Review: 5 Top Models of Single Jogwheel DJ Midi Interfaces
A couple of weeks ago we looked at single-jogwheel DJ Midi controllers. This week we’re going to look at single-jogwheel DJ interfaces. The wording can get confusing (as they’re quite often all referred to as controllers), but basically what we mean by this is DJ control devices with sound interfaces or sound cards built-in.
With these units, you plug them into your laptop to link them to the DJ software and plug the output from the unit into your powered speakers, a club PA, or more than likely an audio mixer. In a way, these units are closest to the traditional single-deck CDJ players like the Pioneer CDJ-1000, only instead of CDs, they have a laptop providing the music source – and you get to control up to 4 decks.
Why you might want one (or two…)
All the reasons for our single-jogwheel DJ Midi controller round-up still hold true. The difference here is that with a built-in sound card, these units give you all-in-one digital functionality without the need for an external card. So why would that appeal to the DJ?
- Convenience – If you don’t want to mess around with an external sound card, and don’t have a digital/USB mixer with a sound cards built in, one of these may make more sense in your set-up. Or, you may want to keep your existing analogue mixer and just plug one of these into spare channel/s in order to add digital. Thus a digital controller with a built-in mixer wouldn’t make sense
- Availability – There are some lovely units here. If you’ve got your heard set on the aesthetics and functionality of the Numark V7 or the EKS Otus, for instance, then you can’t even get these in pure Midi controller versions
- Digital DJing from one unit – Controlling 2 decks from a small, slim interface with a built-in jogwheel (a couple of these units are pretty small) and built-in sound card means that you can add multi-deck digital functionality with the purchase of just one small unit (and a laptop of course). If you’ve ever looked at all-in-one DJ controllers and thought “but I only need one platter”, these are your choices – especially the Allen & Heath model with a crossfader
Please remember that while we try our hardest to get all the facts straight, we are not guaranteeing the suitability of any of these units for your particular hardware/software combination. Most can be mapped to any software, but it often takes effort.
As always, we’d advise reading up carefully on them and doing your research before buying one. It’s part of the fun, after all! Happy hunting.
Allen & Heath Xone:2D
Decks controllable: 2 (out of the box), 4 possible; High-resolution jogwheel: yes; Software compatibility: Traktor, Ableton; Stereo audio outputs: 4 analogue, 1 digital (SPDIF/optical); Audio inputs: 3 analogue (2 switchable line/phono), 1 digital; Power: Mains; Sound card specifications: 96kHz/24 bit; Other: earth pole, Midi in/out; Size & weight: 6.3 x 3.5 x 14″ (160 x 88 x 358mm), 4.4lb (2kg)
They say: The Xone:2D is a combination of a 9 stereo channel USB 2.0 soundcard and Midi controller, which DJs can combine with their existing analogue mixer to create a complete Digital DJ mixing system, perfect for integration with DJ software such as Ableton Live and Traktor DJ Studio.
We say: In a class of its own here for build quality, flexibility (it has a crossfader, for instance) and features. Visual BPM counter and Midi clock. Headphones monitoring with two sizes (1/8″ and 1/4″) is a nice touch. On the large side of portable. Lacking the visual features of the newer controller.
EKS Otus Plus
Decks controllable: 2; High-resolution jogwheel: yes; Software compatibility: Traktor, Deckadance, MixVibes; Stereo audio outputs: 2; Audio inputs: none; Power: USB/mains; Sound card specifications: 44.1kHz/24 bit; Other: 2 SPDIF outs; Size & weight: 14.3 x 14.3 x 2.8in (365 x 335 x 70mm), 4.4lb (2kg)
They say: Otus Plus is the new revision of our award-winning Otus Dualdeck DJ Controller with improvements in many areas. The stylish physical appearance and clever design combined with a solid build will make any professional DJ feel at home with Otus+ from the very first encounter.
