Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?

Control Digital Audio With Turntables 290

Anonymous Coward writes "Harmony Central has a NAMM article about FinalScratch which is a digital audio controller technology for Linux/BeOS, so DJ's can play digital audio and keep the tactile control of the turntable. Some interesting technology there, and a further push for digital audio." Another one for CowboyNeal's birthday list.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Control Digital Audio With Turntables

Comments Filter:
  • hmmmm (Score:1, Insightful)

    the trend for music going to completely digital is defenitly a good thing. i like the fact that even "i" can download one of these things, mess around with it (even though i have no clue what im doing)

    but is the music produced still the same as done by "hand"?
    • digital isn't better then straight vinyl mixing, if DJ's wanted to go digital they would have done it a while ago, when they invented the DJ CD player with pitch control,.. i use both vinyl and CD players.. guess it's just preferrence, since the audio quality is practically identical (that is if DJs take care of their vinyl.....)
    • Re:hmmmm (Score:1, Redundant)

      by kitts ( 545683 )
      (even though i have no clue what im doing)

      fucking right. your grandmother was telling me the other day about how when you and hemos come by to give her shit baths, you always fuck it up. you do this partially because you like to drink the shit, and dont want to pour it all over her, but mostly you fuck it up because you are an idiot and have no clue what you are doing.
  • old (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    from a year ago []
    • I think I heard about the BeOS version in 95 or so.
    • When Final Scratch was selling it themselves, if I remember correctly, the price was somewhere around $3,000. Now that Stanton has purchased the technology, they plan to offer it to the public largescale - for $500! This is incredible news. The $3,000 made it neat but unrealistic (for me), but I'm definately buying this now. Go Stanton! (btw, the original site is apparently gone now. Couldn't get google's cached copy to work past the splash page either.)
  • by archnerd ( 450052 ) <nonce+slashdot DOT org AT dfranke DOT us> on Saturday January 26, 2002 @02:38PM (#2907076) Homepage
    Being a member of generation D, condescending elders often ask me if I even know what a vinyl record is. I tell them "sure. It's a giant CD that uses a needle instead of a laser and melts if you leave it in the sun."
    • by PoiBoy ( 525770 )
      Being a member of generation D, condescending elders often ask me if I even know what a vinyl record is. I tell them "sure. It's a giant CD that uses a needle instead of a laser and melts if you leave it in the sun."

      Maybe so, but have you recently listened to a well-made record on a good turntable? The sound is absolutely incredible, and I think many people would honestly conclude (1) that analog is not dead and (2) digital recording isn't as great as it's cracked up to be.

      • Yes, I've listened to a well-made record on a good turntable, and it doesn't hold a candle to a well-made DVD-Audio running out 6 channels, 16bit sampling at 96Khz and 144dB. The main thing to remember in the digital vs. analog debate is that Moore's law tends to extend to all things digital, and this exponential growth guarantees superior digital performance- it just needs time to improve and get dirt cheap. Right now, analog obviously offers the best quality, but tomorrow...
      • Yes, yes I have. And it sounds fine. But I don't have the $15k to spend on a good turntable.

        Now, have you ever listened to a record on a good pair of flat-frequency reference monitors? Sounds like crap, frankly.

        The fallacy of the vinyl-vs-digital debate is that there's the assumption that you're using the same material for comparison.

        Not even close. When a track is mastered to vinyl, it goes through a LOT of compression (the audio kind, not the data kind) and EQ'ing, especially in the low-mids (IIRC). A CD has an entirely different mastering process and technique-set (more work with the highs and high-mids, less compression).

        If you listened to a linear source on a CD player, it'd sund a lot better than a linear source on vinyl. And a vinyl source on CD would sound terrible, and vice versa. In the end, a good mastering engineer can make soething sound good on any medium. That's where the serious audio is, not in the output format.

        • Not even close. When a track is mastered to vinyl, it goes through a LOT of compression (the audio kind, not the data kind) and EQ'ing, especially in the low-mids (IIRC). A CD has an entirely different mastering process and technique-set (more work with the highs and high-mids, less compression).

          There's no compression of the audio or data kind (and technically, the audio kind == the data kind).

          The equalization (emphasis) used in the recording of vinyl records is for noise (hiss) reduction. The high-end signal is increased (pre-emphasis) when recorded. Upon playback, the turntable preamp reduces the high-end signal level (de-emphasis). This also reduces the high-frequency noise (hiss) of dragging a stylus through a groove cut (well, pressed) in a material that exhibits surface roughness.

          This is somewhat similar, at least to my ear, to what early-version Dolby noise reduction does. If you play a Dolby-recorded tape on a player that doesn't have the circuitry to decode it, it sounds "brighter." That is, the high-frequency range is louder than it "should" be.

