Thud Rumble and Intel Building Tiny Computers For Laptop-Free DJ Booths

We’ve gotten a tip from Qbert’s Thud Rumble that they’ve partnered with Intel on a new project that bring tiny microcomputers into the DJ booth and potentially eliminate the need for laptops as the central hub of digital DJ’s setups. The project is debuting this weekend at Maker Faire – but we’ve got the first hints of what the project is all about.

The Intel Edison (right) and breakout board (left) compared to a quarter.
The Intel Edison (right) and breakout board (left) compared to a quarter.

Edison + DJ Gear = Microcomputers For DJ Gear?

The entire concept is based around a small breakout computer module called the Intel Edison. The Edison (which runs just $55) has a dual core/dual threaded 500MHz CPU and additional 100 MHz Quark microcontroller, onboard memory, USB ports, and wireless connectivity for accessing and controlling it.

Thud Rumble has taken the board and helped develop applications to run on them that allows control over audio playback and production gear. Proof of concept applications expected to debut at the Maker Faire include a STR8-150 turntable (for DVS control), a Native Instruments S25 keyboard, and a Maschine MK2.

Edison computers paired to a Komplete Keyboard and a Maschine MK2

We don’t yet know the specifics of how the software works, but the press release makes it clear – Thud Rumble is aiming to bring DJing and production

“back to its roots […] reconnecting the DJ  while still utilizing the convenience of digital audio files. In lieu of a computer, the artist simply inserts their USB drive of personally selected music they wish to use in the live set.”

Tracking Turntable Movements

An Edison paired to the Vestax PDX-2000 MKII
An Edison paired to the Vestax PDX-2000 MKII

Beyond just making “headless” (laptop-free) digital DJ gear, Thud Rumble has gone one further and is also debuting a new sensor technology that is integrated directly onto a turntable that allows all of DJ’s interactions with it to be digitized. This apparently is beyond just simple DVS –

Thud Rumble has also inserted sensor based technology into the the turntable that records the record, platter, and tonearm movement. The sensor technology allows soundwave data to be captured, which can then be translated in normal DJ sets or manipulated by the user in any experimental fashion.

What Does This Mean For DJs?

As the price of tiny computers like the Edison and the new Raspberry Pi 2 have dropped and their processing power has skyrocketed, it makes a lot of sense to think about how to get rid of the $1,000+ piece of gear in so many DJ’s touring and production rigs. It might be a while before we see a consumer version of this gear on sale as it’s just at a prototype phase.

But imagine this – a future where every type of electronic musician and DJ has the same experience as CDJ-only DJs do today, where instead of bringing a laptop and hard drive to every gig, all you bring is one tiny USB drive with your files and applications – and you’re ready to rock.

Read next: What The Robotic Future Of DJing Might Look Like

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