One thing is clear: With the overwhelming percentage of DJ gear being directly controller related, digital DJing is hitting the mainstream big time in 2011. Of course, you can’t get most of this stuff yet, but you can start saving for it…
Avid Torq 2 DJ software
It’s been a long time since Torq users have had something to shout about. This somewhat also-ran DJ software/hardware system (Torq has traditionally uses the company’s own Xponent hardware) nonetheless has plenty of ardent fans, and now has 4 decks and some nifty effects innovation, including the ability to tie effects to the crossfader for innovative blends. But the architecture is now also open so the software can be controlled by other hardware for the first time, and indeed can also run without hardware at all using keyboard mappings.
American Audio VMS2 DJ controller
American Audio’s fully featured VMS4 DJ controller – while definitely built to a price – is a mobile-DJ-on-a-budget’s dream, packing in more features than practically any other DJ controller at any price point. It has multiple switchable line/phono/computer inputs, multiple EQed mike inputs, multiple outputs including booth, and a huge number of easily programable Midi buttons. The VMS2 is basically the same controller in a smaller version, as it only has 2 channels rather than its older brother’s 4. It comes bundled with Virtual DJ LE.
American Audio VMS4 Traktor DJ controller
This is last year’s VMS4 controller but optimised for use with Traktor. It comes bundled with an American Audio VMS4 version of Traktor that allows you to use 4 decks right out of the box. the controller has had some changes made to it, for instance there are now cue delete buttons below the cue banks, the effects session controls are isolated, and there are A/C and B/D buttons to immediately switch between the 4 decks in the software. Like the original VMS4, there are still the myriad input/outputs that make it one of the most flexible controllers available.
Behringer NOX mixers
The newly revitalised Behringer brand has launched a range of digital-enabled mixers, from the diminutive 2-channel NOX202 to the monster NOX606 with 6 channels. All have beat synchable effects built-in. The NOX202 give you digital audio as well as phono/line inputs, the NOX303 adds an extra channel, and the 404 has the same inputs as the 202 but has adjustable fader curves and an external FX send/return loop plus XLR outs. Finally, the NOX606 has 6 channels, 2 mike channels, 4-band EQs, 2 assignable filters and a whole host of other features. These look like excellent digital mixers.
Decksavers covers for DJ controllers
Decksavers has made a great little niche for itself selling hard acrylic transparent covers for the delicate surfaces of today’s portable DJ gear. For NAMM, they’ve got 4 new models – for the Traktor Kontrol S4, the American Audio VMS4 (and thus presumably the new American Audio VMS4 Traktor Edition too), the Vestax Spin/Typoon, and the Vestax VFX-1 effects unit. If you care about your controller, it pays to invest in proper protection for it, and with these, Decksavers now offers its elegant solution for even more DJ controller owners.
DJ Tech Poket DJ Duo
One of several micro DJ controllers launched at NAMM, this fun little device is strictly for beginners and dabblers, having controls so stripped down as to make it fine for parties but not for use in bars or clubs. However, it does have 3 clever EQ buttons that use the jogwheel as an adjuster, effects control, and built-in looping and sample control. And it also has what none of the other micro controllers launched at NAMM has – a built-in sound interface, meaning you can plug your headphones right in and cue away without needing to purchase a sound card separately. Coming with Deckadance software, it also boasts direct iTunes playlist integration.
DJ Tech X10 2-Channel Mixer with Sound Card
This neat and flexible little DJ mixer packs a lot of features into a small unit and is reportedly going to come in at a competitive price point. With a built-in 4-in, 4-out sound card, it can be used with DJ software and controllers in a modular fashion (it comes with Deckadance software) or with DVS. It has 2 USBs for PC control, both crossfader and channel control slope settings, fader start, crossfader start, and an XLR mike input. It’s a really neat little mixer that could form a compact but powerful heart of a custom modular hybrid DJ set-up, as it is happy as a standalone mixer too.
