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Thread: Need Help Putting a Rig Together

  1. #1
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    Need Help Putting a Rig Together

    Hi,

    This is my first post here. Let me offer a little background --

    I started on vinyl back in 2000. Then I added a pair of CDJs a few years later. A few more years and I moved to a hardware controller and software but I don't remember which. I was away for a few years and when I came back I bought a Traktor controller and used their software. I've been away again for a few years and looking to get started again...it keeps calling me back.

    I have no plans at all to play live anywhere; expect possibly the internet. I used to have a monthly show on DI.FM (and was a part of a record pool) and would like to do something like that. I enjoy recording mixes. I don't really do any trickery on the mixer or throw in effects. I started playing old school progressive house (Bedrock, Hooj Choons, Baroque, etc) and those tracks were so good that they didn't need any help. However, I would like to play around with some of the new capabilities.

    What has pulled me back was hearing this new (new to me, anyway) style of techno called Melodic House. I love the dark stuff. And I happened to come across a Dubfire mix from TomorrowLand in 2018. I had tuned him out when he (Digweed, too) went techno because I don't care for that style, but this new stuff is outstanding! Many of the tracks sound to me like old school prog mixed with techno, and many of them are quite dramatic.

    I am leaning toward using a controller - software combination (but inclined not to return to Traktor because I want to learn new gear) again but I have a few questions:

    1. Is Rekordbox a software similar to Traktor? Meaning it's what I would use to mix and record with my MacBook?

    2. Is there any other software out there worth checking out?

    3. Is the high end Pioneer controller (XDJ-RX2) worth the money? Any problems mixing on that unit's small screen? Or...

    4. Does it make more sense to go with a less expensive controller and use software since I already have the MacBook? Does the Rekordbox software come with Pioneer controllers? Is Serato a better option?

    I am pretty stuck on using Pioneer gear because my experiences with this brand have always been positive. I remember buying my first DJM 500 at a pawn shop and feeling like I'd found the Holy Grail. But I am open to other brands.

    I appreciate any help you all can give. I did read a bunch, but I want some advice from those who know from experience.


    Marcus
    Last edited by DJMarcus; 12-08-2019 at 10:39 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DJMarcus View Post
    Hi,

    This is my first post here. Let me offer a little background --

    I started on vinyl back in 2000. Then I added a pair of CDJs a few years later. A few more years and I moved to a hardware controller and software but I don't remember which. I was away for a few years and when I came back I bought a Traktor controller and used their software. I've been away again for a few years and looking to get started again...it keeps calling me back.

    I have no plans at all to play live anywhere; expect possibly the internet. I used to have a monthly show on DI.FM (and was a part of a record pool) and would like to do something like that. I enjoy recording mixes. I don't really do any trickery on the mixer or throw in effects. I started playing old school progressive house (Bedrock, Hooj Choons, Baroque, etc) and those tracks were so good that they didn't need any help. However, I would like to play around with some of the new capabilities.

    What has pulled me back was hearing this new (new to me, anyway) style of techno called Melodic House. I love the dark stuff. And I happened to come across a Dubfire mix from TomorrowLand in 2018. I had tuned him out when he (Digweed, too) went techno because I don't care for that style, but this new stuff is outstanding! Many of the tracks sound to me like old school prog mixed with techno, and many of them are quite dramatic.

    I am leaning toward using a controller - software combination (but inclined not to return to Traktor because I want to learn new gear) again but I have a few questions:

    1. Is Rekordbox a software similar to Traktor? Meaning it's what I would use to mix and record with my MacBook?

    2. Is there any other software out there worth checking out?

    3. Is the high end Pioneer controller (XDJ-RX2) worth the money? Any problems mixing on that unit's small screen? Or...

    4. Does it make more sense to go with a less expensive controller and use software since I already have the MacBook? Does the Rekordbox software come with Pioneer controllers? Is Serato a better option?

