Last summer the Beat Junkies were honored with an invitation to DJ Jazzy Jeff’s 2nd annual Playlist Retreat – a private invitational hosted by the Magnificent himself at his home in Deleware. Man. As you can imagine it was a beyond amazing week of collaboration and inspiration, all in the company of wonderful, talented people. One of the many highlights at Jeff’s retreat were the exclusive first looks at the newest DJ hardware from the music industry’s leading companies, which is where Roland officially introduced the new DJ 808 controller.
I’ve been DJ’ing since 1988 and have always played on turntables throughout my enitre career. That being said, I have for years been reluctant to step outside of my comfort zone where digital technology is concerned. I’ve never played a set on CDJs nor been the least bit interested in making an attempt to perform on anything other than turntables, if for no better reason than sticking to what I know. However, thanks to the good folks at Roland, the Beat Junkies were gifted the new DJ 808 controller and were asked to choreograph a performance showcase on their behalf. As an artist, the last position you ever want to be in is unprepared for a live performance, so it was imperative that I learn the DJ 808 and had a thorough understanding of at least the very basic functions, for starters… Essentially this meant I would need to reprogram myself as a DJ in a few ways, probably the most significant of which was to acquire a feel for 2 jog wheels that do not move (as opposed to a motorized turntable). As with any new instrument, the DJ 808 can be intimidating at first glance – 4 channels, multiple effects, faders and buttons everywhere, a drum machine sequencer that syncs with your tracks.. It’s certainly a lot to make sense of all at once. However, after dedicating a few days of practice I was able to get comfortable with the general functions and overall feel of the unit, and within less than a week I was able to exercise all of my turntable techniques on the DJ 808 and felt confident I could compose a “Beat Junkie Style” set that would include both creative mixing and scratching.
I have since had a few opportunities to showcase the Roland DJ 808 at various events, and other than “how do you like it?”, the question I get asked the most is about digital latency. To be completely transparent, there is a very slight adjustment that we as DJs need to make where hand control is concerned. Apart from that, the DJ 808 responds very well and is extremely accurate in translating DJ techniques. In fact, to all DJs worldwide, I can say with 100% certainty that the new DJ-808 is without a doubt worth consideration for everyone. Roland has created something special and is truly an organization that respects and appreciates the art of DJ’ing. Special thanks once again to DJ Descry and the entire team at Roland for continually creating new ways for us to play and make music. Let’s all keep an open mind where technology is concerned and keep pushing the art.
by DJ Melo-D
In the spirit of Christmas, our very good friend, Dj Dstrukt showcases a special DJ showcase using the limited edition Serato Christmas Sweater control vinyl, as he flips his own versions of classic Christmas songs. Enjoy! Ho Ho Ho….Happy Holidays!
Our very own Shortkut has been selected to be the newest artist for Serato!
Peep out his new DJ Showcase using the new Tropkillaz track “One Time” that he helped produced!
“Seminal turntablist, selector and longstanding central force of DJing ‑ Shortkut has long-surpassed icon status. And so should the only member of not one, but three of the world’s eminent DJ crews: The Invisibl Skratch Picklz, the World Famous Beat Junkies and Triple Threat DJs.
Though his technical skills are legendary, what sets Shortkut apart is his versatility. Growing up in 1980s Bay Area, Shortkut (born Jon Cruz) drew from a rich array of musical influences, in particular the mobile soundsystem culture that was coming to a head at that time in the States. His sets are never dull or predictable, bringing in everything from hip hop, funk and soul to deep house, reggae and dancehall. He keeps both the turntable fanatics happy and the dancefloors heaving. And, as Shortkut understands better than anyone, that’s why the DJ’s there.”
Peep his Serato interview here: https://www.facebook.com/Serato/posts/10153715953333016
At the time that I am writing this article, ultra pitch turntables are common place. It is not a stretch to say that you could easily order one right now and enjoy all the benefits it has to offer. Yet, many scratch dj’s have not taken that step and remain on what is essentially outdated gear. This is unfortunate considering all of the expressive scratching options that will open up as a result of acquiring ultra pitch turntables.