          Since there's no mechanism for a CD to hiss, this kind of noise reduction isn't needed.

          Oddly, from what I understand a few early CDs were indeed recorded with the vinyl pre-emphasis added. Ick. Now *that* would sound bad. CD players have never had de-emphasis circuits!
    • Believe it or not, there is actually a turntable that uses a laser [] out there. Very expensive, but very good sound quality. The LPs aren't as prone to wear out since there is no physical contact, and the laser gets percision that only the best styluses can match. If you're an analogue buff with $13,000 to kill, then it's probably a nice toy to have.
  • There is a 'Receive info form', for Windows users, and another form for Linux and FreeBSD users. The funny part is that the HTML title of that form is 'Receive info about the system (Linux/NetBSD Form)' . FreeBSD? NetBSD? I'm confused.

    • Actually that is simply a choice of flash/no-flash. The software itself is designed for BeOS, and they sell a complete kit including a Sony Vaio notebook, which dual-boots BeOS and Win2k. Currently (as of the last time I read their site) they have software for BeOS only, but are working on a version for Linux, and MacOS.
  • by Monkelectric ( 546685 ) <slashdot@monkelectric . c om> on Saturday January 26, 2002 @02:39PM (#2907083)
    Heres directions on how to build your own with a turntable and a mouse [] ... Although rightfully the professional one has better features ...

    I have to take issue with one thing in the harmony central article ... it says the records contain a time code. What do you do when you break these special records? ...

    • You buy another one for $12 US. If you're a pro, you buy a whole bunch when you first set up to cover the inevitable breakages.
      • You buy another one for $12 US. If you're a pro, you buy a whole bunch when you first set up to cover the inevitable breakages.

        Jesus, how often do you guys break records? I mean, I'm sure it can happen, but I've been DJing on and off for 9 years and I've never actually broken a record. Maybe a record coffin is in order.

        First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. - Ghandi

        • Jesus, how often do you guys break records? I mean, I'm sure it can happen, but I've been DJing on and off for 9 years and I've never actually broken a record. Maybe a record coffin is in order. But the wear rate on the one turntable would be increased, instead of playing each record once per (avg 4) hour show you would be playing the same record for 2 hours straight, it would have to wear out quicker.
  • Richie Hawtin (Score:5, Informative)

    by hummer ( 15382 ) on Saturday January 26, 2002 @02:42PM (#2907098) Homepage
    I believe Richie Hawtin has been using Final scratch for the last year or so. Furthermore, his latest CD "DE9: Closer to the Edit" is supposed to be largely mixed with it.

  • This is such old vaporware that even Wired [] covered this a long time ago. I feel bad for submitting a story to slashdot when I first heard about it.

    It's really a nice idea, stratch some digital information to communicate how your scratching, and then let the computer scratch whatever audio. However, I think it's going to be vaporware for sometime as I think they're having problems with the hardware.

    • Actually, Richie Hawtin has been using this setup for a year now. If one of the most innovative, important and infuential djs in the world has been using it for this long, I would hardly call it vaporware.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Smell this

      Play digital the analog way! Due to the many reactions that we received, we decided to build a limited "ProFS" series for professional DJ's only, and made this available as of October 1st, 2001.
    • You'll do anything to get some karma-points, won't you?
      This product is real. I've seen it with my own eyes, played with it with my own hands. It's real, and very,
      very cool.
    • I remember seeing these gadgets in Tokyo in 1995. I don't remember the brand tho. They're really cool.
    • load of bollocks. i know the guys from serato [] who're just putting the finishing touches on 'scratch', their similar product (which from the sounds of it kicked the competition's arses at namm) which is 100% working *now*, and will be on the market in a matter of months.

      a unique feature of scratch is that there's no audible latency, so you can even scratch live inputs (ie talk into the mic, and scratch your voice as you talk).
    • No, not really. First, I'm one of the founders of N2IT, the company that developed FinalScratch. We've had a few snags, mostly management related, yet we have pushed on and patented the placing of a timecoce on a fairly ordinary vinyl record.

      What Wired, BBC and several news organisations covered was a 'proof of concept' prototype. It used ordinary soundcards and had a simple interface device to control the software. Problems with cueing, noise, high seek latency were so great that a new interface was designed and new code was written to allow the new (USB) interface.

      The BeOS version version worked quite well, but BeOS fell and Stanton Magnetics wanted an equally reliable system, so the obvious choice was Linux. The "Mac version" is indeed just 'vapourware', but at worst, Linux can be ran out of Mac in much the same way the commercial version can run Linux out of a Windoze filesystem. (After release, there will be a dedicated Linux version and hopefully the same for Mac.) Anyone who knows Linux can hack it now to play out of the ext2/3 filesystems.