DJ Tech Reloaded DJ controller
Coming with Virtual DJ LE software and up to 6-deck capability, this 2-channel DJ controller boasts high-resolution scratch wheels, rubber knobs, easy control over loops and samples, and a built-in sound card. It looks like it’s a well-built unit, with a brushed aluminium fascia, so would suit the jobbing DJ looking for a small form factor controller to move easily from gig to gig. We look forward to hopefully reviewing this unit in the near future and will being you a proper verdict on this once we have.
Gemini CTRL-47 DJ controller
Gemini are well-known in mobile disco circles in Europe as a big player: they have now entered the modern digital DJ world with a handful of DJ controllers, of which the CTRL-47 is the one they launched at NAMM. This is a 4-channel controller designed to work with Virtual DJ 7, which it comes with (not clear if it is a full or LE version). It appears to be a well-made, higher-end unit, designed for the working DJ rather than fir home use. As such it packs all kinds of inputs and outputs, including balanced XLR outs, and 2 mike inputs including an XLR. Only 1 phono/line input, though. We’ve requested a review sample, so hold tight.
Gemini FIRSTMIX Micro DJ controller
A tiny unit, this is described as a beginners’ DJ controller, and comes without a sound card, so you really would need to invest in at least that as well if you wanted to DJ properly with it. Unlike the Numark DJ2GO micro controller, reviewed later on in this piece, this one has got EQ controls, but it’s minimal all the way apart from that. For just liberating your MP3s for your laptop for the odd house party, or to throw in your backpack when off travelling for impromptu gigs, it would certainly be fun, but you maybe wouldn’t want to roll up at a club packing one of these! Comes with MixVibes software.
Hercules DJ 4Set
Hercules enters the 4-deck DJ controller market with this model, which was actually launched at the CES. It is designed to appeal to the first-time digital DJ wanting full 4-deck functionality at a low price. It seems to be aimed squarely at the Mixtrack Pro-level buyer. The jogwheels have divided people – they are deliberately weight-sensitive, but the looseness in their design has led some to question their durability. We can’t comment having not had a chance to review one yet, but we’ll let you know as soon as we have. It uses Virtual DJ to give you 4-deck functionality out of the box.
MixVibes U-Mix Control Pro DJ Controller & iPad App
DJ software and hardware manufacturer U-Mix have made a sturdy if unremarkable DJ controller, the U-Mix Control, designed to work seamlessly with their own software. the interestin aprt comes when you also add an iPad ito the mix, because by running the U-Mix Remote app on the iPad, you can control tohe MixVibes software remotesly via WiFi. the app even looks exactly like the hardware on the iPad screen. Quite how useful this turns out to be for DJs in a moot point, but it’s certainly neatly implemented by the look of it.
Numark DJ2GO Micro DJ Controller
This is a lightweight, slim and shallow little DJ controller (note: it’s not got a sound interface – you’ll still need a sound card to cue with it). It is designed to sit in front of a laptop taking very little room up. It comes with Virtual DJ in a special light edition that duplicates the look and controls of the unit. While it would be perfectly possible to DJ on this little thing, it’s a curious product, as it has no EQ controls so you wouldn’t really want to play proper sets on it if you could avoid it. Personally? I’d be happier just using the keyboard to DJ with. Maybe I’ll change my mind when I get a chance to review it properly.
Numark iDJ Live iPad DJ controller
The first of its kind, this controller uses the iPad to host the software while liberating the control away from the touchscreen to real hardware. Basically, the iPad is used as a display. There’s a stand for the iPad to sit on, and a lead to plug your speakers in. It also appears that you use the iPad’s headphones socket for cue monitoring, which would be good if so, as that would negate the need to have an external sound card or a headphone splitter cable. The hardware is basically a rebadged and slightly altered ION iCUE Discovery controller (ION and Numark are brands of the same company).
