Saturday, October 17, 2009

Traktor : Beatgridding, SNAP and Quantize mode

(example of perfectly gridded track)

Ok, first things first - What the hell is "beatgridding" anyway?
Visually imagine your track as one giant long waveforms. Every song as we know, has different BPM's (beats per minutes). What beatgridding does in traktor is, it "SLICES" every single beat on the track, It puts a "line" in every single beat of the track, and in the end you will get a wave form that is EVENLY sliced according to the bpm, with each "slice" being one beat (see above). Why do we do this? Besides on getting a perfect bpm number, Looping and Effects  related stuff, Traktor has an amazing "Snap" and "Quantize" feature which relies heavily on the accuracy of your grids. The phase meter (located right above the waveform) also relies heavily on perfect grids

Snap: When you add a loop in or marker on-the-go, the marker will "Snap" itself to the nearest GRID~ What this means is you will ALWAYS (if you gridded ur tracks properly) have PERFECT LOOPS. Always. Fool Proof. No matter how you try to fuck it up with the timing it will still be perfect.  Try doing this on CDJ-1000's by itself and you'll see how much easier it is to loop in traktor!!

Quantize: When this is turned on, whenever you jump between beats or jump between cue points, traktor will ALWAYS stay on time. Again, provided that your gridding is fine. This means you can pretty much remix tracks on the go, live- dissecting the parts of the tracks and jumping around between them and knowing you will never fuck up the timing of the tracks

Phase meter: When i first started using traktor i got no clue whatsoever regarding how useful these things are.  Its not until i learnt how to beatgrid my tracks properly that i realised that its PRETTY DAMN AWESOME. I used to complain about how useless they are, boy i was very wrong...  The phase meter basically tells you the position of the beat you're trying to beatmatch. Lets say they are much like Serato's Horizontal Waveforms but with a twist. The only downside to this is that you DO need to grid your tracks in order to make use of them, otherwise using them will end up giving you a trainwreck.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

DJMAG Tech Awards 2009

I just watched the whole thing and it was pretty entertaining!
I feel that it is a bit "biased" - we all know mr zabiela is probably paid a lot of money by pioneer and maybe native instruments/ableton? Also the lack of any turntablist as a judge (other than kutski) is a bit odd, some gears were not well-demonstrated (they didnt have anyone performing sick kuts on the ns7 - i saw better videos on youtube than what they showed off with the ns7!)

aniways you be the judge - i'd personally pick the dns3700 over the cdj400s anytime! And also i agree with kutski in that GRIDDING in traktor can be frustrating for vinyl-ripped or slightly inconsistent tracks

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Why traktor is so awesome

Things i Love about Traktor at the moment:

-Being able to personalise my crates with cover art etc - The Crate flick option really reminds me of the good old days when i was spinning vinyls! I digitised a lot of my vinyls into mp3 and i attached the actual vinyl cover pic (obtained from discogs coz i CBF'd scanning one by one). Its a long and painstaking process but at the end its worth it! Now my traktor Crate Collection looks FUCKING AWESOME, each got their own actual covers as they were in their vinyl form! I just gotta makes sure i backup everything into an external hard drive coz Losing your BeatGRIDDED/HotCued/CoverAdded Tracks would really really SUCK!

-The Hotcues. 8 of them! I heard you could get more but u wont be able to access only 8 hotcues, but as a marker use i guess u can get up to 20 of them or something? i think i saw a video on youtube mentioning it. I personally hotcue the different parts of the song ie: intro , main part, breakdown, start of choruz, lead, outro, stuff like that. And the fact that you can label the hotcues is pretty damn cool too! Very nice to get organised!

At the moment this is how i roll in traktor: I create a playlist where only GRIDDED, HotCued, Labelled, Cover Art embedded Tracks are inside. It really really takes a lot of time and effort to do this one by one on each song but at the end i got a CRATE which i know inside out, got some pretty pictures on the cover, gridded, and stored with hotcues (and labelled appropriately ie intro, mainpart, breakdown etc) - Very handy indeed! For those who like to get organised :) It will take a looooooooooooong long time for me to do this to ALL my tracks ~ (heck, i wont even do it to all, i'll just choose the good ones, sometimes having too many tracks distract you aniway!) But i guess it will come in handy!


