Yesterday’s guest article certainly ruffled a few feathers. But the idea was to get people thinking about how the traditional DJ workflow permeates everything we do, but perhaps there are better ways of playing digital music. And the comment about “spinning circles” got me thinking about their value and how they interact with hardware.

As a clear example of how traditional values are imprinted on the digital world, software has options for 33 and 45rpm on static platters. I understand this — DJs need to be able to transport skills and even routines across technologies and setups. But why stop there? Can’t a software spinning circle run at any speed it wants? How about making the rotation user definable in software?

Speaking from experience, using static jog wheels doesn’t make the finer points of DJ tricks easy. With the only visual reference being on-screen, you’re obliged to stare into your laptop, and as we know that’s a performance killer. But if there was a temporary mode (360 mode?) where using the analysed beat grid allowed the rotation of a wheel to represent one bar or four beats per quarter rotation, then some tricks would be much easier to pull off, and may even open up scope for more creativity.

90bpm and 133bpm spinning at the same speed. But what if one rotation = one bar = one loop = four beats?

As an example, at 33⅓rpm a full rotation is (4 x 33⅓)=133⅓BPM, so for faster genres, this is quite natural and around this speed not much will change. But for a slower BPM e.g. 90 BPM the rotation on-screen and on the jog wheel would be slower i.e 22.5rpm, But knowing that a full rotation of the static jog wheel is a 4 beat bar, and 90° is a beat, adaption should be swift and techniques should be cleaner. Who knows — perhaps some new tricks await.

CAN’T YOU JUST HIT A BUTTON?

Of course. Slicing and hot cue juggling are all at our disposal, but DJs still love the manual approach, and this idea offers that and reduces the need for screen gazing too. For me, this gets around some of the issues of static jog wheels, and makes them more intuitive to use.

So I feel it’s an idea that’s worthy of kicking around a little with our dedicated and smart community. Perhaps a software dev will see this and give it some thought. And as with any idea I might put out there, it may have appeared somewhere else before, but I’m not aware of it, but feel free to comment if it has. I just want to see ideas make it out there, either for the community dismiss as nonsense, or indeed to develop and rubber stamp for some company to pick up and run with. We don’t want credit — we just want better DJ gear.

SUMMING UP

The basic idea — one screen rotation = one bar = one loop = four beats = one jog wheel rotation. Silly idea or one that might just make sense in the digital age?

  • radikarl77

    this could work with static platters

    but for motorized ones, you’d then need quite a big pitch range to be able to play certain songs at original tempo

    • lokey

      well, it neednt be that big a range, as long as the revolution is a multiple of the bpm.

    • Yeah I did think about that. I thought that making it work for motorised platters and vinyl would be tricky, but not impossible.

      • Dubby Labby

        Put pdx3000 in the equation…

    • Dubby Labby

      You could implement different sections into vinyl (like ej midi turntable) and use the section doubling and halving (rescaling) when its needed.

      http://youtu.be/NLE3rGDposM

  • I’d buy that for a dollar. Come on NI, when will we see a scratch wheel controller from you? 😉

  • hrdnx

    Then the “remaining time” could be replaced by “remaining bars or beats”
    much more useful imho

  • Jam Burglar

    Practice Pointer: If you called this article “Jog Wheels, the abortion that killed turntables before they had a chance to live” then you’d be getting hella more hits.

    • Even mentioning jog wheels probably reads the same for some. And if I wanted traffic, I’d post GIFs of kittens on turntables.

      • Jam Burglar

        If you want traffic, move to Washington, D.C., it’s killing me over here, jeesh, I tell ya.
        But hey, I like this single revolution thing. It would make it really easy to cut in blends and change-ups, always knowing you’re back to home base at 12:00. You could line things up and stagger them and you’d always have that visual cue. Fahgetaboutit.

  • Neil Mortlock

    I like this idea!

  • Neil Mortlock

    I like this idea!

  • Luke Peter Annett

    I like the idea, I just hate static jogwheels. Denon should do this with their 3900 successor.

  • kebzer

    I know a lot of turntablists who are actually doing this, when preparing battle routine files. It is though an intriguing process to get everything on point according to the ‘cross’ refference. So, yes, an option within the software to read a circle according to bars, i.e. 1 revolution=1 bar or 2 bars would be cool. If they could mix this with Sticker sync (like in SDJ), it would be much more handy.

    But what the hell, this would only be useful to turntablists, and turntablists are holding the artform back, right?

