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  #1  
Old 10-06-2006, 11:28 AM
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Arrow DJ MDX's Torq Review

Well the much anticipated Conectiv with Torq DJ software has finally arrived. There has been so much excitement with this new product because of many tease videos that have been all over the net, not to mention the phenomenal NAMM Austin presentation.

The questions many will have is how stable is it, does it work as advertised, how does it compare to the, now, many competitors for this booming market, and the most common question – At the low price, half of most competitors, why should I spend more on the competition, if it does it all, and maybe more, than the present players in this market.

I will attempt to answer these questions and many more. Obviously, I won’t be able to answer all questions off the bat, but as soon as I familiarize my self more with this product I will add more and more to this review and update/correct as needed. Let’s consider this a work in progress.

I would like to thank Justin of AGI Pro DJ for always being on top of things and making sure I am taken care of.

The packaging:
The packaging is really nice and appealing to the eye. It is color coordinated with the default skin of Torq and Conectiv hardware. The package I received came with an outer sleeve over an existing box with the same graphics and product info on it. The only difference I noticed was a change in Minimum System Requirements and Recommended System Requirements. The info on the inner box gave these requirements for each product (Conectiv and Torq) the outer sleeve now just gives one umbrella requirement and has been raised for both (Min. and Rec.)

The package includes:

2 - Control Vinyl
2 – Control CD
1 – Software/Driver installation CD
1 – USB Cable
1 – Quick Start Guide
1 – Conectiv Hardware



There are some things you need to get before you can make a complete connection from this new product and external control. I am sure you will notice from the list above there are no RCA cables included. You will need a total of four pair for external control.

The USB Cable is only three feet long. I give you this measurement so you can get the correct length in your RCA Cables, another USB Cable, or both.
You will also notice I did not list an Owners Manual above. There is one, and a well written one, if I may add, in .PDF format on the Installation CD. I would highly recommend everyone to print it and read it. The owner’s manual will clear up a lot of confusion and frustrations from the get go. The owner’s manual is about 88 pages long so make sure you monitor your printer so it won’t get jammed if can not hold that much paper in the “printed” tray.

I believe Synchroscience by M-Audio was able to cut a lot of costs with items not included in the box. Now, is that a bad thing? To some it may be but to me it is not. I do not mind printing the Owners Manual and for me I rarely ever use the provided RCA Cables and USB Cable. I have my own I paid a pretty penny for and prefer to use them. Conectiv can be powered by the USB Bus so it does not need an external power supply but in the event your computer does not provide this it has a port for an external power supply. (9VDC pin + 500mA)



System Requirements:
The system minimum and recommended is different on the outer sleeve, inner box and owner’s manual. So I am going to go with the highest of the 3, which seems to be the most current.

Windows XP

Minimum System Requirements
Windows XP SP2
Pentium IV 1.4GHz
512MB RAM
One available USB Port

Recommended System Requirements
Windows XP SP2
Pentium IV 2GHz (or greater)
1GB RAM
Hard drive 7200RPM or faster
One available USB Port

Mac

Minimum System Requirements
Mac OSX 10.4.7
Mac G4 1.5 GHz
1 GB RAM
One available USB Port


Recommended System Requirements
Mac OSX 10.4.7
Mac/Intel Core Duo 1.83 GHz (or greater)
Mac Dual G5 2 GHz (or greater)
1 GB RAM
Hard drive 7200RPM or faster
One available USB Port


My Testing System
iMac 20”
Mac OS 10.4.8
Intel Core 2 Duo 2.16 GHz
1 GB RAM
Hard Drive 7200RPM
External 7200RPM 250Gig Firewire (Music Library)
One USB Port used
One Firewire Port used
Apple Wireless Mouse and Keyboard used

Xone:92
CDJ-800 MK2's





Installation:

Installation is pretty straight forward.

1. – Install drivers 1st. I recommend for you to have your computer connected to the internet during this installation so you can click on the link to directly download the most up to date drivers from M-Audio’s website.

**Make sure you do not connect Conectiv until you have already installed the drivers.

2. – Connect Conectiv to your mixer, control source, and computer.

3. – Install Torq. Conectiv must be connected via the USB cable to the computer in order for Torq to launch – it acts like a USB Dongle.

Virtual Decks

The decks have all the similar stuff that most of the other competitors have which include the Artist Name, Song Name, Time Elapsed and Overview wave.

Some nice offerings are more added control to the decks via a mouse click away or midi knob, slider, or pad.

Other of these are the following described below:

Synchronization

This feature allows you to synchronize deck A, deck B, “Master” Tempo, or a different combination to each. One will act as a “Master” and the other/’s will be the slaves.

