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March 8, 2018

DJ Mix: Friday Throwdown with Benny Blanco® Live in the BASSMint – March 3rd, 2018 + How the BASSMint came together


For this Friday Throwdown… I decided it was finally time to change up the scenery and reveal the BASSMint. This space has a bit more underground night club like ambience, but with random household items about. I’ve wanted to some play live sessions from this space for quite some time, but an underpowered and dying laptop prevented that from happening. Let’s get to the DJ Set and while watching or listening you can read below on how I came into this new setup and what I had to configure to get Traktor and Video Streaming to all work. This is for the geeks that may be interested in that sort of thing, otherwise, just watch and listen.

Runtime: 1 hr 48 min


Num. Title Artist Release
1 Theychx F.U.S.E. Dimension Intrusion
2 Plasticine Plastikman Arkives 1993 – 2010
3 (B2) Psycho Smurf Thomas Heckman Electro Nation
4 Nervous Acid DJ Buck Nervous Acid
5 Funky Chow (tribal tagliatelle version) Schkaboogie Funky Chow
6 Blue Room (Remix) Orb, The U.F.Orb
7 French Lesson (Science Friction Remix) Mr. James Barth French Lesson
8 Jam The Mace House Syndicate Jam The Mace
9 Breakin’ On The Streets (False Prophet Remix) Stir Fry Breakin’ On The Streets
10 Packet Loss Kit Clayton Unreliable Networks
11 No Fit State (Audion Remix) Hot Chip No Fit State
12 Snoops Acid Drop Les Visiteurs Snoops Acid Drop
13 Anywhere (Photek Tekdub Remix) Beth Orton Anywhere (Photek Tekdub Remix)
14 Power And The Passion 12″ Mix Midnight Oil Power And The Passion
15 Soft Core Maurice And The Cliches Soft Core
15 Homosapien (Dance Version) Pete Shelly Homosapien
16 Baby’s In The Mountains (New York Remix) Peter Goodwin Baby’s In The Mountains (New York Remix)
17 3,000,000 Synths (Original Version) Chas Jankel Too Woo Lady Kong
18 Captivate (William Orbit Mix) Nitzer Ebb Body Of Work
19 Head Like A Hole (Copper) Nine Inch Nails Head Like A Hole
20 Magnets (Disclosure VIP) Disclosure & Lorde Magnets (The Remixes)
21 All We Ever Wanted Bauhaus 1979-1983 Volume Two


The BASSMint… When we first moved into Dobbs Ferry from the city, the original plan for the bassment was it was going to be my Son’s play/hang out room. Get a couch, rug, tv, video game consoles… and let young boys do their thing down there. As it turned out… our home’s main living room space became the spot where the kids hang out and when the adults are here, we congregate in our kitchen / dining area on the opposite end of the house. I mean, it IS where the Food and Booze is… and we have a TV and Sonos there for entertainment. But after a year of nothing really happening in the bassment, I started to move some equipment down there, got some updated cases for the never dying Technics SL-1200 decks, dj mixer… and then I really made a move. I purchased some QSC K10 speakers that were went on sale because the next generation of speakers were about to be released. I’ve always WANTED to have some bigger, PA like sound. There’s no Sub bass cabinet yet (but if I can find a good deal on one…) and that really kicked off my move to take over the space. I eventually broke out decades old posters that use to hang in college dorm rooms, posters from club / label promotions or even events I had thrown or attended. The nostalgia really captures my heart and has become a safe haven for good vibes. Next came 1 light fixture what was on sale, then a black light to compliment an old strobe light I had since college days as well. The room was almost completed… I moved down my wife’s Knoll cocktail table and chairs and picked up some cheapy spiral patterned Ikea rugs for a bit warmth and cushion. All that was left.. was to make music happen down there, be it alone, with friends and a few spots for folks to chill or maybe bust some aching bones to groove out too.

The Setup

The MacBook Pro is running essentially 4 Applications to make this show happen. Traktor DJ (latest), OBS (video streaming software), iGlasses and Chrome browser.