    I am pretty stuck on using Pioneer gear because my experiences with this brand have always been positive. I remember buying my first DJM 500 at a pawn shop and feeling like I'd found the Holy Grail. But I am open to other brands.

    I appreciate any help you all can give. I did read a bunch, but I want some advice from those who know from experience.


    Marcus
    Hmmm???... Where to start???...

    Given your history, you probably have as much experience as I, so the advice Iíd give is this...

    Software is basically a matter of preference. Iíve never tried Rekordbox, but Iíve used all the others. I still prefer Traktor. Rekordbox has some great features for Mobile DJís that Iíd like to try, but I find Traktor to be the most intuitive application for me.

    Youíre not planning to go mobile, so a controller like the Pioneer XDJ-RX2 makes no sense to me. Iím not saying that itís not worth the money, but its limitations are what would dissuade me. There are other Pioneer controllers that sound just as good, cost less, and are more versatile. I like a big screen, so using a computer with a larger screen makes sense to me, especially if Iím operating out of a studio/office. I even use an AIO computer instead of a laptop even though Iím a mobile DJ. You could use an iMac if you dislike Windows. The main reason Iím using a Dell AIO Windows PC is because my stupid iMac has no VESA mount.

    Just a few things to consider.😊

    Good luck.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by DJ Bobcat View Post
    Hmmm???... Where to start???...

    Given your history, you probably have as much experience as I, so the advice Iíd give is this...

    Software is basically a matter of preference. Iíve never tried Rekordbox, but Iíve used all the others. I still prefer Traktor. Rekordbox has some great features for Mobile DJís that Iíd like to try, but I find Traktor to be the most intuitive application for me.

    Youíre not planning to go mobile, so a controller like the Pioneer XDJ-RX2 makes no sense to me. Iím not saying that itís not worth the money, but its limitations are what would dissuade me. There are other Pioneer controllers that sound just as good, cost less, and are more versatile. I like a big screen, so using a computer with a larger screen makes sense to me, especially if Iím operating out of a studio/office. I even use an AIO computer instead of a laptop even though Iím a mobile DJ. You could use an iMac if you dislike Windows. The main reason Iím using a Dell AIO Windows PC is because my stupid iMac has no VESA mount.

    Just a few things to consider.

    Good luck.
    Thanks for your comments. I mentioned the RX2 only because it appeared to me that you don't need a laptop to use it. But the small screen size is a turn off. Anyway, it's no longer an option.

    I am leaning toward a Pioneer controller and Serato. I don't think I need a 4-channel, but might buy one to leave me the option of adding something later. I still have three crates of vinyl.

    Things have come a LONG ways. My initial venture into the hardware/software setup was around 2008 or so. I had a silver Hercules controller and some stripped down software. I still had to beat match like vinyl (my preference). I don't think Traktor software was even available at that time (or maybe I was unaware) but I think I bought the Traktor software soon after. I recorded some great mixes using that simple setup.

    All this technology is great, but I miss the smudge prints on the edges of my records.

  4. #4
    The Pioneer XDJ-RX2 (as well as the older XDJ-RX) and new XDJ-RR (lower model than RX) and XDJ-XZ (higher model).. are not really controllers, they are stand-alone systems that you can use without any computer connected at all, just playing straight off USB thumb drives. Basically you can think of them as two CDJ's and a mixer in one box, sharing a screen. Only, instead of CD's, all your music is on a thumb drive. The big win for these is that if you are playing in clubs on Pioneer gear, or on other people's gear, you can take those same thumb drives and plug them into gear that you don't own and all your stuff will be just how you left it.. playlists, cue points, bpm's and keys, even your settings for the decks are saved on there.

    And yea, if you have learned to DJ on regular CDJ's or turntables then this setup will be very comfortable for you, because what do you really need to see on a screen when you're DJing, right??? This gear even with its small screen gives you so much more than what you are used to having when playing vinyl or cd.

