Mostapha's Setup
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  1. #1
    Tech Guru mostapha's Avatar
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    Default Mostapha's Setup

    Current setup:


    What remains is old and left for "posterity":

    I started on vinyl and a gemini 2-channel mixer that came with my (used) decks. It was noisy and crap, and I threw it away after a day and got a Behringer against the advice of everyone at DJF. It had a dead channel within a day, so I returned it and got a Vestax.

    I don't think I have any pictures from the early days. At least, none I can find.

    After a little while, vinyl got expensive. Fortunately, SSL had come out not too long before, so I tried that. First night performing with it, something went wrong, and I was back on the little vinyl I brought and burning CDs in the booth.


    SSL and I never got along…so I sold it and made the mistake of Final Scratch 2.


    By that, I mean that I actually really liked it, but the partnership with Stanton wasn't meant to be. Things got screwy along those lines, and I decided that I'd had good enough experiences with the CDJ-1000s that the 200s were probably good enough for a bedroom.

    Yeah…the 200s were pretty fuckin' crappy, but they were "affordable" and not expected to break. I wasn't a huge fan and tried to keep vinyl around as long as possible. After switching to Apple and not being able to run FS2, I bought (and sold) SSL again at some point. I'm not sure exactly when.

    And I decided that I kind of wanted to try out Ableton. The software changed a lot during this period, but the hardware was all the same.


    I played like that for a little while, controlling Live with the mouse and beat matching with the tap button, when I decided it didn't work. I also realized that I hadn't bought much vinyl in a long time and started phasing it out.


    The first controller I used was that trigger finger, which basically controlled levels, tempo, and clip launching in Live…and some effects. But it was really limiting.

    I sold my Technics and got a VCM-600 at some point, though I can't find any pictures of that setup at the moment. I used it along with the CDJs (routed through Ableton) for a bit, and then I gave up on that when I realized how dumb it was. And, I finally sold the CDJs. I hated those things…they felt like toys…for like $400 each. Buying cheap CDJs was the worst decision I made, though if I'd kept them, I might not have ever tried Traktor. I'm not sure how things would have ended up if I'd gone that way…

    So, eventually I got sick of Live as well. It was fine…most people's criticisms of it are–in my opinion–unfounded. Unfortunately, I don't have much of a picture that I can find. That's okay…it was boring as hell to look at…just a VCM-600 sitting next to a macbook in between RP5s that aren't in any of these pictures for some reason.



    I moved to Traktor at some point, and I bought a xone:62 to mix with. I tried mixing with the VCM, but I got sick of not having a real mixer. I think I used a friend's VCI-100 at some point in there before I bought my X1s, but I decided against the all-in-one thing pretty solidly. I actually hadn't touched X1s when I bought them. I'd just seen videos of Ritchie Hawtin and realized that if I was using Traktor, they'd be exactly what I wanted.

    And $400 is a lot cheaper than going back to CDJs. Because after my experience with 200s…I won't own anything but Pioneer's top-end deck. I firmly believe that every other CD deck sucks. If I found a deal on 1000mk2s or mk3s, I'd go for that if I had the cash sitting around.

    I also sometimes mix with an LPD8 instead of the xone when I'm craving some old-fashioned rotary goodness. The simplicity is refreshing sometimes. It's just mapped for levels, a cue/master blend for the headphone signal, pfl buttons, tempo inc/dec/bend buttons, and a master isolator-esque EQ section.



    And this is where I am for the time being, except I added the second X1. 3 channels coming out of traktor (C and D are sample decks routed to the same output) and one from Maschine. It's a lot of fun.

    I'll replace the pictures that I can replace with better stuff when I think about it.

    Over the years, I've also played on loads of other gear…but these are the tour through my personal equipment…It's never been particularly extravagant, but I've been happy with it.

