Not every DJ has a lighting designer and visuals team, but that doesn’t mean that unique lighting effects have to be out of reach. With the new SoundSwitch hardware/software package, DJs will be able to write lighting scripts for songs in their library – it’s like a DAW for lighting. When a track is played back with Serato DJ, the associated lighting cues and effects are played back automatically in time with the tracks in the mix.
- Product: Soundswitch software and hardware DMX controller
- Manufacturer: Onesixone Ltd (in New Zealand)
- Price: $499 on the SoundSwitch site
- Availability: Hardware set to launch August 12, software in Beta now
- System Requirements: Serato DJ, Mac OS X 10.9 or later or Windows 7 or later, 5GB HD space, 4GB RAM
The team behind SoundSwitch is calling it a Digital Lighting Workstation, with clear aspirations for track-based customized lighting shows to become the new industry norm.
For many DJs (mobile, club, underground, etc), lighting is usually a luxury or an afterthought. But with SoundSwitch, you might spend even more time preparing your DJ library and designing interesting lighting shows for every song in your set.
Edit Mode: Preparing Songs In Soundswitch
SoundSwitch has a whole series of tutorials on their site showing how the software is used – and the whole thing seems fairly intuitive. The software is split into two parts – Edit Mode, and Performance mode. In Edit mode, you prepare your lighting fixtures and lighting scripts for each track.
The main screen in Edit Mode looks just like a DAW, but instead of instruments, they are lighting fixtures. For each fixture, there’s a track in SoundSwitch that controls the intensity and color of the unit. There’s also a Master track if you just want to send one identical signal out to every light.
What About Songs Not Prepared In SoundSwitch?
Many DJs might not have time to build a custom lighting track for every single song in their library that they might play. The solution for this from SoundSwitch is to have a few different Autoloops that can be used as a backup for such instances.
They’re just short loops of lighting scripts that can be triggered on the fly. You can set up to 32 lighting cue loops (eight loops in four different banks). These loops will play automatically in time with your beat grid if there isn’t an associated SoundSwitch script for the playing track.
Performance Mode: Playing Sync’d Songs
SoundSwitch is very preparation-focused. When it comes time to actually perform, the DJ only opens the Autoloops software, connects it as a “Serato Remote” in Serato DJ’s preferences, and mixes tracks as normal. SoundSwitch stays in the background and isn’t something you’ll be interacting with during a set.
SoundSwitch requires their own proprietary DMX interface. It’s a small box, connected via USB to your computer, with a simple three-pin DMX connector on the side of it. For now, you can only use SoundSwitch with their own interface, but according to a support page on third-party hardware:
“There are a few things in the pipeline here at SoundSwitch HQ, which we are looking to get to you as soon as possible. All we can say at this stage is watch this space…”
In terms of DJ software that SoundSwitch is compatible with, it apparently works just fine with any of the Serato DJ supported hardware controllers and mixers. The software uses information from the DJ hardware to adjust the overall intensity, so it has to be a USB-connected mixing surface.
For Serato DJ users who are performing with external soundcards (specifically the SL2/3/4 or Denon DJ DS1), SoundSwitch isn’t supported – only because for now, the software uses channel faders and the crossfader to mix the lighting tracks. If audio manipulation is happening outside of Serato, it’s impossible to tell which track is going to the master output – unless those faders send MIDI back to SoundSwitch, which is on the dev wishlist for the future.
What are your thoughts on this solution for DJ lighting automation?
Would you use it? Let us know in the comments below.
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I love the idea of this thing. But like some of the other posts, I’m a Traktor guy too. Any suggestions? Thoughts???
I think this is an interesting concept—and in fact, I personally suggested a similar concept (though based on MIDI and not as a fully integrated solution) for Traktor many years ago. However, as someone who does quite a bit of light programming, I can’t help but think of about a million reasons why this is never going to be anything but a very, very niche product.
The biggest reason I say that is that even with the most advanced of lighting decks (which this certainly isn’t), intelligent lighting just isn’t interchangeable. Adding, removing, and changing fixtures is inconvenient and time consuming under even the best circumstances. Expecting to show up at a venue and control an entire lighting rig (or even part of it) is, quite frankly, impossible given the way that lighting is currently implemented. I could elaborate, but anyone who’s ever worked with intelligent lights will understands exactly what I mean.
