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Milestone Controllers: Changing the Game

There are some products that just change everything. Digital DJing’s only just peeking out of its first decade, but its been a decade where technology has advanced at a rate that was inconceivable in the days where vinyl reigned supreme; there’s a veritable ocean of digital DJ products out there, but only a few real game changers.

They may have made everyone say “oh… why didn’t we do it like that from the beginning?”, they may have introduced one important concept or been the enabler for a legion of DJs, but in some way or another things were different after they came out. Here are our top five (update: now six!):

GAME CHANGERS

Vestax VCI-100

What it did:

  • Pro DJ build
  • Quickly became the controller to imitate
  • Became the centre of the DJ TechTools mapping crusade

What can I say about the VCI-100 that’s not already been said? Vestax weren’t the first people to shrink a traditional two deck and two channel mixer into a single controller by any means, but they were the first to do it right. Solid construction, pro level controls and great ergonomics all came together to make the VCI-100 the controller blueprint for so many imitators to come in and copy. Add to that the DJ Tech Tools arcade mods and mappings, and it was the controller at the centre of a controllerism revolution.

MIDIMan/M-Audio Oxygen 8

What it did:

  • The first controller to combine budget value with tactile control and compact size
  • The gear modder’s baby

Back in the early 2000s, there was no such thing as a digital DJ controller; eager computer DJs had to repurpose gear designed with the burgeoning computer production market in mind. M-Audio (originally MIDIMan)’s Oxygen 8 was the first compact keyboard to feature knobs as well as keys, and its budget price and backpack sized form made it into the first choice for many an inventive DJ.

 Numark NS7

What it did:

  • Halted the ‘smaller is better’ trend with controllers
  • Introduced Itch (along with the VCI-300)

The NS7 is Numark’s love letter to turntablism, an all in one controller with serious, spinning turntables. It marked the start of Numark’s new design philosophy, and it really meant business when it came to build quality. The NS7 has turned out to be one of those things that people thought they wanted more than they actually did, but nonetheless the things it brought to the market – high resolution platters, the innovative ‘strip search’ function, its impressive size and build – helped to define the direction that the DJ controller market has gone in since.

Korg Nano Series

What it did:

  • Smashed the price floor and enabled MIDI control for spare change
  • Spawned many imitators
  • First to display the modular concept of multi controllers

The Korg Nano series took the established norms for price and blew them to smithereens. Price aside, Korg’s real coup was the introduction of the modular approach to controls. Want pads? There’s the NanoPad. Knobs and Sliders? The NanoKontrol. Akai jumped into the fray not long after with a trio of copycat products that were admittedly much better built, and others such as Novation’s Dicer probably found some inspiration from the light ‘feature set, light price’ philosophy, but had it not been for Korg’s originals the many thousands of you that were able to get into digital DJing because of the pocket money priced mini units might still be saving.

Akai APC-40

What it did:

  • The first controller to show Ableton Live wasn’t just a jury rigged solution for DJing
  • Made multi colour LEDs a must have

Okay, so the genesis of the large button matrix concept may be traceable back further than the APC-40, and we did think about including the Monome on this list. The APC-40 confirms its place however by its seamless integration with Ableton Live, with everything from multi colour lighting to the LED rings around the rotary encoders ensuring for the first time that DJing with Live felt like more than a makeshift solution. The APC-40’s ideas have been mimicked by a few smaller gear companies in the same way that the APC-40 borrows from the Monome, but Akai will always have the honour of being the first to step up to the plate with an all in one Live solution.

Special Mention: Monome

As it started to get brought up in the comments, we thought it’d be unfair not to give the Monome, the independently conceived and manufactured trailblazer a little shine of its own. Without the Monome’s grid based innovation you have to question whether we’d have the APC, LaunchPad, Livid Ohm64, and so on at all. In fact without the independent business model the Monome creators sustain, many more independent controller outfits might not have had the confidence to make a go of things.

Novation Dicer

What It Did:

  • The first controller to stick directly onto a turntable
  • Turned a wave of turntablists onto the magic of buttons

A late entry, this one. I’d originally ‘umm’ed and ‘aah’ed over the Dicer before leaving it off the list because I had it down as a mini controller – of which it wasn’t the first – but then Ean quite rightly pointed out a significant game changing factor: they were the first controller to show turntablists for whom the convenience of a DVS system was as far as they figured they wanted to go that there was a whole world of controllerism out there and all you have to do is add some buttons.