Imagine you owned a piano and you were very accustomed to the full pitch range that it has to offer from the first to the 88th key. With such a rich range of pitch your ability to express yourself tonally is very full. Now imagine you get up one day and walk over to your piano only to find that over 70 keys have been removed, leaving you with just one octave in the mid range to play. Most likely you’d be devastated by the drastic decrease of your expressive options.
Even if you’re unfamiliar with the piano, you’d be hard pressed not to notice that any great piano music covers a wide range of octaves and would not be nearly as expressive if it were all suddenly reduced to one octave. Unfortunately, that is similar to how popular turntables like the Technics 1200 are designed. Now I’m not out to bash Technics, but if we’re going to be truly honest, we have to admit to ourselves that its pitch range is extremely limited.
Excuses vs. Moving Forward
If you’re hesitant to dump old gear and move on, you could have several reasons. Perhaps you’re sentimental as you might’ve had your current turntables for awhile. You might feel that your current turntable is built like a tank and has proven its reliability. You may even be a pretty advanced scratch dj despite the limitations of the pitch range on your turntable. However, you should recognize that these are all merely excuses and by not moving on you are avoiding a key that will unlock many doors.
The First and Most Obvious Benefit
Let’s say you have a sample you want to scratch over a beat with, but the tempo of the beat doesn’t match the sample. You want to let the sample play all the way out, but it won’t stay on beat. The obvious solution, regardless of what kind of turntable you own, is to adjust the pitch of the sample so it will match. However, in this case the pitch is so far off that using a turntable without ultra pitch will result in the sample still playing off beat. Clearly, if you were using an ultra pitch turntable this would not be an issue whatsoever and you could solve your problem almost instantly.
Let’s look at another example. Say you have a really cool vocal sample to scratch with, but it sounds way too high and nasally. You can already tell that if you only dropped it down 10 percent or so that it would still sound piercingly high. Without an ultra pitch turntable you’d be likely to toss the sample and forgo what could have been a worthy addition to your arsenal of sounds. On an ultra pitch turntable you wouldn’t have to make such a sacrifice because you could continue to drop the pitch down incrementally until you find an ideal setting.
What About Serato?!
With technology like Serato you could actually record your scratch sounds into your DAW, adjust the pitch of each sample to whatever you like and then drop it into serato or use a plug-in for Serato called Pitch ‘N Time and the above problem would be solved. However, while these are workable solutions, they aren’t the most ideal for on the fly situations. Using Serato for pitch issues also negates the advantage of slower platter speeds which I’ll speak more about below.
Record Control on a Whole New Level
When you scratch on a turntable without ultra pitch you are forced to learn to control the record over a platter speed that may be too extreme for your current skill level. However, when you drop the pitch down considerably the platter spins much slower and the amount of resistance that you experienced with scratching before is lessened to a great degree. This makes it much easier to gain the necessary record control it takes to be really expressive when scratching. When you gain control at those speeds, going back up to standard or extreme speeds becomes much easier to tackle because now you only have to deal with the challenge of extra resistance from the platter.
Now that you have a clear picture of why it is so vital to use ultra pitch turntables, I’d like to give some recommendations of turntables that have an ultra pitch option. The main ones I think are most noteworthy are the Vestax PDX 3000 and the Numark TTX. The PDX 3000 being on the higher end and the TTX being somewhat lower. There are other options, but I think you’ll find that those are the most worthwhile. So in closing, take a leap and don’t look back. I wholeheartedly believe you’ll have zero regrets.
This Friday (November 6th), Guitar Center joins forces with Serato for an intimate LA Workshop at the Guitar Center Hollywood. Their special guest is our very own Dj Babu.
At the workshop, they will be covering everything Serato DJ. Including the latest features and hardware: Key Mixing, Club Kit, and the Pioneer DJM-S9 mixer.
