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EDITOR’S NOTE jing and performance related gear takes centre stage again in this edition of BPM Tech. For some time now the boundaries have been blurred on so many fronts thanks to the incredible advances in technology and computer processing. Clear evidence of this is in the content we cover this edition. Take for example the new Denon SC3900 Media Player featured on our front cover. This player firmly places you in the digital age of DJing yet sustains the original core ingredient - beat-mixing - by including a platter perfectly weighted with the same torque as the Technics SL-1200 turntable. The unit is a CD player, a Media player (thumb drives and hard drives) and a controller for seamless control of DJ software. But it’s the platter that intrigues me; no matter how fast technology is developing and changing the nature of DJing, it seems we still cannot get away from the original performance tool for DJs; the turntable. It certainly makes one think twice about the [now very tired] debate of what a real DJ is and whether ‘laptop DJs’ are the real deal or not. Units such the SC3900 certainly offer the best of every world in this respect as do DJ programs such as Traktor Scratch Pro and Mixvibes Cross, both of which offer Timecode for interfacing with turntables and CD players. The Cross software will be reviewed in the near future but for now check out Mixvibes’ new U-Control Pro DJ Controller, complete with Cross DJ software. The review is on Pg. 16. But speaking of blurring the lines between oldskool and nuskool Native Instruments’ new Traktor Pro 2.5 and Kontrol F1 remix


controller is certainly leading the charge. Whilst I am sure Ableton Live users will be crying foul as they remind us that what NI have introduced into Traktor Pro has been available in Ableton forever, and that devices such as the Akai APC20/40 etc have all been able to do what the F1 now does. What makes this development so significant in my opinion is that DJs, (as opposed to producers and beat-junkies) will become much more involved with remixing than ever before. You can read all about it on Pg 14 where I attempt to distil the product down to its basic use. But if you are a beat-junkie check out the Beat Thang as reviewed on Pg. 6 and if you are new to DJing have a look at the very well priced Gemini CDJ-650 reviewed on Pg. 12, a professional player at an entry-level price. It’s not all futuristic this edition. Witness our two page spread on the good old fashion headphone which too has come a long way but still remains 2 speakers in head-dress to fit, heh heh. Jokes aside this is such an important piece of gear both in the studio and behind the decks. We feature some of the latest models to look out for although it must be said, these are just some of the many brands out there. DAVE MAC Editor-in-Chief Don’t forget to visit for daily gear news.



By Dave Skinz

DENON SC3900 A DIGITAL DISTINCTION IN AWESOMENESS Price: R 10, 495.00 Supplier: Audiosure Tel: (011) 790 4600

What Is It? The Denon SC3900 is the new top of the line Media Player and Controller from Denon DJ which replace's the DNSC3700. One of the biggest features on the new flagship model [carried over from the SC3700] is a 12 pole electric motor directly driving the platter with an adjustable torque setting in 0.1 increments from 1.0 Kg/nm to 3.0 Kg/nm. The default setting for the platter is set to 1.7 Kg/nm, which coincidentally is the exact same torque figure that the now defunct Technics SL range of turntables produced. Add platter start and stop times and 33 or 45 speed selector and now you can really begin to see how far Denon have gone to emulate the vinyl feel. Details on the platter even extend down to an infrared stroboscope to check the platter is accurate and it is really a sight to see [and feel] in motion. Now if that doesn’t pique your interest then settle down and carry on reading because the SC3900 is a beast on so many levels. One of the key features of the SC3900 has to be the multitude of file formats and modes that it can perform in, and how quickly and painlessly it can switch between sources. The default mode runs off a format that in my opinion is on its way out, the humble 74

minute CD both audio or MP3 formatted. Then it’s an ultra-fast USB mode that can read up to 100,000 tracks on your memory stick or portable hard drive. There is also Link, and this mode lets you couple up to 4 SC3900's via an Ethernet network cable and a router so you can play off all four units using just a single USB source. The other set-up for Link involves plugging the SC3900 into your PC or Mac also via a router. This use of the Link mode lets you use Denon's custom music library software Engine and your computer as the music host and you can now browse your music library using your computers screen. If you happen to have an iPad lying around then you can also connect it to Engine and use the lovely touch screen interface as your music browser and monitor. The final mode is MIDI which is also multifunctional but as the Denon SC3900 is not fitted with a user accessible soundcard you will still need a decent audio card to run that side of things. However for those making use of Timecode the SC3900 can run in Hybrid MIDI mode and for Traktor users you get 1, 2, 2.5 and 3K control tones as well as the Serato Scratch Live one right in the menu. No word yet on if its compatibility with Traktor 2.5's reformatted time code signal, but I’m certain Denon will come up with a patch for that soon.

The only thing that Denon seems to have dropped from the previous model is the digital and vinyl effects section and in my estimation the SC3900's are meant to be paired with the phenomenal DNX1700 mixer which has dual effects units to efficiently manage the incoming audio and manipulate it comprehensively from one point. What has been retained is the Hot Cue, looping systems and reverse functions. There are 4 hot cues ready to use and a simple loop in, loop out system with a loop shift or an auto-loop if you're not as accurate with those in and out buttons. A dump feature has also been added if you're not fond of the reverse function. All your track selection happens via a rotary selector and the display screen comprehensively lets you know what’s going on albeit on a dot matrix type screen. The USB slot has finally been moved to the face of the SC3900 so you don't have to fiddle around the back any more to try and get your thumb drive in. The USB B port for MIDI mode and network connection is on the back along with RCA and Digital outs. Denon have also now fitted the Sc3900 with a figure 8 power socket so transporting is a little easier and less hazardous with a power cable dangling around.

Who Should Own One? The Denon SC3900 is at the pinnacle of professional performance media players at the moment. It'll go toe-to-toe with any of the other major DJ brands and fair favourably, so DJ and music orientated venues should definitely consider a pair of the SC3900's if they need to update their gear. I'm hard pressed to think who wouldn't want a pair of these in their venue, studio or bag.


