By Simon Slieker
You wouldn’t read about it. Read about it here.
This is the follow up piece to the inverted conversation process that so many of you indulged me in previously. Incredibly that effort seemed to strike a chord with dj’s and digital artists from other domains. Apparently the state of affairs in which we as consumers of DTC’s (digital tools of creation) feel increasingly oppressed by the very market forces that advance the technology is not an isolated phenomena. May we take some solace in the realisation that this is a very real consequence, the recognition of which can offer some alleviation from the many feelings that arise in response.
The power of community
Before I go any further I want to thank the many people who responded to the previous article with all kinds of commiserations, stories of support, similar quandaries and advice. By far the most offered advice was about AIFF files capacity to store metadata. Indeed this is the case and it’s good to mention that here. AIFF files unlike WAV files can sore metadata, id3 tags cover art etc… They are a lossless uncompressed file type and therefore clearly the way to go. It’s just that some of the sites where I download music don’t offer them. But this as has helpfully been pointed out to me needn’t be a problem. There are several free software options that quickly and easily convert WAV to AIFF. I’ve certainly jumped aboard this boat since writing the last article and it’s transformed my workflow to now look like this:
- Download WAV’s or AIFF’s
- Convert WAV’s to AIFF format (I’m using MediaHuman Audio Converter)
- Import to iTunes and add metadata and cover artwork (this was a missing step previously as it meant my artwork was uploaded at a later stage, either in Traktor or Rekordbox which meant I didn’t have it in iTunes).
- Import the tracks I want into Rekordbox, assign Tags etc…
Just wanted to mention that. Thanks community.
Right, onto Part 2.
So after nearly driving myself crazy in the examination of what I should do, where I should head with my dj set up, what actually happened?
A good choice?
Well as you may have guessed, because it was certainly looking like the most obvious course, I chose to go out and buy the Pioneer Interface 2. The Interface 2 is the newly released audio interface that bundles with the Rekordbox Performance and DVS packs.
This means I have the full licensed Rekordbox software to operate in Performance mode which gives me 4 deck midi controlled mixing similar to Traktor, and the Digital Vinyl System add on as discussed in Part 1. The Interface 2 comes with 2 control vinyl records and some RCA leads and power supply.
In effect what this offers me is:
One file cataloging, exporting and performing solution as I now drop Traktor completely and use Rekordbox for all of my dj music file handling, playlists and exports to USB stick for CDJ’s, and if I want to, playing off my laptop in either of Rekordbox’s Performance or DVS modes.
This also means I have sold my dj soul to Pioneer and agreed to bow down to their monopoly. That said, it’s a very convenient workflow and one that works for me. So hats off to them for getting that much right.
So what could go wrong?
You have got to be kidding me. You wouldn’t read about it, except you will because I’m about to write about how unbelievably and yet predictably fucked up the next part is.
It doesn’t work. What?
I set up the new, er set up, only to encounter catastrophic failure to function. Within 10 minutes of operation Rekordbox crashes. 100% of the time. The only thing they didn’t fail on was the certainty the software would fail. I could not believe it. So of course I did all the things one does: uninstall, reinstall, clean install, driver deletion, driver reinstallation etc… I looked up online for other cases to find none: WTF??!! Then I went through all the stages of self questioning: what have I done? It must be me if there are no other reports of this failure. This is too ridiculous to be Pioneers fault, what am I not seeing? Etc… All of the various paranoia and end user neurosis the consumer goes through when faced with a malfunctioning product. Because of course, one still trusts that ultimately the market has our back, that the market isn’t so cynical they would rush a product to market before it was sufficiently road tested. That even though this article is actually about this phonomena, even I struggle to believe it even when it is happening to me in the process of gathering information to write this article. What?! Fuck. You gotta be kidding me.
So I went to Pioneers website with a view to logging a support request. You can imagine what happens next. It’s like trying to get customer support from Telstra. There’s no number you can call, there’s no simple form to fill in, you’ve instead got to trawl through FAQ’s, then go through the various levels of product identification, and then finally you can get into a form that allows you to send to, I don’t know where, Pioneer oompa loompa HQ.
I have included the entire transcript between Pioneer and myself here as an illustration of how this kind of thing can play out so it may offer some solace to others when they encounter this kind of thing and simply because it’s what happened. The fact that it happened whilst I was writing this is just bizarre, but kind of serendipitous in its own way.
If reading this kind of thing is akin to pulling teeth for you I encourage you to skip it. For some of you it’ll probably resurface past Help Desk trauma.
“When I have the Interface 2 connected I am experiencing consistent crashing of the Rekordbox software. This is occurring 100% of the time when I use Rekordbox with Interface 2. It works perfectly for up to 5 minutes, then without warning it enters an unresponsive state with the rainbow wheel of death. I have left it for up to an hour to see if it would resolve but it never does. I then proceed to a Force Quit. When I enter that dialogue box Rekordbox comes up as “Unresponsive”. Sometimes the Interface 2 also comes up as “Unresponsive” but not every time. I am trying to use Rekordbox with the Native Instruments X1, but the crash happens regardless of whether this is plugged in or not. So I don’t think it is as a result of the X1. But yes the X1 has the most recent drivers installed. I hope you can help me, as you can understand at present this product is beyond redemption and I would like to play out with it this weekend. Thank you.”
