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The Best Range: Mid Range DJ Controllers

The Best Range: Mid Range DJ Controllers

New musical technologies change (sometimes divide and rule) the world. DJs are a part of this world as well. Numark, Pioneer DJ, Denon DJ, have earned their impeccable reputation long ago thanks to their professional DJ controllers. Native Instruments is a crown of the DJ world. Roland’s trying to find new solutions stepping into that niche with dignity as well. Here we’ll discuss the best mid range controllers from the above mentioned brands.

Numark NV2

NV controller was produced by Numark in 2014 becoming revolutionary, later in 2016 its successor NV II got a better display and elaborate parameters. Numark NV II is a 4-channel DJ controller with 2 platters compatible with Serato DJ soft. Serato is famous wih its big virtual decks providing comprehensive information on BPM, pitch, “CUE” points and tracks running. There are also settings for a quantize function in Serato DJ, virtual MIDI panel with the library (which is 5 times bigger than in any other software). There you can also add effects (phaser, flanger, high-pass filter, delay or reverb) controlled with NV II. Getting back to the device let’s take a look at its practicality: it has 16 surprisingly small pads with a varicolored backlight assigned for switching between CUE points, looping or slicing. 2 full colored displays showing Grid Lines, built-in effects Dry/Wet and the library. DJs who got interested can find NV II for modest $700 and if they buy it they won’t regret – it’s good value for money.

Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S8

Next flagship controller differs from others mainly with platters absence. Native Instruments had something else on their mind: instead of the platters they put onto Traktor Kontrol S8 2 high resolution displays. Worth noting that DJs payed due attention to such a move from NI and lots of them even liked this novelty. Moreover the absence of platters is compensated with inputs for external ones, CDJ and other gear.

S8 comprises 4-channel mixer which can be used independently, built-in audio interface, 16 RGB-pads and central section with “global” knobs for tempo, cue and monitor. "Hot Cue", "Loop", "Freeze", "Remix" buttons are connected directly to the pads and are responsible for the number of specific functions: “Freeze”, for example, is a fast way to cut samples in 8. 2 main displays will show information on BPM, pitch, tracks ranking and 2 small buttons to the left show pop-up windows where you can change BPM or the pitch of the uploaded track. Traktor Pro soft will display all the information as well and in details. The software also offers sample-decks with 4 slots each to put loops and one-shot samples through effects. The most impressive part of remix-decks is that they can be filled with up to 64 samples.

Plus to the multifunctional mixing NI flagship controller allows to operate with more than 40 different kinds of effects within 4 busses. Of course, you’ll have Traktor Scratch Pro included to your hardware pack as well as the STEMS compatibility.
Traktor Kontrol S8 has a standard USB for your computer and, unexpectedly, 2 MIDI (IN/ OUT, DIN) for operating with other controllers, synthesizers, effect processors. But it doesn’t support multicontroller function as well as others NI devices for DJs.

S8 controller is available for $1000 and if you find classic controller interface boring NI product will freshen up your idea of how the DJ controller may look.

Pioneer DJ DDJ-RX

Pioneer DJ DDJ-RX is a traditional DJ-controller. It may seem too plain or simple but Pioneer has some tricks up its hardware sleeve which makes it one of the most popular units among DJs. DDJ-RX offers a 4-channel mixer, 2 high-quality platters, lock function to prevent unwanted moves and 16 pads with 4 buttons (Hot Cue, Pad FX, Slicer, Sampler). There is a tiny "Sound Color FX" section right in the centre which includes noise effects, bitcrusher, pitch shifting and filter.

The instrument possesses an abundant effects set – you can tell because the upper part of the front panel offers 3 knobs for the beat FX adjustment and additional Release FX which is responsible for vinyl breaks, echoes and backspins. Pioneer makes us sure their products are reliable. At the moment DDJ-RX costs $1000. An impressive and multifunctional unit will be perfect for those who want to become a professional and are willing to knock out with their stunning performances.

Denon DJ MCX8000

Denon DJ released their new MCX8000 in 2016. Its crucial feature is the Standalone mode which allows to operate without computer. To function in such a mode it’s necessary to put a USB drive in making MCX8000 work wonders. MCX8000 as well as Numark NV II can be integrated with Serato DJ soft. Flagship 4-channel controller offers 2 platters with a bright blue backlight indicating track playback, standard knobs for 3-band equalizer and 16 varicolored pads. 2 displays show waveforms offering zoom for comfortable editing, tracks information, BPM and enabled effects. Next to the pads there are CUE, Roll, Slicer and Sampler buttons responsible for “hot cueing”, “beat FX”, slicing and sampling accordingly. Moreover Serato DJ is full of effects from phaser to reverb. “Engine” helps to scan libraries (pitch and BPM) and add cue points. There is a professional 4-channel digital mixer with 2 microphone inputs.

DJs may acquire MCX8000 for $1300. Denon DJ lets its controller act one of the leading roles among DJ devices and successfully combines being multipurpose and pragmatic. Denon DJ fans stay calm keeping on buying their products because Denon DJ is more than often a few steps ahead of the competitors.

Roland DJ-808

But even here Roland tops the list saying “hi” to DJs with its new device and first DJ controller – DJ-808. Yes, it gives a hint and a big one – it does remind us of TR-808 drum machine and its successor TR-8. This is the first controller comprising a drum machine inside and Roland also strikes with generosity putting into DJ-808 a drum kit mix from the predecessors. The kick is a TR-909 kick’s clone, snare was taken from TR-808, delicate hi-hat borrowed from TR-707 and TR-606 grants its clap. All of them are generated with the Roland ACB technology (analog modelling) and all of them has their own volume fader and posibility to function in a standalone mode. The 16-step sequencer is reminiscent of TR-8 and allows TR-drums and Serato samples playback. There is also quite a distinctive "VT Voice Transformer" function which enables formant filtering, it may change the pitch and add reverberation. The interface basics are intuitive and include 4-channel mixer, 2 platters with the motor reverse, 16 varicolored pads with already familiar Hot Cue, Roll, Sampler but also a new one “TR” (for pattern creation). The controller is Serato DJ compatible. DJ-808 hasn’t hit the market yet but the official price is announced - $1500.

DJ controllers honor seniors paying attention to the traditions making DJ gear simple and well-known and at the same time making it obtain new exclusive functions while their popular predecessors being revised from DJ point of view.

Published: 21:37 21.12.2016
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