PiDVS: What If DJs Using DVS Didn’t Need Laptops?

We love spotlighting ingenuitive projects on DJTT – and one of the areas that with considerable activity in the last year has been standalone gear. Today we’re taking a closer look at PiDVS, a full-featured concept that brings complete digital DJ features. We’ve seen similar hacker projects tackle this concept before – but this is the most commercial ready. Keep reading to learn more.

What Is PiDVS?

The core idea behind PiDVS is bringing the CDJ-style experience to DVS users, without adding a laptop into the mix. Instead, this project uses Raspberry Pi – a tiny computer – for each deck.

The man behind the project is Sam Spreadborough, a student (soon to be graduate) of UWE Bristol – who has put together PiDVS as his final year project. Sam writes:

The project idea came from seeing how easy the Pioneer CDJ 2000 (and similar) range of CDJs are; you just bring a USB music, and then seeing how complicated a standard DVS setup is.

This project would be perfect for any DJ who enjoys playing using vinyl and would like to simplify their setup, or, for the DJ who’s interested in learning to use vinyl but is intimated by other DVS solutions.

The PiDVS is able to be adapted to work with any turntable or CD player (basically anything that can output Timecode) so long as one of the supported Timecode types are used.

Listen to him explain the concept and go through it in the video below.

The Real Win Here: The Software

We’ve featured a few other standalone DVS projects on DJTT before – including PiDeck and the wild Technics DVS mod. But the PiDVS project really shines in terms of polish on the software used on the Raspberry Pis. Take a look at the feature list for the software:

  • 0.7 ms latency
  • Scrolling waveform
  • BPM display
  • Cue points
  • Loops
  • Able to play music from USB drive
  • File browser search
  • Software phono preamp for turntables without line level output
  • Players linked via ethernet can share beat counter information
  • The PiDVS runs at 48KHz sampling rate, using a 32 sample block size. This gives a total latency of 0.7 ms. The scrolling waveform has a refresh rate of 60 frames per second.

Read even more about PiDVS’ features and software in the official user manual that Sam has released online.

How Can You Get PiDVS?

A suggested hardware pairing in the user manual – maybe a company like Reloop would take the release of PiDVS on?

Prepare to be disappointed: despite this project being completely finished, Sam is (perhaps wisely) choosing not to release the software publicly. The user ends with a note, carefully placed right below his LinkedIn and contact email, “There are currently no plans to release this commercially.”

The bet here is instead that a major music manufacturer will bite on the project and want to get Sam and his project locked down and bring PiDVS to the general public.

It’s a bit of a coin toss – on one hand, this is easily one of the most complete and well-done projects of its kind we’ve seen. On the other hand, it would be pretty unsurprising to find out that Denon or Pioneer were working on a similar standalone concept in their labs. Developing a complete hardware solution and bringing it to market takes much resources, and those two companies already have heavy forays into the world of standalone DJ gear.

Would you want to see PiDVS released to the world? Share your thoughts in the comments below. 

DVSraspberry pistandalone
Comments (19)
Add Comment
  • Jay

    I like innovation and open source, however, I’m not looking for anything else to buy just to leave a laptop at home.

    Nice thing about a laptop:
    I already have one
    Write a thesis
    Do my taxes
    Surf the net
    Update my website
    Do Graphics
    almost infinite other uses

    This if it ever comes to market:
    Separates me from whatever this is going to cost and can play music. That’s it. Will it turn me into the next greatest touring DJ, probably not.

    I find using DVS with Serato or Traktor quite easy on a laptop. Definitely easier than using the external boxes. Not sure where the maker gets that idea.

    Raspebery Pi on, depending on which you get is at least about $35 X 2 = $70. The screens are about $89 assuming the touchscreen. So $89 x 2 = $178. Approximately $248 plus whatever cables. Traktor was $100. The traktor app for ipad was $4.99. (I am no means advocating for Traktor, just using as a price comparison example). What do you think this is going to cost if comes to market? CDJ2000 is basically just this and it’s in the neighborhood of what $1800-2k for one? meh.