      As to "competition" that uses vinyl records, the patent is granted (hardware patent) and is infringing on N2IT. As to latency, you can call anything under 50mS "no latency" as human perception is not all that fast. With a scope and some fancy tricks, we've measured the latency of the Linux and BeOS systems and both are a fraction of what you can call "no latency".

      We'd like to stay clear of this debate and the actual measured values are a company secret. Even an analogue record has 'latency', so claims of 'no latency' are false, unless they do use the well established 50mS as the imperceivable point and market as 'no latency'.

      FinalScratch has been tested by a wide range of DJ styles from some of the biggest names in the business. Even the 'fast scratchers' cannot tell it from vinyl. The only serious fault I find is it sounds 'obviously digital', like all DJ cd players, when ran at super slow speeds.

      Bill Squire
      Electrical Engineer
      N2IT Development BV
      Amsterdam, NL
  • This is going to come across as a troll to some people, but does anyone know anyone who is using any flavor of *nix or BeOS for professional music work? I am not slamming this particular product or the idea of doing this, but every professional music person I know is on a Mac and starts foaming at the suggestion that other platforms even exist.

    It strikes me as odd to make the product for Linux and BeOS first, and then port to Mac, as the article says. Does anyone know of a huge underground of Linux using pro DJ's I have have somehow missed?
    • The Radar24 mixing console [] runs BeOS.
      Tascam's SX-1 [] mixing console runs BeOS.
      Level Control Systems [] has been using BeOS to control their system for a long time
      (it was used for the Nagano winter olympics opening ceremoney, various Broadwar shows and the Hollywood Bowl, for example).
    • Hello! Who cares what OS Final Scratch uses?

      Final Scratch is a stand-alone product. You do not need to use it in conjunction with any other software. Nor is it designed to be used with other programs. And seeing as DJ's will probably use their Final Scratch laptop exclusively for DJ-ing they won't care what OS it runs.

    • Actually...

      It matters alot which OS the system uses. There are three important factors in scratching: latency, latency, and ... (wait for it) ... latency.

      Older Macs may have been good at this because they weren't preemtively scheduled, so the scratching app could grab control and never let go. Not the best way to make friends, but it does keep latency down.

      On the "real" OS side (no, a non preemptively scheduled, non protected OS is not a real OS, which apple understood, and which is why they spent so much time and effort to finally get one) BeOS was the only OS with any decent latency. Understandable; it was designed from the ground up to do this sort of thing w/o breaking a sweat. NB: QNX is realtime, which doesn't guarantee low latency, but rather "merely" guarantees that bounds exist, not that the bounds are low.

      You gotta figure, when you're mixing 180 bpm songs, that's ~300ms per beat, so a 150ms latency is the difference between perfect and couldn't-be-worse. Also, you need to take the whole input chain into account -- not just one context switch, but rather: sampling input => timecode conversion => cueing of mp3 track => decode => output. Each one of these will involve several context switches if you are unlucky. Each context switch adds unknown potential latency. It can pretty quickly add up to +/- 150 ms. Worst of all, you don't know how much (can't read the clock -- that's a syscall == latency).

      So in summarium: BeOS is a natural. Older macs may be ok, by virtue of being too stupid to be in the way. Neither Mac OS X and Linux stand the proverbial snowball's chance of pulling this off.

      Of course, now you throw low latency patches into the mix... round and round it goes, where it will stop nobody knows.

      Alternately, a kernel module may be able to do something decent, but that basically a hack to acheive the level of sophistication of old Macs.
      • actually, there's an article [] at apple's site which claims that latency in os x is down to 1ms, from 10ms in the classic mac os.

        and i can't find it right now, but i also read another article somewhere that showed that os x had virtually no latency when doing dedicated audio, so i think os x probably stands a snowball's chance here.
      • it might be wise to try and avoid making such detailed comments when you actually don't know what you're talking about. Audio latency on linux can be easily reduced to about 2.6ms at 48kHz on most current audio interfaces. At 96kHz, it can go down to 1.3ms. Yes, you need to be running the low latency patch for this to work well, and the application is question has to be written by someone who understands real time programming (true for any OS, including BeOS). You say "where it will stop, nobody knows" - I'm here to tell you that it stops there, and that in addition, i don't understand your response to this patch. Its widely understood to be necessary for Linux, has existed in various forms for more than 2 years, and is a reasonable candidate for mainstream inclusion at some point. with some cards, its possible to go significantly below these figures. The low latency patch seems to make numbers down to around 0.75ms feasible. Context switches take a tiny amount of time compared to the numbers we're talking about here. There is a constant component, which on a PII 450, which is by now an ancient CPU, is about 20usecs, and a variable component that depends on how much of the cache contents associated with the task has been invalidated since it last ran. This can cause a significant increase in the effective context switch time, but its quite manageable. nobody in their right minds would be using different threads for the i/o chain you describe. "can't read the clock - thats a syscall - latency". it takes about 60usec to call gettimeofday on a PII 450. if thats too slow, you can use the rdtscl instruction (intel only), which takes about 12 cycles. If you're interested in audio on linux, i suggest you join either the linux-audio-development or the linux-audio-users mailing lists. There's a lot of expertise there that you could learn from, and perhaps some things you could contribute. Paul Davis
        Linux Audio Systems
    • Our rough unscientific study showed almost nobody uses computers to perform. Of those that do, Mac is a first choice and we take that very seriously. As for the vast majority of performers that don't use computers on stage: Why not start them off right? Most performers fear computers will mess up their act. You only have Micro$oft to blame for that. That it works is important, that it doesn't let you down is most important and it must sound 'real' on a big system. No M$ soundsystem can even produce CD quality audio.

