Laptop DJing

It's all about the equipment

Moderators: Mr Awesomer, JesseMiner, CafeSavoy

Locked
Message
Author
erinregina
Posts: 48
Joined: Fri Nov 24, 2006 6:23 pm

#481 Post by erinregina » Tue Jun 19, 2007 11:44 am

I don't understand why some folks are so married to the idea of ONE PROGRAM DOING IT ALL. I use jRiver for obsessively-organizing and detailed-searching all my media, and then when I'm dj'ing I'll just drag-n-drop my songs into Winamp as a playlist to go out onto the floor. It's really easy to have both windows open, since Winamp has an always-stay-on-top feature and the window is pretty small.

Plus then I never have to worry about having the program potentially playing to the wrong soundcard.

*shrug*

User avatar
Lawrence
Posts: 1213
Joined: Mon Dec 09, 2002 2:08 pm
Location: Austin, Texas
Contact:

#482 Post by Lawrence » Tue Jun 19, 2007 1:17 pm

erinregina wrote:I don't understand why some folks are so married to the idea of ONE PROGRAM DOING IT ALL. I use jRiver for obsessively-organizing and detailed-searching all my media, and then when I'm dj'ing I'll just drag-n-drop my songs into Winamp as a playlist to go out onto the floor. It's really easy to have both windows open, since Winamp has an always-stay-on-top feature and the window is pretty small.

Plus then I never have to worry about having the program potentially playing to the wrong soundcard.
Good point, but two programs use up more system resources and increase the risk of the system crashing: not a huge risk with a decent machine, but still an unnecessary one. (Shared DLL problems and other such things.) ITunes, for instance, tends to monopolize the system resources on PCs, which makes it unideal for using it as the cuing software because it could "hang up" the main sound card.

One program also keeps things simpler. I can understand how someone could consider it easier to use two different programs to keep track of which is the cue and which is the main sound, that's fine, too. (Or use two installations of WinAmp and color the window controlling the Main sound card Red and the window controlling the cueing sound card Blue.) For me, it is simpler to keep track in one program controlling the two sound zones.

It is also good to learn one interface well than to change between two different ones. JR Media Center also lets me edit the MP3 tags on the fly, which I don't think WinAmp allows you to do.

But, again, if it works for you, then you should stick with it. I don't consider this an issue for which there is one uniform, absolute answer because different minds process things differently and different people have developed different tendencies and habits on computers.
Lawrence Page
Austin Lindy Hop
http://www.AustinLindy.com

User avatar
JesseMiner
Posts: 1034
Joined: Mon Nov 18, 2002 5:36 pm
Location: San Francisco, CA
Contact:

#483 Post by JesseMiner » Tue Jun 19, 2007 1:57 pm

erinregina wrote:I don't understand why some folks are so married to the idea of ONE PROGRAM DOING IT ALL. I use jRiver for obsessively-organizing and detailed-searching all my media, and then when I'm dj'ing I'll just drag-n-drop my songs into Winamp as a playlist to go out onto the floor. It's really easy to have both windows open, since Winamp has an always-stay-on-top feature and the window is pretty small.
I simply desire the same functionality I had when using two CD decks and a mixer:

- two independent outputs that can play simultaneously
- each output having a separate volume control and EQ
- the ability to preview on either output
- the ability to cross-fade between the two

Anything less than that is limiting my options as a DJ. I would rather make choices based on my preference than due to a technical limitation. I want the laptop environment to be an improvement for me, not a step backwards.

Simple music player software like WinAmp of iTunes seem limited in this respect and are thus unacceptable solutions for me.

