Over To You: Help! I’m Sick Of CDs But Scared Of Computer DJing…

With Stanton’s SCS.4DJ you don’t need a laptop to perform… but you still need a computer to get the tunes on to the unit in the first place. Pic from: Skratchworxv

Reader Stuart Hickmen writes: “My set up currently consists of two 1210s, two CDJ 800s and a DDM400 Behringer mixer. I’ve had enough of burning CDs, when I find that after a while i only play 20-30% of the tunes on there.

“I would rather buy hardware that avoids the use of a laptop / software, but as I’m not technical, if I can’t just turn it on and play, I’m not interested, because any bugs I came across would jusy result in me just turning it off in a huff! What would you recommend?”

Digital DJ Tips says:

You could look at the Stanton SCS.4DJ which is an all-in-one controller, but you still need a laptop to get the music on there. To be honest a decent laptop/controller setup would be pretty reliable, and well worth the learning curve.

I recommend Serato ITCH if you really want it to “just work” – a VCI-300 plus a MacBook Pro is one of the most reliable computer DJ systems there is, and will allow you to “just spin” with a minimum of fuss.

However, I’m sure the readers have ideas too!

So – over to you. Can you help Stuart? Have you felt or do you feel the same way about computers? What was your solution? Please feel free to advise him in the comments.

Comments

  1. VCI 300 + Macbook Pro = My perfect Kit ;)

  2. a Serato Scratch Live setup seems to be your best bet, since you’re already familiar with CDJs/vinyls, you can put those skills to good use with SSL.
    normally i would recommend Traktor Scratch for their feature-rich and better bang/buck, but since you said you hate tweaking stuffs, SSL is better. they’re reowned for being straightforward & easy to plug-n-play.

    • StrangeMatter says:

      If you want you laptop to be your record-bag, Serato Scratch Live is the way forward.
      To put the point home, I too prefer Traktor!

      There are SL2, 3 and 4 boxes available and they differ in how many decks you can use. So consider spending the extra cash if your style of play requires it.

  3. Dj Different says:

    How about any of the standalone media players out there? CDJ-350/400/850/900/2000 and Denon DN-S3700/S1200 for instance? No need to burn CDs or use a computer (while DJing, that is).

  4. there are several solutions out there that allow for one not to worry about dealing with a computer. when i first gave up cdjs i bought a macbook pro and a hercules rmx console. i started with virtual dj. the LE version came with the rmx controller. it was simple to set up and use. no fuss at all. took me about 10 mins after i spent about 15 mins going through the instructions!

    i cant comment on the scs.4dj coz i havent used one but i think its fair to say that this technology is still new and it’ll take some time before you can get the same level of functionality out of it the way you can with traktor or the likes.

    that was 4 years ago. macs in my opinion are very expensive BUT you dont need to be a software engineer to get going on one. eventually my computer got old and i wanted a more professional controller. i bought a windows based gaming laptop (cheaper than a mac and with some killer specs, over kill for a djs requirements but none the less i wanted something that i knew wasnt going to getting old in the next quarter) and the denon mc6000 and im now using traktor. i had some teething problems (getting used traktor took some time) but i remember going through a similar rough patch when i first bought cdjs!

    it just takes some time. i cannot ever imagine going back to cdjs. i am very comfortable with technology but do i still get frustrated with my laptop every now and then? yes. but so was having to burn a cd only to realize that you missed out that one banger of a tune and then to realize that you were out of cds and that it was 2am so there was no way you could mess around with that fresh tune on your decks till morning. and printing the labels. i really disliked that a lot!

    even with the new features that cdjs where you can practically show at a gig with no cds and just 2 hard drives with your music on them i still dont think you have the same level of flexibility. dont get me wrong, im not saying you cant be as good a dj on cdjs. all im saying is that a laptop based setup is far more flexible.

    i can analyze, encode and do so much much more with my music now.

    i think one’s requirements should also be kept in mind. i travel A LOT, i spend about 6 months of a years on the road. and this was the primary reason why i moved to laptops. but again even if this wasnt the case im sure i would have migrated to a laptop anyways.

