Mark Frederick


Booth Blast Off
Numark’s Mark Frederick offers an inside-the-booth perspective on the technologies that are changing the art of the DJ

Mark Frederick

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 have.”

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 video collection.

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, what’s available?

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 box.

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 system investments.

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 track.

HDX lets DJs spin CDs and Mp3s.

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.

Pod Attack  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



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Copyright 2005 Club Systems International Magazine
Copyright 2005 TESTA Communications