Like the rest of the world, we watched Apple’s recent Spring Forward product announcement with bated breath. Our eyes misted over at the thought of a sleek, sensual, rose gold MacBook and as much as we hate to admit it, we’d buy a $10,000 gold Apple Watch, charge it to Shane Smith and then slowly caress it for hours if we could get away with it. But I digress.
Yesterday, DJ Tech Tools (FYI, DJ Tech Tools is a blog about tech tools for DJs) brought up a very good point about Cupertino’s latest offering, which is that it isn’t very good for laptop DJs.
Lets look at the specs. The new generation of expensive Apple laptops has a single USB-C port. While convenient for literature majors, this one input slot will not play nice with Serato boxes. Its many adaptor dongles, while effective in theory, are prone to breaking or being lost. Its hard drive, though sleek and long-lasting, is non-expandable and will be quickly filled up with your numerous crates. These are all undeniable crippling blows to the new MacBook’s DJ compatibility. Nobody will argue against that. What we will argue, however, is that DJ tech these days is so good that it doesn’t matter what is incompatible with what.
Of course, the first thing you think of when you think about the demise of laptop DJing is the revival of vinyl DJs. Stores that sell vinyl are opening faster than ever, sub-Reddits are awash with advice on which specific turntable is right for you, and most obviously, vinyl DJing is just cooler. That’s not to say that modern CDJs aren’t brilliant in their own right as well.
If you think back to five or ten years ago, CDJs were these hideously expensive, heavy, cumbersome, brutish beasts with terrible interfaces and little functionality for mp3 DJs. Today, in 2015, they’re still hideously expensive, but much better in every other conceivable way. When you plug an SD card into a CDJ-2000, a glorious high-resolution display comes to life. All your tracks are easy to navigate, meaning you don’t need to squint at your laptop screen. An immensely satisfying mechanical dial allows you to browse through your songs, meaning you aren’t hopelessly two-finger swiping and missing the song that you’re looking for. RekordBox even allows each CDJ to share data, which, if you don’t know what any of that means, is a very good thing.
Pioneer’s CDJ-2000 was such a monumental success when it launched that most DJs began specifically requesting them in their tech riders. This meant that any clubs that booked DJs needed to have them, which in turn meant that any club you were planning to play at would also have them. Unless you lived in rural Alabama (ouch, by the way) you could use the very same hardware that David Guetta used to press play on his pre-recorded sets.
The tech landscape for prospective DJs has never been better. Vinyl is accessible, CDJs are brilliant, and innovative gear continues to impress. If you have access to all that and still have trouble DJing, don’t blame Apple-blame yourself.
Ziad Ramley is on Twitter
Photo by Kris Krug courtesy of Wikimedia Commons