Jesse

erinregina
Posts: 48
Joined: Fri Nov 24, 2006 6:23 pm

#484 Post by erinregina » Tue Jun 19, 2007 2:08 pm

Well, those things makes sense to me. I guess it's to each her or his own. Since I never used the CD-system to DJ, I don't feel the need to replicate it. And I don't feel compelled to cross-fade songs for any reason. I suppose the computer-crashing thing might be a concern, but my laptop doesn't usually have issues and I only use those 2 programs when I'm DJ'ing, so it's actually less work than my cpu is usually doing. And I'm a total novice when it comes to equalizers so I don't even bother trying to use the Winamp one. (I don't know exactly what's meant by changing mp3 tags on the fly; I can change the mp3 tags in jRiver while I'm previewing very easily.)

User avatar
david
Posts: 36
Joined: Mon Oct 18, 2004 3:47 pm
Location: Uppsala, Sweden
Contact:

#485 Post by david » Wed Jun 20, 2007 5:49 am

JesseMiner wrote:I simply desire the same functionality I had when using two CD decks and a mixer:

- two independent outputs that can play simultaneously
- each output having a separate volume control and EQ
- the ability to preview on either output
- the ability to cross-fade between the two
I might be picking nits here, but that sounds more like you want two inputs, rather than outputs. :-)

But you of course want two outputs as well, out for the room, and one for previewing.

Myself, I'm not married to the DJ deck metaphore, and I think I prefer a queue-based setup. But I need more laptop DJ experience before I can really say anything.

User avatar
JesseMiner
Posts: 1034
Joined: Mon Nov 18, 2002 5:36 pm
Location: San Francisco, CA
Contact:

#486 Post by JesseMiner » Wed Jun 20, 2007 8:07 am

david wrote:
JesseMiner wrote:I simply desire the same functionality I had when using two CD decks and a mixer:

- two independent outputs that can play simultaneously
- each output having a separate volume control and EQ
- the ability to preview on either output
- the ability to cross-fade between the two
I might be picking nits here, but that sounds more like you want two inputs, rather than outputs. :-)
Yep, that is of course what I meant. :)
david wrote:But you of course want two outputs as well, out for the room, and one for previewing.
Certainly. To clarify: Traktor provides me with 2-4 inputs, and my Echo Digital Audio Indigo DJ PCMCIA sound card provides me with two outputs, out for the room and one for previewing. Perfect solution for me.
david wrote:Myself, I'm not married to the DJ deck metaphore, and I think I prefer a queue-based setup. But I need more laptop DJ experience before I can really say anything.
You have brought up an interesting point here. For me, I can't understand the appeal of a queue-based set-up. I view it as a loss of a very important DJ skill: the ability to vary transitions between songs. With a queue-based set-up I imagine it is difficult to vary the length of space between songs and impossible to cross fade between songs (example: transitioning between two live tracks with lengthy intros/outros) or cue a song to start past a lengthly intro.

Is this just something that a new generation of DJs is are getting used to?

Jesse

User avatar
Lawrence
Posts: 1213
Joined: Mon Dec 09, 2002 2:08 pm
Location: Austin, Texas
Contact:

#487 Post by Lawrence » Wed Jun 20, 2007 9:51 am

JesseMiner wrote:For me, I can't understand the appeal of a queue-based set-up. I view it as a loss of a very important DJ skill: the ability to vary transitions between songs. With a queue-based set-up I imagine it is difficult to vary the length of space between songs and impossible to cross fade between songs (example: transitioning between two live tracks with lengthy intros/outros) or cue a song to start past a lengthly intro.

Is this just something that a new generation of DJs is are getting used to?

Jesse
Yes, it is a problem, but it is not as big of a problem as I envisioned, and the benefits of the playlist/queue system are worth it.

First, the queue system allows me to dump a bunch of songs into the playlist as ideas (that I can later reshuffle or remove if I end up going in a different direction) and I never, ever run into a situation where I'm flipping through the book scrambling for the next song. The analog to CD DJing is that I have ten CDs sitting by the CD player with post-it notes identifying the track number for several "fallback" songs that I can quickly pop into the CD player in a bind. But I don't need to pop anything in and I don't have those CDs cluttering up the booth; it's all ready to go right there.