    So that's what I like about it.. I have a setup at home now which is a pair of XDJ-1000mk2 and a DJM-900nxs.. it is a three piece setup. But I could take my thumb drives and plug into an XDJ-RX2, XDJ-RR or XDJ-XZ and be totally comfortable and ready to play.. I don't need to carry a laptop with me or worry about what I will do if it decides to crap out on me at a party. That's what keeps Pioneer in business.

    AND, the XDJ units, besides being stand-alone DJ stations, can ALSO be used as a controller, controlling different DJ software on your laptop, playing music off your hard disk as you are used to. Last but not least, they have a third mode where they use the laptop as a file server.. they are running in stand alone mode and you don't look at the screen on the laptop, you are working with the controller alone, but it networks to the computer to get the music off the computers disk. So if you're playing around at home you don't have to constantly copy new tunes to your thumb drives.

    But in your case it sounds like you are ok playing with your laptop and maybe even prefer to do that now, you don't really need the stand alone mode and so you don't really need the extra expense of the XDJ. If you like Pioneer's layout, they have other controllers that are just controllers.
    Last edited by light-o-matic; 12-08-2019 at 03:17 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by light-o-matic View Post
    The Pioneer XDJ-RX2 (as well as the older XDJ-RX) and new XDJ-RR (lower model than RX) and XDJ-XZ (higher model).. are not really controllers, they are stand-alone systems that you can use without any computer connected at all, just playing straight off USB thumb drives. Basically you can think of them as two CDJ's and a mixer in one box, sharing a screen. Only, instead of CD's, all your music is on a thumb drive. The big win for these is that if you are playing in clubs on Pioneer gear, or on other people's gear, you can take those same thumb drives and plug them into gear that you don't own and all your stuff will be just how you left it.. playlists, cue points, bpm's and keys, even your settings for the decks are saved on there.

    AND, the XDJ units, besides being stand-alone DJ stations, can ALSO be used as a controller, controlling different DJ software on your laptop, playing music off your hard disk as you are used to. Last but not least, they have a third mode where they use the laptop as a file server.. they are running in stand alone mode and you don't look at the screen on the laptop, you are working with the controller alone, but it networks to the computer to get the music off the computers disk. So if you're playing around at home you don't have to constantly copy new tunes to your thumb drives.

    But in your case it sounds like you are ok playing with your laptop and maybe even prefer to do that now, you don't really need the stand alone mode and so you don't really need the extra expense of the XDJ. If you like Pioneer's layout, they have other controllers that are just controllers.
    Thanks. You raised a couple of interesting points. When I have used software, such as Traktor, I didn't do much with it. It had basically two functions: keying up the next track and I kept my eye on the waveform like I used to look at the record grooves so I knew how much record I had left to mix out. Everything else was done by ear. Oh, the software also recorded my mixes which is a really nice feature. Back when I used vinyl I had to run a line out from my mixer into the input of my PC sound card and use software like Wave Lab to record the live mix. This sounds so old but those mixes with Ortofon needles sounded really damn good.

    The question I have for you is this: what do you use the screen on your XDJ for? Does your system have the same software (Rekordbox) and the only difference is the screen size?

    Thanks

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by DJMarcus View Post
    Thanks. You raised a couple of interesting points. When I have used software, such as Traktor, I didn't do much with it. It had basically two functions: keying up the next track and I kept my eye on the waveform like I used to look at the record grooves so I knew how much record I had left to mix out. Everything else was done by ear. Oh, the software also recorded my mixes which is a really nice feature. Back when I used vinyl I had to run a line out from my mixer into the input of my PC sound card and use software like Wave Lab to record the live mix. This sounds so old but those mixes with Ortofon needles sounded really damn good.

    The question I have for you is this: what do you use the screen on your XDJ for? Does your system have the same software (Rekordbox) and the only difference is the screen size?

    Thanks
    No, the CDJ/XDJ doesn't run Rekordbox internally, it has its own software, its own operating system so-to-speak.

