NI’s own hardware. Or “The Bridge” – finally, a way to load up a small Ableton Live set directly from the Serato GUI – potentially awesome. It came way before Traktor’s “Remix Decks”, but it never caught on, proving my point: these things aren’t needed in the first place. Some brands are just more successful at making us believe we need them than others. Most effects available in the leading DVS are also just awfully useless – why not create a handful good-sounding ones instead? Personally, I would love to see more high-quality ways of playing with tonality – changing the key of a track without affecting the tempo is awesome and NI definitely deserve praise for that. Within a certain range, this almost sounds tolerable, enabling you to blend tracks that would normally clash when you really need them to go together – pretty cool if you care for harmonic mixing, but obviously it could be made to sound much better than it does.

    In my opinion it would do every company good to get the basics right before adding even more glitter to the mix – but more often than not, the person making the strategic decision has a different agenda, motivated of course by potential revenue. As with promoters, people who did this job for the sake of music alone have largely been replaced by soulless beancounters – and if you compare their behaviour to what young DJs are doing, you will realize it’s pretty much the same thing: adding more useless stuff, trying to outdo each other and eventually drowning in a sea of mediocrity. Like I said in the beginning – it’s a self-perpetuating disaster.

    If you’re a person working for one of those companies, sorry for breaking your heart. I appreciate everything you’ve done. Really. I’m a feature freak and it’s awesome that you’ve enabled me to do the things that I do. But I spend an awful lot of my own free time doing the things you should be doing – helping people understand the tools at their disposal, because they’re completely overwhelmed by the sheer amount of options. I don’t like telling them to keep it simple, because as a person who goes to parties not only to DJ but also to dance, I want to be surprised by things I wouldn’t have come up with on my own, both technically and musically. The way things look now, we’re heading in the exact opposite direction – complete musical uniformity, where only the glitter matters. Don’t let us down.

    • Mark Smith

      Wow?!

      • http://www.arkaei.com/ arkaei

        Thanks. It’s been on my mind for a while, kudos to @DJWORX:disqus for finally bringing it up.

    • sandeep

      I don’t really care what technology you use behind those decks. I just want some good music
      – regular guy on the dancefloor

    • http://www.onelifeblog.ca Ryan Dejaegher

      Damn, I don’t think i’ve seen such a well thought out post. Stuff like this can truly only come from experience and it rings true on so many levels. I have to agree with you i’m a huge feature/gear junkie but i’ve definitely come to realize that none of this stuff is nearly as effective as playing the right stuff. And as much as I love new gear/features I also can’t help but be annoyed with mindset of the industry and most dj’s including myself.

      It’s so easy to think that the latest gear/feature is going to somehow make you a better DJ, and as you said earlier, so many of us are guilty of grabbing fx/mapping presets and think that it’ll make our sets unique. It’s a little difficult to hate on DJ companies, if they’re goal is to survive and profit then it’s good business to give people what they “want” (new controllers/features). This is far more scaleable/profitable then a DJ company saying, we think you have all the tools you need, so maybe focus on getting better with what you have.

      I think the challenge is to turn off that DJ/creative side of your brain, this includes when you’re djing or watching another DJ play as an audience member. If you see another DJ play and they’re not doing much, just simple mixing you may think to yourself, “this DJ sucks, I could do that no problem”. But if you see that the audience is dancing then he’s doing his job. There’s always that clash of they/you should be doing more vs. what they’re/you’re doing is enough for the audience.

      I also think the focus needs to shift back on the things that influence those human experiences and emotions. I don’t know about you guys but I can be sold on an even with a proper promo poster, or even when a DJ does a YouTube interview and talks a little bit about their background/influences and inspirations. I can connect with that before even hearing their music. Unfortunately this isn’t as popular as download my latest controller mapping, people don’t want to invest the time to create a personal bio/video or a well designed poster. They continuously focus on features/equipment that they think impact their audience.

      I wish I could make as much sense as you did Arkaei, please respond as I’d love to keep this convo going.

