New live DJ technique (using free track samples)

You know how you can browse tracks on sites like, and you get to preview a portion of the track? Well, those previews are just MP3 files that are split from the full tracks. Each preview is usually about 2 minutes, and you can get the URLs for an entire genre via RSS feeds.

So, you can use the Firefox plugin “FlashGot” to automatically download all of the MP3 files that are referenced in the “Top 100” House music RSS feed on Beatport. Then, you can run them through key detection software to get musical key info on them all.

Once you have those samples and key information on them, it’s possible to mix them together live, without ever having listened to the tracks beforehand. Here’s a recording of me mixing 8 tracks in about 10 minutes with this style:

[ Download MP3 ]

It’s a lot of work to keep the mix going, since the samples are so small. I’ve been pretty much warping the tracks in real time, figuring out where the phrases are, getting them sync’d up, and timing the drops. There’s a lot of room for error if you lose concentration, or if you just happen to get a track that doesn’t line up quite right. So having an emergency fallback to save the mix in these bad scenarios would be good..

It’s an interesting technique, for one because it’s free to get these track samples. That saves a lot of money, considering each track is normally either 1.99$ or 2.49$.. — also, the speed of mixing is a lot faster, so it really helps you develop your mixing skills, and forces you to learn recovery techniques.

Probably more on this technique in the future!

Caustik’s New Xone:3D

3D + Ableton Live

My new Xone:3D equipment arrived on Friday. Since then I have been spending a fair amount of my free time obsessing over it, learning all the features, and getting all the components properly pieced together.

The Xone:3D comes with custom face-plates specifically for Ableton Live (which is my DJ tool of choice). There is also a template available for download on the Allen & Heath web site. This template sets up all the configurations for a really great integration with Ableton Live.

The biggest difficulty I have had so far is the lack of Vista 64-bit drivers. Actually, I was unable to get the drivers loaded even on my Vista 32-bit laptop. So, for now, I am actually DJ’ing over remote desktop…as bizarre as that seems.

Current, I have 3 Ableton tracks mapped to 3 mixer inputs on the Xone 3D. From here I can use all the powerful A&H mixing and MIDI controls to manipulate the sounds in whatever ways I’d like. Later I will post some videos of mixer tricks I have figured out.

I then use ASIO4ALL and Ableton Live to wire the Xone 3D’s sound card output (Mix Output) to the sound output of a small USB sound card on my PC which is running over remote desktop. This allows me to hear and record the output of the mixer without having to use special hardware. In a gig scenario, this would instead pipe directly to the house stereo.

So I gotta say I really love this new setup and I can’t wait to see all the things that can be done with it. I will be posting more about this new equipment as I get more familiar with it.