Mixing it up: beyond the wheels of steel
Chosen by Nick DeCosemo, editor of 'Mixmag'
Wednesday 11 June 2008
* Pioneer CDJ-1000 decks
The number of DJs using vinyl is diminishing rapidly. There are a few purists who still love vinyl but they're in a minority. Most DJs use CDJs now, and the Pioneer CDJ-1000 is the industry standard. It mimics a record deck, and has functions for looping and effects.
* Ableton Live
More and more people are using laptops to DJ in clubs, and there are various bits of software that turn a laptop into a DJing tool. Ableton Live's main function is as a live remixing tool. Normally you'll have two, possibly three, decks on the go when you're mixing. With Ableton (below) you have up to eight MP3 audio banks in front of you, which you can mix live. You can also process tunes to stay in time. Ableton gets scoffed at by purists, who see it as cheating, but it's really popular; Mylo used it at Mixmag's 25th-birthday party.
* Traktor Scratch
Traktor Scratch is software that comes with an interface – a disk you can put on to a vinyl deck, or a CD you can put into a CDJ-1000. You connect that to your computer and do the DJing through the interface: the sensor relays back to the computer your hand movements, so it feels like you're DJing with decks. It's a bridge between the old and the new, and it's pretty ingenious.
* Faderfox DX2
With laptop DJing software, you have various interfaces that stop you having to scramble about with a mouse on a computer monitor to select your effects. Instead you can connect your laptop to an external interface with lots of buttons, knobs and sliders to which you assign properties. So, for example, instead of having to search through menus to find the reverb option, you'd have reverb assigned to one of the knobs on the controller. Faderfox (below left) is an interface for Traktor Scratch.
* Numark iDJ2
The iDJ2 is a little control desk for your iPod, with a cross-fader in the middle, a mixer and graphic equaliser. There are two jog wheels on either side, as you'd have with a CDJ-1000 or a record deck. You can take MP3 tracks off the iPod and DJ with them. It's not a bad starting point for someone who wants to learn the basics of mixing.
DJing with laptops is boring from a performance point of view, compared with old-school mixing. There are a lot of devices designed to bring back the performance element of dance and electronic music. The most interesting of all is Yamaha's Tenori-On. I'm not entirely sure how it works, but it's both an electronic instrument and a touch-screen interface for samples from your laptop. And it looks amazing.
* Pioneer SVM-1000 audio and visual mixer
Pioneer has made an audio and visual mixer, which means you can mix both sound and visuals. You download video on to a hard drive or use the built-in visual effects, or you can drop Jpegs into the mix, allowing you to name and shame anyone who asks for Shakira during your set!
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