Friday, May 15, 2015

Gear Reviews #1: Best DVS Interface For Your Money (but archaic, so go figure...)

Flashback with nerdy DJ talk: The M-Audio Conectiv

In my honest opinion (as much as I love Traktor), I think the M-Audio's Conectiv was the greatest DVS interface ever created.

Here's why:

1.) (Duh...) It's a DVS system for DJing
2.) Mic input
3.) Headphone cue
4.) DC powered input

And most of all:
5.) Those two huge pots could be used to input/output two audio sources

M-Audio was smart, yet shot themselves in the foot. They created an interface that wasn't limited to their own software, and had external capabilities that other DVS systems lacked. If you have an SL box, then you can only use it for one thing, Scratch Live. But with the Conectiv, you could use this interface on any DJ software or production program (of course using ASIO4ALL), and use its output to send audio signals to other external devices, and this gave a DJ tons of options!

If your DJ controller only had one master out and no booth control, it's possible that your DJ software could use ASIO4ALL to send audio signal to this interface, and booth control would technically be available through those oversized rotary knobs. In fact, you could have up to two booth/audio source controls, assuming you had more studio/active speakers that connected via composite.

Some beginner controllers don't even have audio outputs (you suck, Numark). Using Conectiv would easily allow a headphone output and two audio signals for the DJ.

But with all these neat features, this obviously didn't help keep Torq alive (remember Torq?) as folks probably hopped onto better available software while using this interface (I used it with Virtual DJ, then used it with Traktor when Scratch was becoming popular). Folks eventually left M-Audio's Torq and Conectiv in the dust to competitors like Serato and SL1 (which the box really sucks as it was limited to just a mic output), and NI's Traktor Audio boxes. Conetiv was a brilliant device!

Aside from software, it's biggest drawbacks was that it was a 16-bit soundcard and USB 1.1. But that's only important if you were using it do produce and record.

Today, I still use my interface to relay audio signals from and to controllers and sound systems around my pad. I never thought I'd be using it up to this point, but it proves to be useful than any other DVS interface I've ever owned. In fact, to this day I still haven't seen a DVS have features like Conectiv.

Torq was really ahead of its time, as much as Traktor was, yet even with an earlier start, it still failed to capture the masses, possibly due to CDJs popularity with the House scene and lack of controllerism in the market. I'm still curious to how Torq fell off the rails, and why M-Audio gave up its DJ division and failed to keep the fire burning when back then, its only competitive rival was Serato.

As for now, I think I'll be holding onto this DVS for years to come. Maybe one day, I'll be using it again for a cheap gig, using 2.1 channel computer speakers, and probably DJing on an incredibly small table with just my Surface Pro and a water bottle.

Let's hope it never comes down to this, haha!

An Unofficial Comeback

Hi folks! Just wanted to share a personal note since it's been so long! It's been years since I've written, posted, spilled my guts all over this blog (figuratively speaking), about music, records, mixtapes, and DJing. I wasn't planning on making a comeback, but I'm beginning to think that I need to start doing something again to keep me active, and writing about DJing and my experiences is definitely one of them. After hours of videogame let's plays, watching DJs record display their mixing in live performances, I've finally decided to start posting again. So let's hope that I continue to be consist, and hope people continue to find inspiration here at look&listen.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Chris Montez "Wishes You Love" and "Sunny"-ness

The angelic Rock n' Roll voice of (Ezekiel) Chris Montez jolted me with surprise after having found the record at a local Goodwill. Although I'm a musician that ignores the use of lyrics quite often, I found Chris' words compelling through the tone of his short-ranged but satisfyingly harmonic singing.

Chris began as a Rock n' Roll lead singer in his early 20s, making some early attempts with songs such as "Let's Dance" and "All You Had To Do Was Tell Me," a few hits coming from the Hawthorne-born local. After joining the label A&M in 1965 and after some wisdom and vocal advice from Herb Alpert, Chris began an interest for ballads and drifted from his Rock n' Roll roots in pursuit of a softer sound. His two albums in 1966, The More I See You and Time After Time, are significant from his previous band recordings, marking his transition from Rhythm & Blues into Easy Listening melodies.

