Tag Archives: DJ

SILT: Canvas/SVG, jQuery, LESS update

Cover art for my latest mix on boroboro.com. Instead of just photos I'll probably do more stuff like this, as it is fun and enticing.

Whew, a little bit longer than expected between updates, but the reasons for this are soon to be told. First, some things:

  • For my next work project, I’m having to visualize and lay out semi-complex graphs (DAGs, as far as I can discern). I started looking at a Flash-based kit for a similar project in 2008, but these days Canvas-based solutions like the Javascript InfoVis Toolkit are popping up.
    But, as I soon learned, Canvas isn’t really the right tool for this job. the right way to go seems to be SVG, despite iffy browser support. This fantastic article by the Opera browser team has me thinking I’ll use Graphviz+dot+SVG+jQuery. I’m excited and I’ll probably write about it again the future.
  • Speaking of jQuery, I’m learning me all the JavaScript tricks by looking directly at the jQuery source. Nothing like a lean, mean piece of code to teach oneself The Right Way. Reminder: don’t forget to update to jQuery 1.4, which has been a dream so far.
  • LESS is still treating me right; did some rapid development recently, and it worked gloriously. Some observations:
    • One issue I had with LESS recently was getting the mixin syntax working with IE’s filter syntax. The equal signs throw the compiler off. I was doing terrible IE things because I was doing cross-browser pure CSS gradients.
    • I use the LESS –watch option to achieve incron-like effects when dealing with small CSS projects. Unfortunately the –watch option means having to start lessc before doing work (not a big deal) and having to monitor it for when you have errors in your file (it pauses and waits for a return key, kind of a big deal).
    • I just read about less.js, a javascript implentation done by the LESS dudes for on-the-fly, in-browser LESS action, and plenty of new features. Here’s the github page. It’s due the end of this month, but I’m in no hurry.

And if you’ve been missing me, listen to more mixes. Two up since the last Superdrivel edit, a downtempo one and an uptempo one.

New Mix on boroboro

For those of you who haven’t caught on, or don’t love music/me enough to subscribe, I put a new mix on boroboro.com.

It is undoubtedly my best one so far, which doesn’t say much, but I can definitely say that it is the most cleverly named.

Here comes the 2

Second mix is up. This time I went for something a lot more low key, bpms from 77-102 or something. It probably got a bit too eclectic, but there’s bound to be something likable. If there’s a downtempo afficianado around, see how many she can name. For all other purposes, I’m calling this one my downtempo pleaser.

Mix 2 – Downtempo Pleaser

1:41:26 running time — 139MB 192kbps MP3

Tracklisting

  1. Zero 7 – When It Falls
  2. The Bird and the Bee – Ray Gun
  3. The Avalanches – Yamaha Superstar
  4. Aim – Good Disease
  5. Mos Def – May December
  6. Sofa Surfers – Sofa Rockers (Richard Dorfmeister mix)
  7. Thievery Corporation – Elise Affair
  8. Supreme Beings of Leisure – Never the Same
  9. Funki Porcini – Purrfect
  10. The Pastels – The Viaduct (Ian Carmichael mix)
  11. Air – Cherry Blossom Girl
  12. Kings of Convenience – The Weight of My Words (Four Tet remix)
  13. DJ Krush and Toshinori Kondo – Sun is Shining
  14. FC Kahuna – Hayling
  15. Boards of Canada – The Beach At Redpoint
  16. Bent – Cylons in Love
  17. The Books – The Lemon of Pink
  18. Dawn Landes – Young Folks
  19. Goldfrapp – Pilots
  20. Kid Loco – Love Me Sweet
  21. Bonobo – Noctuary
  22. Mox – Dr. Bombay
  23. Quantic – Infinite Regression
  24. Sound Tribe Sector 9 – Possibilities
  25. St. Germain – Sure Thing
  26. Tricky – The Love Cats
  27. Moby – Porcelain
  28. Enoch Light – Bond Street
  29. Hooverphonic – No More Sweet Music
  30. Block 16 – Slow Hot Wind
  31. Tycho – Send and Receive (Chachi Jones Remix)
  32. Sound Tribe Sector 9 – Music, Us

Not many notes on this one, I guess. Like I said, a bit too eclectic, but it was sitting there, begging to be done. The major point I need to make is that Hooverphonic’s No More Sweet Music and Block 16’s Slow Hot Wind have exactly the same melody. I mean, it could have easily been ripped. Block 16 did it first, from a quick look. Seriously, skip over the rest if you have to, but listen to that. Oh, and despite the fact that every track in the mix has a special place in my heart, my personal favorite that I’m feeling right now is the Young Folks cover. Also, I don’t know how I got two STS9 tracks in there, but don’t let that fool you. Lastly, I normalized the audio special for Lincoln.

A quick trick for the DN-S1200

Edit: Or you could just click the effect style knob (the one used to scroll through songs, as well). I thought I might have done it without the brake button. Ah well.

While researching the Denon S1200 turntables, I recall reading a review or two that complained about the interaction between the built-in effects and the scratch functionality. Because the jog wheel is used to both scratch and adjust the wet/dry of the effect, people simply couldn’t scratch with an effect active. I think I’ve found a workaround.