    Decided after buying the CDJ1000s way back when they came out and keeping them for a short period, I’ll either play my vinyl at home, as I’m tired after 20 yrs of dragging it around and quite frankly nobody cares except a few, play my laptop or USBCDJs depending on club. I’d rather have a midi controller, that if it gets trashed I’m not out a fortune an can program it to do what I want it too. If the clubs want to buy one of these, go for it! But going out and spending money on the “latest thing” that Pioneer or whomever regurgitates, is not for me.

    But kudos for someone actually making something like this actually work with raspeberryPi. Big fan of the Pi and the initiative.

  • Joshua Church

    I think a nice set of 3d printed enclosures for the screens and stuff that snaps on to the turntables would be cool. basically make it all one unit

    • Sam Spreadborough

      Way ahead of you! Got some 3D print designs in the works

  • QCube

    Programms like this have to be open source in my opinion. They don’t do much harm to the big companies anyway because too much people will shy away from the effort it takes to set it up or from the technical difficulties and the ones who love to do projects as these would have more knowledge to do so.

    I can understand he didn’t want to get in any trouble and win some attention for a good job oportunity but still, open source is the way to go in my eyes as he won’t be able to earn any money from just this code allone anyway. I’ve done a midi controller as a scool project once and learned a lot but used a library someone has written already and I was verry thankfull to him. That’s just good tone in the Programming and electronics world if you ask me.

    I would love to post more of my work for open source sometimes but it’s not possible if you have a day to day job. But projects like these… man, what a waste if he doesn’t publish it…

  • Cody Lanoue

    I would rather see someone pick this up and really polish it. Add effects and expand the looping options (slicers and such). Midi Input. A link system between each deck (computer/stand alone device). And I want to see Video Support. I know it will be a major boost in processing power. Maybe not Video effects. But Video out would be awesome.

  • TheGreatDJSwindle

    So instead of one computer now you need two…very advanced. Also he’s trying to become rich with that thing…very revolutionary.

    • Sam Spreadborough

      This is just a proof of concept university project. The idea is that the computer is built in to the turntable… like how CDJs work.

    • MostlyLucid

      your snarkiness is common of people who have not done something as complicated as this before.

  • Christopher Allen

    i’ve literally been working on this same idea for the same reasons!….welp

    • Sam Spreadborough

      Send me an email: Sam
      I’d be interested to know how you’re getting on. Not many people doing this kind of project

      • Christopher Allen


          • Christopher Allen

            got it. haha. after 2 failed attempts, you should have an email

  • h8ter

    Such a great innovation. I’m just waiting for someone like Pioneer to introduce a turntable with a display/touch screen. I can only imagine how many new DJs (who are turntable purists) but started on DVS, wouldn’t be able to beatmatch without sync since they can’t match the waveforms together like on Serato…

    • ?The Other Denzel?

      I keep seeing comments like this, and I have to fundamentally disagree.
      The hardware should be in the mixer, that way the cost of ownership is one device and not two.

      Imagine a pioneer s9 style mixer with a pioneer DJM-Tour style screen, with proper dvs functionality. You’d only need one jump drive, every control you’d need is on your mixer, and every piece of information you need is in one place.

      I’d buy one.

      • Sam Spreadborough

        The idea in the back of my mind the whole way through this project was that each screen would be embedded in to a turntable. It was never going to be a standalone device (even though it currently is). If it went inside the turntable, no extra cables, and it would be essentially be like two CDJs linked together

      • Dubby Labby

        It could be something in between like Numark Dashboard including the soundcard, pendrive and even midi din/usb midi host to plug your regular (analog or not) setup. No need to buy extra nothing… just the DVS cpu.

    • Roger

      Yes! I small usb slot and a tiny screen see and a button just to load. That would be awesome. Would use that everyday…..