      Bill Squire
      Electrical Engineer
      N2IT Development BV
      Amsterdam, NL
      • My own rough unscientific study shows that you don't know what you're talking about. Musicians that make music on their computers (there's a whole lot of them nowadays) take their computers with them on stage when they perform. Macs, mostly, because most of the musicians you'll have heard of will have started doing their thing back in the day when there wasn't any reasonable audio app. for PCs. Not anymore. So now there's an increasing amount of PC-musicians starting to get good and playing live as well. Trust me, I've seen them do it. No glitches, crashes, nothing, and yes, it was CD quality. Get with the times.

    Trance/Hard Trance/Deep Trance

    this is probably the coolest idea i've ever seen for mixing in mp3s... cueing mp3s is almost impossible if you're used to cueing up with the fine-tuning that vinyl allows you. I really hope to see this technology take off. Lord knows there are a bunch of hard-to-find records out there that are only made in a limited supply batch. Hats off to FinalScratch. Anyone know of any other devices such as this? please post if ou do...
  • CmdrTaco:
    Another one for CowboyNeal's birthday list.
    I think you may have spoiled the suprise.
  • by Vic ( 6867 ) on Saturday January 26, 2002 @02:59PM (#2907181) Homepage
    You're scratching records but you won't be scratching mine
    Don't give me chish-chash in rinky dink time
    Just vive le rock, vive le rock

    - Vive Le Rock, by Adam Ant and Marco Pirroni
  • visual cues (Score:2, Informative)

    by m00nshyn3 ( 314525 )
    In previous digital DJ solutions, there has been a problem where you don't get a visual indication of where breakdowns occur in songs. When you spin with vinyl, if you look closely at a track the grooves look different during a breakdown, giving you a visual indication of how much time you have to finish/start a mix. One reason for Final Scratch's success is being able to see on your laptop screen where the breakdowns are, just as if you had the vinyl in front of you.
    • There's another thing vinyl DJs might miss: The switching of real records. Grabbing a record from your set and selecting the song by setting the needle to the right part of it (using the visual cues you described) is probably faster than relying on a scroll-point-click-point-click interface on the computer. BTW: The silent time between tracks is deliberately printed with a bigger distance between the turns of the groove to create that visual cue.
  • It's been in development for a few years. I first heard about it while experimenting with beOS a few years the time it was a free project, and they had schematics on how to construct various bits of it...appartently it worked so well for them that they decided to market it, and rightly so. Right now both Richie Hawtin and John Acquaviva are using the system on tour...
  • No BeOS support (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    According to various BeOS news sites this particular product will not be available to the BeOS platform. "The final version of FINALSCRATCH will actually be released on Linux, as BeOS does not support new computers as we understand it." //

    On a little side note I would like to say that this is not true; with patches all modern x86 platform (with the exception of specific hardware of course) will work with BeOS. A german group of BeOS users has set out to release the patches along with BeOS 5.0 (pe or pro, not known). The project can be found at

    Rasmus Ekman
  • terminatorX (Score:4, Informative)

    by AirLace ( 86148 ) on Saturday January 26, 2002 @03:23PM (#2907280)
    terminatorX [] can do this kind of thing:

    terminatorX is a realtime audio synthesizer that allows you to "scratch" on digitally sampled audio data (*.wav, *.au, *.mp3, etc.) the way hiphop-DJs scratch on vinyl records. It features multiple turntables, realtime effects (buit-in as well as LADSPA plugin effects), a sequencer and an easy-to-use gtk+ GUI.

