Review & Video: The Novation Twitch DJ Controller

Review Summary:

This is an important controller. Vinyl and digital are not the same, and this is the first mainstream controller to fully acknowledge that. While it looks complicated and in some ways it is indeed advanced, it's nothing to be scared of - in fact, it's quite simple (only two decks, no samples or loop recorder like Traktor, no manual looping, to name a few presumably deliberate limitations). I suspect it will scare off some DJs who may feel they're not learning the "right" skills by having no jogs, but for every one of those there will be another DJ who wants to learn a thoroughly modern way of DJing, free from many of the limitations and cliches from the old way of doing things. The more you use it, the more Twitch makes sense. I'm very much looking forward to spending a decent amount of time DJing with it to see how it changes the way I play my sets. I suspect it has the capability to change the way I DJ quite profoundly, and very much for the better.

Twitch DJ Controller
  • Twitch DJ Controller
  • Rating: 5
  • From: Novation
  • Price: $300
  • Reviewed by:
  • On July 18, 2011
  • Last modified:August 19, 2014
Not much bigger than the laptop it connects to, the Novation Twitch brings portability back to digital DJing, while managing to avoid look like a toy.

Not much bigger than the laptop it connects to, the Novation Twitch brings portability back to digital DJing, while managing to avoid look like a toy.

Review & Video: The Novation Twitch DJ Controller

Ever had the thought that jogwheels are a bit unnecessary when DJing with digital music? Or dreamt of a controller that replaced them with functions more suited to digital DJing? Looked at technogeeks with their custom controllers and wanted in on the action? If so, the new Novation Twitch DJ controller may be right up your street.

We’ve had a Novation Twitch for review for a week now. We’ve devoured the manual, tested the features, and played a real-life gig using it. So we’re in a great position to answer the question: After all the hype, is this diminutive little controller the way forward, or a brave failure? Let’s find out…

Introduction

Since the advent of digital DJing, DJs have faced a bit of a dilemma. The truth is, digital music files are not like records – they’re not round, and they don’t spin. Yet that’s what DJs have always done – spin things that are round. It’s something that’s proved hard to get away from.

So, back close to the advent of digital, digital vinyl systems (DVS) appeared, to let DJs use “real” record decks to control digital files. To some it was great – the feel of vinyl with digital music! To others, it was the worst of both worlds – none of the simplicity of playing real vinyl, yet you still needed all the old equipment for it to work at all.

Then, dedicated controllers came along. Over time they got better and better until the performance of the best of them pretty much matched vinyl, with convincing spinbacks, nudging, cueing and scratching all possible from their tiny little platters.

Since then, in search of better “feel”, and also to try to escape the “toy” appearance of many of these devices, DJ controllers have slowly got bigger and heavier (witness the latest batch – the jumbo [ddj-t1] and [ddj-s1], the not-much-smaller [ns6], the [jockeyiii], plus of course the daddy of them all, the humongous [ns7]).

In getting bigger, these units have at least partially sacrificed the portability that, on paper, is one of digital DJing’s great promises.

The controllerism underground
Meanwhile, a parallel scene has developed. From DJs using just laptops and keyboard shortcuts, to those hacking Midi keyboards or dedicated buttons and pad banks, to Ableton Live DJs performing radical sets with performance tools, a whole underground of DJs have “ditched the jogwheels” to prioritise different aspects of digital DJing in their sets.

The first mass-market DJ controller to recognise this was the [s4], which shrank the jogs and pushed them to the top of the unit, replacing them with banks of buttons for controlling hot cues, samples and the like, and coupling this hardware to new features in software like sample decks and a loop recorder.

Traktor Novation Twitch Review

The Twitch has a lot of tricks up its sleeve, not least this one: Here it is running Traktor, complete with keyboard overlay.

A runaway success, the S4 has proved that if you offer the right innovations, the DJ market will respond positively. However, the S4 didn’t make as bold a move as to drop the jogwheels entirely. Also, to cram in jogs plus all of those buttons, it was big – borderline for taking in hand luggage on a plane, for instance.

So now, enter the Novation Twitch. A small, lightweight DJing performance tool, the Twitch takes the controllerism ideal – that digital is not vinyl, and shouldn’t try to emulate it – and develops it a stage further than most controllers, by ditching the jogwheels entirely.

Why should real world DJs have to hack together self-mapped DJ systems just to use digital’s most exciting features easily? This question must have been at the forefront of Novation’s designers’ minds as they put together the spec for the Twitch.

As we’ll see, here’s a controller which takes some of the most important elements of controllerism, adds in the essential parts of traditional DJing, and puts it all in a DJ controller that looks like a serious performance tool without taking up half your DJ booth or needing a trolley to move it around. Let’s find out more…

First impressions and setting up

The Twitch is a small controller – about the size of a 15″ laptop. It is given some gravitas by being raised on four moulded “feet” – a bit like a mini-version of the way the Pioneer controllers are engineered, although in this case, the front two “feet” contain the mic and headphones jacks, and the back “feet” have the inputs/outputs, a couple of settings controls plus the Kensington lock hole.

Novation makes nice gear, and this is no exception – the body is thick black plastic, and the top plate is a single sheet of 1mm-thick brushed black metal. Buttons and knobs are variously rubber and plastic, and lit (sometimes multiple colours per button) as necessary. The overall impression is that it is as big as it needs to be but no bigger, and that it’s a serious bit of kit – a pro DJing tool or a performance instrument, not a shrunk, toy-like version of two-decks-and-a-mixer.

The channel faders are nice and loose, but the crossfader is maybe a little stiffer than some scratch DJs would like – but a jogwheel-free DJ controller is hardly going to be appealing to scratch DJs anyway!

