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  • #31
    What’s a DJ setup without a mixer? Let’s take a look at what Torq has to offer.

    Referring to the first attached image, the mixer section is highlighted. The main controls are arranged to the left and right of the meter, which instead of showing stereo, shows the left deck level in the left meter, and the right deck level in the right meter.

    The top control sets incoming gain for purposes of level-matching (+/-12dB). The next three controls are for Highs, Mids, and Lows. The buttons next to each of these controls (including gain) are Kill buttons that, going from top to bottom, mute the channel, highs, mids, and lows. The knobs themselves have center detents – helpful when you’re trying to get back to the nominal setting. Note that everything described so far has a one-to-one correspondance on-screen.

    For those not familiar with the way DJs work, the kill switches are important. Kill the bass, let the track ride for a few measures, and bring the bottom crashing back in.

    Again referring to the screen shot, the next two buttons don’t seem to have direct physical counterparts (if they do, calling Chad – please point them out to me; they select line inputs (assigned under preferences) that cut off whatever is playing on Torq’s decks, and allow bringing in external signals – like maybe the output from a guitar rig of a crazed guitarist jamming along with you, a phrase sampler where you sampled audience members saying crazy things before the show, or whatever.

    Next down are the PFL buttons (pre-fader levels). These have large, corresponding buttons toward the top of each deck so that they’re easy to hit, but difficult to hit accidentally. Or maybe they’re placed where they are because there was no room left in the mixer section itself. In any event, PFL is what allows you to cue up tunes and listen to what you’re doing without the audience hearing it, because the volume feeding your phones is independent of the output level. For traditional recording fans, this is like the pre/post switch on sends, where you can pick up the signal before or after the channel fader.

    Next the channel signals go to the crossfader, so you can do crossfading and scratching. This crossfader has a very cool option: You can change the actual crossfader curve at the computer, and this isn’t a preference – you can do it any time, even in the middle of a performance. It's not switched; you can choose any curve between equal power (the same curve used for panning) and hard cut, which allows switching rapidly between cuts and ending up at full volume. This is almost like switching between channels instead of crossfading. Also note that below the PFL button, there’s an XFADE graphic. If you click on this, it swaps the crossfader’s channels – moving the crossfader to the left selects the right deck, and moving the crossfader to the right selects the left deck.

    Finally, there are two very useful “transform” buttons to the left and right of the crossfader. They basically send the associated directly to the deck, regardless of the crossfader setting. For example, assume the crossfader is all the way to the right. Hitting the left transform button injects the left deck signal directly into the mix. I find this very cool for adding rhythmic accents from one deck to the other. There’s one anomaly: When you hit the physical buttons, the virtual buttons light. When you click on the virtual buttons, they don’t light. Not a big deal, but I just wanted to let you know I was paying attention.

    Those are the mixer basics. Overall, it’s fluid and fast, I do wish the EQ knobs had a slightl larger diameter – I’m into real-time manipulation, and I have big fingers – but in practice, this doesn’t really make much different. On the plus side, the knobs have just enough resistance that if you brush up against a knob accidentally while moving another knob, the knob you brushed against almost certainly won’t move. The other ergonomic feature I really like is that the kill switches are inside the rows of knobs. This makes it really easy to hit kill switches for both channels simultaneously, which can produce very dramatic effects if done right.

    Next, we’ll move on to the output stage and master controls.
    CHECK IT OUT: Lilianna!, my latest song, is now streamable from YouTube.

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    • #32
      We've already skimmed this subject, but let's go deeper.

      One of the things that appeals to me about digital DJing is not having to carry around a case of vinyl. Hey, that stuff is heavy and no, I don't care whether people think I'm macho or not. But another advantage of the digital approach is being able to database all your music - you don't have to flip through records until you find the one you want, but can search for it and even find out certain characteristics, like tempo in BPM, which you might not remember otherwise.

      The Browser is very much like the Windows Explorer, which is very much like the tree structure that the Mac introduced in System if you've used a computer, you'll understand how to browse. You can browse what's in your computer, as well as external devices like external hard drives, or MP3 players that can be recognized by your computer as an external storage device. I feel the best way to deal with the browser is to buy yourself a big honkin' USB 2.0 or FireWire hard drive (internal or external), and dedicate your music collection to that drive. By centralizing everything to one drive, you can back it up easily, and go through minimal mouse clicks while browsing.

      However, the Browser is about a lot more than just looking through your computer for files, as it has several dedicated elements (see the attached image).

      Database: You can add folders of music to the database, which includes search functionality. It seems this doesn't add the files contained in the folder, but rather, points to the folder (wherever it is - computer, external drive, etc.) and extracts relevant information from any ID3 tags embedded in the file. Note, however, that you can enter information here as well; for example, ID3 tags seldom include the key, but you can enter that yourself. All this data gets stored in the associated .TQD file mentioned earlier.

      I'm not sure where the database file is stored, so I'm not sure how you'd back it up...Chad, can you enlighten me? However, note that the Database isn't just a static, read-only option; you can drag file names into the decks just as you would from the desktop, or when exploring your computer. (Technically speaking, you can think of the database as similar to "indexing" on Windows and Mac, where the computer learns where material is to speed up searches. In fact, when you add a folder to the database, there's a delay while ).

      My Music (or Music on the Mac): This is one click away from accessing the default music folder for Mac or Windows.

      Playlists: These are collections of songs (in whatever order you specify) that you can pop into a set as needed, or prepare in advance for complex sets. Another type of playlist, the Session Playlist, keeps track of what you've done since launching Torq. This is pretty cool, because if you do something really inspired, you'll be able to analyze exactly what you did.

      The Browser can also access iTunes if you have it installed on your computer (and specify under preferences that you want to make it accessible to the browser), as well as access music stored on a connected iPod (but not the iPod Shuffle, or music stored on an iPhone/iTouch).

      By the way, note the headphone button in the lower left: This lets you audition whateveryou're browsing.
      CHECK IT OUT: Lilianna!, my latest song, is now streamable from YouTube.

      Subscribe, like, and share the links!