    There's a tutorial [] which explains how to take advantage of the support for a second mouse attached to the serial port which can be plugged into a dead turntable and controls the software, allowing users to make scratches with a real turntable for that hiphop look'n'feel. Check it out, it's a great project.
    • TerminatorX is a great tool, but this is so much more powerful. The ability to quickly queue to an arbitrary point in the song, back-cue, and of course all the fun things you can make your decks do with the start/stop buttons, backspins, and even just turning the decks off for that winding down sound. For scratch DJ's, the interface is a lot more intuitive than TerminatorX because the little things that change how the record spins (slipmats, the fact that the record is really spinning, torque, etc.) is something you can't reproduce with a mouse wheel and a busted turntable.

      Best of all, this integrates into an existing setup. I can mix real records with MP3's in real time.

      The most significant flaw I can see with this (and it may very well not be an issue) is that of what I hear when cueing. My mixer has a nice set of options for the cue headphones and anything new I get would have to either match it or beat it.

      The biggest advantage TerminatorX has over this is going to be price. I already have/use TerminatorX and spent my $400 on a new Gina24 sound card from EchoAudio. (Mmmmm... Tasty...) But I'd be willing to bet that this will be the next big thing in DJ technology. God Willing, it'll stop the featuritis that a lot of the CD vendors have...
      • Re:terminatorX (Score:2, Informative)

        by stu72 ( 96650 )
        Final Scratch does not replace your mixer, nor act as one. It is placed inline between your turntables and your existing mixer. You mixer functions exactly as before. The laptop is for storing & selecting music files. All mixing takes place where it belongs, in your mixer.
    • No, TerminatorX can't do "this kind of thing". The FinalScratch is not just a toy music scratching program - it is a complete DJing solution. With dual soundcard output and an external mixing board, it's pretty kick ass.
    • TerminatorX is a completely different product. It can surely do things FinalScrach does and FinalScratch certainly does things TerminatorX doesn't. TX is mainly a sampler, FS is viewed as such by many, but it is intended as a way to play your digital files with vinly records. If sampler features are desired, we can incorperate them, otherwise there are alot of samplers out there and FS just makes using your sampler all that much more enjoyable!

      Bill Squire
      Electrical Engineer
      N2IT Development BV
      Amsterdam, NL
  • sounded like BS (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    but i know richie hawtin, who is an old name in tecno (a.k.a plastikman) was taking it to some gigs, so it is apparently legit.

    as a dj i have mixed feelings on this, it sounds realy cool but,

    a - all of the CD dj's may switch to using these to look more credible, which will just dump MORE bed techno and trance music on the scene
    b- startup labels might prefer to just send around digital tracks to people, instead of running a limited press of 300 or so white labels
    and getting them distributed.

    so in the long run talented producers will get fucked, overshadowed by the kids with no talent dumping bad tracks all over the place.
    but hey, half the kids who go to parties in NY dont like good techno anyway,
    tehy are into dj's like pleasure head, who spin bad trance, and just fade one track over the other but know how to market themselves and how to perform,
    not only do they play the same tracks everynight, ive heard them play a track 2 times or more in one set. But i guess they cater to all the kids who got into the scene after the media played it up as such a great place to get and take e pills

    anyway if u want some to listen to some good sets check out [], the site is decrepid and dying but there are some good sets still around and a radioshow every thursday and sunday night, although i expect even this second hand /.ing will knock the server to hell
    (if anyone likes what they hear, not SEE, and wants to donate some minimal serverspace and bandwidth mail me here [mailto])
    • Re:sounded like BS (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I don't think so. Sure, it is much easier to burn a CD than cut an acetate... and SURE that can invite a flood of crap to the scene, but it sounds rather ELITIST to suggest that legit music only be played from vinyl.

      The "scene" is so disposable AS IS and has ALWAYS been. There is very little "undergroud" since there are so few sources of vinyl- the club on my block was playing the same tracks I heard in Europe. It's like top 40 radio- only it is vinyl... and all the DJs are completely pretentious thinking they are playing something "fresh and original."
    • you have NYC totally wrong first we don't all listen to trance actually NYC is a haven for house and proghouse heads trance is gone my friend btw Hawtin, Cox, H FOundation and Eric Morillo I believe will be at the south st seaport on March 2nd
  • This is actually pretty old. I remember it being out for Be OS years ago. It was able to function, as I remember, becaus of Be OS's low audio latency.

    Unfortunatly, even with the new 'leaked' release, Be OS doesn't run on many current systems, which keeps something cool like this out of many people's hands.

    I remember hearing a while back, that Mac OS had a very low audio latency aswell. I wondered if something such as this could be written for Mac OS X. Who knows, if enough people ask, maybe these people will do it.

    That would be truely cool
  • There was discussion of final scratch back in mid-December when a user submitted a story about the DM2 and it's possible use fun/cheap music toy. This discussion in Ask Slashdot [] lead to other products being borught up as well, and some inciteful comments. Check out the Story [].
  • Just to set the stage I do dj. Been doing it for years. I also work in the computer field. There are definitely benefits to using digital media instead of vinyl.