The Verdict I really got a chance to put the Denon SC3900 through its paces for a couple of weekends at my club residency and besides being a real head turner (what is it about a spinning platter that just captures everyone's eyes?) it also had the added benefit of improved audio quality thanks to the hi fidelity Burr Brown 24 Bit digital to analog converter. After being afforded the opportunity to play on both the 3700 and 3900 I can say that the latter is a huge leap forward for Denon and a talented contender in the competitive high-end CDJ market. I spent some time speaking to a couple of clubs’ resident techies and most of them mentioned that up to two thirds of CDJ damage is related to laser and/or CD loading mechanisms, so you can imagine the interest and relief when you can play an entire set off of a thumb drive. Another neat feature unique to the 3900 is that you can change between MIDI and CD or USB live without a break in audio or having to reset your software package every time you switch back and forth. The SC3900 is a definite step up from the older 3700's in all respects. It loads music quicker, lets you have more options about how you want to utilize it, and the SC3900 allows you more control of your principle area of contact, the control wheel. What it did lose though was the digital and platter effects but with most DJ's preferring to control their effects from the mixer it falls into line with direction that all the pro gear is following at the moment. Denon's custom software Engine was quick and easy to install but beware this is not a plug-and-play option. Engine will have to scan your music library first to generate waveforms and track data for use with the SC3900. The scanning is fast and comprehensive but can still take some time. Once your music has been scanned Engine re-saves all your audio files with the waveform and info embedded into the file, so if you want to use your USB flash stick to perform, all of those tracks will have the info (hot-cues, cue points etc) ready for you to use. Another cool perk to Engine is the iPad connectivity and while I’m still pining for one I’m sure those of you out there

with one will love the chance to be able to use it in your DJ setup. The slam dunk, however, for Denon, has to be the platter and for those DJs who know what it is like to perform off vinyl (still regarded as the pinnacle of DJ’ing prowess) the SC3900 is unmatched and certainly carries the torch as the most authentic feeling player on the market. If you’ve not yet used a Denon player, this extremely competitively priced unit is built like a tank, oozes professionalism and gets the job done. Simple as that!



By Fletcher Beadon


ANATOMY My first impression as I open the box and remove the Beat Thang from its packaging is that this machine is heavy. It’s small, compact and yet weighs a good few kilos more than expected. It looks impressive as I turn the power on, blue lights flashing everywhere; it’s very reminiscent of Tron. So far, so good. But let’s see what’s under the hood. Aesthetically it has to be said that the Beat Thang is beautiful. It has a BLANG button which controls the LED lighting display which kept me amused for a few minutes. It also boasts extremely rugged build quality, so you could take it hiking with you thanks to the long battery life and portability, but you would have to forfeit at least a few kilos of trail mix. The manual tells me how to make a basic PATTERN, which is the building block of a SONG. Think Fruity Loops and Roland MC-series Groovebox pattern sequencing. I select a kit and set up the tempo, set the bar length, and change the record mode from replace to overdub. Right let’s jam! The pads are great quality, really nice velocity sensitivity and playability. They’re laid out like a piano keyboard although I wonder why they didn’t go for the standard 4x4 pad layout which is so common in hip hop drum machines? The preset drum kits sound supa

dope, and are really phat for hip hop and urban music production. But the basses, instruments and sound effects are all a little cheesy; they reminded me of a Roland 505 from the 90’s. But you can load your own samples using the software provided to create your own sound banks which is an important feature. No doubt an online community will develop creating sounds tailor-made for the Beat Thang too.

IN USE As you record, the Beat Thang automatically quantizes your notes and swings them according to the SWING setting. This is where the machine excels; its ability to quickly whip up a 16 bar drum loop using the preset kits. There’s an awesome PITCH bender on the left and a MOD wheel on the right that globally pitches and modulates the whole kit, which is very intuitive to jam. It’s from that point on that things become a little less practical. In order to SAVE a pattern just created, one has to manually scroll through each letter of the alphabet, first capitals then lowercase. This is a bit like an old arcade game (if anybody remembers those). It can take minutes just to name a pattern. There is also a rather long LOAD and SAVE time for every pattern and song. Navigating around the Beat Thang is also rather fiddly when compared to the

luxury of full screen displays in the modern era of electronica. Everything is hidden inside menus and then submenus, with a knob to scroll and a knob to change values. Once you know the architecture I'm sure it's understandable, but it does feel a bit counter-intuitive to begin with. Mixing volumes, panning and effect sends all found inside submenus does not make for quick action results on the fly. If this device was a touch screen, it would probably make more sense. The sequencing happens in blocks of times so it's very difficult to interject some new patterns into your song without going back and making a new pattern, saving a copy, making whatever changes you want. If your pattern is 16 bars long, it always has to play 16 bars in song mode.

CONCLUSION The Beat Thang has some cool features [once you get away from the DOS-like filing system] such as the two headphone outputs that allow you to jam with a friend. It was a bit time-consuming to record, rename and edit a sample but there is a visual waveform display which makes life easier. Auto-chopping, time-stretch and reverse are also just a button away. MUTE and SOLO are both fun to play with, it's the only real way of switching between different parts inside your pattern on the fly, as a performance tool. Entering into a market dominated by the likes of Roland’s SP-range, Akai’s MPC range, and KORG’s Electribe range means you need to offer something new and innovative if not at least at a much better price. The Beat Thang is well built and a little heavy but looks pretty nifty in use. It is, however, not quite as easy to use as they would lead you to believe. My suggestion; if you’re looking for a portable beat making device pop into an outlet and try one out first to see if it’s to your liking.