“Thank you for your inquiry. Your request (#37366) has been received, and is being reviewed by our support staff.
You can expect to receive a response within 48 business-hours.
To review the status of the request and add additional comments, follow the link below:”
Okay, well that’s that then. The first thing is to give up any notion of using this product in a professional capacity, which as my report stated, I had intended to do. Second was to notice the horrible descent into feelings of frustration and futility. You simply can’t do anything at this point. Except wait…
I will send this information off to our rekordbox engineers in Japan.
Could you possibly send us a corresponding crash dmp file?
Windows – C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Pioneer\rekordbox\CrashesMac – //Users/Library/Pioneer/rekordbox/Crashes
I’d also suggest the engineering team may or may not want to see your database files.
You’ll have EDB files in the above location as well as your .settings file.
The more information the better so that our engineers can attempt to replicate the issue on our end. I’d also recommend trying to update graphic and audio drivers in the meantime.
Hope that helps,”
Thanks for your reply. Please see the attached screenshots to see that I don’t have a crash log in that folder location. My guess is that the application descending into the “wheel of death” isn’t registering as a full blown crash. Either that or my crash log is showing up in a different location. Please find attached the edb files.”
The links you have provided to my support request don’t take me to the ticket item. They shunt me directly to my account profile from which I can’t find any mention of a support request. Can you please advise how I can access my request on line. The things “Pioneer” that don’t seem to work are now mounting…”
At this point, I thought I may be able to reach an actual person to talk to if I contacted Pioneer Australia. So I went onto the Pioneer Australia website and found the appropriate email address which then asks for product info and the complaint.
Having just bought the Interface 2, I am not able to use Rekordbox DJ due to incessant crashing. When I have the Interface 2 connected I am experiencing consistent crashing of the Rekordbox software. This is occurring 100% of the time when I use Rekordbox with Interface 2. It works perfectly for up to 5 minutes, then without warning it enters an unresponsive state with the rainbow wheel of death. I have left it for up to an hour to see if it would resolve but it never does. I then proceed to a Force Quit. When I enter that dialogue box Rekordbox comes up as “Unresponsive”. Sometimes the Interface 2 also comes up as “Unresponsive” but not every time. I hope you can help me, as you can understand at present this product is beyond redemption. I am a working professional that is currently unable to use your product as I’d like to.”
Pioneer Australia real person:
“Thank you for your email. Please forward your email to the rekordbox help desk for further investigation. This help desk contact here is mainly for Car Entertainment enquiries, IT and basic DJ sales support. We have kindly attached the rekordbox support help desk for your reference. Than you for your understanding.”
Thank you Pioneer Australia for attending to what is closest to our hearts and focussing on car stereos and sales. And thank you for “kindly” attaching a link under the pretence of obliging assistance.
Okay so back to the real help desk then. Let’s see how they’re progressing.
Mac has a function to trace the behavior of the program for freezes.
Please trace the behavior of rekordbox while rekordbox turns to unresponding and send the result.
1.Launch ->Applications->Utilities->Activity Monitor.
2.Double click rekordbox process in the process list.
3.Click “Sample” button at the left-bottom of the window.
4.The result appears
5.Click “Save” button to save the result.
Do you not receive a ticket number hyperlink in the email response such as the one above?
https://pioneerdj.zendesk.com/agent/tickets/37366 Obviously your hyperlink would be somewhat different as you aren’t an agent, but should be available for you to click.
Let me know how you go.”
Thanks for that. Please find attached the Sample from the Activity Monitor. Hope it reveals the problem. Also regarding the ticket number hyperlink. It shows up but the issue is when I click on it I’m taken to the Pioneer site where I log in but then it doesn’t take me to the ticket item and nor can I find where the ticket item might be. Kind of weird.”
Looks good. I’ll send it to our engineers to diagnose for you. I’ll be in touch shortly. I’ll also get them to advise on your ticket issues. Thanks,”
I have just proceeded to install Rekordbox 4.5 and Interface 2 on a clean Macbook Air. This computer has just been wiped with a clean install of Sierra. It is experiencing the exact same problem mentioned above. Rekordbox becomes unresponsive within 5 minutes of normal operation. I am not able to use this product. Could it be the case that the physical unit is faulty?”
Pioneer Global CRM:
We are sorry that you have an issue.
The engineering team replicated the issue.
So, we don’t think it comes from the hardware fault.
They are investigating the cause of issue now.
If you don’t use AC adaptor of Inteface 2, please use it.
We will let you know the issue is fixed.
Thank you for your patience.
CRM, Pioneer DJ”
“Okay thank you, I guess it’s good to know this issue isn’t mine alone. Not that that helps me at all in using this product. I have been using the AC adaptor at all times. I await further information with great anticipation.”
