Controller Clinic #31: Controller For Using Timecode Without A Separate Sound Card?

Phil Morse | Founder & Tutor
Read time: 2 mins
Last updated 6 August, 2017

Traktor Kontrol S4
The Traktor Kontrol S4 will work fine with timecode vinyl, giving you four decks of control.

Digital DJ Tips reader David writes: “I have just got back into DJing and your site and forum have been most helpful. I currently have a timecode vinyl set up but I’m looking at getting a controller that would allow me to hook up my turntables and use timecode on but without having to use an external sound card. I want a controller rather than a mixer so I can switch between timecode vinyl and jogwheels. I would like to also be able to use the effects loops etc with timecode as well as the jogwheels. Not too bothered about software as I’ve used Virtual DJ and Traktor, and quite like the look of Serato. Not too bothered about size also.”

Digital DJ Tips says:

There are two controllers that spring to mind here, and your choice will depend very much on what you have to spend, and whether you want to use Traktor or Serato.

If you want to go down the Traktor route, the Traktor Kontrol S4 will do the trick. It has four channels, and you can use Traktor Scratch Pro as your software, with the jogwheels controlling two decks and your timecode vinyl (or CDs) controlling the other two.

For Serato, I can only think of one unit that has this functionality, which is the just launched Pioneer DDJ-SZ; we filmed a demo of this in operation at this year’s NAMM show which you can see below, showing Serato DJ software being controlled by the DDJ-SZ’s jogwheels, and by two CDJs using timecode – although you can just as easily use record decks and control vinyl to achieve the same thing. You can practically buy three S4s for the price of one DDJ-SZ, though, so that’s going to be a factor, and this controller is BIG, although as you say size doesn’t matter, you may indeed like that fact, as the jogs are excellent.

As far as using effects, loops and so on with the timecode, effects will all work fine (because you’re still playing digital files through the software) and if you play in “relative” mode, as opposed to “absolute” mode (the latter being where the groove on the control vinyl lines up exactly with where it would be were you playing a real record – think “purist” mode), looping will work fine too – it’s just like using a jogwheel, but with vinyl and a needle.

Do you control four decks on your set-up using CDJs/record decks in addition to your jogwheels? What is your hardware/software set-up to do this? Any advice you can add for David? Please feel free to do so in the comments.

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