    Short term goal/dream is just to replace the mixer. As much as I spent a long time dreaming about xones, the 62 just doesn't fit. My first choice would be a used PMC-55, PMC-CX, xone:92R, or a Rane Empath, but I'd take a PMC-17A, PMC-170, VMC-185xl, vmc-004xl, or pmc-280 if I could find one for the right price. I'm just a bit of a Vestax whore, and those 3-channel mixers are jus gorgeous. The ones that will take a rotary kit would win for me.

    Longer term, I want to move back to CDJs. And I'd kinda like a PMC-05proIV to spin hip hop at some point.

    And eventually, I want a rotary. Top contender at the moment is the E&S DJR-400, though I'd obviously take a 1620 (vintage or LE) and an isolator of some kind. Hell…if I found a 1620 in good condition, I'd probably buy turntables again just for the experience.
    Last edited by mostapha; 01-20-2018 at 12:59 PM.

  2. #2

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    Are you using the X1's or the Maschine to control the decks? I was trying to figure out a cheap way around CDJs...I don't exactly like the bulkyness(?) of them and knew that you could control decks with the X1, or I could map the decks to something...but they seemed like they might be a little obnoxious to deal with the small knobs...

  3. #3
    Tech Guru mostapha's Avatar
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    The X1s. One of them controls decks A and B as track decks, the other controls C and D as sample decks, both using something close to the default mapping. The X1s are brilliant and insanely cheap for what they are. The knobs feel great, but they're meant to control effects, not decks. I'm not sure what you'd use them for unless you wanted a pitch fader or something…and I'd probably use a pair of the encoders for that if I were going to beat-match manually.

    The sample deck X1 also has some buttons mapped to start/stop the MIDI clock (thus starting and stopping Maschine.

    The track deck X1 has its effects section re-mapped because I don't really use effects. The right side is controlling an effect unit that I barely use. The left side is a "master" 3-band EQ for the decks coming out of Traktor and a "master" filter from the mixer section. And the buttons on the left side are level meters for Traktor's decks, mostly because I think it's pretty, and load/unload commands for the decks. And the Key and Tap commands were re-mapped to pitch-shift up and down by semitones, because I can't think of why I'd want to tap a tempo or turn off key lock.

    I really don't see the point of controlling decks with Maschine. Apart from being ridiculous overkill, I haven't seen a mapping that makes any sense and can't think of one unless I decided to change my entire outlook and wanted to use hot cues and pretend I had an army of midifighters…which isn't going to happen.

    Maschine is controlling the Maschine software groove box, which is running in a separate space on the same computer, sync'd to Traktor's midi clock. I just never look at the Maschine software because the hardware is good enough that I don't need to. I've loaded projects for unfinished songs and spun with them, jumping through them with the pads in Scene mode…and that's fun.

    I also have one Maschine project that has a few drum/sample kits in different groups that I've been working on. It's insanely fast to realize "hey, a breakdown is coming up, and I don't want to hot-cue through it, but I don't want to drop the beat entirely either…I've got like a minute…I'll just throw the Maschine in step mode and program a quick drum break."

    I haven't had this much fun spinning since I was on Ableton…and I spend my time actually doing things instead of fighting my controller. It might be a little more complicated when performing, but it's a lot simpler while preparing.
    Last edited by mostapha; 12-13-2011 at 04:28 AM.

  4. #4
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    My first choice would be a used PMC-55, PMC-CX, xone:92R, or a Rane Empath, but I'd take a PMC-17A

    That was my first mixer, i still have it lying around somewhere

  5. #5
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    Wow, I've always wanted to know Mostapha's setup. (this is where I would put some sort of smiley but the ones here at DJTT are weird....I want DJF back)

    Your interesting and long read led me to the conclusion that you wasted a lot of money on crap/unwanted gear but ultimately shaped where you are today in your setup. Am I right?

  6. #6
    Tech Guru mostapha's Avatar
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    No. Not really…just the CDJ-200s, the VCM, and FS2. Everything else wasn't bad. It's also been several years.

    I didn't lose money on SSL either time I bought/sold it because I worked at GC and got it for about the same price I ended up selling it for. Same with the KRKs except that I still use them every day.