    It's a little confusing to explain.. but basically, since you last had CDJ's.. the new model CDJ's added a connection for a USB thumb drive.. then a nicer screen so you can browse the folders on your thumb drive (there's a new knob and buttons for that). So far so good.. you can use the USB like it's a CD case, you don't even need to use Rekorkbox for that, just copy tracks from your computer onto the thumb drive.

    But you don't get the full features of the CDJ/XDJ that way. For that, you need Rekordbox on your computer, which is really TWO different things. In the free version, that anyone can download, it's a music library manager that analyzes the tracks in your collection (BPM, Key and Energy), it allows you to preset cue points and loops, to grid your tracks (yea, CDJ's/XDJ's can even do SYNC for you now.. you don't have to beatmatch by ear.. but I still do anyway), and to organize your tracks into different playlists for different styles. You can presequence a set in RB or just select a "crate" to choose from as you play, or both. There's no practical limit on how many playlists you can make (it does not copy the tracks more than once if they're in multiple playlists).

    Ok, so if you do that, then when you "export" from RB to your thumb drive, and put it in the deck.. all the work you did in RB appears on the deck. Because RB has a database that it puts on the thumb drive, you get additional options for browsing files on the deck.. by playlist, by bpm, artist.. and a bunch of others ways.

    You cannot organize tracks on the deck itself, but if you do set cue point or loop memories while using the CDJ/XDJ, it is saved to the thumb drive and ultimately copied (automatically) back to RB on your laptop.

    So basically, used in that way, RB is an organizing tool. And then when you are playing you forget about the laptop and just work with the decks. When I say decks.. I mean, in my case, I have two XDJ-1000mk2.. and a regular mixer. So each deck has its own screen and own USB jack. But they connect together with an ethernet cable so that each deck can be aware of the other deck, that's how sync works.. there's even a beat sync display but it's fairly useless if you haven't gridded the tracks because it guesses wrong sometimes... Also you can play a track from one flash drive on two decks because they share over the ethernet. It's like the CDJ you are used to, but with a lot of stuff added.. nicer waveform, more information for being able to pick tracks, a few extra buttons and knobs...

    On the XDJ-RX etc it is just one unit and one screen but it works more or less the same except, being a single unit with one screen, there's a different screen layout. But you do get side by side waveforms, which is nice if you don't want to beatmatch by ear

    But basically, the deck's software has a kind of symbiotic relationship with RB but they are two different things.

    OK.. so the other way RB works is as Rekordbox DJ, which is a paid version (but free if you buy a controller that uses it), where the decks in RB aren't just for pre-listening, you can DJ off them, it's basically Pioneer's answer to Serato DJ or Traktor, the mixer is in the software.. So with that, you still organize your tracks the same way, but you just plug a Pioneer controller (DDJ) into your laptop, and play.

    And if you have one of the XDJ one-piece units, you can use it as a controller for RB.. so basically bypass its stand-alone capabilities.. if prefer to use the laptop because you do get a LOT nicer view of all your tracks that way and can even organize as you are playing. In fact I believe I could even use my XDJ-1000's like controllers if I set things up right, but I don't have the paid version of RB.... But if you are going to play that way all the time there is little point getting an XDJ setup because a DDJ (simple controller) is much cheaper.

    BTW they've got it all worked out so for example my friend has a DDJ setup (I forget which model exactly) with RB DJ and we were playing in a parade using his computer and controller. Well, I just plugged my thumb drive into his laptop and was able to see it from his RB software and DJ from it. It was a bit confusing because I'm not used to that but I figured it out alright (thank goodness). And of course even though he uses a controller and laptop and does not need to use thumb drives, when he wants to play on my setup or on CDJ's, he can export his stuff and plug in to my decks and play.

