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#1 exbutlinred82

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Posted 21 May 2007 - 07:41 AM


Would like some honest advice on wether to convert to laptop or stay with the crusty old CD method.

I looked at my CD'S last night and some of them are looking a bit scatched and worn....they have served me well!!I have a weeks leave coming up and thought I might spend that time switching over like many of you have done.However you could get what I know about computers in Kylies belly button and still have enough room for a sesame seed.Assistance required please.

Popped onto the PC bit on the forum.Though most of you wax lyrical about PC djing I can see it doesn't come without its problems...Am I better of staying as I am.

Given that I have 7500 tracks could you give me an idea how much time,knowledge and cash i'm gonna need to convert?

How do you mix the tracks from a PC when you are playing them so there are no ugly silences??

The output on my laptop (headphone socket)...do I have to convert that in any way??

Identifying the tracks.Will I have to spend hours typing in the titles and artists?

If there any scratches and jumps on my CD's would they jump when i'm playing off of the laptop?

I realise that I could get a lot of the answers from PC World...but they are going to be sales led.


How many of you have converted and regretted it???


Thanks in anticipation of your advice.

Getting on for 50 now and can't see me doing it for much more than 5 or 6 years (maybe handy for Tea Dances tho...LOL).If it is a huge and expensive task I shan't bother.

#2 EdBray

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Posted 21 May 2007 - 09:38 AM

First question in return is, do you have a laptop already or are you going to have to buy one?

If you do not have a laptop already, it may well be worth looking at the Denon HD2500 or the Numark D2 or the Cortex 1000. These are all digital hard drive controllers and are much more akin to your current CD decks than a laptop will be. These start at a similar price to a reasonable laptop and are specifically designed for DJs. From about 400 to 700.

If you already have a laptop of sufficient power then you are already on the way there.

Ripping your CDs to MP3 at 320kbps is quite easy and most of the ripping programs will look at the CD and nip off to the internet to get the Disc Data (title, Artist, etc) prior to ripping the tracks, thus saving you having to manually input this information.

Whilst ripping the CDs it is unusual that you will get any problems with your final MP3s skipping/jumping etc although I would suggest that if possible you make sure the CDs are as clean as possible and that you select a low reading speed whilst ripping the CD, this should give you perfectly usable MP3s.

The soundcard that comes within a laptop is usually not as good as it could be and it is recommended that you purchase an external add on soundcard to use for your sound output. this also seems to prevent the occasional jumps and delays that are noticeable on some laptops as additional processor power seems to be taken away from the program playing the files. Expect to pay 35-150 depending on your choice.

You will probably also need to invest in a ground loop isolator which stops the audio signal being transferred around the earth loop created from the laptop to the amplifiers. 10-20

You also have to purchase your DJ software for playing the MP3s, SAM DJ is about 50, OTS DJ Pro about 175, PCDJ (various versions available) 45 - 150 and Virtual DJ about 160. All of these programs auto mix to some degree, some better than others (SAM DJ and OTS have intelligent cross fading).

It will take you about a week or so to rip your music collection to MP3 obviously depending on how much time you devote to it each day. I ripped about 560 CDs to MP3 at 320kbps in about 10 days (boring job though). This gave me about 12,000 tracks or so of which I whittled it down to about 8,000 individual tracks. This takes up about 63GB on a hard drive. I have then whittled down these to 1792 (essential) tracks that I have stored on the internal drive on my HD2500 (takes up about 18GB).

I would certainly consider ripping your CDs as a matter of urgency to either 320kbps MP3s or WAV files as soon as possible if your CDs are in the condition you describe, do it know before they get damaged any further.

So to recap, If you have not got a laptop, I would buy a HD controller as stated above, I have the Denon HD2500 and paid under 700 for it from Thomann, I like it a lot but still use a laptop as my first backup, this was my choice but I know others are happy with the Numark D2 and the Cortex.

If you have a laptop of sufficient power, I would still be buying an external soundcard, the DJ program, and the Ground loop isolator Going for the cheapest options would cost you about 100. If you do not have a laptop already, add another 400 to that. So the cheapest options are now going to cost you 500. Personally I would then be back to the HD controllers. If you do go down the laptop route, it is advised that you only use this laptop for your DJing and keep the software on it to an absolute minimum, and NEVER EVER connect to the internet with it.