 

NEAR MISSES

Whilst the controllers above landed with a bang and changed the landscape of the digital DJ world forever, a much larger pile of shoulda-woulda-coulda controllers fell and continue to fall by the wayside. These three are oh-so close but for whatever reason never quite became a must have:

Vestax VCM-600

Vestax are great at turning zany concepts and innovative ideas into reality; we’ve seen them do it time after time with everything from turntable guitars to t-shaped mixers. The VCI-100 is without doubt Vestax’s most popular MIDI controller, but the VCM-600 deserves a mention for its great build and rational control layout. Unfortunately it went largely unnoticed upon release, and when the APC-40 hit the market a little while later it began to look a little old fashioned.

Jazzmutant Lemur

Just too far ahead of their time, Jazzmutant were doing capacitive multi touch controllers years before the iPad revolution. Unfortunately that meant that the prices for the technology were astronomical, and thus only an affluent minority ever got their hands on a Lemur. The iPad and other tablets signalled the death knell for the Lemur; the reason we’ve not included an iPad/tablet is because it’s not specifically a DJ tool, more a multi purpose device that can be used for DJing. It’s a tough call, though.

Stanton SCS 3

Stanton really threw out a curveball with the SCS 3 system. The touch controllers were innovative and fun to use, but slightly awkward middleware and a general lack of interest has seen them fall a little by the wayside. There’s echos of the SCS 3 in Novation’s Twitch and on their release there was definitely an air of excitement at the possibilities, but ultimately I couldn’t include them as real milestones because the buzz seems to have pretty much totally fizzled out.

 

Well, that’s our roundup. What controllers do you think we’ve missed off the list? Let us know in the comments!

  • John Abraham

    A system which the DJ uses has revolutionized over time and now Laptop-computer is in use.it helps them in various manners and increases quality to the great extent.

    DJ
    mixers

  • Wow this machine is awesome, like rocket.

  • Keep a notebook and a sketchbook to draw and write your ideas. A blank piece of paper will not limit your imagination.

  • This gadget really is changing the game.

  • jvl

    how about auto sync since thats what all you fags use

  • Anonymous

    nice lineup!

  • Keg

    No mention of the Feena FMDJ9303 either… this came out in ~2007 and I’ve been using mine ever since. If you see one on ebay, snap it up!

  • i really like the stanton scs. system. its true that their support is not good bud the product rocks. i think its success is not as big as it could be because most of the djs are too conservative i still remember the time when you where not a “real dj” using cdj s and no turntables and today most of the dj dont want to use someting that does not  remind of a cdj and a real mixing desk. djs have a real small horizon when they are used to a certain way to work . in europe the first real dj program was bpm studio from alcatech it s ui was build like a old denon cd player with play lists . the ones that adopted it first stil use the same program 10 years later and say everything else is shit . when i show them the benefits of a modern dj programm like traktor they dont even have a closer look ignoring my arguments.

  • Grollhanin

    excuse me guys, but this is just another one of those “almost nothing” articles that recently appear on djtt and seem to be written on a lonely evening with nothing on tv.

    “milestone” … maybe the faderfox, the apc and the vci 100 deserve this title. making something smaller, changing the design or constructing a different chassis, well that’s not exactly revolutionary. and seriously, having your controls ON or NEXT to your tt…come on. All they did was reinventing the wheel.

  • I think you missed one of the first – and most important (such that Skrillex still uses one) – M-Audio Trigger Finger!

    • Glitch mob used to use ’em… I think exclusively, before they got the Lemur thing, and haven’t seen ’em since. I still love mine. Basic. Durable. Hit the buttons, things happen.

    • Glitch mob used to use ’em… I think exclusively, before they got the Lemur thing, and haven’t seen ’em since. I still love mine. Basic. Durable. Hit the buttons, things happen.

    • Bassnectar still uses 2. Skrillex used one before he knew how to use CDJs, but bassnectar is still the one that stayed tried and true to the trigger finger. (that, and he has a way cooler way of mixing in my opinion)

  • Djtavi77

    XPONENT!

  • Lubsterr

    WHat About THe XONE 1D?!?!?!?

  • The VCI would be doing more than just “hanging on” if DJTT released an overlay for the Traktor 2 mapping Flashflooder has been working hard on. 

  • The VCI would be doing more than just “hanging on” if DJTT released an overlay for the Traktor 2 mapping Flashflooder has been working hard on. 

  • The VCI would be doing more than just “hanging on” if DJTT released an overlay for the Traktor 2 mapping Flashflooder has been working hard on. 

  • The VCI would be doing more than just “hanging on” if DJTT released an overlay for the Traktor 2 mapping Flashflooder has been working hard on. 

