Test BPM Studio 4 Pro with RCP 2001 Remote Control / Heiner Kruse
The next step within the area "computer DJ" is on... the hardware comes. BPM Studio offers several, particularly adapted remote controls as the first professional DJ program directly. These resemble in Design, appearance of material and differences in capability characteristics, to the entire product range of available Denon DJ CD players without being similar to them. The program of the company ALCATech from Sonneberg is already inserted with hardware by Antenne Thüringen and is nevertheless also an already well-known picture on the display of the home DJ, which sprinkles his party guests from the computer. A gastronome can spread out the sound with the sister program
BPM Gastro up to 6 spaces from a computer with different kind of musics. After we have already tested the native instruments tractor here, I save more dissoluting gossip this time about ethical aspects of the transformation from the DJ to the computerjockey and will make it briefly – it will become still long enough.
BPM Studio offers self-developed Kernel drivers, which support almost all usual audio cards – also for Notebooks - (e.g. WaMi box or RME case of hammer). These enable a troublefree operation even on the simplest systems with a latency of 4ms (!) – which worked perfectly in the test. That is a fantastic value which garuantees the full applicability in the deeds - so BPM Studio is in the front of all competitors with a very important point – and qualifies itself thereby for a further, detailed test. It is possible to operate very precisely even without a remote control and only with the mouse with the usual keys CUE and PLAY. With Direct sound drivers 20 to 30ms, which are acceptable, can be achieved according to the guidance (in the test: 23ms). The version number of of the tested version is 4.1. under Windows 98, the new version 4.2., which works with selected soundcards also under Windows 2000 and XP, enables even latencies up to 2ms, according to ALCATech in optimal configuration, this was already tested.
Apart from the two drives, which are able to play MP3 or audio files, the program can head an inserted CD player and a Sample Player simultaneously, which is equipped with its own playing editor and represents a separate "Jingle machine" as a main point. In the long run BPM Studio is in the position to play up to 14 MP3` s at the same time. Different storable Cue points, loop functions, automatic adjustment of speed and rate modifications with continuous pitch (master speed) round off the comfort of the player. BPM Studio offers as extra tools a MP3-Decoder/Encoder, a CD-Writer program, a layout -/print program, a mixer with fade automation and EQ ' s, a type of Sample Editor, a Compressor/Limiter (AGC), a real time BPM Counter, complex data base and archiving functions as well as a user administration and network functions.
In the total, a program, which follows some similar and nevertheless also completely different beginnings than e.g. the native instrument program tractor which was tested here some months ago. BPM Studio alone (without external mixer) is rather a studio with several playing devices, file, cut space, master station and Faderstart as a battlemixer. But: you can assign a single output to each player and also to the monitor, and so the cards will be mixed again.
Denon CD players are, in the CD-DJ area, something like a Technics SL 1210 Mk2 is the Vinyl area: a standard. The large mass of the commercial disk riders works with CD players in huge discos, clubs or for private celebrations already today. So fewer materials must be dragged, Samplers will be burned and....a DJ, who wants to cover all the usual music desires would get the current repertoire, even if it was desired, only hardly together completely on vinyl. With orientation at the Denon user guide, ALCATech wants to facilitate the change for the DJ ' s mentioned above.
Roughly said, it works that way: you mark one point, where you want to start. In addition you can play the tracks, press play/break sometimes, adjust the exact starting point with the lookup keys or the Jogwheel and determine the Cue point by printing the Cue button then. For playing, only play must be pressed then. BPM Studio permitts the saving of several Cue points additionally as well as the Jumps to these points with continuing play mode – CD players were not able to do this so far yet.
The further operation is so, as it could be expected: Pitch area between 8, 16 and 24%, selectable with a possible pitch correction. The Jog Wheel behaves similarly as with the Denon 2600, while finding a point within the piece in the software resembles the method with the old 2000er Denon without remote control: Printing the before/rewind keys releases a scroll, first slow, later fast. But you have the chance to bounce to one point e.g. in the middle or end of the piece vía a further beam. There is also a Brake function which emulates the stopping or starting of a disk convincingly and its speed can be selected within a certain area – so to speak from the belt drive to the 1210er sound. Finally a bold desire would be an even self-definable Brake effect with the parameters playing direction, terminal velocity in % and duration up to achieving the terminal velocities (process recordable as a curve ) e.g. with the Drum& bass a disk is fast turned back and not stopped when "rewinding".
There exists an automix function in form of a BPM Counter, which works quite reliably, even if it seems to be unnecessary, to select the BPM area beforehand (e.g. 150-300). Player A can set itself to the same BPM number as Player B automatically. On the other hand automatic "Halftimemixes" can be realized by this small awkwardness now. The starting point for the mix entrance, however, must be marked and found by the DJ , what is no deficiency, surely.
