A. Tilliander, photo by Daniel Karlsson.

Sound check: here’s TM404’s hybrid hardware set from Loveland at ADE

If there’s one thing that can bring more feeling and humanity to club music, it’s improvisation. That’s why it’s such a pleasure to meet people like TM404, aka Andreas Tilliander of Sweden. Andreas’ latest antics included opening up for Richie Hawtin at Loveland at this week’s Amsterdam Dance Event. That’s a regular gig for TM404, playing alongside Rich – and a reminder that you need not underestimate mainstream club audiences. They can enjoy a diet of adventurous dance music, too. And what you get is a thoroughly enjoyable two hours, one that starts easy and hypnotic and dials up to …


Roland and Serato made a monster DJ controller that does everything

What do you get when you combine Roland and Serato? Well, a little bit of everything, it turns out. The flagship DJ-808 is a monster mixer controller sampler step sequencer audio interface drum machine vocoder. (Whew!) Some of its functionality is provided in the hardware itself; some is a control interface to Serato software on a computer. But together, you get a device that is perhaps the most ambitious all-in-one DJ gizmo yet.


The likely end of Rane as we know it, with inMusic acquisition

Not all independent music gear makers last. And so we’ve learned this week that Rane, the Seattle area-based company founded way back in 1981, will see new ownership with a buyout by giant inMusic (of Numark, M-Audio, Akai, and related). That means, if nothing else, a transformed landscape for DJ mixers. At one end, you’ve got the big conglomerates – Japan’s Pioneer DJ, America’s inMusic. At the other, boutique makers are staking out increasingly specialized, low-quantity product. This sheds still more light on the significance of the new mixer from Richie Hawtin and Xone creator Andy Rigby-Jones. With Rane out, …


This is the new DJ mixer from Xone creator and Richie Hawtin

If a DJ mixer could be anything you wanted, what would it be? That question isn’t actually that easy to answer. DJ mixers have a fairly defined set of functions, and not a lot of obvious room for variation. They have become more or less a commodity product as a result. And even as we’ve seen high-end mixers, those have tended to be simply a spendier version of the same commodity. So, maybe the news that Richie Hawtin was working on a new mixer, teased out over the past few months, didn’t interest you at first. But, having had a …


NI’s Traktor S5 is a more compact all-in-one DJ controller; here’s how it stacks up

The Traktor Kontrol S8 from Native Instruments is, let’s face it, the Cadillac Escalade of DJ gear. It’s loaded. It’s shiny. It’s powerful. It’s also expensive and hard to parallel park. So, without much fanfare, NI last week gave us the S5. It’s roughly the size of the S4 – the two-wheel controller that was once flagship of the Traktor line. But in that space, you get the stuff you’ve probably envied on the bigger Traktor controllers (the S8, and its one-deck-at-a-time counterpart the D2). It’s got color displays. It’s got touch strips – no wheels, if you like such …


Serato DJ’s updated hardware support, features explained

Serato has been busy lately. While other DJ tool makers keep talking big headlines (turntables! Stems!), the New Zealand-based DJ software developer has been steadily churning out a whole bunch of updates. And these are largely about adding support for different hardware. Serato is in that sense a bit of a different beast. While Pioneer pushes its standalone hardware in booths, and Native Instruments focuses these days on its integrated hardware/software solutions, Serato is all about providing plug-and-play support for a variety of other tools, and responding to user requests. So, that means little “point” updates from Serato are often …


Pioneer focuses on scratch, battle, effects with new mixer

Meet Pioneer’s new push, a strategy aiming squarely at scratch and turntablist DJs and effects lovers, with or without a computer. If some of the latest mixers have conventional analog mixing, bread and butter features, and rotaries, Pioneer’s DJ mixer this week – isn’t any of that. Instead, the DJM-S9 is a “battle” mixer loaded up with extras and emphasizing scratch and effects features. And it is unmistakably a Pioneer box in that it draws heavily on wild effects. It’s a “party rocking mixer” as an artist describes it in the launch video. Also, watch the video. What you mostly …


Jazzy Jeff, Shiftee Show Us Turntable as a Musical Instrument

Serato and Native Instruments may have a fierce rivalry when it comes to tools. But at the end of the day, the leading DJ vendors exist for one reason: they’re there to support musicians. And I do mean musicians. Watching new routines from Jazzy Jeff and Shiftee, you really see the turntable emerge as a virtuoso musical instrument. They’re released as promotions for Serato (Jeff) and Native Instruments (Shiftee). And the tools are important: they’re there to allow these players to make use of their skills, to do more than just select tracks like a jukebox. But this really is …


Allen & Heath’s New Analog Mixer Could be One to Beat: Xone:43 4+1

Allen & Heath aren’t bombarding the market with products. They’re not hopping on lots of new gimmicks. What they are doing is quietly releasing well-designed mixers that dominate the DJ scene. And the Xone:43 looks nothing if not eminently sensible – enough so that I suspect some might eye it as a mixer for live sessions, as well as the obvious club installs and DJ rigs. A&H are serious enough about this tool that they’re releasing a new flagship — on the first of April. (No fooling.) But they can do that: because there’s absolutely nothing silly or far-fetched about …


Gorgeous Rane Rotary Mixer: Finally, A New DJ Mixer We Want

Now, here’s a demonstration of the proper way to jump on a bandwagon. Rane appear to be doing rotary DJ mixers right. This week’s NAMM show is accompanied in the DJ section by the usual, dreary parade of massive gear sold to deep-pocketed DJ hobbyists. Somehow a mixer integrates with a control surface integrates with giant decks integrates with a sound card integrates with Serato integrates with colored lights and screens. Then, that’s bolted into some mostly-black, oversized coffin of equipment that looks as though it would be right at home in the nursery playroom of an Imperial Star Destroyer. …