BPM Report


Pioneer HDJ-500 Pioneer’s entry level headphone in the HDJ series, the HDJ-500 is anything but entry level, offering comfort, good sound quality and great aesthetics. The low-down: The Pioneer HDJ-500 headphones have good overall sound quality with solid bass representation and crisp mids and tops. Included are two types of cables plus they are nice and light and very comfortable. Best feature: they have a cool rotating right earpiece. The only really minor issue is that they don’t completely fold away for traveling and storage like some of the others are able to do. Pros: ! Great Sound Quality ! Removable/Replaceable Headphone Cables ! Straight and Coiled Cables included ! Urethane pads for Ears/Headband with Real Leather ! Rotating Right Earpiece Cons: ! Non-Foldable design Expect to pay: R 1,169.00

Pioneer HDJ-2000 The HDJ-2000 is the flagship model in Pioneer’s HDJ range and can pretty much handle anything you throw at them. The low-down: The Pioneer HDJ-2000 headphones have exceptional sound quality; the deep bass and crisp highs deliver without so much as a hint of distortion no matter how hard you push them. The pads are protein leather covered with a lowrebound urethane – this means uber comfortable and tight fitting with great isolation from exterior sounds so no matter how high the booth monitors are you’ll no doubt still hear every note while cueing your track. Pros: ! Stereo/Mono switch ! Tight comfortable ear seal ! Thick diaphragm and long voice coil ! 6.3 mm gold plated threaded type plug adapter and carrying bad included ! Gig proof solid metal frame ! Removable mini XLR connector Cons: ! The ear pads don’t quite swivel 90 degrees, probably due to its metal frame. Expect to pay: R 3,499.00

Numark HF-125

For DJs on a super tight budget the Numark HF-125 is a decent proposition and good value for money. The low-down: Notable features include a padded headband and 7-position height adjustments. The speakers have 40 mm Mylar drivers and are covered in a thin black material with vinyl cushion pads. They are quite comfortable but may become a bit sweaty with prolonged use due to the plastic pads. Sound quality is not bad; the bass is quite exaggerated which does make the mids a little muddy only to be combated by quite sharp treble. They are loud and seem pretty robust so for the price the HF-125 is bang-on great value for money. Pros: ! Loud ! Padded Headband -Great value Cons: ! Could prove a bit sweaty after an hour or two ! Only a ¼’ jack (no 3.5 mm option for MP3 players) Expect to pay: R 225.00

Pioneer HDJ-500

Pioneer HDJ-2000

Numark Red Wave Numark’s trendy silver, black and red headphones ‘designed by DJs for DJs,’ is a featured packed set of cans that won’t break the bank. The low-down: The Red Wave is a real eye catcher and will no doubt prove popular with anybody who wants to make a statement behind the decks. Build quality is particularly impressive despite the complex design and whilst quite chunky, are a comfortable fit thanks to the soft earpads and lavish headband . A classic DJ headphone sound with heavy bass and prominent mids is what impresses the most. Isolation is not remarkable but they do fold up really nicely for transporting despite their bulkiness. Pros: ! More flash for your cash ! Classic DJ sounding headphones ! Robust build quality ! Comfortable and well padded ! Excellent value for money Cons: ! Lacks isolation Expect to pay: R 1,098.00

Numark HF-125

Numark Red Wave


Reloop RHP-5

Shure SRH-550 DJ

The Reloop RHP-5 Portable DJ Headphones are a great pair of lightweight, compact, and durable headphones that will appeal to both DJs and those looking for a great set of cans for your MP3 player or Smartphone. The low-down: Despite their somewhat lightweight appearance (that’s ‘cos they are light, duh!) the RHP-5 headphones are quite the surprise package. Not only is the bass response better than expected, you can crank them pretty loud and still get a damn good sound. Isolation is also a surprise considering the obvious lack of large ear cups and although they may look a little dainty for hardcore DJ use, they proved extremely resilient when tested. We love the rubberised feel to them, a trademark of Reloop’s products. Unfortunately the RHP-5’s do not have a user-replaceable cable which may deter some, considering the perilous damage than can occur in a DJ booth. Pros: ! Compact, Lightweight, & Durable Construction ! Works Great with iPhone and Blackberry Smartphones ! Good Sound Quality ! Great Price-point Cons: ! Non Replaceable Cable ! No travel bag or case Expect to Pay: R 679.00

The SRH-550 DJ delivers tried and tested Shure performance in a mid-priced package that looks both serious and professional in a non-flashy kind of way. The low-down: The black ear cushions are nicely padded and importantly are removable and replaceable. The DJ-friendly design provides flip-out earcups that make it easy to monitor the room with one ear and what's in your console mix in the other and the package includes a drawstring protective carrying pouch and a ¼-inch gold threaded adapter for larger headphone jacks. The higher-than-standard-earphone impedance (32 Ohms) means it won’t drill your eardrums but they are still loud enough and offer a very flat response without the exaggerated bass so many DJ ‘phones have. Isolation is better than on most in this price range. Pros: ! Flat response but with good bass presence ! Folding/collapsible build allows easy storage ! Great isolation ! 2-year manufacturer's warranty Cons: ! Can be uncomfortable for long listening periods. Expect to Pay: R 1,254.00

Reloop RHP-20 With a Frequency range of 3hz- 30khz, the RHP-20 Pro DJ headphone will cut through the mix. Stylish and expensive looking, the sleek minimalistic approach will appeal to many. The low-down: The futuristic design and extremely sturdy rotary/folding mechanism, which allows monitoring with one ear-cup as preferred by many DJs, is what immediately impresses on the RHP-20. The pivoting construction is made of high-quality aluminium and the head band of robust hard rubber. The earcups are finished in soft leather. Sound wise they are very convincing, with a warm but punchy distribution. There is clear frequency separation and isolation is particularly good. The spiral cord is exchangeable with mini XLR and the plug has gold-plated contacts. Pros: ! Futuristic, stylish design ! High quality materials and construction ! Extremely comfortable for DJ use ! Sound and feel more expensive than they are Cons: ! Don’t fold flat so not as portable as some Expect to Pay: R 1,799.00

Reloop RHP-5

Reloop RHP-20

AKG K81DJ Compact and neatly packaged the K81DJ is a very competitively priced DJ headphone that packs a solid punch and is easy on the eye. The low-down: AKG are a brand synonymous with quality products. The K81DJ is billed as suitable for ‘small club and parties,’ but they actually punch above their weight in terms of features and appearance. Build quality is excellent and they have a rugged feel to them. Sound is very balanced and smooth with great bass, albeit that they are not as loud as many other DJ ‘phones. Isolation is also superb and they are light and comfortable – they should wear easily for several hours. The 3D-Axis folding mechanism means maximum versatility and portability. Pros: ! 3D-Axis folding mechanism ! Great Isolation ! Excellent sound ! Portable and light Cons: ! Flimsy straight cable ! Non-replaceable earcups & cable Expect to Pay: R 895.00

