ALL ABOUT THE
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SEPT/OCT ‘11 EDITION 57
Latest in DJ, Music and Production Gear 3. 4. 5. 6. 8. 9. 10. 12. 14. 16. 20. 22. 24. 25.
EDITORS NOTE & INFO COVER FEATURE - MUSIC BOX BY CRAIG DE SOUSA COVER FEATURE - MUSIC BOX BY CRAIG DE SOUSA REVIEW: EVENT 20/20 BAS REVIEW: WHARFEDALE TITAN & DELTA SERIES SPEAKERS REVIEW: WHARFEDALE TITAN & DELTA SERIES SPEAKERS GEAR NEWS GEAR NEWS REVIEW: ULTRASONE HEADPHONES REVIEW: AMERICAN AUDIO: VMS2 VS. VERSADECK PRODUCTION TIPS: HARMONIC DISTORTION TUTORIAL: ABLETON TUTORIAL WITH CRAIG DE SOUSA DEMYSTIFYING THE CONTEXT OF BEING EDUCATED DEMYSTIFYING THE CONTEXT OF BEING EDUCATED
EDITOR’S NOTE t’s great to see businesses thinking out the box a bit and Music Box (cover feature), a DJ solution that combines different components from three different companies, as conceptualised by prominent house DJ Craig De Sousa, is just that. None of the products are unique or brand new but what is unique is that someone has had the foresight to look at what separate components a DJ will use in the digital DJ realm and then put these together in one neat and cost effective package. It’s a great concept at a really good price, one that should certainly get CDJ DJs casting an eye to their digital future. So well done to Craig for using his experience as a DJ and taking the time to explain and convince three separate brands to come together and offer a single exit package. Speaking of Craig I am also happy to welcome him as a writer. He will be imparting his immense knowledge of Ableton within these pages each edition. Elsewhere we feature loudspeakers from Wharfedale that should be of interest to mobile DJ’s and rental companies alike with their Titan D and Delta Series
respectively. Digital DJ’ing continues to be a strong theme too as we look at American Audio’s Versadeck and VMS2 and for a change we look at some really top notch and versatile headphones both for DJ’s, the studio and even for gamers or leisure use with the Ultrasone range. Education has always been a priority of ours and this issue we have SAE Institute ‘demystifying the context of education,’ as Director of SAE Cape Town, David Maclean kindly dispels some myths in following tertiary education. His advice is sound and stern and should be read by anyone considering the option to study the creative arts. They are also offering a full one year scholarship for next year so I implore all potential students to read his feature on Pg. 24 and then, of course, submit an application, if you feel you have the goods to pursue one of their courses. Don’t forget to visit www.bpmmag.co.za for daily gear news. DAVE MAC Editor-in-Chief
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COVER FEATURE By Dave Mac
A highly desirable Digital DJ Solution presented by Craig De Sousa ithin the pages of this magazine we have reviewed many, many DJ controllers and I can personally attest to watching this burgeoning market grow and grow from the first rudimentary models that arrived on my desk several years back. It’s also fair to say that we’ve advocated the benefits of ‘going digital,’ a point of view I have championed since discovering this for myself. Unfortunately amidst all the good reasons I can offer as to why digital DJ’ing kicks CDs into touch, it does also come with certain reservations. Sadly I have seen good DJs lose ‘their edge’ when crossing over to a controller-based platform simply because the sync button is just too hard to resist and once the art of beat-matching is no longer required, DJ’s run the risk of losing that human touch to their performance. Which is why I like the solution that renowned house DJ, Craig De Sousa has come up with, simply called Music Box.
What Is It? Music Box is basically a DJ solution comprising of four essential components to empower you with the tools to perform digitally from a laptop. These four items are a MacBook Pro, Serato Scratch Live, a Serato SL2 soundcard and an Akai LPD8 controller. Here’s how it works; The Macbook hosts your DJ application – in this case Serato Scratch Live, your SL2 soundcard provides high quality 48 kHz, 24-bit multi-channel audio output as well as Serato NoiseMap™ Control Tone (more about this later) and your LPD8 ensures that you don’t have to touch the laptop keyboard whilst performing. But how does one cue up your tracks and where’s the jog-wheels and mixer I hear you ask? Well this is where Music Box differs from the now very familiar all-in-one controller + laptop configuration. With this setup one uses the mixer and CD players in the DJ booth to perform. So all mixing, EQing and auditioning of tracks in your headphones are done on the mixer in the DJ box. Likewise the CDJs in the booth become your controllers for beat-mixing your tunes. Sound complicated? It isn’t. In fact once one gets one’s head around the
+ “This new age of dj'ing has been the inspiration to take my performances to the next level! No more frantic looking for a track in a cd wallet. All my sets are uniquely planned with the flexibility to move with the party.” - Craig De Sousa concept of plugging the CD players into the SL2, it’s really dead simple. I mentioned the Serato NoiseMap™ Control Tone feature earlier. This feature converts a turntable (some of you may have heard of these, heh-heh) or a CDJ into a controller to control the playback section of the Serato software. So once a track is loaded into a channel (A or B) the CDJ takes control of said track enabling you to use the jog-wheel and seek buttons to move the track back ‘n forth, the tempo slider will adjust the track’s bpm accordingly and the play and cue buttons will do exactly what they would if a CD was inserted. In fact your CDJ will perform exactly as if you were playing off a CD except the player is actually controlling the track on your laptop. So now your left and right CDJ in the DJ booth gets used just as if you were a CD DJ except the sound source is coming from your rad new MacBook. Likewise when it comes to mixing two tracks you’ll use the mixer in the booth as before. But how you ask again? This is all handled by the Serato SL2 card. This baby not only handles two-channel output - you’ll plug the RCAs into the mixer where the CDJs were connected (or if the mixer has more than two channels simply select the two unused channels) and you’ll plug the CDJ into the SL2. That simple. This quick
manoeuvre (and it’s a 2 minute operation, trust me) sets the mixer up and turns the CDJs into your controllers – it’s as simple as that. By now you'll be curious as to what the Akai LPD8 does. This nifty and ultra compact midi controller pad can be used for any additional functions in the software without needing to use the mouse or keyboard. I quite like the way Craig has his setup although I would probably add some different functions too. The one operation that I think will be universal is to browse your library of tunes via the pad and then of course load a track into a player channel. Then, since the LPD8 (LPD stands for Laptop Pad Controller by the way) has four programmable memory banks, eight backlit, velocity-sensitive drum pads and eight Q-Link knobs for controlling virtually any parameters in software, many other optional controls are at your fingertip. It’s really up to you. The build quality of this unit is exceptional, the pads being particularly impressive and at less than 13 inches wide it fits in a laptop bag with the tiniest footprint. I would think most Serato users will end up using the LPD8 to control FX, looping and samples. The pads are really ideal for triggering samples whilst the rotaries feel great too.