  • The VCI would be doing more than just “hanging on” if DJTT released an overlay for the Traktor 2 mapping Flashflooder has been working hard on. 

  • 4real

    Might as well be, Work at Guitar center, haven’t sold ONE in almost 2 years. Infact everyone who wants one/likes it gets talked out of it in about 20 seconds after turning it on. Thanks for playing the controller game stanton guy.

  • Defk

    iPad + touchAble: if you wanna go high! 

  • cr4sh

    I would also include the novation twitch, as it really caters to controllerists

  • Sean E Johnston

    I can’t believe that the OG Faderfox didn’t get a mention. Mathias was the first to bring a decent controller to market

  • Sean E Johnston

    I can’t believe that the OG Faderfox didn’t get a mention. Mathias was the first to bring a decent controller to market

  • Sean E Johnston

    I can’t believe that the OG Faderfox didn’t get a mention. Mathias was the first to bring a decent controller to market

  • Sean E Johnston

    I can’t believe that the OG Faderfox didn’t get a mention. Mathias was the first to bring a decent controller to market

    • good point- that was the first Dj controller on the market (for the most part) 

    • Djtim

      Hear hear!!

    • Djtim

      Hear hear!!

    • Djtim

      Hear hear!!

  • Sean E Johnston

    I can’t believe that the OG Faderfox didn’t get a mention. Mathias was the first to bring a decent controller to market

  • daveq

    Oh come on guys, no Xone 4D?  Were any of you current writers actually reading this blog in late 08?

    • 4real

      seriously, How old was Chris Cartledge in 05?
       The writers on this blog have absolutely no legitimacy and credibility
       Im tired of techtools being a completely out of context english paper.

  • Bignutz

    what was the first dj controller with built in audio?

    • Kevins212

      The 1st one that I was aware of was the m-audio xponent.. come to think of it, in 05 (i think 2005 anyways), that was likely the reason why I didnt see other options to the xponent because anything else would have required an additional piece of hardware (soundcard). 

      I do know that m-audio had another controller at the time that was smaller but I dont know if it had a sound card.

      VCI100 seems like it was out then but no sound card.

      • steve

        Yeah, it was the xponent, but it was 2006 🙂
        I got mine around June and was one of the lucky ones who got one of the first european-shippment. Still works flawlessly – except for one broken led. 

        • Kevins212

          Cool.. glad to hear it worked out long term but man it was frustrating for me when I first used it.. I lost 2 LEDs within 6 months on the CUE buttons.  I will say that it still worked 5 years later when I went to finally sell it lol.  Another LED had gone out but aside from that, everything still worked.

          And when I did use it with VirtualDJ, I kind of liked it.

          @d720e97cb341585c815a36a09a82b4f7:disqus 

           – interesting on the Hercules console – I remember getting the xponent for christmas and thinking that there must be competitors to it – so I google’d it and I think I found maybe 1 or 2 other competitors but they didnt seem to have sound cards.

        • Kevins212

          Cool.. glad to hear it worked out long term but man it was frustrating for me when I first used it.. I lost 2 LEDs within 6 months on the CUE buttons.  I will say that it still worked 5 years later when I went to finally sell it lol.  Another LED had gone out but aside from that, everything still worked.

          And when I did use it with VirtualDJ, I kind of liked it.

          @d720e97cb341585c815a36a09a82b4f7:disqus 

           – interesting on the Hercules console – I remember getting the xponent for christmas and thinking that there must be competitors to it – so I google’d it and I think I found maybe 1 or 2 other competitors but they didnt seem to have sound cards.

      • Mersfeld

        Seriously, the ONLY controller in this vein available in 2004 was the Hercules DJ console…  Despite its poor build quality etc. it was THE thing that got me back into DJing after having to part with the 1200s I was using… just sayin!

    • Kevins212

      The 1st one that I was aware of was the m-audio xponent.. come to think of it, in 05 (i think 2005 anyways), that was likely the reason why I didnt see other options to the xponent because anything else would have required an additional piece of hardware (soundcard). 

      I do know that m-audio had another controller at the time that was smaller but I dont know if it had a sound card.

      VCI100 seems like it was out then but no sound card.

  • Lets be fair here. You could never add the iPad because it brings nothing new to the table when you look at the lemur and any other controller out there.

  • Navalverde12

    Where’s the Tenori-On?!?!?!?!

  • Navalverde12

    Where’s the Tenori-On?!?!?!?!

