DJ Software Feature Spotlight – MIDI Learn

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Our DJ software applications, DEX 2 and RED Mobile 2 (as well as the upcoming version 3 upgrades) already natively support over 60 popular DJ Controllers from all the top manufacturers.  

DJ MIDI Controllers with built-in support are "zero-configure"; simply have the controller plugged into your computer and turned on and either of our DJ mixing software applications with find the controller on startup and intialize it.   The only manual configuration necessary is selecting how you want the audio output setup under the audio tab in options.
 

That's great if your DJ controller (or MIDI controller) is one of the 60 directly supported DJ controllers, but what if your shiney new controller isn't yet supported?    
 

We add support for new DJ controllers all the time, but with the popular DJ equipment manufacturers such as Numark and Pioneer releasing fresh controller designs at break-neck speeds, we can't always write support immediately.  Enter in our exclusive and unique "MIDI Learn" feature...MIDIlearn-DJsoftware-DEX

"MIDI Learn" provides our DJ software customers the ability to visually map any DJ controller using MIDI communication and/or map any keyboard key to any on-screen function.  The feature has been designed so that anyone can do it very easily without learning to program or edit scripts.   It's an excellent option for those that have DJ MIDI Controllers we don't yet natively support, but "MIDI Learn" does have some limitations.  

For instance, most DJ controllers with Platters/Jog Wheels are not created equal.   Per revolution of a controller platter or jog wheel each device will send different signals at various intervals -- so in most cases proper and advanced platter/jog wheel support needs to be done with our development team in-house. 

However, any button, slider or knob found on-screen in our PCDJ DEX 2 or RED Mobile 2 DJ software platforms can be mapped easily and seamlessly with buttons, sliders or knobs on the MIDI controller (or to keyboard shortcuts).

Here is a video tutorial on how to use our "MIDI Learn" feature with our DJ Mixing Software:


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DJ Equipment for Digital DJs: A Begginers Guide

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basicdigitaldjequipmentDJ Equipment for Beginner Digital DJs

For new Digital DJs it can seem pretty daunting – what DJ Equipment is necessary to start DJing with a computer based DJ setup, or to make the leap from "traditional” hardware based DJ equipment? 

In this post we’ll provide a rundown on the DJ equipment requirements for a basic digital dj setup. For starters, take a look at the Dj gear in the picture next to this paragraph – as you can see there are only 5 really key Dj equipment components needed to get into the mix right away.  

Now let’s outline each piece of DJ gear you’ll need for a basic Digital DJ rig:
 

DJ Laptop Computer

DJ Software is standard in any mobile dj or club installation, and is the “brains” behind your entire setup.   All the DJ equipment we’ll refer to in this post is driven by DJ mixing software – without the software the remaining gear we’ll discuss is all large, expensive paperweights. 

Thus, the most important piece of DJ equipment you possess is your DJ computer.  You may already own one that is sufficient.   Please take a look at our system requirements for PCDJ’s flagship DJ software solution, PCDJ DEX 2 HERE   If you own or acquire a computer of at least the listed specifications, chances are your MAC or PC will run DJ software with ease.   However, no out-of-the-box computer is DJ ready – HERE is a list of highly suggested DJ system optimization tips!   

The MAC or PC debate is always polarizing.  Personally, if you’re dedicating the use of your DJ computer to your DJ software solution of choice, I feel a Windows machine performs just as well as a MAC.   In fact, if you plan to add video mixing capabilities you’re probably better off purchasing  a Windows machine with the required high-end video card since you’ll get twice the machine for close to half the price. 

Regardless, purchase or use a laptop suitable for your budget that meets the recommended requirements set forth by your DJ software provider.  

 

DJ Controller

DJ controllers are not necessarily a "requirement" for your digital DJ equipment setup, but personally I would never DJ without one.    If you’re not familiar with DJ controllers, please check out this blog post HERE that explains what they are and why you’d want to use one to control your DJ software. DJ controllers provide tactile hands-on control over DJ software, eliminating the need to use a mouse. 