Shure SRH-550 DJ




GEAR & INDUSTRY NEWS Leading supplier of professional audio and DJ gear, Proaudio, were recently appointed as distributors for both Bespeco and RCF. RCF was founded in 1949 in Reggio Emilia, an Italian city with excellent mechanical and electronic industries. Over the years the company has established itself as a world leader in design, production and marketing of high technology Professional and Commercial Audio products. Notable products for the SA market include their Art 7 Series – a Multi- purpose active speaker range representing the finest example of digital audio design that offers the best audio choice for a multitude of live sound applications. Bespeco is an Italian manufacturer based in Ancona and has been in operation since 1982. They manufacture a massive range of accessories for musical instruments including Metal, Flight Cases & Bags, Cables, Connectors, Electronics, Audio Systems, Lighting, Silos, Bags, Microphones, Home-Soho design, Sportswear and DJ Gear. Bespeco is a world leader in the production of cables Made in Italy and renowned for high quality and long-lasting performance. They are also well known for their quality metal stands for a vast range of musical instruments as well as connectors and Silos. Proaudio | | (011) 822-1430



DECKSAVER DJ GEAR COVERS NOW AVAILABLE IN SOUTH AFRICA Decksaver covers are clear covers designed to fit specific DJ equipment like a glove.

Each cover is manufactured from Polycarbonate - the same hard wearing plastic used in bullet proof glass. Made in the UK, Decksaver can be used in situations where a wooden flight case is overkill but a cloth cover is not enough. Suitable for Pro DJ's, Hobbyists & Rental Companies, Decksaver will protect your gear, without compromising aesthetics. Fixed installations and clubs will benefit greatly from Decksaver since it protects gear, without the cost of a full flight case. Being transparent, it ensures that your latest gear purchase is still available for everyone to see. There are over 40 different covers for popular DJ gear including CDJ's, DJ Controllers, DJ Mixers & Effects controllers. Decksaver in now available in South Africa at all leading outlets. Distributor: Pinnacle AV Tel: (021) 802 0709

LSR STUDIO MONITORS JBL Professional produces some of the finest studio monitors for demanding music, post production and broadcast applications. With three professional monitor lines, JBL has a model to meet your requirements and budget. No matter which system you choose, your mixes will hit their mark with clear and accurate sound dispersion. Utilizing over 65 years of R&D, JBL meticulously designs transducers and system components to give each model industry-leading performance. Since room acoustics play a significant part in what you hear, JBL LSR Linear Spatial Reference design criteria requires 72 measurements representing the entire sound field heard by the listener. This provides 1296 times more information than a single on-axis measurement. Although far more challenging, optimizing speaker performance to LSR Criteria, gives these studio monitors superior accuracy and imaging in any room. So even if you work in a small home studio, you'll have clear sound at the mix position. With JBL's Flagship LSR6300 Series, the revolutionary LSR4300 Series and the affordable LSR2300 Series, mixing is a pleasure. JBL is the Proud Recipient of the coveted Technical GRAMMY Award® "FOR CONTINUAL MASTERY AND INNOVATION.” Wild & Marr | (011) 974-0633 (021) 787-9378 | (031) 564-3877


REASON 6.5 RELEASED, INTRODUCES ‘RACK EXTENSION’ Propellerhead recently released new versions of their awardwinning music making platform: Reason 6.5 and Reason Essentials 1.5. New in these versions is the introduction of Rack Extensions - a groundbreaking new technology from Propellerhead that opens up the rack to third parties, enabling developers to create their own instruments and effects for Reason and allowing users to expand their collection of instruments and effects with the Reason devices they want. Propellerhead has also opened the doors to the Propellerhead Shop - the central location for all Rack Extensions. All Rack Extensions are full Reason rack citizens, delivering the same ease of use and total integration as all other devices in the rack, including automation, unlimited undo and cables on the back as well as integration with Reason’s patch browser. In the Propellerhead Shop users can get fully functional thirty-day trial versions of all available Rack Extensions, downloaded and installed into the rack with a single click. “ Rack Extensions combines all the things that musicians love about Reason with the creativity and inspiration that comes from having tons of instruments and effects at your fingertips. And it manages to do all that without any of the drawbacks of old plug-in technology. It really is the best of both worlds,” says Ernst Nathorst-Böös, Propellerhead CEO. “Reason 6.5 is an incredible update to Reason, changing the world of music making on computers, again.” To get people started, Propellerhead offers the Pulsar Rack Extension - a dual LFO and mono synth with plenty of character - as a free download in the Propellerhead Shop to everyone who upgrades before September 30, 2012. SA Distributor: Tuerk Music Technologies (011) 794-8402 |

MIXVIBES CROSS MixVibes CROSS is a DJ solution that provides complete control for professional Djs. New Features in CROSS 1.7 The ultra-precise beat synchronization will lock your mix forever in one click. The new Sync Meter will help you to visually sync on the beat (1), on the bar (4) or on the cycle (16 beats) for each tracks. Thanks to the spinning colours, it is easy to know which track needs a fine pitch to be slowed down or speeded up while you are mixing. Because old school tracks are not 100% straight recorded, an advanced mode is now available in CROSS beat grid. DJs can rescale the grid, adjust the down beat and create sub-grids whenever the BPM is moving within the track. All actions you perform are now instantly snapped to the grid to perform perfect CUE points, locators and loops! Whether you are a Traktor or a Virtual DJ user, you can now import third party playlists in CROSS and CrossDJ. This function allows you also to import cue points, locators, loops and beat grid analysis saved in your former DJ software for an instant mix in Cross and CrossDJ. Pioneer Rekordbox power-users can now import their playlists into CROSS and instantaneously mix their prepared tracks. The FX section is also updated with 12 new effects – 15 in total including DJ industry standard FX such as Low-Pass, Hi-Pass, Roll, Brake and for creative DJ exclusive Mixvibes FX such as Transform, Crush, Bliss and Jet.