    Vinyl is large, bulky, it must be cared for for it to last. Qualities that are hardly endearing to people today. Digital media is alot tougher (though I do have cd's that now skip). I also like the ability to change the tempo (beats per minute) of the music while mixing a cd without affecting the pitch of the music that is playing.

    It is this pitch that you are playing with when you scratch. A record is just stereo sound, and analog waveform represented in vinyl. In the groove you have 2 axis. Up/down & Left/Right as seen from the stylus. The speed of the record controls the pitch. When you scratch you speed the pitch beyond normal ranges to get that sound. On a record you have a continuos smooth groove that the needle tracks on. Is there latency in the software that controls this. On a record it is just electro mechanical motion of the stylus that puts out the signal. I do not think that the signal that would come out of a "scratched" mp3 would be there, like that of a record. If this does introduce latency into the feed from the "device" to the actual output of the speaker is it really worth it? If you want to scratch your mp3's go to ex.htm and turn them into vinyl.
    • We did a Hawtin/Aquaviva show in Toronto last summer, and they both were using Final Scratch.

      It's a very impressive setup. The latency is about 12ms, which is very tight, and I doubt most people would notice it.

      You prep your digital audio for use in Final Scratch, which essentially builds out an index file. This allows you to put the needle anywhere down on the final scratch vinyl and it jumps right away to that point in the song.

      I think what I am describing here, is a 'cue' latency. Pitch and direction would obviously depend on how discrete the timecode is on the final scratch vinyl, but if it can get song position and pitch to the software and the software produces audio out all within 12 ms, surely it is that responsive for scratching.

  • by Kennu ( 159046 ) on Saturday January 26, 2002 @04:09PM (#2907456) Homepage
    They always forget that scratching is just one little part of the experience of playing vinyl on a turntable.

    I have to admit that this sounds like a good attempt though. The timecoded dummy records allow for new tricks that haven't been possible with simpler emulations.

    But you have to remember that the complete vinyl experience consists of all the little stuff like

    browsing your records physically in the box, checking out the covers etc.

    flipping records with your bare hands instead of grabbing the mouse and fiddling with GUI displays

    having that little extra snap, crackle & pop in the sound

    letting people actually see what you are playing, since the record's always visible on the turntable


    All these little things are what really contribute to the overall feeling that you get with turntables, it's not just the scratching interface. And you know, sometimes it's actually the slight inconvenience or difficulty of doing something that makes it feel cool. When you change it and make it easier, you also change the overall feeling and your emulation is not successful.

    So, I believe that if you go digital, it's possible to come up with much better interfaces for DJ'ing than simple turntable emulation. If a GUI is going to be your primary interface (for finding the tracks you want to play etc), you should leverage the GUI and find the most natural interfaces there.

    After all, scratching and pitch mixing are just 'hacks' applied to the original turntable device, which was designed for much simpler use. The possibilities of a computer with a GUI are endless and should not be limited to just these traditional ideas.

    • They do take advantage of the fact that it's not a turntable in some ways. You set it so that no matter where you drop the needle it starts playing at the beginning of the track (or any other cue point) and you can also set it so that it changes the record (going to the next one on a list) by lifting up the needle and setting it down again.
    • They always forget that scratching is just one little part of the experience of playing vinyl on a turntable.

      Yes - one that leads to wailing and gnashing of teeth!

      Tearing vinyl and snapping cantilevers - the stuff nightmares are made of.

      But if you want some Real Audio and serious hacking try a DIY turntable and motor controler [] and a real Tone Atm []. Of cause all real cartridges require manual hacking [].

  • Somehow I fail to see how a round rotatable disc is capable of controlling information. Does it scratch the CD if you try to make an unathorized copy?
    • take some time to look at the links:
      the record has a tone on it, this tone goes to a a box that has analog sound inputs and outputs plus USB connections, it translates the tone coming from the record to data which it sends to your computer. Based on this data your computer controls how the audio file is played then ouputs the audio data via USB back to the box, the box converts the data into audio (of the file from the computer played in its modified form).