Novation Twitch Review

The body is thick black plastic, and the top plate is a single sheet of 1mm-thick brushed black metal

Contrary to what you may have read elsewhere, there’s no stiffness in the knobs – on the review model we have, the EQs and a few other knobs had been overeagerly pushed too hard onto their spindles in the factory, but pulling the plastic caps up just a fraction of a millimetre solved the problem in a matter of seconds.

The Twitch is designed to be used with Serato ITCH, which is famously simple to set up and get running – you just install the software, and plug the controller in. No configuration, no options to set. How it should be.

So – software installed, Twitch plugged in to computer (it’s USB powered so no need for external power), and a DJ set dragged into the library and analysed, we’re ready to look at the features.

Basic functions

Let’s look at the stuff you’ve seen before elsewhere first, moving on to the innovations when we’ve covered these areas.

It is a two-deck device, so it has a two-channel mixer. Each channel has its fader, plus gain (“trim”), low, mid and high controls, and headphone monitoring. VUs are 16-bar stereo master, switching to cue when headphones cue is selected. The LEDs are all red, with no peak colour to show clipping, although the function is identical – you just avoid pushing it all the way as you would with any VU monitoring system.

To the left and right of the mixer are two decks, each a mirror image of the other. However, above each deck the controls differ. Above the left-hand deck are the effects and mic/aux controls, and above the right-hand deck are the library and output volume controls.

The mic/aux inputs
You’re not meant to plug extra decks or CD players into this. It does, however, have a single aux input, which could have various uses – for a backup music source such as an iPod, or as a live source input channel for a sampler or the output from another electronic performer’s system, for instance.

The microphone input is mixed internally with the aux, and they’re treated as one by the system – both the aux (round the back) and the microphone (at the front) have small gain rotaries to get the balance right if you’re using both.

Novation Twitch Review Inputs

The aux inputs, showing the separate gain control and software/direct thru switch.

Meanwhile, there’s a master level for this combined input, plus on/off and headphone monitoring switches.

A nice feature is that you can run this input through the software, thus making use of the onboard effects (there’s a channel fader for it within ITCH, complete with three-band EQ), or you can feed it directly through the unit – better if using as a backup.

Clearly the Twitch doesn’t pretend to be a comprehensive mixer like some larger DJ controllers. These inputs are a nice compromise between delivering enough flexibility for the Twitch to be taken seriously as a pro device, and keeping the focus on what the unit’s intended use is – a digital performance system.

The master effects
There are actually three effects unit on board, but we’ll get on to the others a bit later. The single master effect unit has 12 effects to choose from – reverb, delay, LPF, HPF, flanger, phaser, crusher, echo, tremelo, repeater, reverser and braker.

Your chosen effect can be assigned to either deck, the aux/mic input, or across the master output. Effects are tied to a factor of the BPM, and of course this value is user-changeable. As well as the wet/dry mix, there are one and sometimes two extra parameters to control.

It’s pretty standard ITCH effects fare, which means that there is a big bar on the screen to show you the controls of the effect you’ve selected, right between the decks and the library sections.

The library controls
The library functions are well implemented, with an infinity rotary for track selection that also acts as an “enter” button when pushed, plus a buttons for expanding or shrinking the library onscreen through showing small, large or no waveforms. There’s a button for cycling through the focus windows within the library, alongside back and forward buttons, and buttons for loading the selected track to deck A or deck B respectively.

A nice feature of the library is the “sort” function – by holding “shift” and repeatedly pressing “area”, the software will sort the active window in the library by the first four columns, which you can choose by dragging and dropping them.

I like to sort by BPM, key, genre and title, for instance, so this allows me to do that without having to resort to the laptop keyboard. The point is you could choose to sort by any four available fields to suit the way you DJ.

The master output controls
You get headphone volume and headphone mix (ie the cue / master balance), plus a booth and master out. The booth is connected via two RCAs, the master via two balanced 1/4″ outputs.

It makes sense to drop the RCAs for the master out – if you want RCAs you can just use the booth out, and if you do have a separate booth speaker, you’ll be using balanced leads anyway to feed the PA. There are no XLR outs, though – there’s no room for them.

Advanced features

So now the juicy stuff – let’s find out what has replaced the jogwheels at the front left and front right of the unit. First, though, a bonus innovation…

Novation Twitch Review Fader FX

These controls turn off/on and select the fader effects, which can then be controlled by the channel faders.

The fader effects
The two channel faders are dual purpose. As well as controlling volume, by pressing an on/off toggle above either, you can switch on “fader effects”. When in this mode, the faders become wet/dry controls for a limited number of the effects. You toggle the effects by pressing the fader FX rotary immediately above the on/off button for each side, and control one parameter per effect by turning this rotary.

It’s simple and great fun – although I’d certainly like to have seen the vinyl-style braker effect here, for instance, which is one of those that’s been missed out. These are wonderful to use as filters, and in practice, it’s not confusing at all to know whether you’re set to FX or volume, as the on/off button is lit, and the VUs stop showing output and start showing wet/dry level with a single light when you’re in FX mode.

So, on to the decks…

The touchstrips
These horizontal, touch-sensitive plastic strips replace the jogwheels, but take up a tiny amount of space in comparison and contain no moving parts. They’re central to how Twitch packs in all the other functions while remaining light and portable.

When you load a track, moving your finger left to right on the touchstrip is the same as moving a jogwheel clockwise, and right to left, anticlockwise. You can do it fast or slow, and you can “throw” them like a jogwheel too (so it carries on after you take your finger off). This way you can easily find your cue point, for instance – it’s basically akin to “scratch” mode on jogs.