Even if it’s a scenario where I’m working with a discrete lighting system, it’s going to be ridiculous. For example, let’s say I do take the time to prep even 50 songs (which would be far less than what I would really want to do if, for example, I was prepping for a wedding gig). That’s all well and good, but what happens when I decide to add a few more fixtures to my setup in six months? I get to go back through EVERY SINGLE TRACK to reprogram my lighting show. Just thinking about that gives me a headache.
Again, I commend these guys for the idea because syncing lighting to audio IS awesome and there are a LOT of people who are not in a position to have a dedicated lighting guy, but I just don’t ever see this as being something other than an interesting tech demo.
Thanks for your feedback.
SoundSwitch actually has solved these exact pains.
Firstly, you don’t have to script every song. SoundSwitch has a feature called Autoloops. These are short lighting loops that are created using 8, 16, 32, 68 128 Bar durations.
If you load a song into Serato DJ that doesnt have a lighting script attached SoundSwitch will load your Autoloops and sync these to the Beatgrid in Serato DJ. So if you load a song that isnt scripted, you will always have a light show that works and because Autoloops are created using musical structure (bars), the changes in the lighting will correspond with changes in the music. We ship 8 prebuilt Autoloops with the software and users can also create their own. You can create 48 Autoloops in total.
Fixtures and Different Lighting Setups:
SoundSwitch uses a track based editing workflow similar to DAW’s like Ableton live.
There are tracks for each light in your rig and one Master Track, if you create light shows or Autoloops using the Master Track, every fixture that you have added to a venue in SoundSwitch will be controlled in the same way via the Master Track.
Lets say you have setup a Venue in SoundSwitch that has 4 fixtures, the Master Track will control all 4 fixtures in the same way. You can go deeper and control individual fixtures if you want but you don’t have too. Now, 6 Months down the track the club adds 6 new fixtures, all you have to do is drop and drag the fixtures into your existing venue in SoundSwitch and set the correct DMX address and these lights will now work with all of the Autoloops and Scripts you have previously created. This literately takes 5 minutes.
To add to this, the Master Track for each song or Autoloop is standard across every venue that you setup in SoundSwitch.You can have 7 different lighting rigs setup and all of the songs you script and the Autoloops you create will be mapped to ever venue you setup. So, if at short notice, you are asked to play at a new venue, simply create a new venue in the software, drop and drag the lights and address them correctly and all of your work will carry across.
Heres a video showing you how the Master Track work and also the individual control over fixtures:
And here is a video showing you how Autoloops work with Serato DJ:
You can check out more info at support.soundswitch.com
Thanks for the response and for reading my comment. Again, I really don’t mean to criticize your product so please don’t take my comments as anything more than my personal feelings. You guys obviously (or at least hopefully) know more about what your customers want than I do and I fully recognize that. That said, I didn’t mention it in my initial thread, but I do feel like I would be kind of the core of your market—I have owned and operated a high end mobile DJ company for about 15 years (www.MidwestDJs.com) and I also own a small DJ + Martini Lounge (www.LimeLounge.com). I DJ and I also program all of the lighting/video for both. The only caveat is that I’m a Traktor guy. Nothing against Serato, I’ve just been using Traktor since the day it came out for the Mac and it’s where I feel the most comfortable. But, like I said, I actually thought of a very similar idea many years ago which is why I was interested in reading the article and on commenting on it.
From what you’ve said, it seems like you are trying to address the flexibility issues that are inherent in DMX lighting, but I’ve gotta tell you, what you’re offering in that regard seems very, very basic. Again, my goal here is not to disparage your idea or your company, but to be honest the examples I’ve seen just aren’t very interesting. I mean, you’re showing essentially one color RGB control of a large matrix of (what look to) Chauvet Cores which have individually addressable pixels and that functionality is barely, if ever used. I have a tough time seeing how that’s even as good as something like a decent sound active program. Yes, it’s custom made to each song, but it’s just so basic—and I still don’t see how that changes without an insane amount of preparation time (and for every different venue).
I mean, take my small bar (capacity about 100). The lighting rig consists of six Chauvet Intimidator Spot 150 LEDs, a pair of Blizzard Stimul-eyes (a cool fixture IMHO, but one that’s pretty difficult to program for a variety of reasons), and a number of different LED washes and strips, and a DMX switch pack to run my hazer, and a strobe. Not a big or elaborate system by any stretch of the imagination but it’s well programmed. I have a very hard time seeing how a DJ would come in, plug in to my system, and run a show that’s even close to what the house system does on Autoprogram. Just blinking and changing colors isn’t going to cut it–not by a long way.