    • Dubby Labby

      Well it almost need turntablist open to sync or recalculated warping and “midi” turntables to acomodate the full “inner workings” of the system proposed due a regular technics maybe can’t adjust its pitch automatically… If turntablist usually embrace this kind of “digitalization” maybe all we had this kind of technology long time ago but usually it never happens.
      Livetronica studio maybe is a good app to study because has a lot of “indie” implementations and maybe could allow this kind of tricks even with regular turntables (and some limitations) but again “How many turntablist (or djs directly) gave it a chance?”

      Old djs wanting evolution braked by most old djs wanting keepn’ real becoming the old ones when the new new came with more evoution again and again. Never the same people usually the same fear (to search for new ways when these move the stablished status quo).

      Nothing personal but we must be positive and friendship to find solutions instead take things in personal way once again.

      • kebzer

        Even though I’m not sure if I understand your whole post, all I can say is no hard feelings, I ain’t taking anything personal friend, I’m past that point a few years back in my life. 🙂

        • Dubby Labby

          Glad to read it and let me excuse myeself for my bad grammar… I try to point to your last sentence which sounded to me as “sarcasm” which could flame again the discussion from the other tread.
          Turntablist (almost in my country) are often close minded to new improvements even when these are good for the artform only because them can’t undertand how or why… So, yes turntablist could help or could be an obstacle to the innovation.

          I will love to find more collaborative ones but the majority drop the game even before me (I still continue research with numark cdx and maxmsp or just enter here to share and learn)

          😉

          • kebzer

            I can’t say I ever experienced any close minded turntablists. All my DJ friends (who also happen to be turntablists) are all into DVS tech, including me. I actually think that from a technological point of view, all these recent innovations have helped all turntablists in a tremendous way.

            I can’t say the same though for other type of DJs. But most certainly, I can’t accept this stereotype of a turntablist being the most closed minded of all, as my experience says the exact contrary. I’m not even sure anymore if there are any “vinyl purists” left. Maybe some retrohipsters, but actual DJs?

            • Dubby Labby

              My experience is more related with “zeitgeist movement” (the young becoming old) as a cycle. The old die hard turntablist maybe are gone (with the exception of Masters as Qbert, Craze…) but even them have embraced some degree of digitalism or experimentation (Qfo, Serato…) but… Again we find “not so old as they believe they are” middle aged djs who represent the “purism”. In the other hand internet and globalization gave us the chance to discuss and evolve faster than “dogma” became “the truth” (repeated until infinte as mantra).

              In my country (Spain) few turntablist were “open minded”, less are still alive and none understand the need for nothing of this. I still found net comments today which point to any kind of evolution (even when they made it unconsciously…).

              Different societies, different results I dare…

  • GARCON

    I have some locked groove records which are essentially just this. However, at 33.3rpm, the record must be 133.3bpm to work. 45s have to be 180bpm which is way too fast to be useful but you could have two bars of 90bpm per revolutio.

  • GARCON

    Woops. Just noticed that I pointed out something in the article. That’s what I get for commenting before before reading 🙂

  • nem0nic

    For a controller platter (spinning or not) this would be easy to implement I think. You could simply adjust the speed of the platter to accommodate the BPM of the song so it fits the “beat per quarter” formula. For a DVS this would be a little harder, because you not only have to account for the original formula, but also the fact that a record groove is longer on the outside than on the inside.
    The other complicating factor is that to do this “right”, you’d need an output message that would allow the program to control the speed of the platter. Other wise you’d be locked to the BPMs you’ve posted.

  • jamma

    in 360 mode you could use for the rpm buttons to cuting the bpm in half or double the bpm. this would be usefull to emulate the 45rpm to 33rpm switch
    https://youtu.be/KasabXwAwWY?t=2m49s

  • steve brown

    I like that, sounds very useful.

    i’d like to try some new forms of manual control;
    springed toggle as jog-which i have tried and really liked,
    roller-wheel, this is the one i think could replace jogwheels on controllers, because you could do scribbles, backspins, hydros, and pinches. i think a 1 1/4″ in tall wheel, about 4″ long would work. I see it as a scratch controller with eq above the wheel and buttons below.
    jogwheels, let’s be honest, stink. they don’t compare to spinning decks, and when they aren’t in use(which is the majority of the time), they take up considerable space. there must be a way to achieve the same control, and use less space, and maybe just maybe actually create new scratches. cause jogwheels, as they are, really only give you “back and forth”
    unless somebody builds some weird protos to see what happens when you try them, we’ll never know.

