…because M-Audio’s front page has a countdown timer assuring us that tomorrow “DJing will never be the same”, along with a little Torq logo. I wish.

I don’t know how many times I’ve been assured by manufacturer propaganda that “X” will never be the same, but it’s got to be one of the most overused cliches around. Frankly, I’m no longer surprised by these silly ad pitches, but I’m not any less insulted.

MsPinky remains the only vinyl control system that supports the color pink. Of course, according to M-Audio, by tomorrow all of this will have changed forever.

FWIW, I happen to really love my M-Audio Conectiv. Having been a MsPinky user from day one, the Conectiv solves a lot of my problems. I used to have to set up using two external phono preamps (with their own power supplies) running into my RME Multiface, and the Conectiv eliminates a lot of the wires and almost all the hassle. The Torq software is nifty too, if a bit more busy than I like my interfaces. Given that I already had a crapload of Gen 1 – 3 MsPinky vinyl (the rewards of being a hardcore beta tester in the early days), buying an interface/DJ software system built around the pink vinyl was a no-brainer for me.

THAT BEING SAID, I can’t help but find myself underwhelmed by all the gee-whiz DJ stuff coming out these days. I hear that Native Instruments is coming out with something stemming from their split with Stanton, and of course, Stanton will be demoing their Final Scratch 3 system to show that they’re doing JUST FINE after the breakup, and Numark’s got their new Cue system and will undoubtedly be showing off a bunch of new, weird DJ gear aimed at markets I’m not sure exist with waaay too much overlapping functionality.

Unfortunately though, one big problem with all this stuff is a lack of interoperability. Nobody’s vinyl works with anyone else’s. Everyone’s looking for vendor lock-in to their system. A notable exception is the excellent djDecks software, which seems to be capable of using just about every vinyl control system out there. The MsPinky control plugin doesnt work great and hasn’t been updated in years, but at least there’s a plugin for it. Think NI or Stanton’s systems will be compatible? Riiight.

The forthcoming M-Audio DJ hardware looks something like this. Forget about the hype, and it might turn out to be useful. But Wally notes that while hardware and software advances, interoperability does not.

The sad thing about all this too is, I think the time has passed for broad interest in the DJ market. The rave subculture is dead for the most part in the US. I heard that turntables were outselling guitars for a while, but last year guitars reclaimed the mantle (I don’t have an exact quote/link for that figure, that’s just something I heard from a heavy-hitter in the industry with a vested interest in turntables being on top). Heck, even I bought a guitar last year. Ed.: DJ Market dead? That can only mean the time has come for circuit-bending, Game Boy-programming laptop musicians. Hey, where’d all the marketing people go? -PK

Where was all this cool DJ stuff when a market existed for it, when it would have made a difference? I’m old enough to remember when FinalScratch was still a BeOS project, and raves still attracted 1000-2000 people minimum, every weekend. Maybe I’m just bitter that, after I spent all those years lugging records around and the only way to be able to play a killer track was to hunt it down and buy it, now that I’ve got all these amazing (if non-interoperable) DJ options and the complete discographies of hundreds of labels on my external 1TB hard drive, there’s no longer a vibrant, thriving scene to throw down with this gee-whiz AND easy-on-the-back gear. Yeah, I can always go somewhere in Europe or the occasional club night, but folks who’ve been around long enough, if they are honest with themselves, know it’s not the same.

DJing might never be the same in less than 24 hours, but unfortunately not too many people will notice.

Wallace Winfrey is a guru of vinyl and servers, and he knows Perl better than you.

Create Digital Music’s live team coverage of the NAMM show begins tomorrow. Even if DJing turns out to be exactly the same as it is today, we promise to bring you news of the latest gear — DJ-related and otherwise. -PK

DJ Announcements at NAMM…

And the punchline is…

NAMM: M-Audio Announces Xponent. DJing Stays Pretty Much the Same.

NAMM: NI Traktor Scratch, Audio 8 DJ — You Know, for Turntablists

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  • I've recently been selling my 200+ drum & bass records (can't justify having them but no time to play) and it seems there's still plenty demand for vinyl, although many people are switching to digital. My SL-1200MKII tables went fast on the 2nd hand market as well.

    Personally I was never interested in digital DJ gear, but maybe I'm too old.

  • That reminds me of the great lyrics from LCD Soundsystem's "I'm losing my edge":

    "I hear you're buying a synthesizer and an arpeggiator and are throwing your computer out the window because you want to make something real. You want to make a Yaz record.

    I hear that you and your band have sold your guitars and bought turntables.

    I hear that you and your band have sold your turntables and bought guitars.

    I hear everybody that you know is more relevant than everybody that I know."

    Full lyrics here.

  • nonstatic

    i still think we are a long ways away from audiences accepting a controller-based DJ set. they still want to see some decks (whether this is vinyl or cdj) up there. personally, i consider beatmatching to be a part of the artform, but that is another argument altogether.

    what i really want to see is the convergence of these systems with DJ mixers. rane is starting to go there with that mixer they introduced last year…but unfortunately it is A&H and Pioneer who dominate the clubs with their mixers.

    i want to be able to plug a Firewire cable into the mixer and be ready to go…it seems silly that we have to do all these RCA ins and outs with external interfaces when it could all just be in the mixer.

    i just want someone to win the digital DJ battle so that this can happen sooner. i am fine with there being only 1 option, as long as it works. you dont see anything other than technics decks at a club, do you?

  • Well, I've seen audiences fully accept Sasha using a controller and Ableton Live, pretty far from a traditional set — and that was a truly conventional (ahem, bridge & tunnel, hello, Crobar) audience. I don't want to get into a Sasha pro/con argument (I'm not a fan, necessarily, though he and other computer-based DJs are going some interesting directions); my point is more about the audience. I'm not sure they really cared what the DJ was doing. That to me is actually more of a concern. I'd rather people got *more* demanding in terms of what they got out of the performance of a set, and *less* involved with what particular technology got someone there. Too often, they're just not paying any attention.

    Anyway, nonstatic, I'll be curious to see if the NI gear just introduced comes closer to what you were looking for … all of the mixing happening in the computer.

  • nonstatic

    yeah, lets just say with more underground music, it doesnt fly. for instance, Highfish, famous resident DJ at Berlin's WMF club, tried to go Ableton and the crowd completely rejected him. He had to switch to Final Scratch to keep his job.

    the NI interface doesnt really offer me anything which i am talking about. i dont want to have to carry an external soundcard at all…the DJ mixer should be the soundcard. i will be sticking with my RME RPM and djdecks until i see that happen.

  • Well, here's M-Audio's… thing:


  • i dunno that m-audio torq eXponent thing looks a little play-skool to me. i appreciate having your equipment light up in the dark but i think if i brought this into a club i would get laughed at.

  • typodaemon

    Really I think there's two crowds that are going to care (yes, there are lots of people who show up, get drunk, and have a good time regardless of what's playing).

    There's people who only care about what they're hearing, in which case going digital is great because it gives the dj more options.

    And there's people who care what the dj is doing, strongly backed by the turntablist crowd.

    Lots of places here in the states don't even have the booths setup to where you can really see what's going on in there.

  • james

    re: nonstatic

    germany is a weird territory to judge by – cdjs aren't really properly accepted there, and it has one of the strongest markets for vinyl in europe.

    i've been asked a hundred times by germans why i use cds, and after the long explanation of keymixing tricks, loop tricks and reediting they almost always say "yes, and records are much heavier too!".

    anyway, the controllers are all wrong. imo.

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