  • Navalverde12

    Where’s the Tenori-On?!?!?!?!

  • Navalverde12

    Where’s the Tenori-On?!?!?!?!

  • Navalverde12

    Where’s the Tenori-On?!?!?!?!

  • Navalverde12

    Where’s the Tenori-On?!?!?!?!

  • Navalverde12

    Where’s the Tenori-On?!?!?!?!

  • chekrah.

    The Lemur really deserved to be listed as a milestone controller. That thing was revolutionary and while out of the reach of most, it certainly made more of an impact than the Dicer or Korg’s Nano series.

    Perhaps it’s not a dedicated Traktor controller like the VCI-100 but then again, neither is the APC40.

    Sorry, but this is a poor article that seems to be biased towards the DJTT mentality and I can’t say I really agree.

    • The lemur is still a milestone device, so I completely agree.  Even if it isn’t a dedicated controller for anything, that’s the beauty of it, cause it can be dedicated to any controllable software out there, and simply do it better (minus tactile feedback) than any other controller until the iPad came out.

  • chekrah.

    The Lemur really deserved to be listed as a milestone controller. That thing was revolutionary and while out of the reach of most, it certainly made more of an impact than the Dicer or Korg’s Nano series.

    Perhaps it’s not a dedicated Traktor controller like the VCI-100 but then again, neither is the APC40.

    Sorry, but this is a poor article that seems to be biased towards the DJTT mentality and I can’t say I really agree.

  • 303bassline

    And what about the BCR2000? Man that thing changed my view about midi controllers completely. Even the BCD2000? Probably the 1st affordable all in one. 

  • 303bassline

    And what about the BCR2000? Man that thing changed my view about midi controllers completely. Even the BCD2000? Probably the 1st affordable all in one. 

  • Lucas

    evolution uc33 was a must for this article…

    • 303bassline

      totally. Way to miss some of the most innovative controllers DJTT.

    • 303bassline

      totally. Way to miss some of the most innovative controllers DJTT.

    • agree !

  • Lucas

    evolution uc33 was a must for this article…

  • 303bassline

    what about pad controllers like the trigger finger or MPD24? These things were far more useful for DJing than the oxygen. And people still use them today. Fly-Lo, Opiuo, Shittex etc. 

  • I think the most important piece of equipment that have changed the dj game in the last 10 years is the “Laptop Computer”. It’s undoubtedbly the hub that anchors all the rest of the dj Technology, from controllers, dj software, production, music and promotion. The good old laptop is the foremost basic setup a dj can have and allows a dj to expand thier setup as they see fit. The laptop is definitly a game changer for the modern dj.   

    • I conquer, the laptop is the true revolution

    • I conquer, the laptop is the true revolution

    • I conquer, the laptop is the true revolution

      • Anonymous

        I concur* as well, though this article is about milestone controllers, not milestone technology.

        • erkron

          the laptop has worked as a controller for many as well… so this is also wrong, since it doesn’t specify “midi or external controllers” 

    • DJ RB0t

      I think it wasn’t included for the same reason as the Ipad. ”
      it’s not specifically a DJ tool, more a multi purpose device that can be used for DJing. It’s a tough call, though.”

  • I think the most important piece of equipment that have changed the dj game in the last 10 years is the “Laptop Computer”. It’s undoubtedbly the hub that anchors all the rest of the dj Technology, from controllers, dj software, production, music and promotion. The good old laptop is the foremost basic setup a dj can have and allows a dj to expand thier setup as they see fit. The laptop is definitly a game changer for the modern dj.   

  • pc

    what the fuck this isn’t really a good article, what have I learnt? absolutely nothing. I’m really surprised there isn’t any midifighter in this list…

    • It’s DJtechTOOLS, not DJtechSCHOOLS 😉

      • 4real

        you spelled DJSTORETOOLS wrong.

        • if you don’t like DJTechTools then get the fuck off their website. They do a LOT of teaching (both basic and advanced mixing and controllerism techniques) and they do a LOT of product review, and keeping on top of things product-wise and are (for the most part) unbiased and give products fair reviews (keeping in mind they are focused with Digital DJing and will look at controllers from that perspective) but they have to make money somehow or else you wouldn’t have articles, you wouldn’t have product reviews, you wouldn’t have digital DJing. I don’t mind paying $250 per midi fighter because 1, they make good products and 2, the money goes to a good cause. And they only sell the products they believe in, so of course they’re gonna advertise them.