    The CDJ-200s were another story. I bought each at $400, sold the pair for $100. That's why I'm pissed about them. It cost over three times as much to have 2 CDJs that I didn't like than it did to have 3 turntables that I did. And the platters really sucked. And they occasionally crashed and had to be power cycled. They probably failed more often than all of the computer-based stuff I've used combined…they just took less time to reset.

    The VCM-600 was like a grand, but I hope to sell that at some point. I'll lose money on it. It was fun spinning on Ableton, so…if I get a few hundred for it, it'll be worth it. Or if I end up spinning with Live again, which is always a possibility. I kind of liked it.

    And FS2 was the mistake. It was like $600 or something like that…and it became worthless when NI discontinued their partnership with Stanton and Traktor Scratch never worked with the Scratch Amp like we hoped it would. I did enjoy it a lot while it worked. And, I still use that sound card…I'm only really annoyed because you can get a much better sound card for that price now.

    @steevo, yeah…that's kinda hot. But, yeah, I just like vestax mixers. I still have my 180, just in case I decide to get it fixed at some point. I'm mostly waiting because it'd feel really weird to swap out a xone for it and maybe be happier.
    Last edited by mostapha; 12-15-2011 at 03:16 AM.

  7. #7
    Tech Guru mostapha's Avatar
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    3 weeks ago:



    Today:





    The change from a xone to a budget vestax might look dumb, but I'm going back to mixing with IEMs and the 62s cuing system isn't right for that. Plus…it's a bedroom. The xone was overkill anyway.

    As for Traktor vs Serato…I like Serato's GUI better and I didn't want to be tempted to do anything that might lead me to set beat grids again.

    The Maschine is coming back (probably on a music stand to the side or something) when I get fast enough at TTs again to manually match it to everything else as well.

    DJ setup plays through production setup on a different wall.



    • Early 2011 13" MBP
      • Lion
      • Logic Express 9
      • Maschine 1.7
        • Vintage Heat
        • Transistor Punch
      • Soft Synths (I'm not happy with any of them)
        • Tyrell N6
        • Skanner
        • Komplete Elements for Maschine
        • Logic's insanely ugly but kinda cool things
      • Processing Plugins
        • NI Solid Mix Series (seriously…I hate the guitar rig player…going to be selling this)
        • TT Dynamic Range Meter
        • SSL X-ISM
      • Reason 6 Demo (can't decide if I like it as a synth rack)
    • M-Audio Keystation 49e
    • KRK RP5 Gen 1 (2)
    • Focusrite 2i2 (temporary)
    • Logitech Trackman Wheel
    • Apple Wired Keyboard
    • Not Shown
      • Stack of FW hard drives totaling ~1.5 TB
      • 64GB USB 2.0 SSD work hard drive.
      • A pretty ridiculous chain of USB hubs


    i miss the Pro Tools 10 Demo. But that'll come after my first hardware synth (I'm really starting to hate soft synths).

  8. #8
    RGAS Guru Xonetacular's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mostapha View Post
    i miss the Pro Tools 10 Demo. But that'll come after my first hardware synth (I'm really starting to hate soft synths).
    Agreed.

    How are you finding the SL1 sound quality wise?

  9. #9
    Tech Guru mostapha's Avatar
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    Good enough, so far.

    Technically speaking, it's just not that good of a card anymore: 16/44.1 with prosumer level converters and circuitry (at best). It's probably the crappiest audio interface I've ever bought. But…the technical benefits of–for example–NI's audio interfaces don't matter so much when you're playing 16/44.1 files anyway…they just make the effects less noisy, assuming they're coded well.

    I haven't seen loopback test results for any DJ card (probably for good reason), and I don't hear anything that would specifically piss me off in a club environment.

    We'll see what I think in a day or so after my first recording with it.

  10. #10
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    Would you say vmx-004 xl is a good mixer, sound and build quality-wise, compared to xone series (or specifically xone:22)?

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