  5. I can’t recall what the name or manufacturer of the controller is, but I distinctly remember seeing one that had its own standalone interface with USB ports which allowed for the use of a thumbdrive or external HDD. Definitely something to look into if having a laptop in front of you isn’t your forte. But don’t be afraid of coming to the digital side! It’s nice and cozy here.

    • Perhaps you’re thinking of the Pioneer CDJ350W?

      I’ve been told the S4 (and presumably the S2) are pretty plug-and-play as well, but I’ve no first-hand experience with them.

      • Will Marshall says:

        They are, although if you’re scared of software, Traktor’s semi-extensive array of options might be daunting.

  6. Mr stifffy says:

    Mix deck quad….. I’ve tested one and thought it was amazing, perfect all in one solution. Let’s you use it a’s a controller, plays USB drives and CDs so it gives you everything you need.

  7. Csoftsounds says:

    I Started DJing bank in the 70′s turntable’s crates full of Lp’s when the CD players came along I move to a dual CD setup careing CDs was better than crate’s of Lp’s, I’ve gotten back in the game and have updated the system again, Traktor software and Numark controler, All my music on the Laptop is a big change from how I started out. I love it I don’t see what the problem is.

  8. You can use a pair of CDJ-2000′s, load your tracks into an USB flash memory or a portable usb hard drive and plug it into one of the cdj’s usb slot, then with an ethernet cable you link both cdj’s so you can use the tunes from only one hard drive on both players! (You’ve been using a computer already to burn cd’s so you can keep using it to load tracks into usb hard drives too).

  9. I cosign on the Station system if you absolutely want no laptop.

    However, if you’re more into Pioneer, then chance it with ITCH and the Pioneer controller. The VCI-300 if you want things smaller.

  10. It’s not really a laptop when you DJ… More like a screen and a quick search function.

    Really though, you’re not using it that much, and as long you keep it low and not up in eye height like many do (with laptop stands) then it doesn’t really matter much.

    I very much dislike the laptop stands, because it basically hides you behind a screen and it looks unprofessional and you lose contact to the audience – which after all is all you should care about; entertaining the audience.

    • Mr stifffy says:

      I agree with the laptop stand bit, keep the laptop hidden, I love my laptop stand for my fx controller :)

      • The only problem with keeping the laptop low is ‘bad back syndrome!’. The amount of times i have played for 3-4 hours and the next day felt like a cripple (cause im not in my 20′s anymore) is ridiculous. The only reason i’d have a stand (I dont at present but desperately want one) is to avoid feeling like im 90 the next day…!

    • To solve the bad back problem, use a laptop stand but have it well over to one side (i.e. not directly above the mixer).

      I use one that you can twist towards you so you can still easily glance over to the screen to check the time remaining etc.

  11. Stuart Hickman says:

    Hi everybody, thanks for the advice, and Phil thanks for putting my questions out there. The CDJs went last night, was a bit unsure seeing then go, but i got a good price for them so nevermind! Still got my 1210s (they are gonna have to bury me with those!). I know it might sound strange after my original question but im pretty sure im going for the kontrol s4.I have a sony vaio laptop that ive just repaired(cracked screen, damn kids!) that my brothers gonna restore to factory settings and use it just to run traktor and nothing else to minimise glitches and problems. I was seriously looking into the xone dx for a while but i read that im gonna have to use keyboards to fire samples or get another seperate controller for that. With the s4 im never gonna have to mess with the laptop after setup, which is what i really want. Its gonna be a couple of weeks before i get all the cash to buy it so please anymore advice or information, will be read and considered! thank you guys and thank you Phil!

    • StrangeMatter says:

      I commented above that Serato Scratch might’ve been your best option until I read this! Good luck with it. Traktor’s a fantastic system but it takes a bit of getting used to. I hope it doesn’t put you off as it’ll reward you in the end.

