5 May, 2016
Learn: Using Samples & The SP-6
Whether you're adding your custom DJ drops, blasting airhorns or setting off the dub siren, the SP-6 Sample Player in Serato DJ is your best friend. One of the older features of Serato DJ software, the SP-6 was first introduced back in April 2009 in Scratch Live 1.9 but has seen a few improvements over the years, and there's many more improvements we're wanting to make in the near future.
There's a few different ways you'd use samples as a DJ:
- DJ drops / stings - to drop your custom radio sting, advertising, shout outs from Lil Jon etc.
- Transition FX - risers, sweeps and other FX like explosions are used a lot by DJs when transitioning tracks as you might want to stop and change tempo, or completely change the mood of the set. These can also be userful for DJs that play for rappers when you want to cut the song (cue gunshot samples).
- Sound FX - Most often than not this is either an airhorn, a dub siren or a variation on that theme. Lion roars work well too :)
- Loops - If you're playing a lot of minimal techno or similar styles of music where there is room for layering your own sounds on top, you may want to have a collection of loops in your library to add interest. With Sync, you can make sure your loops are on point and will ride on top of the track you're playing. Shakers, hi-hats and even kick loops can be used to subtly add some energy to a track. You can also make loops of tracks in your library and drag these to SP-6 slots, allowing you to sample your own music.
- Drums / one-hits - For your Araab Musiks, Lex Lugers etc... The drum sample is used for exactly what you think - finger drumming! Either use one-hits from sample packs, or drums from tracks in your library set on cue points (using the "start from feature" mentioned below).
As there are many different ways to use samples while DJing, it's important to be organised and use SP-6 Banks to hold different sets of samples. In Serato DJ, you can have 4 banks of 6 samples each. You can easily switch between banks by using the A,B,C,D buttons.
For example, you may want to have one bank set up with your radio stings, one bank with sounds FX, one with drums and one bank with your transitions.
This question comes up a lot online in many DJ Facebook groups, forums, Twitter etc. Where do you find samples? Here are a few different options:
- Your friends / other DJs - Try asking around! Chances are, there's one person in your immediate DJ circles that has an airhorn sample. Doing sample swaps is a good way to share also.
- Make them yourself - If you already are doing a bit of production or dabble with synthesisers, it's relatively easy to play around and make some cool transition FX. Just search for some basic tutorials online if you're starting out and experiment.
- Online sample banks / content providers - This is the most obvious source. There are many online providers of sample content (some better than others) and you can get mostly anything relatively easily. Free services may tend to have lower quality content or less choice, while premium services such as Loopmasters will have a huge catalogue of samples, ready for professional use.
- Your music - You can always go the classic route, and sample your own music. Whether it's a loop, or a series of vocal cuts you've assigned using cue points (and "play from") settings, it's an easy way to use music in another way in your sets. You can even drop a full track into an SP-6 slot, which will keep playing - freeing up your virtual decks.
The SP-6 Sample Player
Open the SP-6 Sample Player by hitting the SP-6 button located at the top of the screen within Serato DJ. You can load samples to slots by dragging from your library directly to the slot, or from the Virtual Deck.
Performance vs Advanced View
You can switch between a simple performance view of the SP-6 Sample Player, or an advanced view that gives you access to many different settings. Use the advanced view while preparing your banks so that it's set up nicely for quick and easy performance when your at the club.
Use the buttons on the left of the SP-6 to switch between these view modes.
The SP-6 Sample Player slots have a few different play options, which can be set to the right of the sample slot. You can choose from Trigger Mode, Hold Mode and On / Off Mode. Hit the play mode button to cycle through these.
- Trigger Mode will play the sample entirely through from one touch - you can't stop the sample once it's been triggered but hitting the sample again, will start it playing again. This is useful for things like drums and one-hits where you want to be able to hit multiple times in a row quickly.
- Hold Mode will play the sample for as long as you hold down on the play button / performance pad.
- On / Off Mode plays the sample entirely through, until you hit the performance pad / play button again, which will stop the sample and return you to the beginning.
Each of these play modes is useful depending on what you're doing. Have a play around and figure out what's best for what you're using it for.
Use the 'Play From' selector to choose where the track will play from. You can choose to play a track from the start of the file, any one of the Cue Points, or any one of the loop in points.
When this is set to play from start, or play from a Cue Point, the track will play from this position. If a loop is selected in the Play From Selector the track will play from this position. The loop will repeat if repeat is enabled for the slot.
The number of options will be dependent on the number of Cue Points and Loops already set in your track. i.e. if the track loaded has no Cue Points and Loops set, then only “start” will be available as a “Play From” option.
TIP To set or adjust Cue Point and Loop information for a track, load it to a Virtual Deck, make your adjustments, then load it back into the sample slot.
Audio Output and FX Routing
You can find the audio output settings to the left hand side of the SP-6, and depending on your hardware, you will have options to send the SP-6 output through one channel, multiple channels or the master.
If you're wanting to use FX (reverbs and echo are great!) on your samples, just route the SP-6 to a spare channel on your mixer / controller and then make sure your FX are assigned to these channels.
For more information of the SP-6 Sample Player and a full overview of functionality, please refer to the Serato DJ user guide here.
If you have any questions about using the SP-6 or have any of your own tips you'd like to share, get in touch in the comments below.
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