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  • IK Multimedia iRig BlueBoard and iRig HD hands-on (video)

    Last year at CES, IK Multimedia unveiled its iRig Stomp as a foot switch controller for wrangling the outfit’s Amplitube software for iOS. Here at NAMM though, the company has cast off the wired connection for the Bluetooth-sporting iRig BlueBoard MIDI foot pedal. In addition to managing presets sans cables, the device can access four effects / amp modeling combos via backlit selectors without the need to swipe the screen of your iPhone or iPad. The gadget is AAA battery powered and there’s no power adapter or in-built power pack. It’s a bit of a bummer that the BlueBoard isn’t rechargeable, but then again, a lot of guitar pedals and stompboxes are either battery or adapter powered. Two 1/4-inch jacks fare along for the ride in case you need to add on volume or expression pedals to the $99 rig that’s set to arrive in Q2.

    During our visit, we also took a look at the recently announced iRig HD guitar connector. The next-gen version of the original iRig touts higher quality sound (as the moniker suggests) and now connects via 30-pin or Lightning port for use with a mobile device or via USB for laptops and such. There’s also a input level adjustment on the side in a form factor that resembles the Apogee Jam — albeit with different connectors. Even with the help of headphones it was hard to tell just how good the captures were thanks to the painfully noisy show floor. However, in our brief time with the setup it worked like a charm for handling our feeble attempts at a few Taking Back Sunday riffs. Hop down past the break for a quick tour of the duo.

    James Trew contributed to this report.

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  • CES 2013 through the eyes of our contest winner (video)

    Many entered, but it was Daniel Orren who sent in a great green-screened video that snagged him a temporary spot on the Engadget crew at this year’s CES. Hanging with the team in our trusty trailer, getting comped meals, roaming the floor, wearing mind-controlled cat ears — honestly, it’s probably just easier to list all of the things the photographer didn’t do the other week in Vegas.

    With the dust settled, we asked Orren how he enjoyed the trip. “The showroom floor was a lot bigger than I had anticipated originally, so naturally this was great as there were more gadgets.” Amongst the highlights: “My favorite times would have to be hanging with the Engadget crew, it’s nice just chatting with everyone about all the cool stuff you’ve seen that day/week and just geeking out.” And as for that inevitable question, the one we ask ourselves right around this time each year, ” I’d love to go back to CES if given the chance, and who knows, maybe I’ll just go on my own in a few years.”

    Also included in the prize package was an Engadget Show segment to call his very own. When he wasn’t occupied with the Steambox and 4K TVs, our film crew was following Orren around to find out what it’s like going to CES as a first-timer. Check in after the break for the results.

    This segment originally appeared in episode 40 of The Engadget Show.

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  • PDJ Portable Disc Jockey is a complete DJ system that fits in your pocket, we go hands-on (video)

    PDJ Portable Disc Jockey is a complete DJ system that fits in your pocket, we go hands-on (video)

    We’ll forgive the extremely nice folk behind the PDJ when they claim to have the first fully self-contained portable DJ set-up. But that’s not to say that there is nothing new here — in fact there’s plenty. The PDJ is a rectangular slab of refreshing creative optimism. On each end is a touchscreen display that shows a virtual turntable, and in the middle is a small mixing and FX section. So, already the PDJ will be familiar in set-up to any DJ who picks it up (something the Pacemaker couldn’t claim with its proprietary interface). The mixer section has rotaries for volume, FX and additional functions (more on this later). The most important thing, however, is the onboard audio interface which crucially means you can monitor in headphones before unleashing your mix onto the world. This sets it apart from pretty much every other mobile app out there that, at best, requires you to use an audio splitter (to the detriment of your sound). Of course, you’re going to need some music to play, and there’s 2GB of internal storage to let you do just that. If that’s not enough, or you want to load up your latest jams right away, there’s an SD card slot to let you do just that (up to 32GB). Beyond headphones, there’s a line out for connecting it to a sound system, and a line in and microphone jack for adding external sound to the set. The brochure claims it offers 12 hours of battery life too — rechargeable by mini USB. On the software side, the two virtual turntables respond to touch, and button controls (for cue / play / pause). In addition to the virtual turntable, there are also sample player and one-shot screens. We got out paws on the PDJ here at NAMM, so fade past the break for our impressions.

    At about 286 grams, the PDJ is light to hold, but sits in the hand comfortably. Your thumbs naturally find their place hovering above the virtual decks, but the unit it plenty light enough that you can hold it with one hand, while using the other for more dexterous performance manoeuvres. The rotaries and crossfader in the middle section are plastic, but feel solid enough. This is, after all, a lightweight portable device. The LCD touchscreens let you get hands on with your music, as DJs are wont to do, and it’s responsive and intuitive enough. Thankfully, most of the key functions (cue, volume, fade, loops etc) have hardware controls too. To reach the extra functionality (more in depth EQ, sample player and so on) you swipe the screen to the left or right accordingly to bring up the relevant screen. It’s in these cases when the dual-mode (rotate and click) Function A/B rotaries come in handy, and the interface for controlling these extra tricks is surprisingly natural / responsive.

    The PDJ makes the usual claims about being able to scratch and so on. And you can. But as with all these smaller, touch-digital devices, it’s more of a party trick than anything else. No biggie though, as the meatier features are the beat sequence and music-pad sections. These let you bring your own audio into your set, trigger samples and build beats and jams on the fly — much more suitable to a digital device such as this. While we only spent a short time with the PDJ, it’s easily one of the most fun devices that we’ve seen here at NAMM. Purists might malign the constant attempts to shrink and gameify DJing, but we say you’re thinking about it too much. Throw one of these in your bag, and the next time you’re on the train and want to mix in headphones, or find yourself at a party, the PDJ will suddenly make a lot more sense. How much and when you say? Well expect to pay about $600 for the privilege sometime around late spring or summer.

    Billy Steele contributed to this report.

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