We were honored to welcome Matthew Chicoine, aka Recloose from Roland to talk about the most anticipated DJ product of the year, the Roland DJ808. While it shares the familiar form factor and features of a typical DJ controller, as Matthew reminds us, a more appropriate description for the DJ808 is a DJ/Producer Instrument. This designation is inspired by the controllers on board TRS Drum Machine/Sequencer and VT Vocal Transformer. The DJ808 is really all about versatility. As Matthew explains, this controller allows you to shift between DJ and production roles, so it is a great option for DJ’s looking to get into Music Production and vice versa. The impressive hardware on the DJ808 is highlighted by premium low latency platters that are ideal for cutting and scratching. The large velocity sensitive pads offer some unique options for expressive control of your TRS drum sounds including finger drumming, roll mode, and pattern triggering from the sequencer. The built in 4 channel mixer contains effects including Filter, Noise, Jet and Dub-Echo for even more sonic possibilities.

Let’s check out some of the essential features of Roland’s first DJ controller.

Beat Grids:

To get the most out of the DJ808, you should first put your tracks through the Serato Analysis function to properly assign a key and BPM for each of your tracks. This will provide important visuals for your track when you pull it out of your Serato library including Beat Markers. Matthew shows us how to edit your beat grids manually using the DJ808 controls. While Beat Grids are a standard part of any Controller to Software workflow, it is especially important on the DJ808 because you can Sync the tempo of the TRS to your Serato track and vice versa.

Built in 808 TRS Sequencer:

Without a doubt the Roland DJ808 is an impressive piece of hardware. High quality knobs, faders, pads, and a rugged overall build quality are immediately noticeable. However, with so many great DJ controllers for you to choose from, at Sam Ash we are always looking for something unique, and Roland does not disappoint in this area. As Matthew shows us, the top section of the DJ808 offers the legendary and iconic Roland Drum kits along with a sequencer. We’re talking Roland 909, 808,707 and 606 drum kits that reside just north of your platters. Matthew shows us how easy it is to combine these kits together using the encoder and display if you’re looking for the 808 kick with a 707 open hat sizzle. For true customization you can adjust parameters like decay and attack with onboard knobs. We love that the large format velocity sensitive pads can be mapped to the TR808 section for finger drumming and beat rolls. Moving on to the sequencer, you will see that it is fairly straightforward to setup and you can make small changes to your patterns using the duplicate function. The Roland team worked very closely with Serato to achieve seamless compatibility with the softwares latest features including the Serato Sampler. This offers unlimited sonic options you can use with the sequencer.

 Serato Pitch N Time Integration:

Assigning keys to your Serato library lets you achieve harmonic mixing. Shout out to Matthew for giving us a brief overview of the Camelot wheel and for reviewing which keys work well together. This helps put perspective on the power of the Serato Pitch N Time feature. We can now sync tracks together because Serato will sync the two tracks and assign the closest compatible key so you can mix in key. Bringing it all back to the hardware, Matthew explains Pitch Play. The essence of Pitch Play is taking your assigned cue point and triggering it in different keys. As a superb bonus, Matthew reached into his bag of tricks to show us how to get one of our tracks to shift keys without triggering a cue point. Another standout characteristic of the DJ808 controller is its unmatched integration with Serato, particularly the latest features of the software like Serato Pitch and Time, Key Shift and the Serato Sampler.

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Marco Nevarez
Stepped in the music retail business at the age of 16 working at a local music shop where I started developing knowledge about quality instruments. Couple years after joined the crew at a local audio visual service and equipment rental company in southern california acquiring knowledge of live sound from the inside out. Picked up a certificate of Digital Music Technology from San Diego City College where I learned music production and recording techniques in the digital realm. Playing drums for bands like Moving Units, re-mixing local acts or producing music are endeavors that I am consistently engaged in. Specializing in the genres of Hip Hop, Soul and House. Self proclaimed multi instrumentalist and home recording expert.