    So Pioneer have got it worked out. There are some things I don't like about it but it does work well.. and for me, it is obvious to stick with Pioneer since, while I don't play out as much as I used to, when I do, it's always gonna be Pioneer. I don't like bringing a laptop and controller out with me, I've tried that. I prefer to just walk up to the decks, plug my drive in and go. And.. because I still rent my system out for parties, I need to have proper separate decks (XDJ-1000 or CDJ) because that's what's expected. I just want to say all that, to explain to you why I'm seemingly pushing the XDJ setup, because for me, it's the right move. But I'm not saying it's the right move for you.. I just wanted to explain the Pioneer system to you as it stands now compared to when you stopped playing last time.

    So as far as your ideal setup.. I have to say that, if you plan to ever play out somewhere.. which you say you don't.. then that's a strong argument for getting a controller with RB DB, because of the ability to then play on CDJ/XDJ at a club very easily. Or, as with my friend at the parade, to be able to share one controller and laptop with another DJ if you are both using RB.

    But if you are really playing just at home 99% of the time, then you have your choice of software and controllers.. since you don't have to worry about what works with what. In that case I am sorry if I have confused your choice even further

    PS: You asked about recording. Well, RB DJ (when using with a controller connected to the computer), Traktor, and Serato DJ.. are ALL capable of recording sets directly on the computer. When using the XDJ-RX2, XDJ-XZ etc in stand-alone, you can record onto one of the thumb drives, keeping in mind that you obv cannot remove that drive during your set, they do give you two USB slots so you can have two drives which should hold plenty of music for a set.

    If you have got a setup like mine using two XDJ-1000mk2 decks and a DJM-900NXS mixer.. because that mixer does not have a recording feature, I've been recording with a Roland field recorder (R-09HR).. great recorder, but it finally died on me so I got an R-07 at half price on black friday.. have yet to try it.

    But I just heard about this new thing Pioneer has to be able to record digitally straight off the DJM mixer onto your phone.. via USB. So I have to look into that... https://www.pioneerdj.com/en-us/prod...-app/overview/

    So whatever way you go there is a recording option.
    Last edited by light-o-matic; 12-08-2019 at 11:36 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by light-o-matic View Post
    So whatever way you go there is a recording option.
    Thanks so much for you thorough answer. Much, much appreciated. It explained a lot. Could you please post a photo of your setup?

    I am really on the fence here.

    I like the idea of being able to play without a laptop and recording mixes straight to a USB, while also having the option to run software. Are the software options limited to Rekordbox?

    I am sure software like Serato has features I might find interesting if I dig deep enough. Am I wrong here? I don't know the capabilities and I admit I am somewhat confused.

    The only things I am wanting to add that I really never did much before are some loops, samples and effects. If memory serves, I used to do loops from the CDJs and effects come from the board. But does the software allow these to be tweaked? Maybe I have to buy sample hardware down the road.

    Thanks again

  8. #8
    Hopefully someone who's more into the controller end of things will comment, because I don't really have a super solid answer for you there.

    On my setup, which is more of a typical Pioneer DJ setup with a mixer and 2 decks (even tho the decks are XDJ-type), there are efx on the mixer as with all the older Pioneer mixers, it varies by model.. mine has 13 different effects in the regular effects section which like always can be applied to the master or to a channel.. then in the "color effects" section, which is something they added starting in the DJM-800, there are 6 more effects that can operate on any channel with a knob for each channel. One of the color effects is a per-channel high-pass/low-pass which is great to have. Plus I can plug in an external unit. On the one-piece standalone models, they are giving you a mixer section in the unit, and that mixer section does have effects, incl color effects, but they aren't the full set that's available on the full size mixer.. at least not on the XDJ-RX2.. the newer (and bigger, and more expensive) XDJ-RZ may give you the full set, the cheaper XDJ-RR is probably more limited.. you have to check out images and manuals for each one to see what you get.

    On the decks.. again, I'm not the best source for that info because with the music I play I don't use a lot of time-related effects.. that is to say, I don't chop the tracks up or drop samples a lot, occasionally I loop and I am pretty sure but not positive that all the decks now have beat loop, and loop in/out/adjust of course as well as being able to cut the loop. My decks have multiple cue points (accessible with touch screen.. no buttons for that on my model).. but if you look at the one-piece XDJ models and DDJ controllers you will see that some of them do have pads for accessing cue points and there's a ton of capability for chopping and dropping that I know nothing about.. except that these features exist, but vary from model to model.. you should watch some youtube videos on each model.