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Who should own one? There are many ways to ‘go digital’ these days and the controller + laptop configuration seems to have stolen quite a bit of the limelight. However if you’re still a bit oldskool and can’t get your head around the idea of small little jog-wheels, shorter than average sliders and loads of buttons and knobs in a confined space then Music Box may just be for you. A setup like this is still the closest thing to CDJ Dj’ing since you will still be using the mixer and CDJs in the DJ booth. What’s more you may be looking at your mixer and CDJs at home and be a little loath to discard those cherished babies. With Music Box you won’t be. You’ll be empowering them by taking them into the 21st Century. Of course if you don’t have anything set up at home then the controller/laptop option would obviously be more practical.
Verdict I am a big fan of this type of setup. I do feel that this manner of digital DJ’ing sustains the essence of the craft and still seems to be the preferred configuration
o f m a n y p r o D J’ s , a l t h o u g h admittedly many weird and wonderful methods are in use these days so I am by no means advocating it as the ‘only professional solution.’ Personally I always have a little private chuckle when I see DJ’s lugging big DJ flight boxes with their controller and laptop into the booth, trying to find space to set it up etc. Inevitably the DJ always has to place his or her gear to the side of the mixer and CDJs which means you don’t stand in the centre of the booth whilst playing. I still think people want to see a performance from the DJ and by ‘manning’ the decks and taking control of the focal point in the booth you get to do this. I also like the fact that by placing the LPD8 in front of the mixer, putting one’s MacBook on the side, you avoid the dreaded ‘staring into the computer screen syndrome’ whilst playing. In fact most punters would be none the wiser as to which medium you are using since you’re still operating the CDJs and mixer. But this is not just about controller/ laptop vs. Music Box. As mentioned earlier this choice may well be governed by your existing home setup. What I like about using the Scratch Live system is you get all the digital tools the software has to offer such as sample decks, FX and looping but you still get to DJ oldskool style. Whist DJ software is definitely tighter – when the beat is in it stays in – there’s no auto sync so you will still feel like you’re remaining true to the art form, so CD DJ’s still unsure about the changeover should have a good look at Music Box especially if you don’t have a dedicated laptop for deejaying yet. Yes there are various components to pack in your bag – 3 to be precise (+
cables & headphones) – as opposed to just a CD wallet and ‘phones but you’ll get used to it and having all one’s music at your disposal for any gig, any time far outweighs these concerns in my opinion.
Available configurations: Music Box Bundle 1 – R 16,499.00 Incl VAT MacBook Pro 13-inch: 2.3GHz + Akai LPD8, USB Midi MPC Pad Controller + Serato SL2 Scratch Live Package Music Box Bundle 2 – R 21,599.00 Incl. VAT MacBook Pro 15-inch: 2.0GHz + Akai LPD8, USB Midi MPC Pad Controller + Serato SL2 Scratch Live Package For more info use this link: http://www.digicape.co.za/craigdesous a/cds.html
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STUDIO GEAR By Dave Skinz
Event 20/20 BAS V3
the return of Big Ass Sound! Exquisite definition with loads of crisp power. The best just got better!
What Is It? The Event 20/20 BAS V3 is the third incarnation of one of the most universally acclaimed studio monitors available. The very first pair of 20/20's were released back in 1995 and were handed over to Francis Buckley who's first project on them was to mix Quincy Jones' Q's Jook Joint for which he won a Grammy Award for 'Best Engineered Album'. Fifteen years and three versions later the engineers at Event still try and remain true to the original 20/20's character and tone but also draw a lot of the technology and innovation from the critically acclaimed Opals. So while the transducer design and cabinet volume have remained unchanged the components themselves have seen a couple of upgrades. In case you were wondering what the bas acronym stands for, its bi-amplified system and refers to the Class AB amplifiers from the Opal series for the tweeter and woofer that provide up to 250 watts of burst power with less than .01% Total Harmonic Distortion. This more than doubles the power of the original 20/20's while halving the THD! Couple that with some mods in the cabinet bracing and construction and you have a monitor with the same feel and tone of the originals but with more oomph, less distortion and exquisite definition. A very potent combination when you need accuracy for mixing, mastering and recording. Inputs for the 20/20 BAS V3's are via unbalanced RCA or balanced XLR, but we all know exactly which of those inputs most of us are going to use. Rounding out the specs for those that like the numbers, the frequency response is an impressive 35Hz to 20KHz and they peak at around 108 dB SPL.