I have both laptop and HD2500, I am using the HD2500 more and more as I get fully used to it, but will keep the laptop as a backup. I also use the laptop for my Karaoke as I use Compuhost Software (160) to run the karaoke. Virtual DJ does include the Karaoke as standard (160) and OTS provides it as a paid for add-on (50).

If you are going from CDs directly to a digital medium, I would seriously think about going for one of the HD controllers, they will be more akin to the way you work at present and the learning curve will not be as steep.. Although the Denon is the most expensive of these it does come with a 40GB built in laptop (not massive I know, but suitable for about 4000 tracks ripped at 320kbps) whereas the others will require you to purchase an additional hard drive prior to use.

Hope this helps, and good luck with what you decide to do.


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#3 DJ Marky Marc

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Posted 21 May 2007 - 09:56 AM

QUOTE
I realise that I could get a lot of the answers from PC World...


you wont get answers from PC world.. they know nothing... they just sell boxes...

asking somone in pc world anything technical will result in you been lied to or confused even more..



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#4 High Fidelity

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Posted 21 May 2007 - 11:28 AM

Excellent advice from Ed.

About the only other thing I can think of to add is: Don't try to do a complete switchover in one go.

When I switched over, I did it bit by bit. Ripping a few hundred tracks each week, but still taking all my CD's and the CD deck out with me, in fact, the laptop was an add on at first.

Even when I had ripped all my music, I still took all my CD's and decks with me for about a year, untill I had built up enough trust and experience of the laptop, and had invested in a backup laptop.
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#5 Dukesy

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Posted 21 May 2007 - 11:30 AM

I think it depends where you go really - PC World wise.
The Cambridge branch of PC World Business were really, really good and helpful whereas PC World Copdock were not so....along with many others.
Suppose one could say that the whole chain is bad but in fairness, they are not really all bad and it does help if you know what you are looking for!
And if you don't, then that makes asking a fellow DJ what they use both interesting and helpful! smile.gif
I used to visit a local PC service (when I lived in Essex) who was far cheaper than PC World on some items and more expensive on others.
When it came to technical issues, I had to keep an eye out even when I visited often and demonstrated loyalty because I was just another number thru the door!
Good advice from Ed.


#6 Gary

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Posted 21 May 2007 - 11:43 AM

QUOTE(EdBray @ May 21 2007, 10:38 AM) View Post
The soundcard that comes within a laptop is usually not as good as it could be and it is recommended that you purchase an external add on soundcard to use for your sound output. this also seems to prevent the occasional jumps and delays that are noticeable on some laptops as additional processor power seems to be taken away from the program playing the files. Expect to pay 35-150 depending on your choice.

You will probably also need to invest in a ground loop isolator which stops the audio signal being transferred around the earth loop created from the laptop to the amplifiers. 10-20

You also have to purchase your DJ software for playing the MP3s, SAM DJ is about 50, OTS DJ Pro about 175, PCDJ (various versions available) 45 - 150 and Virtual DJ about 160. All of these programs auto mix to some degree, some better than others (SAM DJ and OTS have intelligent cross fading).



Great advice from Ed there - also, if you dont fancy double-clicking your way through 1 button/function at a time with a mouse, you might want to add a 19inch rack mount controller to a laptop solution - if you've already bought a "virgin"/fresh laptop for DJing on. These controllers (not to be confused with the all-in-one, standalone solutions mentioned by Ed) plug into laptop a bit like a custom keyboard and have a little jog wheel and proper Play/Cue buttons, just like a real DJ CD deck would do. There are some plastic based 19inch rack keyboard/controllers around, but the more suitable looking/feeling metal ones tend to average out at around 200.

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#7 dj.silver

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Posted 21 May 2007 - 11:53 AM

Not wishing to go toooooooooo far IPB Image but you MUST open a business account at PC world if you buy there.

I bought a wireless mouse there last week, on the shelf at 40, using my business account just 22! Got an external hard drive there, on the shelf at about 100 got it for 70!

