Top positive review
96 people found this helpful
Powerful bang for buck.
on January 2, 2012
Who am I- I'm a pro, I made a living off of making people dance for several years before moving on to other things (that don't involve divorce and poverty). My old rig was a pair of Stanton STR8-150's, a crap Behringer 7-channel that wouldn't die, and final scratch. I know my ish. I sold all my gear after a divorce and major career/life/everything change, and I've been dying to get back into some tables to blow off stress for really, really cheap. So I spent many hours researching this little guy, and all of the other USB MIDI controllers in the neighborhood of $0-$100, and wound up with this one.
Ok. The good: It's a sturdy device with rubber feet that fits the width of my laptop perfectly (though I'm currently running it on a desktop in my evil man cave lair). Install was cake. I'm running XP Pro on a Pentium 4 (x86) 3GHz, with 2Gb RAM. I strongly recommend getting a stronger sound card than what comes stock in your machine for this- it will really tax your processor. Loading songs, and scanning them for BPM, etc. puts my proc at 100% for 10+ seconds. But, even only with the stock sound card (my Asus Xonar DG is still in the mail, I'll make an update when it arrives....) it doesn't lag, pop or glitch when the proc is running at full blast/overrunning, which is awesome. The screen directly mirrors the controller, so you'll be very hard pressed to mess it up. I think the install took 3 minutes, and I was into my second bass drop in under 5.
Another feature not seen in this price range generally is that you don't need to use the keyboard on your computer at all. There's a rotary switch top center of the controller, and back/enter buttons that take you one level into or out of a folder. It's very quick, and behaves appropriately. You will probably need the mouse though, for fun things like jumping quickly to the drop of a song, for instance. Because bass drops are proof that God loves us.
The pitch bend- when you click on it, it goes from 6%-8%-10%-12%-20%-25%-33%-50%-100%, which means you can do limited vinyl emulation like motor on/off, etc., by setting it to 100% and sliding it from the middle to the end of the fader/potentiometer. When you change the pitch bend factor on either deck, it changes for both decks, so you can't have 100% on A and 6% on B. The jog wheels also pitch up/down per this setting. So. Here's what you CAN do. You can set your 12% BPM on A, adjust it, get it playing, and then adjust your pitch bend factor to 100%, get B in sync, and so long as you don't cross from - to + on A, it will hold the original value of 12%, fully adjustable within 12%, again, so long as you don't cross the threshold from slow to fast. At 0% it adopts the current setting. It doesn't jump to 100% like what you're running on side B.
The settings for outputs are a little wonky, but you'll figure them out quick. You can either select everything to go out a stereo headphone jack (for instance, though any output on your selected sound card) and have the left be headphone and right be mains, but then of course you lose stereo. You can also select multiple sound cards (I strongly recommend) and pick sound card 1 from the drop down, and then pick headphones from the next drop down, and repeat for the mains with sound card 2. Just get one (or several, safety first!!) of the cheap USB sound cards and you're set.
There are no inputs or outputs on this device, just a USB cable in, just like a camera (USB-Mini USB???). It's just a controller. It doesn't have ANYTHING else. Numark also makes a pair of USB headphones with an internal soundcard, for something like $50. You could go that route too. Keep in mind that for the price of this thing, and still how indestructible it feels, you're not going to get a software-rich controller that you're going to take to your next club gig. Although you probably could....
If you're a sync-dj, the sync buttons work great to get you very close, but you'll still have to massage it just a bit to get it right. As you should.
The jog wheels on mine spin freely (there were other complaints of them sticking in some of the other posts), and the buttons are standard issue Numark rubber. And the rubber lights up, which I wasn't necessarily expecting for this price. The jog wheels are light, but solid, and very responsive. They don't wobble free or self-adjust forward/backward if you go for a scratch and go back and forth really fast. They do stay true, although without touch sensitivity, in scratch mode the wheels grab whenever they sense movement, and release when the wheel stops moving. So if you're going to scratch, pause the music, do your scratching, hit play>cue really quick to catch your groove wherever you want. Slightly clunky, but I had it running seamlessly after just a few tries.
Now the bad:
I almost subtracted a star for two reasons-
1: There are no instructions that come with this unit, and there are shortcuts like, "push and hold the load track button to toggle scratching/jogging on the wheel" that aren't documented anywhere. And that's pretty effing important. Also, the left and right mouse buttons do not behave the same, or as expected across the interface. The version that ships with the controller is a one-off version of VDJ, and no amount of searching the intarwebs rendered any help with the scratch/jog issue. I spent an hour trying to figure out if my unit had gone TU when it randomly started scratching in the middle of my first set. It turns out I'd just pressed the load button too long, but it wasn't anywhere in the docs. The supplied instructions are generic instructions for the Pro version of VDJ, not this _very_ customized version.
2: You cannot remap the buttons in the version that comes with the hardware, nor can you reskin it. To me those are cosmetic things, but still, it isn't mentioned much of anywhere. I did find an XML file that appears to have the color layouts, and if I get cocky I might tweak it a little and see what happens (and if I succeed, I'll post it here). I'm about to map this controller in Fruity Loops 9, however, and when I do, I'll supply my commentary on that. I'm pretty excited about having a device I can DJ off of, and use for tactile feedback on my knob tweaks. More to follow.....
Also the provided layout is a bit buggy, but it's all in the minutia, not the bones. For instance, when you mouse-over the controls, there's the actual name of the XML control tag along with the text that was supposed to show. Not sure if that was intentional, but geeks will find it sloppy. Though I certainly can't take a star for that.
But yeah. I left it at 5-stars because this is the most rock-solid device you can buy, IMHO. Bang-for-buck wise, this thing is absolutely the best. Get one, if you hate it- throw it out, or donate it to a lonely, starving child in Africa or something. But it's cheap enough that you can use it as a vehicle chock, or watch it get thrown from a jet and not cry. I sure hope this helps you guys.