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Thread: Standalone controllers - track comments?

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    Standalone controllers - track comments?

    Hi everyone!

    I just opened this profile now because I couldn't find the answer anywhere. I hope my contribution will not end with this question

    I sold my old Pioneer CDJ's and started using Traktor. I became very much dependent on my tracks-comments, because there's A LOT of music, no way I could remember it all.
    BUT. I hate the laptop screen in front of me. : (
    Can I have both? No laptop & allllllll the possible folders and comments

    Do these standalone controllers have this option of storing (maybe even writing?) a track comment??
    (Or I'm just stupid and can't figure out a better way to note down somewhere or somehow what is the track all about - any suggestions??)

    Thanks in advance

  2. #2
    I think a mp3/USB media player would give you access to the folder/comment functionality but on the other hand the large screen Pioneer media players for example that do so cost quite a lot (ie. no ID3 tag scrolling as they show more text in a single row, you'd have to find a way to bulk transfer/convert Traktor comments to ID3 tags though and I'm not sure if it's possible)

    A mp3 CD can store only 700mb of files (around 50-70 tracks in 320kbps) and is very sensitive about scratches (in contrast to audio CDs which store only 70-80min but tolerate scratches slightly better as there's less data on a larger area) whereas an average USB drive can store about 16gb these days but has limited write cycles until it becomes unreadable, I've read stories of USB drives giving an error after a couple years of use (my 320gb backup drive died a few years ago after almost 10 years of use, I used it only with periodical Apple Time Machine HD backups.. then again I went through several USB pen drives for transferring files, either lost or damaged)

    I can't tell you much about the all-in-one standalone controllers as I have never used one, I think the newer ones have large 7" TFT touch screens with waveform displays, cue points and whatnot, I'm quite sure they'll show the ID3 tag too (think those car audio mp3/CD players where you'd wait for the comment section to scroll by), whether it can be edited is another thing but I'd figure it works essentially the same way, ie. from a USB drive.

    The software that usually comes with it like Rekordbox etc help you sort everything and add cue points beforehand but is rarely compatible with other software I guess, I'd use something like iTunes though because the ID3 tags are imported into the software playlist like in Traktor which lets you go through iTunes folders by default (I'm not quite sure how the cue points work, it depends on the controller I guess, iirc Traktor creates a proprietary file for every loaded track which stores the cue and loop point data, beat grid etc but afaik there are no standalone controllers that make use of it)

    Then you'd sort everything to a USB pen drive (or two) and play from there. Your options with the controller are either single or dual USB media player into a hardware mixer or the aforementioned standalone unit, with those I'd pick one with at least a mic input or external phono/aux inputs in case you need to connect turntables or CD players into it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by efinque View Post
    I can't tell you much about the all-in-one standalone controllers as I have never used one, I think the newer ones have large 7" TFT touch screens with waveform displays, cue points and whatnot, I'm quite sure they'll show the ID3 tag too (think those car audio mp3/CD players where you'd wait for the comment section to scroll by), whether it can be edited is another thing but I'd figure it works essentially the same way, ie. from a USB drive.
    Seems to me that you're going to go through a lot of pain to eliminate a 4" larger screen (13" laptop) that you can sit off to the side of your rig. Even if you can find an all-in-one solution that reads Comments, will you be able to easily edit them on the fly during performances - which I have had to do?
    Last edited by Hanginon; 05-31-2021 at 08:59 AM.

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    Hmmm. Thanks for the thorough answer, efinque. I didn't even consider Pioneer media players, checking them now, cute stuff I was more interested in standalone players like eg Denon prime, because I can't see the comments anywhere in the demo videos, and they pretty much do everything. Like a perfect blend of Pioneer CDJ's and Traktor. A bit expensive though, but I'm trying to discover the simplest all-in-one setup.

    Regarding the editing during performance, let's say it's less important than actually being able to at least see them on the screen.

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    I have to add that mini laptop is also a very interesting idea (cause I'm on 17'' and it looks like I am watching a movie or something: )) I could actually go for that while waiting for standalones to become cheaper, thanks Hanginon

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    Quote Originally Posted by Taklee View Post
    I have to add that mini laptop is also a very interesting idea (cause I'm on 17'' and it looks like I am watching a movie or something: )) I could actually go for that while waiting for standalones to become cheaper, thanks Hanginon
    Yes. I did not mean to dismiss your post, but IMHO, this mad rush to eliminate laptops (that have CPU's in them), for stand alone devices (that have CPU's in them), is not logical.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Hanginon View Post
    Yes. I did not mean to dismiss your post, but IMHO, this mad rush to eliminate laptops (that have CPU's in them), for stand alone devices (that have CPU's in them), is not logical.
    It's for purely aesthetical reasons and quite understandable as the laptop is usually placed in such a manner it's at the center of attention which is considered undesirable by many.

