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rb 4 - my mini-review

I've tried the new software and i want to share my impressions.
I haven't tested it really deeply and I have connected no hardware to it, just installed on my work's laptop (i know i am a bad employee...), a Dell notebook a couple of years old with Windows 7 (I don't know the model, but there's a sticker that says intel core i5 in a corner).
Bear in mind that I still use rb 2.1.1 to upload music on my USB sticks and Traktor/KeyFinder/rekordbuddy to analyze and prepare the music.

Export mode
Much improved over rb 2, but I guess all the stuff was there already on rb 3.
Good
I appreciate the option to "link" two tracks that sound good when mixed together, it's a useful feature.
It's also very good the possibility to try to mix and having 2 decks when preparing the music.
Bad
The beatgrid analysis is still horrible compared to Traktor, I can't see any advancement over rb 2. The error rate is very high compared to Traktor (at least double if not higher). I was pretty surprised to see that some of my house and techno tracks (produced by me in Ableton, steady beat, no noise or silence before the first beat, no funny tricks with the drums, all very average and regular) got wrong beatgrids from rb when Traktor analyses them without problems. Exactly as the ancient rb 2, rb 4 tends to get the bpm correct most of the times but the phase of the grid is wrong quite often.
Key analysis can write the results only in musical notation, I'll come back on this later.
Buggy, at least on my old Dell: when I have a couple of tracks loaded suddenly the cue/play stops working, or acts in funny ways like I click play and I can hear the track playing but the waveform does not run, or i click cue and nothing happens. I wouldn't make a big fuss on this point, this might be a bug with old windows and/or old computers. I'd have to try it on a decent macbook with a recent OS X before the final verdict.

Performance mode
Good
The choice of the layout of the waveforms is a good feature, it can make happy both serato and traktor users. Personally I like the two waveforms in horizontal, parallel one above the other.
The browser with the playlists and filters seems sophisticated and well organized, though I have not tested with a big library.
Price is reasonable, or better it will be reasonable when the missing features will be implemented (harmonic mixing and on-line beatgrid adjustment are my major gripes, see below). Also I find good the option to pay it for one month when one needs it.
Bad
This module is buggy as well. When I load a track I often get a red error message telling me that the beatgrid information is missing, which is not true because all the tracks were analyzed and locked before loading them.
Beatgrid correction: if one beatgrid is wrong (which happens way too often as I said above) I cannot correct it when I am in performance mode, i need to stop the music and go back to the export mode. This is a showstopper for me and I guess for many others. Traktor has always had the possibility to tinker with the beatgrid while playing.
Key and harmonic mixing: pretty much non existent. I can see the key in a column in the track list but there's no help whatsoever to guide me to select another track in key, such as for instance the traffic light system that i have on the 2000 Nexus or the colour code that I have in Traktor. The only thing that I can do is learn by heart the circle of fifths, or print it and pin it somewhere beside my monitor! Sorting by key is also useless because rb uses the musical notation, if I click to sort by key rb will sort alphabetically and that has no meaning. If i click to sort by key I expect to have the keys sorted along the circle of fifths. Traktor here again is smarter: it uses the open key notation, that means sorting alphabetically also sorts musically. Having the open key in rb would be a quick fix to this problem. To be honest also Serato does not get it right with the harmonic mixing, but it's not a good excuse...Traktor and other programs and even pioneer's firmware get it right!
The "link" between two tracks that you can create in the Export mode is nowhere to be found in performance mode. I tried to load tracks linked or not linked but i could see no visual indication of this data. I've seen that it's kind of hidden also in export mode: only when you load the two linked tracks in the decks you can get an icon signalling to you that they are linked. And where is this indication in performance mode? I expected it to be prominent and easy to find: if I load a track on one deck, the linked tracks should be clearly visible to me when scrubbing through my playlist.

In a nutshell, for the time being I'm not ready to ditch Traktor, I'll still keep on preparing my music with KeyFinder and Traktor and use rb only as a tool to upload the music on the USB stick.

Julia O

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Absolutely +1 on the beatgrid edit (a DDJ-SX even has buttons for this...) & harmonic mixing. Two things Virtual DJ 8 gets perfectly right.

Yves Smolders 1 voto
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