Happy days.

P.S. NIk, I think your set up looks great, again with my eyesight it would be a bit too much but the software looks really good. Personally I use Traktor and wouldn't shift away, it's been top drawer for me for three years, never letting me down. The other goodies I'll look into.

Thanks. IPB Image

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#8 exbutlinred82

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Posted 21 May 2007 - 03:29 PM

WOW....

Thanks to you all ....particularly Eddie.......you were really informative and took the time and effort to try and help a fellow DJ.If I end up in PC WORLD I can take some of your notes and make sure I don't get my leg taken up.

In amswer to Eddies question.....I am typing this on my Advent laptop which

apologies got cut off

Advent computer which I thought with an add on memory/programme wise I could use at my functions....Is that not practical.....you mentioned I must never ever go on the internet with it.If the tunes are stored in a seperate piece of equipment why should that be.

Think I may follow the advice of the chap who says that I should do it gradually.May well fall out of love with doing the exercise so want to keep costs to a minimum.Is it unreasonable to expect a multi purpose laptop to become my musical Genie as well???

#9 Dale King

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Posted 21 May 2007 - 04:04 PM

I use both a HD2500 and OTS DJ.

I found OTS to be ideal for background music and as a back up system (which I have used one night when my cd drawer got jammed).

One piece of advice I was given, and have heeded, is get a dedicated laptop - do everything on a seperate computer and just use the one laptop for playing the music. Doing this OTS has never played up at all.
The spec required for OTS is very low - I paid 120 for a laptop off ebay and it runs it fine using an external soundcard to tidy the sound up a bit. Going on the internet could plant a bug in the OS and then you're in trouble.

Obviously, I have joined the Denon fanclub more recently and much prefer it. I like the hands on feel you just dont get with a laptop, and the sound quality is far superior (although that could be the spec of my laptop and soundcard). I dont really like using playlists, i prefer to choose my tunes "on the fly", but others use them and they work well.

But it really is down to personal choice - as I have only done two gigs with the HD2500 I currently carry that (with 2 external hard-drives), laptop with OTS DJ (and it's own external hard-drive) and about 500 cds, but that will only be till i trust the HD2500, then the cds will stay home....

Overall - try them both - see what works for you.
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#10 EdBray

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Posted 21 May 2007 - 04:06 PM

Okay, so now that we know you already have a latop that should be suitable.

The reason for not going on the internet or loading the laptop with two many programs is to prevent problems arising whilst you are at a gig. The more programs that are added on to a laptop the more it's resources are eaten up (even some in the background that you don't realise are running). If you are going on the internet, you should have both anti-virus and firewalls installed, these typically load on boot up of the operating system and run constantly in the background, again not good on your resources.

If you are going to use a laptop as your music source to run the music for your DJ business on, does it not seem unreasonable to ensure that it is in the best nick it can be (software wise) so that you are unlikely to have any problems whilst performing at your gigs. Some of the afore mentioned software products are quite resource intensive (PCDJ being one that likes a lot of processor power and memory) SAM DJ being a lot more tolerant of this than most. I mean, you wouldn't start playing space invaders on your CD decks would you?

Don't get me wrong, I have used a laptop for the past year as my main form of DJ control with SAM DJ and have had no problems with it, although the only other program I installed on it was Freestyler DMX program which would run alongside SAM DJ to control my lighting.

It is not a rule that you must not fill the laptop up with rubbish and that you must not go on the internet, but it is a serious recommendation and one that most laptop DJs would agree with. Are you prepared to take the chance is what it boils down to really.

If you are planning to use the same laptop for pleasure and your DJ needs, then I would suspect that at some time or other you will have some problems. Make sure before you commit to any software that you have more than the recommended hardware requirements and do not buy anything that will leave you on the edge of the minimum requirements.

As I said, good luck, and after what you are proposing, I would advise either an additional laptop or just wait awhile and go down the HD controller route, you will find the jump from CD to that much less fraught and you can still use the laptop to go on the internet, or even as an emergency backup.
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#11 Mattaious

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Posted 21 May 2007 - 04:27 PM

I use a laptop i bought of ebay for 90, NEC Versa LX - Excellent unit and only have Atomix and PCDJ on it, However with my intentions to go to PC DMX control then im considering another unit, or to go to a stand alone DMX controller ,

Still trying to weigh up the options.



