Controller report from Musik Messe

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Frankfurt, Germany. Once a year, inside a massive series of connecting halls, music companies from around the world converge for the European version of NAMM. All of the dj brands are accounted for, and we were expecting working models of many of the new controllers that premiered at NAMM. Sadly, only the VCI-300 was really in testing condition. Many of the new dj items we wanted to get our grubby little hands on were not functional or barely working. Some, like the Numark Ns7, were still in the exact same condition as NAMM, under a protective sheet of glass.

 

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The EKS Otus

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This black beauty had a lot of hype after we showed you the sleek looking mock-up from our exclusive report at NAMM. EKS, the makers of Otus, had promised a working model at Messe but did not get it done in time. They have a marginally functional prototype that was plagued by hardware failure due to trade show abuse. Its really too early to make any judgment calls about the device but some good news did come out of my time with them. One, the prototype has all the final components and was surprisingly light even though it had a well constructed aluminum body. Two, there is another model planned called the Otus “Raw” (Pictured bellow) which is a more robust version with a real pitch slider and a nod to controllerism: 4 velocity sensitive cue point trigger pads. We are very excited that most manufactures are noticing controllerism and begining to include cue point trigger buttons on their gear. The Otus is supposed to be ready in a few months time with the raw version premiering some time in fall. We cant wait to test out a fully finished version of either!

Release Details
The Otus has a 700 Euro Street price and will ship by June
The Otus Raw will be less than 600 euros and should by premiered in the fall

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VCI-300

 

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Well at least this one was working, and working well. Paired with a fully functional copy of Serato Itch, the VCi-300 was a hot item at Messe. There is nothing fancy about the combination, just a well laid out interface for performing most of the basic dj functions you would want to execute with Serato but in the midi world. The controls themselves are basically a re-arrangement of the knobs and buttons found on the vci-100 plus a built in sound card. There is one obvious difference though, the slightly larger and more tactile jog wheel offer independent resistance adjustment and a higher resolution output of your jog motions. This is supposed to result in better scratching and more precise pitch bends. The results were very noticeable when in use with Itch, a software designed to accept and deal with those higher resolution values. Unfortunately, there are no other programs that support hi-resolution midi at this juncture. If your thinking about using the vci-300 as a standard midi controller the jog wheels will not give you a major performance jump over the vci-100. That is unless other software companies starts to support the controller natively which is not likely to happen. We shot a bunch of video on the VCi-300 which will be posted next week along with a more comprehensive analysis. In short, for plug and play use- the itch/vestax combo is a very effective one.

Release Details:

Shipping in April,$6-700 street price includes itch

Stanton SCS.1P

 

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This was clearly one of the underrated controllers announced in 2008. The combo price of over $2000 with a midi mixer is enough to scare most new digital djs away but some people looking for more advanced functionality will find a lot in the player. As with everything else, the models on display were not really ready for prime time with both platters breaking after the second day and a few firmware tweaks left to resolve. We are anxious to try out a finished unit and experiment with some fully functioning platters. A few things that could be be really great are:
1) fully motorized pitch fader- for true tempo sync and subsequent control over multiple decks.
2) the ability to assign the jog wheels to any other control on the unit while djing.

Release Details:

Shipping in June, the retail is $1499 but you might expect to pay around $1100 for it.

VCM-600

 

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Vestax’s Ableton controller was working but failed to leave any lasting impressions of me. There is nothing really amazingly revolutionary about the control surface, it supplies most of the typical knobs and sliders just about anyone would need for driving Ableton. The exciting aspects of this controller will be seen when creative users begin to craft their own layouts and sets around it. At Messe, it worked, but was really an advanced prototype with many functions not working and most others lacking any connection to the software. This could be a problem with how Ableton session was programmed in the first place but I really think the magic on this one will not come from the gear but from the potential users and how they interpret it. Then again, is that not always the case? Its almost makes me want to stop reviewing gear entirely and just start reviewing performances.

Did I forget to mention the vcm now sports a very cool under-lit beveled edge? Its uber ableton.

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Numark – NS7

 

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The other “official” controller for Serato Itch fell behind massively in the race to get a new controller out first. With no working model yet, one has to wonder how far out it will be before the larger option hits shelves and if there will be any buyers left when it does. Those giant high torq platters sure do look cool though.

Release Details:

Numark wont budge on details. It will come out sometime this year, and they have no idea what the price will be.

Reloop

 

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Many have asked about this as a possible alternative to the vci-100. Obviously they have tried to copy it in a more cost effective package. To be honest, you get what you pay for- many of the knobs and sliders are sub-par. The pitch fader surprised me with a nice feel and ideal resistance but most of the knobs, the EQ’s in particular, might break rather quickly.

Release Details:
Shipping in July, the re-loop comes in 2 options. $369 with an internal sound card and $319 without one.

One last thing

It wouldn’t be a NAMM update without some news about the special edition VCI-100. Well, I can promise you this: we will have an exact shipping date and price by Monday. If not, then I will hold Takao (a Vestax employee) hostage until we get it 😉 In the mean time. here is a photo to tide you over. Its the updated function list with some very cool additions. Notice you will no longer need midi foot peddles to work with the juggle layers. The loop section now activates a loop and displays if its on for all 4 decks.

 

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Wrap-up

There are some really cool developments happening in the controller world. I only wish we could have done more testing and given you some better feedback on what the best ones are. The good news is that when the final models are ready to go, Dj Tech Tools will be one of the first to get to try them out. So you will know as soon as we do. In the mean time, keep rockin it.