There are two buttons to assign different functions to the touchstrip, called “swipe” and “drop”. Both have two functions. Swipe lets you nudge (when lit solidly) or scratch (when flashing, and as described above).

Novation Twitch Review touchstrips

The touchstrips havde been designed to accomplish all of the functionality of jogwheels, but in a fraction of the space and less complexity.

When pressed once (ie solidly lit), “drop” is a needle-drop function as on Pioneer and some Numark controllers, which lets you jump to any part of the MP3 in one go by pressing the “drop” button then touching the strip – left for the start, right for the end. When flashing (pressed twice), it allows you to fast forward or rewind through a track. The latter is the least useful function, as it’s in practice easier to throw the track forward or back in scratch mode instead.

The touchstrip has 19 vertical red bars which are lit left to right when the track is playing and which cycle around in time with the onscreen “decks” – one revolution of an onscreen deck is the same as one cycle of the lights on the touchstrip.

The performance modes
Called “performance modes”, the following functions all make use of the eight square pads at the bottom of each deck. They are: hot cues, slicer, auto loop and loop roll. Let’s look at them more closely:

  • Hot cues – This button turns the eight pads into user-assignable cues – eight in total – which are set and saved with the track, so you can recall them later (even on other ITCH systems because they’re saved within the track itself). They work like hot cues normally do – you hit a cue to assign it, and delete it by hitting it with “shift” held. The buttons light yellow to show they’re assigned
  • Slicer – The slicer takes a number of beats and “slices” them into eight equal parts. The eight pads then let you “play” the parts in any order, perfectly quantised. Everything stay beatsynched with the other deck. You can choose how many beats and also a quantise amount (which selects the amount of each slice that’ll be played back) by changing the value with the touchstrip. Two modes exist: The first lets you do this as the track plays on, the second loops just the chosen section while you chop it up. The pads light red when they’re in slicer mode
  • Autoloop / loop roll – Two modes for autoloop. In the first, the eight buttons correspond to eight beat-timed loops – so from 1/4 to 32 beats, for instance. You press the pad that corresponds with the loop amount you want in order to activate it. (By using the touchstrip you can select a shorter set of consecutive values – 1/32nd to 4 beats, for instance.) Press the button again, and it flashes to indicate memory mode – now you can hit a pad to remember the current loop for recall later. Loop roll is just like the first of these two autoloop modes, except the track continues to play underneath, and returns when you turn loop roll off. The pads light green for both of these modes

Other deck functions
Serato’s beatgridding is advanced, allowing you to effectively beatgrid material with tempos that drift, and two beatgrid buttons let you do this on the fly. There are the usual keylock and sync bottons (sync has two modes – full sync and BPM-only/semi-sync, accessible using “shift”. Of course, there are the ubiquitous play/pause and cue buttons, which are jumbo and backlit like the pads.

Finally, the pitch controls are endless rotaries, like the Allen & Heath Xone:DX, and are stepped in 1/100th of a BPM intervals, although pressing and turning them takes you from -50% to +50% lightning fast – so fast, in fact, that it could be used as a performance tool in itself.

My first gig with the Twitch

This unit turned up on Wednesday last week, and by the weekend I was confident enough with it to take it to my regular gig and try it out.

Knobs Novation Twitch

With the Twitch, setting up felt a little different, because it doesn’t look immediately like a DJ controller.

I’ll be honest – I don’t particularly like DJing with tiny controllers when I’m stood up there on stage. I DJ in a beach bar, and my gear is the only thing on the big deck table. If I perch a little controller on there, it just looks like I’m fiddling with a toy rather than DJing. Of course, you forget about this when you’re playing and people are having a good time, but you always feel it when you set up.

With the Twitch, it felt a little different. Because, as stated earlier, it doesn’t look immediately like a DJ controller, it didn’t have that “it’s DJ gear, only smaller” feel about it – it looks like a tool designed to do a job. I liked that feeling as I prepared to start my gig.

At first I felt uncomfortable DJing with Twitch. I realised that my DJing style involves nodding away to the beats, hands hovering over the jogs, ready for a quick correction or tweak. But here, there are no jogs to hover over! I literally didn’t know where to put my hands. Very soon though, they learned to hover near the EQs instead – but it felt weird at first.

Little things struck me at first. I liked the fact that I could genuinely sort my music without touching the keyboard. I usually play that particular gig with a Vestax VCI-300, and it’s a bugbear that I need to use the keyboard to sort by key or genre on that particular controller.

Using the touchstrip was actually pretty easy. I don’t think it’s quite as accurate for setting beatgrids as a jogwheel is, but in practice it was fine, and setting cues on loading was intuitive. You have to learn to keep your hand on the “drop” button when needle-dropping because as soon as your finger leaves the touchstrip, the drop turns off by default.

Novation Twitch Review Transport

You have to learn to keep your hand on the “drop” button when needle-dropping because as soon as your finger leaves the touchstrip, the drop turns off by default.

Sometimes when I wanted to nudge a tune that was slipping out of time, I needed to manually turn the “swipe” transport mode on, and I didn’t work out when this was the case. That was annoying as obviously a jogwheel is always either in nudge or scratch mode so you don’t have to worry about that on that type of system.

I sometimes left the loop roll or auto loop buttons pressed and didn’t realise, so when I tried to nudge the tune with the touchstrip, I actually changed the parameters of those functions instead. When this happened, it took me a while to work out what was happening. I guess you’d get used to this.