Who Should Own One? I find it hard to think of any reason why someone taking their craft seriously would overlook a pair of the 20/20 BAS V3's. In a price to performance comparison it would be a very steep gradient leaning towards the performance aspect while still pointing to real value for money. The 20/20's have always carried the reputation as a reference monitor that manages to bridge that tricky gap between making something that sounds amazing in the studio and will still sound great on your TV, headphones
or car system and the V3's are no different. These are the type of monitors that friends will start calling you regularly to “check” their mixes on.
The Verdict I have been lucky to see and hear the insides of quite a few studios and it’s a glowing testament to Event's calibre that a fair stack of them have a pair of 20/20's filling the hallowed centre position. Putting them through their paces in my home studio revealed some amazing details in CD's and tracks that I thought I knew well and some disconcerting holes in my own productions. While the response is flat, uncoloured and accurate they are also amazingly detailed. The stereo imaging was incredible and really hard to convey using words; they have to be heard to be believed. But what I really liked was that they still had the feel of the 20/20's that I have heard so many times before. The bass is the most noticeable improvement though, not just in its volume but also in the definition available at those all too tricky low end frequencies. It’s a comfortable experience listening to the 20/20's recreate so many of my favourite CD's with a lot less ear fatigue than I experience with my
current monitor setup and really gives you a deeper and more technical understanding of what the producer was trying to achieve in both recorded, and live pieces of music. To sum up, the Event 20/20 BAS V3's are utterly amazing and just spending a short time with them has really given me a deeper insight into sound and music that I thought I knew, imagine what they could do for you? To watch some of the most influential producers, engineers and DJ’s talk about the new 20/20 BAS monitors. Scan this tag on your Smartphone or go to www.bpmmag.co.za
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Price: R 12,995 per pair Supplier: Tuerk Music Technologies | Tel: (011) 792 8402 Web: www.tuerkmusic.co.za
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PRO AUDIO By Dave Skinz
Wharfedale Titan D and Quality speakers to handle any and every occasion
What Is It? Both the Titan D and the Delta series are at the top of the pile amongst the vast range of speakers that Wharfedale produce but each of these ranges is earmarked for a specific sector of the pro audio market.
Titan D The Titan D is the pick of the bunch amongst the active range of speakers that Wharfedale construct and they come in both a compact 12” and larger 15” model. The entire Titan range is assembled in a rugged injection moulded chassis and the speakers have been designed with the mobile and install users in mind to be ultra light and used upright or on its side as a floor monitor. The Titan D differs from the Titan range in that the D's utilize Class D amps to drive both the high and low frequency drivers and utilize Qubit, a 24-bit 192kHz Digital Signal Processing module with advanced multi-band dynamic processing and filtering to automatically adapt the speakers to sound more full and natural in a host of different environments. What's cool about the bi-amp designs on the Titan D's is that it extends to the limiting as well so the hi's and lo's are separately protected and you have a LED light on the speaker to let you know if you are pushing them too
hard. As with all the other models in the Titan range the D's can handle a bunch of connections with their combo inputs for 1/4” Jacks or XLR and will also let you plug a Mic directly into the back if you need to use them for PA work. Both Titan D models include a bass response optimizer in addition to Qubit to ensure a bass sound as crisp as the tops. Right lets breeze through the numbers; the Titan 12D's push out 300W of power of which 250W comes from the woofer and 50W from the compression driver, while the Titan 15D's weigh in with a hefty 420W broken down by 350W from the woofer and 70W from its compression driver. Both have high and low EQ control and switchable 90Hz monitor filters to cut out bottom end frequencies and avoid stage rumble, because we all know how much we love 15” monitors for performances.
Delta he Wharfedale Delta's are aptly named for the highly lauded Wharfedale Hi-Fi speakers of the 70's and they all utilize 3” voice-coils across the range to give them some real low end kick with 2” compression drivers set up with 90°x45°elliptical waveguides for a meaty output level and smooth dispersion of the high-frequency. The Deltas have been lined up as the replacements for the very
popular DLX range and in my opinion give an even better showing than their predecessors. The entire range is finished in Wharfedale's Rhino Rock which looks like textured paint but has that valued ruggedness of a carpet finish and all the boxes are constructed using plywood. A nice added feature are the dual angle pole mounts to ensure that you can position them correctly and provide the audience with the sound and not the ceiling. Both the 12 and 15” Delta's include a bunch of M8 rigging points if you want them mounted but the entire range has been designed to run either mounted or ground stacked. The Delta series is quite comprehensive in its offering with 12” and 15” cabinets and monitors (love those 15” monitors), dual 15” cabinets and 15”, 18” and dual 18” subs to really satisfy the needs of any discerning audio purveyor. If those numbers don't tickle your ear buds then a squiz over the program figures of the speakers are sure to impress you. The smallest speakers in the range, the 12 and 12M put out 800W program with the 15 pushing 1000W. That translates to 129 dB output for the 12's and 131 dB for the 15's. But with that extra wattage expect some extra weight as well; even the 12M tips the scales at a hefty 23 kg with the 15 stepping in at 30kg a speaker. The entire Delta range comes fitted with Speakon connectors to make sure that there is no accidental disengaging during performances.
Delta Loudspeaker Ranges The Verdict
Who should own one? The Titans are touted mainly as the speaker for the mobile DJ and club market but there is no doubt that they would be equally suited for pubs, venues, houses of worship and similar type of applications. Even for venues with an install system the Titan D's would be a great reinforcement speaker to cover areas that the current system doesn't handle too well or for areas that are going to be expanded for once-off events. The Deltas are aimed squarely at the touring, rental and fixed application markets and with their robust design and durable components they will be able to perform week-in and week-out even after being carted around and subjected to the wearand-tear inherent with the rental and touring sectors.
