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2009 NAMM Controller Report

Its not the gear- its what you do with it. That’s general idea around here but still we cant help get caught up in the newest and the latest. So what is new this year in the world of Dj gear? Not as much as last year but several announcements were made including new alliances coupled with a small smattering of controllers. Albeton has added another strategic partnership and Vestax released a VCM series controller for traktor pro. The Numark NS7 was out in full force spinning at high torq as promised and Serato added some nice features to their software. Read on for a full break down of the developments at this years NAMM show in Anaheim, California.

You should also check out this great list of discussions on namm products in the forum

Vestax VCM-400 for Traktor Pro

Traktor Pro and its brand new work flow clearly demands a a specific controller layout so Vestax went back to the lab and whipped up the VCM-400. This controller is slightly smaller than a VCI-100 but due to a robust steel case it weighs a lot for its size. The layout is very much based on the features offered by traktor pro, with more buttons and knobs dedicated to traktor specific functions.

There is also an excellent list of discussions on all the controllers in the forum

Some notable additions:

  • Dedicated key knob
  • Song loading joystick
  • FX slot selection
  • 4 deck switches
  • long tempo sliders (C/D volume control?)
  • 2 banks of fx controls

Price: unknown

release date unknown


For most traktor djs the audio 8 is probably a little too much sound card with many more inputs and outputs than the average controller dj needs. NI has now released the audio 4 which takes all of the best parts of the audio 8 and squeezes them into a smaller package. The converters, plugs and casing is all the same quality as the audio 8 so you can expect this thing to sound good and last for a long time. The price saving comes from losing the mic input and limiting the inputs and outputs to 2 pairs of each. Also included are a headphone output with volume control on the front and easy to read LED displays that show input and output signals on top.

Price: $229

in stores now

Serato Samples

Serato has just released a public beta for version 1.9 which includes sample and loop playback via 5 internal sample players. These can be played back in 3 modes, sample play, sample hold or loop. Simply drag any loop from deck A or B into one of the sample players and continue to play that loop back without tying up the deck. Volume is controlled via internal gain knobs, and the outputs can be routed to one or both of the Serato scratch outputs. The only thing it leaves me wanting is instant copy from a deck to player so playback continues in time.

Also announced at NAMM is some great news for all owners of the serato. Every scratch live user will be able to use the scratch live video system even if you dont own a TTM-57SL. The beta for this version is going to be available on Feb 4th and a credible source told Dj TT it will even support Quartz Composer files.

NS7 is ready to rock

If your in the market for a full size digital replacement or the turntable/mixer paradigm then the Ns7 is one of the best options right now. Its robust, well built, good looking and works quite well. The downside? Its expensive, weighs 35 pounds and basically replaces technology currently available in other formats. In my limited testing at NAMM its proved to be a worthy option, if your willing to bear the weight and the cost. Then again, purchasing a comparable setup: 2 turntables and a TTM-57SL would set you back nearly 2k dollars. The only difference? Every club has a pair of turntables, and is unlikely to ever install a NS7. For the mobile dj that loves the simplicity of serato scratch and wants a serious presentation- this may be a great solution with every feature that segment could possibly want.

Ships in 3 weeks

  • Sends high resolution midi
  • $1299 retail plus $299 for a case
  • 35 pounds
  • Comes with Serato Itch


Akai teamed up with Ableton to create a controller dedicated to live performance with the ubiquitous looping tool. While there may be many controllers available that are built with Ableton in mind, the akai really stands out thanks to its intuitive design and total integration with the software. Clip launching and control is totally reproduced on a hardware level with full LED integration that is exlusive to their bi- directional communication.

price: around $400

release date unknown

Notable Mentions

American Dj introduced a prototype of a CD player sized controller that packs a lot of good control in a small price. This controller is the midi only version of the radius 1000 and should come in at about $200. Not a bad value considering the jog wheels felt solid and there are plenty of endless encoders to work with.

Vestax was showing off a very fancy looking vci-300 with space age wheels, a white finish and some carbon fiber touches. Given how much they cost to produce, dont expect to see this version of the 300 in stores and even if it did go up for sale the price tag would be a hefty one. Great to see someone actually design something really cool for once- these wheels are hands down the most bad ass jog wheels ever!

Akai was also showing off the MPK25 which would be a great contendor for those currently using the novation 25 SL. Semi weighted keys with after touch and plenty of knobs and buttons all for a rough price of $299. Not bad!

Vestax has relased a new mixer, the 05Pro2, which is basically their version of the TTM-57SL. Its a world class scratch mixer which doubles as an audio interface, with 2 channels of digital audio and a midi controller with 7 assignable buttons in the center. Its not hard to imagine that this might be eventually supported by Traktor Scratch or one of the other DVS brands as competition for Serato Scratch.