  • Jonny

    [quote post=”257″]I noticed you missed all the new MIDI controller offerings from Denon DJ [/quote]

    Ive been noticing this since the MC6000 was launched…shame really, DJTT have not done one review or mention of this great controller…and theres the Denon DJ Forum site advertising Ean with the S4, something here dont make sense? maybe its NI?

  • Hi Ean, great site and awesome info!

    I noticed you missed all the new MIDI controller offerings from Denon DJ both at NAMM and Messe?

    DN-HC4500 was fully working with Serato, Traktor, PCDJ DEX, PCDJ VJ by native support at Messe

    DN-HS5500 was working with Reflex at NAMM by native support, Traktor coming soon.

    DN-S1200 CD/USB Media player also offers MIDI & Sound card support (coming April)

    DN-HD2500 has native MIDI support for Traktor, PCDJ Reflex LE, DEX

  • SEE!

  • yes, I doooo 🙂 and I just got off a 9 hour flight from germany as well. Sorry I have been MIA for the past week guys. Everything was really busy at Musik Messe. I did a realyl cool improv performance with Dj Unkut there in Frankfurt. it was a first, turntablism vs controllersim! there were lots of cameras there so keep an eye out for video. Let me know if anyone sees anything.

  • ean comes out at night (pst)

  • Does anyone have much to say about the Stanton SC system? It looks pretty sick to me, but I haven't actually seen it action.

    The moving platter looks real nice to me, but not sure about the mixer. I'd really like to see how good the crossfader is before I even look into it.

  • Ollie Thomas

    still waiting for news…

  • Burndownthediscos

    Any news on the EG VCI ? It's almost tuesday.

    If i manage to get me grubby paws on one will you ship to UK ?

  • Ollie Thomas

    patience is running out. getting worked up! give me some valium dammit!

  • Just a head's up folks!

    Giz from Skratchworx is definitely showing us some love in this article:
    http://www.skratchworx.com/news3/comments.php?id=

    You can totally see Ean in the background! 😀

  • mr flexxx

    good review ean

    the special edition vci is makin my mouth water. definetly stickin with vestax now by the looks of things the vci is way ahead of the competition.

    what the hell is numark tryin with that bulky excuse for a controller pleeease.

    oh one other thing because the eks only has one platter do u need two of them ?!?

  • I guess we all are 😉

  • Tim

    i'm also waiting over here in Belgium to know the price of the special VCI-100!

  • Ollie Thomas

    patience now. patience.

  • Ean, was great to see you man. thanks for the good reviews here. Please hit up my collegues at MixVibs for a CROSS test verion as I'll be moving on to new activities.

    peace dude

    P

  • Lee

    no, not really. not the way you would want it to. Perhaps in the future.

    theres nothing to stop the plugging working though?

  • <blockquote cite="#comment-1635">That's an entry level product, ok, but is'nt a good reason to talk so about chinese products.

    Although I do believe these companies hurt innovation. We are about constructive education, not negative news about products- so I took that part out of the article. (in which i was trashing copycat dj companies)

    <blockquote cite="#comment-1633">Do you know if the VCI-300 will work with the serato video pluggin?

    That would make things very interesting if it does!

    no, not really. not the way you would want it to. Perhaps in the future.

    <blockquote cite="#comment-1631">

    check this video out
    http://vision.ameba.jp/watch.do;jsessionid=7E7D94
    haha

    thats bad. that was during sound check. i was trying to figure out a new routine. The final one at actual show is much better, not to mention the audio sucks in that video.

    <blockquote cite="#comment-1628">

    How did Serato Itch hold up? Is it me or are there NO effects within the software like its big brother?

    nope, no effects but the combo works really well together. Plug and play reliability.

    <blockquote cite="#comment-1630">

    yo ean you think this sound card is good Vestax VAI-40 USB Audio Interface (VAI40 Soundcard)

    that sound card is basically the maya 44usb but rewired and packaged in a better more durable case. so yes, it will perform well.

  • CbMx

    Before to talk about digital consolle layout is better remember that maybe the original layout that every brand has copied comes from Kontrol-Dj, Vestax VCI-100 has come a bit later and after other products. Every consolle are similar, nobody can tell "I have an original layout".

    I've been too in Frankfurt and for me i.mix is much better than some "european clones" that I've watched at Musikmesse. That's an entry level product, ok, but is'nt a good reason to talk so about chinese products.

  • LEE

    Do you know if the VCI-300 will work with the serato video pluggin?

    That would make things very interesting if it does!

  • *piles the pressure on Takao to deal out the goods*

    Nice write up, though it seems like the show was just a rehash of NAMM(obviously not DJ-Tech-Tools fault).

  • what's up ean?

    check this video out

    http://vision.ameba.jp/watch.do;jsessionid=7E7D94

    haha

  • average joe

    monday.. hmm… is that sound card on the vci-300 powerful enough to do a gig at a club or bigger event..

    yo ean you think this sound card is good Vestax VAI-40 USB Audio Interface (VAI40 Soundcard)

    nothing on the ns7 god damn it..

    Did you guys see the cortex Dmix-600??

  • I'm ready to see the Special Edition!

  • Dude! News on the new VCI-100?!!! SWEET!!! Can't wait!

    Also the VCM 600 Looks pretty cool! If only Numark would show us something NEW with the NS7 I'd be a happy person!

    Ean,

    How did Serato Itch hold up? Is it me or are there NO effects within the software like its big brother?

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