  • Edgar Paz

    I am waiting for what I believe will be either a “final step” or the first step in another DJ tech revolution:

    The XDJ-R1 minus the CD player but with full color LCD/LED screens very similar to those on CDJ’s and a four channel mixer. To have not a controller, but instead a DJ system all-in-one that incorporates features one would find on a controller + laptop setup such as each physical deck controlling two virtual decks but be much more similar to a CDJ + DJM setup. I would easily pay $2000 – $2500 for such a system if it meant I could have a CDJ esque setup at home for less than or equal the price of one CDJ.

    I think this price is very achievable given the price of the XDJ (well under $1k) and the fact Pioneer would be removing the CD player

    • Dj Initial D

      Aka a 4 channel stanton scs 4

      • Edgar Paz

        Except you can’t enter the rekordbox workflow with a stanton which, among other things, limits your ability to quickly step up to CDJs.

        Two big reasons I want this device from Pioneer.

  • Mark Smith

    Paco Loco Said “- A serious pro Traktor controller that does not have jog wheels. Lets face it – no-one who DJs electronic dance music ever scratches so for the majority of DJs they serve no purpose that can’t be fulfilled with a much smaller knob/touchstrip/whatever.”

    Paco I beg to differ. I am not saying you’re wrong however a controller without jog wheels for me is a deal breaker and I don’t scratch. I spin mostly house music (Deep, Techno,Tech House, Soulful, Jackin, Vocal, Jazzy) and also get into 80’s and 90’s everything. Manipulation with a jog wheel is so much more linear and organic than pressing a button. The X1 Mk2 touch strip helps however is no replacement for the jog wheel in my opinion. If you press a button too much or your finger slips you’re in trouble.

  • Simon

    2 technics 1 mixer & traktor scratch done !

  • Ricardo Thomas

    I have always agreed with equipments manufacturers and software developers on this: updated and make what you already have better, much better, instead of hitting us over the heads with endless new products and categories. I believe we should encourage manufacturers to fine tune what they already have, but what do we do instead? complain, complain, complain, complain about things that will not make us better DJs or producers. Think about this for just one second: in its heyday Microsoft would add more and more features to its software, yet most us only used 10% to 20% of it. Then came Apple, gave us what we wanted, simplicity: made it better and less complicated…game over.

  • https://www.facebook.com/charly.cheeba Charly Cheeba

    The revolution I’m waiting for is in manufacturing. There are *far* too many cheap plastic controllers out there. Where are all the high-end products? The approach of practically the entire industry appears to be a race to the bottom – and it needs to stop …or, at least, be addressed.

    • Jared Helfer

      What counts as “cheap”? Almost every major controller from a major manufacturer in the last few years has been made of extruded aluminum or steel. I haven’t had a cheap plastic controller come across my desk for review in a LONG time. Hell, even the inexpensive controllers like the Gemini G2V/G4V, Behringer Studio 4a and Stanton DJC.4 were made of metal and were SUPER sturdy.

      Yes there are outliers, but most of those controllers aren’t very good, and there aren’t THAT many of them. What do you consider high-end?

  • dj0le

    Short term, I think the evolution period will last a little while and hopefully lead to higher quality controllers eventually becoming industry standard.

    Long term, I think it goes one or two ways:

    1. A move to virtual – utilizing devices like the Occulus and removing physical hardware almost completely
    2. A move to ‘live streaming’ – where clubs just purchase subscriptions and rebroadcast Dj performances rather than pay for live DJs. The music industry has already realized streaming subscription services are the better revenue generator and I assume the DJ world will follow that model eventually as well.

    • http://www.mixcloud.com/heartyparty/ heartyparty

      Live streaming gigs is an interesting one I’d agree will become more popular – look at the Boiler Room TV stuff, it can be a good watch (or dull depending on the background crowd, check out some of the muppets shunting the Jock out of the way so they can throw shapes centre stage or knock over the monitors!).

