Controller Clinic #27: DJ Set-Up To Survive Gigs In The Desert?

Phil Morse | Read time: 2 mins
Burning Man Festival
Last updated 13 November, 2017


Burning Man S4
This is what DJ Joe Andolina‘s controller looked like after a week in the desert at Burning Man.

Digital DJ Tips reader Alexandar writes: “I am prepping to go throw some parties at Burning Man coming up in August. Burning Man has a reputation of destroying equipment so as you can imagine I do not want to bring my Kontrol S4 or any CDJs and mixer I have. So I have been looking for a cheap all-in-one alternative that I can buy, bring and not be too worried about it coming back damaged. My requirements are as follows: No need for a computer. No need for a separate mixer. Some effects. USB or CD input. Can output directly to speakers.”

“So far with these I have only seen the Numark Mixdeck. This meets all the requirements but is somewhat pricey. Plus the readouts are tiny and I am wondering how possible it is mix without an external computer on it. My questions: Are there any more controllers like the Numark Mixdeck? With the Mixdeck can you mix without any computer hooked up to it?”

Digital DJ Tips says:

A festival in the desert is indeed a test for delicate controllers, computers and so on. There are several models of Mixdeck, all of which work without a computer, so you should look at the whole range – the Mixdeck Express could be fine for your needs and costs less than the better models. This controller and indeed the earlier hard-drive based non-computer digital controllers are fine to mix on – if you’re used to mixing the manual way (ie manual beatmatching and no waveforms). If not, you’re going to struggle. You say you use CDJs too, so you’d be fine.

Another contender is the Stanton SCS.4DJ. This controller is relatively small and light, but manages to pack dual, parallel waveforms and decent jogwheels; it is actually a lot of fun to DJ on it. You can plug USB sticks into it or even plug a hard drive inside the unit. Stanton has improved the firmware considerably on this over its couple of years in existence, and if you look around you may be able to find a secondhand bargain.

What about mixing using, say, Traktor DJ and a splitter cable on an iPad? The ultimate portable DJ system I’d say, and unless the heat goes really high and the iPad malfunctions through getting too warm (it can happen – it happened to my iPhone last summer in the sun), this might be a novel solution to your problem.

What would you recommend? Do you regularly play sets in harsh places, and if so did you buy your gear to account for this? Let us know in the comments.

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