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Thomann's Cool Online Guides: CD-Decks

2. Hardware

Dual CD Players

Dual CD units were the first to be developed, and although initially quite basic,
CurrentThe flow of electrons or charge in an electrical device, measured in amperes (amps); defined as the voltage applied divided by the resistance in the circuit.
current
models provide almost identical features as a pair of their single CD counterparts. There are two basic designs available: Firstly, a two piece design which has a dual CD base unit without controls, and a separate remote unit with full controls and displays for each 'deck' – this allows remote mounting of the players themselves. The second type of design is a one-piece unit where the CDs are loaded into the front facia. Both designs are normally rack mountable for easy installation into club and
BarA fundamental unit of musical form consisting of a number of beats, usually 4 or 3, as defined by the time signature.
bar
setups.

A fully featured modern dual DJ CD player from Pioneer. Note the two separate sections, both 19” rack mountable.

A variation on the one-piece design is the CDmix series from Numark, which is designed to sit on a tabletop and incorporates a
ConsoleA device through which audio signals are routed for mixing, monitoring, processing and re-routed for either recording, amplification or both. A console contains a number of channel strips and a selection of auxiliary, monitoring and main outputs.
mixer
as well as the two decks. These units are very portable and are an excellent choice for mobile DJs and parties.

The earliest examples of dual CD decks came with only the basic features needed to beat match two songs; pitch control, play,
CueThe specific positioning of a tape recording usually for a cut or to begin a recording. Also used as an indication that something is about to start, like a section of music, chorus or repeat.
cue
, skip and fast forward and reverse, but these days you would also expect to see
EffectsGeneral term applied to audio processors for dynamics, time, ambience and equalisation whether in the form of 19" rack units, guitar floor pedals, or software plug-ins.
effects
,
ScratchingThe use by a DJ of a turntable and record as a percussion instrument. The hand is placed on the record, which is moved rhythmically back and forth under the stylus.
scratching
, looping, multiple
CueThe specific positioning of a tape recording usually for a cut or to begin a recording. Also used as an indication that something is about to start, like a section of music, chorus or repeat.
cues
and usually a
HostThe computer system on which a hard disk recording or other audio system runs.
host
of other features.

Single CD Players

Individual CD players were introduced after dual CD rigs, and are aimed at providing a user
InterfaceA device enabling the connection of two or more devices, or types of devices. Examples include MIDI interfaces, for connecting MIDI equipment to a computer, and audio interfaces.
interface
that is closer to the ‘feel’ of vinyl. This was a very important step in making DJ CD players more acceptable to mainstream DJs, and also paved the way for CD players to introduce scratch emulation. In this way you could finally do everything on a CD player that a vinyl deck could do, and much more.

The first generations of single CD players had only basic controls and were very similar in operation to the early dual rigs. Units of this type are rarely found these days, but the control system of all modern CD players is based around the same essential functions.

What sets modern single CD decks apart is the addition of a control
PlatterThe part of a turntable that spins, on which the record is placed.
platter
. The Pioneer CDJ1000 was the first ever unit to incorporate this technology. Pioneer developed a touch sensitive top
PlateType of reverb originally associated with pop/rock recording from the 50s to the 70s. A plate reverb comprises a large metal sheet with transmitting and receiving transducers on each side. The complex signal from the receiver is mixed with the dry signal in order to create a reverb effect. Plate reverb emulations are now common to most electronic/software reverbs, where it is thought to be particularly flattering to vocals.
plate
to the
PlatterThe part of a turntable that spins, on which the record is placed.
platter
, which detects the
PresenceThe ability of high frequencies in a sound to 'cut through' a mix. Presence controls usually boost frequencies between 3-5kHz.
presence
of the DJs hand, and as a result the unit can manipulate music in a very similar way to a vinyl record deck - when you put your hand on the
PlatterThe part of a turntable that spins, on which the record is placed.
platter
, the music
DrawbarThe main controls in an electronic organ, derived from the stops on a church pipe organ which determine which pipes are used to create the sound. Drawbars (usually 9, as on a Hammond B3 organ) are 8-step volume faders that allow you to mix together sine wave of different frequencies.
stops
just as if you had put your hand on a record. Moving the
PlatterThe part of a turntable that spins, on which the record is placed.
platter
in this state ‘scratches’ the
AudioGenerally used to mean "sound"; technically it describes periodic fluctuations of air pressure or electrical energy at frequencies and amplitudes within the human range of hearing; sound, or electrical energy that represents sound; acoustic, mechanical, or electrical frequencies corresponding to normally audible sound waves.
audio
on the CD, and modern units typically offer very realistic
ScratchingThe use by a DJ of a turntable and record as a percussion instrument. The hand is placed on the record, which is moved rhythmically back and forth under the stylus.
scratching
EffectsGeneral term applied to audio processors for dynamics, time, ambience and equalisation whether in the form of 19" rack units, guitar floor pedals, or software plug-ins.
effects
. In this way a DJ can
CueThe specific positioning of a tape recording usually for a cut or to begin a recording. Also used as an indication that something is about to start, like a section of music, chorus or repeat.
cue
and scratch just as if they were using vinyl.

The Pioneer CDJ1000. Many consider this to be an industry standard, although it does not pack in as many features as some other players. Note the large touch sensitive control wheel on the top of the unit.

A rather more recent trend has been the addition of a motor to the
PlatterThe part of a turntable that spins, on which the record is placed.
platter
, bringing the emulation of vinyl closer than ever before. Units from Denon (the first to introduce this design), Numark, (who introduced the first full size 12” control platter) and Technics are available with this technology.

The Numark CDX1 - the world’s first DJ CD player with a full size 12” control
PlatterThe part of a turntable that spins, on which the record is placed.
platter
.
ScratchingThe use by a DJ of a turntable and record as a percussion instrument. The hand is placed on the record, which is moved rhythmically back and forth under the stylus.
Scratching
on this unit is almost indistinguishable from a vinyl deck.

As with modern dual CD decks, expect other features to be incorporated, including
EffectsGeneral term applied to audio processors for dynamics, time, ambience and equalisation whether in the form of 19" rack units, guitar floor pedals, or software plug-ins.
effects
,
ScratchingThe use by a DJ of a turntable and record as a percussion instrument. The hand is placed on the record, which is moved rhythmically back and forth under the stylus.
scratching
, looping, multiple/hot
CueThe specific positioning of a tape recording usually for a cut or to begin a recording. Also used as an indication that something is about to start, like a section of music, chorus or repeat.
cues
and
Master1) The final version of an audio recording or album that has been prepared for release. 2) The physical medium on which this recording is stored or transferred, such as a glass master CD, CDR or vinyl master from which a production run will be replicated or pressed.
master
tempo among others. In the next section, each of these features is explained so you can understand some of the technology behind the jargon.

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