Media management has also been vastly improved enabling one to create User definable smart lists, a "Prepare" pane to organize and prepare your set, being able to flag your tracks with colour labels and find them back within seconds, iTunes integration and a host more. CROSS includes a lot of professional features, allowing you to release your creativity to make every mix different. Features such as; Smart audio effects, Locators & CUE points, Ultra precise BPM, analyzer, Automatic and Manual loops, locators, auto beat matching, Multiple routing modes to accommodate various audio set-ups, Effect synchronization on music beat/tempo, High-end master tempo & hybrid pitch allowing speed change while keeping the original tonal Key (note). CROSS also allows you spin audio files using timecoded Vinyls/CDs and/or MIDI controllers and includes 2x 12inch control vinyl + 2 control CD records. Distributed by Tradelius Music Group (031) 502-3080 |



By Dave Skinz


What Is It? The Gemini CDJ-650 is touted as the replacement for the CDJ-600 and the improvements put it leagues ahead of the old CDJ-600 in its design, build and functionality. The first and most noticeable change is in the dimensions; the CDJ-650 is slimmer, trimmer and more compact (290 x 220 x 111 mm) and while the CDJ-650 has sacrificed the large control wheel and replaced it with a smaller 5” touch wheel, the feel and responsiveness of the new platter is far better. As with most CDJs you can use the jog-wheel in either bend or vinyl mode. The real clincher for me however was seeing the 3.2” full-colour TFT screen fire up for the first time. Yep that’s right, a full colour angled display! After seeing a similar display on some of the other big budget media players out there I thought that full colour displays would forever remain in the realm of those with deep pockets but thankfully, that’s not to be. With the CDJ-650 and the bigger CDJ-700 both having similar full colour displays you'd do well to wonder how long it’s going to be until the other manufacturers start to pull up their socks and include similar displays on their models.

As impressed as I am with the display, the USB and track display functions really take it to the next level. There is no delay in track loading time, and as soon as your USB docks, the full-colour screen lights up with all your folders and your tracks are ready to go with a compact wave display! Most other CDJs require that you prep the tracks or let the entire track play before you have access to a decent amount of visual info. So while you might not have a full track display on the CDJ-650 you can interchange between views of 3.2, 6.5, 12 or 24 seconds of music to have a decent lookahead view. The Gemini CDJ-650 also has a full MIDI mode for use as a software controller and unlike most devices in its bracket the CDJ-650 has a built in audio interface to make it far easier to utilize. For the more traditional jocks out there, there is a CD slot for CD, CD-R or MP3 discs and Gemini use a rotary selector to browse your folders and tracks with a push-in to select your track. The CDJ-650 offers one six different pitch settings of 4%, 8%, 16%, 24%, 50% and 100% as well as a backlit Master Tempo lock. You have pitch bend buttons if you really don't like the pitch wheel and the play and pause buttons have been hardened and backlit to better resist the incessant pounding these particular buttons are subjected to. Hot cues have also seen some attention and the CDJ650 has three hot cue buttons in addition to Loop In, Loop Out, and Reloop/Exit buttons.

Price: R 4,500.00 Supplier: Audiosure Tel: (011) 790 4600 / The unit is powered via a figure 8 power cable with a recessed power switch and you have a single set of RCA's out with a USB B port for connection in MIDI mode on the back in addition to the USB slot on the face of the device.

Who Should Own One? This is going to be the perfect CDJ for mobile and bedroom DJ's, or guys getting into DJing who haven't made a decision as to their music format yet. The CDJ-650 will give you a good feel for the different formats, how to set them up and how to use a multifunctional device like the CDJ650 in a live environment.

The Verdict The CDJ-650 feels fresh and up-to-date even with all the developments happening seemingly at light speed in our scene. I have been harping on about the screen I know, but its more than a little irritating to see an inexpensive device strut around with features that all but a handful of manufacturers pride themselves on. Time for a wake up! The same applies to how well the USB loads and how quickly the info you need displays. The CDJ-650 is efficient, solid and will give many first-time DJ's a good baseline of what a good CDJ should do. For the price it's an absolute winner.


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By Dave Mac

TRAKTOR KONTROL F1 & TRAKTOR PRO 2.5 FROM DJ TO REMIXER TO LIVE PERFORMER... Price: R 3,595.00 Supplier: Tuerk Music Technologies Tel: (011) 792-8402 Web:

hen Native Instruments introduced the Kontrol S4 it came packaged with a special edition of Traktor Pro specifically designed for use with the controller. The key new features evolved around the ‘Sample Decks’ and the ability to record short samples on the fly. This first version, whilst totally usable, was also a little limiting in that you could only load up to 4 samples each side; one per slot in each of the four decks per channel. Now with the introduction of the Traktor Kontrol F1, NI have also introduced Traktor Pro 2.5 which sees the evolution of the ‘Sample Deck’ concept, now aptly named a ‘Remix Deck.’


Traktor Pro 2.5 To fully understand the point behind owning a Kontrol F1one should first look at the enhancements made to Traktor Pro 2.5. It all hinges around the new Remix Deck feature. Here’s how it works. Instead of the conventional 2-deck or 4-deck configuration, one sets up Traktor with 2 Track Decks (for loading and playing full tracks) and 2 sets of Remix Decks. I say ‘sets’ ‘cos each Remix Deck can host up to 64 samples in total; 4 per slot with 4 slots either side and then 4 pages. The idea is then to load either a loop or a single hit sample into a slot and trigger this via the corresponding pad on the Kontrol F1. Up to four samples can be triggered per Remix Deck simultaneously but since you have up to 64 sample slots

either side, one can naturally mix things up to your heart’s content. Two significant features that make this so compelling is that firstly one can record and capture any loop from the track playing on your track deck into a remix slot and then save this loop and secondly; load a full ‘Remix Set’ from your library. What this means is that you can store a complete collection of loops and hits under a set name and call this up anytime, so if you have a full deck of 64 samples, these will load into their slots with all the parameters with which they have been saved. So the same way you would normally load a track into a track deck, you can now load a ‘remix set’ into the ‘Remix Deck.’ The primary difference is that a track is one complete audio file, whereas a Remix Set can be up to 64 individual parts of a track, broken down for example into the different basslines, drum loops, melodies, pads, percussion, FX etc. But the way you use the Remix decks is not limited to this. Whether you want to use it to ‘perform’ tracks live as per my example, or whether you simply want to grab parts of a full track on the fly and trigger them in your DJ set or maybe just use the Remix Decks to drop acapellas in your set, it really is up to you. For Live performance of one’s own music, this is the bomb though as you can remix your own stuff any way you want to each time you perform. Each Remix Deck slot has its own filter and volume control so one essentially has a mini mixer within the mixer for each individual sample you trigger.


