Essential digital dj stuff?

Urbanears Slussen in action

Forgot to write about slussen the essential digital dj device some have said. In fact its just a neat audio splitter…

The setup includes a narrow profile splitter for simultaneously connecting headphones and a sound system to your iOS device, plus an app for the actual beat dropping. Urbanears seems to have its heart set on people specifically using Slussen at after-parties, you know because it’s “the most powerful after-party weapon known to man” and all. But you could easily use it in your car or with a portable speaker.

Its pretty nice but doesn’t solve the problems of djing on tablets or phones.

Essentially splitting the output is great if your doing a mix for friends at a afterparty but no club is going to be ok with split audio. I would also question how secure the slussen is in the headphone slot. If your going to do audio splitting, at least use USB or HDMI audio. However by the time you do all that you might as well have carried a laptop really?

Once again I’ll highlight the pacemaker as so ahead of the game. I got to get another one on ebay soon

Travels with pacemaker is back…

Really good to know the pacemaker device (as its now called to make the difference from the pacemaker app) is back! For quite a while, the only way I could record mixes a level of reliability was to record the output on an external device like my computer. This problem only really started when I upgraded the pacemaker device to the new found firmware which was found in the wild. It wasn’t official and now looking back was the cause for all my on device recording woes. Yes hindsight is always 20/20!

This mix seems to confirm the new official firmware has not only new features but has fixed the recording problem. Meaning I can record while on my travels. Great news for Trance fans…

Pacemaker under glass…!

In my last blog post I wrote how I was given the opportunity to play with an early build of the Pacemaker app on the Blackberry playbook at Over the Air 2012…

I won’t comment on Over the Air 2012 which looked frankly amazing and how great it was to catch up with old London friends even for a few minutes. That was all great and I look forward to catching up with people in the week when I’m down in London.

This is about the playbook and the pacemaker application.

The top line is… almost unusable, shocking and sadly uninspiring!

First of all it took ages to get the files on to the device, for some reason the playbook wouldn’t mount on my ubuntu thinkpad laptop, even though the machine which the guy was using was the exact laptop. Yes even he had a Thinkpad X220 but was running Windows 7 and had installed some magical playbook driver. So we had to copy most of my collection over to his laptop over USB sticks and my Android phone. That problem I blame RIM/Blackberry for… No mass storage mode, even MTP would have been a start. So I assume no Linux support is coming?

Once the files were loaded on to the Playbook, the guy started the Pacemaker application and I was a little underwhelmed to see they had gone with the two decks and a crossfader approach. I was expecting something a little more clever specially with the pacemaker under their belts. The guy whos playbook it was, didn’t know how to use the application and certainly didn’t know how to dj. However there were common interfaces elements with the pacemaker which made it understandable for me. But there were bits like the legendary P switch which was missing. So it wasn’t till half way through that I found out how to change the EQ and Gain. That problem was certainly Tonium’s.

I started with my pacemaker and tried to mix from the pacemaker to the app and it was the most painful mixing I’ve heard in a long while. The problem was the app not only kept skipping and pausing on beats but there was no monitor/headphone out. This for me make the whole thing pointless to use! Not only that, unlike on the pacemaker which showed every beat using an highly efficient system to show you the next 4 beats of both tracks, so you can almost dj without monitoring with some knowledge of the track structure. Tonium opted for the Virtual Dj/Tracktor/etc whole track waveform (forgot to add how long it took to render each wave form, although you can play it blind while it renders). Not very useful when your beats are galloping like some runaway horses. I even tried to use the sync feature but frankly that was rubbish too. The mix was all over the place. Once again Tonium’s fault, as I’m sure the playbook is capable of playing two tracks together at the same time. However RIM/Blackbery need to get 2 discreet outputs otherwise its always going to be a joke (stereo splitters deserve to die, and as I said to the guy. No club is ever going to let you plug in if your splitting the audio! Further rendering it as a bit of fun).