Numark M101USB 2-channel mixer
Here’s another DJ mixer for the digital age. Not as fully featured as the DJ Tech model above, this is nevertheless a compact little mixer that will see you right in a variety of basic DJing situations, as it can take 2 record decks, 2 CDJs and 1 USB input (for a channel of digital music – it also allows you to record to computer the mixer’s output). It has a 2-band EQ and a 2-band EQ’ed mic as well. Useful little standby device, and looks to have rock-solid build quality. It’s rack mountable too.
Numark NS6 Serato ITCH controller
Numark corners the ultra-high end motorised platter DJ controller market with the NS7 and N7 range of products for Serato ITCH, featuring tank-like consturction and real vinyl on those aforementioned spinning platters. However, their range lacked a pro-quality all-in-one DJ controller with normal platters. They’ve put that right with the NS6, which – while smaller than the NS7 – is still a hefty controller, built to last, and packed with advanced features, including full 4-deck support of Serato ITCH, joining the xone:DX in that feature.
Pioneer DDJ-S1 Serato ITCH controller
Pioneer entered the DJ controller market with 2 new models at NAMM, this being their controller designed for Serato ITCH. It has functions that only exist for this hardware/software combination, including “slip”, borrowed from their CDJs, and an alphabetical track search function, which uses the needle drop search strip to quickly scroll through your tracks. It is also notable by being designed to allow you to tuck your laptop underneath it, although of course you’d sacrifice the ability to use your keyboard – which is probably still the quickest way to search for tracks.
Pioneer DDJ-T1 Traktor Pro Controller
Similar in looks to the DDJ-S1, this controller is specified differently, having slightly lower-end features but packing 4-deck support with 4 full channels as opposed to layered 2-channel deck switching. It drops XLR outs, LED track progress indicators, VU meters and proper EQed mike channels, though. Nonetheless, it’s wide, sturdy, good-looking and comes with a slightly modified version of Traktor to make use of its hardware functions. Whether it will do well in the much more crowded Traktor controller marketplace remains to be seen.
Rane SL 4 DJ sound interface for Scratch Live
A classy addition to the Rane Scratch Live hardware range, this unit has two USB ports so DJ changeovers or even back-to-back sets are simple. There’s an aux input for session recording, and aux output for incorporating The Bridge, and switchable inputs for up to 4 decks or CDJs. It can take its power from the USB host or the mains. There’s a switchable sample rate between 48kHz and 96kHz. All in all, this 10-in, 10-out interface throws down the gauntlet to Native Instruments; It will be interesting to see if their new Traktor Live box matches these features.
Reloop Jockey 3 ME DJ controller
Dubbed “what the VCI-100 Mk II should have been” by some, this is a 2-channel, 4-deck Traktor controller with high quality metal construction and equally high quality jogwheels, if initial reports are to be believed. It has 2 external inputs for CDs or vinyl, and can be used as a standalone mixer too. With a 24-bit/96kHz sound card and both balanced and unbalanced outputs, it is clearly aimed at the semi-pro and pro end of the market, and if Reloop can get it out quickly enough (we’re still waiting for the Mixage that was previewed way back at October’s BPM show), the company could have a winner on its hands.
Ultimate Support 2-tier deck stand
This beast of a laptop/controller stand comes in red, silver or black. It is both angle and depth adjustable, and the arms and height can be adjusted too. It certainly looks to have been designed to be sturdy enough even when holding heavy performance equipment, unlike some of the more flimsy laptop/controller stands out there, and the addition of a half-way shelf for a sound card (for instance) makes it more adaptable than if it were only a 1-shelf unit. (Thanks to DJ Urkel Dee for pic/details.)
So that’s it – it’s definitely the show of the 4-deck controller, but micro-controllers threw some interesting curves in there too.
We wanted to see the Numark X7 mixer, and were half expecting some more software news, but as always, the show has thrown up a few surprises but left us wanting a little bit more!
What’s caught your eye? Were you at NAMM? Were you impressed or were you hoping for something more? Let us know in the comments…