We also caught a glimpse of some nifty looking vci-100 plates in the vestax offfice at namm. They are a bit busy for my personal tastes but the designs are hot and the graphics really pop off the aluminum plates. No word on how much they will be or if these bad boys will ever come to market but its worth taking a look.

Vestax told us they will be creating a high quality replacement fader for the vci-100. Dont forget, we wrote a how-to article on just that subject a few months back but this is will be a very hot product indeed.

  • Anonymous

    [quote comment=""][…] First up, there’s the brand-spanking-new VCI-400. Pitched at the VCI-100 crowd who’ve upgraded to Traktor Pro, it features proper 4 deck support and a new effects slot setup. There’s not exactly a lot to go on in the video, but it looks like it will be even more compact than the 100 and feature larger pitch sliders and a dedicated key knob. Ean was actually there so check out what he had to say about it. […][/quote]

  • Hello guys,

    i took a look at the brandnew VCM 400 after i purchased one of the first available VCM 600 two weeks ago. Now I wondered why they've built a two channel controller without a crossfader for the four channel software Traktor PRO? So the decision to by the 6 channel VCM 600 was the right choice… it really rocks with PRO. I am satisfied 100%! Greets from Germany, Axel

  • Martin

    American Audio Radius 1000 is out, the new model is AA Radius 2000 in addition to USB Mass Storage Devices and SD card slot. Price 359 euro.
    The best news is, however, the CD/MIDI/Media Player Denon DN-S3700.

  • Damn… Screw Vestax! we need a true 4 channels midi controller for Traktor, not one more vci300! I stick with my faderfoxes.

  • ABLETON 8???

    When? WHy? WHats New??

  • B33SON

    By the way, i love that you put that chick at the end of the video. She was definitely the hottest chick at the place. Thank you Pioneer for your excellent taste.

  • B33SON

    I thought NI's Maschine was really cool. I think it was one of my favorites.

  • mexicandj

    Im so confused, in a video of the ns7 hoska dude is sayin 3 weeks, ean says 3 weeks…and then in a ssl forum numark says 3 months

    im confused…and icant wait

  • [quote]why does it make any difference if traktor supports 14bit messages when all your gear does not scan controls in 14bit resolution.[/quote]

    Because several devices on the market now ARE capable of generating high speed, high resolution MIDI messages.

  • Simcon

    [quote comment=""][…] 2009 Namm Controller Report at djtechtools.com2009-01-19 17:55:02 […][/quote]

    Man that vcm-400 looks so wikid, but as said before why no crossfader?????

    This makes it pretty much unusable for anyone who likes scratching.

    Bit dissapointing move from vestax who alwas made great products for turntablists and now they didn't even add a xfader.

  • I know that your not big with m-audio but man i fell in love with the Axiom Pro. That thing reminds me of the novation. It has the new smart midi automap.

  • MPA40 for righthanded, hhink about pacemaker for lefthanded(they have the mode button and it is meant to be held in the left hand)…
    It’s all lots of bells and whistles but no really new gear(no inovations).
    About that 14-bit midi: why does it make any difference if traktor supports 14bit messages when all your gear does not scan controls in 14bit resolution.
    Correct me if I’m wrong but 14bits are really only necessary for pitch faders and you can solve that by translating your 14bit midi to OSC “/deck1/pitch f,1.0”.
    Bome oughta make such thing or I will. (actually the only reason I did not is because I personally don’t require such function. And my MIDI controller has 10-bit resolution (10-bits is 8 times more precise than standard, 7-bit,message).
    If I remember correctly, traktor, by OSC specs. has 32-bit precision.
    PROBLEM: not all traktor controls are OSC enabled, but PITCH is. The rest of the controls you can use via regular MIDI.

    BUT your controller still does not output 14-bit midi.

  • FK5

    i just checked out the site and they have the vcm-400 listed for 699.00 – and a coming soon banner.

  • kraal

    why is numark posting the NS7 will be 2-3 months not weeks……… oh well

  • ChuckFarley

    Akai 40 looks like it's designed for right-handed people (like most things in this world). Was the VCm-600 there in full effect? Is there a release date for it?

  • paddydj

    The VCI-300 looks as if it has been built by the Orange County Choppers πŸ˜€

    Nice to see Vestax finally producing the so awaited replacement crossfader… after I’ve payed 120€ for my Pro X Fade.
    Indeed, it looks a bit like slim down version of the PXF.

  • the 'futuristic jog wheels' on the re-designed vci-300 look like disc brake rotors

  • Ean Golden

    [quote comment=”16165″]I was hoping to hear more about 14-bit MIDI (especially from Native Instruments).[/quote]

    Yes- I do have info on that but unfortunately I cant divulge it- NDA’s and all. There should be an announcement soon though!

    [quote comment=”16162″]Ean I just found more info about the KONTROL ONE. Did you have the chance to try it at NAMM??[/quote]
    I did not- totally missed that. B33Son was working that booth though so i am sure he has some info on it?