#12 exbutlinred82

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Posted 21 May 2007 - 04:42 PM

Okay

Still being the Computer Amateur.

I have priced up the Numark D Squared. 448.


With that I buy an external hard drive....50 quiddish.Via my laptop here I load the trax onto the hard drive.The songs appear labelled and alphabetically on the D Squared.



Correct or not please??





#13 EdBray

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Posted 21 May 2007 - 05:30 PM

QUOTE(exbutlinred82 @ May 21 2007, 05:42 PM) View Post

Okay

Still being the Computer Amateur.

I have priced up the Numark D Squared. 448.
With that I buy an external hard drive....50 quiddish.Via my laptop here I load the trax onto the hard drive.The songs appear labelled and alphabetically on the D Squared.
Correct or not please??

YUP! 404 from Thomann with free delivery, 3 year warranty.

Have a word with Jeff Wall, he has a Numark D2. if he gets back to you tongue.gif

I think that would be a smart move, rather than using your laptop for all of it.

Edited by EdBray, 21 May 2007 - 05:33 PM.

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#14 UKHero

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Posted 21 May 2007 - 06:52 PM

I agree as most know on here I love using a laptop but if your used to CDs then HDC is the way to go...

I have the cortex HDC-1000 its a great bit of kit and only cost me 390. But it depends on what sort of DJ you are if you want special FX etc then the HDC-3000 might be more up your street...

Cortex Site

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#15 Norfolk DJ

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Posted 21 May 2007 - 07:09 PM


Reasons to keep playing Cd's

1. Reliability of laptops. A know plenty of people who have had 'brown outs' hard drive failures.

2. Time of transferring music over.

3. Remembering classic or forgotten tracks (metal jog through visual look at CD's).

4. Back-up hard drive required.


Plenty of advantages though of going for a laptop, just listing some known issues.

Sit back and await the flack!



#16 Andy Westcott

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Posted 21 May 2007 - 07:21 PM

Cost of the Digital DJ Licence... whistling.gif
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#17 EdBray

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Posted 21 May 2007 - 07:43 PM

QUOTE(Norfolk DJ @ May 21 2007, 08:09 PM) View Post

Reasons to keep playing Cd's

1. Reliability of laptops. A know plenty of people who have had 'brown outs' hard drive failures.

2. Time of transferring music over.

3. Remembering classic or forgotten tracks (metal jog through visual look at CD's).

4. Back-up hard drive required.
Plenty of advantages though of going for a laptop, just listing some known issues.

Sit back and await the flack!

1. Personally, I have never had a problem with my laptop, only 20 gigs though so not comprehensive.

2. Think from the original posters remarks that he will be needing to do this in some form as his CDs are becoming damaged.

3. Not a problem with this on laptop, it is the biggest issue I am having at the moment with my HD2500 as I keep having to refer to the laptop for inspiration.

4. Why? If the laptop goes down, you could have 10 hard drives they won't help you any. I used to carry an addional laptop, now I carry the laptop and the HD2500 each backs the other up. What happens if your CD player goes down, I assume you also carry backup, no difference really.

I am not anti CD or pro laptop, each to their own and there are positives and negatives for both formats (analogue or digital) and all types of player whether it be. MP3 player, Laptop, HD controller, DVD player, CD players or any other means of playing music, it is up to each user to decide what they want to use as their main player and what they carry as backup.

Oh, and /I have heard lot's of stories of CDs jumping when people are dancing too close to their rig on a wobbly dance-floor. Don't happen with lappys tongue.gif


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#18 Mattaious

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Posted 21 May 2007 - 08:11 PM

I wouldnt be worried out reliability (spell check)
or laptops,

Ive ran mine non stop for 14 hours b4 and no probs,

You would have the same risk with cd's

And yes ed is right, no jumping tracks (yes ive got antishock) whistling.gif

#19 exbutlinred82

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Posted 21 May 2007 - 10:09 PM


You have all been really kind and helpful....I appreciate it.