It’s tricky to put these two ranges of speakers head to head as they are both such different beasts. I would highly recommend the Titans to guys that are doing mobile work as they are powerful and like all Wharfedale's have a good ability to translate different types of music into a comfortable listening experience so they would be as suitable running next to a church band as they would be sitting next to a DJ booth. The Titans are also great value for money when you spec them next to the huge range of active speakers out there at the moment. Interestingly enough the D's sounded softer when compared right next to the standard Titans, but after some comparisons I realized why. It seems what I perceived as volume on the Titans was actually distortion! That's right people, sometimes your ears can lie to you and when looking at the output wattage the Titan D's put out more power, more efficiently and much more cleanly than the old Titans were capable of.
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Now to the Deltas; these speakers are magnificent and they certainly would be able to brightly colour a whole bunch of applications in which audio is the primary and most important part of a performance. Installed in high end venues or carted to festivals are the main sectors where I see the Delta's slotting in, not just because they are super sturdy in the mass department but also when it comes to the output. Make no mistake the Deltas are loud and very capable of filling a floor but it’s the way that they manage to pull it off that’s so impressive. The audio is full and beefy and very capable of being cranked up. Both the Titan D and Delta ranges are decent speakers that manage to ride that tricky gap between potential and price when you look at the competitors’ products and are certainly worth closer inspection before making your investment.
Suggested Price (vat incl.): Delta Range: From R 3,495 – R 7,995 each | Titan 12 D: R 3,995. Titan 15 D: R 5,995 each Supplier: Audiosure | Tel: (011) 790 4600 | Web: www.audiosure.co.za
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GEAR & INDUSTRY NEWS
The Denon Digital DJ School One of the longest running and most reputable DJ Schools in South Africa, the DJ Mix Club has joined forces with one of the world’s strongest DJ brands to form the Denon Digital DJ School. With the many advancements in the way DJ's are currently performing, pieces of gear like turntables have been left in the dust in favour of CD, MP3 and USB players as well as the ubiquitous MIDI Controller. With all that progress in mind the DJ Mix Club who have trained over 5000 DJ's in their 13 year history, have collaborated with Audiosure to update the way new DJ's are educated and trained. The Denon Digital DJ School based in Blairgowrie in Randburg, now has two fully fitted Denon booths featuring the latest in Denon DJ gear for all the new students to experience and perfect their craft on. Courses will run part time over 10 weeks and will cost R 2800 per person. People interested can read more on www.djmixclub.co.za or contact Ray on (011) 886 9113 for more information.
Native Instruments introduces the new TRAKTOR KONTROL S2 - the two deck, all-in-one DJ Controller System
Shure SRH550DJ Professional Quality DJ Headphones Here's a purpose-built DJ-ready set of headphones from Shure that any serious DJ can love. Combining exquisite comfort with top-notch transducer technology, Shure SRH550DJ headphones deliver the world-class performance that will help you hear your music in the full detail you need to perform at your best. SRH550DJ's are tuned from the beginning for DJ use, providing the highimpedance conductivity that matches the output of most DJ mixers. Expertly tuned large-diaphragm drivers reproduce room-shaking lows and razor-edged highs to bring out the details of your music. The 50 mm Dynamic drivers deliver enhanced bass, while padded ear cups with supra-aural design swivel 90 degrees for flexible wearing positions and full isolation. The included set of replacement ear pads ensures a long product life. Standard Shure build quality, including replaceable ear cups pads and swivelling ear cups, all add up to make SRH550DJ headphones some of the best DJ headphones around. Also includes a carrying bag and a threaded 1/4" (6.3) mm gold-plated adapter. SA Distributor: Wild and Marr (Pty) Ltd | 011-974 0633, 021-787 9378, 031-564 3877 | www.wildandmarr.co.za
Native Instruments announced their brand new Kontrol S2 – a 2-channel version of their massively popular Kontrol S4 launched several months back. They say it’s the most professional 2-deck controller on the market, a lofty claim but not entirely without merit since it’s no doubt the exact machine as the S4, just stripped down and since it does come with the full Traktor Pro 2 you get all the pro features of this leading DJ package. Here’s some of their press info: “With pro credentials throughout, the 2.1 design couples the most essential items for any DJ — 2 decks and a mixer — with controls for multieffect units and a third channel for samples. Set it up in an instant and dive right into the mix. Rugged and highly portable, Traktor Kontrol S2 is the only controller of its size to come with the full version of Traktor Pro 2 included - the same software that pro DJs of all genres use. With Traktor 2 Technology inside, the S2 is tuned for maximum intuitiveness and creativity – resulting in an intensely fluid and fun mixing experience.” SA Distributor: Tuerk Music Technologies| (011) 792 8402| www.tuerkmusic.co.za
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GEAR & INDUSTRY NEWS
The Vestax PAD-One â€“ Tough as a Brick The Vestax PAD-One is a solid robust MIDI pad controller, compatible with various DJ & DAW software and can be used to control any kind of MIDI device, including synthesizers, samplers, drum machines, and electronic drums. The aluminium chassis will never warp or crack, ensuring you long life durability and stability. The PAD-One can individually assign pads on the fly, and shows you each pads MIDI value on the 7 seg indicator. Compact, solid and reliable, the PAD One is the ideal addition to your DJ arsenal. The pads not only send out velocity sensitive notes but they also send out a single after touch CC with further pressure on the pad. Why should you care? It gives triggering effects and notes more character with analogue expression right on your button. Imagine:
