Review: Alchimie Zinc
If you use Serato ITCH, Serato Scratch Live, or Serato DJ Intro, but you don’t use iTunes to organise your music, Alchimie Zinc For Serato program could save you a lot of time when you’re organising your music. It solves a basic issue whereby Serato doesn’t recognise your hard drive’s folder structure. This means you have to set up all your crates and sub-crates again from within Serato to reflect how you keep your music on your hard drive. You also have to put any new tunes in two places every time you add to, rearrange or delete from your collection.
Setting up and using Alchimie Zinc
It’s for PC and Mac, and after installation you’re shown a simple, clean graphical user interface. For anyone who’s tried out one of the two previous programs that could do something similar to this before (Scratch Tools, and ITCH Sync), this will come as a welcome relief, I’m sure. Here’s how it works. You have a file system on your computer or external hard drive, right? Maybe you keep a pop music folder, a club tunes folder divided into months and years, a hip hop folder divided into sub-genres, a new and untested folder? Point is you have a preferred way of organising your tunes.
In Alchimie Zinc, you simply do two things. First, you point the program at the root folder (ie “My Music”, or “My DJ Music”, or whatever folder contains all of the above). Next, you point it at your Serato music folder (_Serato_) within your Serato folder on your computer. Your root folder can be on an external drive, it doesn’t matter. That’s it – all set up.
Click the sync button, and after a few seconds or minutes (depending on the size of your collection), the program tells you it’s completed the sync. Now, open Serato ITCH, Serato Scratch Live, or Serato DJ Intro, and an exact duplicate of all of your crates and subcrates is right there waiting for you.
There are various options here. You can tell the program to delete previous crates (though this also deletes the “added” date, which some people like to sort by, so be careful). You can opt to take a backup of your Serato library first. There are a couple of other things, but what I’ve just outlined is basically it. As well as Serato sync, there are other features too. You can sync your songs and crates to a USB stick, for instance, which will be instantly picked up by a copy of Serato running on another machine. This means there is no need to take your PC with you for a jam at a friend’s house.
You can add more than one root. So for instance, if you have a completely separate folder for wedding DJ music from your club stuff, it’ll play nicely with that. And my personal favourite, you can select the columns and column order you’d like across multiple folders and they’ll be reflected faithfully when you open Serato up. That means no more dragging “BPM”, “genre” and “key” as the first three columns (it’s how I like to roll) on multiple crates whenever you set them up.
Finally, it’s possible to print lists of your tunes from right there within the Alchimie Zinc interface. And for those of you who like to categorise and prepare your tunes in dark rooms, there are a number of skins available to suit your mood and ambience.
It’s simple, quick and effective. It does what it sets out to do, and is a great improvement on command-line predecessors.
The disadvantages of this program are really the disadvantages of organising your music in actual folders. You can’t easily have a tune in more than one place without physically copying it. You can’t use smart crates (although there’s nothing stopping you setting those up within Serato as well, except with DJ Intro, which doesn’t support them). And it’s not possible to tag tunes in the same way you can in iTunes (albeit via a workaround).
Overall, I still think the best way to organise your music in Serato is using iTunes (Serato reads iTunes playlists and smart playlists, so you just play from those within the program). One distinct disadvantage of iTunes, though, is that it still doesn’t recognise the “key” column, at least at the time of writing, and that’s not a problem with Alchimie Zinc.
Nonetheless, combine iTunes with Serato’s Smart Crates and some clever tagging using the Grouping column for instance, and you can work out a pretty powerful dynamic crates system that doesn’t need a lot of manual updating. However, if you hate iTunes and prefer to organise your tunes the old fashioned way in Finder / Explorer folders (and I know many people do), Alchimie Zinc is pretty much an essential purchase. It’ll save you time and keep you better organised. You can grab a limited trial version too to see if it’s for you.
Video courtesy of Scratch Live Tutor
Are you a Serato user who’s been longing for an app like this? Or do you have your own way of organising your tunes in the program that means something like Alchimie is not necessary for you? Please share your thoughts in the comments.