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A quick apology

I'm still working on cramming in more info into this page. Especailly in relation to Mp3 DJing. I could write a lot more about Ableton Live for DJing or Producing with, Traktor for MP3 DJing - and Final Scratch or Serato both of which retain the vinyl feel while playing MP3s through your PC/Mac. Again, it's a fine line between inluding the info and just re-writing the book online - which I don't want to do - but it's still very important that you all have the info neccessary to become good DJs, no matter whether you read it on here, or in the book.

The problem with software is that it improves and gets re-released faster than I can type, so use this info as a benchmark to search from, and see what else is out there - there might be programs out there that are 100 times better than what I've written about, but you might need to know where to start searching from. If there's anything that you think I should include in here, then send me all the details for it - URL, Title, what it does, and a brief description of the Demo limitations.

If you're looking for a wider range of software than the small amount on this page, check out HitSquad - a page packed full with audio software.

Audio Editing

Tweak the sound of the mix (or cheat, and edit it)

For audio manipulation, I mostly use a program called Cool Edit, which was bought up by the Adobe moster, and is now known as Adobe Audition.

I use this mostly when I'm making CD's or tapes for people. The advantage of using a program like this is that if through the 90 minutes or so you do the mix, you make an error near the end - but are either too bored to re-do the whole thing, don't have the time, or don't think you'd be able to get the same magic to the rest of the set, you can just re-record the part that you messed up, and dub over the error with this fix. It's 100% cheating, and I don't actually recommend doing this, as if you're making mistakes like this, you could probably do with the time spend redoing the mix in order to perfect your beatmatching - but, if you're rushed, or just the type who doens't like to improve through repetition - go for it.

Audition has some nice audio effects on it too. The flanger is a great asset to those who don't have a mixer with effects on it, and it's a fully controllable flange - unlike programs like Goldwave, which have a poor control of the effect. Overall, the sound control and processing on Audition can give you everything you need - and let you master your mix so it sounds the best it can.

For those who don't want to spend that kind of money, and don't really need all the features of Audition, NGWave is an incredibly powerful program. It lets you edit your MP3s as well as wave files, and is extremely similar to Audition/Cool Edit (so much so, I wonder if NGWave was what the Cool Edit people did once they sold it to Adobe. NG also do Virtual DJ software too - but I've never tried it, and the fact that they splatter the page with 'Full Karaoke Support' makes me wonder how apppliable it'd be for the beatmatching DJ.

ACID from Sonic Foundry is another great editor (Only for WAV Files though) It's a kind of arranger Program but it has a lot more power than others..... For example you count the beats of a track and you tell the program the number. You can do so with a lot of tracks at the same time (depending on the PC ram). Then you can tell the program the average BPM an it stretches the tracks to this Beat !

It's very nice and sooooooooo easy. You can assign Effects too (ALL DirectX PlugIns are allowed !!!!!!) In the Pro Version you can burn your CD direct out of the program.

I mentioned another audio program called Goldwave in the last bit about Cool Edit. It's another really good audio program, with the main advantages being that it's only about 750Kb in size, and can write directly to the disk (instead of needing to record to a cache, and then save (doubling the space you need). I still prefer Audition or NGWave because of the control on the effects.

Burning CDs

Get your mix on to CD - fast

If you go to the Technical menu tab, you'll see various pages about making, burning and ripping MP3s. But, what software is good for it? Mostly, this depends on what you're trying to do.

iTunes rocks my world in terms of making MP3 Cds to listen to, or Audio CDs with CD text included (so your CDJ1000's will know the track info, and display it for you). It may be a simple proram, but it is really powerful for the DJ. If I'm making MP3 CDs to practise with at home, I simply make a playlist of all the tracks I want to include, and then change the album name for each track so it's now the genre of music. This way, when I burn my MP3 Cd - it contains loads of different folders, all with the tunes of the same genre inside. So I have 'House', 'Vocal House', 'Club', 'Elektro', 'Trance' and 'Progressive House' folders on my Cds - making it a lot easier to find the right tune to play next.

If you're unsure how to change the iTunes default burn style, just go into iTunes preferences, go to the Advanced tab, then to Burning - and click on MP3CD if you want to make an MP3 CD, or Audio CD if you want a normal audio CD. Just be sure to check the 'CD Text' box if you want to include the track info for use in some CD decks.

For burning CD's, I use Nero. I just like the simple nature of it, there's nothing to get in the way, and if you want to get a little more complicated with it, you can easily.

Dart Pro is also a nice option as it'll let you clean up pops and crackles from the vinyl, and, as with Nero, will then let you split one long, 74min track into its individual tracks.

Mixing with MP3

Software for mixing on PC (or Mac)

For those people who have loads of MP3's, and are thinking of getting into DJing, but don't want to go out and get decks - preferring either to wait until they can afford turntables/Cd decks, or just love the idea of mixing on a laptop, or Apple Powerbook.

I mentioned Ableton, Traktor, Serato and Final Scratch at the top of the page. This is where they come in. Serato and Final scratch are similar in that they use real turntables to control the music on the PC/Mac. Timecoded vinyl is used, playing into an external soundcard on the PC so that as the records spin, the music plays. Stop the record, and the MP3 on the computer stops playing too. Scratch the record, and the MP3 scratches too!

