Phase is a wireless timecode solution that allows DJs to spin with DVS and DJ software without the need for turntable cartridges / needles and timecode vinyl. It does this through the use of two wireless remotes and a receiver. In our tests in the lab it worked as advertised, however other DJs have reported issues when using it, such as connection and battery problems which can make or break a gig. MWM has promised a “Version 2” firmware update to squash these bugs, so our recommendation for now is to wait until that is released before purchasing your own Phase set.
First Impressions / Setting up
Phase consists of two pieces of hardware: Two remotes, which are meant to be attached to vinyl you’ll be using with turntables, and a receiver which also acts as a charger for the remotes. While spinning, the remotes send the rotation data of the turntables to the receiver, which then generates the timecode signals that go into the audio interface or mixer. The interface or mixer then decodes the timecode signals, just like it would with timecode vinyl being played on a turntable.
MWM did a great job with the design of Phase, making the set-up very familiar for DJs who are used to setting up audio interfaces with DVS software. The Phase receiver connects to either the DVS audio interface or mixer via RCA cables and also requires power via USB cable that can be connected to a computer or USB power adapter. The only other step is to attach the wireless remotes to two pieces of vinyl that are placed on the turntables, which can then be used as normal.
MWM claims that each wireless remote should have approximately 10 hours of battery life. Although I did not play any 10-hour gigs during my testing, the remotes lasted throughout my five-hour gig with no issues.
Phase is configured with a utility called MWM Connect. Once this software is installed on your laptop and the Phase hardware is connected to the computer, you are able to change settings such as which software you are using Phase with, the colour of the LEDs on the wireless remotes, and power saver settings.
The most important thing with a timecode technology like Phase is its performance compared to the “control vinyl and cartridge” combo which is the current DVS standard. The convenience of doing away with calibrating cartridges and cleaning control vinyl does not mean much if Phase isn’t rock solid.
When properly set up, Phase can provide what will look like a perfect control signal (it looks like a clean, green circle in your DJ software’s preferences). This is almost impossible to achieve when using control vinyl and cartridges because of signal noise, though it must be said that you don’t really need a perfect control signal in order for DVS to work well.
Another huge advantage to using Phase is the fact that vibrations caused by shaky DJ booths, loud bass from subwoofers, and so on do not affect the control signal which translates to more reliable performances when using turntables with DVS.
In our testing of Phase in a live environment, it performed pretty much as advertised. It felt just like using a classic DVS set-up with turntables but without the need for cartridges / needles, which does away with the issues that come from using them. I was able to DJ as I normally would, I was able to do all my moves like backspinning, scratching, and pitch bending, and after a few minutes I forgot that I was even using Phase. That’s exactly what you want out of a piece of kit like this: For it to work so well that it disappears into the background and you are able to perform at your highest level.
Controversy and reliability issues
From the first time it appeared in public at NAMM 2018, DJs around the world have waited patiently to get their hands on the product. MWM used a crowdfunding approach for the development and launch of Phase, and it was met with some controversy because the shipping dates were pushed back multiple times with MWM saying it needed more time to work out some issues.
However, users still experienced problems with their shipped Phase units ranging from connectivity and tracking issues and even battery life. While we didn’t run into any of these problems in our tests, some DJs I know who purchased Phase were not happy, with some even asking for a refund because they felt it was unreliable for gigging. MWM has promised fixes via software and firmware updates in the future, but no concrete details as to what issues will be fixed and when have been given at the time of writing this review.
MWM has to be applauded for the technology it has developed for Phase. In our tests it worked as advertised and provided the type of performance you’d expect when spinning timecode with DVS. It’s a boon for those who spin in loud club environments and booths with lots of bass, which has always been an issue for DJs who spin with turntables and control vinyl / cartridges. However, it seems like our positive experience with Phase is inconsistent with other DJs who ran into problems that render it unreliable.
MWM has promised a “Version 2” firmware update to squash these bugs, so our recommendation for now is to wait until that’s released before purchasing your own Phase set.