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Digital DJs push limits with new German tech

Two Berlin companies have released new products allowing DJs to incorporate live elements and enhance their ability to remix live.

More and more DJs are moving to digital spinning

More and more DJs are moving to digital spinning

Online piracy of digital music is causing major problems for the music industry, as record companies continue to suffer declining sales. However, in clubs and on dance floors, digital formats are changing the nature of DJing in major ways.

In recent weeks, two Berlin companies, Native Instruments and Ableton, which both have a long history in the emerging digital DJing market, have released new products that industry experts say are enhancing DJs performance capabilities.

"Ableton and Native (Instruments) seem to be two of the major players in this area at the moment, they keep development with DJs in mind and keep the products coming fresh," said Mick Wilson, the technology editor of DJ Magazine, in an interview with Deutsche Welle.

The Traktor Kontrol S4 was released on Monday

The Traktor Kontrol S4 was released on Monday

Native Instrument's Traktor Kontrol S4 was released on Monday, and is an all-in-one approach to DJing, allowing digital files to be performed and manipulated using a USB controller. Designed for portability, the controller allows for four different tracks to be loaded, sampled and mixed simultaneously.

Similarly, Ableton, in conjunction with the New Zealand-based company Serato, released its new software product, on September 22.

"The Bridge" integrates Ableton Live software, which allows DJs to compose pieces, assemble tracks and play complete songs, with Serato's digital vinyl playback software. This allows DJs to manipulate all of these parts using specially produced vinyl records or CDs.

Both products are now making it easier for turntablists to hone their craft using entirely digital means.

Ableton's CEO called his company's new product a whole new level of excitement

Ableton's CEO called his company's new product a "whole new level of excitement"

Berlin companies head in different directions

While both Ableton and Native Instruments claim to be innovators in the field of digital DJing, they have chosen different directions to pursue.

"Actually, this is just another piece to the puzzle of digital DJing, but it's the most outstanding piece because it's the world's first all-in-one computer based DJ system," said Daniel Haver, Native Instruments' chief executive, in an interview with Deutsche Welle.

He added that Native Instruments' "Traktor Kontrol S4" also makes it far easier for DJs to cut and loop segments of tracks, to essentially remix ‘on the fly.'

"I can easily set a loop, shorten the loop, apply and effect and then drop it again," explained Constantin Koehncke, a Native Instruments DJ, as he demonstrated the product.

Across town at Ableton, the direction is integration but of a different kind.

"I think The Bridge brings a whole new level of excitement to traditional DJing, to be able to program your drum machines live, tweak you synthesizers live, that's exciting," said Jeff Milligan, of Ableton.

The Bridge was released on September 22

The Bridge was released on September 22

Competitors, but in different markets

While both products have been in development for many years, taking many years in development, there should be no surprise that the two cross town rivals are keen to generate excitement about their products. However, because both take different approaches to digital DJing, it appears that they are not in direct competition.

"The two products are aimed at different areas of the market for different DJs, it's going to be both together not one or the other," added Mick Wilson of DJ Magazine.

"I like them both, I like the idea of Traktor and the new S4 controller looks really tasty as well. I (also) like the idea of 'The Bridge' with Ableton where you can play with an old school mentality but still incorporate modern production and remix capabilities."

Author: Jonathan Gifford
Editor: Cyrus Farivar

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