Category Archives: Dj Tech

The Denon MCX8000 Dj Controller

Denon ahead of NAMM this year have announced the MCX8000 DJ controller.

Whilst it isn’t the first time that we’ve seen all in one (laptop not required) controllers, and certainly Pioneer already has a few well established options here, the MC8000 comes in at a great price point and knowing Denon gear it should be a solid controller.

denonmcx8000
 

Key Features
• Serato DVS Upgrade ready
• Metal construction
• Includes revolutionary Denon DJ Engine standalone technology with integrated Serato Cue point support
• 2 USB inputs for Engine playback in standalone mode
• Includes 4-deck Serato DJ software
• 2 high-definition displays show Engine and Serato DJ operation
• Professional 4-channel digital mixer with 2 microphone inputs and Dual XLR outputs
• 3 built-in instant pre/post fader effects for Engine playback and line inputs
• Velocity-sensitive performance pads for cues, rolls, slicer and samples
• Stage LinQ network connection to control lighting and video
 

Essentially a full mixer and MP3 playback system that only needs USBs drives to run, as well as a fully featured Serato controller.

Shipping Q2 this year with a RRP of £899, we’d expect it to street a bit below that, and for the features on offer, this is certainly an exciting solution that we look forward to getting hands on with when we can.

Denon Controllers @ Scan

More Info On The Denon MCX8000

Native Instruments Launches The Much Anticipated Stems Format With A Range Of Kontrol Offers.

Traktor Stems Kontrol Offer

Native Instruments this week brought their much anticipated “Stems” format to fruition, with a dedicated site launched to support this exciting new format. To help celebrate its launch, prices have been dropped on a number of controllers that are ideal for getting to grips with all the creative possibilities this new track format can offer.

What Is A Stem File?

The Stem file container collection opens up whole new ways as a Dj to play with your music. The Stem file at its most basic has a regular stereo copy of the file encoded into it, which allows for playback in a set just like any other. What makes it special however is that within that file is also encoded 4 “stem tracks” which allow you to disect the mix in various ways when playing with it in your set.

In the studio its normal to process groups of similar sounds in stems to ensure a quicker work flow at the mixdown and mastering phases. It gives a broader scope of control as well as allowing the producer the chance to make the individual tracks to gel together better through added group effects. Normally you would expect to see the drums get a stem mix and then perhaps vocals in another and lead sounds in yet another.

With this new Stems format Native have taken the this well proven production methodology and given the flexibility it offers to the end user, allowing a DJ to create mash ups and mixes in ways previously unimagined.

You want to mix the vocal from track A, with the drums from Track B, Synths from track C and Bass from track D? Now you can!

Who Can Create Stem Files?

Anyone!

The stems format is an open file format and Native Instruments have created free tools to allow anyone to create their own stems mixes without paying licensing fees which can then be distributed via your own service of choice.

Native Instruments Stems creator tool

Allowing a total of 4 stem tracks per mix you can give your listeners the ability to remix and interact with your music in amazing new ways.

For more information on creating your own files and more on the Stems creation tool take a look at Natives own information page.

As A Dj How Can I Get To Grips With Stems?

At launch a whole host of labels have already announced a number of releases in this new format, with the genres involved crossing the length and breadth of the dance music spectrum and many more are surely to follow. A number of digital stores such as Beatport & Juno have also confirmed they are amongst the initial half dozen launch stores involved and this will surely only grow over time.

From the off Native Instruments own Traktor is the first Dj software to support Stems natively, but with the file format being open to use without license and developer tools coming shortly, we should expect to see more update across other Dj software platforms if popularity grows and it becomes and essential feature and up until that point the master stereo file can still of course be played back if you find yourself mixing on a unsupported mixing package in the meantime.

The files themselves are based around the .MP4 container framework and the internal Stem files may be encoded in either AAC 256kbps VBR tracks or Apple Lossless Audio (ALAC). Windows 10 is the first PC based OS to fully support the ALAC format natively, althrough on older editions of windows if your DJ package supports it as Tracktor does or it is possible to install some third party codec packs to handle the format in your regular media player of choice.

Playing With Stems

So the big release on the software front to support all this is Traktor 2.9.0 which brings the support for the format to all the Traktor users who have been awaiting it. The ideal way to play and control Stem tracks will be with the Traktor Kontrol D2, Kontrol S8 or a Kontrol F1 along with Traktor Pro 2. The Kontrol S8 and Kontrol D2 have the added advantage of colored screens so DJs can actually see the individual stem waveforms split across the display.

These controllers along with Traktor 2.9.0 are all plug and play with controls natively mapped to the Stem Decks for you and ready to take full advantage of these new tracks. These devices aren’t the only way to control them as the Stem decks will be fully mappable to any MIDI controller so this could open up whole new ways of using your favorite controller.