Unfortunately, this seems to only work in internal mode or Amputate. So if you planned to use this in external mode, ala control signal mode, for now it does not seem to work.

Cue Points and Looping

You have 5 cue points set up per deck that work on point.

You also have an Auto Loop with in and out point control. There is an option for you to set the loop in 1, 2, 4, 8 beats or bars. If you hit the same number again it will reduce the bar or beat and same as if you start with 2 and then hit 4 it will extend it respectively.

The loops are really fun and again on point. I can see some really great remixing done with the options mentioned so far.

Auto BPM Engine

The BPM Engine is pretty good for the most part. There are some songs, not many, I have that it did not come close to but I have not seen one that does with some of these songs. However, with all the Dance/EDM songs I played it was very accurate

If the BPM is off you can press the button below the counter and it can add 50% or reduce 50%. This is useful because some songs may not have a lot of measurable beats so it may only measure it in half time or double time if it has a lot of beats.

Key Lock

This program does have Key Lock. This is one of the most wanted features in a program of this nature, this and Auto BPM, in my opinion. Now for us external control users you will use this feature a little different than in internal mode. Let me explain what I mean.

You will play deck A at the desired tempo. When the speed is where you want it at to lock the key (or get it to its original state) you will hit the Key Lock feature. Now you match the BPM from deck B to deck A and do the same. Once the BPM is Matched you will hit the Key Lock on the deck B to return the key to it’s original state but keeping the current match of BPM.

Now understand this is all done while monitoring and matching BPM in your headphones. You do not introduce it to the main mix until you have everything the way you want it. With enough practice it does not really seem like any trouble, some getting used to yes, but in time it could be automatic to you.

When I get done with the majority of this review I will post a sample recording of how this sounds when it is used.


Waveform

I will be honest when I 1st started to use this program I really did not like the waveform. Being an SSL user I was so used to the vertical color waveform. If I did not have my headphones I could mix without them. When I 1st tried this with Torq I was all over the place.

But after I understood the wave form and what everything on it represented it was easier to mix with out the headphones again. I am still biased to more color than just one solid color; I just think it is kinder on the eyes. You can suffer from snow blindness after a while.......

One cool thing included on the wave form is it contains a Phase Grid. The grid is superimposed over the scrolling waveform to indicate the location of beats in a song. The thicker lines in the Phase Grid indicate the locations of the downbeats in a song. This worked on point for all my songs except for one. I tried to adjust it to the down beat but was not successful. I will admit I did not spend a lot of time trying to synch the grid but I just could not get it to work. It may just have been something as simple as holding shift and sliding it to the correct position. Ah, just found the answer – Shift plus Nudge or the way I mentioned and about two other ways to do it.


External Control Mode and Control CD/Vinyl

Ok, now I think this is what most of us are really interested in.

I would suggest to everyone to pay attention to the Chapter on this in the Owners Manual to make sure you get this correct. I thought I did something wrong but I did connect everything correctly it was just a minor software setting and tweaking of the Conectiv dialer knobs.

All of your setting options are in Torq’s Preferences. Now I am not going to go over everything here but do make sure you get it correct.

I am using Pioneer CDJ-800MK2’s so I am only going to be able to go over CD Settings. I have my TT’s back at home and I am still out of town. BTW, I can’t wait to finally go home for good.

Anyway, the Control CD’s contain 4 tracks all equal in length except the 4th it is 5 seconds shorter than the others @ 12:45 minutes in length. I am not sure why the 5 second time difference in the last track.

Some may say only 12 minutes compared to others that have a little over 15 minutes. I will go over a built in safety feature for that in a minute.

There are three modes Absolute, Relative, and AMPutate mode. The 1st two are very similar to other companies that have the same modes to some respect.

Absolute is what most of us are used to when we DJ because it will change the position of needle drops when you need it and the song positioning will change to the corresponding location of the needle.

Relative is just the opposite. It will ignore your needle drops and just continue to play the song at the same location uninterrupted. Here is an example. You are scratching or just playing a song and there is a skip or bump to the table, normally, you and your audience would audibly hear this show stopping event. Well in Relative Mode you won’t here this skip or bump because the music will continue to play.

Amputate Mode allows you to control one of Torq’s Decks with a single Control Vinyl or Control CD while the other Deck operates in Hybrid or CDJ mode.

Now if you are using Relative Mode and the 12 minutes run out on the Control CD because the song is longer than the allotted time. Then Runout Protection kicks in. What this means is it will kick in when the CD reaches the last 30 seconds of its signal. It will disable external mode, giving you time to needle drop back to the beginning of the control CD/Vinyl, once Torq reads a few seconds of signal from the new location, it will re-engage external control again allowing you to scratch and manipulate like normal. If in Absolute Mode it will switch to Relative and then what I described above. It will not return to Absolute Mode because of, I hope, obvious reasons.