  • jm2c

    I think I’d need to rock out alot with 133.33BPM music before I could realistically say that this’d be worth it. I mean, it’s a nice idea in theory but how much juggling needs to happen in a (non-turntablist) set? Beat repeats/scatter functions etc can already cater to similar techniques, and tbh those functions you don’t want to spam around..

  • Gábor

    I put this into the next DJ Player Pro beta, implemented for midi jog wheels. Who wants to test?

    • …raises hand…

      • Gábor

        Beta email sent!

      • Gábor

        Beta email sent!

  • Oddie O’Phyle

    The concept gave me a mental image of an old Sweet dreams routine, where the turnatablist used 4 nails on a platter at 3,6,9 and 12 o’clock to hit the connector at the tone arm mount assembly to pound out his 4/4.

  • Oddie O’Phyle

    The concept gave me a mental image of an old Sweet dreams routine, where the turnatablist used 4 nails on a platter at 3,6,9 and 12 o’clock to hit the connector at the tone arm mount assembly to pound out his 4/4.

  • Vekked

    I think this would be a great idea on a moving platter controller (and as kebzer alluded to, it’s already something that battle DJs are doing but on current turntables you’re kind of limited to 100 BPM and 133BPM exactly with some flexibility if you get crafty) but I’m not sure that it can work on a static platter given that the music plays independently of the physical position of the jog wheel… so 1/4 of a turn from the current position might be 1 beat, but the current position is always going to change, so if you nudge forward 2 x 1/4 turns, then go back 2 x 1/4 turns to your home position, you’re not on the same beat you were at, and not necessarily on beat at all.

    Still platters and manual manipulation have a bit of an inherent problem due to the music being able to run freely of the physical platter. Even some moving platter alternatives such as the SC3900 were handicapped a lot because certain features (such as the start/stop button) would caused the sound and the platter to go out of sync.

    I think the best option for incorporating the 360 mode to a still platter would be having a VERY accurate, real-time indicator on the jog wheel which adapter to the BPM of the beat to function the way you’re talking about. So at least there’s something on the actual device which is locked in sync with the music and reacts to the physical position of the platter. It would still be an improvement, and the best option I can think of at the moment.

    Still, spinning platters would be my preference. I’d love to see more midi controllers with spinning platters (or the option), that were small and cheap… but maybe spinning platters as a feature entails big and expensive, I don’t know.

    • As far as static platters goes, the idea is to tweak the software to adjust the on-screen rotation and thus the jog wheel so that one rotation = 1 bar. I reckon that’s more than doable. Gabor from DJ Player just implemented it based on this idea. Simples.

      For motorised platters and turntables, I think it’s still doable, but needs either a combination of software and calculated pitch changes, or internal manipulation of timecode to adjust playback so that 1 rotation = 1 bar. I think both are doable, but I worry about accuracy with vinyl timecode. But the software devs are clever chaps.

      As far as wanting motorised platters goes — the market has spoken, and if they want spinning platters, they’ll stick with turntables. That’s certainly NI’s stance, and would explain why they haven’t made any themselves. And had there been demand, you can be sure that Pioneer DJ would have released one called the VDJ-1000.

    • As far as static platters goes, the idea is to tweak the software to adjust the on-screen rotation and thus the jog wheel so that one rotation = 1 bar. I reckon that’s more than doable. Gabor from DJ Player just implemented it based on this idea. Simples.

      For motorised platters and turntables, I think it’s still doable, but needs either a combination of software and calculated pitch changes, or internal manipulation of timecode to adjust playback so that 1 rotation = 1 bar. I think both are doable, but I worry about accuracy with vinyl timecode. But the software devs are clever chaps.

      As far as wanting motorised platters goes — the market has spoken, and if they want spinning platters, they’ll stick with turntables. That’s certainly NI’s stance, and would explain why they haven’t made any themselves. And had there been demand, you can be sure that Pioneer DJ would have released one called the VDJ-1000.

      • Vekked

        I hear you. Although I think there is demand… a lot of DJs just might not know it yet. If a VDJ-1000 came out and you could perform on it the same as a turntable but smaller, lighter, and without worrying about a tonearm and needle tracking in bad club/festival setups, and without the need for DVS vinyl anymore, I can’t see DJs not jumping on it. It would definitely take being co-signed by some legit DJs, though. Lots of people were talking about the head shell with RCA jack that skips the tonearm if it’s broken, which is sort of just a band-aid for the situation.

        • The Numark V7 had a small but vocal group of supporters, but poor sales doomed it. However, Pioneer DJ could drop a motor into a CDJ and sell well. I would be amazed if a prototype doesn’t exist.