If all this prove popular and other software and hardware developers choose to follow with added Stem support in the future on other DJ software platforms, this would make the Stem format a huge win for DJs/producers.

Take Control

For a limited time in celebration of this new advance in Dj’ing, along with Native Instruments we are offering a discount on the ideal controllers to take your performances to the next level. Until the end of September only the price of the Kontrol S8 has been dropped to £699, the Kontrol D2 is down to £279 and the Kontrol F1 is superb £99.

For more info on Stems, check out the offical Native Instruments info pages here.

For all the Native Instruments controllers and software at Scan click here.

Christmas: Old ideas: New Instruments……

 

Old Ideas : New Instruments

corner

With Christmas fast approaching, many parents look at options for presents for their little darlings, and many of them will consider a musical instrument as parents have done over the ages.

Most everyone knows the benefits of learning an instrument, self discipline, a sense of worth, etc. apart from the very joy of creating music itself, but it may be that the traditional instruments of the past are unlikely to interest your budding DJ/Producer, so check these out….

5dde34ca5d343d59a36cd37e204b4463_pc

ELECTRIBE EMX2 – KORG

 

The electribe has been reborn including KORG’s latest technology distilled from popular products such as the KingKORG, kaossilator, kaoss pad, and taktile. The 200 preset patterns cover House and Techno as well as cutting-edge dance music genres such as Trap and EDM. Another major evolution of the new electribe is support for polyphonic playback, which is indispensable for musical styles that involve complex chord progressions such as House music,
There’s also a “motion sequence” function that lets you record knob and button operations and use them in the pattern that you create. Either drums or synths can now be assigned to each of the 16 parts (i.e., the 16 pads). For example you could create complex rhythms by assigning drums to all of the 16 parts

aa2e85cb61f353d01bd9ca9c5991ffe0_pc 9fb38d4a705fb97b2164ca26089bd712_pc

It also has a Brother in the…..

Electribe Sampler ESX2 – KORG

The electribe sampler featuring KORG’s latest technology has been reborn with cutting-edge technology inherited from popular KORG products such as the KingKORG, kaossilator, kaoss pad, and taktile. The internal memory lets you save 250 patterns, including preset patterns which are perfect for today’s dance music scene. There’s also support for the polyphonic playback that’s indispensable for styles that include complex chord progressions, such as House music.
An evolved step sequencer
Using the 16 pads placed on the front of the unit, you can create patterns intuitively while actually hearing and seeing the sounds. You can use the pads as a keyboard to realtime-record phrases, and also perform step recording by entering the pitch and rhythmic value one note at a time.

1c2e2895172f6fc5cbc644cd8cdd1122_pcBoth of these are new instruments, as used by Dance producers and DJ’s to produce todays Hits and Dance anthems.
ballsSo where in the past it might have been a Guitar or a Piano or a Saxaphone, nowadays its very likely to be a KORG Electribe unit….. and old idea for Christmas, just new instruments for todays music makers…

Novation Reveal The Launch Control XL Controller

Launch-Control-XL-729x90

Novation today has supersized its popular Ableton controller into the Launch Control XL edition. This new Launch Control XL has a total of 16 buttons, 24 knobs and 8 faders which all integrate seamlessly with Ableton Live’s mixer, instruments and devices.

The knobs with multicoloured LEDs are laid out like Ableton’s mixer interface in three rows of eight, but you can reassign them – and the rest of the controls – to any thing you like.

If you combine Launch Control XL with Launchpad S, you’ll have the perfect modular Ableton Live system, controlling session view, mixer, effects and instruments at once. Producing the perfect mix or capturing that awesome performance has never been easier!

  Launch Control XL Main

 

Click here to see the Novation range @ Scan.

Alphasphere Nexus

mainalpha

 

 

Every so often, a product comes along that excites me. It can be for different reasons, sound, control, ’newness’ etc.
This one excites me, frankly because it looks like something Doctor Who might play in his spare time….
So what is it?

alphacover
Well, it’s an expressive, electronic musical instrument that is compatible with music production software, allowing you to compose, produce or perform.
The interaction design of the 48 tactile pads allows sound to be triggered and manipulated with subtlety. Each pad is pressure and velocity sensitive and fully compatible with MIDI polyphonic aftertouch.
The AlphaSphere is MIDI compatible, so you can use it in conjunction with all existing music production software. It is also OSC compatible and can be enabled as a controller for lighting and visual applications.
Designed with musicality in mind, a series of logical notational arrangements can be mapped around the spherical hexagonal lattice form, representing a departure from linear musical convention.
Explore the playing surface in combination with the accompanying software AlphaLive to unlock new musical ideas and your create own perfect ergonomic instrument.

