Digital DJ Tips reader Jake writes: "So far I've followed the modern day route into DJing, ie downloaded software and messed around with a keyboard and mouse, bought a cheap controller, played a few parties and got completely hooked. I want to start playing in clubs and bigger parties, but to do that would mean ditching the laptop / controller setup and learning to use CDJs. I have a fairly basic grasp on beatmatching by ear, but I feel held back by the short pitch faders on my controller, and want to upgrade to something closer to CDJs to practise on. Only problem is my budget cannot stretch beyond about £700, so actual Pioneers are just a pipe dream."
"My question to you is what's the best standalone controller/CDJ set-up I could get in that price range? I've looked at the Numark Mixdeck Quad, the Gemini CDMP-7000 and the Pioneer XDJ Aero, but I'm put off by the lack of hot cues in the last one."
Digital DJ Tips says:
Firstly, you don't have to ditch controllers to play in clubs - you could go down the modular route (ie something liker the Kontrol X1). Then you could either add DVS system to use the club's gear to control Traktor Scratch or Serato Scratch Live, or alternatively just use a small sound card and the X1 on their own and ditch jog control completely.
However, learning to DJ "CDJ" style has its merits too. The CDMP-7000 gives you a lot for your money and is a solid unit, although the touchscreens are a bit gimmicky, while the Mixdeck Quad feels less like CDJs but has more of a blend of controller and "traditional" in the one unit, making it more flexible. If you're trying to get the "CDJ feel", of those two I'd say the CDMP-7000.
The XDJ-Aero is an interesting wildcard. It feels nothing like CDJs in use, and it still has pretty short pitch faders - none of which sounds promising. And as you say, it seems you can't save cue points on it - I am sure this will be addressed though. But crucially, it is a rekordbox controller. That means it uses Pioneer's library management software as its main mode of operation. If the club or clubs you wanted to play in also had Pioneer gear, this would be a distinct advantage, as you could prepare and practise at home and take your set with you on USB all ready for the gig.
And while the XDJ-Aero doesn't have the CDJ feels, it doesn't have waveforms or insist on there being a computer attached either - so you would be forced to DJ in a more traditional way with this unit - all good practice if your ultimate aim is to ditch the laptop and just use the gear you find in the clubs you play in.
I hope that's given you something to think about, but of course as always I'd love our fantastic readers to help out too - we must have several who've faced the same challenge.
So, is this you? Have you decided to make this transition, and if so, what did you do, or what gear do you recommend? Please share your thoughts in the comments.