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2001 West Coast DJ Times Expo 
By Relm

This year’s DJ Expo was definitely one of the most interesting to date. A good majority of the vendors incorporated skratching into their displays, including the CD and software vendors! The highlight of the expo was probably the world’s first CD digital vs. turntable analog skratch demonstration hosted by Qbert, Yogafrog, and Gerald Webb.

The seminar was packed as this was the most anticipated lecture/demonstration of the event. Gerald “World Wide” Webb started by stating that he did start off as a traditional DJ, using vinyl and everything. What turned him onto skratching with digital methods was the potential of being able to use effects as well as the ease of being able to put any sound instantaneously onto a CD and skratch it right then and there. Qbert agreed that everyone should be open minded to everything, but as of now he is definitely sticking with the turntable.

Yogafrog MC'd the demonstration. It wasn’t a battle, as most press had promoted it to be. The seminar was designed to show everyone how far the CD skratch mechanisms have gone compared to the turntable. The demonstration was structured in a “question/answer” format. From the start it was obvious which medium allowed for the most control - the turntable. The CD skratch module was not nearly as responsive to the human touch. While Qbert was able to manipulate each sound in real time, Gerald used an effect box to bend his sounds. Qbert also seemed to have a much easier time switching samples or needle dropping, even though Gerald had samples pre-recorded on one CD. When it came to playing “HORSE”, the turntable once again proved to be the most advantageous medium as Qbert was able to mock and elevate every skratch that Gerald produced. The CD skratch technology is definitely taking a step in the right direction, but for now the turntable is still by far the medium of choice for the skratch musician.

Both Qbert and Gerald were very open to questions and comments from the audience. One of the first questions to Qbert was “would you ever switch over to CD skratching?” Qbert politely replied that that would never happen unless someone was able to exactly duplicate the feel and control of vinyl. The digital technology is still far off. Gerald was asked what the advantages does a CD skratcher have over analog (vinyl). He likes the fact that effects can be applied easily and also the fact that original CDs are easier to create per DJ than a piece of vinyl.

Right now there are three different companies who are in the process of developing CD skratch devices: Pioneer, Tascam, and American DJ. All are trying to replicate the control and feel of skratching with vinyl. Even though the current technology is not quite there, they are definitely on the right track.


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