With professional DJs discarding their vinyl in favour of MP3s a host of manufacturers are developing software to bridge the gap.
Following on from last month's review of the latest digital recording and mixing software, S&S takes a look at some of the best programmes on offer for DJs.
Numark Cue 5
Proving to have a solid grounding in conventional DJ equipment, Numark would appear to be well placed to identify the needs of the typical DJ.
The latest incarnation of the company's Cue software package, Numark has looked beyond these adding several out-of-the-box applications.
Built-in video transitions and effects along with an integrated video clip player allow users to double up as VJs.
The software enables DJs to mix, scratch, juggle, interchange and sample audio and video files without the need for any hardware.
Monitoring duties can be performed via headphones or through the visual interface, which includes an improved waveform function for beat overlays.
One of the most interesting features of Cue 5 is a built-in broadcast function, which provides a direct podcasting tool.
Numark says data management has also been improved with the latest version. A global search feature lets DJs access music files stored in several folders and drives.
Each time Cue is launched it automatically checks the integrity of the database, deleting missing or removed files. 'Smart' folders automatically update its contents based on the users filtering preferences. Files can be organised by type, year, genre, number of plays, location and several other attributes.
Numark has also included all the necessary installation paths for the Microsoft Vista operating system in order to achieve full compatibility.
Middle East distributors: Sonia Electronics (UAE); Adawliah Universal Electronics & Romco Trading (both Kuwait); Audio Pro (Lebanon); High Fidelity (Egypt).
DJ hardware stalwart Pioneer, has also moved into the world of digital DJ software recently.
The company's DJS software mimics its well-established mixer set-up allowing an easy transition for current users of Pioneer mixers.
The effects capabilities have been lifted from the DJM-600 with Delay, Echo, Auto Pan, Trans, Filter, Flanger, Reverb and Pitch Shifter options.
A degree of flexibility has been included control wise with users able to assign basic functions to their own choice of button on a conventional keyboard. The company claims, by allocating these for the most frequently used, basic functions, an entirely personalised method of play can be established.
Automatic beat matching between the cued track and the track playing simplifies use for novices and the ripping function allows users to convert CD, line input and wave files to MP3 for use with the software.
Middle East distributors: Pioneer Gulf (UAE); Desert Beat Trading (UAE); also available as a download from djdownload.com
M-Audio Torq MixLab
The Torq MixLab package includes the Torq LE software and the X-Session Pro hardware interface.
Torq LE software includes cue, beat-match and mix capabilities across a wide variety of unprotected digital audio file formats, including MP3, AIFF, WAV, WMA, Apple Lossless and AAC.
The programme organises all digital files into a searchable database, enabling faster access to music and allowing increased improvisation. Torq LE also allows direct access to an iTunes library.
Torq arranges all the necessary tools into a single interface. Two virtual decks can be used to load, cue and playback digital files. Torq LE includes an integrated two-channel mixer with three-band EQ, level controls, headphone cueing and a crossfader.
On the effects front, the DJS offers just three options.
The X-Session Pro hardware interface fuses the standard controls of a two-channel DJ mixer with the transport and pitch controls of a turntable or DJ CD player, meaning everything can be controlled from a single interface rather than with a mouse.
The mixer controls allows users to make smooth crossfades and adjust levels, cueing, and EQ parameters - while the integrated transport and pitch controls allows users to start, stop and beat-match digital files in Torq LE.
Middle East distributors: Alpha Audio (Egypt); Romco Trading (Kuwait); Rag Time Music Technology (Lebanon); Halwani AV (KSA); MediaCast (UAE).
Native Instruments, TRAKTOR SCRATCH
Native Instruments' computer based DJ package TRAKTOR SCRATCH is another hardware/software combo offering users the choice of both turntable and CD control.
TRAKTOR SCRATCH provides high audio quality and performance with straightforward setup and operation. A range of creative features are also available that allow DJs of all styles and genres to go beyond the limitations of traditional DJ equipment while maintaining the intuitive hands-on control method of vinyl.
"With TRAKTOR SCRATCH, we have utilised our full expertise in software and hardware design to build a truly performance-oriented DJ system," says Stephan Schulz, director DJ division at Native Instruments.
TRAKTOR SCRATCH can be as straightforward or as sophisticated as you want it to be, but most importantly, you can always count on it to perform under all conditions."
The TRAKTOR SCRATCH system consists of a special version of Native Instruments' TRAKTOR software, the AUDIO 8 DJ hardware interface, a pair of innovative 'Instant Connect' multi-core cables, and a set of time-code vinyls and CDs.
The system utilises a new high-resolution timecode technology optimised for maximum responsiveness and precision, with separate timecode versions for vinyl and CD guaranteeing optimal performance in any environment, according to NI.
The included AUDIO 8 DJ hardware interface connects to the computer via USB 2.0, and connects the system to the DJ mixer, turntables and CD players.
The interface provides studio-grade 24bit/96 kHz audio conversion, and allows for low-latency operation with short response times. AUDIO 8 DJ offers four stereo inputs and outputs as well as microphone input and MIDI I/O, enabling a wide range of stage and studio setups.
The TRAKTOR SCRATCH software features on-the-fly loop functions, key lock and pitch shifting based on Native Instruments' TRAKTOR time stretching technology, and powerful performance effects, including analogue modelled filters for both decks as well as two beat-synced performance effect sections that can process both the internal decks as well as external input signals.
TRAKTOR SCRATCH offers full MIDI parameter control, a comprehensive track database with powerful search and history functions, and advanced playlist management including automatic iTunes import.
The software also features direct integration with Beatport, a download store for electronic music, allowing DJs to explore a comprehensive selection of contemporary club music directly within TRAKTOR SCRATCH.
Middle East distributors: MediaCast (UAE); PhoenixPro Computers (Iran); Rag Time Music Technology (Lebanon).
Digital 1 Media/PCDJ REFLEX
PCDJ's REFLEX provides high-performance PC- or Mac-based mixing for professional DJs. Reflex boasts more than 100 features not included in the company's previous PCDJ FX VRM dual audio-file player.
"We compiled a wish list from thousands of PCDJ FX VRM pro users and incorporated the most-asked-for features into a 'dream package' for digital DJs," says Digital 1 Media's DJ product manager, Andrew Van Almen. "Every tool a pro DJ needs to produce studio-quality mixes and remixes has been incorporated into REFLEX."
In addition to giving DJs the ability to sweeten tracks by adding VST plug-ins, they now have three independent players with interactive waveform display. This makes cueing and looping easier and faster, according to the company.
The new Beat Grid and Quantisation technology is fully assisted with bar detection and beat location marking, so it knows where the beats are, and also the start of the bars. This can be used for seamless auto-beat mixing, or can be turned off for normal real-time user control.
PCDJ Reflex also offers a variety of control options. DJs can choose between time-coded vinyl/CD control, full midi, PCDJ's DAC-2 or DAC-3 controllers, or a combination of these for any type of gig, regardless of environment. The programme can also be used to extract audio from CDs and convert media to other formats.
Middle East Distributor: Desert Beat Trading (UAE).