There are DJ controllers for every budget, ranging from as low as $80 to as expensive as 2K. PCDJ recommends when shopping for a DJ controller to select one that includes an I/O interface built right in (this is the sound card that includes 2 stereo outputs, so you have a headphone cue channel and a main output.  Read more about DJ sound cards HERE

There are many “beginner DJ controllers” to select from, and PCDJ supports over 60 (zero-configure) as of today.  Every popular DJ equipment manufacturer has entry level Dj controllers and high-end solutions.  Check out Numark, American DJ or Hercules for basic controllers that include an I/O interface and are of solid and reliable construction, yet are still highly affordable.

If you want to jump in with both feet immediately, check out the Pioneer DJ or Denon DJ controllers on the market for professional solutions with a myriad of in-depth functionality.   Whatever DJ controller you decide to go with, try not to go too entry level.  Don’t go with a controller designed for home/bedroom use for instance, since as you hone your mixing skills with digital dj equipment you’ll want room to grow. 

We have a DJ Equipment page at PCDJ.com that includes some of the latest digital DJ equipment that’s plug-and-play with PCDJ DJ software, as well as bundles that include both our DJ software solutions and DJ equipments (sound cards and DJ controllers)

Other brands to consider when researching DJ controllers for your DJ rig are ReloopGemini DJ, Stanton DJ and Vestax.

 

DJ Headphones

In order to cue-up, or otherwise pre-listen to tracks using a DJ controller (or DJ sound card) you’ll need another iconic and vital piece of DJ equipmentDJ headphones.  

There is a ton of headphone variety on the market today, in pretty much any color and style (including “in-ear” buds).  If you’re just starting out, you may not want to spend $200+ – and you don’t have to for good quality cans.  

What is special and important regarding proper DJ headphones is that the frequency range is wider with higher gain levels, and most include 50mm drivers to ensure the bass cuts through the mix (which you’ll be thankful for in a noisy club or when at a loud event).   So don’t purchase headphones designed for home use for your pro DJ equipment.

Sony, Pioneer, DenonNumark, Beats Audio and Vmoda are all popular brands with pro DJs.
 

Speakers

If you are planning to build your first DJ equipment setup for your home, any type of home theatre system or computer speakers should be fine for practice.  Although one thing to keep in mind is that home based systems are configured for “normal” audio output and levels, so you don’t quite get the same sound you would out of a larger mobile DJ speaker system or even less at a club. 

For a new Digital DJ that wants to start mixing at parties or events, we’d recommend a basic self-powered speakers setup.  Self-powered speakers are already perfectly tuned and optimized making setup a breeze for even the greenest Digital DJ.  The amplifier is built directly into the speaker casing (just like the Mackie speakers pictured at the top of this post).  

Check out self-powered speakers from EV, Mackie, Bose, JBL and B-52.

 

Cables

For your basic digital dj equipment setup the most commonly used cable is RCA.  All DJ controllers and DJ sound cards offer RCA connections. You’ve certainly seen RCA cables before, as they are commonly used with home entertainment system and typically sport red and white connections.

RCA cables are unbalanced however, and much of the time pro DJ equipment includes other audio I/O options such as 1/4 inch or XLR (which are balanced connections) and provide better sound quality.

Check your DJ controller and the speakers system you plan to run out to in order to see what connection options are available.  For most any mobile DJ gig unbalanced RCA’s are just fine – but any club gig will most certainly want to use a balanced output.

 

We hope this post helps you understand the basic dj equipment you’ll need in order to perform with a DJ software based DJ rig.   Do you have any other essentials we missed you’d like to add?  Feel free to share in the comments below!   

DJ Controllers – What Are They And Do You Want One?

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DJ Controllers offer DJs hands-on tactile control over DJ Software, often completely eliminating the need for a keyboard or mouse while DJing.  
 

Much of the time professional grade DJ Controllers come fully-equipped with an Audio I/O (Sound Card) interface built right in as well.  Simply connect your DJ controller via USB to your computer and via that one connection interface you get both control over your DJ Software, and your 2 channel audio output.   This certainly keeps things tidy, one connection to the DJ machine for your DJ controller and you're basically ready to get into the mix.  Of course, your DJ controller will almost always come with drivers which you'll need to install before connecting to your DJ mxing software (although I recommend always checking the manufacturer’s website for the latest DJ controller drivers for your device)
 

DJ Midi Controllers come in all shapes and sizes, and use various methods of communication, most notably MIDI.   Although most of the DJ controllers on the market now use HID too, usually a combination of protocols to achieve the best performance possible.
  