JR Media also has two playlists: cue/preview and main. Having one master playlist in the main window separate from the window where you do all of the cue/preview (instead of shifting from one side or the other of a dual-input Mixer Board replication) helps avoid inadvertantly pausing the wrong player when cueing. It also helps keep track of ONE set of "potential next songs" instead of two or three. It also helps me plan a set better by seeing what I played and what is coming without any addition work, at all.

The queue also allows me to queue up several songs in a row so I can go dance, roam the room to monitor sound quality/volume, or even go to the bathroom without worrying about needing to be there merely to press a button. Even though I usually end up returning to the booth in time, it's good to not worry about it. In short, the playlist system has made DJing much more stress-free.

As for the pitfalls you mentioned, you can pause between songs in JR Media because it has an auto-fade whenever you hit pause, which smooths the transition to silence if you have an announcement of if you want to take a breath before changing it up. So the applause on a live track gets faded out instead of just cut to silence. The auto-fade also works as a cross-fader if you skip to the next track, which I often use seemlessly to cut out an outro of applause in a live track, making it sound like the next song is in the same performance. So I have learned how to do that transition.

However, I do very much mind losing the ability to start a track at the end of a long intro (or to avoid a boring melody on a long track to edit the song down to just the good stuff). Indeed, that is my main complaint with JR Media Center. There is a complex fix in JR Media that someone else described, but it was so complex and difficult that I figured I would just re-rip those song so the track begins where I want it to begin. Unfortunately, I have only earmarked certain songs for edited re-ripping; I have not actually done it yet. The upshot, though, is that it has not hampered me nearly as much as I thought it would; there's still plenty of music to play that doesn't need me to edit a long intro out, and it probably has prevented me from "forcing the issue" on a few songs that probably just should not be tinkered with on the fly like that.
Lawrence Page
Austin Lindy Hop
http://www.AustinLindy.com

User avatar
Ryan
Posts: 129
Joined: Mon Mar 31, 2003 5:15 pm
Location: LA to NY-Fuckin-C
Contact:

#488 Post by Ryan » Mon Jun 25, 2007 8:44 am

For those looking to buy a new PC laptop, there are two new heavyweights about to be released.

The Asus C90 laptop is the first truly DIY laptop, supporting Core 2 Duo Extreme DESKTOP processors. It's easy to customize on your own, like a desktop unit would be, with easy acess to all the main hardware, making upgrades very easy. Asus specs are below, but google it to get more stories on it's abilities. Should come bare bones at under $1000 when released.

http://www.asus.com/products4.aspx?mode ... 3=536&l4=0


Dell is also releasing the XPS 1330 laptop soon (Reuben mentioned this one), which looks to be the best laptop dell has ever released. It's an ultraportable with a 13.3" screen, loaded with Core 2 Duo processor at 2.4ghz and the Santa Rosa Chipset. You can even get a solid state hard drive as an option (although it's only 32gb).

http://www.engadget.com/2007/06/04/dell ... -revealed/


I may be buying one of these as soon as they are released. Dell is also updating their Inspiron line soon as well.

KevinSchaper
Posts: 277
Joined: Wed Nov 20, 2002 4:29 pm
Location: Eugene, OR
Contact:

#489 Post by KevinSchaper » Mon Jun 25, 2007 9:36 am

I just picked up a used thinkpad t43 on ebay with a year and a half of warranty left. I love it. 1400x1050 is nice, and it's got a little led light on top of the lcd for lighting the keyboard in the dark.

I'm running ubuntu and using mixxx. It gets a little choppy feeling when it's playing one song and loading up the waveform view of another, but that's the only time that cpu seems to be an issue.

(I'm still more cue dj than queue dj.. optimally, I'd be able to set up a queue and still cue songs to the right place within it - but I don't think that software is written just yet).

