Functionally, turntables are pretty dumb. You have to load individual lumps of plastic onto them and spin them. That’s all they do, and in the whole scheme of things, they require a laptop and DVS software to compete in the modern age. And one of the many holy grails of digital DJing has been to remove the laptop from the audio chain completely. And while it’s been successful with controllers, it has yet to be done to any degree with turntables.
In recent times, a Technics 1200 has been modded to play audio from SD cards and push it out through the 1200’s regular audio cables. But the new PiDeck from Daniel James from Studio 64 is a different approach, one based on running Linux-based DVS software on a Raspberry Pi with a touch screen. It’s a non-destructive approach that will work on any turntable too.
Essentially you’re replacing the audio interface and laptop part of your setup with a cheap and cheerful compact computer with the sole task of taking the turntable output (in this case Serato control vinyl), and out the other end comes music that plugs directly into your mixer. You’ll also need one per turntable.
WHAT IT MEANS
Here’s what I see — by adding a touch screen and the abibilty to play music from USB sticks, the PiDeck converts a turntable into a media player like a CDJ or a Denon DN-S3900 but with a much better platter. That’s a glib oversimplification of course, but in essence it takes away the dependence on a laptop and audio interface and puts it right with the turntable.
Right now, all of this is strictly home brew hackery. Importantly, no turntables were hurt in the making of this project, but the next logical step is to put this gubbins right inside a turntable, with a small touch screen added, or maybe even a wired or even wireless link to smartphones running DVS apps.
Daniel James tells me that around £150/€166/$182 will be enough to make a PiDeck for a single turntable. But I’d like to think that at some point a savvy manufacturer will look into doing this inside an actual turntable — if they haven’t already that is. Potentially, portablism just got a bit more interesting too.
Should you have a recent Raspberry Pi and audio interface hanging around, the PiDeck software is available now for you to have a dabble with.
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
As a DVS user, if you could leave the laptop at home, would you?