Beatgridding, effects and loops
I was surprised that I actually did quite a lot of beatgridding while I was DJing. I often don’t bother beatgridding my music, preferring to let the software determine the BPM then just mixing it manually, but in keeping with the spirit of the Twitch (it is obviously very beatgrid-led, for instance there’s no manual looping at all), I attempted to beatgrid most of my material for this set. I found it easy to use the built-in beatgridding functions in this way.

The fader FX were great fun. I used them for filters mainly, but also for echo just to mess with the outgoing beats under an incoming tune a couple of times. I can see DJs getting seriously into using these because frankly it looks good when you’re purposefully using a fader to do something, so the more excuses to do so, the better!

However, I didn’t get to do anything really complex with effects over the master outputs in addition to this. You could feasibly use the master FX to give some processing to a vocal microphone, for instance, and the deck FX for your recorded music, which would suit having a live vocalist perform with you. I also admit – I did nothing with the slicer! This is something to practise for next time.

One thing I noticed which excited me was that because saved loops are all right there in front of you, you use them more. Most controllers allow you to save loops – indeed, the aforementioned VCI-300 lets you have three right there on hotkeys, and I make use of those often – but this is another level: eight perfectly synched, saved loops at your disposal means you can chop tunes up really easily.

For instance, I play some 70s Latin, rock and disco music in my sets – Doobie Brothers, Steely Dan, original dubs and the like – and much of this stuff fades out at the end. But there’s always a funky drum loop somewhere in the song, or a guitar lick on its own, that can be used as a tool.

With the auto loops, I found myself habitually setting loops for these parts, so as soon as a track began to fade, I’d hit the fader FX to put some echo on it, then cut to a loop of its middle eight drums to give me an interesting (and more to the point, endless) texture to mix out from.

VU monitoring Novation Twitch

I found VU monitoring to be nice and bright, but some of the backlit buttons to be dim.

I suspect over time you’d get used to thinking of your set as a number of loopable elements and not just as set records, which in this case for me could really liberate pre-dance material and allow me to be more adventurous mixing with it.

I found the VU monitoring to be great – nice and bright – but the lighting of the buttons not so; my sets are at sundown so some of my DJing is in daytime. As soon as it got dark they were all well enough lit, and I accept that most people will after all be using the unit in a dark environment, but a brightness control would have been nice.

Overall, I didn’t miss the jogs; the gear felt professional to use (and I felt I looked professional using it); and while I only scratched the surface with the features (for instance, I haven’t yet found a creative way to use the slicers – I’d love to chop up the Amen break on them, for instance…), I can already see how DJing solely with this would encourage you strongly to set creative cues and loops and start doing stuff you’d never normally attempt with your material. I’m looking forward to DJing with it again.

Conclusion

This is an important controller. Vinyl and digital are not the same, and this is the first mainstream controller to fully acknowledge that.

While it looks complicated and in some ways it is indeed advanced, it’s nothing to be scared of – in fact, it’s quite simple (only two decks, no samples or loop recorder like Traktor, no manual looping, to name a few presumably deliberate limitations).

Where it excels is taking the obvious advantages of digital and put them centre-stage. By beatgridding your material, you can slice it up, easily add beat-led effects, jump around within it, play from loops, and generally perform in a way that is impossible with vinyl, and with the Twitch, you can do all this on a small, lightweight unit.

More importantly, you can do so out of the box. It’s always seem a little ridiculous to me that DJs who want a lot of these functions have to build or reapportion Midi devices and program them themselves, spending valuable time getting their hands dirty with mappings when they could be finding great music and learning creative ways to mix it instead.

Novation Twitch Review Traktor Overlay

There’s a supplied Traktor mapping, which comes complete with an overlay and will allow the adventurous controllerist to really go to town on programming all of those buttons.

The ITCH software isn’t for everyone, not least because barring a few setting tweaks you get what you’re given, but those of you who want more granular control over how everything works will be pleased to know that there’s a Traktor mapping supplied, as well as an overlay for the unit indicating how everything works with Traktor. The notable omission in the Traktor mapping is the slicer, although you do get your four decks back. However, ITCH and all future updates are free.

Speaking of number of decks, it’s interesting that Twitch is two-deck only. I guess the thinking is that with all this ability to manipulate two tracks, DJs can have so much fun that they really won’t need decks three and four to “get creative”.

Certainly it will be interesting to see what happens when ITCH 2 comes out, because there’s a sampler in that, and if the Twitch manages to incorporate that somehow, it again lessens the need for extra decks – two decks plus a bank of samples should be quite enough for most DJs.

So the question we asked was: Is this diminutive little controller the way forward, or a brave failure? Well it’s definitely brave, but also it deserves to do well. I suspect it will scare off some DJs who may feel they’re not learning the “right” skills by having no jogs, but for every one of those there will be another DJ who wants to learn a thoroughly modern way of DJing, free from many of the limitations and cliches from the old way of doing things.

The more you use it, the more Twitch makes sense. I’m very much looking forward to spending a decent amount of time DJing with it to see how it changes the way I play my sets. I suspect it has the capability to change the way I DJ quite profoundly, and very much for the better.

Product Summary

Review Summary:

This is an important controller. Vinyl and digital are not the same, and this is the first mainstream controller to fully acknowledge that. While it looks complicated and in some ways it is indeed advanced, it's nothing to be scared of - in fact, it's quite simple (only two decks, no samples or loop recorder like Traktor, no manual looping, to name a few presumably deliberate limitations). I suspect it will scare off some DJs who may feel they're not learning the "right" skills by having no jogs, but for every one of those there will be another DJ who wants to learn a thoroughly modern way of DJing, free from many of the limitations and cliches from the old way of doing things. The more you use it, the more Twitch makes sense. I'm very much looking forward to spending a decent amount of time DJing with it to see how it changes the way I play my sets. I suspect it has the capability to change the way I DJ quite profoundly, and very much for the better.

