Consumer Electronics Show 2001

American DJ

If you've read How Analog and Digital Recording Works, then you know there are a number of differences between records and CDs. One of the more obscure differences is the ability to scratch a piece of music. This familiar sound -- produced by sliding a record under the phonograph needle -- is a standard effect for DJs. But because it is created by sliding the needle along an analog track, it can't be easily reproduced with a digital CD.

At this year's Consumer Electronics Show, American DJ, a leading manufacturer of club lighting and audio equipment, introduced the world's first single-CD player that "scratches" like a turntable. The PRO-SCRATCH 1 takes the CD's digital audio signal and interprets it as an analog signal, to produce a realistic record-scratching sound. The scratching control is a disc-shaped platter, with grooves and a finger indentation to give it the same feel as a record. This lets DJs create the scratching effects they want, without having to track down rare records.

The PRO-SCRATCH 1 has a number of other useful features, including the ability to loop samples, or play them backwards. If you have a separate mixer, you can use Q Start, a component that lets you jump to programmed "cue points" on the CD. The PRO-SCRATCH 1 also has several built-in sound effects, such as Echo, Bop Effect and Trans Effect. Additionally, the device lets you sample, store and recall your own sampled sounds.

American DJ also displayed Pocket Scan, a portable device that produces club lighting effects. Pocket Scan is unique in that it combines a scanner and a laser, two popular light displays, into one lightweight unit. The unit uses a 5 mega-Watt diode laser to produce a razor-sharp laser-beam effect and a halogen lamp to project 14 scanner gobo patterns -- shapes such as stars, flowers and triangles -- in 15 colors.

The Pocket Scan is an intelligent lighting unit, meaning it can create complex lighting displays based on programming or sound input. If you hook it up to a DMX-compatible controller, you can program all sorts of light show patterns to compliment the music. You can also set the Pocket Scan to sound-activated mode, so it responds to ambient sound, or stand-alone mode, which uses built-in movement programs. To create more complex displays, you can link multiple Pocket Scan units together in a chain, with one master unit controlling several slave units.