Deck controlled MP3s


Reformed Addict
Reaction score
[Replication of post which this poll refers to - sorry, I didn't think of doing a poll the first time around]

Hi everybody,
I have an idea to run by any DJs out there which I've been cooking up in my mind for a while, and I need to test the market as it were to get some feedback and see if its worth taking the idea any further. Here she is:

I have thought of a way to use standard decks in combination with a couple of specially cut records to directly control the playback of MP3 files. There are controllers and software packages around at the moment which allow you to control the speed and direction etc of MP3 or CD playback, but I don't think these methods will ever replace the feeling of real vinyl under your fingers which you've all spent years getting to know so well. Plus it means that real vinyl could be used in conjunction with MP3s seamlessly rather than swapping from one system to another.
Basically all you would require is two special records, a small box of tricks (cheap tricks) and a PC with 5.1 channel audio capability running some special software. The box of tricks would connect to both decks and both channels of the mixer and also the PC for data (probably via USB) and sound via the four front and back channels of the 5.1 audio card. When you want to mix an MP3 file, you flip a switch on the box of tricks, start your file on the PC and it will begin playing through the mixer as soon as the 'track' on the record starts. You can scratch and spin it to your heart's content using the vinyl controller and adjust the speed using the deck's speed control, just as you would normally. If the needle is picked up, the track will start from the beginning again. This isn't ideal, but is the greatest amount of functionality possible without significantly increasing the complexity (and price) of the system.
So what do you all think? Would you be interested in using something like this? How much would you be prepared to pay for it? Any and all comments are welcome :Grin:

Phlee (mad scientist and trance monster extraordinaire) :partysmi:
I'm not a DJ and have never used available PC based mixing programs extensively, so this is an interesting comment. Have you used these kinds of packages extensively? I had imagined that controlling something like this with such a generalized interface which is not specifically designed for the job (i.e. mouse & keyboard) would be a nightmare. I guess I should do some product research before I harp on about my ideas, but the way I see it, why do it myself when I have you guys who have already done it for me? Thanks for your input, it's super useful :Smile3:

OK, I'll try and clarify. Most MP3 DJ software attempts to emulate the x-fader + decks model, throws in a few nice things like auto bpm matching and predefined cue points but IMO if you are going to mix this way you might as well use proper hardware...for this sort of model however if you insist on using your computer to mix with then the controller you describe could be useful - I'd certainly prefer a proper cross fader to dragging a mouse pointer.

~But (again IMO) the common DJ software is at fault for not making the most of the PC's capabilities - the coders could achieve a lot more if they accepted the fact that they are programming a PC app and worked on the strengths that brings. This is the main reason that I eventually settled on Mixmeister - it doesn't try to be something it's's not perfect but they really listen to the user community and it gets significantly better with every release.

Prior to that my early PC mixing experiences always left me frustrated to the point that I would go back to my decks - so I guess in that respect you may be onto something for those who have made a different software choice to myself.
D'OH indeed! :crazy: Ah well, nice to know it was a good idea anyhow :Smile3: Like a wise man once said, 'For every thousand ideas you have, 0.1% may be good ones, 0.01% may be possible, and 0.001% will never have been done before.' I guess I'll have to work out some other way of making my fortune - time to get my thinking cap on again :smokingrasta: Peace

Having inspected the hardware on the link you posted, the 'box of tricks' they use to interface the computer and mixer/decks looks EXACTLY like I envisioned it in my head. It's like they pulled the whole system right out of my brain! :blink: Freaky... Mad to see a system you've envisioned as an actual physical reality, though. Crazy...

Phlee :peace:

p.s. 699 Euros! *splutter* I WOULD have been a bloody millionaire!
</div><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (Monkey Do @ Jan 21 2004, 05:49 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> I'd certainly prefer a proper cross fader to dragging a mouse pointer. [/quote:1838a7668f]
Yeah me too.

I use PCDJ a little bit, one one of the config options open to you, is if you have a soundcard with two channels, you can take the jacks from the both channels on the soundcard, and stick one on each of the mixer channels.

Heh presto - your mixing with a cross fader, and can use you headphones and everything !
Well, it's good to see one of the lower-end software developers has had the foresight to put this kind of functionality into their program. God forbid you should have to pay £699 (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) euros to get it :blink:

Final scratch is fair value, I reckon....You get the controller interface, the software and the vinyl time sig records....

For about £400....seems fair to me!
I had an idea about a year ago for a controller (usb/midi) to control software like Traktor. Yeah, I know traktor already supports MIDI, but there hasn't been any CONTROLLERS designed for it.

I think there's a lot to gain from mixing using a computer. All the processing of mixxing the audio can be done by the computer, and there's room for expansion with plugins. The problem with existing PC dj'ing is that it's still requires the VDU, keyboard and mouse to operate. In an ideal situation a DJ doesn't want to go anywhere near a computer screen while he/she's mixing. A controller design to adjust all the different controls in Traktor (for instance) will make it identical to using CD decks (and a vinyl scratch version like Final Scratch for those who prefer to spin more than cue). The extra things on the controller which would make computer mixing more advanced than CD mixing is a wave display (just like in traktor), in a graphic/lcd format, and some extra knobs and sliders for controlling plugin parameters (VST/AU?).

So, All you would need is a PC and this controller, and all your track as MP3 in the computer....mind you, traktor also support audio CD TWO CD drives in the computer means you could use the controller and computer to mix CD only!

Yeah , but it still only plays mp3's , even 360 - 520 cant utilise in a massive club.. it would sound shit
</div><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (dj_niquid @ Mar 26 2004, 01:45 AM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> .. it would sound shit [/quote:fa42590f55]
Kinda implies that you haven't tried it.

I believe that the quality issues with MP3 are generally overstated provided you know how to encode them properly. Double blind tests will back this up.

This isn't to say that MP3 will always sound good through big systems, but then not all CD's are created equally either so you have some huge discrepancies there to deal with. Not to mention any other weak links in the soundsystem chain.

The problem with MP3 is that most peoples experience of them comes from P2P downloads played back through computer speakers. Of course they sound sh!t.

Vinyl also sounds sh!t half the time but I don't see too many people complaining about DJ's who play that.
Personally I can't see the point in FinalScratch, or indeed what you are suggesting Phlee.

It is a good interim solution, but ultimately decks will be released that either have a built in hard drive, or allow the connection of a portable DAP like an iPod.

Also the arguments about the quality of the mp3 codec are totally irrelevant. MP3 is just one codec of many available, some like FLAC are lossless (meaning the output is identical to the input) - Granted the compression ratios achievable are less, but hard discs are getting bigger and cheaper all the time.

The quality argument is orthogonal to the control surface argument and therefore saying that mp3s are not high enough quality to play over a big sound system doesn't preclude making it possible for DJs to mix tunes not on vinyl or CD.

I have actually built a prototype MP3 (or FLAC, wav, whatever) deck and whoever is interested in furthering this discussion or trying the deck is welcome to contact me. We will have to take the discussion offline since various NDAs have been signed.