The workshop is from 6-9pm. To RSVP, go to: https://www.facebook.com/events/903414889714101/
Today (August 6th), Pioneer DJs has officially announced that they are introducing a new mixer into the market…..the DJM-S9 Mixer. This mixer has been in development for quite a long time, with the help of the Magnificent One….Dj Jazzy Jeff.
“Following on the success and legacy of Pioneer DJ’s classic 2-channel DJM-909 mixer, the DJM-S9 takes things a step further, offering a number of new hardware developments as well as tightly developed integration with Serato DJ.
The DJM-S9 is designed with exciting DJ performances in mind. Large performance pads, and customisable FX controls give DJs direct access to take control of their music creatively with Serato DJ. Plug-and-play Serato DJ support is provided with two soundcards, allowing easy B2B sets and seamless DJ changeover.
The DJM-S9 will be available from late October 2015.
A limited edition gold DJM-S9-N will also be available from November.
The Pioneer DJ DJM-S9 will be supported as a Serato DJ Enabled mixer in a forthcoming Serato DJ release.”
Peep out the video with Dj Jazzy Jeff, Dj Q-Bert, Dj Kentaro, Dj Eskae83, Jon1st, Dj Shintaro, Mr. Switch, and of course, the Beat Junkies.
Pioneer DJ DJM-S9 Features
- Serato DJ Enabled. Download Serato DJ, connect and start DJing.
- Serato DVS Enabled for ultra low latency response and sound quality. Supports both Serato Noisemap™ Control Vinyl and CD input.
- Control all 4 Serato DJ decks. Switch easily between decks 1 & 3 for the left channel and 2 & 4 for the right.
- Dual USB soundcards. Easily play back-to-back with two DJs and two computers. DJ changeover is seamless with input switching easily accessible on the top of the mixer.
- On-board library controls to scroll through your Serato DJ Crates and load tracks.
- Large, precision engineered RGB Performance Pads. Control your Loops, Hot Cues, Roll, Slicer and SP-Sample Player, as well as the option to custom map these to other Serato DJ features. An onboard display screen shows which mode is active and allows DJs to allocate different pad colors for each mode.
- Choose from a large range of both Pioneer DJ FX and control for Serato DJ software FX, powered by iZotope™. Six customizable FX controls on each side of the mixer, plus two in the middle gives huge scope for personalisation.
- Supports new Serato DJ Favourite FX banks feature. Switch between two banks (A/B) of your six favourite Serato DJ FX. Control this directly on the mixer as well as in software.
- Assign either Pioneer Beat FX, or Serato DJ software FX across two large RMX-1000 style levers which can be used to apply FX either momentary or latched, quickly in the mix.
- 15 on-board Pioneer Beat FX including the popular Echo, Delay, Reverb, Flanger, Phaser and Transform, all quantized to the track tempo in Serato DJ.
- Filter FX gives DJs a high pass / low pass combo filter for each channel which can be switched between other filters and FX including Dub Echo, Noise and Pitch.
- Pioneer DJ’s MAGVEL Fader Pro for a super tight response and reliability. Adjust the feeling with shock absorbing Fader Bumpers, included in three materials giving DJs the level of resistance they prefer. Adjust the crossfader curve characteristics as well as reverse for hamster DJs.
- 32-bit A/D converters and DSP for ultra low noise as well as enhanced audio quality and stable sound.
Maximum mixer dimensions: 267 x 107.9 x 407.3 mm
Mixer weight: 4.6 kg
If you’re partying on a Sunday in LA over the summer, chances are you’re at the Do-Over. You might even be lucky enough to see our very own J Rocc the Funky President, laying down the vibes. We were there last weekend and recorded the whole thing, hosted by the man himself Mad Skillz. Shout outs to our good friends Haycock, Strong, & Aloe Blacc as well as Serato, Adidas, & Red Bull. Make sure to check out the Do-Over during the summer:
Check out D-Styles video from 2012, as he performs an exclusive routine for Serato. Make sure you check out our Record Pool for the latest Edits by D-Styles