Um, okay well the tone of things just changed. Gone is the first name basis. And okay, it’s not the Interface 2. Thanks for finally sharing some information after a week of milking my computers back end.
And finally we have an admission that this problem might actually be something at Pioneers end. Again after 7 days of scrutinising my computer and set up we have now established that Pioneer have a failure to deliver a functioning product.
Um does this mean the product was brought to market in a state of malfunction? Yes. Does this by any chance support the assertion that products are rushed to market at the expense of the end user? I think so, well that’s exactly what has in affect happened here.
Oh and what the hell is a CRM? Apparently Customer Relationship Manager. Okay, let’s see how that goes. So what next?
Do you have an update on this problem?”
“Hello. Do you have an update on this problem? I am a professional DJ and I cannot use this product. This is driving me crazy!”
Pioneer Global CRM:
We are very sorry for your inconvenience.
The engineering team is working hard to fix this issue but they have not achieved it yet. We will let you know when it is fixed.
Thank you for your patience.
CRM, Pioneer DJ”
By this point I am seriously pissed off. Is this customer support? I am not feeling supported. I am very close to taking the product back and getting a refund, but I also actually want it to work because for all reasons already expressed I’ve decided this is the best product for me. But maybe the Interface 2 was a bad idea.
Pioneer Global CRM:
Finally, the engineering team found the cause in the driver and fixed the issue.
Could you try the updated driver below?
Please let us know if the issue is solved with it.
Thank you for your cooperation.
CRM, Pioneer DJ”
But wait…Nothing quite destroys you like false hope disappearing like a mirage.
The issue is not fixed. I have downloaded and installed the updated driver. Same issue of crashing in Rekordbox 4.5.0. I then downloaded and installed Rekordbox 5.0.0 and same issue.
I have also uninstalled the previous Interface 2 driver and tried installing Interface 2 driver 2.0 again. And SAME problem. AAAAAAAAUUUUUUUUUUGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!!”
Pioneer Global CRM:
Sorry to hear that updated driver doesn’t solve the issue. We forwarded it to the engineering team. Sorry for your inconvenience.
CRM, Pioneer DJ”
Inconvenience. And time, and nervous tension and building anger and the constant pressing sense of futility. I still haven’t had a single verbal conversation with an actual person.
Pioneer Global CRM:
We are sorry that it took time in get in touch with you again.
The engineering team finally locate the cause of freeze and fixed in the latest beta version.
Could you please try it and check if the issue doesn’t happen?
Please let us know if you still have the issue with it.
CRM, Pioneer DJ”
And so after a month of testing…
Thank you for the Beta release. It has reduced the 100% crash rate down to something more like 30%. As your Beta warning suggests the product is highly unstable. When it crashes now it takes my whole computer with it. In fact it crashes so hard that Force Quit doesn’t work on any running applications AND the computer fails to shut down or restart. I have to perform a hard force shutdown. Incredible, this piece of software has seriously interfered with my dj career over the past 2 months and it still isn’t resolved. It clearly was not ready for market. I am very disappointed. I would like to be reinbursed for the cost of the Interface 2 or offered compensation in form of credit.”
“Also to fully disclose, I am writing an article about Pioneer Rekordbox and the Interface 2 for Australian media. It doesn’t read well.”
End of Transcript
So I bought the product August 10, logged my first Help Desk request August 22. It is now October 28 and I have a Beta release that I still can’t use for professional purposes.
I was feeling pretty bitter about Pioneers handling of the affair in that they didn’t acknowledge it was their fault (literally) and left me hanging out to dry wondering whether it was something at my end. Also that they didn’t take any responsibility. But then of course they won’t because doing that will open them up to compensatory claims.
So instead of feeling bitter I thought I’d better take responsibility myself and ask directly for what I feel I am entitled to. So we’ll see what comes of that.
I will write a brief conclusion to this story once Pioneer get their shit together enough to make the final release of the product.
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Whoa! Pretty crappy deal from Pioneer. I can’t believe how polite you were. I’d feel utterly shafted by that whole rigmarole. I don’t see they have any choice but to give you a full refund or something else to the value of at least. They obviously rushed and botched the release of the product. Bad business practice. We are certainly in turbulent times in regards to the tech of music making and performance. Good luck with the next phase and thanks for the article(s) Simon, looking forward to next installment……………and yes, reading through the to-ing and fro-ing between you and Pioneer’s lacklustre support did bring on a few cold sweats……………I think a lot of us have been there. Thing is, I have also had really good support from certain software companies online, and when that happens it’s really great, but when it goes pear shaped, well………………it’s enough to drive a person to the edge of reason. Companies need to be more accountable for sure. Not having access to human beings who know what they’re talking is a no-no, the user needs the support for sure, and unfortunately, Pioneer have failed you quite miserably in this case. Let’s hope they read this and get their act together.
Thanks Drezz, really appreciate your words of support. We shall see hey.