      When internet first kicked off in popularity mid to late 90’s I remember a few clubs doing a live streaming thing – ministry and some future sound of london gigs I seem to remember. I wouldn’t be averse to going to a local gig streaming a great set and video from somewhere else on the sphere….. as long as the DJ had reciprocal cameras into the booth so he could keep an eye on all the dancefloors – interesting to see if you could be killing it on a floor in the UK and seeing tumbleweed rolling over in NYC…….

    • Steve

      Point 2 might only work for bigger name artists, but the question is: Why would they allow this? It will mean they’ll have to fight with more DJ’s over less venue’s which eventually means a price-drop for DJ’s. Yeah you could argue the hottest DJ’s of that moment might make more money, but even for them, the market will become smaller.

      Another point to think about; smaller clubs either don’t have the budget or they pay for a stream of a less known artist, and suddenly the dancefloor clears out. A real-life DJ can spot the situation and will change up his music, your streaming DJ might be breaking the house down where he’s playing, but he can never adjust to all the other venues where he’s being streamed…

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  • http://www.d-jam.com D-Jam

    I think the biggest problem is many new DJs haven’t taken on the “tinkering” aspect of this art that many past DJs have. You look at old school turntablists, and they were more about seeking any and all possibilities out of just a vinyl record. I’m not telling DJs to go vinyl, but to stop hoping for new features, buttons, bells, and whistles…and just start tinkering.

    You look at many rookies, and they think pressing a filter while doing a “dramatic knob twist” before getting into a Jesus pose is how you play this game. The best of the best in controllers are the ones who take that old school spirit of good programming and live remixing to do something new and awesome.

    Stop hoping for new gear and just utilize what you have. Also, stop complaining when manufacturers make cheaper plastic controllers to try to gain in the hobbyist/rookie market. They have to make money as well so they can make high-end controllers for the pros.

    Think “hacker” as opposed to “superstar”.

    • Kutmaster TeeOh

      Amen!

  • http://www.onelifeblog.ca Ryan Dejaegher

    Mark makes a really interesting point:

    “But here’s the thing — for the most part, DJs are only required to play A to B and repeat until the lights are switched off. And as each DJ wants to take a step beyond this process, thus the feature set needs to expand, but the market narrows a little.”

    And really this isn’t surpassing. The gear and technology is far beyond what the mass audience requires. Really when DVS/Digital DJing arrived that was a product that was the answer to both DJ’s and the mass audience problem, being able to have new tracks/music immediately available to play. As DJ’s have wanted to move beyond this, the audience hasn’t. The majority of audience members are fine hearing the latest new track but they could care less if the DJ has something to add to it. And unfortunately the popularity of EDM/Djing over the last few years has really only widened this gap. The pie has grown in the mass audience favour (VIP clubs, massive EDM festivals) while the early adopters/innovators are left with a very narrow audience.

    By no means am I hating on controllers/technology that push boundaries and give us more opportunities to be creative but i’m also not entirely surprised that they haven’t caught on. it’s really history repeating itself. As someone else commented, turntablists and DMC champs got creative with what they had and as cool as it was to this day it’s still not at mainstream status. Yes you can argue that guys like A-trak have brought it out more but it works for him because he’s careful about where he incorporates it in a set.

  • Ajack

    I think many DJs have lost interest in the core form of DJing – keeping people dancing in a club selecting tracks and mixing from A to B. This is partly because of the technological advancements which have made it too simple and perhaps also the mainstream EDM music these days which is also seen as repetitive, soulless and doesn’t offer much creative possibilities in terms of mixing (think about hip hop and the days you actually had to switch from 80 bpm to 128 bpm every now and then)

    For these reasons, a new breed of DJs have emerged and those are the DJs that embrace all new technology and would like to see themselves more as digital music live artists than someone who just plays other peoples songs. Yes, one could argue thats not DJing anymore but being in that bandwagon myself also, I can see its now for some people more motivating to practice performance DJing to maybe do some cool video performances or get some new ideas for production.