Twitch DJ Controller
  • Twitch DJ Controller
  • Rating: 5
  • From: Novation
  • Price: $300
  • Reviewed by:
  • On July 18, 2011
  • Last modified:August 19, 2014

Video Review


Would you be tempted to go down a no-jogwheel route to get back some portability,? Are you excited by the way this controller prioritises its features? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Comments

  1. Great, great review Phil! Very informative.

  2. i just love it since the first time I saw it! It has all what’s needed and is still easy to move around. That’s what controllers have to be about – compact, yet powerful. Kudos to Novation for the price point they’ve set too.

    DEFINITELY WANT ONE!

    The library sorting thing – do you have anything to do with the design, or it’s just that the Novation’s designers are smart enough to figure it out themselves?

    Enjoy your new tool!

  3. What do you think of using it as a sort of overkill mixer, say with a pair of TTs in a DVS or between some turntable style controllers?

    • makes perfect sense, IMO. I vote for Serato to integrate proper native support into SSL for it … and of course, it’d need to run through SL* for the audio I/O

      … would be doable with TSP too …

      Any chance that it can accomodate a battle fader inside? Would there be enough room for an innofader ?

  4. Grab the Itch 2.0 beta Phil, just had four hours on it without hitch….

    Sample player on there as well, need to figure out how to use it lol!

    Cheers
    D

  5. Seriously considering selling my S4 and buying one of these.

    • lol, me too. I don’t want to see the S4 go, but if I have both, the s4 would likely just stay and collect dust :(

      • Yeah. I really like the S4, but the smaller size of this is very appealing, especially as I’m going to be travelling a LOT over the next few years.

      • Jon Cravenwood says:

        I’m selling my s4 as well, like you said the size of this is really appealing…setting up the s4 in a DJ booth is a mammoth task….i’ve actually gone back to using cdjs when i play out which is very boring if the venue hasn’t got either some cdj 2000s or 1000s because you don’t have that many features…..hence why i love this so much because it has 8 hotcues on each deck :D

  6. You have beautiful hands Phil

  7. goodguy says:

    Great review, thanks – another nail in my “right, I’m buying that sucker” coffin :)

    You made a really solid point with “the truth is, digital music files are not like records – they’re not round, and they don’t spin”. I’d include CDs in that (sure they physically spin, but not in a way that’s at all useful to the DJ!) as well – basically if you want a round controllery thingy then use vinyl or DVS. If not, then this is probably more valid than most controllers out there as it’s not “faking” vinyl…

  8. I dont go for this jogwheels = archaic remnant of vinyl. Jogwheels are tools, just like pots, faders, pads, etc.

    Ean Golden for example uses jogs to great effect – as FX controls.

    • True but they’re big tools when a smaller tool may be able to do the trick.

    • DJ Forced Hand says:

      Oh but they are worse than that. You cannot “Drop” anywhere in the track immediately with a jog wheel (as you can with Vinyl and Twitch), nor can you “pinch or expand” a loop with a Jog Wheel (something neither CD or Vinyl allow). The touchsrtip is simply a better tool for the job.

      When you really break down the (Traktor Kontrol S2) video, you see that the jog wheel press and turn moves all the parameters at once (something that can be mapped with any controller). Ean customized the jog wheel for his trick… Ean is also around DJ tools all day and has the know-how to make all of those “very narrow control mappings” work for a set or one demonstration mix, something most people won’t do and shouldn’t be fooled by one man’s expertise at mapping controls. On the flip-side, if you’re looking for controls (out of the box) The Twitch has the ability to control all 3 parameters of all four of the Traktor Pro effects.

  9. I’m anxious to try one of these out. Looking for something portable that I can throw into a backpack and take on my motorcycle. Thinking about a used VCI-300 but this might be a better choice.

  10. Does it have headphone split cue please!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. More controllers with no jog wheels would be great. Buttons and faders are all I want really. Some of my friends still use their trusty UC33′s. And something similar to this without the built-in audio interface would be even better to keep costs down and to appease those of us who are perfectly happy with our external interfaces. Here’s hoping.

  12. question: Is the cue mix MIDI or hardware control?

    I often wish the Cue mix knob on the S4 would be a hardware control and not MIDI, as i’m setting the system default output (e.g. iTunes, Youtube) to the sound card master out, but I need to listen to it through the headphones, when at home, as my speakers are off. Now, I have to switch back and forth the software routing to output on the headphones, which is inconvenient. If it’s an analogue control, it’d be flawless …

    • Not sure what you mean, but you can use your laptop’s sound card independently of the Twitch’s sound card – so you can be playing a tune on your iTunes on the laptop and also two different tunes on Twitch, and in the Twitch headphones mix, you are hearing your two DJ tunes. Does that help?

      • I understand what you say, but my question is different. I’d be setting TWITCH’s master out to be the default system output, not the laptop one.

        My question is if the knob, which controls the Master/Cue mix (the one next to the headphones level on the right) is an analogue control, or MIDI one. Analogue, in terms that it crossfades the master & the cue bus electrically, independent of the software.

        It’s better if it’s an analogue, so in case TWITCH’s master is your default sound out, by twist of the knob, you can still hear the same signal audible on the master/speakers, but on the headphones . With the S4, it’s Traktor doing the crossfade (MIDI), so I don’t hear the same signal as the one one the speakers in case other app is sharing the soundcard’s master output. It’s best if it’s software independent.