Traktor Kontrol F1 Now having run through the basics of ‘Remix Decks’ in the software you’ll need a controller that is seamlessly mapped out and designed to trigger these samples. Enter the Kontrol F1. Boasting the same dimensions as the Kontrol X1, the unit will fit snugly in your bag and in the DJ booth plus look aesthetically cool too. We DJs love flashing lights and the F1 does not disappoint with 16 RGB colours (one for each pad) to choose from. The build quality is very good, basically the same as the X1 so durability should not be an issue and the trigger pads, whilst not velocity sensitive since they are designed to simply trigger loops, seem durable enough and respond well. Beneath each vertical row of pads is a mute/on/off button to mute or stop a loop. Above the pads are 8 buttons which perform a host of functions and a rotary for browsing your loops and remix sets library. At the top are volume sliders and filter rotaries for each of the 4 channels within each Remix Deck. How the F1 works is that the entire unit controls either the left side Remix Deck or right side at a time. Not both at the same time. However to skip between each deck is pretty simple as is a plethora of other functions either via the specific buttons or via shift and a specific button. Native Instruments really have covered a lot of ground and it is clear to see that they’re getting advice from the right circles. An example of their smarts can be illustrated by a simple thing like volume control of a sample. Considering that we as DJs like to have our sliders pushed right to the top this can pose a problem if one sample is louder than the

other, e.g. loud bass over softer drum loop). A clever little trick with the shift button and the volume slider allows one to set the volume to your desired level (louder or softer) so that it will play at the right loudness when the slider is pushed all the way to the top. Other nifty and quick tricks include things like setting a sample to loop mode or one hit mode easily, editing sample lengths, editing when the sample should be triggered - on the first bar, half bar, quarter bar etc. Keylock, activating/ deactivating FX on a set of pads, auto-loading of a whole bunch of single samples at once (as opposed to individually loading each one to a pad), and a whole bunch of other gems are hidden beneath the surface on this compact controller.

Who Should Own One? All users of the Kontrol S2, S4 or X1 should take a look at the F1 as a potential add-on at some stage. In fact anybody using Traktor Pro and ready to unlock the true potential of Ver. 2.5 will want an F1. But it is an add-on. This is not a controller to replace your existing setup; it’s to enhance your setup which is probably a big part of why NI have so generously included a full Pro version of the software in the box.

The Verdict Borrowing from Ableton Live’s ‘Clip view’ mode, Native Instruments have successfully blurred the lines between DJ and Remixer and/or Live performance.

The Remix Deck feature is massive in the greater context of digital Dj’ing. In fact one could easily perform an entire set without loading one full track into Traktor by simply using ‘Remix Decks’ only! So just when you thought DJ’ing was all about layering 2 (or 4) tracks one after the other with some smooth beat-mixing, the rules of engagement have been changed forever. Anybody who uses Traktor will attest to its stability and how well it works. What NI have done with Ver. 2.5 is combine the ‘DJ-ability’ of Traktor with the ‘remix-ability’ of something like Ableton Live. The potential is now mid-boggling. As for the F1 controller, it’s the shiz both in terms of looks and functionality. The [Kontrol] X1 impressed the hell out of me when I discovered its full potential. The F1 feels the same; a compact, robust, and highly functional piece of gear to take your DJ performance to the next level.



By Dave Mac

MIXVIBES U-MIX CONTROL PRO FUNCTIONAL AND FEATURE PACKED WITHOUT THE NEED FOR FLASH... ixvibes is a French technology company which built its name on their Digital Vinyl System software (MixVibes DVS) in 2003, a Timecode format and of course their Mixvibes DJ software. Recently though, they have moved into the hardware market too, hence the Mixvibes U-Mix Control Pro DJ controller on review here. Notably this also includes their new Cross DJ software - boasting a revamped GUI and professional DJ features. Both the controller and the software each won an award at the Mixmove Tech Wards in 2011 for “best DJ controller under 600€” and “best DJ software,” respectively. The U-Mix comes in two models, namely the U-Mix Control 2 - simply a DJ controller sans audio interface and the U-Mix Control Pro which features a 2 In / 2 Out Stereo integrated soundcard. Both units are otherwise identical except the Control 2 is packaged with Cross DJ LE and Control Pro with Cross DJ - the full software, one tier beneath the company’s flagship DJ application simply called Cross. The main difference between Cross DJ & Cross is primarily the Timecode features and multiple routing modes.


Anatomy The U-Mix Control Pro is a relatively small unit which will please DJs who travel a bit as it fits neatly into a backpack with plenty space to spare. They have managed though, to include all the features you will find on a pro unit and surprisingly without it feeling like a tight squeeze. Connectivity includes 2 stereo input RCA jacks, suitable for CD or MP3 player but also includes phono on both

inputs. You also get a double set of stereo output RCAs should you wish to plug into a DJ mixer and mix of that instead of internally through the unit itself. The device is USB powered with an optional 6V DC in (PSU not supplied) which is handy if your laptop is running off batteries and you’re try to conserve juice. The front of the unit hosts the headphone socket (mini and regular) and microphone jack along with the obligatory volume, mix knobs etc. This 2-channel controller belies its size by neatly including all the ‘add-on’ features beyond basic mixing controls (3-band EQ, dual-channel sliders, cross-fader, gain knobs, browser button etc) such as 6 cue points (3 buttons toggled with a shift key), FX buttons which includes the FX On/Off which also doubles up as the FX selector knob, ‘Amount’ which controls the depth of the effect and the ‘Loop’ button which enables one to select the length of said effect in increments from 8 to 1/16th. Pressing the Loop button activates the looping feature based on the same length parameters. The jog-wheels whilst quite small are touch-sensitive and took a mere few minutes to get used to.