! turning on an effect with the button and then modulating the value with after touch. ! triggering a cue point and then bending the key parameter for a pitch bend. And it has an XY Pad too which is really responsive and customizable. It has a nice firm feel, as opposed to some X/Y pads which truly feel very flimsy. There is a roll feature for the buttons that allows for fast triggering of notes in automatic succession. The tempo of the roll is controlled by the TAP button and the rate is controlled by the X/Y pad. One possible use case is:
! triggering cue points in rapid succession in a true roll style drum build. This is a very nifty device. Compact and robust, expect to see these quite a lot this summer, used by DJâ€™s and producers alike. SA Distributor: Rolling Thunder | Tel: 021 557 8630 / 0090 | www.rollingthunder.co.za
Numark Red Wave Headphones Numark Red Wave headphones are for DJs who want something stylish and eye-catching without sacrificing fantastic sound. Comfortable to wear and great value for money, Red Waves are an excellent choice. Designed for professional DJs, they use a comfortable, closed cup design for great isolation from outside noise. The large, 50 mm neodymium drives produce clean, powerful output. A convenient, swivelling design on one cup makes them easy to wear one sided between the ear and the shoulder. Breathable proteinleather ear cups remain comfortable during prolonged use. The Red Wave's sleek, modern design ensures they look as good as they sound. With the included goldplated adapter, they can be used with virtually any DJ equipment. ! High-quality full-range headphones designed for DJs ! Swivel design offering DJs complete flexibility ! Breathable protein-leather padding designed for extended use ! Large 50 mm driver, neodymium magnet and voice coil ! Balanced detachable headphone cable with 3.5 mm adapter ! Professional build and modern design with superior sound ! Includes case to protect and store headphones, cable and adaptor ! 6.3 mm connector with 3.5 mm adaptor included for use with virtually any DJ gear SA Distributor: Viva Afrika |011-2503280| www.numark.com
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DJ GEAR By Dave Mac
Ultrasone Headphones Studio use, gaming or for DJs
eadphones in my opinion, much like loudspeakers, are a highly subjective topic in the world of sound mainly because each individual has or her own preference to what they think is good quality audio. Naturally bad audio (distortion, tinny sound, lack of bass, ear-piercing treble) are easier to dispute but when it comes to leading brands the subject becomes way more contentious. This is why I was quite interested to see what the 20 year old German company, Ultrasone, has to offer, that may be different or unique.
About Ultrasone S-LogicTM Plus Technologies
S-Logic™ Plus is the newest advancement in the S-Logic™ Natural Surround System, squeezing the BIG S-Logic™ soundstage found in their PRO series headphones into the more streamlined ear-cups of select HFI & DJ models (HFI-580, HFI-680, HFI-780, DJ1). The technology combines precision dampening with micro-acoustic reinforcement, allowing driver, bufferboard, and spatial parameters to complement one another in an optimal manner. So the acoustically redesigned ear-cups of these new models and their tonal fine-tuning result in a very neutral DJ1 sound impression with more vivid The DJ1 as the name clearly denotes is a perception of voices and instruments. specialist DJ headphone set and is also available as the DJ1PRO. Unpacking reveals a trendy looking headset finished in Verdict black with polar-white and silver trim. Each set of headphones includes a Included is a bag and an audio CD for reference listening CD containing 20 testing the unit. The patented S-Logic™Plus classical and acoustic based tracks to Natural Surround Sound Technology is demonstrate the full scope and range of the standard, as is the Ultra Low Emission model you have just bought. It’s Ultrasones (ULE-technology). The DJ1 has heavy duty way of saying ‘we know our headphones Mylar drivers to provide powerful sound sound good!’ Handily it also made my job and is designed to fold up into a transport way easier when testing the 3 models and bag and offers one-ear-listening due to this comparing to my existing set of cans. The HFI-780 and PRO900 are not too folding-mechanism. Aesthetically the DJ1 dissimilar in sound – both are crystal clear, and its PRO brother certainly look the part. very flat sounding and have incredible depth. In studio use or when gaming I PRO900 should imagine being lost in the audio quite The PRO900 headphones and in fact their easily and it would not be too far-fetched an entire PRO range are studio reference idea to forget you even have the headphones and out of the three variants headphones on. They are comfortable, on review here, certainly come in the most have large cups and the PRO900’s isolation substantial packaging along with a very is particularly impressive cancelling out professional looking hard case storage bag. external noise completely. The PRO 900’s hard case is equipped with The pick of the bunch for me though is extra earpads with great isolation, the DJ1, possibly because my ears are detachable USC (ultra soft) cable and tuned to this frequency after years of abuse. Neutrik connectors. The titanium-plated These phones fitted my head perfectly, the drivers deliver very precise sound cups covering each ear and cancelling out reproduction. Again their new S-LogicTM external noise superbly. But the most Plus technology is used in the design. impressive feature is the incredible bass extension. Competing with the bass of the main PA is tough enough but even with just HFI-780 The closed-back HFI-780 is accentuated by one ear on (the fold-up cup works perfectly) the polar-silver colour trim and is aimed the sound was crystal clear and the detail squarely at the high-end leisure market – super impressive. Notably I foresee no sound fatigue or specifically gamers and home theatre f u n d i s , I s h o u l d i m a g i n e . T h e s e long term ear damage using these, such is headphones derive from the studio sector their clarity and quality. The Ultrasone and also contain all Ultrasone technologies headphones are very good and certainly such as S-Logic™ Plus, ULE and safer deliver on their promise of high quality. hearing.