The latency of the touchscreen of the Playbook made the whole thing a total joke. The only time I’ve ever had such bad latency when djing is while trying to mix on a piece of glass during the Thinking Digital conference 3 years ago (by the way the blog about thinking digital is coming soon).

If you don’t understand what I mean by latency go have a look at this great Microsoft research demo where they got the latency of a touchscreen down to 1ms. But it wasn’t just that… As switched back and forth between the Pacemaker and the app, I could feel something was missing. Even with the touchpad of the pacemaker, I could do multiplate it in ways which were just ignored by the playbook. Honestly the interaction rant about pictures under glass was never more apt for this moment. Whos to blame for this? Well both and everyone. Although the trackpad of the pacemaker could be seen as the same as the multitouch screen, its certainly not.

I know a few of you are saying, yeah yeah give it a few weeks and you will also like it But honestly no I won’t. Of course if RIM/Blackberry want to give me one to fully try out over weeks or months then great I won’t say no but I think the end result will be the same. Even if Apple or even Google were to release a Dj app for iOS or Android, I would be saying pretty much the same. The problem isn’t RIM/Blackberry or even Tonium’s, its pictures under glass. You can’t get away from it…

The guy who’s playbook it was, said the later versions he had seen was more stable but frankly if it was bulletproof… Theres far too many other problems…

If I was Tonium, I would scrap the copying Virtual DJ, Tracktor, etc and take advantage of the beat chart system they enabled on the pacemaker. You need to be able to mix without hear the track, because I’m sorry to say the splitter option is a instant no for any self respecting DJ.

Tonium claim they used Blackberrys’s QNX platform because it was quicker and more responsive then others out there. If thats true, then make it so! Right now I’m not seeing anything advantages over the other platform. Even having dual outputs would have put Blackberry well ahead of the game and made the platform much more attractive to djs and artists but right now it looks no different to the rest except there are few apps, few developers and fewer buyers. If RIM/Blackberry really want to do something radical, getting Tonium to build the pacemaker software for them isn’t going to fly unless theres serious hardware changes too.

It hurts me to say it because I really wanted Tonium to go on to a winner and heck if the blackberry platform was the place to do that, then great. But instead what they have done is aped DJ software already out there, added a few bits from Pacemaker and done an very disappointing job.

The thing which is never meant to happen while djing happened! Yes the Pacemaker software crashed and left me scrambling for my pacemaker. Not only that, there was clear machine/software distortion through out when you feel the system was under-stress.

I believe nothing can save this pacemaker app unless its a new blackberry playbook (with low latacy  and 2 outputs)  its going to run on?

Digital Djing finds its niche? Welcome the Pacemaker

Pacemaker

Ok I saw this for the first time on the Gadget Show of all places the other day. They only showed it briefly but in that short 2mins I was blown away.

The Pacemaker is simply a digital mpeg3 mixer in portable form. In actually fact its dual mpeg3 players with a koas pad and mini mixer in one portable little unit. Simply amazing… what kills me is this device seems so perfect. Maybe this is the future of digital mixing? Finally something to separate the analogue djs from the true digital djs. The only thing which could make this device better is a drop in price, a real time waveform display, bluetooth 2.0 audio/input support and some tactile feedback.

Anyway enough chatter, go to the site and check it out. I'm number 2157 2738 in the queue for this amazing device.

Your queue number is No. 2738

This pre-booking is a non-binding reservation that guarantees you a specified place in line. To convert your pre-booking to a mutually binding order, we shall require delivery address information and full payment.

Your pre-booking includes the Pacemaker 120 GB pocket-size DJ system, line-out/RCA cable, power adapter, USB cable and quick user guide.

The price is 520 Euro, plus taxes and shipping costs. First shipments are scheduled for February 2008.

Before delivery, we will contact you with a request of delivery address details and final payment. Should you wish not to proceed with this purchase, your pre-booking will be cancelled and your queue number will be lost.

To view your queue number and booking status, log in at the Pre-booking section on www.Pacemaker.net

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