    • It’s DJtechTOOLS, not DJtechSCHOOLS 😉

  • E Minus

    The Monome is 1000x more influential and important than the Dicer. You’re gonna play all “consolation prize” with the Monome and then turn around and play like molding a controller to fit on a turntable makes it a milestone.

  • E Minus

    The Monome is 1000x more influential and important than the Dicer. You’re gonna play all “consolation prize” with the Monome and then turn around and play like molding a controller to fit on a turntable makes it a milestone.

  • you missed the M-audio Ozone….
    I know it lacked transport control….
    however made up for it by having a sound card with multiple inputs.
    for me this was a great thing to include because I could use VST’s on the live inputs…
    so I could control tractor, Reason, Ableton from my keyboard – send the audio out of my sound card to my dj mixer – and then send either rec,booth,master out from dj mixer back into the sound cards inputs to be recorded or effected with VST’s….

    or………record live instruments, vocals into Ableton

    I still use this old beast in my current set-up but now mostly as an Amp simulator for my guitar and bass…. or a vocoder….or god forgive AUTO TUNE….

    P.S. Ean Golden your 2 octave keyboard control is pretty close to what I did back in the early 2000’s…. when all the vinyl purists ragged on me for my Ideas too….

    Thank You very much for putting this great resource available.

    ApexDubb 

  • you missed the M-audio Ozone….
    I know it lacked transport control….
    however made up for it by having a sound card with multiple inputs.
    for me this was a great thing to include because I could use VST’s on the live inputs…
    so I could control tractor, Reason, Ableton from my keyboard – send the audio out of my sound card to my dj mixer – and then send either rec,booth,master out from dj mixer back into the sound cards inputs to be recorded or effected with VST’s….

    or………record live instruments, vocals into Ableton

    I still use this old beast in my current set-up but now mostly as an Amp simulator for my guitar and bass…. or a vocoder….or god forgive AUTO TUNE….

    P.S. Ean Golden your 2 octave keyboard control is pretty close to what I did back in the early 2000’s…. when all the vinyl purists ragged on me for my Ideas too….

    Thank You very much for putting this great resource available.

    ApexDubb 

  • Mailmax

    TouchOSC?

  • Jneb802

    Im sorry but just because you guys made the slicer doesnt mean its revolutionary

  • Jneb802

    Im sorry but just because you guys made the slicer doesnt mean its revolutionary

  • Jneb802

    Im sorry but just because you guys made the slicer doesnt mean its revolutionary

    • 303bassline

      they didn’t make the dicer. They just took the kudos for being “involved”. Some far more talented faceless folks at novation actually designed and made the dicer.

      • That’s really not correct- I personally designed the Dicers – not novation. Novation manufactures, markets and  ships the product. That being said, I didn’t create the list. Originally we left them of but got many emails and comments saying they should be included. 

      • Swift

        I do not think you give Ean or any of the DJTT staff any credit for their work. I personally believe they pioneered what we know as controllerism. If you hold a grudge against DJTT I am sorry, if not just leave. No one cares what your rude comments are about how no one can do anything right. Find something positive in your life man…

    • 303bassline

      they didn’t make the dicer. They just took the kudos for being “involved”. Some far more talented faceless folks at novation actually designed and made the dicer.

    • I’d say the slicer was revolutionary because it was an ingenious way to add midi buttons to a piece of classic and proven piece of dj equipment (the turntable). It’s power is it’s simplicity.

    • I’d say the slicer was revolutionary because it was an ingenious way to add midi buttons to a piece of classic and proven piece of dj equipment (the turntable). It’s power is it’s simplicity.

    • I’d say the slicer was revolutionary because it was an ingenious way to add midi buttons to a piece of classic and proven piece of dj equipment (the turntable). It’s power is it’s simplicity.

    • I’d say the slicer was revolutionary because it was an ingenious way to add midi buttons to a piece of classic and proven piece of dj equipment (the turntable). It’s power is it’s simplicity.

    • I’d say the slicer was revolutionary because it was an ingenious way to add midi buttons to a piece of classic and proven piece of dj equipment (the turntable). It’s power is it’s simplicity.

    • I’d say the slicer was revolutionary because it was an ingenious way to add midi buttons to a piece of classic and proven piece of dj equipment (the turntable). It’s power is it’s simplicity.

    • 4real

      The dicer is the only remote argument to controllerism a turntablist doesn’t laugh at. The dicer offers controllerism a shred of legitimacy to the rest of the world, everyone mashing buttons should <3 <3 <3 Dicers.

    • 4real

      The dicer is the only remote argument to controllerism a turntablist doesn’t laugh at. The dicer offers controllerism a shred of legitimacy to the rest of the world, everyone mashing buttons should <3 <3 <3 Dicers.