SA Distributor: SA Distributor: Tradelius | Tel: 031-5023080 | www.tradelius.co.za Suggested Retail Prices: DJ1 R1,590.00 | HFI-780 R2,275.00 | PRO900 R4,782.00
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DJ GEAR By Dave Mac
American Audio VMS2 & Versadeck
We go head to head with American Audio's VMS2 & Versadeck AMERICAN AUDIO
VMS2 VMS2 American Audios’s VMS2 is an all-in-one 2 channel DJ controller and is the baby brother to the 4-channel VMS4. Whilst the 4-channel comes bundled with either Traktor or Virtual DJ (you have the option), the VMS2 is only available with Virtual DJ. Unpacking reveals two notable things about the 2-channel version; It’s robust and solid – perhaps even heavy in comparison to similarly priced controllers in the market but this is a definite plus since you want it to withstand the vigour of gigging and this baby screams ‘solid as a rock.’ Secondly the VMS2 has platters as opposed to jog-wheels. The difference? Size, look and feel. They look like turntable platters, they’re clearly not as large but a decent size and whilst not weighted, the grooves on top and general feel make them quite responsive and tactile to use. All the regular features for mixing are present and layout is intuitive. This is a nofuss unit without any nasty surprises and will no doubt get the job done. Key features like balanced XLR outputs, 4-in/4-out audio interface, the option to add CD players to each channel so that the unit can perform as both a mixer or DJ controller, separate mic input along with gain and tone control and a 3phase curve control for the replaceable VCA cross-fader (Innofader compatible) all suggest a product that, whilst priced to compete with many brands’ entry level models, is actually fully kitted for pro use.
With the DJ controller market quite saturated a big challenge for developers is to add another dimension to their units and in so doing give them the edge over their competitors. The Versadeck, presumably so named to suggest its versatility is one such unit that stands out for exactly this. Again, as with the VMS2, the build quality, weightiness and all round ruggedness of the unit is very impressive. Visually it looks much like two CDJ’s connected to a 2 channel mixer due mainly to the VFD display at the top of each player and also the jog-wheels which look very CDJ like. Once again American Audio have not bulked on professional features such as XLR outputs, line input connectivity for CDJs, mic input, 3 Crossfader Curve Adjustments, hot cue and looping buttons, booth output etc, all of which it has in common with the VMS2. However where the Versadeck really comes into to its own is with two killer functions that are sure to impress; I alluded to the VFD display screen earlier and you may have wondered about this. Since the Versadeck comes with a second USB port (situated at the top centre of the unit) you can connect a flash disc or portable hard drive and play directly off either of these devices. The VFD display then offers basic MP3 related info normally found on Media Players such as file name, bpm, MP3 resolution, time remaining etc. This USB feature works really well and I was spinning merrily on both decks off the one shared thumb drive within seconds.
Handily the package also comes with an Audio Database Builder program to manage crates, tags etc and thus prepare your sets offline. The other really impressive feature is the 5 On-board FX (Echo, Flange, Filter, Skid, Scratch). The bundled Virtual DJ LE software does not include FX so having an onboard FX unit is a real cinch, something the VMS2 lacks.
Verdict Both units are priced extremely competitively and are well worth checking out. Build quality is very good, the features list impressive and they offer a host of performance options. The VMS2 lacks FX – the bundled Virtual DJ LE version does not have these and there are no onboard midi-mapable buttons for this should you decide to change DJ software. Nonetheless if you are looking for a good, robust controller that is also a mixer at a very good price, it’s a good proposition. The Versadeck costs a couple of grand more but comes with the onboard FX and second USB port which really does make it super versatile. You don’t need a laptop, just your Versadeck and Flash disc! The VFD display is a little oldskool by today’s standards but considering what you get for the price, one cannot really expect the full wave display. Conclusion: Both units impressed and should be checked out before spending your heard earned dosh.
SA Distributor: Legacy of Sound | Tel: +27 (0)21 551 3296 or +27 (0)82 53 555 48 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Expect to pay: VMS2: R 4,275.00 incl. Vat | Versadeck: R 6,719.00 incl. Vat
NDX SERIES NDX200 ................. R 1,983.
TABLETOP CD PLAYER NDX200 features seamless looping for creating and integrating loops in instant remixes. Single, continuous, and programmable playback modes enable you to control playback order and create custom playlists. NDX200 also has fader start, which starts NDX200 playing when you move the crossfader on a compatible mixer . Whether you are an experienced veteran or just starting out, NDX200 gives you more features for your money.
NDX400 ................. R 2,933.
TOUCH-SENSITIVE SCRATCH MP3/CD/USB PLAYER NDX400 is a flexible, slot-loading player that not only plays standard CDs, but it can also play MP3 CDs for lengthy playback from a single disc. Additionally, it can play from a USB flash drive for even more music-format flexibility. For easily navigating through folders on MP3 CDs and USB flash drives, NDX400 has an easy-to-read text display. NDX400 is a powerful, rock-solid player for a variety of music formats. Professional DJs and weekend warriors alike will appreciate NDX400’s great mix of features and capabilities for a surprisingly affordable price.
................ R 4,167. NDX800 PROFESSIONAL MP3/CD/USB PLAYER AND CONTROLLER 00
NDX800 is high-performance controller for DJs who blend different kinds of music sources. Whether your music is on your computer, USB flash drives or CD, you can perform with it using NDX800. This digital deck has the feel and layout you’re used to, with a twist of Numark innovation * FLEXIBLE FORMATS * DYNAMIC DECK * FX FLAVOUR. * PITCH POWER * REAL TIME REMIXING * VIVID VIEW
(NDX800 NOW COMES WITH TRAKTOR LE SOFTWARE!)