Upon my whim of mindless track skipping throughout the album, my insatiable tendency to find that one SPECIAL song had been fulfilled when I dropped the needle on A-Sides track two. The gentle sound and lyrics of "I Wish You Love" serenades a particular woman with over-sentimental thoughts of love, hope and promise, which is a bit "corny on the corncob" but what else can you do about it if you were in love? What intrigues me the most is Chris' soft voice, and the jazzy accompaniment complements Chris' singing as the song is intro-ed with welcoming chimes of the xylophone. Through the track, I'm reminded of a specific scene in the 2002 film Punch Drunk Love, of when Barry (Adam Sandler) is searching for Lena (Emily Watson) in his so-called "business trip" to Hawaii, whereas Shelley Duvall's "He Needs Me" could be easily substituted with the cheeriness of Chris' wishful song. The track after it, "Sunny," seems to follow in a similar formula but under a slightly faster range of BPMs and different key, yet equally satisfying to the entire album.

I hope these two tracks bring "Sunny" and "Wishful" days for all you listeners out there. Enjoy, and have a good day.

[Article drafted on 12/4/2009. Published on 8/19/2010.]


"I Wish You Love"

Thursday, August 19, 2010

24electric Vol. 1: Cruisin' Deep

Its been a long time, and I'm sure many people may think look&listen had died on the turn of a new decade. After nearly a year's worth of hiatus, I've returned to the ol' blog with plans to get stuff poppin' again.


I had mentioned in Indisputable (circa Feb '09) that I had been working on a Deep House/Dance House mix. I admit that I'm not the most punctual person, but after a year and six months, after some "hard drive digging" here and there for my lost edits and recordings, I rediscovered the batch of mixes I had begun and finally did the dirty work to have it posted for your pleasure.

Currently, I've been juggling around with some new genres and sounds, which had led me to creating a new section for look&listen that focuses on electronic dance music. I call it 24electric.

When I first crossed Deep House music, I was a bit bewildered from the its vibe: do I dance or do I sip wine and lounge the night away? Perhaps the underlying beauty of the genre is that you have either option, and when is it ever bad to have choice? At times, the sound of Deep House somehow reminds me of outer space, of driving at night, of something gentle or delicate, yet the sound seems unofficially reserved for the mid to classy listeners. The lyrics from most Deep House I've heard, otherwise House music in general, delivers positive and encouraging messages of hope, which is something I find rare in lyrics today.

Although barely edited, nor my cleanest work of tapes, I hope you listeners out there enjoy this new section of music and look forward to more future volumes of 24electric.


Vol. 1: Cruisin' Deep

Track listing:

1. The Kelly Project - Won't Let You Go
2. Dennis Ferrer - All The Things I Look For
3. Neurotron - Outside
4. Blue Six - Music and Wine (Teksoul Dub)
5. Bioground Feat. Joeee - Soulful People
6. Lisa Shaw - Let It Ride (Jimpster Remix)
7. Bah Samba - And It's Beautiful
8. Cassius - 1999 (Remix)
9. Stardust - Music Sounds Better With You
10. Kylie Minogue - Love At First Sight
11. Janet Jackson - Rock With U

Monday, December 7, 2009

Rainy Days and Mondays

Waking up to the sound of rain is not so common to the average socal dweller, in fact seeing any precipitation over our former desert land is a blessing in our drought-ridden state. I only hope that in the long run of this global warming crisis that we continue to adapt to the changes of our environment, and that every attempt we make to slow down the warming process, whether by going green or living a sustainable lifestyle, will get people thinking consciously about the decisions they make and how they affect the world.

Unlike the random June gloom we've experienced this past year, this week's winter storm felt a bit out of place but has been quite refreshing, particularly with cleansing the air in my neck of the woods. It had given me the notion to use this instrumental Jazz version of the Carpenters hit, 'Rainy Days and Mondays,' in today's post to fit with the scene; I saved a perfect song for a rainy day. The song starts off with another Carpenters classic, "We've Only Just Begun," and switches off with 'Rainy Days' in the latter. If you feel burdened upon unwanted overcast and heavy drizzles, deceived by invisible water-filled potholes and intimidated by a possible chance of hail storms that wishes to scream all over your beautiful Frontier's windshield, then I hope this Carpenters cover cheerfully lights up your day.

Shout out to all the bday peeps as well, Mary Rose, Nicole, Nat, Dom, and all the other Sagittariuses of 2009.

And now, for the music...