    Another thing is the microcontroller/CPU in a standalone unit is designed purely for the audio processes it does whereas a laptop usually runs other tasks in the background, then there's the logistic side.. a controller and a couple of USB drives takes less space, is easier to setup and isn't likely as fragile as a laptop with a hard drive (most if not all laptops have SSD's in them these days though)

    The usual approach is to place it on either side so it's not directly between the audience and the performer but with a 4 deck setup on a normal desk for example it's well out of reach without a laptop stand (which raises it near the shoulder level anyway), although iirc 10+ years ago when someone had a Macbook or MBP it was the crown jewel of the setup.

    But, the question is also one part ecological.. as the hardware ages it becomes obsolete and so the 2nd hand market for old units is niche, meaning the standalone devices and the software/firmware aren't very flexible in the sense laptops are (or you're stuck with using the old OS/software version and a laptop that runs them, like I remember reading somewhere a gas station that fixes cars still has a very old laptop/PC running Windows 95 and some kind of prehistoric connector because certain car models use it for diagnostics)

    This sort of hardware consumerism isn't very sustainable or ethical but we all have our reasons.

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    It is not ONLY for aesthetical reasons (I am trying not to fall in the industry fashions, that's how I went from CD's to controller in the first place).

    BUT - I have a huge distrust issue with laptops also! There are many "what ifs" running in the background of my mind : ) and this fear doesn't let me relax. Just one example - last time I changed the battery in my laptop 7 days before the gig & spent those 7 days tweaking the laptop, searching for driver boosters, all sort of stuff, but the latency check was still showing the red warning, the whole thing was really exhausting, and I was very tired of all of it at the time of the gig.

    Another thing - standalone seems attractive to me because of more direct experience, like it's all there in front of you, in your hands.
    (And compared to that - modern CDJ's seem like a huge hassle, even if I prepare tracks in software and so on and so on.... there might be a different model of the cdj and I just want to play on my own instrument, like a guitar - I can use other guitars, but if I really play - I play on MY guitar) ...

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    I looked at the past decade, and companies trying to reinvent all in one solutions to a problem I did not have in the first place (still running real CDJs and real turntable and real mixer here). Also seen a decade of kids who can't DJ pretend they can because autosync autogrid auto sort out the music for you. The guitar analogy does not work with that, because playing guitar is a skill. Imagine attaching a controller to a guitar, that's going to do the plucking and fingering for you...



    I'd say buying an all in one solution is akin to putting all your eggs in one basket. One thing goes wrong and that's it. I guess if it goes wrong in your bedroom you can wait a few weeks for a repair or replacement. If you don't like the laptop in front of you, put it on the side. If your motive is half aesthetics and half distrust the laptop, then maybe the problem is your laptop, not sure how buying everything again is a solution for a trouble free experience.

    looking for driver boosters
    Drivers are provided with the controller, and looking at the manufacturer's website for updates and that's it, no such thing as boosting to get some latency back. For DJing you need a laptop that is dedicated for the task, not some laptop that does everything else the rest of the week while running an antivirus and live updates and your email and your internet and whatever else you use a laptop for. Or else yes you will have problems just because you're loading the computer with things not DJ... You can't put a cow in your car then wonder why it smells of cow while the car can't go as fast...

    I played on other people's top of the range controllers hooked on top of the range dedicated MacBook Pros etc. Even then there is lag and you will not get past it because relying on computing includes lag, and I hated it: the machine is slower than me and slower than a genuine mixer. Aka problem I don't have in the first place. Fashion is not a factor for me. All in one solutions well, if one thing goes wrong, it all goes wrong.
    My SoundCloud ______ My MixCloud
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    Quote Originally Posted by Manu View Post
    Drivers are provided with the controller, and looking at the manufacturer's website for updates and that's it, no such thing as boosting to get some latency back. For DJing you need a laptop that is dedicated for the task...
    I meant the BATTERY driver and all sort of other problems that appeared at that time when I replaced the battery. But that's another topic. No need to waste time on lessons about laptop running antivirus, blabla, that is not the case, I know how to setup the PC for audio performance without any unnecessary bckgrnd operations, and it's very powerful, but still - it's a laptop.

    I agree with you about the illogicality of buying new stuff upon the stuff that I already have. Totally.

    And the point with all-in-one - when one thing is broken - all is broken. It's a very very good point too - thanks.

    I also still have an analog mixer (and one turntable), but ... CDs? I don't know. I really don't see a point to go back to CDs.
    And IF I'm already dealing with digital music - my own controller seems more logical than CDJs (expensive, different models at different clubs, etc etc).

    Also - the comparison with playing a guitar in my case is very logical - I get used to one size of the neck, specific tension of the strings, etc etc etc, and it works the same with DJ equipment - I get used to where the buttons are, what do they do, etc etc etc.
    Last edited by Taklee; 06-01-2021 at 11:22 AM.

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