2015 MacBookPro, Traktor Z2 mixer, Art Pro Phono Plus, Logitech C930e Web Cam, WD 4TB External HD (music, traktor prefs), MacAlly USB Hub, Yamaha MSP3 (close range monitors above decks), QSCK10 (Beefy Monitors in back on stands)

The Configuration
After battling in my head what to do about replacing my dying 2011 MacBookPro… I decided to purchase a BRAND NEW Old Apple Certified Refurb 2015 MacBookPro. I choose an almost 3 year old model mainly because of USB ports. Seems stupid because how much are those USB-C adapters on Amazon? Not that much because I had to pick up some for my wife’s much newer 2017 MacBookPro. But being a Digital DJ, I need convenience and having to add adapters or buy some crazy dock is NOT something I really want to do or deal with. I want fast plug and play of ubiquitous USB-A connections…. and a MAG SAFE power connector, another be-loved feature that Apple has removed in their most recent releases. Okay….. so I’m on this older hardware, familiar keyboard… and quite audible Fan when I push this baby hard. That’s a bit of bummer compared to my wife’s silent 2017 version. But for the $$$ and still getting 1 TB SSD drive… felt like the RIGHT decision for me in 2018 until Apple can work out their shit, at least when it comes to DJ’ing. Funny, I use to always be on the frontlines downloading Apple’s latest OSes and hardware. I’ve totally flipped on that practice over the past few years waiting a year or more before I make the move to the next gen OS release and being cautious on the Hardware front as well.

The biggest problem I had to solve for was piping in clean audio to feed the OBS streaming software which broadcasts over Amazon’s Twitch Network (formerly Older MacBooks had an analog 1/8″ mic/line in jack. That went away after 2011 models I believe. I tried to figure out a way to pull in Traktor’s output or ‘record mix output’ and feed in as an audio source into OBS. Unfortunately, the Z2 isn’t a smart native USB audio device and requires a NI driver and really only works with Traktor’s DJ Software. So, trying to pull in a post mix master feed from the Z2 was a no go.

Next up, what about Sound Flower or IShowU audio capturing software? Well…. SoundFlower Development has been dead for the past few years and just doesn’t work on newer Apple OS in a way that it should… reliably. IShowU is another freebie alternative that picks up where SoundFlower left off.. But when I tried to make an Aggregate Device in Apple’s Midi Utility, the device is scene in Traktor no problem and I can correctly assign outputs as needed, but then a NEW Problem arose. Timecode Vinyl As soon as I ditch the Z2 as the primary audio source device, I can no longer use Traktor’s TimeCode Vinyl. So.. that killed the digital sourcing of audio. I have used this method of Aggregate device when I mix in my upstairs studio and use a NI S2MK2 Midi Controller. Since there’s no time code portion, it works brilliantly and sounds super clean and feeds into OBS just fine.

Getting back to the Audio feed problem… thinking a few more minutes.. I remembered I had an old Art USB Phono PreAmp that I bought int he 90’s as a cheap way to digitize my massive vinyl collection into the computer (something I still do to this day as my or bandcamp vinyl purchases come in). So I run upstairs to grab the Art Device and plug the Record Out Phono Jacks of the Z2 Mixer into the Line In jacks of the Art. Connect the USB into the MacAlly Hub. Hardware connection done. Then inside the OBS Software under audio preferences, I simply selected the Art USB device 2 line input, ran some music, and voila, clean audio started coming through. I was almost ready to start broadcasting over Twitch in the BASSMint, how exciting.

Next up, making sure the Video feed is looking good. I plugged in the Logitech Camera and messed with previewing a few different camera placements, I think I found the Side View angle the best.. looks over some vinyl across the DJ Mixer and decks and gives a nice profile of the DJ. Further in the background, a blacklight illuminates some choice posters from my old collection that I recently re-plastered and hadn’t seen walls since they came down from my days up in Boston. In some cases, from my dorm room days back at Berklee or my older apartment dwellings. It’s comforting seeing the nostalgia the posters bring to the room (and what people say when they see them). The last touch is running the iGlasses software taking in the Logitech camera feed to give me some visual flavor. A simplistic interface with a handful of presets adds some visual funk and movement to the stream. I don’t try to go to crazy here and only flip through some of the settings every so often and then just leave it running. Play a bunch of tracks, switch up the visual effect again. I enjoy the visual interest it adds.