NuDesineAlphaSphere-05
In the end, all you need to know is that you can assign any sounds to any of the pads. It is completely customisable in that respect. After that, The AlphaSphere’s trigger pads feature an elastic surface that adds another dimension of expression over standard drum pads. In addition to playing the pads percussively to trigger drum sounds or samples, you can also hold and massage them with varied degrees of pressure, transmitting polyphonic aftertouch to modulate synth parameters or effects. Also, the note layout of the pads can be customized to a particular musical scale and key, both of which can be chosen from a provided bank
All in all, this is a new MIDI musical instrument, that captures the imagination, and when you finally see it live, it makes you want to play it!

 

elite-series-2vlmtybnyta7ka3ptjpone

Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol Z1

The Native Instruments Traktor Z1 is the ultimate, stick-it-in-yer-bag portable addon for Traktor users, both on PC and Mac, but also for Traktor DJ on iOS.

Fully compatible with all of the versions of Traktor, this unit is very similar to the Traktor S2 mixer section. Featuring the same faders and knobs as the S2 and S4, this really opens up the use of iOS Traktor App for iMac and iPhone (yes, it is even reported to work with iPhone too!)  “more than a bit of fun messing about” usage.  Not only does it give you a true stereo output and stereo headphone cue for iOS, it’s also an ultra-portable solution to anyone with its partner X1 or F1 controller for PC and Mac.

http://www.native-instruments.com/en/products/traktor/dj-mixer/traktor-kontrol-z1/

Numark Mixtrack Quad and Mixtrack Edge

Numark have pulled out a couple of variations to their Mixtrack II controller.
MixtrackQuad

Mixtrack Quad seems to add two extra channels and gain controls to the mixer, alongside some extra coloured LED’s for a total of 16 colours, to identify different deck modes, such as cues, loops and sample playback. The platters have two zones and are touch sensitive. It comes with Virtual DJ LE software and has a built in, bus powered audio interface.

mixtrack edge

Mixtrack Edge keeps the built-in USB interface, but reverts to the two channel config and flattens the controls into a rucksack friendly format, whilst actually adding multifunction metal platters that control pitch, song select and cue mix.

Breakdown of Ableton Live 9’s features: Suite,Standard or Intro?

Ableton 9 Webcast
After our debut Webcast on Saturday 16th March (click here to go to archived video) We’ve had lots of questions about the new features and what is the best version to buy.

I’ll break down the key features and provide some ideas of how/why you would use them.

Intro, Standard or Suite?

For those new to Ableton live:

▪ It comes in three editions: Intro, Standard and Suite.
▪ Standard and Suite have additional features, Instruments, Packs and Effects.
▪ Intro is exceptional value and a great introduction to Ableton’s main features.
▪ Suite is aimed at the producer who needs a wealth of sounds and virtual instruments.

All of the versions have the unique Session View for quick, intuitive composition, flexible performance and improvisation. This is the screen that can be used for Djing and Live performance.

 

These features are common to all the versions:

▪ Multitrack recording up to 32-bit/192 kHz
▪ Nondestructive editing with unlimited undo
▪ Powerful MIDI sequencing of software and hardware instruments
▪ Advanced warping and real-time time-stretching
▪ Group tracks
▪ VST and Audio Unit support
▪ Time signature changes
▪ Multiple automation lanes
▪ Track Freeze
▪ Automatic plug-in delay compensation
▪ MIDI remote control instant mapping
▪ MIDI output to hardware synths
▪ MIDI Clock/sync
▪ ReWire
▪ Multicore/multiprocessor support
▪ WAV, AIFF, MP3, Ogg Vorbis, FLAC file support.

Live Suite

This is the full studio version of the software, the main differences here are the inclusion of some great virtual instruments including:

• Analog – a virtual analog synthesizer
• Collision – physical modeling instrument based on mallet percussion sounds
• Electric – a classic electric piano emulation
• Operator – versatile synth that combines both FM and subtractive synthesis
• Sampler – virtual sampling instrument with multisample playback and sound design.
• Tension – a physical modeling string-based sythesiser

Audio effects exclusive to Suite are:
• Amp – a virtual guitar amplifier great for emulating the sounds and characters of classic amps
• Cabinet – a speaker cabinet simulator modeled on five classic guitar cabinets
• Corpus – simulates the acoustic properties of resonant objects such as pipes, membranes and tubes.

These features alone help to justify the price difference, they are powerful audio tools that help you to create manipulate pretty much any sound. I must admit that at first glance they don’t ‘look’ impressive, but that is part of the whole concept of Live, its what goes on ‘under the hood’.
These instruments don’t place too much demand on your processor, graphically they are minimalistic but use your ears and you will be kindly rewarded!

Audio to MIDI

In the web cast (link at the top) I demonstrated the use of the new Audio to Midi features; these are exclusive to Standard and Suite. Anyone who has used or seen these features will know how incredibly useful they are.

