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Pyle Pro PDJ480UM review

Pyle Pro PDJ480UM review.

Pyle Pro PDJ480UM review

The PDJ480UM is a twin digital music player and mixer combined into a compact rack mount unit. I bought one of these to do a live ambient music mix. I found it via Amazon where it had good reviews. PDJ480UM user manual.

This is a great piece of kit in many ways and was ideal for my needs. It has one major flaw that makes it unsuitable for serious beat matching.

The unit is mains powered. There are phono connections on the back for the external inputs and a gain selector for each one to choose between phono or standard levels.  There’s two phono outputs on the back, one for the main amplifier and one for recording from. There’s full size jack sockets for headphones and microphone on the front.

The mixer is well thought out. It has gain, bass and treble for each side. In the middle are master gain, headphone gain and mic gain. A cue switch allows the headphones to select one of the two channels. There are selector switches for each side to allow a choice between external inputs or the digital players.

The two digital decks are completely independent of each other and don’t share USB/SD cards. They read the cards quickly. A single push/rotate button is used to navigate and select tracks. Pushing this also toggles between folder and track selection. It took a little while to get used to this.

Pylepro pdj480um
View from the yoga mat

The folder order confused me at first. The folders are listed in the order that you downloaded them to the card. If that was alphabetical and then you decided to add some more folders then they will appear at the end unless you wipe and reload the whole card. Sub folders are listed in the main list as if they were top level folders.It’s best not to go more than 1 folder deep in the file structure.

I find the speed with which the full file name scrolls across the screen is too slow. I edited my file names to make the first 10 digits or so enough to work out the whole track to work round this.

When a track is selected then it’s loaded up at the start point. The jog wheel can be used in “jog” model to navigate through the track. Jog works best if the track is paused, otherwise it’s too slow. It’s not easy to jump forwards and backwards quickly in a track; there’s no back to start button. It sets the cue point at the point where you release the deck from being paused. I found this confusing at first and not always ideal. Pressing the cue button will pause the track back at the cue point.

Pylepro mixer and digital playerThe pitch slider range can be set to +/- 4,8 or 16% or off completely by holding the button down. There are pitch bend buttons beneath the slider. This is the same function and rotating the jog wheel when not in “jog” or “scratch” modes.

The loop works quite well with simple “in”, “out” and “reloop” buttons.
The “single” button means that the unit stops at the end of the track. The “time” toggles the time display between elapsed and remaining time. There is also a progress bar showing in the screen.

Brake cause the track to slow to a halt. It also causes a track to come up to speed from a halt if you start it with brake on. Reverse works well, though it won’t work in a loop.

The scratch is OK but its behaviour when you let go isn’t that impressive if the track is in play mode.

The biggest let down on this unit is that the pitch steps are too coarse for accurate beat matching. With the +/-16% range it goes in 1% steps and with +/-8% and +/-4% it goes in 0.5% steps. These are too large and the main reason I’m looking to move towards a higher spec unit.

Overall it’s a loveable unit with a few limitations. If you want to mix music without beat matching on a budget then it’s a great piece of kit.

Ambient dj mix at Sanctum Bristol

Sanctum Bristol ambient DJI played two ambient DJ sets in the early hours at Sanctum Bristol. I performed three times with the African Sambistas and we were offered some extra slots but the times didn’t suit a band of ten people. I have a large collection of ambient music and electronica and I thought the early hours would be an ideal time to present it to some new people. I was partially inspired by the Robert Rich sleep concerts.

I appeared under my alter ego of Tommy Tutu, a name created for me by my friends after my new found love of tutus and dressing up in skirts and dresses in general. Shambala festival started it. I’ll have to tell you about it, it’s been a very positive part of my life, destroying a load of inhibitions and making me a very happy person as a result.

I spent a long time compiling tracks from my collection, a process that became frenzied as every time I found one track it set off several other ideas for things I had to put into the collection. I ended up with enough music to probably fill 10 hours. Some of these tracks go back 25 years for me and I’ve spent a lot of the last few years doing home yoga to ambient pieces. It was fairly simple to think of tracks that I really wanted to play. I also wanted to put some songs into the mix and maybe even some pop songs from the 80s, but only if they meant something to me.

PylePro PDJ480UM

I had a good think about how I would try to structure the set and wrote some notes on pieces of paper in case I lacked inspiration when I was at Sanctum. I also made two tracks of my own for the event, the main one being the ambient toilet flush. I bought a semi-pro twin mp3 player and mixer and learnt how to use it over the weekend. I spent so much time preparing that I didn’t really stop to think about the slightly daunting responsibility of filling Sanctum with sound.

My first set was 3am to 5am on Tuesday 17th November. On Monday night I performed with Afon Sistema at the Transforms event and didn’t make it to bed until 11 pm and I was back up at 1.30 am to prepare.

I wasn’t expecting a large crowd in the early hours and when I arrived DJ Guevara was performing to the sound man and stage manager. I’d brought my own captive audience of one with me. My attitude was that if I made one person happy with my set then it would be worth it.

The comedy of arriving in a tutu and heels and having a totally sensible conversation about cables and equipment didn’t escape me. Hey, I’m an artist. Dressing up is great fun, I think it’s becoming addictive.

Things got off to a surprising start when three new people appeared who wanted to dance. So I pulled some of the tracks with beats out of the bag. This meant that I hadn’t even started the ramp down towards full ambient mode until about 45 minutes in. Time just flew by and I was enjoying myself. The highlight for me was chanting along to dead can dance – Devorzhum. Watching the reaction to the ambient toilet flush was fun and as the crowd grew a bit and changed towards the end I played it again.

View from the yoga mat
View from the yoga mat

After seeing some of the amazing musicians at Sanctum I felt a little bit of a fraud sitting there playing mp3 tracks. I was sat on a yoga mat right in front of the audience and I had no equipment to hide behind. But this felt honest; I really was a man in a tutu playing mp3s. I hoped they would appreciate the music for what it was. I wasn’t creating it, I was selecting it. I had my first feelings of apprehension towards the end when several people were sat in chairs looking at me!

The biggest moment for me was after I’d finished when a man stood up and shouted “well done Tommy Tutu” and caused a cheer and a round of applause.

I played from 3.50 until 5 am the following morning to a different crowd. The first half was to an almost empty room so I had some fun mixing up some extra beats that I’d brought along in case there was more dancing. The highlight was again the chanting where I felt with some vocal input I was slightly more of a performer.

By the end of the second set I was just plain tired and relieved that it was over. I’d pushed my luck with the lack of sleep in doing two consecutive days. It was still a real buzz to have a positive reaction from people who were there. I’d love to do more in the future, maybe the early hours at a festival.

It was a great opportunity to appear at Sanctum. The Worm Disco Club also played an early hours DJ mix. See the November archive for a full list of Sanctum posts.