Digital DJ Tips reader Mateo writes: “I bought your DJ tutorial video course and it is working great! I’m learning a lot coupled with having a DJ mentor on board, and I’m sure I’ll be out and playing soon.
“The question I have is a very novice one. I have a NS7 and it runs with Serato ITCH, but the club I want to DJ at runs with Serato Scratch Live. I don’t intend to bring my NS7 to the club as they are all set up pretty much but I’m wondering, should I get another controller? And which ones work with Serato Scratch Live? Is there a learning curve between Scratch and ITCH?
“I’m pretty sure I need to get a more portable controller than the one I have and I was looking at the Vestax VCI-300, but that runs on ITCH. Can I just walk in with my controller and my laptop and not use their stuff? How does this work in the DJ world?”
Digital DJ Tips says:
You’re confused between two different systems. Let me explain.
Serato Scratch Live (SSL) is designed to work with record decks or CDJ players and mixers – ie standard club gear. As such, no all-in-one controllers work with it. It is a “half-way house” between pure digital and records/CDs, and is often referred to as a “digital vinyl system” (DVS). There are controllers that work with it, but they’re more boxes of buttons, designed to control looping etc – for instance, the Novation Dicers.
You could install Serato Scratch Live on your laptop and plug in to their Serato Scratch Live system (assuming they have the required audio interface and/or Serato Scratch Live (ie Rane) mixer. If they simply have decks/CDJs and a mixer and not a full Serato set-up, you’ll need your own “Serato box” audio interface (ie SL2), and also know how to set it up.
You’ll need control vinyl/CDs too, which are special pieces of vinyl or CDs that contain “timecode” that allows you to control your digital files with their traditional record decks or CD players. All your libraries etc would be there for both systems (SSL and ITCH share library info).
Of course, you’d also have to get used to DJing with a club mixer and CDJs or control vinyl on their turntables, so there is most definitely a learning curve; it’s a whole new system to learn. Once you’re up to speed it’s simple enough though. (The software, by the way, is actually not so different.)
On the plus side, any serious DJ should be able to quickly turn their hand to DJing with CDJs, digital vinyl (of which Serato Scratch live is an example), controllers, hell even iPods – so if you want to learn Serato Scratch Live, and there’s an opportunity for you to DJ using that system regularly, that’s a choice for you to make.
On the plus side, any serious DJ should be able to quickly turn their hand to DJing with CDJs, digital vinyl, controllers, hell even iPods…
However, the DJ world is changing. Depending where you are in the world and on the individual club, you may be able to use a controller no issue – in which case none of this may be worth it. Whatever, the NS7 is a huge controller, as you’ve worked out, and not practical to hike around to clubs with you; there are far more practical models out there if you decide the way forward for you is to DJ using your controller in the club.
The VCI-300 as you suggest is good (although limited), or you could wait for the new Vestax VCI-380 which we’re really liking the look of.
Have you battled with the digital vinyl vs controller route? How has your controller DJing been received in pro DJ booths? What further advice can you offer to Mateo? Feel free to join in in the comments.
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