Interview - Sam Gribben of Serato
Serato's General Manager talks straight about NS7 and what it means for DJs
NUMARK: Serato has had tremendous success with Scratch Live. Why did you develop ITCH?
SAM GRIBBEN: A lot of us here at Serato are die-hard turntable fans, but a few years back we had a conversation about what the future of DJing might look like. Vinyl is going to be around for a long time, I have no doubt about that, but if you look into the distant future, things will be different. I think that controller-based DJing is going to be a big part of that future.
NU: How did the partnership with Numark come about?
SG: I remember meeting with Numark's Jack O'Donnell at the NAMM show 3 or 4 years ago, to discuss the possibility of collaborating on a controller designed specifically for use with Scratch Live. From there, we got talking about the ideas of making dedicated controllers, and when we came up with the ITCH concept, Numark was an obvious choice.
NU: If someone is a Serato Scratch LIVE user, what can they expect when they start using Serato ITCH with NS7?
SG: ITCH and Scratch LIVE are built on the same core, so someone using NS7 for the first time will notice the same quality in tracking the platters, and the resulting audio precision. They'll also be able to use their existing Scratch LIVE library, and all their crates, cue points, and loops will show up in ITCH.
NU: Can someone download and use ITCH without anything else?
SG: Yes! The ITCH software is available for free from numark.com/ns7 and serato.com. Anyone can download it and use it as a media player and library organizer. Then, connect NS7 and ITCH becomes a full-fledged DJ application, giving you have full control over the music in your library.
NU: What does Serato software offer for DJs that sets you apart from your competition?
SG: At the core of the ITCH concept is the idea that the DJ shouldn't need to ever think about how the software and the hardware interact – that's the job of the engineers that design the product. When you buy NS7, and take it home, you can be rocking tunes in minutes. There is no annoying authorization or set up that the DJ needs to go through. When you're performing on NS7, you never need to think about what a button on the hardware is going to do when you push it… everything is clearly labeled, and does what it says it does. The hardware and the software are engineered to be a perfect match.
NU: Some people may be confused about the difference between Serato Scratch LIVE and ITCH. How do they differ?
SG:There are two big differences. The first is that Scratch LIVE is controlled by audio from external device, for example a turntable or CD player, whereas ITCH is controlled by dedicated, purpose-designed controller, NS7. The second is that in Scratch LIVE, all mixing is done in the DJ mixer, but in ITCH, the mixing is done in software.
NU: What do you see as the most significant feature or ability that NS7 and ITCH offers for DJs?
SG: NS7 is packed with features, but it's the platters that really stand out for me. I don't think anything out there will come close to the responsiveness of NS7.
NU: Are you planning any features in the future that would take specific advantage of NS7 and let DJs do things only possible with this system?
SG: The partnership between Serato and Numark has already broken plenty of new ground, and I expect that to continue, but we can't spill the beans just yet!
NU: Many people use Serato Scratch LIVE software for performing today. Do you see NS7 shifting that balance in favor of ITCH?
SG: NS7 has a superb layout, with every feature within easy reach. DJs who found they could move quickly with Scratch LIVE are going to be blown away by NS7.
NU: If you could look into the future, what do you think you'd see in terms of where DJ software is going for software and hardware tools?
SG: I think the future lies in hardware and software companies working together to engineer a product that best meets the need of the DJ. The DJ's job is to entertain the dance floor, and they shouldn't be concerned with getting their gear to work. I think that once DJs get used to the idea that they can get solid performance out of a software-and-controller combination, we'll start to see some interesting ideas come out of R&D labs around the world. We certainly have our fair share of ideas that we'd like to see make it to the market.