Let me start of with stating that the idea of controlling pitch of the turntable by vertical motion is not new. In fact, JohnBeez introduced the Fretless Fader a couple of years back already. There are also other initiatives under the notion of Syntablism where timecode vinyl is used to control a synth or vst on a PC.
However, none of these ideas have been commercialized (yet?) so when Backtrack introduced the Midi Mod for the Vestax PDX 2000 about a year ago, I decided to create my own Midi Note Fader Mod.
Midi notes and pitch
Pitch control is one thing, another is to actually hit the right notes with the pitch. The good old SL1200s can hit 6 notes, 3 in 33rpm and 3 in 45 rpm, and obviously you could do this with the pitch-fader on the turntable itself. Now for one, the 8% pitch in the Technics is limiting the creativity in that. Second, hitting the exact pitches by hand (fretless) is quite difficult.
In order to overcome both of these issues there have been attempts of manufacturers to introduce turntables with wider pitch range (e.g. Vestax’s ultrapitch) and providing turntables with Midi control. This will allow you to, for example, play notes on a midi-keyboard and the turntable will change pitch accordingly to hit the right notes.
Provided you have the right turntable with midi-in and a keyboard, you can play some tunes if you have a tone on one of your records. One big issue with this is that you only have two hands which I’d rather have on my vinyl and on my x-fader. In my opinion Vestax had a good try to fix this by introducing the Controler One turntable which included all kinds of buttons ‘close-by’ your vinyl-hand. But honestly, they go for USD 3000 second hand and that’s a bit of a stretch for me.
Introducing the Midi Note Fader Mod
As I mentioned above it is now possible to mod the PDX2000 and PDX2000MKII Vestax turntables so that they will receive Midi-in for the Ultra pitch. As the PDX2000 turntables are used by a lot of turntablists, this can solve at least one problem for a lot of us, including me .
The Midi Note Fader mod also solves the second issue. It will enhance your setup with these capabilities:
- Vertical movement of the X-fader translates into Midi Notes
- Midi Notes are received by the turntable which will alter pitch in relative mode
- The range of the vertical fader movement can cover multiple octaves if needed, but the PDX Midi Mod cannot, it allows you to do C3 – G4. This is why the vertical fader movement is scaled to fit that range
- Pushing the X-fader down on the rail changes sample bank in Traktor which allows you to e.g. increase your Note range by using 2 samples which are one octave apart or to have 2 different sounds
How does it work?
More info on the turntable midi mod can be found here http://pdx2000midi.eu.pn/. The mixer modification and the software that sends out the midi notes and other midi messages (like switching sample banks, effects in Traktor, and even changing note-scales on the fly) have been custom built by me for this mod. I am currently still exploring if this is the best solution for the mod, and how I will share this with the public.
The Mod is still a beta version, and if you would like to attempt it be prepared that it will require some cutting of your equipment Feel free to reach out to me for any questions.