It's an incredible piece of hardware/software combination, but my concerns lie purely in how all the connections happen in a club situation. If you're taking over from a regular vniyl, DJ, you need to unhook the turntables to get the outputs into your soundcard, and hope you can do all this without missing your mix (or plunging the club into silence). I may be a bit jaded and 'glass half ampty' on this - but I think I'll wait to see how this idea pans out in a club situation before I consider it.

Trackor, by Native Instruments is one of the leading programs for mixing on computer. Not only do you have four input devices (so you can mix like normal, but then use the other two to drop in sound effecta/a capellas etc) but you can change the layout and sound of the mixer to emulate your favourite mixer. This is strongly tipped to blow the other software titles out the water, as the control over the audio makes this a leading light in the MP3 DJ battle. The fact that they're also the people behind Beatport - and the software integrates with it - is just another reason that this is an incredible title.

Ableton Live is a completely different kind of program. Instead of having controllers just like CD decks to play the MP3s, Live has more of a sequencer approach to how to put the tunes together in the mix. 'Warp Markers' also take out a lot of the work of beatmatching, so you only need to focus on the mix, but with the software wizardry, and all the MIDI controllable instruments available to add into the mix, your creativity is unleashed to a much higher plain than any other software title. Rather than seem like a gimmick, or even cheating - this is being embraced by some massive Djs. My hero - Sasha - uses it, and though there's still a bit of a lack of performance watching him just use a controller to mix with, the actual mix itself is incredible, and always unique.

The people at Ableton are exceptionally nice too. I bugged them a LOT when I was writing the book, and David from Ableton was one of the most helpful, patient people I've ever met through the internet. Good folks...

BPM STUDIO have just added a lot more functionally to their software. There are now a lot of hardware add-ons to the system, making your MP3 mixing akin to CD mixing instead. It's a bit pricey - and probably puts itself out the reach of a lot of people until they know they want to just mix with MP3's - but still, it takes the mouse clicks out of mixing!! The site is pretty chunky as it's all flash based, so if you don't have a fast connection and a fast processor - it may take a while to navigate.

For those who DON'T want to shell out lot for MP3 programs, there's a program called Virtual Turntables kicking around on the net. It does what it says. It's an emulator for decks (more like CD than Vinyl) that you load your two tracks into, can calculate the BPM's of each track, then mix them together - a petty funky program if you can be bothered learning how to use it.

There's another in a similar vain called Digital 1200SL. I guess it's supposed to be a virtual version of Technics decks, but it's not. It's more like a virtual version of a twin CD unit. But, it's easy to use and works with MP3's and .wav files. The demo version is limited to only 15 mins of use, but it'll give you a good idea of its functions.

Ots CD Scratch 1200 I'm told is also great.

If you've got a lot of tunes on your system, and you want to calculate the BPM of each tune, then someone told me that there is a program called WINBPM. Last I looked; the URL for download was HERE It's a nice little program that you just whack the space bar in time with the tune you want to measure the BPM of, and it'll give you a fairly accurate readout (depends on the accuracy of your whacking!!!!!)

MixVibes is a similar program like Virtual Turntabls, but (!) there are Low, High, and Mid Knobs like on your mixer. Nearly all sound formats are supported....

Finally, PCDJ is a programme in a similar vain to BPMStudio and Traktor, with controls similar to a twin CD deck and a whole host of hardware controllers. There's different versions of the software, so take a look at the site, and work out what's best for you.

MP3 Ripping

Compress the music within an inch of its life

I've got to say, this is another time when I just rely on iTunes. Ok, it's a bit clunky, and maybe it's just laziness added to the fact I throw everything onto my iPod for review, but if you set the ripping to Mp3 320kpbs Stereo, you get a great quality - and it's more the library part of iTunes I love so much. Remember, when you first install iTunes, it'll rip in at AAC, so you have to go into the preferences to change how it rips the music.

However, if you're not really an iTunes kinda person, then I recommend programs like Audiograbber, Windac and CD-DA Extractor.


Not playing the music - MAKING the music

If you're into the music making side of life, then there's a few of the buggers out there that will help you on your way. Dance Ejay seems to one of the more popular with the Bedroom music makers, as it's so easy to use.

Cakewalk, Cubase, Ableton, Logic Pro and many, many others exist in the music making side of life. To be honest, you're probably better off checking out the HitSquad site to take a look through all their sequencers, arrangers, drum machines etc etc - as I'll just be waffling here about something they cover a lot.... better.


How I made this site

The very first versions of this site back in 1996 were done using Arachnophillia, which is a simple, HTML editor. Great program, but as I've migrated onto Mac, I've just ended up doing everything in Dreamweaver instead (as it means I can also throw everything onto my Vaio when I need to work on my PC laptop). It's a nice program to use, in fact, I'm using it right now - and it'll walk you through most processes. For file uploads, on the Mac, I use CaptainFTP and on PC, I use CuteFTP.