AF’s Weblog

December 27, 2010

DJ-Tech U2 Station MK2 Review

Filed under: DJ — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — audiofanzine @ 9:25 am

How about mixing MP3 files without a computer? That’s the goal of the DJ-Tech U2 Station MK2…

DJ-Tech’s commitment is to offer affordable products for the masses, as their slogan clearly states: “not only for DJ.” That’s why the manufacturer offers fun products that meet the needs of most people, from beginners to a bit more experienced DJs.

The U2 Station MK2 is the second version of the DJ-Tech U2 Station. The concept of this small mixer is to allow the user to mix digital audio files in MP3 format. Offered at a reasonable price, the device works as a full standalone mixer without any computer support.

The 14.1″ x 9.4″ mixer has a nice, black glossy finish — you can almost see yourself in it, but watch out for finger marks! The control elements have different quality levels: faders and EQ controls are not very smooth, but the backlit switches react very well and feel pleasant under your fingers.

Inside the product’s box you’ll also find a CD with Magix Audio Cleaning (SE). This software only works on a PC (no Mac version) running Windows 2000, XP or Vista (no Seven support). In fact, the software provided with the product is Audio Cleaning 9.02 while the current version is 16.00. I find it a bit awkward to provide such an old version. Nonetheless, this version is enough to convert your CDs into MP3, which is the program’s main purpose. However, Magix’s support reacted very fast and gave me version 16 for free, which I could install on Seven without a hitch. This software will allow you to import all your analog audio sources (vinyls, tapes, etc.), clean them (of noise, hum, etc.) and convert them into MP3 files so you can use them directly with the U2 Station. The unit hosts an internal USB sound card that allows you to connect all sorts of old analog gear to your computer.

Sound Sources

Each channel has four different inputs:

DJ-Tech U2 Station mk2

– Line/phono input (switchable via a small selector on the rear panel of the U2 Station). It’s an excellent idea to provide a facility that allows you to connect analog sound sources to a digital mixer. However, notice that not all functions are available for this input, most notably the BPM counter, which works only with digital audio.

– Two USB ports (A and B ) on the top panel. Note that it is not necessary to connect two USB devices to be able to mix: only one USB device is enough. You can use all songs included in the USB device with both players, fully independent from each other.

Your USB hard drives and keys must be formated in FAT 16 or 32, the only formats supported by the U2 Station. One might have expected an Apple iPhone/iPod connection, like on other DJ-Tech products, but that’s not the case this time around! You got it right, the mixer provides you with two independent MP3 players. They constitute the core of the U2 Station.

Bloody Sunday for My MP4!

The mixer’s main advantage is that it’s a fully standalone concept made possible thanks to the USB port for hard and pen drives with up to 250 GB in capacity. But watch out, there is an important limitation: this mixer can play back only MP3 files! It does support all possible MP3 files from 32 to 320 kb/s bit rates (CBR and VBR) but no other formats like AAC (.m4a), OGG, WAV, etc. All non-supported files will be ignored when you browse the files so they won’t disturb you during your search.

Now let’s take a closer look…

Conclusion

The small U2 Station MKII is a controller you can take with you anywhere. It’s an excellent product. It lacks almost nothing, all essential features are present, except for a button to sync the BPM and beat of the two MP3 players automatically. This feature, as well as AAC compatibility, is a real drawback considering that the product is designed for beginners who mix for their grandma and cousins. Otherwise, this mixer has everything a professional product does and it offers many features you’ll only find on much more expensive mixers or tools that use sophisticated software and require a computer.

Advantages:

  • Mixing from a USB device
  • No need for a computer
  • Possibility to mix real line/phono audio sources
  • Portability
  • Three good quality effects
  • Scratch function with the jog wheel
  • Crossfader (auto start, curve control)
  • Overall finish
  • Sound quality

Disadvantages:

  • Somme controls don’t work smoothly
  • No auto sync for the two MP3 players
  • No AAC file support
  • No iPhone/iPod connection

To read the full detailed article see:  DJ-Tech U2 Station MK2 Review

Advertisements

December 17, 2010

Gifts for Geeks

Clock is ticking, and there is still time to please and be pleased. Here are some ideas for Christmas gifts for musicians and gear heads to fit all tastes and wallet sizes.

Computer Music

Line 6 MIDI Mobilizer

Line 6 MIDI Mobilizer : and your iThing speaks MIDI

Together with an Apple iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, and the free MIDI Memo Recorder app, MIDI Mobilizer can play, record, and backup MIDI information any time, any place. Whether you want to capture a quick musical idea or back up the settings of all your MIDI gear, MIDI Mobilizer is a simple and compact solution for everything MIDI.  Price: $70

Peavey AmpKit Link

Peavey AmpKit Link :

Turn your iPhone into a virtual amp for $30. The sound quality is fair considering the price. The marketing strategy of offering a free amp and then have us pay for additional amps is not so bad, considering that guitar players usually have their favorite amps and do not play with 15 different models.

