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The AS-1 synth from Pioneer and Dave Smith is looking really cool

Here are two quick takeaways about the TORAIZ AS-1 monosynth introduced by Pioneer DJ, in collaboration with Dave Smith. One, it sounds great – but we figured that, given it’s basically a single voice from Dave Smith’s Prophet-6. Two, it’s got a surprisingly powerful sequencer/arpeggiator, with some extras like alternative tunings. And it’s that second point that matters. If you just want to add bass lines to a DJ set, Pioneer has some competition. Roland can sell you not one but two different variations of the classic 303 – either the AIRA TB-3, or the Boutique Series TB-03. As many …

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Pioneer just hit a sweet spot with their new DJ mixer

There’s been a noticeable uncanny valley in the DJ mixer market. At one end, you’ve got a whole bunch of dirt-cheap DJ mixers – but quality is, let’s say, questionable. At the other, you’ve got some really beautiful high-end stuff, but that’s even getting progressively more boutique and expensive. (Though if I do win a lotto ticket I’m getting my own rotary, of course.) And in between is … well, not much, frankly. But that’s what makes the DJM-250K2 interesting – it’s got the high-end features you want, stripped of the stuff you probably don’t need, at a very aggressive …

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What the new Dave Smith instruments sound like, no talking

There is absolutely nothing like the feeling you feel when you hear the sound of a synthesizer. Listen. “Hi, we’re at the 2017 NAMM show in Anaheim California, and I’m here with –” Wait. No. That is definitely not why I love synthesizers. Nor am I particularly enamored with the hum of a convention show floor with the apparent adjacent guitar booth blaring over the top of someone reading a product sheet. (As I write that, I realize I’ve just dared some CDM reader to make an eerie, ambient 5-hour version of an Akai demo using paulstretch.) Here’s what you …

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Pioneer DJ are doing an analog monosynth with Dave Smith

First, a sampler. Now, a synth. Pioneer DJ, not content with essentially owning the DJ booth at this point, have their second production instrument in less than a year. It’s called the Toraiz AS-1. It’s an analog monosynth. It continues the collaboration with synthesizer legend Dave Smith. Price: US$499 or €549 suggested retail, including VAT. Availability: March 2017. And it looks … well, like it was heavily influenced by the 303, and even Roland’s AIRA TB-03. Like the TB-03, there’s a touch pad at the bottom of the unit with 303-style key layout. Controls are really heavily simplified – there’s …

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Traktor 2.11 is here, and a bunch of stuff now works together

Computer DJing: it should solve problems, not create them. Because you can also mix vinyl or use phonographs to Rekordbox-formatted USB sticks, computer DJing also absolutely, positively has to open up creative possibilities. It has to justify its existence. And because we play music – like, it’s supposed to be something fun we do with other people – computer DJ tools ought to play with one another. So, Traktor 2.11 delivers a lot of little things. But these details both make playing solo potentially more creative, and playing with others and plugging into gear in a booth a whole lot …

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Pioneer really want to sell you a turntable, with $350 PLX-500

Pioneer clearly seek to own DJing – and they’ve now got a pretty solid play for every piece of that landscape. The latest piece: a direct drive turntable with USB connection, ready to play, scratch, or work with control vinyl (and Pioneer’s increasingly ubiquitous Rekordbox software). Price: US$350 – affordable enough to appeal to even casual DJs as a set of two.

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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, …

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The industry standard. (CC-BY) Dave Walker.

Let’s talk about laptops in the DJ booth

Last week stirred up something of a fracas in the DJ community, as Los Angeles club The Cure and the Cause announced a ban on laptops in the DJ booth – the announcement of which then went perdictably viral. That much turned out to be brilliant publicity: club trolls DJs, magazine trolls DJs, “controversy” generates social media traffic. Here’s the problem, though: once you get past the nonsense about “talent” and laptops, I think there should really be no controversy here. What The Club and the Cure said about laptops and controllers I think is dead-on – and hard to …

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We got our hands on Pioneer’s new SP-16 sampler

Pioneer revealed its Toraiz SP-16 hardware sampler earlier this week, along with the news that analog filters from Dave Smith were baked in. But beyond that, online specs were a bit vague. So we’ve just gotten to meet up with Pioneer (and Dave) and get close to a prototype unit. Firmware isn’t done yet, but we got to learn a lot more – and there’s a lot to like.

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We talked to Dave Smith about those Pioneer sampler filters

When news leaked last week that synth legend Dave Smith was collaborating with Pioneer, a few eyebrows were raised. Today, it all made sense: Pioneer wanted the sound of Dave Smith Instruments’ superb analog filters on their new sampler. Since it’s a key selling point, I was curious to know more about those filters.

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