When I mix in the upstairs studio, there is one other piece of software I often through in and it’s called Lumen. It’s a digital re-creation of analog hardware for Video synthesis. Very old school in approach and takes video sources or generates it’s own to make trippy patterned video scapes. It’s so true to old school that it prefers to render out in 4:3 aspect ratio. So that is something I’m not able to run downstairs at the moment as I have only purchased one machine license so far and it’s unfortunately not a cheap frivolous buy. You can check out some of my other mixes here on the blog to view what that software looks like (it will be quite obvious once you see it). One other benefit of mixing upstairs is I’ll feed in a special YouTube PlayList I’ve built up for video footage I like. Mostly things from 80’s Nostalgia, Cartoons, Sci-Fi, Horror, Kung-Fu, etc… it all looks super cool when you run that video source through either iGlasses or Lumen.

Almost there… now that Audio and Video source are looking good, I setup a Twitch account to be my streaming platform of choice. I’ve tried Facebook Live, You Tube and LiveStream and I found that the quality here is best and there’s enough time post live session to download my video session before the music starts getting muted due to ‘copyright’. All the services have some of algorithm to mute portions of your video feed when it discovers something identifiable. It’s almost been a game for me to play super DEEP sets to see if it can not FLAG any of the tracks I play. I’ve gotten pretty close sometimes where they’ve only flagged 1 or 2 songs out of the 20 that were played. I enjoy the challenge. But sometimes, you just want/need to play a song that is most definitely going to be flagged. In any case, immediately after I stop the session, I download the video locally and then I eventually post on this blog for posterity. Some of you may say.. well… why don’t you just record your session via OBS? Well… that is something I’ll need to experiment with as I believe on the current laptop and even my 2015 iMac… that between, Traktor DJ, OBS broadcasting, a few browsers tabs open (slack, twitch, facebook), iGlasses, that trying to also RECORD a higher quality source version of my sets may be just TOOO much for either computer to handle. I do keep trying to fiddle with the stream quality settings. Audio for Twitch tops out at 160kbps..and it sounds pretty good. For Video, I’m encoding at 3500 kbps with h264. I’m forgetting Twitch’s top setting here. I next want to try setting up a live mic and feed in a little ambience of the room to make it feel a little more ‘live’. Capture the reverb of the room and possible voice.

Tweaking it up… There’s still a bit of fine tuning I need to work out as I’ve noticed in this set that the Time Code portion of playing back tracks would sometimes get Glitchy/Pitchy. That is NOT intentional on my part. I’ve been trying to find a good Latency setting in Traktor and I think I need to go back to doing a FRESH Computer Restart when I’m about to conduct a live session. Something about clearing out dead memory space.. I need every ounce of RAM and CPU to make this production sing. A few more tweaks and I’ll almost have perfection as if everything were 100% hardware. My next laptop I think I’ll certainly be covered from a CPU standpoint as to not strain resources, causing audible glitches. You can hear at the very end of this set during the Disclosure track I was fiddling with some settings and there’s a lot of hiccuping going on there. Real time listeners at that point in time was minimal, so, I made the move to tweak, played some Bauhaus and called it a night.

And finally, the last step is starting the stream up from OBS, Twitch identifies my KEY and then we are live. From there, it’s just my terrible self marketing and promotion efforts to get folks to tune in at any given time. I don’t have a regular stream schedule. I spin these sets ad hoc when I have bandwidth to do so. I like stream for at least 2 hours, but happy to do MUCH longer if I’m not tired or family is requiring my attention. I do try to be semi regular with sets on Fridays between 5 and 7 pm ET / NYC time. From there, I’ll pop up on Random weekends. I expect I’l be having some Guest DJs in the near future a as new neighbor has moved in… more on that in my next post.