Trade shows are a new thing to me I must confess, I thought it was just a load of boring geezers warbling on about music gear. Well it is and it isn't. There are representatives from all over the world and you really do get to see the latest stuff and try it out for free. We were pretty blown away by some of the things we saw,including Akai's new Synthstation25, Native Instruments' Maschine, and the great new VFX system from Mixvibes.
Most of the stalls were concentrating on either mixers or digital DJ solutions. The incredibly hefty OOVJ system was something that really caught our collective eye, basically being an incredibly rugged handmade PC laptop. It weighs quite a lot (13kg! ryanair only allow 10kg hand luggage) and it is larger than your average laptop, but what it has under the hood is pretty incredible. Intel Dual Core Processor, A 2TB hard disc, 17" touch screen, 2GB RAM, Firewire, USB, an M-Audio Delta 1010 PCI soundcard and a fully sealed backlit waterproof keyboard are amongst the things on offer here. It is built with industrial grade components and I think you'd have to drive over it with a tank to make any kind of dent in the thing, not cheap though, £2995+vat from www.oovj.com.
As I said earlier the nice chaps from Mixvibes were there, with their new system VFX. Basically I think this thing is a beast! It's still very new and as far as we could make out it's not out of Beta testing, but what a great idea! Just in the way that you can mix tracks together on Traktor or indeed on Mixvibes' own system Cross, you can now mix clips of video. You can loop and assign cue points to the video just as you can with audio, the demo they put together of a few pop videos was pretty impressive. It's definitely a "think out of the box" piece of gear, meaning it'll take work on your part to make this viable in a club. But I think it's possible, and if you can sort out a gig where you can plug this system in I think you'll blow everyone away. £ unknown http://www.mixvibes.com/content/vfx-control-0.
Another big mention has to go to the chap from Magma Bags, who gave me what is probably my only ever freebie in the music world! I was actually there with my trusty Mono backpack which I bought as a solution to traveling with the Akai APC40, but it is a little big. The Magma Digi bag sales manager Mike gave me, is perfect for journeys, such as this, where I only needed my laptop and a few other bits. It's perfectly designed inside with compartments for everything todays digital DJs are carrying. special pockets for your leads and your vinyl, as well as perfect sized pockets for your hardware, a really excellent piece of kit. €119,90 from www.magma-bags.de.
Of course an industry trade show would be incomplete without stalls from Pioneer and all the regular DJ manufacturers, there wasn't a great deal of change to what you'd normally expect to see to be honest, but special mentions do have to go to the pioneer DJM2000 mixer which is just the mutts nuts, but altogether silly and impractical for a club, and the DB4 from Allen and Heath, which is their answer to the current DJ needs, including effects, filters, USB and digital inputs, it's a fully set up midi controller and DJ mixer all at the same time. XoneDB4 £2275 inc.VAT, Pioneer DJM200 £1749 inc.VAT, both from: www.decks.co.uk.
So there you have it, my first ever experience at a trade show, it took all day on the train from my place in Ashford, cost £15 on the door for a ticket and I didn't get home until about midnight, but I enjoyed the day so much and I'm definitely going back next time, although I'll take my own music with me next time!