DJ Tech

Ableton: Programming a Tech House beat

In the following article we’re going to explain how to programme a Tech House drum track in Ableton, using the Roland 808 Classic drum machine. First up, go to the instruments section of Ableton, select drum rack, then Kit, scroll down until you find 808 classic, then drag this in to a MIDI channel. Your screen should look like the below screen shot.

All the Roland drum machines such as 707, 808 and the mighty 909 are great to use as the basis of your house track, as not only do they give that rich familiar sound but the 808 Classic rack in Ableton, comes with a multitude of additional sounds such as Congas, Claves and Maracas for adding something extra to your tracks. Double click on one of the clips in your MIDI track and the following MIDI editor will appear at the bottom of your screen.

The track is set up for 16 beats or a four bar loop.  The various elements of the kit can be found on the left side of the editor.  You can either use a MIDI instrument such as a keyboard or you can double click in the editor to programme your drum beats.

I have placed a kick drum on the first beat in each bar.  You’ll need to add a closed hat, cymbal, clap, snare and clave.  Use the screen shot below as insipration but play around with the sounds in the kit and the placing of beats to come up with a really unique sound, enjoy!

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NI: The App Controller

If anyone was going to develop a credible DJing app, then it was going to be Native Instruments.

TRAKTOR DJ is their DJ software app which allows you to create mixes, using the familiar Traktor sofware, on your ipad.

The days of laptop DJing could finally be over.  All they need to do is make it wireless so you can DJ, whilst raving with the crowd and everyone would be happy!

Check out more here.

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Vestax: Where it’s at

As you know, we here at are big fans of Vestax and the quality products they offer.

You can click here to read our review of the VCI-400.

You may or may not be aware that Vestax have recently set up a website to sell their products directly to you in the UK,  click here to see what it’s all about, enjoy!

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Abelton 9: The Reviews

As mentioned a couple of months ago, Ableton have released version 9 of their incredibly impressive software, after a 4 year wait since their last update.

To find out if all the bug fixes have been addressed and the overall impression of the latest releas, check out a selection of quality reviews below.

Review 1 here

Review 2 here

Review 3 here

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Ableton release version 9!

As you may already know, Ableton are due to release version 9 of their highly successful DAW, in 2013 but did you know you can currently buy version 8 with a 25% discount and get a free upgrade to version 9 when it’s released. Sounds like a good deal to me!

The upgrade is all about enhancement rather than a radical overhaul and this comes in terms of being able to record automation in to session clips, tweaked studio effects and the new glue compressor, sound improvement and Max for Live is included, rather than being an add-on. All in all, a pretty impressive list of enhancements.
To find out more, click here.

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There are certain manufacturers of DJ equipment, that when they release new hardware, you instantly take note and Vestax are certainly in that group.

At, one of our favourite manufacturers is Vestax and we were only to happy to review their latest controller the recently released VCI-400 Midi Controller.

Overall Impressions

Awesome would be my first and lingering impression of the VCI-400.

It looks good, the build quality is metal and solid, as you’d expect with Vestax.  There are over 200 assignable knobs, faders and buttons, which are well spaced and easy to use, just what you need for customising your hardware to your chosen software.

The controller will work with any DJ software, that has a MIDI learn function and comes with Serato and Traktor MIDI mappings already loaded.

I especially like the feel of the platters and found these to work really well with Traktor.  For me, the best thing about the controller is the 2 sets of 8 trigger buttons, which are fully customisable.

A number of controllers have incorporated these type of buttons, think Akai APC 40 and I personally think they are the way forward.  Incorporating trigger buttons in to the controller gives you the flexibility that allows you to create something totally suited to your DJing style, which ultimately will help you to get noticed.  My advice, think about what you want to do with your DJing, then get stuck in to mapping the controller.

My only gripe and it is only minor, is regarding the size of the controller but considering the functionality on offer and the layout, the size is totally understandable, you just might have to think about the best way of transporting it to your next gig.

