Your Questions: Help Me Choose A Dicer ‘n’ Digital Vinyl Set-up

The Novation Dicer: Designed for Technics and Serato, but there are some cheaper alternatives...

The Novation Dicer: Designed for Technics and Serato, but there are some cheaper alternatives...

Digital DJ Tips reader MrLittlerSmith writes: "I think the concept of getting a digital vinyl set-up with some Novation Dicers sounds pretty cool, but I'm somewhat lost on exactly what equipment to pick up. I'm definitely looking for 'bang for your buck', but a set-up that's not overly expensive. So my question to you is: What mixer, tables, and software should I look into?"

Digital DJ Tips says:

It won't be cheap to get a decent DVS setup! Original Technics are now prohibitively expensive, and so Stanton STR8.150s are my current favourite turntables. In an ideal world I'd partner them with a Rane Serato Scratch Live mixer such as the new Sixty-One. Add your Dicers (Dicers are made for Serato Scratch Live, which is why I'm sticking with Serato here) and you'll not get much change out of US$2,500. You could save cash by using a standard mixer (Xone 22 is nice) plus a Serato SL2 interface which will give you a similar result (albeit with an extra box in your set-up) but for around US$1,700.

If you wanted cheaper turntables, I've heard good things about the Audio Technica AT-PL1200s. They're basically a Technics copy, but apparently a good one, and if you swapped them for the Stantons it would bring the price down to around US$1300. With these turntables you could also fit the Dicers "properly" using the Technics spindle adaptor mount hole that is optional but keeps everything neat, whereas with other designs of turntable you'd likely have to mount the Dicers flat. If you want cheaper, you should start looking at different software and mapping the Dicers yourself, but you'll need to get your sleeves rolled up to do this with a non-Serato solution. Three choices are Traktor Scratch Pro 2 (most expensive remaining option), Virtual DJ or MixVibes.

Of course, this is all assuming you already have a good laptop to run the software on...

Are you a DVS user? What would your advice to MrLittlerSmith be to get the best performance and value in his new DVS set-up? Please share your thoughts below...

Comments

  1. I’d go for second hand technics, xone 22 and sl 1/2 used. Shouldn’t go out of 1300.

    • The going price for a second hand set of technics in decent shape doesn’t go lower than $1000 generally

  2. José Reach says:

    I don’t get why these things have to be so expensive.

    • It’s more components with metal construction and such.

      With Midi Controls and a good laptop, they built more of the functions into the software and hardware so there’s less investment.

      Metal construction and big name brands cost money. It’s the facts of life. It’s why I tell newer DJs and even newer photographers that they don’t need to spend big on top of the line gear. Better to start simpler and work your way up.

      I personally think the Dicer isn’t worth the $200 investment ($100 each). All you’re getting is a smaller midi control, when perhaps looking into keyboard shortcuts would work as well. That’s what DJ AM would do. That or look around at a drumpad controller to do it.

      IMHO, a vinyl setup now has become a luxury. If you’re making the money or have the money to put into it, then go for it if you want it. I personally see it all now as a lot more baggage.

      You show up to venues that have no turntables or they have old broken down ones, thus you get frustrated and start hauling your gear out everywhere you go. Then you get shadey promoters and owners asking you to allow other DJs to use your gear throughout the night, or some who simply won’t give you any space to set up since other DJs are there on CDJs or midi controllers.

      Now I’m NOT saying one shouldn’t go vinyl if they really want it, but the DJ who isn’t full of money will have to either slowly build up a setup, or toy with lesser-known brands, or look for used gear. A $500-$1000 midi control with software is less investment than:

      $500-$2000 for the turntables
      $80-$400 for the needles (they don’t come with the tables)
      $100-$3000 for a mixer
      $200-$600 for a digital vinyl system with timecode vinyls and sound card

      Mind you I didn’t include headphones, a laptop, or the Novation Dicers. So you could be spending as little as $880 to as much as $6000.

      I’m not trying to be a pessimist, but a realist. If you want to get a DVS with Dicers, then I’d simply tell you to make a plan of growth. So save up perhaps to get Scratch Live (used or new), the Audio Technica turntables and a simple 2-channel mixer. Go for the Dicers later, then slowly upgrade/improve on current gear as you make money either in DJing or a normal job.

      Bear in mind you’ll also be spending money on music too!

      • Dicers are sold as a pair for $100 and are totally worth it. They’re native with Serato and Traktor (no mapping required), low profile and great because they get your hands off the computer and on the decks where they should be! I would love to see a midi drum pad with 8 buttons that can be mapped to do 30 different midi controls… and that’s per deck… so 2 controllers for under $100?

        I agree with what you’re saying about building up your gear as you make money though. I bought my dj rig slowly over time. I started out with 2 Tech 1200s and a Pioneer DJM200 that I bought used for $1000. I learned on vinyl while I saved to buy a Macbook. Once I got my laptop, I went to my local music store and bought M-Audio’s Torq Conectiv ($275 vs. $600 for Scratch Live) to make the jump into the digital world. That took me a long way. I eventually financed a DJM600 and Serato SL2 to give me an industry standard digital vinyl rig that didn’t break the bank all at once. I then bought a pair of Novation Dicers to add the cherry on top.

