Happy New Year everybody! Now, between making plans for a new Cottage Country mix series and locking down dates for the rest of the new year. I thought I would put this mix together before the hits of 2020 start rolling and rewind it a bit. So let’s go back…back into time…back to the late 80’s early 90′ for this. I always wanted to do an ALL 45 / 7″ New Jack Swing mix.
What is New Jack Swing? New Jack Swing is a style of music that existed from about 1986 to 1992 that blended black R&B, pop and Hip Hop (with its origins in groups like New Edition and songs like Doug E Fresh’s “The Show” & Slick Rick’s “Children’s Story”). The name ‘New Jack Swing’ was chosen because the beats characteristically swung with almost a DC Go-Go feel (another musical form at the time). The sound became hugely popular with songs like “Poison” by Bel Biv Devoe and Boys II Men “Motownphilly” (which starts this mix) crossing over to broader audiences. Even across the world the sound was popular, in fact a lot of the 45s used in this mix were from Europe. In fact, a lot of New Jack Swing 45s are European only releases (as the US market began to move towards digital media).
Some of the defining producers of the genre are Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis (particularly early on) and of course super producer Teddy Riley, who would eventually come “full swing” and define 90’s hip hop (pushing that genre into the pop stratosphere). So, whether you like it or not, we live in a post -New Jack Swing world (at least in terms of pop music and culture). Gangster rap would turn out to dominate New Jack Swing as hip hop’s wimpier cousin but pop music has never quite gotten over New Jack Swing. You can hear it into the late 90’s with “Backstreet’s Back” sounding exactly like Prince’s “My Name Is Prince” and more obviously Britney Spears’ 2004 cover of “My Prerogative”. I can remember Bobby Brown’s original being a favourite of my older sister and, in contrast, my Dad thinking it was hilarious (a sort of generational cry for independence).
So here it is Dougie Boom X New Jack Swing X 45s vinyl = NEW JACK SCHWING!
Boys II Men – Motownphilly Another Bad Creation – Iesha Joe Public – Live & Learn TLC – What About Your Friends Wrecks-N-Effect – New Jack Swing Bel Biv Devoe – Do Me! Redhead Kingpin And The F.B.I. – Do The Right Thing Bobby Brown – My Prerogative Father MC – Lisa Baby Janet Jackson – Nasty Boys Levert – Pull Over Johnny Gill – Rub You The Right Way Tony! Toni! Toné! – Feels Good Jane Child – Don’t Wanna Fall In Love Cameo – Candy
Recently, I celebrated my birthday and thought it would be a good time to invite all my friends: DMX, Will Smith, Shaggy, etc and make a mix with my name all over it. I also added some classic movie clips with “Doug”: 21 Jump Street, Fast Times At Ridgemont High, The Hangover, etc. Hear the results at here at dougieboom.com .
Dougie Boom MEgamix
John Lee Hooker – “Boom Boom” Lil’ Will – “My Dougie” Young Problemz & Mike Jones – “Boi!” General Degree – “Boom Boom” Spice – “So Mi Like It” DMX feat. Mr. Vegas & Sean Paul – “Top Shotter” P.O.D. “Boom” Doug E Fresh & The Get Fresh Crew – “The Show” LL Cool J – “Mama Said Knock You Out” Shaquille O’Neal – “Boom!” Fresh Prince – “Boom! Shake The Room” Charli XCX – “Boom Clap” Snoop Dogg feat. T-Pain – “Boom” L’Trimm – “Cars That Go Boom” The Egyptian Lover – “And My Beat Goes Boom” Soundmaster T – “2 Much Booty In The Pants (Boom Shaka Mix)” The Outhere Brothers x Kastra x Martin Garrix – “Boom Boom Proxy (Kastra Bootleg)” Paul Lekakis – “Boom Boom (Let’s Go Back To My Room)” Just A Band & Octa Push – “Boom Boom Boom” The Boys From The Bottom – “Boom I Got Your Girlfriend” California Swag District – “Teach Me How To Dougie (Promo Only Clean Edit)” SBTRKT – “Ready Set Loop” Addison Groove – “I Go Boom (DJ Rashad Remix)” Shaggy – “Mr. Boombastic” Prince – “Musicology”
Recording your vinyl records (LPs, 12″s, 45s) to digital files can be a costly, precarious, time consuming task, where the results can often be underwhelming. I am by no means an audiophile, but a DJ who has collected thousands of records over the years, and I know enough that the better the recording sounds, the better it is for DJing and listening. Now that digital DJing has become so much a part of what I do, I still long for digital copies of those records in my collection that are unavailable elsewhere or, in some cases, they are not decent rips (e.g. YouTube rips, illegal sites, 128kb rips of yesteryear). So, my review is going to be looking at what many of the other reviews of the Sony PS-HX500 don’t cover. While focusing on the Sony PS-HX500’s ripping capabilities (not its phono stage or sound replication in a stereo set up, maybe for a latter post), I am going to be asking:
How do “natural” recordings from the Sony PS-HX500 sound?
Does the Sony PS-HX500 rip club records well?
Is the Sony PS-HX500 kind to scratchy records?
Does the Sony PS-HX500 rip 45s / 7″ records well?
How does the Sony PS-HX500 compare to my current DJ set up for ripping records?
How do “natural” recordings from the Sony PS-HX500 sound?