First, activate the effect and adjust it to the desired level. Then, double-tap the BRAKE button at the bottom. This enters then exits the brake activation menu. (You can actually use the DUMP and REVERSE buttons, too, but those interfere with playback.) Now, you’ve dropped back into simple playback mode and you can scratch to your heart’s content with an effect active. To disable the effect, just double-tap the effect button.

I like to add some flanger to beef up and texturize my samples. Filters also work well for some variety. Echo/Loop doesn’t really do much because applying pressure to the disc stops all sound and the echos seem to only be generated when the track is playing. Anyway, that’s two more effects than I had before, so I’m happy.

Music Management

Collections are pretty fun. Most people probably tend to accumulate things, and the smarter ones tend to realize that organization is the only way that one’s collection will ever see effective use.

Kid Loco on KDE4/Dolphin

Kid Loco on KDE4/Dolphin

DJing relies pretty heavily on having and knowing a lot of music. It’s also probably the coolest collection-based hobby/profession. Stamp and rock collections just don’t cut it. It’s easy to find examples of organization taken too far, but luckily my hobby supports my misprioritization, and I have a very organized MP3 collection. So, here’s how I do it.

  1. torrent or slsk or audiograbber (w/ lame) my music
  2. Use MusicBrainz Picard to complete incomplete tags and cluster/manually tag most music. It’s a little bit different, but it’s ridiculuously automated and very handy for letting you know when you have an incomplete album, etc. Before this, I used PsychicMP3 and discogs pages.

    MusicBrainz Picard Automated MP3 Tagger on Windows

    MusicBrainz Picard Automated MP3 Tagger on Windows

  3. Optional: Automatically record most of the bpm info into the file with MixMeister BPM analyzer. Even if you’re just making a playlist for your workout, knowing the speed of the tracks can help you create a much more cohesive and flowing mix.
  4. I tag anything rare or unrecognized by MusicBrainz with Mp3Tag at this point. Also, MixMeister’s not so good on swing rhythms and some stranger time signatures, or bpms less than 80/greater than 160, so I check them in Mp3Tag with a javascript bpm tapper.
  5. For when I feel like being crazy, I’ll run MP3Gain or something. MP3Gain can automatically normalize your music so you don’t have super loud or super soft tracks. If you don’t know what you’re doing you can introduce distortion, though. Usually, if the track sounds ok, I’ll leave well enough alone.
  6. I check for untagged/low quality files that got through before I started doing all this with MP3 Check

I stick to MP3, 192kbps or higher, VBR or CBR. I like to keep the sample rate at 44100hz, as that’s what the DN-S1200s support. I get FLAC albums (when I can find them), for my real faves, but of course keep the MP3s for portability reasons.

As for folder structure, I’m a sucker for Artist/Album (Year)/Tracks. A lot of renaming and tagging software will move stuff around for you, so yay. Oh, and I have to say that one of the most consistently frustrating things about tagging music is having to pick a genre for a song/album. I wish I could just leave it blank, but I’m a completionist.

So, is this waaay too much work? Did you note that all of these tools are Windows-based (except for Picard!)? Luckily, I store my MP3s on my server and grab them with samba, but if Linux had these tools, you know I’d grab that ebuild. If I missed them, let me know. Also, Amarok2 not working on amd64 gentoo is ridiculous. Not only that, but when I got it working, it blew chunks compared to amarok 1. Too much focus on peripheral media, not enough collection- and tag-based power.

Mix 1

My first recorded mix. I figured I was playing a lot of music, doin sweet stuff, so I might as well save it. I hooked up the decks to my Gentoo box running a newly compiled Audacity. The tracks are more or less random, though recognizable, and I’d say it’s uptempo, if not danceable, overall. If you need appx. 2 hrs of music and don’t feel like committing anything, this might be your lucky day.

About half an hour through I was graced by the presence of a somewhat inebriated Mr. Oltman, who had some interesting requests. I did what I could to make it work, but bear with the rest of it. It’s way more fun to mix with an audience, even if it’s just one. We had fun, so just think about that when it gets ugly 😉

Mix 1 – 3/26/2009

1:51 running time – 205MB 256kbps MP3

Tracklisting (Spoiler Alert!)

Highlight it for a better view.

