Wednesday, June 8, 2011

ARTICLE: Stepping into the Digital DJing Void: Part 2 | The Process

If their was ever a daunting task, converting the record collection I had amassed over the last 11 year was a pretty epic task indeed. Over those last 11 years I could speculate that I've bought about 15-20 records a month. Thus a conservative estimate would be around 2000 records. So roughly 4000 tracks at mins in length would mean that I will encode 333 hours of music.

With this in mind, if I'm going to do this... I want to do it right. This way I don't have to re-encode my music again. So the research began, what I found (or did not find) surprised me. Basically an epic lack of information on this topic. I really expected instant gratification on the "best practices" for vinyl conversion. Some audiophile's essay on the topic, maybe so youTube videos, heck I would take a thread on the Serato message boards.

Lacking guidance I took it on myself to start experimenting with hardware & software.

Numark TTX-USB

Adobe Soundbooth
Apple Soundtrack Pro
CD Spin Doctor

Originally I was using the record output from my DJM600, keeping the EQ flat and importing into an Digidesign Mbox. This worked for a while, but its work flow was annoyingly slow. Import track to ProTools, bounce the track, import the track to itunes, add the *meta information, analyze with XONE Mixed in Key 4, import it into Serato.
*(track name, artist, ect.)

These 5 steps took me on average 10+ mins per track, but the real kicker was the DJM600 sound output really pushed / distorted the low end.

Needless to say I needed a new device top play and transmit a raw unaltered copy of my beloved tracks. After shopping around I finally choose the Numark TTX-USB.

Now armed with the TTX-USB, sampled a series of softwares to encode my tracks with. Adobe Soundbooth, Apple Soundtrack Pro, & Audicity.

All of these had similar workflow issues. How many steps does it take to get to the center of a Jungle record collection. On average it took about 7-9 steps. Then I happened on "CD Spin Doctor" a program bundled with in Roxio: Toast 10.

CD Spin Doctor allows you to encode vinyl, edit, add meta information and export to itunes. This revolutionized my work flow.

However using CD Spin Doctor has meant that I had to change my encoding format. Up until this point I had been using WAV or AIF in an attempt to collect as much frequency spectrum as possible. Thus trying avoiding the trappings of MP3s and their shrill, hallow sounds when played on a large sound system.

After a series of in the field testing I choose AAC for its sound, file size and all around compatibility with iTunes, Serato, Traktor & XONE Mixed in Key. Side note sorry to all the Jungle heads at SR2 that got to hear me testing WAV, AIF, AAC, & MP3 and the variety of setting for each.

My current work flow is simple, easy and very streamlined:

1) Import the track using the UBS input on the TTX-USB in to CD Spin Doctor
2) Find the meta information on Discogs & add to my Discogs "collection"
- Title
- Artist
- Catalogue Number
- Year
- Album Art
3) Export to iTunes
4) Analyze file using XONE Mixed in Key 4
- Common Key
5) Add to my Serato library
6) Copy all the metro information to pre-made sticker and apply them to the vinyl

Start to finish takes only 3 programs, one web site and on average I can work through a in roughly 8 mins. Often these steps are done simultaneously. So while I'm adding the meta data, i'm encoding my next record.

This work flow takes the boredom out of waiting for your record to encode. You can also do other tasks (like write a blog post). In the time it took me to write this (Part2) out I've encoded 22 tracks, drank 3 cups of coffee and tormented my cat with a lazier pointer. LOL.

When we continue this story in part 3, I will talk about how I've adjusted to DJing. The tools, the technics and methods I've created to handle the untangle madness.

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