    Oh yea, reverse and 100% pitch range.. both things my XDJ-1000mk2's have which I use.. and I think many of the other models have this as well now but not all of them, again, you have to look at each model to see what Pioneer decided to leave out. They've always had this game of leaving stuff out of the lower model to make the higher model more desirable, but then they throw you a bone by putting something cool into the lower model that the higher one doesn't have... For example back in the day the little CDJ-100 had three effects built into it, but if you had the more expensive CDJ's.. no effects for you, you had to buy a mixer with effects if you wanted them...

    Right now I'm in the middle of a massive multi-week housecleaning effort so my DJ area is a pile of junk but I should have that cleaned up by tonight and I will post up some pics.
    Last edited by light-o-matic; 12-10-2019 at 12:30 PM.

  9. #9
    Oh the other thing I can tell you is that, so far as controlling other software (eg Traktor, Serato DJ etc) with Pioneer DDJ/XDJ models.. well, again I'm not the expert.. but what I do know is that this is something people have been bitterly complaining about and demanding for YEARS, and it's still a problem. The issue is that while you can MIDI map a lot of models to control other software, you can't use the controller as an "HID" (usb human interface device), which supports all the capabilities and works the best. Hard to say whether it's Pioneer or the other companies that are holding this back.. but they are holding it back.. and it's pissing people off. SOME Pioneer models have HID support for SOME software.. for example I think the high end decks eg CDJ-2000NXS2, does have HID for these other companies software.. whereas the lower models don't. In my decks.. I have the mk2, which does NOT have HID for Traktor.. but the mk1 of this same deck did have it! They took it out in the "improved" model............. Pioneer did make controllers which are designed to work with other software.. they still have models for Serato DJ and models for DJay Pro.. but being able to switch back and forth to different software with the same controller.. NOPE. Not really so far as I know. Except via MIDI mapping which, depending on how well the hardware and software map to each other, can work well or poorly, depending....

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    Quote Originally Posted by light-o-matic View Post
    Oh the other thing I can tell you is that, so far as controlling other software (eg Traktor, Serato DJ etc) with Pioneer DDJ/XDJ models.. well, again I'm not the expert.. but what I do know is that this is something people have been bitterly complaining about and demanding for YEARS, and it's still a problem. The issue is that while you can MIDI map a lot of models to control other software, you can't use the controller as an "HID" (usb human interface device), which supports all the capabilities and works the best. Hard to say whether it's Pioneer or the other companies that are holding this back.. but they are holding it back.. and it's pissing people off. SOME Pioneer models have HID support for SOME software.. for example I think the high end decks eg CDJ-2000NXS2, does have HID for these other companies software.. whereas the lower models don't. In my decks.. I have the mk2, which does NOT have HID for Traktor.. but the mk1 of this same deck did have it! They took it out in the "improved" model............. Pioneer did make controllers which are designed to work with other software.. they still have models for Serato DJ and models for DJay Pro.. but being able to switch back and forth to different software with the same controller.. NOPE. Not really so far as I know. Except via MIDI mapping which, depending on how well the hardware and software map to each other, can work well or poorly, depending....
    Once again, big thanks!


    I was seriously thinking about getting a 3-piece setup like yours (and like I formerly had with CDJs). But I think an XDJ all-in-one makes more sense. It's based on that setup. I can choose if I want to use my laptop and can record straight into a thumb drive. Beatport has this new subscription service called LINK that works with Rekordbox and allows you to stream tracks. So, I could pick the tracks I want to mix, make a playlist in Beatport and then stream the tracks while doing a couple of practice runs to learn the mix points and the record the mix. This is very attractive to me.

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