new Velocity dual-CD player has everything from true touch-sensitivity
to a lockout feature for when the jock has to use the can.
Sales manager John Brown gives up the details.
By John Landers
American Audio’s John Brown is a busy man. As national
sales manager for American DJ’s growing audio division,
Brown is in constant motion. A familiar figure at industry
conventions like the NAMM trade show and the International
DJ Expo, he’s well known for his enthusiasm and energy.
Brown is justifiably proud of his company’s ever-expanding
product line, and he preaches the gospel of American Audio
to everyone within earshot.
Despite his hectic schedule, Brown says he always makes time
for the people who use his company’s products on a professional
basis, and he appreciates end-user feedback and constructive
criticism. “DJs have no problem coming up to me and
saying, ‘You know, you did a really cool thing on this,
but …’ That ‘but’ is where I go to
work,” he says. Brown’s continuing attention to
his customers’ needs has helped American Audio in the
marketplace, and it’s paid off on a more personal level,
too. “My business card has my cell number,” Brown
says, “and I hand it out to all these DJs. I couldn’t
do that if I was selling shit.”
of John Brown’s recent pet projects has been the development
and launch of American Audio’s high-performance dual
CD player, the Velocity. This radical dual deck represents
something of a departure for American Audio, which has a well-earned
reputation for solid, competitively priced products. Although
the company has achieved more than its share of technological
firsts, consumers tend to associate the brand more with value
Brown is convinced that this sophisticated new product will
help bring American Audio the respect and recognition it deserves.
“The Velocity is much more than a CD player,”
he says. “It’s truly a complete digital instrument
for the DJ and the remixer.” Indeed, the versatile Velocity
has been embraced by many high-profile digital DJs since its
introduction. Even the most cynical members of the online
CD DJ community have been favorably impressed by the Velocity’s
features, performance, and price tag. Various web forums offer
unsolicited testimonials from delighted deck owners.
The Velocity is certainly equipped to take on the other major
players in the premium dual deck market. It boasts nine built-in
effects, real-time scratching, true instant start, fader start,
seamless looping, a BPM counter, ten seconds of anti-shock
memory per side, and +/- 4, 8, 16, or even 100% pitch control.
“Your hands can actually create all of the sounds, tracks,
and mixes you’ve ever heard or imagined in your head,”
Brown claims. And you can do it all on the fly and for under
Despite Brown’s infectious optimism, it’s too
early to tell if the Velocity will displace other, more-established
products and become a true nightclub standard. The professional
CD player market is highly competitive, and buyers can be
fickle. Some DJs have been reluctant to embrace, or even accept
new technologies. Because of this, club owners and managers
have often been responsible for dragging their DJs deeper
into the digital domain. As increasingly complex and powerful
CD decks are installed in booths around the world, DJs have
been forced to either learn or leave.
Fortunately for all involved, DJs, not electrical engineers,
are now driving product development at certain companies.
User-friendly features have become more important than dubious
gimmicks, and reliability is no longer a luxury. Given the
Velocity’s innovative design, intuitive operation, robust
construction, and attractive pricing, Brown fully expects
American Audio’s elite dual deck to gain widespread
acceptance with both club DJs and owners.
We caught up with Brown via cell phone during his hour-long
morning commute. While negotiating the rush hour traffic,
Brown talked to us about American Audio, the Velocity, and
the future of the digital DJ.
American Audio certainly started a commotion at the
International DJ Expo with the introduction of the Velocity
dual CD player. Were you surprised by the reaction?
No. It’s the most user-friendly scratching piece out
there. We weren’t really sure what the acceptance would
be, going with the four-space controller, but it was the only
way we could do it and do it right. Other guys have come up
with 19-inch units with scratch effects, but then you’ve
got a wheel that’s like two inches – a jog shuttle
wheel. You can’t scratch on that. If you’re trying
to do it in two or even three spaces, you’re not going
to have enough room to put a wheel of any real consequence
on there. [The Velocity has] the same size wheel as our Pro
Is the Velocity related to American Audio’s
Pro Scratch line?
