Sigmar Muuga, a member of our Platinum Facebook group, asks: “Hey folks, do you know if there is some good USB hub for DJs? I have tried those €20 hubs but they seem to not work… some weird errors with controllers and hard drives all the time. The problem is that my MacBook has only two USB plugs, and even then you sometimes cannot connect more than one device as this can cause issues. I have faced some freezes and weird hard drive behaviour.”
Digital DJ Tips says:
For USB, the biggest issue you have to consider is power. While unpowered options such as the one you tried provide you with extra ports, they share the same amount of current from a single USB on your laptop. For instance, many USB ports output 500mA (milliamperes) of power. If you plug in a large controller with a built-in audio interface requiring somewhere around 450 to 500mA (think Traktor Kontrol S4, Pioneer DDJ-SX2) with a smaller modular device needing 100 to 150mA (eg Traktor Kontrol X1) you’ve probably overloaded that system, causing drop-outs, error messages, and general unreliability.
This type of hub works fine if you have a few modular pieces of kit that don’t draw a lot of current, but a more substantial controller will require its own port on the laptop. Point to keep in mind: even though a device might appear physically small, it doesn’t disqualify it as powerful. The Maschine Mk2 requires roughly 480mA, ranking it with the large group.
Conversely, some USB hubs come with their own power supply, aptly referred to as “powered”. This takes some pressure off the laptop ports as it offers the full amount of current to each port on the hub. Powered USB works well for those using large controllers or gear with many power-draining LEDs, although I’d still recommend giving them their own laptop port for better overall performance.
As for suggestions, Wirecutter did intensive testing on a variety of hubs, stressing the system by running simultaneous USB 3.0 and 2.0 transfers (desktop hard drives, cheap flash drives) on each port while charging an iPad and smartphone. They monitored testing for at least one day, and the HooToo HT-UH010 took home the title… wherever home is for a USB hub.
The hub features seven 3.0 data ports, two charge ports for smartphone and tablet devices, LED indicators that help in dark, troubleshooting situations, and a vertically stacked design to reduce space required. With a generally cool, aesthetically pleasing design, it seems like a decent pick for DJs. Some honorable mentions from around the web include options from Sabrent, Belkin, D-Link, and Anker. Crane even makes one that attaches to their laptop stands.
How do you handle USB requirements in your setup? Any experience with powered vs. unpowered? Additional hub suggestions? Let us know what you think in the comments!