Cross DJ A DJ Controller is ultimately only as good as the software it is controlling and Cross DJ, like the U-Mix controller, delivers all the essential features you can expect on a professional piece of DJ software; The FX section has 15 different effects ranging from the regular low and high-pass filters, flanger, phaser etc to a few more interesting ones such as the chopper, roll and my personal favourite the delay which seems to work like

Mixvibes U-Mix Control Price: R 1,999.00 Mixvibes U-Mix Control Pro Price: R 5,999.00 Supplier: Tradelius Tel: (031) 502-3080 Web:

an old-school tape-delay. None are mind blowing but they do get the job done. Beatsyncing and/or beat-matching [manually] via the jog-wheels and tempo slider is very tight. Once you’re in, you’re in. Ditto the looping and hot-cues. The track snaps to the beat so you can jump to different parts of the track comfortably knowing you’ll never be out of sync. Tempo can be controlled in 3 different ways; ‘speed’ increasing speed of the track will also pitch the track’s key (or vice versa), ‘tempo’ - which implements a master tempo algorithm (pitch does not change) or ‘hybrid’ which kind of does something in between these 2. I’m old school and opted for the regular ‘speed’ option.

Conclusion The U-Mix Control Pro and Cross DJ software is a very good package. Everything works seamlessly after installation and you really do get all the pro features found on the professional platforms. The unit itself punches well above its weight in terms of usability and intuitiveness. Without so much as a gander at the manual I found myself pressing the right buttons (sometimes combined with shift) - it’s all there, where it should be. The same with the software; whilst I’m not crazy about the GUI, aesthetically, everything is really easy to find and follow and that is perhaps what impresses the most. No gimmicks, no flash, but it’s all there, feature packed and functional.



By Jonathan G. Shaw

TRICKS FROM THE PRO'S 13: GOOD VIBRATIONS o you’ve got a PC, a small mixer, some software and a mic. You’ve been working on a beat for a while and the time has come to put down an idea or two for vocals. Let me show you how to do it. A lot of guys ‘n gals are running Cubase and Rewire some of your favourite programs like Reason and FL Studio into them, while you work on a small MIDI controller. You are often running something as basic as a Presonus Audiobox which allows you to run two mics, probably something as affordable as a Shure PG58 into the system and put out a signal to some headphones and KRK Speakers. Does this sound familiar? If not, it’s all in Shaw Music Studios’ Suite B at the moment waiting for you to jump in. (The editor frowns and shakes his head, tsk, tsk, tsk).


PLAY LONG AND PROSPER! RESISTANCE TO BETTER SOUND IS FUTILE! Anyway, to get the best vocal recording out of your setup you need to understand how it works together. Let’s start: plug the mic into channel 1 on the Audiobox and turn up the main speaker/ headphone output. Pressing play, you should hear your song playing back as usual. If you are using a condenser microphone, press the 48V button to send the mic some power. Set the Mixer dial to half way – the Mixer dial controls the balance of volume between the direct microphone input and the sound from Cubase. Next, create a new audio track which is in mono. Click on the name of the track and rename it “Vocals”.To the left are the track’s options. Click on the top of these options on the track’s name and a menu box will open. If the Audiobox is installed correctly with Cubase, the second last

option should read “Mono In 1” (see the diagram), if not, click where it should be and select this option. Your microphone in input 1 is now connected to the “Vocals” track input. Turn up the Mic 1 input dial on the Audiobox to increase the gain of the microphone. Speaking into the mic, you should see the blue bars in Cubase’s navigator flashing up and down on the left channel only (mono usually defaults to the left) – you have signal coming in! Careful not to set it too loud as you will get noise into the system. On 24 bit systems, lower gains are not really an issue anymore, but don’t have it too soft anyway. Hitting star [*] will start recording. Spacebar stops the recording. Always be mindful of the loudness the signal going in is, and make sure the mic is the right distance from your mouth. The further way it is the more room you’ll get into the signal, but the close you are the more bass and distortion could happen. Once you’ve laid down your vocals, you can put processing on them. Click the Inserts tab, click in one of the black boxes and select “Compression” to smooth out the highs and low volumes in the voice. Click on the Equalisation tab and easily click in the diagram where to put in EQ changes. Finally, a bit of reverb from the Insert tab may round off the perfect vocal recording. We’ll chat about these more next time as well as how to double up your vocals.





Jonathan Shaw is a professional record producer who has worked with a multitude of artists and record labels in a freelance capacity. Outside this, he lectures music business at the University of the Witwatersrand and provides business consultation to the music industry.

For trade enquiries or to find your nearest dealer call Pro Audio SA (011) 822-1430 | |

For trade enquiries or to find your nearest dealer call Pro Audio SA (011) 822-1430 | |







Vocals harmonizing together can be pleasant to the ear. With a basic knowledge of chord theory (1, 4, 7 is a Major Chord and 1, 3, 7 is a Minor Chord), we can create these through transposition in Ableton Live. Here’s how:

Humans can fly with the help of airplanes, live longer with the aid of modern medicine, but only one device can help us talk like the robots; the Vocoder! I’ve tried to get my hands on a software version of a Vocoder that is as easy to use (and sounds as great!) as a MicroKorg. Ableton delivered. Here are some great ways to get music sounds out of non musical sounds.

Ableton’s Beat Repeat can do some wildly amazing things. At first glance it may seem fairly chaotic (so chaotic, in fact, it can be quite intimidating.). Although, focusing in on these couple of parameters for vocal manipulation will help you get the glitch out.

Step 1: In Arrange View, copy and paste your vocal track on to two new audio channels. Step 2: Engage Complex warp mode on both copies. Step 3: For a Major Chord “Harmony”, transpose the first copy up 4 steps and the second up (or down) 7 steps. For a minor

Step 1: For this example, I am going to use a sample of a voice saying “Please stand clear of the doors”. Step 2: Start by dropping Ableton’s Vocoder on your vocal track.

Step 1: Add some warp points to a vocal track, preferably single words or short phrases. Step 2: Once you have all of your warp markers set up, right click on the audio track and select “Slice to New MIDI Track”.