    But as people have stated here, the problem with all these functions in DJ software is that they do not sound very musical and don’t add anything to the dance floor (think about loop rolls etc.). This is a challenge and opportunity for DJ software developers to make up something that adds creative opportunities and also sounds good to the listeners. I believe utilizing music theory and track key information may bring some new interesting functions and in a way also close the gap between DJ software and DAW.

    • Kutmaster TeeOh

      Most software already incorporate track keys or you can use “Mixed in Key” software to add it to your tracks and mix harmonically.

      I agree that some have crossed more into the live performance realm than being a traditional DJ. Nothing wrong with that, jam on.

      You mentioned the loop roll, which is very useful. Combined with filters and EQing, you can create your own buildups or remixes on the fly. That is a prime example of someone dismissing a feature because you don’t think it’s valuable. It may seem pointless to you but someone uses that and it’s affective for them. All of these features add musicality to a set if you employ it correctly.

      You’re right in that more DJs could use a lesson in Music Theory to improve their mixes and performance. I (like you) believe the biggest gap is between DJ and producer. Not so much in the software but in the thought process. I started as a DJ and became a producer. Now knowing much more than I did, I see the advantages and how I can apply those techniques to DJing.

  • RIP2theDJ

    Technology killed the DJ and the soul in music, to be honest the days when people used 2 Technics and a basic mixer were the best days of DJing..people were excited to watch the DJ mix vinyl..now nobody cares anymore..i dont see ppl watching some controllerist wanabee clown playing some soulless crappy edm junk..people really dont care anymore cause the scene has gone wack..RIP THE DJ.,

    • stevesweets

      What’s happened here, is you haven’t moved with the times. People moaned at giorgio moroder for not using ‘real’ instruments.

    • Al Swearengen

      Back in my day…blah, blah.

      From one old guy to another, don’t be that stereotypical old guy whining about things changing.

    • Kutmaster TeeOh

      Have you been to battles lately? How about any b-boy shows? Any Needle 2 the Wax sessions? There is PLENTY soul in the music. Perhaps you are focused more on the mainstream stuff on tv, but I’ve been in multiple countries where music is back to the roots. I’m talking DJs on the sidewalk jamming, break dancers in the park, crew battles, MC + DJ events, and more.

      “the days when people used 2 Technics and a basic mixer were the best days”

      ^^that’s because DJing was still new. All the scratches and juggles where all still being made up. Everything is exciting when it first starts. There are still more things being created in the world of turntablism. I still see things that blow my mind. If the luster of DJing has worn off for you, then maybe that passion is gone for you. It still thrives in plenty of people. There are plenty of us still out prepping for battles, creating routines, and waiting to thrash somebody on the decks. Meanwhile life goes on. All I’m saying man is to each his/her own. If thats the stuff you’re looking for then it’s out there.

  • Dj Initial D

    I just want the prices of these products to come down… NI’s profit margin’s must be rediculous, because their is absolutley no way an s4 cost’s anything remotely close to 800 bucks to produce.

    • http://djworx.com/ Mark Settle

      A quick lesson in how much things cost. There’s R&D costs, all new tooling costs for parts and circuits, setting up production lines, new packaging, software development, warehousing, shipping, distribution, marketing, exchange rate differences, regional import duties, distributor margin, retailer margins etc etc. And all this to done in a market where you’re not selling anything near that of a mass market item. And because the march of technology means a new unit is coming out in 2 years instead of 5, the return on investment is over a much shorter period too. And when you factor in that raw materials, fuel, and general shipping costs are much higher, you can soon see that the retail price for a niche product like DJ gear in a crowded market is very high these days. Oh and the market is flattening out as well, which means that sales aren’t what they used to be either.

      The journey from initial sketch to landing on your doormat is long, complex and increasingly expensive.

    • H8er

      Crap cost money, quality cost even more, simple math

    • Kutmaster TeeOh

      The original designing, creation, mapping, testing, marketing, videos, and all that cost WAAAYYY more. You simply can’t do all that for under a few grand. If you wanted to buy all the parts from the casing to the sound card to the interface that connects to the software…. you’ll easily spend that and then some. Not counting having to learn how to map it and the time spent to put it all together.