Given that I prob only have a few more years left DJ ing I am still undecided. I must say those Numark and Cortex efforts look a bit tasty though.Think I need to go to a store to see how much is involved in loading one up.Don't need sound effects or anything like that.


Would it mean that I would never have to deal with a CD with a scratch on again?

What do you think the split is now on this site??

Is it still probably 50/50 PCDJ/CDDJ.


I'm probably in the minority and definately will be in a couple of years.



#20 Norfolk DJ

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Posted 22 May 2007 - 05:42 AM

QUOTE(exbutlinred82 @ May 21 2007, 11:09 PM) View Post

What do you think the split is now on this site??

Is it still probably 50/50 PCDJ/CDDJ.
I'm probably in the minority and definately will be in a couple of years.


It's about 50/50 on this site.

Never worry about what others are doing or being in a minoirty. I remember when double CD players were first released. I carried on using records for about 5 years after that. I changed over when i felt the time was right for me. I shall do the same here. It might be this year or next. I might leave it for 2 or 3 years.

Scratched CD are not a problem. Either burn a copy or use a cd repairer from Maplins. Sometimes using some T-cut works.

Rob.




#21 UKHero

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Posted 22 May 2007 - 06:13 AM

Here is a thread I started a few months back about who uses what with a poll will show you what the spread is...

Click here


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#22 exbutlinred82

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Posted 22 May 2007 - 04:12 PM


PROGRESS UPDATE.

You guys have given me a lot of confidence to try new things.Went to Maplins and bought a lead that takes my laptop through my mixer and gives equal sound to my Numark twin cd player.

Why should I need a soundcard please??


I can see that I am going to have to store the trax I rip on some form of alternative storage.


Till I get my confidence i'm going to run it in association with my Numark.


I'll try ripping say three hundred of my favourite tracks into Windows Media Player and take it from there.

If it works I'll purchase a cheapy of ebay for the continuity factor.


Or does DJSAM give me that?

Whats my next best step please??






#23 TonyB

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Posted 22 May 2007 - 04:28 PM

QUOTE(exbutlinred82 @ May 22 2007, 05:12 PM) View Post

PROGRESS UPDATE.

You guys have given me a lot of confidence to try new things.Went to Maplins and bought a lead that takes my laptop through my mixer and gives equal sound to my Numark twin cd player.

Why should I need a soundcard please??
I can see that I am going to have to store the trax I rip on some form of alternative storage.
Till I get my confidence i'm going to run it in association with my Numark.
I'll try ripping say three hundred of my favourite tracks into Windows Media Player and take it from there.

If it works I'll purchase a cheapy of ebay for the continuity factor.
Or does DJSAM give me that?

Whats my next best step please??


If you are going to fully utilise a DJ software program, you will need two sound sources, one to play the track and the other to cue.

Using Itunes or Windows Media player, you can probably get away with one sound source. I prefer Itunes because it lets you set the start and end time of each track as well as the cross fade time (Media player might be able to do that but I haven't bothered to look).

The sound quality issue very much depends on the soundcard in your laptop. I bought an external card and can't really tell any difference. The external card does free up some of the PC resources though - less likely to get any stuttering, but that only happened if I let it go to sleep and it stuttered when I woke it up. Another solution is to make sure the laptop power management is set to always on

#24 exbutlinred82

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Posted 22 May 2007 - 04:50 PM



So for DJSAM i'm still gonna need another laptop?


Think I'll stick with cd and laptop for a couple of months.


Enjoying this ...thanx again to you all.

#25 TonyB

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Posted 22 May 2007 - 05:18 PM

QUOTE(exbutlinred82 @ May 22 2007, 05:50 PM) View Post

So for DJSAM i'm still gonna need another laptop?
Think I'll stick with cd and laptop for a couple of months.
Enjoying this ...thanx again to you all.


I am sort of in between too. I mainly use CD's but have all of my CD's ripped to an external hard drive. I use the Laptop to quickly find and play a request or to play downloaded tracks from Itunes. I do have SamDJ but it doesn't recognise the AAC format of Itunes so I would have to convert them all to MP3. Thats a project for another day.

It is also useful for playing background music from a playlist.


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