Plugin Lexicon

Plugin Lexicon :

The new software package makes all the effects processing of Lexicon’s PCM96 available as a plug-in designed to add “inspirational new sounds to a user’s DAW that are not available anywhere else.”  The PC- and Macintosh-compatible PCM Native Effects Plug-In Bundle is designed to work with DAWs like Pro Tools and Logic, as well as with any other VST, Audio Unit or RTAS-compatible host.  Price: $1200.

Apogee One

Apogee One : All in one in your pocket

ONE is described as a single input, stereo output USB music interface designed to work seamlessly with Apples iTunes, GarageBand, Logic, Final Cut or any Core Audio compliant application on a Mac. Unlike any product in its category, ONE features an internal reference condenser microphone, ideal for capturing inspired musical moments, according to Apogee. ONE also includes a microphone preamp, an instrument input for guitar, bass, and keyboards, and a studio-quality stereo output for headphones or powered monitors.  Price:  $249

 

Native Komplete 7

Native Komplete 7 : The Bundle of the Decade?

The latest version of the Komplete bundle combines a range of NI products, while the Komplete 7 Elements collection is designed to set a new price point for music production enthusiasts on a budget.  The seventh generation of Komplete now comprises 24 individual products, including the latest Reaktor 5.5 version as well as the new Reaktor Prism, Rammfire, Reflektor, Traktor’s 12 and Vintage Organs. Other products now contained in Komplete include the Abbey Road 60s Drums vintage drum library, the performance effect The Finger, the electric pianos and an electric bass by sampler Thomas Scarbee, the four acoustic pianos from the Classic Piano Collection, the cinematic Acoustic Refractions instrument and the Reaktor Spark synthesizer, amounting to about 10,000 sounds and 90 GB of studio-grade sample material overall.  Price: $559.

Guitar Pro 6

Guitar Pro 6 :

Version 6 is definitely a major update for Guitar Pro. What used to be a small software tool has become the ultimate reference in its category thanks to its intuitive user interface, well thought-out features and an absurdly low price. Should you upgrade your previous Guitar Pro version for $29.95? Yes, a thousand times yes! You’ll benefit from a better design and a much better sounding and efficient audio engine than in previous versions. Should you buy the full version for $59.95 if you don’t own a guitar tab editor? Yes, a thousand times yes!

Pro Tools 9

Pro Tools 9 : Compatible Soundblaster (among others) !

Pro Tools 9 is an open platform that doesn’t require an Avid/M-Audio interface anymore, but can work with or without any Core Audio or ASIO compatible interface – on Mac AND PC.  The new version enables bigger mixes with more tracks, and pro features including Automatic Delay Compensation, multitrack Beat Detective, full Import Session Data dialog, DigiBase Pro, and other separately priced add-ons—now standard.  Price: $599 for the full version.

Pianoteq Play

Pianoteq Play :

Pianoteq Play is a virtual piano based on the physically modeled Pianoteq software instrument, appraised by many musicians for its close intimacy and responsiveness.

Modarrt says there is no need to tweak settings and parameters, as Pianoteq Play is delivered with “perfectly designed instruments.”  Pianoteq Play supports all Pianoteq instruments, and the grand pianos K1, C3, and M3 are embedded.  Price:  $99

RME Babyface

RME Babyface :

RME succeeded in launching a compact and rugged interface with remarkable sound quality. At about $750, this baby provides two quality mic preamps and converters, ADAT in/out, a jog wheel, a transport bag, and a pair of nice-looking VU-meters. Add TotalMix FX —the virtual mixer that allows you to manage all 22 channels and process the signals (EQ, filter, reverb, and echo)— to the package and you get the best mobile audio interface on the market.

Akai APC 20

Akai APC 20 : Enter the Matrix

Yes, the APC40 is much more comprehensive than the APC20! But if you have only $200 for a Live controller, the APC20 has only one competitor in the form of the Novation Launchpad. The latter is less expensive but doesn’t have any faders, which makes it less interesting…

DJing and Live Sound

Traktor Kontrol S4

Traktor Kontrol S4 :

Combining an extended version of the existing Traktor Pro software with a dedicated hardware controller, the Traktor Kontrol S4 is aiming to provide an all-in-one solution for digital DJs. The controller comprises a four-channel mixer, an integrated 24-bit/96kHz audio interface based on NI’s Audio 4 DJ, and interface sections for looping, cueing, track browsing and effects control.  Price: $1000.