    • Dj Initial D

      This is nearly a month late so sorry for bumping this.

      Im a marketing/project manager during my day job, so believe me, i understand how and why things cost what they do. Their is, at the very least, a 300 dollar markup on the s4, considering that NI does a yearly price drop every summer on their traktor, maschine, and komplete products. You may be able to justify the price with the fact that you get a full copy of traktor, but up until the latest model, you got a full copy of traktor with the audio 2.

      On another not, I am absolutley pleased that DJ Tech seems to filling the whole “quality, affordable product” niche.. Their new Turntable looks extremely promising.

  • H8er

    Theres not much evolution going on right now, not with computerjokking anyway, people get tonnes of features and still they just grind two tracks together, so do we need it, NO

    If you gona make gear, make it DURABLE and AFFORDABLE

    Not like Pioneer, with cheapass components and hefty pricetags

    2014 will be the real start of the DEVOLUTION, now shit is going to be even more expensive and more crappy.

    im glad i have what i need, when they still manufactured good hardware and firmware. today that is a joke!

  • DJ_ForcedHand

    Two things I want:

    1) Stems for all released tracks, so I can mix what I want, how I want with whatever else I want.

    2) Spatial Audio mixing systems.

    Everything I have ever done while DJing was to tap into the happiness of dancing. My name was derived from that… How do I compel you to dance? Give me these things and I will give you an even better dance set.

  • steve brown

    don’t buy anything…thats the only answer, hell most people could mix as well with a wireless computer keyboard as they can with the midi gear.
    NO compay is going to put any creativity needs of the customer above their profit.
    Buying off the shelf designs from a asian manufacturer and then customizing them a bit is a good way to have a large margin.
    think of all the “DJ reps” with their faces up in videos, that never say “yea, I can rock these, watch this”
    there are plenty of simple innovations that could be embraced by any company, but THEY DON”T CARE ABOUT YOU_CUSTOMER !
    they think you’re dumb enough to buy any silly junk they throw at you. ever heard that question, “which would you prefer. a punch in the face or a kick in the nuts”-when the person says “neither”-they say “well, there’s just no pleasing you”—-this is how these product companies view their customers, accept it.
    i would go as far as to say that the majority of dj gear now is actually inhibitive to creativity, and funneling all of your attention into a bygone paradigm.

    • Kutmaster TeeOh

      While largely you are correct, there are companies who do appease the customers. Most notably in my opinion Novation and DJ Tech. They take exactly what consumers say and make it happen (me being one of them). Most companies do just chase the dollars and make money off every little gadget they put out. But the real question is why would they stop if DJs are falling for it? It’s not their fault some people have to blow their money on this stuff. So to each his own.

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  • Kutmaster TeeOh

    I’ve read about 10 of the comments on this and all I see are people complaining about what other DJs use. So what if the guy wants to spend $2k on a new mixer with a few bells & whistles. Is it coming out of YOUR pocket? So what if she is using the NS7 instead of Technics. Is it hurting YOUR djing? Why is everyone so down on technology?

    Computers, phones, mixers, turntables, cars, headphones…. all of that are things you all use. You didn’t complain when the Technics came out did you? You don’t complain about using the DVS system you bought do you? So why are people so caught up in what the companies produce, the gross profit, and what others decide to blow money on.

    The bottom line is, some DJs will crush you on turntables or a midi controller. Some DJs absolutely rock on CDJ2000s. So if they want to have all the extra stuff, that’s just them wanting more inspiration. I love finding new ways to do something I’ve always done. Add a knob, change an effect, slap a new color on it, give it a dope name.

    Stop focusing on what others are doing and focus on how to make YOUR djing better. Because fact is, equipment DOES limit what you can do. If you are a musician like some of us then being able to change up what your doing is a must. Guitarists play electric guitar, acoustic, steel lap, whatever they want for different sounds. Why can’t a DJ select different things for different reasons?

