Booth Blast Off
Frederick offers an inside-the-booth perspective on the technologies
that are changing the art of the DJ
By John Landers
Mark Frederick is a master of multitasking.
As the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Numark Industries,
Alesis, and Akai Professional, he has to be. In addition to
his obvious enthusiasm for every aspect of his work, Frederick
has a creative side. “I’m a musician,” he
explains. “I love music, and I love the gear.”
While Frederick is keenly aware of the nature of the nightclub
business, it’s clear that his sympathies lie with the
DJ. Frederick understands the different challenges facing
club owners and system installers, but his primary concern
is with the artist in the booth. “We’re proud
of the technology that Numark is bringing to the DJ,”
he explains. In an industry where fashion often trumps function,
Frederick’s focus on giving the DJ better tools to create
and entertain seems refreshing (and almost noble).
Don’t mistake his artistic concerns for naivete, however.
This industry veteran knows what’s what. “I’ve
been involved with Alesis for 17 years,” Frederick notes,
“and I’ve been involved with Numark going on four
and half years now.” The corporate connection with Alesis
and Akai Professional gives Numark added resources in researching
and developing products. “That’s one of the reasons
that Numark has this technology that other DJ companies don’t
In order to better understand Numark’s implementation
of video and hard drive technologies, as well their implications
for clubland, we caught up with Frederick via cell phone and
played an impromptu game of 20 Questions.
||A DJ gets a taste of Numark’s
The DVD01is the DJ industry’s
only dual DVD player with pitch control.
What prompted Numark to get involved
with video technology for DJs? The whole history
of the DJ is about two channels of audio. You started with
turntables, then CDs came in when technology changed, but
it’s always been about the stereo mix — stereo
headphones and stereo PA systems in a stereo world. In the
last few years, the DJ has bought a laptop computer, but even
when he was downloading MP3 files there were still just two
audio channels. Now there’s a video iPod, and the only
thing missing is affordable and convenient products for the
DJ to incorporate video into his two-channel stereo world.
Numark is the only DJ company to offer three affordable audio/video
products. We all agree that the world’s going to change,
but if a DJ wants to incorporate video into his work now,
Our first product is the DVD01. This is the DJ industry’s
only dual DVD player with pitch control. There’s no
other dual DVD player out there that allows you to play your
DVDs and actually pitch them up and down. And it’s rack-mountable.
That makes sense for club applications,
given the size of most DJ booths. It’s especially
nice to be able to simply fit gear into an existing rack if
you’re doing a retrofit.
So, you’ve got your dual DVD
player, but what do you mix it with? Numark makes
the only affordable audio/video mixer out there - the AVM01.
There are other video mixers out there, but they don’t
allow you to mix audio at the same time. That means you have
to mix your audio on this audio mixer, mix your video on that
video mixer, and how do you sync them? Why can’t I have
everything in one box? The AVM01 is the only audio/video mixer
for DJs. It allows you mix audio and video together or separately.
You can pan from one video image to another without changing
the audio, or you can synchronize your audio while you’re
doing your wipes and fades and other editing, all in the same
That sounds much more user-friendly.
It saves you the expense of buying two separate mixers, plus
it eliminates the technical issues of trying to plumb two
different mixers into an already-cramped DJ booth.
Exactly. You can connect your turntables, CD players, and
DVD players to the AVM01. You can also connect your video
cameras to it. You can mix the live action from the dancefloor
with your video content, with your choice of audio, all in
the same mixer.
Now DJs can seamlessly mix music
videos with live action and other eye candy? Yes,
but how do DJs monitor all of that video content? Numark is
the only DJ company offering a rack-mountable, triple-screen,
5.5-inch video monitor setup with our VM03. There are other
companies that will sell you rack-mount LCD displays, but
we’re the only one that has an adjustable tilt angle.
Depending on the type of system you’re using, whether
it’s a flat, horizontal, table-top arrangement, or an
angled or even vertical rack, you can adjust the screen so
you don’t have to tilt your head or bend to see it.
You can monitor your different video sources from any position.
DJs are different heights, rack
systems come in various configurations, and you need a monitor
that can accommodate any situation. If you can’t see
it, you can’t mix it effectively. Correct.
||The VM03 is rack-mountable,
with three 5.5-inch video monitors.
So a DJ can adjust the VM03 to get
the perfect viewing angle? No worries about glare from ambient
lighting in the club? Without having to move your
entire rack. You just adjust the angle of your video screen.
Since this is all new equipment, and a lot of DJs are not
yet educated about video technology, they’re going to
feel more comfortable using a complete system from one company.
For a club installation, you’ve got your dual DVD player
that connects straight up the to the audio/video mixer and
your triple-screen video monitor, all made by Numark, all
easy to install, and all designed to work with each other.
The video mixer can send a signal to all of the displays throughout
the club, and accept live camera input. It’s a way for
DJs to bring added value to what they do.
And for venue owners, it’s a way to give patrons a better
clubbing experience and maximize the return on their video
And there are no similar products being offered at anywhere
near these prices.
It all started with the turntable, and then CDs came along
and DJs evolved. In the last couple of years, we’ve
started to embrace MP3 files. Now, over 40 million iPods have
been sold in the world. It’s just a hard drive with
magic dust sprinkled on it, but everyone wants to buy one.