Hercules DJ Console 4-MX

Hercules DJ Console 4-MX :

Hercules launched this year the newest version of their DJ Console line for Pro DJs, the DJ Console 4-Mx, a controller featuring large jog wheels (each equipped with touch sensor) a built-in audio interface tailored for DJing, and control over 2 and 4 virtual decks.  The DJ Console 4-Mx has steel and aluminium crafted body with a variety of controls including 89 controls in 2-deck mode and 150 controls in 4-deck mode.  Price: $450.

Pioneer DJM-2000

Pioneer DJM-2000 :

Let’s be clear: this is a great piece of gear! Well thought-out, nicely finished and with a great sound, it offers countless possibilities to allow the most demanding DJ’s to have endless fun. With this product, Pioneer targets night clubs with big budgets who want to offer the best to their DJ’s. The latter will have the possibility to prepare their sets before performing, and to come to the club with only a CD or a USB key — no need for a computer.  Price: $2500.

Denon DN-X1700

Denon DN-X1700 :

The DN-X1700 is a four-channel tabletop mixer with rubberised knobs, 60mm Alps K Series channel faders, 45mm FLEX cross fader, a color LCD display, extended 24-point LED channel and output metering, and LED ring metering around the control knobs.  In operation, the principal features related to the power and flexibility of the DN-X1700 are its Matrix Input Assignment with digital input and MIDI/USB audio, independent and parametric three-band EQ with Kill on each channel, and dual independent EFX processors.  Price: $1800.

Fender Passport 500 Pro

 

Fender Passport 500 Pro :

The eight-channel Passport 500 PRO is the new top-of-the-line Passport system:

  • A port that lets you record your performance with CD quality (.wav) straight to a USB flash drive.
  • CD-quality .wav and mp3 file playback.
  • Sub-out jack for an external powered sub-woofer.
  • Redesigned speaker system with 10″ woofer and improved clarity.
  • Price: $1000.

 

Presonus StudioLive 24.4.2

Presonus StudioLive 24.4.2 :

StudioLive 24.4.2 sports the same user interface, feature set, and I/O configuration as the StudioLive 16.4.2 but with several additions and enhancements. The main difference is that the new mixer provides 24 input channels and 10 aux buses, whereas the StudioLive 16.4.2 has 16 channels and 6 auxes. In addition, the new mixer’s Fat Channel has fully parametric EQ, rather than semi-parametric, and the gate and limiter have been enhanced. Instead of one stereo 31-band graphic EQ on the main bus, you get four dual 31-band graphic EQs that can be assigned to the mains, subgroups, and aux buses.  Price: $3,300.

To see many more gift ideas see:  Gift for Geeks- Xmas Shopping 2010

October 13, 2010

Pioneer DJM-2000 Mixing Console Review

With its 11 rhythm effects, multi-band frequency mix crossfader, RJ45 port to connect CD players, four-channel stereo sound card, and 5.8″ color touchscreen, the new Pioneer DJM2000 mixer is very appealing. And we obviously wanted to find out what it hidden under the hood. Let’s go!

Test Configuration

Pioneer DJM-2000

I put on my prettiest sneakers, grab my good old CDJ-100 CD players (yes, I know, they are not as nice as the CDJ-2000…), a small Shure mic, my MacBook, a pair of headphones, a Sennheiser mic, and a fat RCF sound system to shake the ground under my feet. I am now ready to welcome the new Pioneer jewel… The picture on the box doesn’t look very attractive, but as soon as you open the box, you know that you have a serious mixer in your hands: 18.7 lbs of technology in a rather big housing (15.7″ x 16.9″). The package also includes 28 pages of operating instructions (the bare minimum, considering the device), a CD-ROM with PC and Mac drivers for the sound card, the power cable, a USB cable, and four rather unusual RJ45 Cat5e cables for DJ equipment. We will come back to this later…

It doesn’t include any software, but on Pioneer’s website you can download Rekordbox for free — like I did. Installation was a breeze with my Mac Book Pro but the software was quite useless for this review: it cannot read more than one channel simultaneously and it is quite limited if you have no CDJ-2000/900.

The Concept

Pioneer DJM-2000

Pioneer tried to pack as many technological innovations as possible into this new high-grade mixer. Some of them have been inherited from other products. With this mixer, Pioneer successfully implemented into a hardware product some unique features that you usually find only in computer software. The mixer is very well manufactured. It has a very nice and professional finish, pursuing the spirit of previous Pioneer products, especially through the classic level meters with peak indicators. Almost every button is backlit, some of them flash to show their status while others have different lighting intensity. We just miss the possibility to adjust their brightness more precisely.

