Author: Wesley Bryant-King

UE Premier custom IEMs provide the dual benefits of an unmatched listening experience, along with important hearing protection advantages. I’ve been writing about DJ technology for what feels like an eternity at this point, and if you’ve seen any of my prior ramblings about hearing protection, then what I’m about to say isn’t going to come as much of a shock: If you’re a DJ, whether performing nightly or only at the occasional gig, you need get serious about protecting your hearing, and you need to get serious about it now.  The magic number, according to many experts, is 85db.…

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“It’s one of the best mixers I’ve ever laid hands on, and that’s likely to remain true… at least until Pioneer DJ devises its successor.”    It’s hard for me not to look at a calendar these days and marvel at just how long I’ve been DJing and playing with DJ tech. Let’s just say it’s been long enough now that I think I’ve earned certified old-timer status. And as I look back, I continue to be amazed at just how much has changed about the art form and the gear we use to create it  over all these years.   One thing…

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We take a closer look at Novation Controllers, Circuit Rhythm, a versatile sampler, and FLKey 37, a MIDI control for FL Studio creators. One of the most interesting things to watch as music creation has become more and more computerized is the proliferation of hardware-based controllers that aim to make the job more natural, and more intuitive. It’s a bit of a crowded space, quite frankly, but one simultaneously ripe for innovation, but also locked into certain, predictable ways of doing things.  The U.K.’s Novation — part of the Focusrite group that includes not just Focusrite- and Novation-branded products, but…

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It’s hard for me to fathom that it was over two decades ago at this point, but I still vividly remember the enormous challenges that I had in trying to learn a DAW – that’s digital audio workstation software, although that’s not the term that was really used back in the day.   Then, as now, all the leading software seemed to share the same fundamental concept of multiple tracks, arranged on a timeline. You started the software, and there in front of you was this blank slate with dozens (or hundreds) of switches and dials and knobs and buttons and…

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I’m a long-time fan of in-ear monitors (IEMs). The primary reason? The environments in which DJs perform are almost universally loud, and a properly fitting set of quality IEMs provides passive noise reduction that can help protect your hearing in these noisy settings. (Of course, one needs to manage one’s monitoring volume as well, or using IEMs can defeat that benefit rather quickly.)  The main problem for DJs with IEMs has long been that they don’t merely slip off like a pair of classic, can-style headphones, making it difficult to speak to guests, take requests, or for those of us…

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The Ready from Germany’s Reloop is a portable controller for Serato DJ, Algoriddim DJay, and Virtual DJ software that fits an important niche among controllers on the market, and gets the job done – mostly.  Distributed Stateside by American Music & Sound in Bloomfield, Conn., the Ready has two platters, a full eight performance pads per deck with eight pad modes, FX controls, hi-pass/lo-pass filter knobs, two-band EQ, gain knobs, a reliable crossfader, and long-throw tempo faders.   To my ears, it has the best sound quality of any controller I’ve heard that could fit in a backpack. It’s built to…

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Nearly eight years ago, I had the opportunity to build a new home. I’m not sure it’s something I want to put myself through a second time, but I nevertheless don’t regret it, and key among the reasons was the opportunity to customize a basement bedroom to serve as a dedicated home-studio space.   While it sounds straightforward enough, one of the biggest challenges involved the home studio build-out was room treatment — the term people use to refer to “tuning” the monitoring environment. In short, it’s making sure that audio frequency ranges are neither tamped nor accentuated by the design…

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It was only a few years ago that Gibson Brands, the venerable maker of a variety of instruments and pro-audio products, was on the brink.   But after maneuvering their way through bankruptcy in 2018, the newly invigorated company seems to have found not only its footing, but its stride as well. In large part that appears to have been accomplished through a very simple idea: focus. The company abandoned its aspirations to be everything to everyone in the music-gear biz, retaining only its various guitar brands, and just one remnant of its pro-audio division: KRK.   I’ve long been a fan…

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I recently had the opportunity to review Pioneer DJ’s new XDJ-XZ controller (read about that here). When the trusty guy in the brown uniform dropped off the loaner unit of the controller, there was an extra box in tow with “DM-50D” printed in large black letters on the outside of the container. And indeed, inside was a pair of the company’s new 5-inch audio monitors of the same name. Well, how ’bout that?  Unwrapping them and setting them up at my review workstation, I was impressed with the visual design of the units. With cabinets of roughly 7-inches wide, a…

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The fundamentals of mixing a music project in the studio haven’t really changed much over the years.   While it involves equal doses of art and science, it’s not that much more than setting the level of each track, and its pan (where it sits in the stereo field) so that each of the tracks in the project (vocal, bass, percussion, leads, etc.) work as a cohesive whole. To be sure, there’s nearly always EQ to be dialed in, as well as effects, filters and other tricks of the trade, but that’s the gist of it.   That said, it’s also one…

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For most DJs, the past couple of years have been pretty tough. But as pandemic restrictions continue to ease in most parts of the country and as the latest wave of COVID winds-down, I’m personally feeling a sense of optimism about what the remainder of 2022 might bring for us.   Perhaps that’s boosted a bit as I get the chance to go hands-on with some of the newest gear to hit the market, among them Pioneer DJ’s new XDJ-RX3 all-in-one controller — a replacement for its predecessor, the XDJ-RX2.  There continue to be myriad choices for DJs in terms of…

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While music might be an audible medium, for decades, performers and venues alike have sought to turn music into an audio-visual experience.   Traditionally, of course, that’s achieved primarily through lighting and lighting effects. From simple solutions like lighting heads that respond to audio through an on-board mic to DMX to automated systems for DJs like SoundSwitch, no doubt lighting is key. But over the years, video has played a central role, as well, in creating a more immersive, more engaging experience for the public.  Since 2014, Portugal’s Imaginando has been creating some forward-thinking music software for both the studio and DJ markets, including the acclaimed DRC Polyphonic Synthesizer plug-in, to apps that turn a tablet…

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It’s probably my own selectively myopic view of the DJ universe, but it seems as if so-called “all-in-one” or “standalone” DJ controllers — those that require no laptop, or computer-based software to perform with them — have been all the rage lately. Admittedly, that’s largely to do with what’s recently come across my review desk. But as much as I love a lot of the standalone offerings, there’s still very much a place for DJ controllers that are designed with a more traditional use-case in mind: Connecting them to a laptop and leveraging a conventional digital-music collection, including all the…

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