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Local club DJs have been switching over to Serato Scratch Live, a digital system that allows DJs to use turntables in conjunction with laptop computers. With a Serato system (about $500 retail), the DJ uses the same two vinyl 12-inch "control records" that function more like a computer mouse than a record.

Though DJ Misha does not use Serato, he admits that "It does have its advantages. You don't have to carry around your records, you can put as many songs as you want on your laptop, it's great for traveling, and you don't have to buy records; you just download songs from the Internet or you trade them for free....

"A large percentage of the DJs at venues downtown use some form of the Serato system. It's been that way for the last three years or so."

Misha says he'll stick with vinyl for as long as he can.

"There is nothing like the sound you get when you put a needle on a fresh piece of vinyl for the first time. The sound of a vinyl record is much warmer. Digital will never beat out analog.... [But] record stores are losing business really fast. There were two local dance-music record stores that just closed up in the last two years."

He says he gets most of his vinyl shipped to him.

"The two remaining stores -- California Stage and Lighting in Old Town and United Records in North Park -- are struggling to survive with all the digital downloads.... Artists who make house, dance music, and electronica have seen a dramatic drop in demand. Where they used to be able to sell 10,000 copies of a vinyl record they produced, now it's down to, like, 2000 worldwide."

DJ Misha performs on Saturday at Jack's La Jolla with sax player Jason Whitmore and Sunday at Harney Sushi in Old Town.

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