    • 4real

      The dicer is the only remote argument to controllerism a turntablist doesn’t laugh at. The dicer offers controllerism a shred of legitimacy to the rest of the world, everyone mashing buttons should <3 <3 <3 Dicers.

  • Evolakim

    Well, I’m Ableton all day so I totally agree w/ the APC40. But I also love my Launchpad. I guess there was no need to mention it when you had a Monome on the list. I actually did some of my first shows using an X-Session Pro. This thing looked like, “My first DJ mixer” by Fisher Price but I used it for awhile!

  • Evolakim

    Well, I’m Ableton all day so I totally agree w/ the APC40. But I also love my Launchpad. I guess there was no need to mention it when you had a Monome on the list. I actually did some of my first shows using an X-Session Pro. This thing looked like, “My first DJ mixer” by Fisher Price but I used it for awhile!

  • baseburner

    Surely the Dicer is a mile-stone….

    • DJSP

      I second that.  The Dicer is one of my favorite pieces!

  • probably the x1 because it kind of put the digital advantages together with the analog advantages

    • proben

      yeah I was surprised not to see the X1 on here, as well as the S4.  In my view both were game changers; the X1 for the DVS crowd (though I suppose Denon arguably got there first with their Serato MIDI controller) and the S4 for the all-in-one crowd who was ready to move beyond the VCI.

    • Kevins212

      X1 is def the most useful thing ive ever gotten..

      S4 gets a lil too much praise i think due to how well laid out it is for traktor 2. I wonder how it will feel once traktor versions go up in #? Will NI tailor any major software changes to it? Or will it start to feel a little less ‘native’?

      X1 just has a timeless feel to it even with serato..

    • Kevins212

      X1 is def the most useful thing ive ever gotten..

      S4 gets a lil too much praise i think due to how well laid out it is for traktor 2. I wonder how it will feel once traktor versions go up in #? Will NI tailor any major software changes to it? Or will it start to feel a little less ‘native’?

      X1 just has a timeless feel to it even with serato..

      • Kevins212

        and how could i forget my midifighter.. even tho I probably only use it 50% of the time (i think overuse makes it stale unless you’ve got some custom mapping that lets you change things up), its whole concept and community makes it a worthy mention (of course, djtt wouldnt put that in there as it would be slammed as selfless promotion) but it is a very unique product in my eyes.  I know theres probably hacked game-style button controllers before it but i’ve never seen both the controller + the commands like djtt does it.

        For me, i never gave a rats ass about midi commands before I got into the midifighter.  Sure, I used canned TSIs and just looked at a layout but I never really knew what they were doing or how they were doing it until the MF.  MF unlocked the potential of midi for me.

    • x1 is the traktor version of the dicer, but has way more possibilities than just DVS turntable systems.

  • Riko Roos

    M-Audio Xponent: Was kind of dismissed cause of the weak looking build quality but was the first controller to focus more on the controllerists by placing the platters behind the knobs and buttons. Still using it because it still has the most (lit) buttons. Nowadays downside is the lack of more mixer channels. The controller that makes me change has not been developed yet…

  • Riko Roos

    M-Audio Xponent: Was kind of dismissed cause of the weak looking build quality but was the first controller to focus more on the controllerists by placing the platters behind the knobs and buttons. Still using it because it still has the most (lit) buttons. Nowadays downside is the lack of more mixer channels. The controller that makes me change has not been developed yet…

    • alpha_5_

      A couple of DJs around my uni use the Xponent, and I find the build quality and function pretty good. The bright LEDs behind every button are fantastic, and i’m still waiting for another controller to be just as well lit.

      I suppose the market has moved on, and that the Torq software wasn’t adopted enough for the Xponent to really set the scene on fire. Otherwise, M-Audio had a pretty good controller, I belive it came closer then any of the other near misses above.

    • Kevins212

      Xponent was my 1st entry into software dj’ing as there wasnt much else out there at the time that i was aware of (i think it was around 2005? Unbelievable how much difference 5 years make with both technology AND info on the web which i think was a significant factor in pushing things along as fast as it all happened). Actually got it as a surprise gift from my gf for xmas so i definitely didnt do any comparisons at the time. I just thought the whole concept was very cool.