  1. Mr. Scruff – Get a Move On
  2. David Snell – International Flight
  3. Hooverphonic – Electro Shock Faders
  4. Ladyhawke – Paris is Burning
  5. New Young Pony Club – Ice Cream
  6. Snoop Dogg – Sensual Seduction (Some Dance Mix of)
  7. Kid Cudi vs Crookers – Day n Nite (club mix)
  8. Mr. Oizo – Flat Beat
  9. Daft Punk – Phoenix
  10. Chemical Brothers – Hey Boy, Hey Girl
  11. Groove Armada – Superstylin’
  12. Kanye West – Love Lockdown
  13. Smashing Pumpkins – 1979 (New Originals mix)
  14. Benny Benassi feat. Sir Mixalot – Benny Got Back (Bass211 mix)
  15. John Legend and Andre 3000 – Green Light (MSTRKRFT mix)
  16. The Police – Roxanne (DiscoTech mix)
  17. The Glimmers – Cassette
  18. The Faint – Let the Poison Spill From Your Throat
  19. The Rapture – Olio
  20. Death From Above 1979 – Romantic Rights
  21. The Prodigy vs OutKast – Hey Ride
  22. Pink Grease – Superfool
  23. Spank Rock – Bump
  24. The Sneaker Pimps – Kiro TV
  25. The Prodigy – Warrior’s Dance
  26. Elite Force – Ghetto Fabulous
  27. Groove Armada – I See You Baby (Fatboy Slim mix)
  28. Royksopp – Eple (Shakedown mix)
  29. The Avalanches – Live at Dominoes
  30. Ragtyme – Fix It Man
  31. Kid Cudi – Maui Wowie
  32. dZihan and Kamien – Before
  • At first I wasn’t sure if I was going to keep the recording, so I was just futzing around at the beginning. International Flight was only in there for like a minute.
  • I really like Mr. Oizo’s Flat Beat into Phoenix; it works really well for a minimal beat mix.
  • Hey Boy, Hey Girl was a silly choice that I just included for the “Superstar DJs” lyric irony. I remember really not liking the transition into Superstylin’.
  • The Smashing Pumpkins to Benny Got Back cut was intentionally horrendous and sudden; I only did it to make Oltman lol, and it worked. Ben lol’d too, so I hope you can appreciate it.
  • I hope you caught the Green Light-Roxanne joke (Green Light && !Red Light). I don’t know if the humor makes up for the lame mix.
  • The Rapture to DFA1979 was a 25 bpm differential mix, so I ain’t ashamed.
  • I was really pleased with the Eple (Shakedown) and The Avalanches’ match. To the point where I _know_  I played with it too much, but that’s a mashup waiting to happen.
  • I got to use Ragtyme’s 1987 track Fix It Man. Took me forever to find the vinyl rip and it’s one of my faves.
  • I wish Kid Cudi didn’t have stock audio of farts peppering his new (unreleased) album.
  • dzihan and kamien bring us home with one of my old tyme favorites.

Anyway, the tracklisting and notes are good for me as they solidify the mix. I hope the tracklisting works for you. DJing’s not magic and I don’t intend on keeping secrets. If you need help finding any tracks, hit me up in the comments or email.

DJing is great (and so is the DN-S1200)

It just is. I’ve put together some sweet kit and hope to have mixes up in the coming months. For the record, here’s a sweet setup that’ll get you rolling for just one grand:

2x Denon DN-S1200 Compact MP3/MIDI turntables ($369 each)
1x Denon DN-X120 Compact 2-channel mixer ($168)
1x Pair of Sennheiser HD280PRO closed headphones ($74)
2x Kingston 16GB USB flash drives ($30 each)

I’ve got to say that ever since playing with their 3500 series turntables I’ve been anticipating my first turntables. Here are some features of the DN-S1200 that make it great for a starting DJ:

  • Price point – $370 is a very fair price for the features and for a product that came out late 2008.
  • Accepts USB flash/external hard drives – One per deck, up to 50,000 MP3s (or WAVs) each. These files are indexed and searchable on-deck by way of ID3 tags (including BPM).
  • MIDI Controller w/ built-in soundcard – With mappings for Traktor and other popular titles, you can plug it in to a laptop via USB and the laptop will play music out of the Main Out while allowing you to control the software with the scratch disc, etc. Amazing.
  • Ultra portable – This thing is super compact and light while feeling pretty sturdy in construction. This’ll let you move it around and use it without any specific dedicated space. The DN-X120 mixer matches as well.
  • Feature-loaded – I’m not going to cover them all, but you can plug in a keyboard to your turntables and search for music. You can connect your turntables to each other with a standard Ethernet crossover and share the keyboard between them. You can also upgrade the firmware just by slapping it on a flash drive and mashing a couple buttons.
  • Plenty of DN-S1200-specific tutorials – Ellaskins on YouTube has got a series on the DN-S1200. Yay for howtos.

Anyway, there aren’t a ton of reasons to get the DN-X120 mixer, but it is very compact, has almost everything you’ll need until much more advanced stages, and there’s even a rebate that will get you a free case specially fitted to 2 DN-S1200s and the DN-X120. Being able to move your stuff around safely will let you DJ a lot more freely and you’ll be a happier DJ. Still, weigh your options. I almost got a 3-channel mixer, but I decided to put that off until later.

I should mention in case anyone has a similar problem and is looking for a kindred spirit that one of my tables was defective when I got it. The scratch disc central hub was stuck/jammed. I called Denon and they were very swift/professional about the whole thing. We’ll see what the repair’s like when I get it back.

Also, here’s the keyboard I got. Collapsible, illuminated, spill-proof. Some day I’ll have the turntables to match.

I was thinking I’d upload mixes in the future, with the possibility of requests. Let me know if you have any ideas.

Edit: Added prices and links.