In the opposite to a CD device, you have to get used to the circumstance that e.g. track No. 1 appears within the display of the external remote control sometimes , after you have selected it by button, while track 2 is still playing... to prevent this, the new track has to be loaded by printing the button load first. That can be done fast and is also an intention, because in that way the DJ can load tracks also without having a view on the monitor. But nevertheless I find, the display should never show, what is not ready for the playing regularly – anyhow not at the same place, where you can see, what is being played otherwise (within the computer monitor display this conflict does not exist, however)
The possibility, to loop sections from the music represents one of the substantial advantages for the CD/Mp3 DJ opposite to the colleagues using vinyl and can lead to a completely different technique of putting on a record ("load a track"), which has many in common with a live performance. For creating the Loop, several possibilities can be chosen with BPM Studio: The Loop Sampler, which can be served on the display, and making the Loop with the remote control 2001 A or B. The latter works similarly as with Denon again: The loop jumps between the loop points A and B towards and here. These are set as follows: Basically by hand through printing the buttons A or B during the music plays. Afterwards, similarly as in the case of the Cue point, a fine adjustment can take place. The other possibility: you can define a point B vía the Player independently, after a marking of the point A, which is situated exactly one tact behind it. Furthermore the "Beat Stepping" function permits the hopping with the same loop length to a later place of the track. The key exit -/reloop enables the going out of the loop play mode, back to the normal playback. Once defined loops can be put onto the 6 Cue buttons of the remote control or onto the Sample Player, if this is within the loop mode, and to be used again and again. Result: Clear advantages in the opposite to a CD player when making the loops , but NI tractor has a new, fantastic feature, which is being missed here: Tractor can set loops in 3 different, professed lengths independently automatically during the play, which is substantially more intuitive... but you can defind several non-standard loops more comfortably and directly. Also BPM Studio can define even a loop of a tact length... but for that, the player has to be stopped before, unfortunately.
Surprisingly, the program offers a Loop Sampler additionally, which actually pleases me still better than the loop functions of the professional remote control: These can take up a loop, which can be edited subsequently within a wave shape display and being played forwards and backwards. The Clou: The thing plays additionally to the normal playback, is equipped with an own volume- and pitch ruler, and can also be routed to the monitor output.
Making Loops with BPM Studio in both versions particularly permits also the following: I can branch during the piece to a loop... and take up the playback in another place towards the end of the piece again.
The Sample Player is still a further feature, which works together with the Loop Sampler only in that way, as the defined loops –with or without remote control –can be put onto the 9 buttons of the Sample Player.
It has its own output within the mixer and plays completing to the other drives again – as said, BPM-Studio can play up to 14 MP3` s at the same time. A push onto a button of the 9 keys solves out the Sample or the loop, whereby different run modes can be selected, among other things whether a second printing plays the Sample from the beginning again or if the play will be terminated.
This Tool is suitable, to bring in Jingles or small transitions excellently... surely optimally for each radio station. The capacity of this dream machine is limited only by the workspace of the computer.
From the Sample Player the Editor of the Sample Player can be reached comfortably , parameters, such as Sample selection, volume, pitch, loop on/off and Fade in/out can be regulated right here....and the actual Sample Editor, where the length of loops and Samplestart can be processed. Thereby it is very simple, to occupy a button with another Sample occasionally.
The internal mixer consists of 5 stereo channels: Player A, Player B, the CD player, Sample Player, master and monitor. The Player can be pre-heard vía the monitor channel, the master channel regulates the total volume. BPM Studio is appropriate above all, to be attached to an external mixer. Different outputs can be assigned to the individual players and the monitor, so that they can be connected to an external mixer like a double CD drive or 3 record players - if their sound cards have so many different outputs. Otherwise, outputs can be used also by several players at the same time. For the actual master channel there is no link, however. The conceptional difference of the tractor becomes very clear right here: A master and a monitor channel for the connection to the external mixer can be found at tractor – but the individual player can not be attached to the mixer channels individually, unless, you would route one to the monitor and the other to the master channel improvisingly . Tractor directs to a mixture of its two drives within the program. The BPM solution pleases me better right here, because it designates operating in the old-familiar way with the DJ mixer – but that is a matter of taste, surely.
Furthermore the BPM solution is not only DJ-, but also radio-friendly here. So BPM studio offers a graphic equalizer, 14-taped, with optional limiter, whose adjustments can be saved and used for Player A,B and a CD player. First impression: you can not make any drastic modifications, but it is beautiful for the sound fine purification, e.g. if you want to play a disk from the 70s in the radio according to a current hit. This type of EQ is not intended for the DJ, who wants to turn out the bass from a track when he is mixing, surely – because he would have to serve, I would estimate, about seven small regulators. There
are no handily EQ ' s or filters as this can be found at tractor and here it becomes clear again, too : The professional DJ should operate with the external mixer first , while he should make mixes inside of the program with tractor. The BPM Fader in the center of the "rack", which is separated from the main mixer, offers some comfortable Fade program options and automations with different Fade curve courses and the option to join the playlists of the two players to only one playlist by the zipper system.
