I’m dusting off my turntables this weekend. Due to a combination of some new software functionality and some hardware compatibility issues, I’ve given VirtualDJ a shot…and I’m sad I didn’t listen sooner.
I tried it with my timecode records; I’ve got a bit of a collection. Sadly, it only works with my Serato records. This made me wax a bit nostalgic to the DJ software I’ve used over the years; I thought I’d write a bit about some of the ones who never made critical mass.
Torq. You were ahead of your time in nearly every respect. The best sampler, the best library, the first hardware controller, the first to support third party vinyl, name dropping by the Black Eyed Peas, VST plugins in real-time…you had everything going for you. I am still sorry you were a victim of accounting and politics. Avid didn’t deserve you. You are missed.
FinalScratch. You defined the market. You had your work cut out for you; my version didn’t have so many of the things DJs take for granted now. You barely had a crate system. You barely had a search system. There were no samplers, EQs, effects, or video functions. You did not understand MIDI, largely because you had no use for it. The closest thing you had to “relative mode” was the ability to offset the start point so we could more evenly wear our records. There. Was. No. Pitch. Lock. And yet, you blazed the trail. No more crates. No more having to buy two copies of every record. Waveform displays that were far easier to see than record grooves in a night club. You may have been on a clearance rack when I bought you, and I may have never used you at a party, but owning “the hockey puck” and a Final Scratch timecode record is my way of paying homage to a piece of history.
PCDJ Blue. You emulated a dual CD deck. Badly. You’re not missed, and your successor Reflex bears your shame.
Deckadance. You were interesting, but nobody knew you. You worked with everything, and nothing at the same time. You targeted production DJs who weren’t spinning records. You had potential. If it makes you feel any better, Image-Line didn’t know what to do with their amazing web development program, E-ZGenerator, either.
Serato. It’s not me, it’s you. I’m still a fan. I’d happily return. The problem, however, is that I’m not buying a new $1,500 mixer for you. I perfectly understand not-supporting my ten-year-old SL3, but there’s no replacement. There’s no ASIO mode where I could use my existing mixer. These are problems everyone else solved, but you chose to follow the controller crowd. That makes sense; I do not completely fault you…but let the record show who left whom.
Rekordbox. You’ve grown so much since your flash drive curating days. It’s impressive, really. Nobody did a better job recommending tracks to me, and your multi-playlist functions are unparalleled. However, your sampler is a mess, you’re the only one that made me scour your user forums for a layout for my Dicers, and you spent all your time chasing Dropbox integration, admittedly-cool DMX control, and ever-so-obnoxious subscription functions, when the real reason you’re not my go-to right now is because a Stem-like function isn’t even in alpha testing, despite there already being open source tools for the task.
Maxi-Patch. There’s always that particularly weird kid in class who nobody knows how to interact with. It’s you. You’re that kid. And there’s an endearing aspect to your willingness to integrate with DAWs as your primary function, and there’s certainly someone out there for you…but I’m just not convinced you understood the assignment. I love the timecode records you came with, and for what it’s worth, they’re one of the reasons I’m writing this…but I was never able to figure you out.
Mixxx. I love watching you grow up. I remember the 0.8 release was…a clear reflection of your potential, and I look forward to watching your continued development as the most promising open source DJ software title (and the only one for Linux). As time progresses, I think you just might start to make inroads. Stick to it; version 4 will undoubtedly show some traction.
Denon HD2500. You’re hardware in a list full of software…but again, if someone was ahead of its time, it was you. Native Serato control in MIDI mode long before actual controllers were a thing, a 40GB hard drive that could rock entire parties or keep a perfectly adequate emergency list, one of the best integrated audio interfaces of your generation, the ability to control a dual CD deck…there was nothing you couldn’t do. Never let the new hotness let you forget your identity. You defined the playing field they compete in.
Mixmeister. You started it. From the Version 3 that shipped with my sound card, to Pro 6 that was the pinnacle of the title, to Fusion’s growing pains and that awkward hardware controller that was so poorly understood by a market expecting a pair of jog wheels…InMusic doesn’t quite know what to do with you now, and your silky smooth 8-bar transitions may seem simplistic by today’s standards…but you and your MXM files will always have a place on my hard drive.