        • I’m not sure you can do what you’re wanting to do in ITCH, but I may be wrong. Anyway, I don’t know how to work out whether that’s an analogue or a Midi knob – I think it’s probably Midi.

      • The test for this would be easy:
        1. from the Audio/MIDI Setup app (Mac) -> Audio Setup (in the Window menu) you can choose which is your default Audio Out device. Right click the TWITCH soundcard and select “Use this device for sound output”
        1a. By default, it should set to output on the master channel, but if not, the default output pair can be changed from the “Configure Speakers” menu.
        2. Start an iTunes or another preferred player – you should be hearing the audio playing through the speakers connected to TWITCH
        3. Twisting the MIX knob will either do nothing (if it’s MIDI), or you will start hearing the iTunes music in the headphones, like on the speaker.

        It doesn’t matter if ITCH will be running or not, if you hear the output of iTunes on both the speakers and the phones, while the MIX knob is at “master” position, it’d be an analogue control.

        BTW, I really like that the BOOTH can be switched on either the CUE or the MASTER buses. That’s very useful and makes me really optimistic that the MIX knob will also be an analogue control too :)

  13. Chris Argueta says:

    I was hoping for a more details on the touchstrips. I think that is one of the most innovative features of this controller.

    I had a hard time getting used to not having jogwheels with my current controller, but eventually got used to it. I was able to adapt by mapping buttons to “seek” functions and what not.

    I want to pick one of these up, if the touch strip can give me the same amount of control in nudging tracks forward and backwards as you would with jogwheels. In other reviews on Youtube, it looks like that may be the case.

    • That is the case – they are “progressive” like using a jogwheel, and feel pretty convincing. To me they’re 90% as good as using jogs – but I’m used to VCI-300 jogs, which are the best in the business. I suspect you’d get used to the touchstrips quite quickly. I am going to play a couple more gigs on it to make my mind up about that. Watch the video for a demo of the touchstrips.

  14. thisisian says:

    Hi Phill

    I notice you’ve got a MacBook Pro. Did Twitch seem happy enough running on USB bus power from that?

    This is the only thing that’s concerning me, as historically there’s been “issues” with making sure you use the “right” USB socket on Mac’s.

    I’ve got a Twitch on order, so hopefully it will be fine.

  15. Hey Phil, cheers for the great review and the video. Would love to see a few mixes in action to see how well the touch strips work for setting cue points and manual beatmatching! Any chance? (cheekily)

  16. I am waiting for a competitively priced digital controller that can link to either traktor, torq 2.0, or serato and comes with 4 channels using rotary knobs (optional) instead of sliding faders. Until something more affordable comes out to meet that criteria I am going to use a DJM 3000, Traktor Kontrol x1, and my audio interface (M-Audio Connectiv) in an attempt to move away from the turntables and have still have fun.

  17. Phil, can you post some recorded sets with the Novation Twitch? Many of us would like to hear how it sounds. I’m sure it sounds good…I’m just a stickler about wanting big fat rotary controls.

  18. Activated~soundwave (jace) says:

    Great Review, I started spinning in 1986 then skipped From vinyl straight to the digital domain with ableton 4 to present(I hated Cd decks never wanted to use them i found them so uninviting) anyhow i Felt pressured that the djing without platters/jogs was not wright or in fact fake, but what the layman clubber does not realise is the fact that the spinning discs is only a gimmick in the digital realm unless you are a scratch dj of course, most djs will Hit the sync button more often than not, is this cheating yes! But only if you don’t use your free time!, but that’s the whole point with the future. And confessions of all djs i would say, we all want to excite and be loved so now we have opportunity to put our creativity on our sets, so again those that flounder around and those who push their limits will be known apart as technology advances. anyhow last week i got my Traktor S4, so disappointing for me it was like taking a step back, i was soul destroyed at wasting £750 in my eyes, anyhow with much debate i managed to send it back, and i was stuck with the choice of the Numark NS6 the twitch had not really been noticed by myself, then i had a brain wave, i used my refund to buy another Akai APC40 and ordered a twitch controller, best of both worlds, and after reading your review it has confirmed my Instinct which is normally correct, i can use the both with ableton add a flight case and the built in souncard another reason i got fed up with ableton and sold my vestax VCM600 and my first Akai APC40,Great controllers but just to much gear to add a separate soundcard etc. all this has just changed and i cant wait to get up and running, and like is say i also have serato itch to play with, I really hope that people speak out and get on Serato’s and abletons case about developing a bridge for Itch, that would just open up the whole game and would truly be the Real game changer for the masses, so again, i am very happy chappy now, knowing i have made the Correct Choice thanks to your Review, roll on delivery day.
    PS: Small world Phil Morse after many years clubbing at tangled, i would never had thought you would have taken that digital Controller approach , but i was glad to see that Going off towards the end of tangled nights you started to delve with Traktor,as we both know their where Only a few tangled members/djs who where embracing the technology, some traktor some ableton users, so i must say its really good to see you have advanced more so again, I thought you had quit the dj game, so fair do on this well written Review i would never had thought it being you until i Clicked you where the author here.
    A true dj will never really be able to leave it behind, and technology can inspire us Tired Old time Djs, it has always kept me going, and at last we are getting somewhere,
    Glad to see you have the Buzz again Phil.

  19. Gbrown44 says:

    As always, great read Phil (you’re the man). These words struck out to me “This is an important controller.” and I know coming from you that they really mean something (you pointed me to a great controller before and I still love it).

    Although I don’t need one, I am feeling the need deep down in my pockets to have one.

    thanks

  20. it's all about soul says:

    the soundcard’s quality worries me about usin this in professional PA system

    • Why is that? Novation is essentially Focusrite, who do high-end sound-cards.

