Why did Sasha move away from Ableton and back to CDJ's?
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  1. #1
    Tech Guru MiL0's Avatar
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    Default Why did Sasha move away from Ableton and back to CDJ's?

    thought this might be an interesting thing to discuss...

    a few years back there was a big debate among the midibox scene about whether or not Sasha had paid vast amounts of money to produce his own ableton live controller based on the midibox. Around that time he released at least two albums (the Involver series) and was dj'ing around the world using the Mavern and Ableton Live.

    More recently, every time I've seen him play out, he's been back on the CDJ's. I heard that his controller wasn't 100% reliable all the time but it still seems like a strange regression from someone who was so pro-ableton.

    Thoughts?

  2. #2
    Tech Guru PeteWoods's Avatar
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    well to be honest, sashas sets from his ableton era sound extremely lazy, and for a man who was whacking on one tune every 9 minutes and mucking around with effects, he wasnt using it for much of its potential. his more recent sets seem a lot more involved, and when i saw him last month i saw a rare thing, sasha actually smiling... i think he just enjoys it a lot more. i used to be totally pro-complete-controllerism, all 'forward thinking' and that. i loved the idea of being on the cutting edge and trying to push it to the limit. now i'm 2 tables and a mixer, TSP2 as a record box and FX processor... i just prefer the touch of vinyl and how much more involved it feels. maybe sashas the same, maybe not. but he does seem to be enjoying himself a hell of a lot more now hes back on them!

  3. #3
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    Everyone needs a change. Also with cdj 2000 and the djm 2000 you have a lot more things available to you that can give you more things to do. I agree that ableton can be a much better tool but requires lots of prep. It's nice to show up to a gig with a stack of CDs or a USB stick and going wherever the night takes you.
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  4. #4
    Tech Guru mostapha's Avatar
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    It was a reliability and hassle issue.

    Basically, he had the Maven built to custom specs with a nice but really overkill sound card in it…and whatever they did to squeeze that stuff into the box lead the power supply to be unreliable. And it blew up repeatedly.

    He had it repaired; he had another one built; it kept dying. And he ended up having to travel with 2 complete ableton rigs…one of them based on an iMac and the Maven, the other a small handfull of controllers and another computer.

    Finally, he just decided it was't worth it. He went back to doing edits in the studio or on his laptop instead of doing them live and just not screwing around as much during his set and switched to CDJs.

    In the last year, I've seen him spin on Rekordbox + CDJs (using the laptop as a crate) and on a prerelease copy of Traktor 2 back in March (X1s and CDJ-2000s as controllers or time code…not really sure). Apparently it's just simpler and easier to travel with, and it's not like cost is an issue for him.

    I really can't say I disagree with him. X1s are the most straightforward DJing has been since I was on Vinyl…but I'd still pick vinyl over them, and probably top-end CDJs as well. Maybe I just didn't get along with SSL or cheap CDJs. I remember very much enjoying FS2 before I upgraded to an Intel Mac and NI and Stanton killed Final Scratch.

    Every time I boot up my setup, I think I'm going to do something awesome…and it usually devolves into just playing 2 decks like I did when I was on vinyl. It's just a lot cheaper and easier to buy wavs and not bother with pitch controls. But I have real questions about whether it's better.

  5. #5
    Tech Guru JonathanBlake's Avatar
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    I found his mixes in the Mavern era confusing - he seemed to suprise you with track selections rather than wow you with the mixing - the mixing in the elusive Los Angeles 'Live' compilation is in my opinion rather shoddy. His dabblings with Traktor and X1's was all hype, but amounted to nothing. I feel he, like Digweed has come full circle. His style has changed, his Ushaiha project has showcased fresh talent and 'Cut Me Down' became an anthem. He really seems to be having a good time. I find his latest quote quite interesting (I'll dig out the original), but he basically says that the DJ booth of the future will be massive servers of music and interfaces for DJ's to plug 'n play with controllers.
    356 reasons why

  6. #6
    Tech Guru mostapha's Avatar
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    Cut Me Down became an anthem, really? Apparently I don't go out enough, but…man, that track sucked. At least, the stems we got for the remix competition sucked.

    And I really loved parts of his ableton era. The edits he was doing live were impressive, but you kind of didn't hear them if you weren't really familiar with the music. I never did figure out how his Ableton setup worked, though.

    And I still listen to Involver2 (or however he spelled it) … it was so much fun.

    When I saw the VCM-600, I switched to ableton because it was pretty damn close to the Maven, just laid out worse with much shorter faders. It was a lot of fun until I started trying to do too much with midi remote scripting and became a coding project. After a while, it made me crave the simplicity of vinyl.

    So, I guess it makes perfect sense why he went back to CDJs at least to me because I kinda did the same thing…granted, I did it a lot worse than he did, and I didn't have to deal with wondering if something I spent 40,000 quid on would fail at a gig. But, still….

    (also, yes, that's what the maven was reported to cost)

  7. #7
    DJTT Scribe Mod smiTTTen's Avatar
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    One of the most interesting threads I have read in ages. We need MUCH more like this. Good work fellas
    Beats By Dre is like audio flu for your balls.

  8. #8
    Tech Guru mostapha's Avatar
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    Agreed. I'd really like to see a thread about why people use what they use and how they came to it.

    We'd get a lot of "it was cheap," or "i don't need anything more" entries because most people just aren't as verbose as me, but…I still think it could be interesting. I started one of those on DJF at some point and very much enjoyed reading it.

    Especially considering that I just don't get why anyone would want to do the things that controllerism brings to the table…I'd find it interesting to read it here. I mean…I think that Ean is a tremendous wanker. He's more successful than me, and I like the community that he and his friends/partners have built, but I'd never pay to see him live. That music just doesn't appeal to me in the slightest. Finding out why people do what they do would be interesting.

    A little while ago photojojo posted a video of him mixing, and I found the discussion very informative and entertaining.

    None of us is Sasha or Hawtin or any of those guys (afaik), but it could still be fun. I mean…I started experimenting with sample decks again after seeing that video of pj. I'm not sure I'm going to stick with them as opposed to using Ableton or Maschine instead, but………it made me think. And that's a good thing.

    And it wouldn't be as much speculation as this thread is. I mean…I've watched/read interviews with Sasha on this topic and overheard him discussing it backstage at Ultra last year, but…I don't think any of us conclusively know why he switched.

  9. #9
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    As far as his ableton mixes being sub par, I rate Invol2ver. That mix freaking owns and is quite reminiscent of his chuggy prog roots. That being said, I haven't seen the surly fellow live for years.

  10. #10
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    The biggest reason he decided to switch had nothing to do with reliability issues with the Maven. It had to do with the fact that he felt disconnected from the music. Moving back to CDJs gives him a better personal experience - filled a gap he was experiencing.

    Also, there were more than 2 Mavens, they didn't have some overkill soundcard in them, and the reason they were expensive is because the components used in the construction were the best of the best. Parts were chosen not just because they fit the bill from an engineering standpoint, but also because they felt exactly the way Sasha and the builder WANTED them to feel. Everything on the Maven was quality, from the recessed ports in the back to the linear faders and pots.

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