You obviously have a headphones output to monitor all channels and effects, a mic input with a two-band EQ and talk-over (that attenuates the level of the master signal when the mic level increases), and a master zone with stereo meter that allows you to adjust the output volume and balance. We won’t spend much time describing these features since they are quite standard on mixers in this range.

Instead, we’ll focus on the four channels and their multi-inputs, the great crossfaders, numerous effects, and the sound card that make this mixer one of the most versatile in its category.

Channels

The four channels are placed to the sides of the center LCD. You can use the outer channels (1 & 4) to connect your turntables and the inner channels (2 & 3) for your favorite analog players. Each channel features an S/PDIF input and another digital input through the internal USB sound card.

Each channel has exactly the same features:

  • A trim control to adjust the input level
  • An almost standard three-band EQ with an “isolator” mode, which allows you to extend the range of the rotary controls to be able to cut the respective frequency band up to -40 dB instead of -26 dB. Thus, if you turn all three controls fully counterclockwise, you won’t hear anything anymore.
  • A “filter” control that allows you to adjust the level of the INST FX for the channel.
  • A CUE button dedicated to the pre-listen function in your headphones.
  • A fader to adjust the channel volume. You can choose the fader curve to be either linear or logarithmic. Perhaps I’m wrong, but it doesn’t seem possible to change the faders, in spite of the three visible screws (there is no information about this in the operating instructions).
  • A convenient selector that allows you to freely assign the channel to one side of the crossfader (see crossfaders section below).
  • A 15-segment level meter with peak detection.

Now let’s take a closer look…

Conclusion

Let’s be clear: this is a great piece of gear! Well thought-out, nicely finished and with a great sound, it offers countless possibilities to allow the most demanding DJ’s to have endless fun. This definitively high-grade mixer was conceived by Pioneer to work with several CDJ-2000 or CDJ-900. If you want to get the most out of it, you’ll have to buy them as well.

And this results in the biggest problem for most of us: the basic setup (DJM-2000 + two CDJ-900) would amount to about $5,100… it’s hardly what you’d call cheap! With this product, Pioneer targets night clubs with big budgets who want to offer the best to their DJ’s. The latter will have the possibility to prepare their sets before performing, and to come to the club with only a CD or a USB key — no need for a computer.

Advantages:

  • Finish and sturdiness
  • Sound quality
  • Number of ins/outs
  • Integrated eight-output sound card (four stereo outs)
  • Seven crossfaders per frequency band via touchscreen
  • Real-time, BPM-synced effects and sidechain remix.

Drawbacks:

  • Price (about $2,500)
  • BPM counter works too slowly and not precisely enough
  • Only one BPM counter
  • Not Traktor ready

To read the full detailed article see: Pioneer DJM-2000 Review

May 25, 2009

Wacom Nextbeat

Filed under: DJ, Musikmesse 2009 — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — audiofanzine @ 6:35 am

Wacom presents their Nextbeat, featuring touch technology and a wireless control unit.

To see more exclusive video demos visit Audiofanzine Videos.

May 4, 2009

Video Demo: Open Labs D-Beat

Filed under: DJ, Musikmesse 2009 — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , — audiofanzine @ 8:20 am

Open Labs presents their first “keyboard-less” product, the D-Beat which comes jam-packed with interesting features.

To see more exclusive video demos visit Audiofanzine Videos.

February 20, 2009

NAMM 2009: Video Demo Numark HDMIX and DDS

Filed under: Control Surfaces, DJ, namm 2009 — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , — audiofanzine @ 9:31 am

Rob Bachi, product specialist for Numark, presents the Numark HDMIX and DDS.

To watch all NAMM 2009 video demos visit us on Audiofanzine NAMM 2009.

February 12, 2009

NAMM 2009: Video Demo Numark NS7

Filed under: Control Surfaces, DJ, namm 2009 — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — audiofanzine @ 8:16 am

Rob Bachi from Numark shows us the NS7 MIDI control surface for DJs.

To watch all NAMM 2009 video demos visit us on Audiofanzine NAMM 2009.

February 9, 2009

NAMM 2009: Video Demo Native Instruments Audio 4 DJ

Filed under: DJ, namm 2009 — Tags: , , , , , , , , — audiofanzine @ 8:40 am

Short presentation of the tiny Audio 4 DJ audio interface for DJ from Native instruments, by Mohamed Espinosa.

To watch all NAMM 2009 video demos visit us on Audiofanzine NAMM 2009.

NAMM 2009: Video Demo Mixvibes Cross

Filed under: DJ, namm 2009 — Tags: , , , , , , , , — audiofanzine @ 8:32 am

Laurent Cohen from Mixvibes shows us the new features and specifications of Mixvibes Cross DJ software.

To watch all NAMM 2009 video demos visit us on Audiofanzine NAMM 2009.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.