Vestax has today announced its latest DJ controller, the Vestax VCI-380 – a two-deck, Serato ITCH-powered performance Midi controller and audio interface. It takes some of the best features of Vestax’s popular but ageing VCI-300 ITCH controller, incorporates elements of the spec of the company’s flagship VCI-400 model, and adds a healthy dose of the innovative Novation Twitch to boot. In doing so, Vestax seems to have created the ultimate two-deck Serato controller. Read on for full spec, video, press release and photo gallery.
It’s a compact controller that nonetheless is designed to take full advantage of all the latest feature of Serato’s ITCH 2.1 software. Here are some of the standout features:
- Compact form factor – It’s around the size of the VCI-300, which is to say, it will fit easily in a backpack. If you look at the Kontrol S4 and NS6 (and even the VCI-400) and think “I want something easier to carry around”, the VCI-380 will please you
- Standalone mixer capability – Both of its channels have a PC/mixer switch and the unit can take analogue feeds from record decks or line (ie CD etc) devices. While software effects obviously aren’t available in this mode, there are hi-pass filters
- State-of-the-art controllerist features – The unit borrows lock, stock and barrel from Novation’s innovative Twitch controller to deliver a raft of controllerist-friendly features. It has hot cue, slicer, auto loop and roll buttons plus a touchstrip / needle drop bar and eight backlit pads per channel, pretty much identical to the Twitch, except these are velocity sensitive too
- Native control of Serato ITCH’s sample decks – Sample deck control is possible via the pads, right out of the box
- Pristine audio – Vestax has recently upped the bar in this area, with the VCI-400 and now the VCI-380 both boasting built-in 24-bit/48kHz audio with promised extremely low latency
- An original take on Serato effects – Four separate effects sections – two “pad FX” units, and two channel FX units too. With the pad FX, holding a performance pad triggers an aftertouch mode to modulate the chosen effects
- Pro specifications – Easy adjustment of crossfader curve and line fader curve, two microphone inputs (XLR and TRS), independent booth output (RCA), XLR (only) master out, pre-trim on the line inputs, hardware adjustable tempo range, torque-adjustable jogwheels, 19″ rack-mount kit available
- Visual track indication built in to jogs – LED needle playback position is built-in to the jogwheels, which themselves are bigger than previous controllers, and feature Vestax’s usual two-action scratch/nudge (switchable)
OK, the bad first. There’s no microphone EQ, and you must use AC power (it won’t work on USB power). Of course, it’s only two deck, so if you’re a four-deck person it likely won’t appeal to you either.
Making the FX knobs function as hi-pass filters for analogue inputs is a nice addition, but they’d be better as full frequency filters, behaving as hi-pass when turned right and low-pass when turned left from 12 o’clock.
Now the good. We think this unit balances size, features and price pretty much perfectly. Assuming it has the build quality of the VCI-300 and VCI-400, and that it doesn’t drop any obvious balls that we’ve not picked up on from studying the press material and speaking to Vestax directly to understand its feature set, it looks like they’ve come up with a truly amazing little controller.
We’ve always said the VCI-300 offers the purest incarnation of simply playing music on two decks and a mixer of any DJ controller, a view we stand by even after more than two years (a lifetime in DJ controller product cycles). Having said that, we think the Novation Twitch is the most exciting DJ controller of 2011, doing a lot of things really well.
Combine the two into a unit that to look at manages to keep the simplicity of the VCI-300, while throwing in some curveballs of its own (we love the LEDs in the jogwheels), and we are pretty sure Vestax has hit the nail on the head here. It’s not cheap, but we predict this one will run and run, and are looking forward very much to getting a chance to review it properly.
Do you share our opinion that this has got everything just about right for ITCH users? Price, portability and features? Or is there a deal-breaker here for you? Are you a user of another software system who’s tempted by this to give Serato ITCH a try? Please share your thoughts in the comments.