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Serato Scratch Live

By Marc Savlov, Fri., Jan. 12, 2007

So you wanna be a DJ, but you just can't get the hang of beat-matching, and the idea of hauling around 100 pounds of delectable vinyl makes your back ache? Not to worry, Rane's Serato Scratch Live software enables even the most diminutive of DJs to operate minus all that heavy black wax (www.rane.com/scratch.html). Not that Serato has smoothed over the ideological skirmishing between vinyl purists and those less skilled in finer points of real-world DJ finesse.

"Basically what Serato allows you to do is DJ MP3 music files instead of vinyl records," explains Cut Club's Dave "Kidindie" Pacho. "You still feel like you're spinning records because it comes with special vinyls that are encoded with time markers that then sends a signal into this black box, and then from there to your mixer to your laptop screen where you can visually beat-match the tracks via their sine waves. It allows you to be ahead of the curve while you're in a club.

"It just makes the whole process of DJing a lot easier."

"For me, the bottom line on Serato," says Chris "Prince" Klassen, "is that even though you're using these digital files instead of vinyl, you still ought to treat those tracks like a record. It's obviously not a tangible item, you know, but there's still gotta be some sacredness to it."

"The funny thing with Serato," adds DJ Mel, "is that I've applied everything I believed in with records to this software. Like, I'm very stingy about even sharing my files. I barely ever look at my laptop when I'm using Serato. I only look at it when I'm switching tracks. I'm not using it to match the waveforms or anything other than playing the music. I still mark my records with a sticker, and I use that to go back and forth and do tricks. I definitely don't use the computer screen as a visual aid whatsoever."

Either way a DJ goes (and most, like John Gomi, split the difference), the tangible bottom line with laptop, Web-based technology, and Serato is that there are suddenly way too many MP3 files to even listen to, and a good chunk of those are dodgy affairs at best. Then again, the cream will always rise to the top. And, like DJ Mel, it'll stay there.

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