We say: Gorgeous design but obviously, you’ll need a bigger bag than some to carry it around (UDG do a custom one). Easy dual deck capability with red/green backlighting making things clear. Lovely touch-sensitive jogwheel. Trackpad built in means you can leave your laptop alone. Specify the Plus model before ordering – it replaces the previous model. Also, look out for Otus RAW (not available yet). Good controller but very expensive.
Decks controllable: 1; High-resolution jogwheel: no; Software compatibility: Traktor LE; Stereo audio outputs: 2; Audio inputs: 0; Power: USB; Sound card specifications: n/a; Size & weight: 5.5 x 8.3 x 1″ (140 x 210 x 25mm), 0.8lb (370g)
They say: XP-5 is a lightweight plug-and-play controller – a portable solution for a serious digital age DJ looking for top-notch sound and professional level features at an affordable price. It allows the user to choose a mixer of their preference, but can also be configured to work as an all in one control device.
We say: Quality sound card but expensive for what it is and outdated thanks to newer models with more features on the market. Jogwheel is touch-sensitive but bettered by newer models. No headphones socket. Was a player in its day but hard to recommend now at this price point.
Decks controllable: 2; High-resolution jogwheel: yes; Software compatibility: Serato ITCH; Stereo audio outputs: 2; Audio inputs: 0; Power: Mains; Sound card specifications: 24-bit/44.1kHz; Size & weight: 12.6 x 14.5 x 4.4″ (320 x 368 x 112mm), 16.4lb (7.5kg)
They say: based around the acclaimed adjustable torque, a motorized-platter design from Numark’s NS7 and delivers a host of professional features including real vinyl and a slipmat that analogue turntablists will love, plus turntable control at 10 times the resolution of standard MIDI, mouse-less library navigation, and Strip Search virtual-needle drop.
We say: Closes to using a Technics turntable you’ll get for digital. Feels like real DJing, and the strip search is a clever track scrubbing addition. Combined with the supplied Serato ITCH software, this is a brilliant way of adding 2 real digital decks to an existing set-up. Two of these can’t control 4 decks in Serato ITCH though, which is a big shame.
Reloop Contour Interface Edition
Decks controllable: 4; High-resolution jogwheel: yes; Software compatibility: Traktor Pro; Stereo audio outputs: 4; Audio inputs: 0; Power: USB/mains; Sound card specifications: 24-bit/96kHz; Size & weight: 6.3 x 15.1 x 2.5″ (160 x 383 x 63mm), 4.4lb (2kg)
They say: Can be perfectly integrated in every DJ software surroundings. Configured and optimized for Traktor Pro, it is possible to control up to 4 decks, due to the intelligent deck switch system. Specially developed for DJs that wish to integrate Traktor in their existing setup.
We say: Direct appeal to people eyeing the X1 controller for Traktor Pro. With this you get full 4-deck control, a jogwheel, 4-stereo-outs sound card built-in, 1(8 & 1/4″ headphone outputs (nice touch), a lot of configurability, and a decent build quality including nice aluminium fascia. Hard to find at moment in the US.
A varied bunch here that should be considered alongside their sound card-less brothers. No straight 5s here as all have their benefits and drawbacks.
It’s hard to recommend the EKS product, as the XP-5 is old and the Otus is a boutique product only for people with a lot of money to spend. (If you have, though, and you really want this controller, it’s a great product.)
The Allen & Heath is perfect if you know what you’re doing and you’re sure it’s what you want – for some, this will be the only choice here. It’s certainly got the most flexibility. But controlling 4 decks on it with no good visual indicator is going to be hairier than the Reloop Contour, for instance.
The Reloop Contour is, on the face of it, a class act – but as we haven’t heard its sound card as it is only due in the shops about now, we’d like some feedback as to the quality of that sound before giving a definitive recommendation. Give it a good listen before buying or make sure you can return it if you decide you want to.
If you’re a Serato ITCH user, the V7 should have you salivating – it’s the only controller here with a motorised platter. Shame two of them can’t control the 4-deck version of ITCH, though, like the Allen & Heath Xone:DX can, as it’s hard to see DJs shelling out this kind of cash and not wanting that functionality.