Whether you play parties, clubs, events, or in a group, NDX800 gives you the feel you like, the look a professional demands, and the utility of built-in effects, remixing, looping, and sampling. Pair a couple of NDX800s with your favorite Numark mixer and start making some hips move.
Prices are recommended retail incl. 14% VAT
DJ HEADPHONES HF125 ................. R 183.
PROFESSIONAL DJ HEADPHONES CLARITY AND COMFORT FOR THE MODERN DJ One place a DJ can't compromise, is in how they hear their mix. The Numark HF-125 headphone set delivers the goods with flexible 7-position independently adjustable dual ear cups, large 40mm Mylar speaker drivers, 6' tangle-resistant cord with 1/4" connector, and padded headband and ear cups.
PHX USB ........... R 725.
USB + ANALOG DJ HEADPHONES CUE WITH TRADITIONAL DJ GEAR OR DIRECTLY FROM YOUR COMPUTER. PHX USB professional DJ headphones feature an innovative, dual-connection design. You can connect PHX USB to virtually all of your gear thanks to their traditional analog and modern USB stereo outputs. With the standard analog cable, you can use PHX USB with mixers, CD players, and other analog gear. Connect the USB cable and you can cue right out of your computer with no need for an interface box!
RED WAVE ........ R 883.
CLEAN, POWERFUL AND COMFORTABLE HEADPHONES. HEADPHONES DESIGNED BY DJ FOR DJS. RED WAVE headphones are designed specifically for the professional DJ. They employ a comfortable, closed–cup design for great isolation from outside noise. RED WAVE’s large, 50mm neodymium drivers produce clean, powerful output. Designed by DJs for DJs, these headphones have a convenient, swiveling design on one cup so they're easy to wear one-sided between the ear and shoulder. The ear cups also have breathable protein-leather for DJs to remain comfortable during prolonged use.
Numark DJ gear as demonstrated at Mediatech 2011 www.hybrid.co.za For trade enquiries or to find your closest retailer call (011) 250 3280 | email@example.com | firstname.lastname@example.org | email@example.com
20 | BPM TUTORIAL
Tricks from the Pro's 8:
PRODUCTION TIPS By Jonathan G Shaw
A Hard Look at Yourself
adjust the level of the reference track so it sounds about the same. Take into account that your mix’s dynamics (sharp hits and lower ambiances) will not be the same as your mastered reference, so it’s okay if yours sounds a bit more “live” if you know what I mean.
alutations and greetings BPMings! If you haven’t started the practice of using another “pro” track to reference your productions with, now is the time to start. If you produce your own music, I’m sure you’ll have favourite artists or bands which you can simply look to for a reference which is similar to your type of music. You obviously don’t want to be an exact copy (well, maybe you do) and it just needs to be something you can find your “ballpark” with – something that you know sounds good from a technical perspective. In general I try to have the perspective that my track must sound bigger and better than my reference, which is quite a challenge, but it helps my clients get the sound they are after. I see referencing in 3 phases: production, mixing and mastering.
Production: Pull it in at the very start of your project (which implies you have a sonic goal in mind and not just a creative one) and use
it to see what your track needs. Since you’re listening to a final master, you’ll need to pull the level of that track down about -6 to -9db so it doesn’t blow your ears off while crafting your track. You may
find that you’ll change your choices for instruments when you reference against it and see how much “better” their choice was. You’re not looking for one that sounds exactly the same, but one of the same quality, perhaps.
Mixing: Here you’ll evaluate your mix against theirs. Once you have your rough mix,
Mastering: If you referenced throughout your project you’ll find that your master will match very nicely. Here you’ll pull your reference up to 0db and compare it with your final master. How does the relative feel and level match? Does your track now compare in quality and clarity? You can concentrate on similar equalisation, dynamics and stereo spread. Besides using your ears foremost, in iZotope Ozone, for example, you can compare equalisation and use it as a guide. Here are two tracks (below), white and yellow, that show you slight differences in spectral equalisation:
You’ll want to troubleshoot and spot things you can improve on as you reference and ultimately produce a great product (just remember that pros are employed because no one else can do the same thing... food for thought). Good luck! Play long and prosper! Resistance to better sound is futile!
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. firstname.lastname@example.org
22 | BPM
Programming Drums in Ableton Live
here are many ways to program drums, but still one of the most effective methods is using Ableton’s Drum Rack and a midi controller. This way the user has the control required to program more complicated rhythms and in a few simple steps you are able to map all your drum samples to your controller. To begin open a new midi track (Macshift cmd T or PC- shift ctrl T). To open Drum Rack you will find it in the left drop down menu under “Live Devices/ Instruments.” Simply drag and drop the drum Rack onto your new midi channel. In the track view below the Drum Rack appears with pads that have note numbers which are linked to the keys or pads on your controller. Simply drag and drop drum samples from the browser onto each pad. By double clicking the pad you reveal the Simpler plug-in with the sample already loaded. Simpler allows you to manipulate the sample by changing start and end points, loop features, volume envelopes etc.
a large selection of grooves, which appear as .agr files in the Browser. The easiest way to work with Library grooves is to drag and drop them from the Browser directly onto clips in your Set. This immediately applies the timing characteristics of the groove to the clip. A solid rhythm is the most crucial element of your track. It provides a foundation on which the rest of the track is built. Once your kick is placed the groove builds above it. Each new element should complement and support what’s gone before in terms of how it works both rhythmically and as part of the overall sound. On the Drum Rack Midi channel there is an arrow on the right of the channel name. Click on this to expand the audio channels of your drums. Here you can apply unique EQ, compression, reverb and other FX.
