One of the most clever hacks in music technology has become a product, as Stanton just released a commercial version of FinalScratch. Originally the work of three Amsterdamn software engineers, the technique is simple:
Two special records, containing only a single tone are placed on regular turntables. These records have an expected output (something like a saw-tooth wave at 1000 Hz), which is affected by the turntable speed and the hand motion of the DJ. Their special little box takes the difference between the expected output, and the actual output, and uses this to drive the play of an MP3 file. With only 12ms latency, you can mix, scratch, or do just about anything possible with real records, while the sound you hear is the digital music file of your choice.
Richie Hawtin and John Acquaviva (of Plus-8 records fame) have jumped online as spokespeople. I’ve seen Richie twice since he started using the system, and the difference is imperceptable, except when his laptop breaks the day before the show and is forced to play records that he could find in Boston in an afternoon.
Given the rich suburban kid price (MSRP $799), I won’t be retrofitting my turntables anytime soon. But with their special records on the market, I’m sure someone will reverse engineer the hardware/software rig and rip the system wide open. Until then, I’ll just look at photos and drool.