      Simple story. THE END.
  • this product is not vaporware. it is out.

    i saw dj craze (3 time world dmc champion) spin for 1.5 hours last week using it. he played maybe 3 regular plates, he played the majority of his set using final scratch.

    his setup consisted of the final scratch vaio laptop, a vestax pmc05, and the final scratch hardware.

    links to pictures:

    note, it did not sound like he was playing mp3s. most likely he was playing the raw wav's with finalscratch. mp3s might sound good at home on your speakers, but in a packed club they sound terrible. craze spun a lot of tunes which are on dubplate at the moment ... and unlike playing dubs (which wear out after about 5 plays and sound like shit) he was able to scratch with them ... which normally could not happen. (if you dont know what a dubplate is, it is a cut piece of acetate which plays maybe 5 times in a club and probably about 15 times total before the needles wear the grooves out and the record sounds like hiss.

    all in all it was a great set. dj craze wrecks the dancefloor.

    his set is archived at, under the "respect" (the club) archive. check it out.
    • I believe Craze is sponsored by Stanton but that does not detract from his performance at all. Craze spins drum'n'bass, a genre that is probably more entrenched in dubplate culture than any other form of dance/electronic music out there. A year or two ago, Craze came out of NOWHERE (as far as the d'n'b scene was concerned)and blindsided most of UK with his amazing performance. Most DJ's will throw in a scratch or two, beatjuggle occasionally, and perhaps drop only two bars... but the speed and constant variance that Craze pushes blows all else away. If his show can be done with these tools, there is NO reason to doubt these. Vinyl purists there will always be (I myself prefer it), but this is WAY beyond the league of "newbie-CD-decks" in terms of respectability.

      Offtopic, big up Craze for bringing stateside drum'n'bass to a whole new level :) DJ Hype has merely his label's plates and his forays into nu-breaks to compete with this, and that's not much IMO.
      • Hype is producing some of the most innovative "breakstep" (don't mock me, I didn't name it) stuff out there right now. It has, in my mind, revitalized the entire 2step/garage and nu-skool breaks sound. I will admit, Hype is a good dnb dj, but not a particular standout anymore, but both Zinc and Hype (along with Dee Kline, Stanton Warriors, Abstract and a few others) are bringing some vital sounds at lower BPMs.

        BTW - I saw Craze a few months ago, and you're right, he is incredible. Juggling dnb and hip hop all night. The kids were going nuts.

    • his set is archived at, under the "respect" (the club) archive. check it out.

      which ones? None are marked 'craze'... I'm curious to hear these...
  • Looks strange, but it really does the stuff.
  • I'd swear to god that Fisher Price marketed a toy that had a small turntable disk in it for this sort of thing.

  • I got on the info list when I first heard about this (at least 7 months ago, before DEMF).

    John Acquiviva and Hawtin have been using the system for well over a year. Acquiviva used it at last year's DEMF and it was flawless.

    The first release to the public was pretty high-ticket ($3000) for 3 Final Scratch records, the interface box, the software, and a Sony Vaio laptop. Initially, they had reported that the suggested retail would be somewhere around $600, but my guess is that they made the initial release include the laptop to keep the price out of the range of amateurs; people like Cowboy Neal, et al.

    Every review of the system I've read basically says that its great, and it responds exactly like vinyl. But keep in mind that you need a pair of 1200's also if you really want to use this.

    Its going to remain an item for pro and semi pro dj for a while; but this _will_ change the way dj'ing is done. Just give it time.
  • I tell you what there boy! a year are so ago i bought a Tascam CD-302. It's a duel deck DJ CD Player with Scratchem' Pads and crap. It's outrageously over priced at c. $1000, but damn it's fun. The scratching function is nothing like scratching a real vinyl, but with a lot of practice it sounds decent.

    I took some vinyls and recorded them into my COMPUTAR and DRAGGED AND DROPPED THOSE WAV FILES ONTO MY CD-BERNER ICON and produced an audio CD. During playback you get all the deliscious pops and snaps and hiss, and you aren't damaging your vinyls.

    HEAR THIS NOW! I recommend that if you beat mix or stuff like that, then go ahead and record your vinyls to CD and playback through a CD-302 or the like.. your vinyls will last longer and you don't have to worry about replacing needles and stuff. Plus you have access to looping and pitch shifting functions.

    However if you intend to do any REAL scratching, stick to vinyl. You can get scratch like effects from digital players, but it will be a long time before they have REAL scratching. PEACE OUT MUTHA.
    • I saw these guys DALEK open for Lovage a couple 'a days ago. The DJ was making some mad super low frequency noise by basically pressing the needle to the disc, and vibrating it with his hand from side to side. They must have upshifted it in the sound processor or something, because it was more like 30 hz than 3, and _I_ can't make my hand vibrate much faster than that.

      but still. Cool shit.
  • Its not hard to make this system yourself, if you are inclined to do so... using PD (pure data) the software would be very easy to write.