        I think the problem with being able to buy a $600 controller that does everything you need to dj is that it’s allowing anyone into the industry and taking the real art out of djing. Djs today don’t know how to beatmatch (damn sync button), they don’t understand how to set a feel or mood with their music and there’s no hard work for big reward mentality. Djing on 2 decks and a mixer takes skill and talent… two things I’m seeing less and less of in the world of djing.

      • Dicers are sold in a pair dude

      • Thanks for the clarification guys. I thought they were sold each.

        As for the art…that has to be desired. If one takes the short/easy path AND has club owners/promoters willing to take that path with him, then all you can do is build your own scene where wannabes can’t come in.

        I still stand by though that KNOWING MANUAL BEATMATCHING is a must, even if you use sync. I started on vinyl, but in all honesty…I don’t miss it. I’m even going to record all my old vinyl to WAV and sell it all (the vinyls…not the files).

        As for if “decks” is more “keeping it real” than controllers, that’s an argument for another day…and I think we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

  3. Numark TTX are pretty stunning turntables – picked up a second hand one for £160 last month and am running it with Traktor Scratch through my Kontrol S4. No need for dicers since the loop/cue controls on the S4 still work. Cost around £1000.

    • antiMACtax says:

      This is the best option! You are able to get the real deal with 1 or 2 real turntables + all the benefits of DVS. If you wanted you could easily take just the S4 to gigs without any hassle, or setup turntables with it.

      You have to have the computer hooked up with this setup at all times. There is an additional “Scratch Setup” upgrade charge of $125, which includes timecode vinyl and CDs with Scratch plug-in.

      I can vouch for the Stanton ST-150’s as the best turntables for the money, although they are HEAVY. I personally started with turntables + mixer + Scratch Pro, then ended up using the S4 so much that I sold my turntables mixer and DVS.

      If I were you I’d take a close look at the Traktor F1 controller instead of Dicers.

      Also, Denon 3700 or wait for Denon 3900 for simulated vinyl control without the hassle of needles.

  4. If you don’t really know what you need, there’s really no reason as to why you must pick a DVS.

  5. Wow! @ the Audio Technica AT-PL1200s. went digital and figured I was not going to be using vinyl much so could not justify $900.00 Technique turntables. I chose the AT-PL1200s and was quite surprised at just how close to feeling like the technique they were. All my DJ friends would not be caught dead with my setup. “to hell with them” Audio Technica did a great job copying the technique 1200. The S arm tonearm is not as good as the original though.

  6. Hey man, there is an option that would bring the price down significantly: Free and open-source DJ software. Hear me out.
    Mixxx (http://www.mixxx.org/) is very respectable software, especially for a DVS. It is compatible with pretty much any midi controller or audio interface, and can use both Traktor and Serato control vinyl (among others). It has looping (regular and beatsyncd), hotcues, and sample decks too. the only area it might be lacking at the moment is fx, of which it only has a flanger.

  7. what about the Numark Battle Pack + SL2? The battle pack has 2 TTX turntables and a M1 mixer, it costs $299 on amazon and the SL2 is $499 on amazon too, so for $800 you could get a decent DVS setup.
    Also, I don’t know if this will work, but here’s a video on how to do it with 2 cheap Behringer soundcards. Saving the need of an SL2.

  8. @Amed

    I seriously doubt that package includes 2x TTX. One TTX is more than that $299 package.

  9. I work with three midi controllers and plan to expand to vinyl as soon as I can save enough for it. What I did is I searched heavy online for the best deals, searched all retailers’ sites in the US and Canada, took into account shipping costs and broke it down into segments where I purchase 1 deck plus 1 cart in one month, do the same the next month, the 3rd month go for a nice mixer. 4th month go for interface and timecode. I recomend getting these things new because otherwise you will 9 times out of 10 suffer the headaches of wasting money on someone else’s half-way-broken-down hand me downs. You never know how much abuse that kit endured before it got to you. Buy new, get warranty… protect your investment, but definetly purchase your set-up in segments.

    Good luck!

  10. Buy used 1200’s

    Something about techs… they just… are solid, smooth, accurate, and built like a tank. Nothing compares imo.

  11. VinnyBlanc says:

    For the record Dicers are $99 for the pair (not $100 each)

    I wouldn’t buy any used Turntables unless they were Technics.

    If I was buying new on a budget I would get Numark TTXs.
    If money wasn’t an issue I would get a pair of Stanton Str8 150s.

  12. soulguru says:

    I would just get some cdj’s (850), cd and usb + flashdrives and good mixer.
    Tables are pretty sweet for home use.
    Cds are standard everywhere.

  13. You can also try xwax (www.xwax.org), an open source dvs system for linux. I’m using it with a 5year old laptop, with very cheap behringer ufo202 (modified) sound cards and serato timecodes. I use my DN-HS5500 as my player and its awesome.

    However, you have to be a little geeky for it to run.

    Free DVS software
    Free OS

    You win :D

  14. You can get a 2nd hand Technics 1200 mk2 @ craigslist for at least 600 for a pair

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