The Automatic Gain Control (AGC) of BPM Studio sounds quite good at the first impression and offers additional parameters, apart from the usual adjustments like Threshold, Attack and release: Target marks the target output level, Scope indicates the max. correction permission by the AGC. If a level point is situated over the target value e.g. more as adjusted within the Scope value, it will be only lowered for the Scope value. In addition to this type of the volume adjustment a classical limiter can be set at the end of the chain, too. The Equalizer has to facilitate, like the AGC, the possibility to mix together material of different volume homogeneously.
Additionally, the mixer can add 2 input ports of external signal sources as well as record the total of all signals with a recorder.
The recorder enables the record of the performance inclusively of the external channels - as a WAV or Mp3 file directly. In interaction with the streaming function it is possible to transmit the master signal to a streaming server from BPM Studio directly – finished is the internet sender. If you require a visual accessory for your performance, the recorder signal can also be passed on to a WinAmp visualization Plug in.
The printing onto the button "Ripper" opens the CD unit, which is offered as a third player with the same DJ mix functions as the Player A and B... so in principle, this converts your computer CD Rom drive into a DJ drive , but this can not to be served vía the the remote control , unless you pulled the complete CD from the CD player into the Player A or B simply. The latency values are displayed with 4ms when selecting the Kernel driver, too – in the test, the play button (with mouse-click) actually worked without any noticeable delay. Also pitch, pitch Bend and loop Sampler ran perfectly. Only the branching back to the selected CUE point lasted a few time longer.
Here the program for copying CD ' s is integrated on the hard disk – alternatively with or without any transformation into the Mp3 format, and this worked quite briskly. The Clou: When printing the key CDDB, the program is being connected automatically and without opening an Explorer window including CD database servers, which store CD titles text-moderately, this makes sense, if the CD does not use the format CD text. I create the test, shift in my "air –Moon Safari" CD, press CDDB... and the program actually finds out that this is that CD, even if it suggests two alternatives, but I reject this manually. Afterwards it designates all the pieces of the CD automatically, so the annoying naming for my new Mp3` s, which must be stored, is omitted. At the same time, the program noted all those which were inserted before, unnamed CD ' s and looks up for the titles within the database, so that they will appear possibly, when inserting the latter.
The CD reader is considerably comfortable also in many other ways. It allows, for example the copying of a mix CD with several index points in the "RK once" mode. The Encoder permits a conversion of WAV files into the Mp3 format. The CD Writer provides similarly headlines, which are quite positive. Audio CD ' s and data CD ' s can be burned, e.g. for the export of the Mp3 data base. And you can transfer complete playlists into the burning program (?) simply. The titles and lengths will be burnt as CD text on audio CD ' s when desired, if your burner accepts this. If the Writer supports CD-RW ' s, sections of the CD-RW can be eliminated very comfortably through printing "Erase". Result: A genuine workstation, switching to separate burning programs are not necessary any more.
There is a Playlist section, consisting either from one window or from two (1 window per Player) as well as a File Archive display, which can be inserted instead of the mixer or the CD players. Played titles will be saved as one playlist automatically with their date and can be used again. In that way, a successful evening can be reconstructed in, or sent to the GEMA J within the print designer directly. In contrast to tractor, the mix with all its details and automatic controller movements can not be recorded and revised in the Overdub mode in several passages. Which program permits the better performance here, is not said thereby, because instead of this you can turn the regulators of the external mixer as used to.
Furthermore, the program-own archiving and data base functions are rather widely with BPM Studio. So, for example, entries of the File Archive can be sorted alphabetically according to different columns, when you click onto the respective column. Furthermore, many arbitrary groups and sub-groups can be applied from BPM Studio. The entries within the respective files, which can be called e. g. songs played, styles, current CD ' s or artists, are only references to the original files, which do not cost as much memory, so a track can be represented in several files easily, without having to be on the disk physically for several times. The main difficulty in many situations, when putting on a record, the finding of a searched track, will belong to the past with BPM Studio. Above this, there is still a "file search"– dialog. The playlist and the file section offer a small extra pre-hear player additionally, which allude the tracks without necessary loading into the main player, and route them to the monitor channel. That means, you are able to pre-hear e.g. also tracks from the playlist for Player B, while this player is running. Slowly it becomes clear to me, how you can get into the temptation to play 14 Mp3` s at the same time.
