A couple of months ago I accidentally bumped into a project that some guys were running on capturing fader movement by using hacked x-faders. Although a very interesting initiative it still needs some extra hardware, and further development. At the same time, I also noticed the Turntable Surgeon tool. With some effort I was able to capture vinyl movement and x-fader position by merely using this software.
We need a Doctor
This tool has been around for a while, and development has been limited to say the least, but it gets the job done. It took me a while to get it running the way I wanted it to, but once you get some good recordings in there it is easy to see how this can be a helpful tool for any Turntablist out there. Basically the software draws a line (no, this is not a waveform) which illustrates the vinyl movement and direction. Very much like Turntablist Transcription Methodology (TTM) is made for. Except, this tool allows you to capture your own movements and analyze them. It enables this for the vinyl, as well as the x-fader.
Trying to get down that autobahn-scratch but it just doesn’t seem to sound right? Capture it, analyze it and learn where you need to tweak your style in order to make it crisper.
Once you captured some ‘data’ you can have the software play it back to you or, and this is the cool part, edit the routine or zoom in to see what is going on. If you are familiar with TTM it can be an eye-opener to see your own cuts drawn out in front of you.
How does it work?
Turntable Surgeon was created to work with Ms. Pinky timecode records. Although the creator notes that any timecode should work and the software can learn the ‘new code’ if you use the ‘fix vinyl speed’ option. I did that with my Final Scratch records and it worked like a charm.
The x-fader is a bit trickier. Turntable Surgeon will send a high-pitch tone through your mixer and it will calculate the volume of the sound that gets fed back into the software. An innovative way of tracking the x-fader position without really noticeable issues (unless you’re a dog and are receptive to very high pitch sounds…).
I needed to re-route some of my jacks in order to accomplish this as normally I only ‘cut’ the master sound, not the feeds going into my ASIO box. That will work as well, but timecode software will have a hard time picking up the track if it gets cut off constantly. In case you’re trying to get your setup working with Turntable Surgeon but bump into issues, drop me a line and I’ll see if I can help you out.
Like I mentioned above the x-fader capturing can be a bit tricky. Another issue of the software is that the waveform only gets drawn right if you select the correct part of the sample used (which currently is only the one that comes with the software) and the correct piece of your routine where it is in. If you’re not sure it is best to select both areas in total, you can then zoom in with the zoom function.
Currently it is not possible to load any other samples into the tool than the one that is in the tool itself (at least I didn’t manage to do this). However, as most turntablists who are practicing would use an Aaaaah sample anyway I don’t see this as a major hurdle at the moment.