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NI’s Traktor S5 is a more compact all-in-one DJ controller; here’s how it stacks up

The Traktor Kontrol S8 from Native Instruments is, let’s face it, the Cadillac Escalade of DJ gear. It’s loaded. It’s shiny. It’s powerful. It’s also expensive and hard to parallel park. So, without much fanfare, NI last week gave us the S5. It’s roughly the size of the S4 – the two-wheel controller that was once flagship of the Traktor line. But in that space, you get the stuff you’ve probably envied on the bigger Traktor controllers (the S8, and its one-deck-at-a-time counterpart the D2). It’s got color displays. It’s got touch strips – no wheels, if you like such …

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Serato DJ’s updated hardware support, features explained

Serato has been busy lately. While other DJ tool makers keep talking big headlines (turntables! Stems!), the New Zealand-based DJ software developer has been steadily churning out a whole bunch of updates. And these are largely about adding support for different hardware. Serato is in that sense a bit of a different beast. While Pioneer pushes its standalone hardware in booths, and Native Instruments focuses these days on its integrated hardware/software solutions, Serato is all about providing plug-and-play support for a variety of other tools, and responding to user requests. So, that means little “point” updates from Serato are often …

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Pioneer focuses on scratch, battle, effects with new mixer

Meet Pioneer’s new push, a strategy aiming squarely at scratch and turntablist DJs and effects lovers, with or without a computer. If some of the latest mixers have conventional analog mixing, bread and butter features, and rotaries, Pioneer’s DJ mixer this week – isn’t any of that. Instead, the DJM-S9 is a “battle” mixer loaded up with extras and emphasizing scratch and effects features. And it is unmistakably a Pioneer box in that it draws heavily on wild effects. It’s a “party rocking mixer” as an artist describes it in the launch video. Also, watch the video. What you mostly …

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Jazzy Jeff, Shiftee Show Us Turntable as a Musical Instrument

Serato and Native Instruments may have a fierce rivalry when it comes to tools. But at the end of the day, the leading DJ vendors exist for one reason: they’re there to support musicians. And I do mean musicians. Watching new routines from Jazzy Jeff and Shiftee, you really see the turntable emerge as a virtuoso musical instrument. They’re released as promotions for Serato (Jeff) and Native Instruments (Shiftee). And the tools are important: they’re there to allow these players to make use of their skills, to do more than just select tracks like a jukebox. But this really is …

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Allen & Heath’s New Analog Mixer Could be One to Beat: Xone:43 4+1

Allen & Heath aren’t bombarding the market with products. They’re not hopping on lots of new gimmicks. What they are doing is quietly releasing well-designed mixers that dominate the DJ scene. And the Xone:43 looks nothing if not eminently sensible – enough so that I suspect some might eye it as a mixer for live sessions, as well as the obvious club installs and DJ rigs. A&H are serious enough about this tool that they’re releasing a new flagship — on the first of April. (No fooling.) But they can do that: because there’s absolutely nothing silly or far-fetched about …

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Gorgeous Rane Rotary Mixer: Finally, A New DJ Mixer We Want

Now, here’s a demonstration of the proper way to jump on a bandwagon. Rane appear to be doing rotary DJ mixers right. This week’s NAMM show is accompanied in the DJ section by the usual, dreary parade of massive gear sold to deep-pocketed DJ hobbyists. Somehow a mixer integrates with a control surface integrates with giant decks integrates with a sound card integrates with Serato integrates with colored lights and screens. Then, that’s bolted into some mostly-black, oversized coffin of equipment that looks as though it would be right at home in the nursery playroom of an Imperial Star Destroyer. …

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Roland’s New AIRA Mixer is a Performance Tool For All Your Gear

So, now you’ve got a lot of hardware. You’ve moved beyond just a computer, and you’re back to the joy of making music with boxes with knobs and faders and keys. And you’re playing with them live. And maybe Roland’s AIRA had something to do with that, too. Now, how do you put them together? KORG’s SQ-1 step sequencer is one answer. And Roland has provided the next chapter to its AIRA hardware saga with a mixer, its sixth product in the AIRA line. But this isn’t just a way of connecting all the audio outputs from those devices – …

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Wild, Techie, Wonderful: NAMM’s Gear Delights [Gallery II]

Hardware and software continue to thrive (above). Pro audio lives on. People still make strange, wonderful products for tiny niches of people passionate about every element of sound. Marsha Vdovin is a veteran of the NAMM trade show like few people we know, so seeing the show through the eyes of her camera reveals some weirdness and wonderfulness we always appreciate. And Wonder Woman, too. Magic Kingdom, indeed. Gallery II, go! -Ed.

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Looks familiar, but that's a good thing. Pics courtesy MOTU.

MOTU 828x: A Favorite Audio Interface Gets Thunderbolt Treatment

The MOTU 828 series has been a workhorse if ever there was one. Since the very first model, its more-then-ample I/O, mixing, clocking, and design have made it a favorite in a market crowded with lots of fairly-similar audio interfaces. It’s just more versatile and has easier access to controls and metering than some of its rivals. That means the arrival of an 828 with Thunderbolt matters. The 828x still has USB 2.0, so you aren’t limited to Thunderbolt connections, and it supports both OS X and Windows. But when connected to Thunderbolt, you get some distinct advantages. The bus …

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Singing Circuits: Who Needs Synths When a No-Input Mixer Sounds This Gorgeous?

Hypnotic and chant-like, this Christian Carrière composition hums and vibrates with what sounds like a chorus of electronic synthesizers. But that’s not what you’re hearing. It’s actually all a “no-input mixer” – a rig that makes use of controlled feedback rather than any other source of sound. It is, as Montreal-based composer Christian describes it, the sound of the circuits inside the mixer singing. And while you may associate feedback with angry distortion, here it’s beautifully tranquil, the rich tones of the circuitry themselves transformed into oscillators. The patterns and layers are all made with a looper. 35-minute mix:

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