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Back in March, Windows went to the Winter Music Conference on a fact finding trip. We had an idea and needed a gut check. Besides getting us some much loved vitamin D, our trip to Miami convinced us that PCs running Windows have a place in the DJ community. Most DJs use Macs to mix their music. We want to change that. So today we’re kicking off a new partnership with four of the planet’s most creative DJs to show the world just what a PC running Windows 7 can do.
Back in Seattle we asked Darek Mazzone to help identify DJs to bring into the program. Darek is the multi-talented host of Wo’Pop, a weekly, three-hour look into what’s new and happening in modern global music on Seattle’s KEXP (which is, in my humble opinion, also the best radio station in the world). Darek opened his contact book and helped us get a great cross-section of artists—Pezzner, Sabo and Deadbeat—interested in the project.
Pezzner (Dave Pezzner) is a Seattle-based producer and electronic music composer. He’s released more than 45 vinyls and remixes, as well as music compositions for American Idol, The Discovery Channel, Nordstrom and T-Mobile.
New York City-based Sabo has six EP releases on Sol*Selectas, his own record label, two 12” releases on Wonderwheel Recordings and a full length album on Irma Records. He loves to move between genres, whether it’s Afrobeat, House or Reggae.
Finally, Deadbeat (Scott Monteith), a longtime Montréaler, now lives and works in Berlin. He’s been putting out a unique blend of dub laden minimal electronics since 2000 on labels such as Cynosure, Scape and Wagon Repair. He’s performed at Barcelona’s Sonar, Berlin’s Transmediale and Montreal’s Mutek. He’s also a music technology junkie, which got us especially excited about partnering.
After talking with the artists, the next step was getting their hands on a really awesome PC. Fortunately, the folks at Dell were an enthusiastic and early supporter of our idea and supplied us with five, fully-loaded Dell XPS 16’s. Ben has one of the machines and will have a review of it up shortly just posted a hands-on review.
Together with the Dell PCs, we also shipped each DJ a Novation Launchpad controller, a Focusrite Saffire 6 USB audio interface, a Serato Rane SL3 DJ interface, the Ableton Live 8 software suite, a Crane laptop stand, a Flip Mino HD camera and, of course, a Windows-branded Mono DJ bag and T-shirt (we love swag and couldn’t resist).
Darek was the first one to take his Windows 7 Dell XPS 16 for a spin. He opened for the great Rachid Taha at Neumos in Seattle on Tuesday, June 8. For those of you out there with spare miles (or happen to be in Spain and want an awesome experience), Sonar opens in Barcelona today. Deadbeat and Darek will present ska and reggae cuts mixed on their PCs on the roof of the Hotel Pulitzer on Saturday (June 19th) from 7-11pm. Look for more posts in the next few days covering Windows at Sonar.
Over the next few months, we’ll report back on how each DJ in the program is doing, what they’re working on and hopefully turn you on to their stuff. Look for tracks, interviews and more here on the Windows Experience Blog. We couldn’t be more excited about this partnership – and the fact that I get to hang out with these folks only reinforces that I have a very cool job.
As always, if you have questions or comments, don’t hesitate to hit me up @winashbrown or on the blog. Look forward to hearing from you.
Darek Mazzone’s Wo’Pop can be heard every Tuesday evening from 6-9pm PT on KEXP and KEXP.org. I can be found listening to it.
What was their feedback why DJ's and musicians prefer to have a mac? Is it just the shiny apple logo on stage vs having a Dell? I can understand if this was 1991 and my Hewlett Packard running Windows 3.1 was having problems with MIDI. in the Windows 7 world, I am having difficulty finding a reason to use a Mac. I understand if that is someone's preference, but I still haven't hear a valid technical reason. Same thing for photographers. My wife is a professional photog and she prefers Photoshop on Win 7 versus the Mac. One of her contractors was telling her to go Mac but he couldn't give a reason -- couldn't even muster a semi-intelligent argument. It's just a cultural thing I guess.
Good to see audio taking center stage on PC platforms :) !
@frankwick Totally agree. One thing we're trying to show with this program is that you can be an international-level artist and make great music on a PC with Windows 7. There's is absolutely no reason why you have to use a Mac.
Why does your wife prefer photoshop on a PC vs. a Mac?
I use both. But I can't understand why people swear on the mac... it's slow... on my Win7 PC I have run more than 12 programs at the Same time and my mac can't handle more than three Adobe Programs..... if any one buy a new PC, please format them directly.... company's like Dell put every crap on the System... if you have reinstalled the system, you would see it works much faster!
Don't use Tuneup or anything else... you would see that the performance goes dramatically down.
Sorry for my English ;)
One more thing -be sure and follow the conversation at #windj.
On Mac v PC... No 1 issue for electronic musicians is reliability. hardware/OS/Software/Plugins must not crash when playing live. Again. Must not crash.
Ive used stripped down XP SP2 running Ableton live 8 with Native instrument plug in synths, and Aether, Frohmage,Izotope plugins . I use only with RME fireface or MOTU firewire hardware and use the midi ports native to those interfaces. Clean windows XP SP2 install (no software other than music software installed) with minimal external hi quality hardware on Dell laptops with latest Ableton and plugins was quite reliable. But some engineer somewhere needed to put MAC v PC to the test with the same gear, and same interaction and same software running overnight to see which integrated system crashed first. -Burn in test.
On Windows 7 32 bit, Ive found this reliable and support for i7 core processors (latest dell precision m6500 laptops) has meant pretty much no limit on CPU for audio apps (& plugins) so thats a reason to upgrade. Unfortunately Ableton live is not 64bit so any extended Ableton 8 session will max out the 3Gb app space quickly, unless you 'freeze' the tracks in Ableton. Dont know if MAC has an advantage here.
I havent been able to 'strip down' windows 7 to the same extent as XP yet, but initial feedback is.. that it worked ok straight away with MOTU firewire interfaces and Ableton V8.1.1 and plugins, without any reliability issues. However I only ran it for an hour...Needs to be left running , with interactive scripts (simulate external MIDI & USB control ) overnight before I consider using it to play live. Getting bottled off stage is never fun...........
For the record, Ive never used MAC as PC was always cheaper, and I would agree with the guy from the Sonar video that said that the MAC is no more creative than the PC. Ableton live is on both so its down to the driver, not the platform. I read that PC is now as reliable as MAC. It used to be that it had to be MAC in the 90s for reliability.
Windows guys, reliability is the no. 1 issue. Please release a white paper on optimising the Windows 7 OS for audio.
Some guidance on recommended firewire controller chips would be good too....
HAL Automaton. myspace.com/halautomatonmusic
@ctgarvey: Can you D message me @winashbrown (www.twitter.com/winashbrown)? I want to touch base and talk this through with you further and make sure your feedback gets to the folks in Windows Sound.