    • If you love the turntables I would say stick with them! Why add in new hardware AND software? Serato was SO easy to learn since I could just stick with my original setup (TTs & mixer)

      • Agreed. Just get Traktor Scratch Duo 2 (or Serato Scratch Live) and use it with your 1210′s. That’s the way to go for you I’m sure. Plus it’ll be less expensive (Traktor Scratch Duo 2 is only $349 and is all you’ll need to buy).

  12. Stick with what you’ve got. If you’re too scared to learn the technical side, then digital DJing is probably not for you. Either that or swap out the 800s for some 900s or 350s and use Rekordbox and USB sticks.

    If you ARE willing to learn, Serato Scratch or Traktor Scratch Pro 2 would be a good middle ground as you still use vinyl or CDs, but as timecode. Digital DJing really doesn’t have a steep learning curve once you get going.

  13. Bikram aditya says:

    Im into digital djing since almost 5 yrs ,I’ve controllers like -bcd2000,rmx,NS7,MIXTRACK,dj2go ,all are excellent machines work flawless with Mac/pc,.But my favourite is RMX ,reason – 1. build 2.it has both input /outputs rca / jacks 3.it is fully usb powered ie.it doesent requires any extra power ie. ac/dc 4. it works very well with even a very low config. computer ,. eg. a comp. with a ram as low as 512mb. SO U CAN THINK ABOUT IT

  14. Stuart should get a notebook and Traktor Scratch Duo, and just use it with the mixer/CDJs/TTs he already has. Especially if he plays out at clubs. That’s going to be the easiest and best way to achieve his goal of ditching CDs.

  15. DJ elixeR says:

    If you havent already sold your cdj’s or mixers and dont mind a slight learning curve, I can completely vouch for time-coded CDJ’s whilest using Traktor. All it really will seem like is you’ll have a bigger UI than your CDJ’s have by themselves and it will have tons of new features! While i did eventually upgrade to an Ohm64 as my main controller (ABLETON CONTROLLERISM FTW) my time-coded CDJ’s worked like a charm. Lookin into getting a vci-400 though when it’s released or if it ends up not living up to hte hype, possibly the Twitch.

  16. Stuart before you spend your money I would consider a set up that will “move with the times” as it were. Whilst software/computer/controller may seem a bit daunting at the moment you will be surprised how easy it really is to pick up.

    As for the software…if you don’t want to use all the bells and whistles you don’t have to but it’s nice to know it’s there if you ever want to advance or use it in the future. Also with the SCS.4DJ, do you really want to spend hours looking at a screen no bigger than that of a smart phone ?

    I went from vinyl to digital and missed out on CDJ’s. I would recommend before you buy anything that you download a free trial version of Traktor or Serato and just spend a couple of weeks playing with it before you make your decision.

    Welcome to the DDJ family….great to see another convert !!

  17. Forgot to add Stuart …. Being new to digital , I would also highly recommend Phils “How To Digital DJ Fast” tutorial videos, they are pure gold as an introduction and will have you up and running in no time.

    • Phil Morse says:

      I didn’t pay him to say that! ;) Seriously though, if anyone wants those videos, they’re on sale again from Nov 1 – the previous availability was strictly limited to site members as a pre-launch offer. Get a sneak preview and sign up here for more info: http://www.digitaldjtips.com/how-to-digital-dj-fast

      • lol !!! true there was no coercion involved ! But seriously though they are a wonderful resource and will save you hours of time over going it alone.

        Although, Stuart I re-read your original post and readers comments and had another think about. Since you definitely don’t want software or laptop, I’d have to agree with Dan , the easiest way would be to get to CDJ’s or Mixer that can take a USB stick.

  18. My vote goes to:

    Denon S3700 + X1700/X1600 and 2 USB stcks.
    If you are made of money Pioneer CDJ2000 + DJM900/2000

    //DJ Hessler

    • Why go top of the range? CDJ350s and the current mixer would be fine. Maybe the 900s if he really wants some screen real estate on the LCD.