Quality Sound

In the club or in the studio, the VCI-400 simply delivers.

Vestax have not compromised when designing the new audio system built in to the VCI-400.  The studio sound quality is determined by its D/A conversion capability, providing a low-latency, bit-perfect audio at 24-bit / 48 kHz resolution, with high level output, Native Instruments, take note for your next controller!

The Competition

In terms of a 4 channel Midi Controller, the main competition to the VCI-400, is the Native Instruments S4 Controller.  Currently priced at around £689.  However, in’s opinion, that’s where the similarities end.

The serious issue I have with the S4 is the lack of volume output for headphone monitoring, the built-in soundcard just isn’t up to it.  To overcome this you can use a separate soundcard, assuming you have one.

The build quality is pretty flimsy as well, which leads me to the following conclusion.  The S4 is a controller you could use at home, all day, woithout any issues but if you’re looking for a robust, hardworking contoller, that’s club ready, then you need the VCI-400 and at £629, you’ll be saving yourself a few quid as well.

Technical Features

  • Works with: Serato, Virtual DJ, Traktor Pro, Torq, Mixvibes, Mixx, Deckadance, djDecks and more
  • 200 assignable parameters
  • Fully customisable
  • Optional overlay and mapping files to any software
  • Exceptional D/A conversion with 24-bit / 48kHz resolution
  • High level output
  • Studio-grade asynchronous USB streaming system
  • Low-latency bit-perfect audio
  • Bundled with Serato DJ Intro and Virtual DJ LE 4 Decks
  • Dimensions: 457(W) x 328(D) x 61(H) mm (includes knobs)
  • Weight: 4.5kg

A big thank you goes to Reishi at Vestax and for more information about the controller click here.

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Traktor Pro Updated to Intergrate with Pioneer CDJs and Mixers

Traktor Intergration with Pioneer CDJ

There’s great news for club DJs who want to use Traktor Pro. Traktor announced yesterday, it’s latest update of the Traktor Pro software will now fully integrate with Pioneer’s CDJ series (2000/900/400) and the DJM-900 Nexus Mixer, thanks to advanced HID (Human Interface Devices) support.

Setting up Traktor in a club was never particularly easy. It was always time consuming and difficult trying to set everything up in the dark (wires going everywhere and separate soundcards being needed). The new update gets rid of all these issues. With one wire (and an action which will take about 30 seconds) you can now connect your laptop to the CDJs or DJM-900 mixer and be up and mixing in no time at all.

You can also use the Pioneer CDJ 2000′s visual interface to access tracks, cue points, loops and more in Traktor, with all relevant information on the CDJ’s display – from track artwork to detailed waveform displays.

This integration gives CDJ users access to features such as Traktor’s Remix Decks, sync, superior cueing and looping, intuitive browsing and world class effects. Traktor will memorise your settings, so every DJ booth becomes your DJ booth, no matter what equipment is installed.

We really like this update at FunkNaughty and we imagine this is going to appeal to a lot of CDJ users out there who may not be using using Traktor due to all of the issues with setting it up in the club.

This update works for both platforms of Traktor – timecoded or not.

Check out the video and watch Felix Da Housecat putting the update through it’s paces.

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Mostly Robot: Behind the Scenes of Sónar 2012

Mostly Robot Logo

A behind the scenes look at the debut gig at Sonar 2012 of Native Instruments new DJ super group Mostly Robot.

Early this year Native Instrument’s announced the formation of a new DJ super group made up of an array of industry stars – Jamie Lidell, Tim Exile, Jeremy Ellis, Mr. Jimmy and DJ Shiftee. Who would be utalising an array of N.I. hardware and software, pioneering creative live performance and showing what is capable with N.I.’s technology.

The video gives you an an insider’s view of each group members role and how all the different elements of the band work together, whilst showing the groups preparation, build up and explosive debut performance.

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