    [quote comment=”16150″]So Vestax are making replacement cross faders, well my deck B Pitch Fader is broken
    i know this is abig ask but would you have any idea which direction to point me in?[/quote]
    sorry but the pitch fader is not one part but its built into the entire top section. So everything in the top would need to be replaced.

  • Carmai

    [quote comment=””][…] 2009 Namm Controller Report at djtechtools.com2009-01-19 17:55:02 […][/quote]
    Hey EKS! Drop the Raaaaaw! We are waiting!

  • kraal

    thanks for the info… i am just itching to get past my totalcontrol ….three weeks moves so slow πŸ™‚

  • w00t!

    Nice update man! Coolest thing, a black VCM-400! πŸ˜€

  • Anonymous

    [quote comment=”16165″]I was hoping to hear more about 14-bit MIDI (especially from Native Instruments)[/quote]
    yea, come on now, mr golden. with your links to NI, cant you give us some words on this topic please? if they are working on it at least?

    anyhow, thanks for the sum up!

  • sgb

    I was hoping to hear more about 14-bit MIDI (especially from Native Instruments), but I guess there is always next year. In any event, I've sold my gear and am anxiously awaiting an NS7 to arrive. Three weeks of waiting though, the horror! I guess this gives me time to start working on my next project.

  • celosdedma

    the vcm-400 would probably be priced around $300 i think. i hope lower since it lacks jog wheels and a crossfader. almost made it well but sucks that its missing a few body parts.

  • MuGu

    Ean I just found more info about the KONTROL ONE.

    Did you have the chance to try it at NAMM??

  • Anonymous

    Regarding the Vestax VCM-400:

    Overall like the idea, but it's still incomplete.

    – Layout could have been better,

    – small cd-style jogs would have been nice,

    – no crossfader, inexcuseable!

    Going to stick with my VCI-100, and waiting for EKS to drop the RAW.

  • Here a link of a KONTROL ONE picture. It looks very interesting don't you think??

  • Hi Ean!

    Did you see the new midi controller from Dj-Tech KONTROL ONE??

    I’ve seen some pictures and it looks very interesting!


  • Sc1C

    [quote comment=”don_kibo”]Novation Nocturn can be a solution, but I don’t think that crossfader is of the highest quality[/quote]
    The Nocturn is a great controller, but the crossfader is way too stiff for it to be considered for scratching duties IMO

  • don_kibo

    When I looked at VCM-400, I was like W00T?! That is the perfect solution for controlling Traktor Pro. If you want to add a little more fun, you can just add a pad controller and do some controllerism. Also if you are a scratch DJ, you can add the Traktor Scratch Pro bundle, a couple of turntables and rock out with some fancy juggling and scratches. But wait….. There is something missing… A CROSSFADER?! WTF They almost made a perfect controller for Traktor Pro and they ruined it. Some will say “I don’t need a crossfader”. Yeah, I don’t use it either while mixing house, but I really wanted to try out scratching some good hiphop tunes.
    Novation Nocturn can be a solution, but I don’t think that crossfader is of the highest quality. And also there those knobs on it wouldn’t have a good use. Do you have any suggestions?

  • Declan J

    Did you get a chance to look at the Stanton SCS1M Mixer / SCS1D Deck? I'm trying to decide whether to buy this set up or the NS7. Which would you be more comfortable playing on?

  • Timinya

    Hi Ean, just a question! I've already hassled everyone about this on the forum but maybe you'll know.

    So Vestax are making replacement cross faders, well my deck B Pitch Fader is broken and randomly jumps 10's of BPM which is very annoying, and i would really like my VCI 100 repaired or possibly i could purchase another pitch fader.

    i know this is abig ask but would you have any idea which direction to point me in?

  • Jason J

    I am stoked on the Akai / Ableton collaboration on the controller. However I would like have the clip launch buttons to have Velocity sensitivity.

    Its handy having them light up for loaded clips, and turning green for playin clips.

    This may be in my next purchases.

  • Nice a replacement fader ! My xfader is very much dead and i have been thinking about what i want to replace it with – this just might be the solution depending on when they are released.

    I think your right about those plates being a bit over the top, however i wouldnt mind a pair of the plates at the back just for the jog wheels.

    The Akai controller looks totally epic, i wonder how the buttons feel.

    Also its nice to see Vestax giving Rane a run for their money πŸ™‚

    Nice overall writeup of NAMM πŸ™‚

  • djerikt

    thanks Ean, sweet product roundup, we play DVD’s with Pioneer DJV-X1’s where I spin, so the Serato addition of video is a major one for me, If Traktor added a video option, that would just be too sweet.

    The VCI-400 looks great and hope that the price isn’t too crazy. The Audio 4 DJ is on my list right now, hmmm… Well I’ll just take one of each πŸ˜‰