Control CD’s
The control CD’s work great I could not get them to cough one bit. They are very precise with every movement I made. I mixed for a while and after adjusting some settings I was mixing like I always have before. Everything worked on my CDJ’s with the control CD’s.

I even tried SSL’s Control CD’s – They did not work. The song played backwards and at a very slow pace…..maybe they were subliminal messages from SSL…..

Skinnable
Torq allows you choose from many different Skins to personalize your experience/mood. Here are a couple of examples.







***I will be editing this review as I use this product more and more so understand I may get or say something incorrect due to the learning curve, misinterpretation of what I read, was written incorrectly in the owners manual, or my own typo’s. If you happen to notice a mistake please let me know and once verified I will edit where appropriate***


Don't worry, come back periodically today and I will have a lot more. I believe my members deserve more detail than just generic answers like - "It is a total flop!" or "It is all it advertises to be!"


I am initially pleased with everything so far but as I stated I am writing this review right now in real time as you read and as more is written I will edit/add where appropriate....

If there is anything you want me to include please post it below.

I want to apologize to the many who have sent me PM's in regard to this product. I have not had the time to respond and I now feel it is more beneficial for everyone to post your questions here so the questions and answers can benefit all of our members...

Don't forget to hit refresh for updated info.....
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  #2  
Old 10-06-2006, 11:43 AM
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Nice job bro! Keep it comin'
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Old 10-06-2006, 03:45 PM
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Thanks MDX. You're the best bro.
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Old 10-06-2006, 05:20 PM
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Nice MDX. I am looking forward to the videos.
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Old 10-06-2006, 06:18 PM
Ryan0751 Ryan0751 is offline
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Eeeks... bugs!

Ok this product definately has some bugs... I would definately NOT play out in a club on this just yet.

Mainly:

1. The application seems to lose settings at random. I started the app tonight, and it reset to "internal" mixer mode. This happened a few different times, and I couldn't pinpoint what I did that made it happen.

2. The application lost control of my Trigger Finger pad. I had it all setup and configured, and all of a sudden I went to use it and it didn't work. When I reconnected the trigger finger, it started working again.

3. I switched modes from CD to vinyl (playing around with the control CD's), and the app crashed. When I restarted it, it lost all my midi assignments. Grr.

4. Random switching from absolute to relative mode. I mix, not scratch, and NEVER want relative mode to switch on, unless it's at the very very end of the track and I screwed up. Even in that case, just let me screw up as I'd be a bad DJ to let that happen anyway :)

A few cool things I've found:

1. After you play a track, it grays it out in the playlist. You won't play the same track twice (not that you would anyway). Kinda cool.

2. Loops definately are cool. Wth a midi controller, even cooler. Tap the loop button, tap it again and half the loop. It just works and is quite accurate, nice.

3. Using CDJ-1000's, the timecode seems to be very very accurate. I made little pitch adjustments, and everything responded just as it should.

There are definately bugs, but nothing some updates can't fix.

Last edited by Ryan0751 : 10-06-2006 at 06:20 PM.
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Old 10-06-2006, 06:23 PM
i-kislotnik i-kislotnik is offline
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Fantastic thanks for the review.
so far so good I am extremely curious to find out how exactly you can play loops in sync with Torq, this is where Conectiv got my attention. Apparently there was a missing link between syncing Ableton to CDJs, meaning running diferent loops in Ableton in time with a CDJ, there's something that syncs the two together called Micro from Soundbite through its MIDI clock. I am wondering how in Torq you would go about triggering different loops say on Trigger Finger in Ableton in tempo with the CDJ. Is it even possible to have Torq and Ableton co-operate?
Cheers

I am expecting my Conectiv package beginning of next week.

Last edited by i-kislotnik : 10-06-2006 at 06:28 PM.
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Old 10-06-2006, 06:25 PM
Ryan0751 Ryan0751 is offline
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That I haven't tried yet... I do have ableton, I'll try it out this weekend and report back.

Quote:
Originally Posted by i-kislotnik
so far so good I am extremely curious to find out how exactly you can play loops in sync with Torq, this is where Conectiv got my attention. Apparently there's a missing link on how to sync Ableton with CDJs, meaning running diferent loops of Ableton in time with a CDJ, there's something that syncs the two together called Micro from Soundbite through its MIDI clock. I am wondering how in Torq you would go about triggering different loops say on Trigger Finger in tempo with the CDJ.
Cheers
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Old 10-06-2006, 07:15 PM
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Wow thanks for the review guys!!
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Old 10-06-2006, 07:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryan0751
Eeeks... bugs!

Ok this product definately has some bugs... I would definately NOT play out in a club on this just yet.

