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Retro Review – So How Did The New Millennium Start For The Budding DJ Or Record Producer?

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Retro Review – So How Did The New Millennium Start For The Budding DJ Or Record Producer?

CD Decks: The new American DJ DCD 500 Dual CD Player is £649.00 and has tons of features, for instance, the DCD-PRO500 is equipped with 6 Flash Start Buttons, which allow DJs to create, store and recall samples “on the fly” while music is playing. With this feature, the disc jockey can play a loop of, say five seconds, then sample it and save it in stored memory on one of the Flash Start Buttons.

The Denon DN-2600F features 10 seconds of ‘shock-proof’ memory per drive. This guards against audible interruptions due to external mechanical shocks such as bumps or other hard vibrations, which is especially helpful for the mobile DJ as well as for nightclub-installed applications.

DJ Mixers: We saw quite a few new mixers and I have to say you really do seem to get what you pay for. Like your decks, your fingers spend a lot of time twiddling and sliding on these things so the build quality is important.

The ESO Hip mk2 is an Italian built 3 input modular X-fader which is great value at £150.

The Stanton RM Three has 3-band kill switches and high quality professional long life faders at £239. The Stanton SK 2F is an updated version of the popular SK 2 which features a true optical fader for crackle free operation. If you need more features for a bargain price then you can’t go far wrong with Next! Pro100 for £250 which is a 4 channel mixer with an FX loop.

The Ecler HAK320 is a rather retro looking mixer which is aimed at old school turntablists. Although only 2-channel, this mixer is true quality.

If you are looking for a professional club solution the Xone:62 by Allen & Heath is a broadcast quality 6 dual-stereo mixer for up to 12 stereo devices.

The latest Numark EM360 (which we will review soon) has a built in Kaaos Pad, which controls the way an effect is applied and can be controlled completely by the X-Y pad. The pad can also be scraped or tapped to control the effect sound, letting you produce switch-type effects that are impossible with knobs or sliders, and making it possible to control the effects in time with a rhythm or phrase – just as if you were playing a musical instrument.

Samplers: E-MU introduced the ESI-2000, which although is a ‘budget’ sampler can be expanded into a full-blown big boys sampler.

Yamaha, a latecomer in the sampler market, brought out the A4000 and A5000 samplers, which we loved. The A5000 has a stunning spec featuring 126-note polyphony and is 32-part multi timbral.

Akai have no new samplers this year, but if you are an S5000/6000 owner, the new Operating System, V2.0 is now available for download.

Synth, Sampling and Sequencing boxes

There have been quite a few interesting developments in the GrooveBox style pattern based samplers notably the lovely looking Korg Electribe ES-1.

Roland’s MC-307 blurs the boundaries between DJing and playing your tunes. Building on the success of the MC-505, the MC-307 takes the pattern-based sequencing pioneered by the original MC-303 in 1996.

The MC-307 aimed squarely at DJs, with the ubiquitous pitch control slider on the right hand side, as well as push and nudge buttons, which have been designed to emulate the operation of a turntable. This makes mixing in tracks from a live source intuitive and familiar, so you can treat the MC-307 as a third record deck.

Yamaha have a similar brand new product, the SU200 Phrase Sampler and for the financially challenged, Zoom now have the £250 Zoom Sampletrak ST-224.

Sound Modules: Yet again E-MU produce one of the more ‘out there’ modules in the form of the XL-1, the funky orange box that can really open up your ideas. They also have the B3, which is a complete Hammond organ in a rack, if you like that sort of thing.

Roland have been making monster sound modules for year after year and 2000 is no exception. XV-3080 is just stunning and although expensive worth every penny.

Synths: A strange one this year was Alesis who are normally associated with all the Midiverb, Quadraverb effects, but decided to roll out the Andromeda, an absolute monster of 16-voice digitally controlled analogue synth with a weighted keyboard 72 knobs and 144 buttons. We personally became rather attached to the Korg MS2000 Analog Modelling Synthesizer that has an arpeggiator, vocoder, virtual patch bay and modulation sequencer. Squelchy wiggly sounds abound here!

Effects There have been some FX boxes aimed at DJs this year. We reviewed the Electrix Mo FX where you may coordinate flange, tremolo and delay by simply tapping in the tempo (or receive MIDI clock) and putting each FX block into sync mode and that’s it – instant synchronization. To get Fatboy Slim’s: “Rockafeller Skank” sound you put your mix through the Mo-FX delay and crank the speed knob.

Software Cubase VST is now up to Version 5, which gives audio and MIDI recording, virtual synthesizers, score editing & printing, 16 / 24 bit capability and internet live sessions. The big trend this year seems to be towards virtual synthesizers, The Steinberg Model E is a fantastic software emulation of a Mini Moog for £149, many others are free!

Native Instruments now produce Dynamo v1.0 which is a preset version of Reaktor which gives you modular style analog synths for about £100.

Steinberg´s Media Production System, Nuendo is a 200-track audio recording facility, it’s a complete 200-channel audio mixer, and it supports surround sound.

Propellerhead Software who produced the amazing Rebirth and Recycle products now have Reason 1.0. Reason comes in the shape of a classic studio rack, packed with all the gear you could possibly need: Samplers, Analog synths, Mixers, Step time drum machines, Effects, and a realtime multi-track sequencer for fast and intuitive music making. All of Reason´s 16 devices have the look and feel of the real thing and you can use each device as many times as your CPU can handle.

It’s £299 but you can download a working demo now.

And Finally…… If you want to put a track together now and you are either, on the dole, a student or have a crap job you will have hated this article. Stop whinging and get a PC (preferably a P133 or better) and buy Making Waves v2.3 for £39.99. It’s an audio sequencer that can make great tunes in a couple of hours.

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