To program drums simply record arm the midi channel, hit record on an empty clip and play the parts you want. A great tip is to create a new midi channel for each new drum part and to record separate parts. This will allow you to create variations of each separate. When doing this remember to route the midi signal to the Drum Rack on the “In’s & Outs” portion of each channel. After recording a clip quantise, accordingly (Mac- cmd U PC- ctrl U.) Always check the quantise settings before applying. Alternately Ableton has an extensive groove pool which will give your drums a more natural swing. Live's Library includes
You can also mix your drums and pan using each channel strip. If you are layering multiple sounds as shown here with the claps, try select all and create a group (select all channels then Mac- cmd G or PC- ctrl G.) This will allow you to apply the same FX to multiple pads. The Drum Rack channel strip is where you can apply all your final FX to your kit. This is where opinions will vary but generally a drum FX chain can really shape things for you. An example would be a final EQ, Multiband Dynamics, Compression and even Saturation. This glues the kit together and helps with a better final
By Craig De Sousa
mix down of your track. A marriage of tone and rhythm is what you are after. Get the drums right and the rest will follow.
24 | BPM
Demystifying the Context of BEING EDUCATED
“If you're interested, you'll do what's convenient. If you're committed, you'll do whatever it takes.” o m o s t D J s , composers, music producers and musicians, education is not something they are concerned about while they are honing their craft or earning their income from executing their craft. However, regardless of whether one is beat juggling, purchasing a home or managing one’s finance, how educated one is in an activity directly influences the quality and effectiveness of the outcome. Put simply; the term ‘education’ does not solely pertain to sitting in a classroom being taught new information by a formal trainer. Education is the act of knowing more through wilfully seeking out or exposing oneself to new information and experiences. So what? Being educated and experienced in anything is what is attractive to
others who in turn use one’s skills and services. Conversely, if one is ignorant about something, one cannot a) partake in that activity, and b) one is of absolutely no use to others in that regard. ‘Being educated’ often creates divides and strong opinions, but in the context of this article education simply means being informed. Those who are genuinely informed about what they do (as opposed to pretending to be) are dramatically more in-demand (employable) than those who are not. Inherently curious people know vastly more than those who simply regurgitate the opinions and approaches of others. Leaders innovate while followers regurgitate. The jury has been out forever with regard to the validity of formal training in creative media technologies like music production, sound engineering, filmmaking and animation. Many believe that one can
only learn these disciplines effectively on the job and not in a classroom. If this scenario is taken at face value, the sentiment is most likely true. However, an institution worth enrolling in will ensure that students receive a powerful and authentic practical training provided by highly experienced industry professionals, as opposed to last year’s straight-A students employed on a minimum wage because they have no commercial experience, and consequently cannot command anything larger than a minimum wage. If the training provider undertakes discerning employment of trainers, students will be exposed to many trainers during their course of study instead of shadowing only one engineer or producer in the context of the traditional internship. This equates to far greater exposure to many opinions and workflows and not only that of one individual.
“Those that are informed about what they do (as opposed to pretending to be) are dramatically more in-demand (employable) than those that are not.” Another aspect of formal tuition by a truly credible provider that is often overlooked, discounted and in certain instances deemed irrelevant, is intellectual enquiry through research and being intellectually challenged. A person who is a great mix engineer or DJ who cannot think independently is not deemed a significant contributor to society and consequently is not as recognised as an informed and intelligent mind. This is not rocket science; it is simply the code of the planet. It must be said that, like most things, being educated is relative and in certain instances, subjective. However, a tertiary level qualification on one’s résumé speaks volumes to prospective employers of one’s capability to endure intellectual enquiry and ultimately know more
about an area of interest. Being informed takes commitment and a genuine interest to arrive at knowing more. A useful point of reference to assess whether one is simply interested in something or deeply passionate about it, is highlighted in this statement by John Assaraf: If you're interested, you'll do what's convenient. If you're committed, you'll do whatever it takes. What is the point of all of this? Why is an article on education and being educated in an urban culture magazine? The answer is simple; whether people talk about it or not, to be successful at what one does takes commitment, intellectual enquiry and a desire to be thorough. It is for this very reason that for all the people that participate in something, there are very few that are truly
25 | BPM
EDUCATION By David Maclean
superb at it. If you dabble in a hobby that is fine, but if you want to pursue something as a career and you are not superb at what you do, there are others that will be and are consequently more in-demand by prospective clients and employers. Ready D and Protoculture aren’t superb craftsmen because someone opened their heads and poured information into the cavity. They are superb because they have chosen to be. Professionals like them eat, breathe and sleep their craft and are very deliberate about everything they do and how they do it. The informed are constantly pushing themselves to know more, always. Be informed, you’re more valuable that way, and the enjoyment of what you do is so much more invigorating.
SAE Institute is offering one lucky BPM reader a full scholarship to study a 1-year full-time Higher Certificate qualification in either Sound Production, Digital Film Production or Animation & VFx at their Cape Town campus next year. To apply simply go to http://sae.medianinjas.co.za/competition/
Get the free mobile app for your phone
http:/ / gettag.mobi
Or enter now on your Smartphone by scanning the TAG. About the courses: For more information on any of these courses or about SAE Institute visit http://capetown.sae.edu or call or email them: Tel. +27 (0) 21 469 3600 | eMail: email@example.com
About the author: 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 Cape Town campus is one of 53 SAE campuses across the globe. David is known as the ‘white crocodile’ because of his unusual portfolio that includes equal-parts business, education and music production. Consequently David understands the attitudes and opinions of the industry professionals within the creative media technologies industries and the educator’s and authorities within Higher Education in South Africa and abroad.