      Anyways, i always found torq and the xponent to be very very buggy and unstable for me. So much so that i put midi controllers out of mind for a good 5 years after fighting with the xponent for 6 months. When i decided in 2010 that id see what kind of software changes were avail for xponent, i was kind of shocked to see just how much things had progressed over the past few years. I started using the xponent with virtualdj then and found it was alot more stable then. That led to me getting an s4 and then finally settling on a hybrid setup with an x1, cdjs and a midi digital mixer.

      So i think regardless of how buggy the xponent was for me, it has a place as ‘revolutionary’ for its time in my eyes. I would love to see an article of a massive timeline of controllers with dates, etc as i now wonder what else was out there when xpoment first came around.

      • erkron

        in that case, the hercules dj controllers came even before and for a time were the only “dj” controllers, yes they sucked horribly but still worth mentioning the history of dj controllers, in fact I’m pretty sure they inspired many of these first dj controllers, including the xponent…. and in many ways showed the first direction of what NOT to do with a dj controller 😀

         

      • erkron

        in that case, the hercules dj controllers came even before and for a time were the only “dj” controllers, yes they sucked horribly but still worth mentioning the history of dj controllers, in fact I’m pretty sure they inspired many of these first dj controllers, including the xponent…. and in many ways showed the first direction of what NOT to do with a dj controller 😀

         

        • Kevins212

          Thats very interesting.. When hercules rmx came along, i thought they were a new company.. i just went on their site this morning and was surprised to see that they are a jack of all trades for electronics lol. Wifi routers? Whod have thought? Like a mini pioneer/sony! Neat..

          I think even the crappy controllers have some props due.. Without them, we wouldnt have the products we have today. I could have thrown my xponent out the window plenty of times and not missed it but id venture to say we wouldnt have the s4’s etc today without the crappy controllers showing the way..

      • erkron

        in that case, the hercules dj controllers came even before and for a time were the only “dj” controllers, yes they sucked horribly but still worth mentioning the history of dj controllers, in fact I’m pretty sure they inspired many of these first dj controllers, including the xponent…. and in many ways showed the first direction of what NOT to do with a dj controller 😀

         

    • Kevins212

      Xponent was my 1st entry into software dj’ing as there wasnt much else out there at the time that i was aware of (i think it was around 2005? Unbelievable how much difference 5 years make with both technology AND info on the web which i think was a significant factor in pushing things along as fast as it all happened). Actually got it as a surprise gift from my gf for xmas so i definitely didnt do any comparisons at the time. I just thought the whole concept was very cool.

      Anyways, i always found torq and the xponent to be very very buggy and unstable for me. So much so that i put midi controllers out of mind for a good 5 years after fighting with the xponent for 6 months. When i decided in 2010 that id see what kind of software changes were avail for xponent, i was kind of shocked to see just how much things had progressed over the past few years. I started using the xponent with virtualdj then and found it was alot more stable then. That led to me getting an s4 and then finally settling on a hybrid setup with an x1, cdjs and a midi digital mixer.

      So i think regardless of how buggy the xponent was for me, it has a place as ‘revolutionary’ for its time in my eyes. I would love to see an article of a massive timeline of controllers with dates, etc as i now wonder what else was out there when xpoment first came around.

    • KLH

      The Xponent should have included over the VCI-100 as the VCI was never used beyond Traktor, but the Xpo was used in Torq, Traktor, and MixVibes.

      Perhaps it would be better to include BOTH of them because the Xpo made a name for itself for its ability to be used in multiple DJ apps where the VCI made a name for itself by being modded (arcade buttons, custom firmware, and “SE” model) and supported by a fanatic community.

      -KLH

    • KLH

      The Xponent should have included over the VCI-100 as the VCI was never used beyond Traktor, but the Xpo was used in Torq, Traktor, and MixVibes.

      Perhaps it would be better to include BOTH of them because the Xpo made a name for itself for its ability to be used in multiple DJ apps where the VCI made a name for itself by being modded (arcade buttons, custom firmware, and “SE” model) and supported by a fanatic community.

      -KLH

    • KLH

      The Xponent should have included over the VCI-100 as the VCI was never used beyond Traktor, but the Xpo was used in Torq, Traktor, and MixVibes.

      Perhaps it would be better to include BOTH of them because the Xpo made a name for itself for its ability to be used in multiple DJ apps where the VCI made a name for itself by being modded (arcade buttons, custom firmware, and “SE” model) and supported by a fanatic community.

      -KLH

    • KLH

      The Xponent should have included over the VCI-100 as the VCI was never used beyond Traktor, but the Xpo was used in Torq, Traktor, and MixVibes.