    It’s 2014…. welcome to the future.

    • steve brown

      this entire post is about “Stop focusing on what others are doing and focus on how to make YOUR djing better. Because fact is, equipment DOES limit what you can do”

      people are different. people play music in different ways….yet…more and more we see the same equipment ideas re-re-re-hashed.<–this is what everyone is down on, not the technology itself.

      this all began when NI balked at the idea of allowing the NS7 to work with traktor. why did they do that? because they wanted to sell more audio interfaces. at the time, nobody caught on and said 'hey, this technology company, NI, is actively inhibiting the development of dj technology" people just kept trodding along following NI right into boring-ville.

      THANK GOD for Virtual DJ !!!!!!!

      because they are the only company with real vision into improving their own products and the dj experience for everyone!

      "Stop focusing on what others are doing and focus on how to make YOUR djing better. Because fact is, equipment DOES limit what you can do."

      yes, i agree…

      • Kutmaster TeeOh

        I understand that but there is one thing everyone is missing. It’s not what you use, it’s how you use it…. and when there isn’t something new, you create it.

        I’ve experimented with adding all sorts of things to my setup. Guitar pedals, drum triggers, 3D bluetooth controllers, etc. Just all sorts of stuff to create something new for me. I ran into an aeronautics engineer and we began working on controllers with all sorts of crazy ideas we’ve come up with. But largely, there isn’t very much to be invented anymore. It’s very VERY hard to come up with something that hasn’t been done. Just like in music.

        My whole point is people complain about the products but no one is making them buy it AND nobody is making their own creations. What happened to creativity? There are things i’ve seen done on just wax and there are plenty people who can’t even do. If people focused more on exploiting what they have and mastering every aspect, they would find that there is ALWAYS a way to be innovative. Until someone creates a whole new way to manipulate music, the current features will remain the same. With all the people in here you would think that someone would have an idea of a feature that could change DJing. Instead, people whine instead of problem solve.

        • steve brown

          i do not consider ‘calling out a software and/or hardware company, who by their own marketing, promotes itself as a creator or embracer of technological advances’..whining.

          dj product companies are now actively selling crap that they know will lead the user into a dead-end creatively; thereby forcing them to return to buy something else.

          these people are not whiners. there are simply saying thats ince the established companies already have relationships with the manufacturers, why not use those relationships to build functional(in every sense) equipment.

          anybody can build midi controllers, that part is easy. building them at a reasonable price; i.e.. $200 instead of 5 or 6, which is what it might cost to build your own, is the difference.

          • Kutmaster TeeOh

            Harping on the same thing thousands of others have said for decades doesn’t do anything. It’s the ones making a difference who go create something and take it to these companies or make their own products.

            There is no such thing as dead-end creativity. Creativity is limitless when you use your brain. Different effects with different loops over whatever beats and vocals, is being creative. I’ve seen people do some mind blowing stuff on turntables that I NEVER would have thought of. So just because my creativity may be limited, doesn’t mean someone else can’t get more out of it. Hell, I learned by watching others and that gives me more ideas.

            Grab an FX pedal, grab a Kaoss pad, or just master some techniques you haven’t. There is absolutely no one who has mastered every single way to scratch or mix or juggle. The pursuit of that is what allows you to be creative. Until you learn EVERY way to do something, there is still room to learn and be creative.

          • Kutmaster TeeOh

            The same things you’re saying have been said for years. Yet, someone always comes out with something new or an innovative way to implement something old. Like slip mode and dice mode in Serato. It’s not new but no one really used it before.

            It’ll take time. Good ideas don’t happen all the time.

      • Dj Initial D

        Virtual Dj is doing pretty cool things, But I also think “The One” looks extremely promising for the stem mixing dj’s who wanna get their Alive 2007 on.

        My ultimate pipe dream is for M-audio to make my first Dj Software “Torq” open source so that the community can let it shine like it always should have. Especially since their not doing anything with it

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