Mainly:

1. The application seems to lose settings at random. I started the app tonight, and it reset to "internal" mixer mode. This happened a few different times, and I couldn't pinpoint what I did that made it happen.

2. The application lost control of my Trigger Finger pad. I had it all setup and configured, and all of a sudden I went to use it and it didn't work. When I reconnected the trigger finger, it started working again.

3. I switched modes from CD to vinyl (playing around with the control CD's), and the app crashed. When I restarted it, it lost all my midi assignments. Grr.

4. Random switching from absolute to relative mode. I mix, not scratch, and NEVER want relative mode to switch on, unless it's at the very very end of the track and I screwed up. Even in that case, just let me screw up as I'd be a bad DJ to let that happen anyway :)

A few cool things I've found:

1. After you play a track, it grays it out in the playlist. You won't play the same track twice (not that you would anyway). Kinda cool.

2. Loops definately are cool. Wth a midi controller, even cooler. Tap the loop button, tap it again and half the loop. It just works and is quite accurate, nice.

3. Using CDJ-1000's, the timecode seems to be very very accurate. I made little pitch adjustments, and everything responded just as it should.

There are definately bugs, but nothing some updates can't fix.

Could you please list all your specs and equipment used?

Can you list a step by step that caused this and can you reproduce it?

I think there may be certain reasons it pops back into internal or relative mode depending what is going on or what feature was used.

This all can be very helpful in determining what went wrong.
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Old 10-06-2006, 07:36 PM
Ryan0751 Ryan0751 is offline
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Nah, like I said, I couldn't pinpoint a list of steps to reproduce it unfortunately. It really seemed to be "random", my reaction was "wtf"?

As for equipment:

Macbook (white) 1.83, 1GB RAM
OS X 10.4.7
Latest Connectiv Driver from M-Audio site

Decks:
2xTechnics 1200-MK5
2xCDJ-1000 MK2

Quote:
Originally Posted by DJ MDX
Could you please list all your specs and equipment used?

Can you list a step by step that caused this and can you reproduce it?

I think there may be certain reasons it pops back into internal or relative mode depending what is going on or what feature was used.

This all can be very helpful in determining what went wrong.
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Old 10-06-2006, 08:07 PM
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hmm, kinda like the CDJ-1000 that costs more than the S5000, and has less features than the 5K. both are excellent decks, with amazing capabilities.

here's the million dollar question: does Torq have SUBCRATES?????
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Old 10-06-2006, 10:52 PM
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I can 't wait to get my copy in a couple weeks. This sounds like it will be fun. I think it is a matter of us all mastering this software for what it is and not trying to apply another companys method to this. It will be easier for me to adjust since I haven't used SSL, MixVibes, or any other software.
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Old 10-06-2006, 11:03 PM
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Cool stuff MDX.

When you get a chance can you give us a review of the effects.
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Old 10-06-2006, 11:25 PM
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Can orders be placed on saturdays to agi and are they still in stock?
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Old 10-07-2006, 07:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tigrsharc1
Can orders be placed on saturdays to agi and are they still in stock?

They are not open on the weekend, they are DJ's themselves.

However, you can still order it online and they will get the order 1st thing Monday morning.

As far as I know the last time I spoke to Justin, they still had stock.

Good luck and let us know when you get it and what you think......
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Old 10-07-2006, 09:20 AM
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Great review. Really looking forward to roadtesting this sync'ed to Ableton. There's been a lot of interest in this from our forum members. Hopefully it will turn out to be the 'missing link' between decks and Live.
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Old 10-07-2006, 12:38 PM
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Very nice review MDX.


There are so far a few things that bug, mainly with the database.
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Old 10-07-2006, 02:39 PM
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I'm confused as to how the sampler should work... You can sample either deck by selecting the PFL (cue) button for the side you want to sample. You can also load a sample from disk.

The issue is that when you are running with 2 control decks, the sampler audio output will only go to one of the two audio output on the connectiv interface. So if you are playing a track on deck 2, and go to trigger a sample, you have to open up preferences and make sure that "sampler output" is set to outputs 3 and 4? That seems very odd to have to switch it around all the time. Why not provide an option to output on both outputs, that way you never need to worry about it?

Well I guess if you know that the sample outputs always on 1 & 2, you can just turn up your mixer channel when throwing in a sample on deck 2.

Last edited by Ryan0751 : 10-07-2006 at 02:44 PM.
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Old 10-07-2006, 02:49 PM
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Out Of My System welcome to P.D.F. Njoy your stay.
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Old 10-07-2006, 03:15 PM
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Looks like you might be givin' that 'ol "57 for life" avatar an overhall

Have you used the midi on your 92 yet? How's the trigger finger working you?
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