      Perhaps it would be better to include BOTH of them because the Xpo made a name for itself for its ability to be used in multiple DJ apps where the VCI made a name for itself by being modded (arcade buttons, custom firmware, and “SE” model) and supported by a fanatic community.

      -KLH

    • KLH

      The Xponent should have included over the VCI-100 as the VCI was never used beyond Traktor, but the Xpo was used in Torq, Traktor, and MixVibes.

      Perhaps it would be better to include BOTH of them because the Xpo made a name for itself for its ability to be used in multiple DJ apps where the VCI made a name for itself by being modded (arcade buttons, custom firmware, and “SE” model) and supported by a fanatic community.

      -KLH

    • KLH

      The Xponent should have included over the VCI-100 as the VCI was never used beyond Traktor, but the Xpo was used in Torq, Traktor, and MixVibes.

      Perhaps it would be better to include BOTH of them because the Xpo made a name for itself for its ability to be used in multiple DJ apps where the VCI made a name for itself by being modded (arcade buttons, custom firmware, and “SE” model) and supported by a fanatic community.

      -KLH

    • Its kind of a dorky gizmo, but I still play out with it all the time. I’ll probably step up to an S4, but without the Xponent, I’d never have even considered controllerism. 

  • Woody Aki

    “Stanton really threw out a curveball with the SCS 3 system. The touch controllers were innovative and fun to use, but slightly awkward middleware and a general lack of interest has seen them fall a little by the wayside. There’s echos of the SCS 3 in Novation’s Twitch and on their release there was definitely an air of excitement at the possibilities, but ultimately I couldn’t include them as real milestones because the buzz seems to have pretty much totally fizzled out.”

    Tell me about it…this is Stanton in a nutshell. Great products, abysmal support/aftersales service. All the threads pertaining to the SCS3  have been wiped out of their forum, probably because they were stung once too often about the ‘lie on the box’ that was Ableton-compatibility.

    Don’t bother buying anything Stanton…

    • proben

      It’s too bad; this controller had a lot of promise (and if you scour youtube you’ll see there are still folks around putting these units to some great use).  But it’s true they seemed out of touch with the needs of their audience.  And they had the bad luck to release the thing just as Traktor Pro came out, and then to wait a year or so before releasing easily used mappings and instructions for it (mappings existed earlier but they were buried in confusing discussion pages).  And it didn’t help that they called it “da Scratch” yet you couldn’t actually scratch with it if you used it for Serato.  Probably the biggest problem though was the “middleware” — it was perhaps too clever a solution in that it overcame some of the limitations of pure MIDI control but only by introducing another layer of complexity (and of potential things to go wrong) by making the user run other software just to get the controller to talk to their performance software.

    • AENSLAED

      I don’t support your statement, I am a proud owner of a SCS3 system, I can do with it what the rest of the controllers of similar form factor do (including your precious vci), its very portable, its modularity makes it very versatile and most of all, it has its own unique features that makes it a great choice.

    • I love my SCS.3D. It is what allowed me to learn about MIDI in the first place. As I was a total n00b to DJ hardware, this allowed me to learn about Traktor, mapping, and overall DJing. I still want to find a cheap SCS.3M to pair with it (and have a few more USB ports for more controllers to come).

  • Zac Kyoti

    I never saw it as one of the “game changer” controllers, but just seeing the buzz and reach the original Midi Fighter had on the web made me think twice about that. It’s still pretty niche, but programming ideas and form factors from Midi Fighter development have definitely been making waves in the dj-sphere.

    • proben

      yeah the MIDI Fighter should be on here in my opinion (or perhaps the VCI Arcade mod that preceded it); much more so than the dicer.  Don’t get me wrong, I love me some dicers; they are fantastic for DVS users, but the MIDI Fighter really made people think differently about controllerism (and not just the people who bought them).

  • superfly

    Monome. 

    First saw Daedalus playing it at the Getty, had to chase him down and ask what the hell it was, he was a bit coy, as he had one of the first prototypes, but it wasn’t long after that I started seeing it on all the various blogs.

  • superfly

    Monome. 

    First saw Daedalus playing it at the Getty, had to chase him down and ask what the hell it was, he was a bit coy, as he had one of the first prototypes, but it wasn’t long after that I started seeing it on all the various blogs.

  • superfly

    Monome. 

    First saw Daedalus playing it at the Getty, had to chase him down and ask what the hell it was, he was a bit coy, as he had one of the first prototypes, but it wasn’t long after that I started seeing it on all the various blogs.

    • Yep.

      The Monome changed the way of thinking, but Akai/Novation took the idea and made it affordable.

    • Monodeck.