    1) press a record with an audio-based timecode that readable at any playback speed. (prolly AM)
    2) write some software to decode the audio signal
    3) hook up your program to a synth, sampler program or whatever you want-- added bonus, its an infinitely flexible instrument.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    So here's why club DJs prefer vinyl. It actually has nothing to do with sound quality. Until recently, vinyl turntables offered the following three advantages:

    1. Groove contrast
    2. Needle dropping
    3. Scratch cueing

    Groove contrast is where you can visually locate a dance song's "breakdown" just by looking at the grooves. Very useful, and was impossible with CD or tape.

    Needle dropping provides the DJ with quick random access to any part of the song. Until recently, no CD or tape player offered this feature.

    Scratch cueing is where the DJ scratches the first beat of a musical phrase in time with the song that's currently playing (the outgoing song), then lets the record play when the outgoing song reaches the first beat of a phrase. Ta-daaa, the songs are in phase/sync. Until recently, no CD or tape player offered this.

    Those three features are vital to club DJing ("beat mixing"). So there really was no choice, DJs had to use vinyl.

    Recent pro DJ CD players like Pioneer's CDJ-1000 [] do a great job of emulating those features in software (in fact, Pioneer calls the CDJ-1000's scratch technology "vinyl emulation").

    FinalScratch takes this a step further, though. The DJ can continue to use the tried-and-true vinyl turntables they've gotten used to over the years. That's a huge plus.

    So is FinalScratch a perfect replacement? Well, I don't think so. You can't look at the record itself to see the groove contrast, you must look at the computer screen. And mechanical failures during a performance tend to be easier to fix than having software freak out on you -- I'd argue that there's less that can go wrong, but that point's debateable.

    But FinalScratch is great technology, and it is going to change the way club DJs perform.

    - Shawn Dodd
  • other companies (Score:2, Informative)

    by Highdin ( 554139 )
    I was at NAMM last week and I just want to let you all know that there are quite a few companies releasing turntable methods of digital music manipulation. Two others Serato ( and Sound Graph ( are using timecode vinyl similar to stanton's. The main difference between all of them will be hardware and price. Stanton's setup requires a piece of hardware with two audio inputs (from mixer), two outputs (to mixer) and usb. Serato's setup is completely software, you only need a sound card with two audio inputs. not sure how the output works though. It will be considerably cheaper though (around $200 is what I recall). Also of note, stanton and sound graph appear to be windows only, while serato was running on a mac. Numark ( is using a roller on the turntable that just keeps track of speed with position correction so you will not lose your cue point by jogging back and forth. The roller will connect to their axis 8 cd player and should cost no more than $20. No skipping, but no laptop interface either (for the time being).
  • I use Virtual Turntables (a little dated but it works) on a touchcreen laptop. Having an interface you can touch is nice but using a mouse works just as well I've found. And your arms get tired. But it beats carrying around records enough for 4-5 different genres in one bag. Take it camping, have something for all times of the day. :) []

  • The Terminator Mouse Turntable's sensor measures movement of the damn platter.

    Any fool knows that you don't scratch by moving the platter, it's way to heavy! The record rests on a "slipmat". Which is the reason that you can stop it by just using your finger-tip (and possibly the reason that you 11 years old fucked up the motor of your own 100$ turntable when trying to scratch on it).

    I believe that the only way to create the feeling of a REAL turntable would be measure the rotation of a record resting on a slipmat. Wether it would sound right or not (which I STRONGLY doubt) I don't know.

    There are more reasons than purly historical for that people who know how to scratch (like ISP) use tables like vestax pdxa2s instead of stuff like this.

    Another note, you obviously need a crossfader, transformers and all the other ports to get ANY real feal. But, picking a pmc07pro (the standard dj battle mixer) or some other nice mixer apart and modding it should be pretty easy.

    In any case, I doubt that you'll get the sound right and I'll keep my analog equipment for the time beeing.
  • 8&mode=flat
  • Pioneer sells equipment for DJs that can do real-time "scratching" with CDs. The "turntables" are pressure-sensitive, so you can even slow the track down by gently pressing on them. My roommate has a pair of these and they're really fun.

    See Pioneer's page for the CDJ-1000 [] for marketing.
  • Most people think this is a new toy to play with but for those using it (seriously) it changes the way they work (as a dj). For most dj's the biggest problem is carrying vinyl, do you know how much that shit weighs?? to crates are like 50lbs easy.. and airlines manage to loose it often. Now not only are you out of you best records for the time, you can't even play the gig and make money. Now what if you can carry everything you need to dj in a carry on bag? one small soft sided record back with a few peices of vinyl (maybe some new tracks you just picked up) and then hundreds of your favorite tracks all on your laptop???

    Anyone that knows, a bigger advicate to the technology is John Acquaviva who has been in to the company from the start. I saw him on New Years eave and i don't think that he even brought any normal vinyl with him.. everything came off his finalscratch machine. So go check out his site [] and slashdot his server.


The wages of sin are high but you get your money's worth.