When selecting a DJ controller that best suites your requirements there are a few things to consider.   DJ controllers often include full-on DJ mixers today, so they are all-in-one units with both the controller capabilities and mixer.   You plug your headphones directly into the device and cue from there directly.   These DJ controllers are often table-top, and only a few support mounting in a standard 19" rack.   These are usually best for club installations or even bedroom use - although lately creative case design has lead to some DJ's taking out larger DJ controllers on mobile DJ gigs.   
 

There are still a handful of DJ controllers on the market now, such as the Denon DN-HC4500, that are rack-mountable and allow you to use your own physical DJ mixer of choice.  However, they seem to be going the way of the caveman - with less and less "mixer-less" designs hitting the market from the major DJ equipment manufacturers. 
 

PCDJ and Numark created the very first commercially sold DJ controller to ever hit the market in the Numark DMC-1 controller (which actually used serial communication) back in 2002.   Now, it's now the cornerstone of every major DJ gear manufacturer’s line.   It's pretty amazing the rate at which new DJ controllers hit the market, and how much DJ controllers have evolved since then.   More and more buttons, which offer better and more efficient direct control over the plethora of features found in today's DJ mixing software products like PCDJ DEX 2. 
 

Currently PCDJ DEX 2 and RED Mobile 2 both support over 60 of the Best DJ controllers, with more being added all the time (although it would help if the manufacturers would slow down just a tad!).   We have 3 new Pioneer DJ controllers coming in the next update planned to launch in a few weeks.  

So what's the Best DJ Controller for you? 

Click here for a full list of all the great DJ controllers from all the major players that our DJ software currently supports

Want to learn more about DJ controllers? Click here for the DJ Controllers Wiki

If you have questions about DJ controllers please feel free to post in the comments section below!  Thanks, and keep spinnin!  

 

 

PCDJ DEX 2.6.5 Upgrade Includes 3 Hercules DJ Controllers

DEX 2.6.5 Updated To Included 3 Hercules DJ Controllers
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November 5th, 2013 Clearwater Florida: PCDJ DEX 2.6.5 Update Released for MAC and Windows: Includes Performance Upgrades And 3 New Hercules DJ Controllers

PCDJ DEX 2 was just upgraded today to include new performance upgrades including improved Beat Sync (BPM Matching), media file tag support and an array of new video file formats. Three new DJ Controllers we're also added:

  • Hercules DJ Console 4Mx
  • Hercules DJ Control Air+
  • Hercules DJ4set

All DJ Controller features are supported, including Scratching, Looping, Key/Pitch Control, BPM Sync, playlist scrolling and loading and more.

You can download a new free DJ software demo of PCDJ DEX 2.6.5 here:
http://www.pcdj.com/dj-software/free-trials/dex-2-free-trial/

55 DJ Controllers Now Supported

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PCDJ DEX 2 now supports 55 DJ controllers from various DJ hardware manufacturers.

We’ve just released our new PCDJ DEX 2.6.3 and have upped our supported DJ controllers count to 55 DJ controllers from the top manufacturers in the business.   Numark, Denon DJ, Pioneer, American Audio, Hercules, Vestax, Stanton, Zomo, Reloop, Novation, Behringer and more.   

New DJ Controllers are released almost weekly it seems lately, and one lucky PCDJ employee’s full time job here at PCDJ to midi map, and test each controller thoroughly before we include support in a public release of PCDJ DEX 2.   

What’s unique and all-new in PCDJ DEX 2.6.3 is auto-detection of the DJ controller on startup.    Just have your DJ controller plugged in and powered up when opening up PCDJ DEX 2 and the software will automatically find the controller, so you’re ready to mix.   You only have to configure the multichannel sound card built into your controller, which is made easy by DEX 2’s intuitive audio setup panel in options.

