So I have been out of the country for a few days in Berlin with one of my clients that manufactures headphones. We were attending IFA2011 which is the biggest consumer electronics show in the world, and as a massive tech/gadget geek I was in my element and felt like a kid at Christmas.
I am also a huge dance music fan and used to professionally DJ in clubs when I worked in London and I did manage to become a semi-finalist at the British DJ championships in 2002. Recently I have got back into it and have started playing in a couple of places in my home town of Harrogate. So I was particularly interested in heading over to the Pioneer stand where I had a long chat with the head of marketing and had a demo from a DJ who was there to show off some of the latest equipment. I tried out the new CDJ2000s which have been out a little while.
One of the things I have been truly blown away by is the sheer difference digital music has made to the DJ space. The technology is now so good you can make all kinds of things happen behind the decks. The CDJ2000s allow a DJ to walk into a club with just a USB Stick and from that he can put it into one of the decks and click link and link all of the turntables together. The features you can now use totally surpass what you could do with vinyl which means a modern DJ can spend his time making the music sound personal and different.
I also tested out a brand new USB controller from Pioneer – this had the auto sync feature on it so you don’t even have to know how to beat match. In my opinion that is a bridge too far but I have been interested in USB technology and have been using the Traktor S4 which retails at around £760 which sounds a lot but the Pioneers costs £1,600 each which means you need almost £6,000 just to have a set-up. The difference between the two types of technology is that the Pioneers have managed to become the industry standard turntables like the Technics SL1210 turntable was for Vinyl. Technics have now discontinued that model which I think is pretty sad but it shows that the days of vinyl are sadly going.
The TraktorS4 is a truly amazing piece of kit too that allows you to manipulate its proprietary software with your MP3s and drive one of 4 different music channels. It has an amazing loop recorder and sample deck which acts as a fifth DJ channel and automatically catch the last beat so it is all in time. It’s really well put together and the extra flexibility and creativity you can have over your music is pretty much unparalleled. The intuitive nature of the Traktor software means you don’t really need to touch a laptop and you spend the majority of your time playing with the EQ levels and other features and on screen the software makes it all happen instantly. I love the S4 and would give it a strong eight out of ten. One piece of advice I would give is if you are buying it to play in clubs and pubs is buy the flight case that you can get for it although its not cheap at £150 it is worth it as it protects your kit much better and gives you a better DJing experience as it doubles up as a holder for your laptop. I have included a demo video of the S4 in this post check it out and let me know what you think of it.
However, personally, if I had the money I would buy the CDJ 2000s because they are an amazing piece of kit but they are more for the professional DJ than the bedroom DJ. In fact, even the guy at IFA2011 that was demonstrating them said he didn’t have a pair at home he just used them when he DJed in clubs. It made me think how can you can you practice samples and looping and the clever stuff for your sets but he seemed to really enjoy and could use them brilliantly.