Monday, October 5, 2009

Hands-On Review: Traktor Scratch Duo

Zilchie's Review: Traktor Scratch Duo

Okay so everybody's been talking about how good it is, and i was kinda getting bored by my serato SL1, so i decided to buy a Traktor Scratch Duo set (with audio4DJ) at valentine music centre (which by the way is an awesome dj equipment shop in singapore - best price and best service! i miss the sydney oxford street dj shops tho~) aniways......

What's In The Box?
-Audio4DJ sound card - 2xline/phone in and 2xout (optional headphone jack)
-Traktor Scratch Duo Software
-2x "multi core cables" - NOTE : DIFFERENT FROM THE ONE U GET IN TSPRO SET!!!
-2xControl CDs and 2xControl Vinyls (nicely pressed smooth vinyls!!!)
- manual and some weird useless paper/pamphlet

Easy to setup?
Coming from serato scratch live setting this up is as easy as connecting the coloured multicore cables into the audio4 dj and plugging the labelled other side to the "PLAYER/TT" and "MIXER" - if you can read its piece of cake! Red goes to red, white goes to white, yellow to yellow yada yada yada... thats it right...? Right.........?

Now here comes the nightmare.....
At first setup i find that my timecodes werent responding at all, the manual is not too good in explaining what you need to do (if you never setup a dvs before you might find yourself in a difficult place here!!!) TRAKTOR SEEMS TO SUPPLY THE EXACT SAME MANUAL REGARDLESS OF ITS PRO / DUO / SCRATCH OR WHATEVER VERSION. LAZINESS! The manual doesnt say anything specific regarding to the duo/audio4 interface, something more clear would be nice!

After a long trouble shooting i found out the solution was simply going to the setup wizard and choosing "AUDIO4 DJ - SCRATCH" from the options, and yes they could have supplied a nice small piece of paper with step by step guides mentioning this! The worst part is if you accidentally choose the "AUDIO4 DJ - Internal" or "Audio4DJ - EXternal" (thats what i did) timecodes wont work!

It was also very hard to figure out how to bring out the "scratch panels" or "timecode calibration box" next to the decks, Traktor duo is so limited that they disable some important options/menus just so that you buy the PRO version! I eventually upgraded to Traktor Scratch Pro within one day coz i cant hack duo, but its just a personal preference, i guess using traktor scratch duo is like playing a shareware version of DOOM back in the days - u kno its an awesome game but u kno u are limited to one episode only and if u want more u gotta pay more money!

IT ALL COMES DOWN TO NATIVE INSTRUMENTS FOR GIVING CLEARER INSTRUCTIONS/Better manuals Specific to the software/package they sell - things are pretty simple but its very easy to not know how to do things if ur new in traktor

Aniways, once we got it sorted out... hows traktor?


Even though version 1.2.1 is still a bit buggy (it crashed on me once while playing the same songs on both decks?) but i still reckon that traktor is an awesome piece of kit. I love being able to organise my tracks with cover arts (even tho you have to manually embed the cover art one by one by itunes or something~ an option to instantly download cover arts off the net by a single click would be lovely!)

I love the awesome 8 hot cues, assignable to midi pads (im using an akai LPD8 drum pads/knobs - review on that later) I love the effects (kinda limited in duo but in pro u got 20 plus something!) I also love the sound quality of the duo, even though its a 2 channel thing it packs a punch and output is nice loud and clear! The good thing with traktor is that theres so many different ways to get into it (DVS/midi controller/a mix of both/whatever) I really can see myself switching to TRAKTOR completely in the future (preferable not version 1.2.1 tho, i heard version 1.1.0 is better at the moment? but regardless its a really nice software and it seems to only crash when you are doing certain things~ i just really refrain from playing 2 same tracks on both decks and so far it hasnt crashed on me anymore~

it is recommended that you upgrade to TRAKTOR scratch pro to fully enjoy the features of Traktor Tho! Duo is nice but i really find its too limiting, PRO version is just AWESOME. If you dont need the extra outputs using the audio4 dj is more than enuff, otherwise you can get the audio8dj for more cash. I'd stick with the audio4 for now.

Now if you excuse me im gonna sort out my tunes in traktor , put some fancy cover art and beatgrid them....

Coming soon:
BEAT GRIDDING in traktor - the easy way - my guide to easily beat grid tracks in traktor - perfectly every time! and not its not that hard :)

AKAI LPD8 Review