The print designer rounds off the possibilities of editorial operating. Naturally playlists, whole files, groups or sub-groups with various layout possibilities can be printed out. Particularly interesting is still the possibility of storing data within foreign formats e.g. HTML or Excel. Surely, that is no sensational feature, but practical for the daily work. Here are no traps, which leave alone a BPM Studio user in future times. BPM provides all the tools and the music editor for the archiving DJ. No French car, for which I do only get some expensive spare parts for very few cities... no Outlook express, which draws the most beautiful dead headings onto the paper regularly, when I attempt to export my e-mail contacts.
Furthermore BPM Studio offers a user administration, which regulates the rights of access to modules, files or writing prohibitions. And... a quantity of different Designs (Skins), which offer a design surface of the program referring to your desires. The numerous adjustments, which can be made within the preferences, contain things like a normalize function furthermore, storage of ID3 tags (e.g. those, which contain BPM (beats per minute) information), or which permit the prohibition of any parallel running programs beside BPM Studio.
... was referred into the test more or less here, but this should be treated separately once again, because BPM Studio is completely competitionless in the professional area so far. As mentioned before, there are the most different remote controls for different users, which can be compared vaguely with the different comfort displays of the Denon Player 1800, 2000, 2100 or 2600, I think, those are well known. All that works like I described it, except that the program announced, that it had detected the remote control a few times too often. Except of the loop functions, most of the things can be controled also by the mouse on the computer, but every DJ will require the beautiful remote control. Almost all the functions can be controlled from here – you can even search within the archive title within the playlist, but I would prefer the display nevertheless personally. The tested RCP 2001 B (with pitch Wheel instead of the Slider, which can be found at RCP 2001 A) has inserted the buttons of the Sample Player additionally, among other things, that is a huge advantage. If this remote control will not be built into the rack, but put on the soil, it can be connected to the computer with a special cable, which has to be put laterally, but not at the back - but this must be ordered additionally, unfortunately.
before: The program holds, what it
promised before, feels stable and, above all, very fast, owing to the drivers. Nevertheless,
especially the remote control permits the new technique dimensions, and the
user does not have to renounce on the
dear-won comfort when using CD players. The operating instruction is structured
complexely and sometimes not optimally, but with a little patience no questions
will be open at the end. The program will be supplied with a Dongle as a copy
protection, it can be wedged at the parallel interface e.g. in front of the
printer, a USB connection can be used by a USB-serial converter, available from
BPM Studio offers - referring to the software with its playing devices, the Sample Player, the filing- transmitting-, accommodation and network functions- a complete radio studio - and it is the first choice for each mobile DJ. Who has to work with a large music repertoire, should purchase this program. BPM Studio is - with its numerous tools - like a Swiss penknife for DJ ' s and msic editors. In addition to that, it also offers unbelievably fast drivers, so the DJ receives real confidence in the new technique – and the remote controls, which are competitionless so far. The competition program tractor can be the first choice, with its filters, its automatic loop identification and the recording of the automatic controller movements when mixing, nevertheless, for DJ`s who like to edit. In combination with a good DJ mixer, however, the concept of BPM Studio is situated in the front and offers - with the different Sample- or Loop Players and Cue points different intuitively tools for experimentations. A program, which can not be comprehended in the abundance of its possibilities, and it is worth its price.
BPM Studio can be described as an adequate DJ workstation or also as a complete radio station, which offers numerous possibilities of bringing in additional sounds, editing, archiving, structuring, transmission, documentation and fun in making experimentations, up to network and remote control functions, and also convinces in smaller, fewer remarkable detailed solutions. Above this, it facilitates the change for many DJ ' s by a user administration, which is well-known from CD players. In contrary to tractor, it especially offers the possibility to connect the drives, which are program internal, to the external DJ mixer vía allocatable outputs. Without competition, or the absolutely top class, are the speed and reliability of the drivers, the supply pallet of hardware remote controls, as well as the function range within the area of the computer
DJ ' ing.
You will have to get used to some functions of the remote control, to the Loop function within the remote control and to the obligation, of having to load the track before. The tractor competition offers a more interesting loop function. Unfortunately, no Mac version will appear.
Complete DJ workstation (among other things: double Mp3/audio player/Sample Player) or radio station with filing-, transmission-, documentation- and network functions as a software in connection with a PC, optionally together with the hardware remote control.
Pentium2 400MHz, 128MB workspace, 20MB fixed-disk storage for the installation, SVGA graphics 800x600 pixel, 16Bit sound card (2 sound cards recommended), 40 times CD Rom for its alternatively use as a player, parallel interface LPT1, serial interface COM 1 or 2, Windows 95, Windows 98 or ME alternatively Windows 2000 or XP (starting from BPM Studio version 4.2 )
Scope of supply
CD, manual, Dongle, Remote controls with cables, if necessary
price recommendation, not binding
BPM Studio 4: 399 , - Euro
Remote Control RCP 2001 B: 1.399 , - Euro, including BPM Studio Pro software
ALCATech, 96515 Sonneberg, Otto Bergner Str. 30