Photos: Traktor Scratch with Audio 8 DJ

If you're a DJ, or fancy becoming one, Traktor Scratch lets you make the most of your digital music collection, without having to go and spend a pile of money on clunky records or CDs

DJs are a funny bunch, mostly preferring to use clunky old vinyl to work their magic, but technology rarely takes no for an answer and Traktor Scratch is no exception, offering traditional DJs who can't be separated from their Technics decks access to massive digital music libraries.

Put simply, Traktor Scratch is a simplified version of Traktor DJ Studio , which enables you to mix music without any special hardware. What the Scratch system adds is a very high-end sound card that enables multiple audio inputs, via which you can connect either vinyl or CD decks .

What's the point of that, you might ask? Well, you aren't just connecting playback devices to your computer, because Scratch comes with timecoded vinyl and CDs. The purpose of these is to allow you to control your digital music, and manipulate it as if it were a record. This is actually much simpler than it sounds, and you can combine CD players and vinyl as you see fit. Up to four decks can be used too, which is really quite incredible.

That means you can scratch, move the needle and generally use your MP3s like a giant vinyl collection. If you have CD-Js, you can even program all of the buttons on the unit to perform different software functions using MIDI over USB.

You get the software, Audio 8 USB soundcard and the timecoded vinyl and CDs in the box, which is available now for about £400 -- you'll have to provide your own turntables though. –Ian morris

The timecoded vinyl is surprisingly flexible and the software has no trouble keeping track of where you are and translating it to how it plays the MP3. This can be subtle changes such as a pitch bend, or a massive great scratch.

In the box you get two timecoded records and two CDs. The vinyl will wear out over time, but the CDs should last a lifetime if you keep them away from sandpaper and Redbull. Our thanks to Pioneer for the CDJ-400s , with which we proved you still need a modicum of talent to pull off being a DJ. We failed.

The Traktor Scratch software is incredibly simple to use. It works straight out of the box, picks up the timecode signal and automatically calibrates itself.

The front of the Audio 8 soundcard has inputs for a microphone, so you can talk nonsense and yell at the assembled masses (or your bemused cat if you're just starting out). There's also an extra input here to complement the three at the rear, and add a fourth turntable or CD player, if you can handle it.

At the back of the Audio 8 alongside the three inputs and three outputs there is MIDI in and out, which enables you to control compliant devices. This is handy because most sound cards don't feature good old lag-free MIDI these days. The box itself connects to your PC via USB, which is good for PC users who might not have FireWire.

The audio outputs of the Audio 8 are then connected to your mixer, and you can please your epic crowds as usual*.

*Warning: talent not included.


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