Toon Town Dave
Posts: 661
Joined: Wed Nov 20, 2002 2:52 pm
Location: Saskatoon, Canada

#490 Post by Toon Town Dave » Mon Jun 25, 2007 1:56 pm

When you say it gets "choppy", do you know for sure if that's CPU or perhaps I/O? If it's CPU, you may be able to eliminate or reduce it my increasing the process priority of mixx.

Try opening a terminal/command window, and run "top". If see mixx near the top of the list and using a lot of CPU, particularly when it skips, that will tell you if it's a CPU problem or not. It will also identify other higher priority process which may be hogging CPU. (<q> or <ctrl>-<c> will quit top)

sudo nice -n -10 <pid>

where <pid> is the process ID of mixx. Top shows the current process priority in the "NI" column. Smaller (negative) numbers mean higher priority.

KevinSchaper
Posts: 277
Joined: Wed Nov 20, 2002 4:29 pm
Location: Eugene, OR
Contact:

#491 Post by KevinSchaper » Mon Jun 25, 2007 3:37 pm

hey, good idea.

I used renice. (I guess nice runs a command, renice takes a pid, in ubuntu at least.) ..that was enough so that if I slide the crossfader while loading a track it doesn't get all unresponsive.

I'm thinking about editing my local source to make "next" or maybe "ping" start the other player when a track finishes.. "next" seems like it would be a reasonable feature if it actually played the track each time - but ping, which is commented out, but looks like it was intended to start playing the track backwards, is a pretty goofy idea.

"Ping" aside - I've been impressed with how many things about mixxx seem silly at first (like the key bindings or color scheme) but turn out to be really well thought out. The white helps you see the keyboard, and if you're off axis (and know what all the knobs do), all you see is the relevant state of everything without any clutter from labels.

Toon Town Dave
Posts: 661
Joined: Wed Nov 20, 2002 2:52 pm
Location: Saskatoon, Canada

#492 Post by Toon Town Dave » Mon Jun 25, 2007 4:52 pm

It does looks fairly simple and clean. Not quite emulating a dual CD deck but close. I think I'd prefer the volume controls up top beside their respective channel controls with the cross fade/mixer below them. I don't see the value of the wave-forms for our purposes.

It would be nice to have a little more width on the playlist portion below to see longer comments and more fields. I'll have to give it another look, I'd like to ditch Windows as my primary O/S on my laptop.

Does the interface have any features that prevent the operator from accidentally interrupting the track playing to the audience? That's a feature I really like with BPM Studio and lack of it is one of two reasons I don't like PCDJ.

KevinSchaper
Posts: 277
Joined: Wed Nov 20, 2002 4:29 pm
Location: Eugene, OR
Contact:

#493 Post by KevinSchaper » Tue Jun 26, 2007 12:00 pm

I kept wishing I could resize the window.. and I would move things around too.. it would be interesting to make a "partner dance dj" skin for it that didn't have any of the flanger & beatmatching stuff, and used that space to get the whole window width for the playlist stuff.

The waveform is kind of handy as a hint for setting the gain, and it makes it more clear which track is playing (once you get used to which waveform goes with which player).. when I turned it off I missed it, but yeah, it's not really necessary.

I think the only place you're protected from messing up the track that's playing is that you can't load a new track a player that's currently playing - but it seems to be enough. Kind of the equivalent of eject buttons not working on a cd player when it's going. (my denon is like that at least)

User avatar
Ryan
Posts: 129
Joined: Mon Mar 31, 2003 5:15 pm
Location: LA to NY-Fuckin-C
Contact:

#494 Post by Ryan » Tue Jun 26, 2007 2:24 pm

Can anyone recommend an external sound card for a new MacBook Pro?

User avatar
Ryan
Posts: 129
Joined: Mon Mar 31, 2003 5:15 pm
Location: LA to NY-Fuckin-C
Contact:

#495 Post by Ryan » Tue Jun 26, 2007 4:27 pm

Also, does anyone use DJ-1800 on a mac? Can it easily export playlists?

Locked