      • it's all about soul says:

        yes, i hope this sound card have the focusrite quality ! and work fine in a PA system

      • It will just be a Focusrite card in a different box. Way cheaper than designing a new card… and they will have standard chipsets, drivers, etc.

      • it's all about soul says:

        is a lot of reports in serato forum about the deficient volume output (very low) beacuse the usb power supply, makes twitch not professioanl equipament, why do you thing in blogs review anybody talk about that ?

  21. it's all about soul says:

    Do the Low/Mid/High EQs kill the frequencys or just attenuate ?

  22. I kid you not. I look at controllers every day, but I haven’t gotten a chance to play with a Twitch yet. Your video literally sold me on it.

  23. Johannes Shuffle says:

    So is it possible to control the sample player within itch with the buttons of twitch?
    Greets

  24. i wanna know if the built in sound card is as powerful as seratos to be used on a big setup???

  25. it's all about soul says:

    Why the blogs review dont tell the deficient lower twitch output ? ham ?????

  26. So I watched the videos, looked at every review I could find, and asked around of the forums and haven’t got one yet. With the twitch can you use Serato 2.0′s new four deck control? I’ve seen the overlay and noticed that you could control four ‘decks’ using NI’s Traktor and just wanted to know before I buy.

    • Serato ITCH has always had four deck control, but you need a four deck controller (NS6, Xone:DX) to use all four decks, and TWITCH is only a two deck controller – so no.

      • Rick Genz says:

        i wish serato would change that. i mean the twitch works great in traktor with 4 decks i wish the same could be done in serato DJ. that or i need to get more creative with sample decks :)

  27. Hey Phil,

    Thanks for the detailed review. I purchased the TWITCH a few weeks ago and am waiting for the next batch to come in before it’s shipped to me. I do, however, have a question about the functionality of Serato Itch with TWITCH. I have been using a Hercules 4-MX with Virtual DJ LE; One of the key features with this set up/software is that when you have the software running you can see the layout of both songs playing at the top of your laptop screen and then match up the beats by dragging and aligning them as well as matching up the drops of the songs (I do mostly EDM dance music so by drops I mean the chorus). I’ve been trying to figure out how this would be done on ITCH but I have not been able to wrap my head around it, meaning : How would one align a song so that it drops at the same time as the song that is currently playing?

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks again!

    • It works the same as other controllers, you just use the touchstrip not the jogs to adjust.

      • Thanks for your quick reply!

        I think you misunderstood my question, though. My concern was how one would match up the drops in the ITCH software not necessarily how they would do it with the TWITCH. Like I said, with VIRTUAL DJ you can align the drops simply by syncing the beats and dragging the song via the beatgrid on top. I’m unclear as to how this would be done on ITCH, however.

        Thanks again!

    • I’ve been trying to figure out a way to do this in ANY software without success for ahwile. The closest I’ve come to finding something similar to this is steve duda’s setup youtube(dot)com/watch?v=R1L-74MaL38 he explains this at 2:20, but it’s kinda limited. I’m working with some pretty far out mappings of the Traktor beatjump functionality with bomes midi translator right now with middling progress.

  28. No sampler

  29. Phil, I would guess you have played a few gigs with the twitch now. Does it still stand up to a 5 star rating? Have you found any limitations from using jogs?

  30. Anyone know how well it intergrates with itch 2

    • It works perfectly; the sync button now works slightly differently to how it is labelled, and you can’t control the sample decks from Twitch, but it all works fine.

  31. Anyone know how well it intergrates with itch 2

  32. How well does the twitch intergrate with itch 2?

  33. Would I be able to use this with other dj device such as the vestax pad one? Anyone know if itch has a midi learn function?

  34. Phil, you’ve had this unit for a while, can you comment on the durability of the unit so far? Someone on this site I believe, commented on how the buttons wore out and/or didn’t work anymore.

    Currently have a DN MC6000 which I’m not fully satisfied with, and too cramped for my liking. And deciding between this and the VCI-400 (but twice the price)and will for sure see what NAMM 2012 has to offer.

    This unit looks pretty good and its a ITCH hardware, bonus!

  35. Jeff Drugo says:

    Hi Phil, thanks for your exhaustive reviews.
    I was thinking to buy a Twitch cause it fits all my needs, especially for the price, and I was wondering if I would be able, then, to plug an analogue turntable to that AUX input, to digitalize some of my thousands analogue songs.

    Greets

  36. I got the Twitch. It’s not perfect but I do like it.

    Coming back to Itch and now 2.1 was a little challenging which is a little different than previous versions I used. The built isn’t pro, mostly the faders and knobs but it does the job.

    The remixing and playing around on this unit, is the best experience I’ve had so far. It’s insane! For those who are used to Traktor’s FXs, Itch isn’t that bad at all. the essentials are there and easily accessible. The best has to be fader volume FX.

    In regards to the volume it is VERY low and lacks punch. Playing tunes from the laptop’s soundcard is even louder.
    However, I’m currenlty using the “Booth Out” as the master. Gonna get 1/4 to RCA cables, but the question is is the sound from the “real” Master Out 1/4 louder than the Booth out?

    Weirdly enough, the sound from headphone jack on the Twitch is louder than the “Booth Out”…

    The Traktor mapping from Novation is a waste. Awkward (mostly for FX). I hope to find a proper mapping. So much potential!

  37. hi there…i have a problem here , i using novation twitch , and i want to use traktor , but i can’t here a headphone monitor in the traktor, but running well in serato itch , can you guys help me?

    • You need to set the output routing correctly in Traktor.

