If you’ve got an old pair of turntables or CDJs and a trusty mixer, and you want to switch to digital while keeping the gear you know and love, a DVS or “digital vinyl system” is a great way to go – especially as Denon DJ has stormed in with the DS1 and delivered a Serato DJ DVS system with everything you need to get going for a hitherto unheard-of low price. Let’s take a closer look at the DS1 and see how it stacks up…
First impressions & setting up
Inside the square, 12″-sized box you’ll find two 12″ pieces of control vinyl, four RCA cables, a USB cable, two control CDs in a gatefold sleeve, and the DS1 itself, which is a tiny metal box, much smaller than the previously smallest DVS for Serato, the Rane SL2.
The box has two sets of RCA ins, two sets of RCA outs, a ground pin (for grounding turntables should you need to), a switch for turntable/CD mode, a power light, and a USB socket No external power needed (it takes its power from your laptop)… and that’s it.
To set up, you simply plug your turntables or CDJS into the box, plug the box into your mixer, and plug your laptop into the box. Download and launch Serato DJ, follow Serato’s instructions for calibrating if necessary (it usually isn’t necessary to do anything), and you’re off…
This is DVS as simple as it gets. It’s just two channel, ie just two decks, and if you like, you can carry on as if you’re simply using real vinyl, in what’s called “absolute” mode, where the control vinyl behaves just like a real record… including any jumps and skips!
“Relative” mode means the records behave more like jogwheels, simply indicating the speed and direction and not the time through your tracks, meaning you can now use loops and lots of other digital goodies, and that if you skip the vinyl your tracks won’t skip, at the expense of a bit of authenticity. This stuff is all done in the software. The DS1 just sits there, doing its thing at the heart of it all.
That’s all there is to it, really: It sounds good, it works flawlessly – job done.
Serato DJ is nowadays a very popular system for digital DJs, not least due to the company opening it up to a wide range of DJ controllers. With the Denon DJ DS1, there is now a great-sounding, simple and effective DVS solution out there that won’t break the bank (it’s substantially cheaper than the equivalent Rane SL2, the previous simplest way of doing this).
It’s no good if you want more than two decks, and on its own, you may well start to feel you want more controls, especially if you’re using record decks, because it’s highly likely you’ll be interested in loops, and cue points, and effects… all of which can be controller without recourse to the mouse and laptop by adding a small controller like the Akai Pro AFX. But that’s for another article… (our AFX review is here).
If you’re looking for the simplest, cheapest way of turning your existing two-deck turntables/CDJs and mixer set-up into a digital vinyl system, the Denon DS1 is it.
Are you tempted by the Denon DJ DS1? Do you think DVS still has its place, or are HID CDJs and Dj controllers thew way forward? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.