Now I understand that a lot of people have intelligent lights that they either don’t program, or program very poorly, so that could very well be the market that you’re after, but I’ve got to tell you, as a club owner, it would be a VERY hard sell to let some DJ come in and plug in to my DMX rig.
Also, is it fair to assume that you’re really just targeting the most basic lighting functions? Again, maybe I’m not your target customer, but my mobile system consists of (among other things) Chauvet Rogue R2 spots which I would consider to be roughly in the middle of the line in terms of complexity when it comes to moving fixtures. I run them in 21 DMX channel mode (16 bit movement, two gobo wheels, two color wheels, focus, prism, frost, etc.) and I’ve spent a LOT of time programming these things to look awesome. However, I also rent them out on occasion and I’ve seen people who think they can just plug them into their DMX software use them and they look terrible. Again, how are you realistically going to walk up to a lighting system like this and be able to do anything but maybe pan/tilt and perhaps change color? To even put these lights in a crisp white spot you literally have to set at least five DMX channels…
Really guys, kudos to anyone who can make DMX lighting easier to run. It’s way, way more complex than it looks, and I’ve personally seen so many people think that they’re going to buy a software and a few lights and get great results—only to realize that it’s far, far more difficult than they could have imagined. However, I’m really still failing to see how this is a viable solution for anything other than the type of person that owns a small lighting system and wants a more-or-less hands off way to control it while they DJ…
Its all good, we understand where you are coming from.
Considering how different SoundSwitch is from existing DMX lighting software its easy for people to be hesitant toward it.
In our latest demonstration video you are able to see SoundSwitch controlling the Chauvet Intimidator Trio, Chauvet ColorStrip and two RGB LED Par Cans. I’ve placed a link in my pervious message, maybe take a look at that and let me know what you think.
“would be a VERY hard sell to let some DJ come in and plug in to my DMX rig.”
We understand the reservations here, however, if someone were to plug into your lights with SoundSwitch, or another control software, theres actually very little risk as the lights would simply start to follow the new system then, once switched back the house system, the lights would go back to your settings. SoundSwitch only requires that the DMX plug be changed from the lighting desk or lighting software to the SoundSwitch interface.
We have tested switching between ShowXpress to SoundSwitch live in a club (400 capacity) on a very busy night with no issues.
At this point, SoundSwitch controls the following DMX functions:
Pan & Tilt (8 and 16 bit)
Individual Pixel Control
Soon to be added: Gobos, Zoom, Prism, Frost Etc. Adding this functionality to our software isnt hard to add, but we like to present the most simple and effective user interface which takes time to design and build.
You’re right, the first video didnt showcase the individual pixel control but this wasnt the focus of the video. Pixel mapping is also in the works and our backend already supports this.
“To even put these lights in a crisp white spot you literally have to set at least five DMX channels…”
Great point most people don’t understand that sometimes it takes a combination on channels to make one effect. SoundSwitch’s fixture library contains most information required to set a fixture to a particular state. For example, you might need to set the Intensity, Colour and Shutter channels before the light will even turn on.
SoundSwitch uses Macros to do this without user input. In the above example, SoundSwitch would automatically set the shutter channel to an “on” value and let the user choose the Intensity and Color via the interface.
SoundSwitch is only at version 1.0 and new features will be added as we progress.
Again, thanks for the response.
Regarding not wanting to let someone plug in to my lighting rig, it’s not that I would be hesitant because I think they would break it–I’d be hesitant because (among other things) my lighting rig controls the entire look of my room (there are lots of ambient lights that run on DMX) and it could get very uncomfortable (or dark) if the person running it didn’t know exactly what they were doing.
I do think the “macros” as you describe them sound interesting. It sounds like a ton of work on your end to be able to do this for even a limited number of fixtures, but it definitely sounds like it would make things easier from a programming perspective.
In any case, I’ll have to keep an eye on the software. It’s an interesting idea! Best of luck!
umm, so how will the DJs know what lights the venue will have available for the DMX control?
Your best option is to talk to the lighting tech or venue manager, to find out what fixtures are available to use.
So I am using Traktor, Ableton, and ADJ MYDMX2.0 to achieve a similar effect for my mobile live performances. I can essentially do everything this software offers already. But this sounds a lot easier.
So I’m using T
I like the idea, definitely a game changer for mobile djs. I’m curious to see how the lights react during transitions or scratching.
Check out this video
What are those light effects, behind DJ Spell ?
Chauvet Core 3×3’s.. 4 of them on each side.
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