My experience in the quest from vinyl to digital deejaying

Dear readers,

Yesterday when I received the Prime 4 unit from Denon DJ, I decided to share with you my experience in the transition from my vinyl days to digital deejaying. The story below are my thoughts / choices / opinions on this subject and related topics and why I ended up buying the P4. My first experience with the P4 and engine prime software, I have places elsewhere in this forum.

Yesterday I finally received the Denon DJ Prime 4! This is my first digital DJ equipment! I have always played on turntables with vinyl in the past in the period from 1991-2005. Two years ago, I regained interest in my hobby from back in the days. I just to deejay in the nighties to halfway of the 00’s. I bought my house music on vinyl in the records stores in the Hague, Amsterdam and sometimes in London,. The last years of that period I mainly bought vinyl via internet shops. In that period I played at parties we organized ourselves as well as in some clubs and venues. At some point in my life, during the part of living together and becoming a father, the time for the hobby and interest faded to the background.

Two years ago I started to regain interest in my old hobby. I sold my old, heavily used and quite busted Technics SL 1200’s. I had always wanted to replace my very worn set with a good second hand set. Unfortunately in those days during high school and college, I never had the cash to replace my turntables. If I had to choose between buying new vinyl or saving up for turntables, the music always won. Now I finally had the money to replace them. I purchased a good second hand set of Technics SL1200 turntables. Bought the mixer I always wanted back then, Dateq XTC. Bought new quality needles and was able to play all of my records on very good set again! I stared to by some music on vinyl (second hand) as well via Discogs. Over the years I managed to collect a lot of the house GEMS I liked. But with a digital marketplace Discogs has, it really enables you to basically find almost anything in my genre (deephouse / techno / house / techhouse ) what you desire. And over the years there were still some classic I had missed out on. With Discogs now, basically 9 out of 10 times the only question is: “Do you like the record enough to “poney up the dough?” to buy it.

Next to buying some vinyl I wanted from back in the days, I also started to buy digital music. In the old days, if you were a house DJ and you wanted to get all the new, best and underground stuff, you had to DJ with vinyl. Now, it’s basically the other way around (except for some exclusive releases on vinyl). You have to buy digital music if you want to be able to play all the stuff you like. Next to starting buying digital music, I also started to think / read / research on digital deejaying. What music file format to use, what equipment is out there, what’s used in the clubs, what software, etc? There are a lot of websites out there, where you can find a lot of usefull information (like e.g. DJ TLM on you tube / Dj city, digital dj tips, DJ Techtools, you tube in general etc). On the music buying side on sites like Beatport or Juno, or on the downloading side, I’m always very critical with what I buy. For me, as I come from the vinyl days, it’s business as usual. Every record would cost you like 8 to 10 euro’s. On most records, you only play one track. Since your budget is limited, you can only buy so much. There were times, when there was more new music out that you liked, then what you could buy. So when I selected the records I wanted to buy in the store, I was always very strict in what I liked enough to buy or what just wasn’t good enough. Even when I download music for free or almost free, I always listen to the music and only take what I’m also willing to buy. Then I separate the music into folders with the classics and with the “general” or not classic status music. These are still very good tracks, but this helps me to find my music better.

When I think back to my vinyl days, for me the covers of the records were my mental aid in remembering the music. And with vinyl, when you went out to play, you always brought the latest records and a good selection of older classics or personal favorites. You could bring like a hundred to 200 records (long sets). Two flight cases, each weighing like 20-25 kg. I tried to recreate this digitally and came up with the following: On the file format in the end I decided to use FLAC. My arguments for this choice are: it’s a lossless type, it can contain metadata as well as artwork (helps me with remembering the music), it’s an “open format (not like Apples AIF or AIFF). On the organization part for my music, I decided to basically create folders which contain a maximum of 100-150 songs. I group songs in the folders based on release date (folder structure like: house classic, subfolder years house classics 1988-1991) and music type (I also have folders like house music, subfolder years 1988-1993, etc.). The music type for me is very broad, I group all house music of the same years in one folder. Disco in a separate folder tree, etc. In the metadata I have also set genre (techno, house, deep house) to help with music selection. Apart from that, I always try to know all of my (digital) music by heart, just like in the vinyl days. When you really know your music, you can deejay better. On the equipment side, in the end I decided I wanted to play like I could with vinyl, but then with all the benefits that come with digital deejaying (effects / manipulate the music, etc). For me this means, not use a laptop (looking sideways at laptop screen all the time) with the best sound quality and all the nice perks controllers have.

So when I read about the Denon DJ prime 4, I was really excited and interested. For me, it ticks all of the boxes I was looking for! It’s standalone (a first), it has all of the performance features the latest controllers have, It looks like it’s build to last, nice screen and it’s prices within a range I’m willing to spend.