Age Of Controllers
MIDI/HID-based DJ-controllers have been around for quite some time, but the launch of Pioneer CDJ-2000 and CDJ-900 last year was the final milestone that proved the technology is mature enough for professional DJ's. There's no doubt in my mind that 2010's will be the decade when controller-based DJing surpasses all other mediums. I personally skipped CD-decks completely and converted straight from vinyl to digital as early as 2002. Scratch-orientated DJ's swear by the name of timecode records, but I find them somewhat limiting since the whole concept is ultimately about emulating the linear way of playing physical records.
It's fair to say that a lot of DJ's don't still fully grasp all the benefits of digital DJing. It's not just about easy storage and access to your tracks - it's about the ability to deconstruct, recompile and blend tracks in a non-linear manner. However, until the recent years the biggest problem was that there weren't all that many professional grade controllers to choose from.
Since it's partially related and some of you might be interested, I'm going give you an inventory of our gear accompanied by a photo. Sorry about the low quality, it was taken with a cell phone on poor lighting conditions.
- Pioneer DJM-5000 (mixer/USB audio interface)
- Denon DN-X1600 (mixer/USB audio interface)
- Pioneer SEP-C1 (USB MIDI/HID controller)
- Allen & Heath Xone:1D (USB MIDI controller)
- Korg Kaoss Pad KP2 (effects processor/sampler)
- Edirol FA-66 (FireWire audio interface)
- M-Audio Audiophile 2496 (PCI audio interface)
- M-Audio Studiophile AV40 (reference monitors)
- Sony MDR-V700DJ & MDR-V500DJ (headphones)
- Virtual DJ (professional DJ software)
- Mixed In Key (key analyzer software)
- Sound Studio (DAW software)
All things considering the Xone:1D and SEP-C1 are quite expensive for what they actually do, then again we had very particular requirements. I've never been fond of those all-in-one devices - there's still enough old school left in me that I want my mixer and deck-equilevants as separate devices. There's also the fact that most combo-devices are cheap toys for beginners, but there are some interesting exceptions like the Denon DN-MC6000. To narrow the selection even more, most stand-alone controllers include a redundant CD-player and/or a sound card.
In conclusion I would like to share few insights for any aspiring DJ's out there, some learned the hard way from personal experience.
1) Ignore the fanboys and use the hardware/software that works best for you.
2) Don't waste your money on cheap low quality hardware - you'll just end up selling it in few months.
3) Most important rule of all: always remember it's about you and your skills, not about your gear. Even the most expensive toys on the market won't automatically make you a good DJ, nor will the cheapest gear prevent you from rocking the party. There are a lot of insecure cats out there who love to label and categorize who's a DJ and who's not. My advice is: pay no attention to that. Just keep doing your thing, share the passion for music.
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