          • kebzer

            The Numark V7 was doomed from the beginning, because the platters were not big enough. 10″ is the minimum I would say.

            • nem0nic

              The V7 had the same size platters as the NS7, which still enjoys great sales. The real problem with the V7 was that it was released at too high a price. I grabbed an old copy of MI Sales Track, and in December 2010 the average selling price of a V7 deck was $537 (USD). Even though the capability was certainly there, no one wanted to have a setup with just one V7 (you’d need 2 to do things like juggle anyway), so that’s over $1000 spent and you still would have needed to buy a mixer. The average selling price of an NS7 in the same month was $927 – which gave you the same decks and a mixer in a single package. Just out of curiosity I also checked turntable pricing for the Stanton STR8-150 (which was $450).

              So Numark priced it poorly against their own NS7, and I think they made it too feature rich for the target customer (who is going to want a 2 deck setup). The biggest part of the problem I think was that the V7 was released at the same time that the new version of the NS7 was released, which meant everyone was trying to get rid of their old stock.

              Anyway, just FYI.

            • nem0nic

              The V7 had the same size platters as the NS7, which still enjoys great sales. The real problem with the V7 was that it was released at too high a price. I grabbed an old copy of MI Sales Track, and in December 2010 the average selling price of a V7 deck was $537 (USD). Even though the capability was certainly there, no one wanted to have a setup with just one V7 (you’d need 2 to do things like juggle anyway), so that’s over $1000 spent and you still would have needed to buy a mixer. The average selling price of an NS7 in the same month was $927 – which gave you the same decks and a mixer in a single package. Just out of curiosity I also checked turntable pricing for the Stanton STR8-150 (which was $450).

              So Numark priced it poorly against their own NS7, and I think they made it too feature rich for the target customer (who is going to want a 2 deck setup). The biggest part of the problem I think was that the V7 was released at the same time that the new version of the NS7 was released, which meant everyone was trying to get rid of their old stock.

              Anyway, just FYI.

              • kebzer

                Platters were still too small. The NS7 was an all-in-one controller, aimed at DJs who wanted this kind of portability, but with motorized platters too. For this type of DJ, I don’t think that size matters, as they are accustomed to working on small places. So, what better than this?

                The V7 was the same size, but aimed at DJs who preferred turntables. Going from 12″ to 7″ is a no go. I am not talking about spinning 45s, when you want to do some normal work you need as much real estate as possible. And for this type of DJs, the 7″ format was too small. Plus, it was super expensive, as you already mentioned correctly. The offerings were not enough to convince people to invest that much. Maybe if they had designed it with 10″ platters (which BTW could fit, judging from photos), people would had considered it more.

            • I’m a massive fan of the NS7II and its 7″ platters. But I would probably agree that more people would prefer a bigger motorised platter for tricksand the finer points off turntablism. I loved the Numark CDX as well, and cannot understand why it didn’t take off… unless DJs say they want motorised controllers, but when faced with options from Numark (12″ and 7″) and Denon (9″), they actually prefer turntables.

              • kebzer

                As a formal owner of a CDX too, I can say that I really wanted to fall in love with it, but it just didn’t delivered what I expected. The response times were sloppy, the sound output was too “digital” and it didn’t offer enough features, even though it could (like a CDJ), as it had more than enough space available.

                Maybe if they had added an HID port, it would have been a success, as we would be able to use it purely as a controller. Maybe a mk2 would do the job now. If they just add HID and a color display (like in the NV), I would buy a pair right away and stack away my 1200s forever.

                • Dubby Labby

                  Put HID on cdx isn’t rocket science. Believe me.

                  Also there is an actual option which fits your wishes…

                  • kebzer

                    Oooh, where can I get one? (Just kidding).

                    • Dubby Labby

                      Yes. Not the best solution at all but almost possible 😉

                • John Shersby

                  Never had a problem with the sound quality of a CDX, as long as you were scratching with CD audio rather than mp3. What let it down for me was the unreliability of the CD transport mech. Dodgy laser? Problem with a ribbon cable? I replaced various parts, but every now and then it would still have trouble reading the disc, resulting in the infamous 10 second loop when you least expected it. A great concept, spoilt by a crappy transport. If they had only got the basics right from the start, who knows where it could have gone.

  • Gwen Roelants

    VirtualDJ 8.1 now has the option to change the RPM to ‘4 beats’
    I have to say it does indeed look more useful on screen that way.