First, I started with a “natural” recording. That nuance of live instruments seems like a reasonable first approach. For that, I decided to begin with a reissue Alice Coltrane – “Journey In Satchidananda”. Not only does it have live instrumentation but the harp is a very vibrant instrument with sweeping highs and mids (probably hard to capture digitally I figured). For rock and amplified instrumentation, I used another reissue, here Black Sabbath’s Self titled debut.
The results across the board were excellent for the recordings. Alice’s harp rings through with great clarity, the double bass bumps, cymbals glisten. You could hear the reverberation from the room that they were playing, so there was great depth of sound. Black Sabbath sounded great as well. The rainy intro did expose a little surface crackle in my copy but as soon as the thunder kicks in it sounded great. The instruments (bass, guitar, vocals & drums) were allowed to play their respective roles and were easily accessible to my ears.
2. Does the Sony PS-HX500 rip club records well?
In contrast, with the more “natural” sounds of real instruments, I wanted to compare it with more modern recordings with some bump, i.e. some “club” records. For this example I used Jay-Z’s – “Vol. 3… Life And Times Of S. Carter” . The results in comparison to a digital copy I had, “Big Pimpin'” sounded remarkably close, taking in consideration the limitations of a 33 1/3 record with 3 songs on the one side. The recording had good low-end with the kicks coming through as they should without detracting from the vocals. The vocals coasted on top with good clarity. The stereo spectrum was a bit more narrow but I think that has more to do with the medium itself more than a fault with the turntable.
3. Is the Sony PS-HX500 kind to scratchy records?
If your ghettohouse records don’t have the wrong sleeves send them back, “they ain’t ghetto enough”
For my scratchy record (which could also arguably double as another “club” record) I used a Dance Mania test of DJ Chip – “Ghettoslide” . The condition of the vinyl is probably VG with lots of scratches. It was a well-loved soldier of the clubs, hence the wrong sleeve. Furthermore, Dance Mania records are NOT world renowned for their quality pressings and I can’t imagine their white labels fair much better. However, the results of the recordings made on the Sony PS-HX500 were relatively kind. Surface noise from the scratches were heard but ultimately the music came through with good balance (lows, mids & highs). One thing that was remarkable, the vocals although maniacally stacked, were more discernible. I could hear all the nasty words clearly. With a little bit of post-production finesse you could definitely get a good usable digital file I think. Something like the Izotope RX7 editor software (which I will do a review of shortly).
4. Does the Sony PS-HX500 rip 45s / 7″ records well?
I am a 45 fanatic. In fact my LP/12″ collecting has more or less subsided. Whereas I still have to look when I see some 45s. However, 45s are often not the greatest in fidelity. When you DJ them they often need a lot of EQ-ing to get them right. However, needless to say, I still wanted to be able to rip those impossible to find cuts. So, I tried various 45s of varying condition: High Rollers – “Place Your Bets” a Canadian disco cut; Fuji – “Revalations” a psych blues funk cut; Errol Scorcher – “Roach In De Corner” a Jamaican pressing (not exactly a quality pressing or condition); Bobby Marchan – “Rockin’ Pneumonia” a rock n roll romp.
Across the board: really good results. A little tinniness you would expect from a 45/7″ and little crackle, but really good clarity, and good lows particularly from the “Roach In De Corner”.
5. How does the Sony PS-HX500 compare to my current DJ set up for ripping records?
Compared to my other set ups (and many DJs will have the same equipment): a Technics 1200 mkII; various cartidges (Shure N44-7, Jico N44-7, Ortofon S-120), various mixers (Pioneer S9, Rane TTM-57sl and Roland DJ-505 controller) using the Serato software (Scratch Live & Serato DJ), the recordings of the same records didn’t even compare. I would say 40% better or more. Every single time the Sony PS-HX500 outdid these setups. The clarity was not only apparent to my ears but when I would load the files in Serato (without any tinkering), you didn’t get these “all one colour” waveforms, like with Serato’s all red waveform vinyl rips, suggesting a wider spectrum of sound. The only thing I think would be required to make excellent “ready for the club” rips, would be an ounce of preparation (clean your records) and a bit of post production (gain, EQ). The gain on the Sony recordings were really low, but this could be seen as a positive in the sense that you can add more and it gives you ample wiggle room to do so.
I would highly recommend the Sony PS-HX500 as an USB turntable for ripping records. I got really good results that surpassed all the other popular DJ set ups I have. I think I will definitely change the cartridge it came with (something that I will cover in another review) to hopefully yield even better results. The cartridge it comes with is supposedly an unmarked $50 Audio-technica cartridge and needle. Because of this I am ripping my really scratchy records first before purchasing another cartridge. However, cartridges are not easily swappable on this unit and needs to be installed and wired with a bit of finesse.
All in one belt-drive turntable with phono stage & USB that doesn’t actually suck.
Good price and value.
Recordings are excellent and are kind to all genres.
33/45 switch on top means no belt adjustment required to play at different speeds.
Comes with recording software that is easy to use, available here.
Records 16/24 bit .wav files but can also record using Sony’s propriety DSD format.
the stock needle it comes with is just ok.
Needle replacement may be difficult (I will find out later)
No height adjustment for the arm means only particular cartridge of a certain height will work.
Legs are not adjustable,
Arm is not automatic (I am going to look to see if an automatic lift can be installed).
For the best results you will probably need a better audio software editor to do a little bit of post tinkering, but there are free ones (e.g. Audacity).