The cool thing about the iPod is that your entire music library
can fit in your pocket. If a DJ can open his mind, he can
carry his tunes anywhere. He’ll never have to cart around
vinyl or CDs again. The iPod does have some limitations. You
can’t pitch an iPod up or down. Numark has taken that
concept and introduced a couple of products specifically for
club use. We’ve got a brand new tabletop digital CD
player called the HDX.
The hard drive turntable?
Exactly. This is for the DJ who’s gone from turntables
to CDs. Now he’s thinking about incorporating hard discs
into his work, but he doesn’t want to completely eliminate
his CD collection. He also has MP3 files on his CDs. The HDX
is a tabletop CD player with 12-inch vinyl touch, so you can
control your CDs and MP3 files just like you can with a turntable.
There’s also a built-in, removable hard drive.
Why do you want a hard drive?
A DJ can now load his entire song library into the 80GB hard
drive, either from his computer or from CDs. It’s bigger
than the hard drive in an iPod, and it’s a standard
IDE drive. Yes, you can pitch it up and down. Yes, you can
play all different formats of digital audio, not just MP3.
And you can record your performance while you’re playing.
DJs have never had a true recording product before. You can
be using the HDX at a gig, with either CDs or the hard drive,
sending the audio to your mixer, and then taking the stereo
output of the mixer back into the input of the HDX. You can
record your performance.
All at the same time? Let
me clarify: You can be playing two different stereo tracks
off your hard drive and recording to the hard drive at the
same time. There’s never been a DJ product with a built-in
hard drive with this feature. Also, it’s a removable
hard drive, so you can actually pull the drive right off the
front. You don’t have to open up the HDX like your computer.
You can pull the hard drive and have your entire song library
in your pocket. You never have to bring your CD collection
around again. Imagine if all clubs had this. A DJ could just
walk up, pull his hard drive out, pop it into the HDX, and
you’d have instant access to your entire library.
That would be a major advantage,
especially for traveling DJs. It’d be great to always
have the right track, for the right crowd, right now.
It’s 80GB, and it can hold thousands of songs. DJs can
back up their collections to multiple hard drives. Imagine
if all of your CDs were stolen. You’re screwed. You
can back up your hard drive to another hard drive. You can
keep different drives for different genres, so if you wanted
to an 80s party or some type of techno party, you can bring
that specific hard drive and pop into the HDX.
And you can spend more time reading
the crowd and having fun with your mixing, instead of flipping
through CD books or endless crates of vinyl, looking for appropriate
material. The HDX will search by song title, by artist,
and it’s got a database so you can pop a song into it
and the HDX will automatically know it’s Madonna’s
second album, and it’s automatically going to know all
of the songs on that album with the correct spelling. You
don’t have enter all of that information for each individual
HDX lets DJs spin CDs and
That’s quite a time-saving
feature. Since the HDX has a full 12-inch platter,
you can work it just like a turntable. You can scratch. It
responds to everything. You can manipulate all of those songs
on your hard drive. And you can use it with your CDs as well.
Any guest DJ walking into a booth
equipped with an HDX would be comfortable with the interface,
and he or she could use it with any form of digital music.
Whether he brought CDs or a hard drive, he’s ready to
go. Numark is the first company to put removable hard drives
directly inside of their CD players. I don’t know how
old you are, but I grew up with an 8-track player in my car.
Then it went to two-track cassettes. Then it went to CD. Now
everything has gone to hard disk. Numark is the first DJ technology
company to make hard disk products affordable and convenient
for clubs and DJs. If you don’t want a tabletop CD format,
if you’d rather have a dual CD player that you can put
in a rack, Numark is now shipping a dual CD deck with an internal
80GB hard drive called the HDCD1. This is the same thing as
an HDX, but with a dual CD player. You can play from the CD
drives or from the hard drive. Since the hard drive is dual
streaming, you can play two songs from the hard drive at the
same time. You never have to use the CD slots if you don’t
want to. You can just go back and forth, playing songs all
night long. It’s great for permanent installations.
With more and more clubs embracing
open format, DJs need fast access to a wider range of music.
If you’re going to play across multiple genres, it helps
to have an 80GB library. Both of these hard disk
products are USB 2.0, so you can connect them to your computer.
You can back up all of your songs on your computer or vice
versa. Both products have a database so as soon as you load
a song, it knows the title and artist and files it that way.
You can connect the computer keyboard, so if you do want to
enter data you can. Or you can search for all songs with the
word “love” in the title. The computer age is
really here for the club DJ. He still feels like a DJ. He’s
not hauling a laptop around. These are professional DJ products
that have hard drives built into them, to make it easy and
affordable for any venue. Numark is the technology leader.
There’s no other company bringing affordable hard drive
and video products to nightclubs.
Numark’s latest makes everyone a DJ.
For lounges and non-weekend parties
iPod nights are increasing in popularity. Now, Numark’s
offering gear that encourages ‘pod-karaoke.’
“There’s nothing magical about plugging a cable
into the analog audio output,” Frederick notes. “With
the Numark iDJ...people bring up their iPods, plug them into
the iDJ, and move the crossfader. Since it has instant start,
they feel like real DJs...Did I mention that it has turntable
and CD inputs?”
He adds, “pitch is actually a limitation of the iPod...Of
course, Numark is working on another product that will allow
you to do that, and Numark is working with Apple engineers
to make this affordable in the future.” – JL