Tech Tester

Estelle also works as a professional test tester: a role which began with her Gear Guinea Pig blog. She has tested for market leaders in the music trade such as Dawsons.co.uk, Synthax Audio Ltd and has Beta tested both Apps and Software programs. Also see Youtube for her popular Logic Pro 'Tips and Tricks' videos.

 

See some samples of reviews below

iDJ Live by Numark - Reviewme.

IThe Numark iDjLIVE is a controller made for a specific APP: Dj Algorridim which has has a rare 5 star APP rating, has won awards for its the design features and is only 69 pence!

 

The iDJLive is compact and surprisingly light weight: In reference to the old vinyl days, this weighs about as much as 5 or 6 records! The stylistic nod to the retro days of vinyl continues with grooved scratch pads, an easy CD plate size, but with the sound and character of vinyl. I had the most fun cue-ing up my mixes this way as it has phenomenal touch sensitivity and mirrors old school Dj-ing techniques, with its flip from search to scratch function easily implemented with the flick of a button.

 

Whether it is up to ‘scratch’ – pun intended- for a professional environment is what I want to know!Well, it seamlessly integrates with either an iPad or iPhone, literally plug and play, which will encourage those who may be bemused by software/driver installs etc. on computer driven systems.

 

                               

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It sources power directly from the iPad or iPhone (best with iPad) as notorious iPhone batteries drain quickly and you can’t charge the phone at the same time as you are doing a set (it uses the charge connector to Plug + Play)! A back up battery would be needed for a professional setup. So is this just a toy for in the house? No, because so much of this device performs par excellence. Control knobs are nicely grooved for nightclub sweaty fingers.

 

The Jog/scratch wheels perform so well that I would swop my modulation wheel on my keyboard or link it to my Logic Pro if I could (no midi outs sadly).But really I’m griping: this is a superb start out piece of kit, it may lack some of the fun controllers for the APP’s processors and effect knobs/loop functions etc. But omitting these makes sense for a beginner so they can grasp the basics first!I predict many aspiring Dj’s may well start their journey in to sound from this kit. It’s great that even if a friend wants to play a few tunes they can just plug in their iPad/iPhone and are ready to have a go within seconds, accessing all their own music from their iTunes library.The very partnering of an Apps with Controllers has game changing potential

 

.The Numark iDJLive is impressive gadgetry esp. with an iPad mounted; this is the best professional pairing. It can also Cloud access your tunes, although there were some Latency issues when accessing tunes in this way, but as this is so closely linked to the APP a small internet search tells me they are ‘working on this’ already!Its portability is what I think is its key function. As a back up or practice deck this is much more than a toy; it could live up to the job at an impromptu or beach party and can be thrown in a bag. Or could keep the kids amused, if they can get you off it!If I could get in a Time Machine and go back just 10 years this would blow me away…if I went forward in time, I’m sure this clever kit is just the start of the next generation of Dj gear.By Estelle Rubio http://www.estellerubio.com NumarkiDJLIVE available @ http://www.dawsons.co.uk/

      for www.Dawsons.co.uk

Also it enables you to cue upcoming songs and provides the cable to do so in the box, a nice change!

 

Could this device start a trend for realtime controllers for Apps? Its functions are so well integrated; this device eliminates all of the fiddly flaws one encounters when using the APP alone. However you should treat iDJLive as your main controller as, beware, if you move the Crossfader on your iPhone it won’t pull the ‘real’ one in to the same position. This caught me out a few times!

For Many of the APP’s best features you do still need to interact directly with the iPhone.The illuminated Sync button works well, seamless matching tempos, but for more precise matching there are BPM listings next to songs, (you just play songs through the App once). But you have to keep a close eye on your iPhone as this function is only visible on the iOS screens.

RME FIREFACE REVIEW

The Gear Guinea Pig’s User Friendly Review…Won’t ‘blind you with science’ but will tell you how well it works…

 

 

RME’s Fireface UFX offers 60 channels of audio 30 inputs/30 outputs, 18 digital and 12 Analog placing this interface in the professional market: Four of these are Mic (XLR) inputs (which double as extra line inputs!) with RME’s well reputed Pre Amps built in. It also has standard ADAT/Word Clock/MIDI I/0 connectivity.

 

Unique features include a handy USB slot on the front panel for a (2TB) direct save function, computer free, handy for back ups/crash situations. Or this integrated digital recorder allows the device to be used standalone for ease of use in live situations or on the move. As Music Tech generally is heading towards greater emphasis on live performance and collaborative efforts, this is a device that looks to the future. It offers FireWire or USB connectivity casting wide appeal to potential prosumers.

 

First thing about this interface is its clarity. Previously I have used Apogee which has some sound coloration and if you are moving from that device to this you may take a while to adjust to the flat, but highly accurate response (think of this as the NS-10s of interfaces!) that shows off its 192Hz/24 bit functionality.

 

The RME UFX also has sleek professional looks, with multiple coloured lights to hi-light different functions and sturdy buttons, catering for late night sessions or perhaps a vocalist who likes to sing in the dark (yes, that’s me!).You can also choose to use ‘Total mix’ the UFX’s integrated software package and not touch the interfaces at all, beyond initial setup.

 

Total mix software seamlessly integrates with your computer, as a floating window on your screen when operating your chosen sequencer.Total Mix can store your settings and preferred routings for a quick return to making music,its user interface reminds me of an old skool desk in terms of virtual connectivity.Routing options are myriad i.e.outputs can be sent to balanced XLR or 1/4 inch (TRS): There is a separate monitoring window I found useful, again with multiple routing options. As a mixing program it is excellent, I found myself using a lot of the EQ and dynamic effects included on its channels.

 

The UFX also has its own DSP built-in FX: Nice solid reverbs and delays which could be used for monitoring purposes, for example, to reduce latency. Howeverlatency is not an issue with this machine, it is one area where it excels, even when I had 40 tracks of vocal performances laden with FX. Even though we are talking mere milliseconds, this is notable when getting in to a groove and its nice not to have to bypass any FX when wanting to quickly get down a vocal idea. This could even handle Auto Tune on a live vocal take without any major latency issues. Many contemporary artists might choose this for this reason alone for live performances!

 

Although an excellent tool for controlling the UFX and some extra features, there were a few issues, such as the the snap to zero function on the faders, which seemed to occassionally activate when I was toggling between the windows of my sequencer (Logic 9) and Total Mix, altering my volume levels and delivering bursts of high volume! Hopefully this will be an update issue for the drivers.This device excelled when recording guitars, there is a pristine clarity at the mid to top end around 500HZ. It made me think I had lost less of my hearing than I had thought! This made the process of mixing often troublesome instruments like this less time consuming and generated less ear fatigue.

 

From a market point of view this interface is PCi and Mac compatible so can appeal to a potentially larger sector of users. Some of the features may require a read through of the manual for those with less technical experience. An in built ‘help’ function, such as Ableton’s when you hold he cursor over features the window, could help in Total Mix. Reliability and quality are the key words here and this has on the market for long enough to prove no major driver or hardware issues. It has an air of Germanic reliability, like an Audi. Serious yet sleek…I’m excited to try out the Babyface now and see if it is comparable in sound quality and offers ease of function, like market competitors Apogee with the One and Duet.