Two Computers and a Microphone [Ray Gun, Dec
As MP3 technology blows up, software like the Tactile12000 breeds
virtual DJs. Ben Running gets the scoop.
The MP3 revolution poses a big threat to some, while others herald
it as the most promising new digital technology to spring forth
in years. However you slice it, it has the potential to change the
way you listen to music.
There is, of course, nothing inherently illegal about MP3 technology;
it's the use of it that has music industry bigwigs sweating. After
all, what is the digital music on compact disc, but a series of
ones and zeroes - ones and zeroes that can be reproduced and transmitted
by computers exactly and infinitely. MP3 compression has turned
a world of console cowboys (and girls) into download DJs, giving
free access to hundreds of thousands of illegally copied songs.
Thus far, much to the chagrin of music executives everywhere, the
MP3 story has been a victory for the underdog. Several largely failed
attempts at "secure" digital music formats that prevent
illegal copying have since coe and gone (the Microsoft secure music
format was cracked on the day it was released). A barrage of anti-MP3
sentiment fro the Recording Industry Association of America has
done little as well. eanwhile, support for MP3 technology has gone
from the underground realm of siple music players to the mainstream
world of Macromedia's Shockwave Flash web development tools and
Apple's QuickTime media software (to name a few). Web sites like
mp3.com and emusic.com have become major hubs for the legal distribution
of music, and you won't find a major web search engine lacking an
MP3 locator these days. Diamond Multimedia took the big first step
in moving MP3 from the computer to the street with its Rio portable
digital music player, and was quickly followed by a bevy of other
manufacturers. As a sure sign that the superpowers of the digital
world are giving in, Sony has even announced a product that plays
digital audio files in addition to compact discs.
Recently released software fro Tactile Pictures throws a new spin
on MP3 - quite literally. The Tactile12000 is a digital recreation
of a fully equipped DJ rig, complete with two scratchable turntables,
a cross-fader, tempo control, record cueing, and of course, the
ability to load your own MP3s for mixing. I must admit, I expected
to become an instant turntable terrorist and was a bit disappointed
at first (perhaps due to my lack of proper MP3 source material -
raw beats, loops and house tracks). After an hour of mixing and
scratching, back-cueing and cross-fading, I finally got the hang
of things. The 33/45 control, paired with the precise tempo adjustment,
makes beat-matching a breeze. You can even drag the turntable arm
around to move forward and back in a track. Smooth. I was a bit
miffed to discover that I couldn't save the mixes that I was creating.
That is, create a new MP3 file of my own turntable wizardry. Once
it hits the speakers, your work is gone. But never fear - plans
for the future include streaming your mixed output back to the net
for all to hear.
While the Tactile12000 may not satisfy the most seasoned DJs in
the crowd, it is an endless source of entertainment for novices
and definitely scratches the turntable itch. And if turntablism
isn't your bag, take advantage of Tactile12000's Auto DJ feature.
Just kick back and let the software do all the work for you, smoothly
mixing together all the tracks in your playlist. True slacker bliss.
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