New Horizon's "Rainy Days and Mondays"

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Soulful Sunday

Some Sunday ago back in October, a distant record collector/acquaintance sent me a friendly text, giving me the heads up about him and his girlfriend's yard sale, which to my past experience was something like a weekend excavation for some classic 'must-haves' and sentimental gems. In the past he's made generous offers that insured me that I wouldn't be walking home empty handed, and yet his impressively vast collection of good ol' soul, jazz and rock that surpasses my own, reassures that today's a sure thing (not to mention that his is more organized than my deranged dungeon of obscure children's exercise records and random Christian funk or Christian Rock records. The mixture of obscurity and well-defined genres only makes it even more difficult to categorize, but that's the kinda stuff I love). I figured that before I make way to the local coffee shop and hit the books I should at least gander upon his collection; and yet again, killed some time but came up on some good shit.

I came home with 62 donuts and one LP of Cal Tjader in a trader joe's bag; no regrets. A lot of it was soul, which definitely satisfied my own.

I particularly swooped some all time and personal favorites on 45, the kinda stuff that you'd see in thrift stores for $3 that you'd like add to your collection (ECM joints, Kudu records, endless Sergio Mendez stuff, etc.) but that you're willing to put on hold till there's a "50% off sale;" that time was finally up for me. Alongside the classics were some rather unknown (that is to my knowledge) 7 inches that I couldn't wait to sample on the MPC (with respects, RIP MPC).

...getting down to it all...

Betty Wright "Tonight Is The Night pt. 2"

Brenton Wood "Lovey Dovey Kinda Love"

First pick off my stack is Betty Wright's "Tonight Is The Night pt. 2," which is sampled on DJ Quik's "Tonight." Aside from breaks and samples, for those of you who know me well, I'm secretly a growing fan of Brenton Wood songs. If it's not "Show Me A Little Sign," then it's perhaps any other Wood song that's crept into my cranium and is horribly amplified in my series of singing in the shower.

El Chicano "Sabor A Mi"

When names like El Chicano, Malo, Tierra and War come into mind, I have this vivid image of Los Angeles in the 1950s. That wave of brown-eyed soul bands and artists depict a nostalgic picture of low rider angelinos cruising through the streets, giving me this aural yet conceptual idea of what LA was like back in the day. That or I am reminded of that specific scene in Jackie Brown scene when Ordell pops in a tape of Brothers Johnson in the whip and then rubs out Beaumont (love that scene).

The Masqueraders "I'm Just An Average Guy."

When I first cued this track, it just had to be a Wu-Tang beat; the deep sound-draining bass, plucking guitar, heavy soul singing, it all sounded too familiar annd too much like the Wu from there on. My first assumption was "Liquid Swords," but it turns out that it was sampled on Gza's "Collection of Classics," "an exclusive and limited edition album full of classic songs and unreleased gems," that was only released in Europe in 2004 (shucks...). ( I personally haven't heard that album yet, but if I ever come across it, I'd know I have at least the sample to the intro.

Tyrone Davis "Can I Change My Mind"

Tyrone Davis' "Can I Change My Mind" can be found on the 1968 single of "A Woman Needs To Be Loved." "Change My Mind" became a b-sides hit in the late 60s, finding it's way to top of R&B Billboard Charts for three consecutive weeks. Davis first started off as a chauffeur for the legendary Blues artist Freddie King (in 1993, Gov. Ann Richards declared September 3 "Freddie King Day." That's how legendary he is, but that's another story). Born in Greenville, MI, Davis moved to Chicago in his early 20s and sang in local clubs around the city. Soon, he was discovered by Harold Burrage, and was then later picked up by Carl Davis, who signed Davis on to help kick off the newly formed Dakar Records, Cotillion Records's little brother, which both were the subsidiary to Atlantic records.

The introduction really kicks me off my feet with some slappin' funky drums, prideful blaring trumpets, jolly undertone licks of the funky guitar, and with a hook that continuously haunts me with the line "start all over again..." A song for the broken hearted, attempting to form anew? My bitterness only chuckles as my records continue to spin.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Time To Face The Real

Yes! I'm back!

After undergoing many life phases (some awesome, some regretable, overall, all was a learning experience), I've finally slowed down and began to reprioritize the important aspects of my life that make me who I am.

But enough with the personal reconnections and "what does it all mean" questions, I'm about ready to drop some new dusted off, grimey ass wax; drop some of the latest beats I've been grinding on beatmaker and speak the latest stories through my third eye lens.

I've avoided committment and questioned life for too long; it's time that I face the real and drop this shit.

For now, I gotta dance! (ballroom 101, because I don't dance)

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