Step 3: Drop Analog or Operator (or any other VST synth) on an empty MIDI channel. Step 4: Program a simple set of chords on the Synth track (I am using G Minor and D Minor Chords for this example). Step 5: So far we have two tracks, the MIDI track with the synth playing chords, and the vocal track (or in my case, speaking), lets merge the two together.

key change the first copy can be moved up or down 3 steps. Step 4: Mix the volume to a pleasing level for all vocal tracks until it sounds like a three part harmony.

Step 3: Select the presets “Warp Marker” and “Built-In-0-Vel”. Click Okay. Step 4: This will create a new MIDI track

Step 6: Mute the synth track and on the left side of Vocoder (remember on the vocal track) choose your carrier to be

External and your Audio Source to be

with Drum Rack on it. Drag a copy of Beat Repeat onto this new channel. Step 5: Trigger any of the samples off. When you do, be quick to hit the “Repeat” button on the drum rack in order to catch a certain part of the phrase. Once you do, twist the “Grid”, “Pitch” and “Pitch Decay” knobs for some VERY interesting results.


By David Maclean

THE 70% PHILOSOPHY y the time you press record, 70% of your production should be finished. Huh? This principle is based on the author’s experience with thousands of hours of recording, mixing, mastering and teaching. Regardless of your workflow or genre of music, it is a given that to give your production the greatest chance of being competitive in the open market it will need to be recorded, then mixed and mastered. This approach is nothing new but how we start the production has a dramatic influence on the quality of the final product and speed at which we can work - what you put in is what you get out. Too many songs enter production before they are complete because in reality music is an assortment of ideas and not a coherent composition. With the ease and accessibility of the DAW workflow, the music industry is inundated with material (songs) that are a series of loops and grooves that do not have carefully crafted melodies and meticulously planned arrangements. The result is a ‘good idea’ that does not have longevity because after 20 bars of music the song has nothing left to say. While we’re on the subject, the DAW with Virtual instruments and samples has spawned a generation where everyone, including their families and pets, is a producer. In reality, most folk who are referring to themselves as producers are in fact a composer with a computer and the appropriate software! There is also a substantial difference between creating sick beatz and a composition. More beatz are not needed folks, but carefully crafted compositions that have something to say will never go out of style. Miles Davis used to tell his musicians with regard to taking solos when performing live ‘if you don’t have anything to say, shut up’. As with everything, our quality control and being informed are minimum requirements for us to be competitive, because the artists, producers and engineers whose productions we aspire to compete with, have these qualities locked down. So, what has any of this got to do with the 70% philosophy? The short answer is, everything! Many audio engineers and production teams spend relatively little time with the composition and recording of the material and rely, in certain instances almost completely, on the mixing to achieve balance, coherence and musicality. When


you press record, you have already determined about 70% of what the record will sound like, regardless of what automation and clever trickery you have planned for the mixing. The recording engineer’s responsibility is not simply to capture a signal and watch the levels; it is to ensure that a performance is captured that is already balanced! This principle applies to our workflow whether we are using MIDI or microphones, or both.

The principle of the 70% philosophy is to achieve balance of tones, levels and musicality before we press record. With this approach, more than ¾ of the production is completed during the recording phase, which makes mixing and mastering a cinch in time and effort and bypasses the need for damage control to produce a stellar result.


nother Holy Grail for achieving balance during recording in the digital domain is to stop pinning the recording levels! In the days of analogue tape and noisier electronics, it was vital that engineers set the recording levels to tape as close to maximum without clipping, to ensure the best possible signal-to-noise character of the recording. Most engineers in the digital domain still use this approach and it is not necessary because of the incredible signal-to-noise integrity of modern digital audio electronics (negligible noise with spectacular transparency). Even entry-level digital audio gear can handle resolutions of 24 bit/96kHz easily so there is no excuse for us not to be using this in our productions – the benchmark recordings are. Yes we need to deliver a 16/44.1 final product but more on than that in a future article. Right now, we’re concentrating on the 70% philosophy! When your DAW session is prepped, routed and ready to go, let the music’s dynamics determine the recording levels, it is that simple! The benchmark that we


should be striving for is to present the mix engineer with recordings where they can bring all the faders up to unity gain on their console (virtual or hardware) and already have a wonderfully balanced mix. This is only be possible if we use our 70% philosophy, and it isn’t rocket science to achieve if we allow the recording levels to mirror reality – i.e. optimising your gain structure to receive the signal and then let the music dictate the levels-to-tape itself. It sounds simple, because it is! Mix engineers often need to ride faders and use complex automation because the recording engineer (often the same person) has been level watching and ignoring what the music is actually delivering. A soft sound or passage of music will have a low/softer recording level and vice versa - leave it that way! Let the recording levels mirror the dynamics of the performance and don’t kill yourself trying to get hot levels - it is counterproductive. Many engineers believe they cannot achieve a LOUD production if they don’t have high recording levels? Rubbish! If you record a soft sound loud, you will simply

have to pull its fader down in the mix. The best sounding productions (regardless of genre) have dynamics, period. In summary, the 70% philosophy will support us to produce superb productions that are engaging, powerful and exciting by being sure, before we press record, that the performance and tones are balanced. Once we’ve achieved the 70% philosophy we can sit back, relax and enjoy the music and the production process with the peace of mind of knowing that we have captured something special and don’t have to rely on the mixing and mastering. Our love of music is what brought us into this crazy business in the first place, so, let’s enjoy ourselves and stop hoping we will receive a great production back from the mastering engineer because we ensured that by the time our finger hit the record button, we had nailed it already! Until next time, have fun, don’t monitor too loudly and let your love of music dictate how you work and don’t obsess that you have to have X preamp or Y speakers. The listener doesn’t care!

David Maclean | a Brief Biography David Maclean is a mastering engineer, educator and business executive with two decades of experience in the music industry and tertiary education sector. David is the Director of SAE Institute South Africa and is based at their campus in Cape Town. The SAE Group has 54 campuses across the globe. David understands the attitudes and opinions of the industry professionals within the creative media industries and the educators and authorities within Higher Education in South Africa and abroad based on his unusual portfolio of skills in business, education and creative media technologies.

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Denon SC3900 Media Player, Beat Thang, Gemini CDJ-650, Mixvibes U-Mix Control Pro, Traktor F1 & Traktor Pro 2.5, Headphone Shootout, Gear Ne...