      • I have a sound card that was designed for surround sound and I was able to direct front channels to the mains and the surround speakers to the headphones. works nice, and no additional interface was required.

    • Hallay, I had the same issue as well. It’s because in Traktor you have to kinda set-up manually at 1st.

      Now sure how you have your screen set-up, but I have 4 decks on below deck “D” on the same row as the crossfader there’s a “mix, headphone and aux” vol controls. I have mix all the way down, headphone vol all the way up and aux all the down since I don’t use it for now.

      With headphone volume all the way up in Traktor, now you use Twtich headphone vol to lower or increase that sound.

      Hope it helps!

  38. Hi Phil,

    I’m new to digital djing. I’d like it if you could comment on the lacking sampler function and what it means for you when using the Novation Twitch (if it’s made any difference at all).

    Thanks

  39. Superb review, very detailed. I had a lot of questions about Twitch and all have been answered. Especially like the part of the review when the kit is used in a live gig. The only other Q’s will be when I use the kit myself but I think this review will also help with those. Thanks

  40. Thank you for the review Phil – and all the hard work you do! I am just starting out and all your reviews and videos have been amazingly helpful.

    I have gotten to the point where I want/need a DJ controller and trying to stay away form the “toys” while not breaking the bank. I have zero need for scratching and the Twitch just seems like a really interesting alternative. I am considering the Twitch or the Reloop Mixage. I’ve been using Traktor but feel I could make the “ITCH switch” if necessary. Do you think the Twitch would be difficult for beginners?

    Thank you again – wonderful site.

    • No, it wouldn’t be difficult for beginners. Just bear in mind that most DJs have experience using “spinny things”, so you won’t be getting that experience.

  41. OMG I am so going to get that thx for the great review

  42. Hi Phil,
    I’m somewhat intimidated by Twitch as a beginner. how is the learning curve?

    thanks

    • its pretty quick.
      I love the controller and I too am a beginner.
      there are so many ways to DJ, and those that learned and have perfected their craft using platters may not like it, but if new to Digital DJ’ing I think the Twitch is perfect.

  43. Well, Thats yet another controller i have to decide on lol..I was settled on purchasing a Denon MC3000 this week but after seeing this and reading up on it i now really want this..Im a newbie to digital and it only for home use but occasional use in work as a teaching tool, I didnt fancy Traktor which was on some controllers but wanted VDJ now serato itch sounds rerally cool with this and im now in two minds.The gadgets and the lights are whats swingin it for me and the possibilities this thing can do once learnt on it, A great review as always andim now very excited..Rollon Thursdaylol

  44. Gareth Owen says:

    Right, I’ve owned Twitch for just over a year and used it for all my gigs ( both commercial and resident in a local club ) Here’s some long term pointers. The output is low when compared to cdj’s or any other line source on most systems.Two ways round it,option 1 is to use a small pre-amp like a Cortex or get the iron out and make a custom line out lead where the booth output is mixed with the main so 2rca( for the booth) and two 6.3 for the main out ‘piggybacked’ into one pair of rca’s (mixer end) This will give you around 3db extra.
    Reliability wise I’ve had the usual ‘Not been recognized’ hardware issues which was traced back to poor zsoldering on the usb,Novation were brilliant with a fast repair and honesty about the fault.I’ve since retrofitted a usb shockmount on minewhich is easy to d.People may think why have I done this? The answer is simple Twitch is a really good piece of kit and well recommended for people who have no connection with jogwheels,you simply don’t need them,sound quality with .flac or high quality 320 mp3 is one of the best from a bus powered controller,I can live with the little problems and the lower than average output as you can workaround it.It is usb powered after al! It was your blog Phill that convinced me to gamble on Twitch and I’m glad I did. Get one now,the usb issues seem to have been sorted on later models it seems

  45. Hi, does anyone know what kind brand/ model/ or generic type) of touchstrip controllers does the Twitch use? I’m trying to design a controller for ableton with a touchstrip controller for viewing and zooming into a clip in the track view window.by pinch zoom like in Android phones or whatever. So the strip should have atleast a two point multi touch support.

  46. just a heads up, the twitch is also eligible for the Serato DJ download. I believe it to be the most cost effect controller that supports the free Serato DJ download.

  47. Georgio v. B. says:

    Hello I want to buy the Novation Twitch, so do you advise me to get it , because I found a cool controller, and also I’ve read the review and I found it nice, but some persons are saying that it contains some issues and problems but the outputs and the sound, so do you advise me to get it or to find another good controller that fits the budget well?

    Regards

    • Rick Genz says:

      i recommend it… i see no issues with output as others have suggested, maybe they are not configured / set up properly? headphone amp loud and clear as well.

  48. andretti@deraket.com says:

    Hi Phil,
    I still have love for my Twitch, working flawless on my Macbook Pro and will stick with it for now, but there is are two serious problem with the the combo Twitch/Serato DJ regarding effects.. I’m nagging the folks at Serato with it, but can’t get them in motion to fix it.

    1 There is a bug in single effect mode, making the fader effect useless (they know this and promised a fix).

    2 The multi effects mapping is ridiculous!

    Serato DJ has 3 effects in multimode and modern controllers have 4 knobs (4th for beats)

    Twitch has 4 knobs if you count the fader effect knob.

    So there you have three knobs in a row and you have 3 effects..

    What did they do?

    Let’s dedicate knob 1 to effect 2, knob 2 to effect 3 and knob 3 to beats..

    Knob 4 thats somewhere else completely, we dedicate to effect 1..

    WHY??

    I can’t put my head around it. Unworkable! It freaks me out!

    Serato tells me they have no plans to fix this..

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