It’s an evolution of the Pro Scratch 2; a rack-mount
For whom was the Velocity designed?
Truthfully, the upscale DJ, the club jock, guys who are into
remixing. It’s a remixer’s dream. You push a button
and you get the effects. You can layer the effects through
our DSP technology. I think we’re still the only one
that has that possibility. You can do trans or echo on top
of it, and throw another one on top of that. You can throw
three effects on together if you want…and the beat counter
synchs the effects to the beat of the music, so it’s
automatically synched and you’re automatically in key.
So the echo effect, for example, is linked to the
track BPM? And DJs can tap in a faster or slower BPM if they
want to alter the timing of the effect?
How about the other effect parameters? Are they adjustable
You can adjust the parameter time and parameter ratio, and
it has six built-in presets. We had four on the Pro Scratch
2, and people loved them so much we went with six on the Velocity.
That way, you can just push a button and it changes you to
Can you tell me about some of the other onboard effects?
You have echo, flange, pan, transform, phase, filter, bop,
Are the effects sent to the digital outputs?
Whatever you hear is going to the digital outs.
What about the Velocity’s “Power Touch”
It’s touch-sensitive. It’s got two different modes:
One is the beat juggling mode, and what that does is take
you back to a preset cue point when you touch one of the wheels.
It’s like beat-juggling on vinyl; you can go from one
side to the other. In the scratch mode, as soon as you touch
the wheel, the track stops – just like putting your
hand on vinyl – and then you can start scratching from
You mentioned that the Velocity’s controls are
“touch-sensitive.” Can you elaborate on that?
The touch sensitivity is such a cool thing. We call it “executive
cue point.” It’s not pressure sensitive, [like
other vinyl-emulating CD players]. The Velocity is touch-sensitive.
As soon as your finger touches
it, it hops right back to the cue point. It’s like those
How do the Velocity’s sample
There are three on each side. These are either hot-starts
or samples. You can adjust the parameters on each sample.
You can bring it in softly, playing in the background. You
can play it one time, or continuously through the whole song.
You can slam it louder than what you’re playing.
So you could drop an acapella into
an instrumental track and remix on the fly?
Do you lose those samples when you
No. The Velocity lets you store up to three sample or cue
points on 128 different discs. When you put a CD back in,
you push the memory button, and it recalls everything you’ve
got set on that disc.
So, if you wanted to tease the crowd
all night with a Missy Elliot vocal sample . . . ?
Not a problem. You can also scratch on that sample
without even having the CD in there.
The Velocity was originally introduced
with a silver faceplate, but now a black version is being
offered, too. Why the change?
We were the first ones to come out with the brushed aluminum
look, back in 1999. The cool thing about the brushed finish
is you don’t get fingerprints on it like you do with
a glossy finish, so your gear always looks clean and nice.
The black is not going to be painted; it’s an anodized
black, just like our brushed finish, but in black. So you’re
still not going to get all the fingerprints, but it’s
a real rich color, and with the silver it looks really, really
With all of these features, won’t
a guest DJ be intimidated if s/he finds a Velocity dual CD
deck in a club’s booth?
The idea with all of our gear, everything we’ve ever
come out with, is that we want any DJ to be able to walk up
to it, and within ten or 15 minutes, be comfortable using
it without a lot of instructions or an owner’s manual
an inch thick.
Even the looping, editing, sampling, and scratching
That’s the whole idea – for anybody to be able
to just walk in, even if he’s never used it before,
and in couple of minutes be able to use it and all of the
functions on it; all of the tricks and tools. Also, one of
the things we do as a company with the Pro Scratch 2, the
PSX, and the Velocity, is include a how-to video, so a guy
doesn’t have to sit down and read a manual. We use [endorsers]
DJ Skilz, Omar Santana, and Gerald “World Wide”
Webb to do the video. It not only provides easy-to-follow
instructions from the pros on how to use the Velocity, but
seeing those phenomenal performers up close will inspire DJs
and further expand the way they play.