August 28, 2014

The Dicer Will Change Your Game

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Novation’s Dicer is a palm-sized control surface that packs quite a punch. It’s a pair of MIDI controllers designed to seamlessly integrate cuing and looping functions from Serato Scratch Live and other digital vinyl software systems. Each Dicer consists of five large trigger buttons called “dice buttons.” Three smaller buttons are used to switch between three different modes—Hot Cue, Loop Roll, and Auto Loop.

In order to fully understand how the Dicer ($99 MAP) works, it’s important to understand the three different modes of operation. Hot Cue Mode instantly recognizes all of your stored cue points and allows them to be accessed by pressing the corresponding Dice Button on the controller. When a Cue point is set, the Dice button glows red, indicating that it’s ready to be triggered. If you want to store a new cue point, simply press an unlit button. That button lights up to indicate that a new cue is set, and SSL will permanently remember that Cue until it’s deleted. Up to five cue points can be assigned to each deck.

Loop Roll Mode is basically a loop effect that allows the music to continue playing in realtime. Each Dice button is tied to a specific parameter (Button 1=1/16 beat, Button 2=1/8 beat, etc.). The DJ can press and hold one of the Dice buttons and the music will repeat in its respective pattern. When the button is released, the music jumps to the track playing in realtime. Loop Roll Mode can be used to produce glitched-up vocals and climactic breakdowns.

The final function is Auto Loop. Each Dice button has a corresponding loop length (Button 1=1 beat, Button 2=2 beats, etc.). When a button is pressed, the track will loop at the desired interval. The button glows yellow indicating that the loop is active. To exit the loop, simply press the button again and the li– Nate Sherwood

Just plug the USB into your laptop, boot up Serato (Version 2.1 or higher) and you’re good to go! Everything comes pre-mapped. This means no fiddling with manual adjustments or MIDI settings.

Novation’s decision to mount the Dicer in the 45-adapter slot is absolutely brilliant. It’s the ideal location for anyone who uses the turntables battle-style. It doesn’t take up any additional space in a cramped DJ booth. Initially, I was concerned that banging on buttons would make the needle skip, but after a bit of abuse the needled stayed planted in the groove. The actual function of the device was flawless. There is zero latency between the controller and computer. The buttons aren’t too mushy, and the backlit function provides the perfect amount of visual feedback.

The cueing is a fantastic feature that allows any DJ to seamlessly jump around between different parts of a track. It also allows CD-style cueing with turntables, so you won’t need to keep lifting the needle to start a song. Auto Loop is a precise tool that can be used for prolonged mixes, or extended breakdowns. Loop Roll is a great effect that can really spice up any DJ set. It was almost like the Dicer unlocks functions in Scratch Live that can be frustrating to navigate with a keyboard.

In short, the Dicer is a game-changer for Serato—it allows unlimited creativity, while providing the freedom to step away from the laptop and keep your hands on the music.

– Nate Sherwood

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