      • I have the 350 series setup and if I had to suggest something, don’t get the DJM-350 mixer. It has a useful usb recording feature but the effects section isn’t that great if you need effects. The effects are on the master channel which means you have to apply the effect to both channels and you can’t choose which channel you want the effect on. Instead go for the DJM-400 or a Denon DN-X600 if you can. The CDJ-350s are great though and I would recommend them!

  19. Seriously consider the Traktor/Serato + laptop + controller route.
    I’ve used all different media, vinyl, cd, USB, time code. I own CDJ900s and I’ve used them as well as my iPad and Maschine as midi controllers.

    Im now using Traktor with a Denon MC6000 and it’s fantastic. Traktor is a lot of fun with all the FX, Sample Decks, etc etc etc. I use a MacBook and it works flawlessly. I can unplug my controller and plug it back in later without even rebooting the software and pick up right where I left off. You get pre-made controller layouts from the manufacturer and once you figure out the audio routing (which was the only slightly difficult part) you are up and running in no time. My CDJ’s are collecting dust. I love this set up.

    • Agree with you 100% there ! I recently got to demo that exact set up you mentioned and I absolutely loved it as well.

      Seriously in this day and age, to “upgrade” CDJ’s just so you can use a USB etc seems pointless and such a waste of money when you could easily purchase a decent controller..which let’s face it is the future.

  20. I like the American Audio Versa Deck USB Midi DJ Controller. Take along your hard drive or thumb drive and your up and running. It also comes bundled and ready to roll with Virtual DJ software. Has Aux outs for cdjs if needed. Take it for a spin as it is very well built and offers more per buck then most in my opinion. There is also Numarks Mixdeck, Mixdeck express, and Mixdeck Quad. All offer CD, midi, and hd operation. Check the sites and or youtube for more info. The new Stanton SCS 4DJ is almost there, still a few bugs but maybe in a new updated version this would be great for most mobile DJ’s. To break in the game a simple Numark Mixtrack Pro and a hp laptop from walmart using a TB or less hd and almost 100 shows later with no drama what so ever. This is just a suggestion as this is all for conversation and arrived from opinions. Regards, DJ Malarky out.

  21. DJ Digital dB says:

    I use a numark mixdeck and tractor pro 2 on a cheap laptop and it’s very reliable I want to switch to amacbook pro because of it’s no bugs tho so I would suggest that

  22. I use an record-flightcase … you have 2 pieces so depending on the table you can use the upper half or the complete case.
    It has those rubber knobs where your laptop perfectly fits on leaving it quit airy for cooling.
    And … you can turn it into whatever position.

    But the most important is … it is higher than table level. So the accidently forgotten and pushed over beer won’t touch it.

  23. Stuart Hickman says:

    Well i was ready to go part with my cash for the kontrol S4 this weekend, but now im unsure due to the arrival of the vestax vci400 in december. Damn you technology stop giving me so many options!!!

  24. Wow.

    There is some serious info here. I’m really interested in the comments re laptop stands. Dyou really think that now, 2011 people should be ‘ashamed’ of playing off laptops?

    • Blatantly not. Look at Fatboy Slim. would you find him “bording” playing off a laptop? It’s not the gear – it’s YOU that makes the gig fun or tedious.

  25. Agreed,

    But also wondering about the broader view. Would you now say to the 15 year old thinking about buying turntables (if they even know what they are), get yourself a laptop?

  26. .I’ve passed mixing with Cd’s.Because (especially with selfburned CD’s) the medium Cd appears to be very sensitive about dust & fingers.I was fed up with soundsplops & skip’s during playing a Dj-set.

    I tried different brands of Dj Software until i discovered Virtual Dj in 2007. I started with the 5.07 version (now VDJ 7 Pro Full) The graphic layout of this this programm is very clear (2 Decks & internal mixer) & easy to use.
    (so i can recomment you that programm)

    So i transformed my Cd-collection into HQ mp3′s on a 2 TB HD (thats my “Recordbag” now).Now i mix & record everything digital.

    I;ve started mixing with vinyl (1977),mixed with Cd,Dj-ing digitalnow. But i don’t wanna “go back” on that other mediums no more.

Leave a Comment