Other workstations do have this functionality but it’s not as accessible as it is in Live.
Having this feature allows you infinite possibilities for sound sources and grooves.

Too many to go into here perhaps! One idea would be to use your voice as a sound source, imagine beat boxing the rhythm track, singing the bass-line and melody and then layering tones to make complete chords?

This is surely a great feature that many existing users are very pleased to see included.
Sample-based artists can use the groove or melodic/harmonic content from any recording this allows you to re-invent your entire sample library.

All the features mentioned above are very useful and integral to what makes Ableton 9 so versatile. Of course these features are reflected in the price:

• Ableton Live 9 Suite £559.00 inc VAT (click here to go to product page )

• Ableton Live 9 Standard £339.00 inc VAT (click here to go to product page)

• Ableton Live Intro £79.00 inc VAT (click here to go to product page

So why buy Ableton Live Intro then?

At £79.00 what do you actually get?
Well surprisingly still a great deal! Intro is a great title for this product as this is exactly what it is.

If you’ve never used Ableton before then this is a great place to start, the features that have made the program popular are included here:

• The Session View, this is the “jam” screen where samples/midi clips can be triggered in real time either as individual clips or as horizontal “scenes”
• Any performance on the Session view can then be recorded in real time onto the arrangement view (similar to Cubase,Logic etc)
• Sample warping is included, Ableton analyses each sample allowing you to change the tempo of the song in real time and all the samples will follow with out changing pitch. This is a very fast way to experiment with material from different genres/tempos and have no restrictions.
• Re-Wire is included – So if you cant pull yourself away from Cubase,Reason,Logic or whatever you use, then Ableton will happily run alongside any of these programs in Slave or Master mode. Many producers use their plug-ins from Cubase or Logic but run Ableton alongside for its excellent audio and MIDI tools.

Overview 

If you want to harness the full power of Ableton Live, then Suite is definitely the one for you, with over 3,000 sounds you can use all of the instruments, packs and effects and have a fully functional studio package. If you don’t need all of the extra plugins and effects then Standard does have most of the technical features such as Audio to Midi, unlimited tracks etc. This is probably a good choice if you already have a good collection of 3rd party plug-ins or a vast sample library.
Intro is best for beginners or those already loyal to another DAW, the good thing here is that you can always upgrade and unlock the other features when you are ready.

If you want to see a features comparison chart click here to go to Ableton’s site

Hope that makes things a little clearer! Look out for more Ableton Live 9 videos soon on the Scan Pro Audio You Tube channel.

In case you missed them, here are some I made outlining some of the simple but really effective features using Ableton Live 8:

Introduction and Overview
Building an Instrument Rack
Using MIDI devices Scale and Random
Using the MIDI arpeggiator
Managing your Screen and Layout

Mixtrack II and Mixtrack Pro II

Here at Scan the budget friendly Mixtrack II and Mixtrack Pro II controllers from Numark have always been a popular choice for those just starting to get into mixing. Indeed we them so capable that our Dj tester in chief DJ Rasp has been known to do scratching master classes on these, which is pretty amazing that you can get something so fully featured for such a great price.

So we’re happy to see that the guys at Numark have refined and refreshed the two models.

Mixtrack IINumark Mixtrack 2

2-Channel DJ Controller

  • Illuminated, capacitive touch-activated platters
  • 16 backlit rubber drum pads, 16 dedicated effects controls
  • Complete mixer section with crossfader and 3-band EQ
  • Virtual DJ LE audio/video/karaoke software included
  • USB-powered and class-compliant

Mixtrack Pro IINumark Mixtrack Pro II

2-Channel DJ Controller with Audio I/O

  • Illuminated, capacitive touch-activated platters
  • 16 backlit rubber drum pads, 16 dedicated effects controls
  • Complete mixer section with crossfader and 3-band EQ
  • Audio interface built in, Serato DJ Intro software included
  • USB-powered and class-compliant

 

The Mixtrack & Mixtrack Pro II feature new streamlined designs and new expanded layouts of professional controls, including 16 backlit multifunction drum pads and illuminated touchactivated platters. Hot cues, looping, and effects controls are all onboard, along with a built-in professional DJ audio interface. Building upon Numark’s longstanding partnership with Serato®, Mixtrack Pro II comes with Serato DJ Intro. DJs can also easily use Mixtrack Pro II with most popular DJ software, and it also comes pre-mapped for an optional upgrade to Serato DJ, the latest state-of-the-art professional software from Serato. Serato DJ includes a wide range of all-new features and capabilities, including stunning new effects powered by iZotope®, ultra-flexible and intuitive MIDI mapping, and the ability to set and trigger up to eight cue points.

Numark @ Scan