Here is our full list of currently support DJ controllersfor PCDJ DEX 2 (and shortly RED mobile 2 will be updated to support all the new DJ controllers recently implemented)

 

  • American Audio 10MXR,  14MXR,  19MXR,  DP-2,  Versadeck,  VMS2,  VMS 4.1
  • DENON MC6000, MC3000, DN-HC4500
  • PCDJ DAC-3
  • Numark MixTrack, Mixtrack Pro, Mixtrack Pro 2, N4, DJ2Go, Total Control, NS6, Mixdeck Express, Mixdeck Quad
  • Pioneer DDJ_Ergo, DDJ WeGO, XDJ Aero
  • Reloop Contour_CE, Contour IE, Mixage CE, Digital Jockey 2, Digital Jockey 2 CE
  • Zomo MC1000
  • Stanton SCS.4DJ
  • Beamz DJ
  • Behringer BCD-2000/3000
  • Hercules DJ Console MK2, MK4, RMX, RMX2
  • Hercules DJ Control MP3, MP3e2, Steel, Instinct, Air
  • Vestax VCI-100 / VCM-100, VCI-100mk2, VCI-400, Typhoon
  • Novation Twitch
  • DJ-IE2
  • Akai LPD8
  • Faderfox DJ3
  • Beyond Music Abma 1, 3, 4, MIDI 8
  • Additional MIDI-IN with easy to use MIDI-LEARN (map your own MIDI controller)

Where Did All These DJ Controllers Come From?

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Where Did All These DJ Controllers Come From? 

It's been over 10 years.  Wow, I'm old.

The first DJ controller on the market ever, meaning sold commercially in stores as a true professional DJ software controller, was the Numark DMC-1.

This simple, yet very efficient and effective DJ controller at the time, was created by one of our PCDJ team members who oversaw production in China.  I still remember the first prototype, with clunky hard plastic buttons and a chrome faceplate that drove you absolutely bonkers trying to keep free of finger smudges (which wasn't changed, but still remains iconic in it's own smugetastic way).

In those early days of DJing with a computer new technology like this was met with ample trepidation from professional DJ's.

"Computers Crash!"   "No way I would ever rely on Windows for live performances!" etc etc...

Subsequently, the Numark DMC-1 controller sales were slow for almost a year, even in mega-chain stores like Guitar Center - then something changed.  Namely, Windows XP was released and computers were becoming a more trusted technology - especially among the younger and trend setting DJ's.

Fast forward to today: DJ Midi Controllers are now the bulk of what all the major DJ hardware manufacturers produce.  Pioneer DJ, Numark, Gemini, Denon, Hercules, Stanton, and many others all have multiple and technologically advanced DJ controllers that work with various DJ software applications - including PCDJ.

It seems like new DJ controllers are being created at an amazing pace, with new units shipping every month - I'll admit it's tough for us as a software developer to keep up!

We have to have the manufacturer ship us the controller and then spend many hours mapping and testing each function to ensure stable and quality use.  It's tedious, but well worth the effort for our users.

It's amazing to think it all started with that little 2U 19" rackmountable controller - the Numark DMC-1.

Here is a current list of what DJ controllers we natively support in PCDJ DEX 2 and RED Mobile 2 (meaning we built-in support and you do not have to user our MIDI LEARN feature to map the controller yourself)  Many more to come, and this months update for our line will include 4 new much requested DJ controllers:

  • American Audio DP-2
  • DENON DN-HC4500
  • PCDJ DAC-3
  • American Audio VM4 and VMS4.1
  • Numark MixTrack Pro, DJ2Go, Total Control
  • Pioneer DDJ_Ergo
  • Reloop Contour_CE
  • Zomo MC1000
  • Stanton SCS.4DJ
  • Beamz
  • Behringer BCD-2000/3000
  • Hercules DJ Console Mk1
  • Hercules DJ Console Mk2
  • Hercules DJ Console RMX
  • Hercules DJ Console MK4
  • Hercules DJ Control Steel
  • Hercules DJ Control MP3
  • Hercules DJ Control MP3 e2
  • M-Audio Xponent
  • Vestax VCI-100 / VCM-100, VCI-100mk2, VCI-400, Typhoon
  • Reloop Digital Jockey 2
  • DJ-IE2
  • Akai, LPD8
Where Did All These DJ Controllers Come From?