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Review: Stanton DJC.4 Controller

With all due respect, one of our first reactions to the Stanton DJC.4 was one of surprise. Here’s a 4-deck controller with a 4-channel soundcard that looks solidly built and has many vital features well packed into a small surface, all for about $350. Of course, that’s without answering any of the key questions about the audio quality, the playability of the jog wheels and other controls, the output levels, mappings, and so on. We’ve answered all of those after the jump!

Manufacturer: Stanton
Price: $349.99 (Amazon)
Availability: Now
Communication: MIDI over USB (AC or USB powered)
Ships with: Virtual DJ LE 4-Deck Edition, USB 2.0 cable. (Traktor Pro mapping available.)
Weight: 6.4 pounds (2.92 kg)
Dimensions: 16.1 x 11.7 x 2.6 inches (41 x 29.7 x 6.5 cm)

The Good: Pro grade construction. Very playable jog wheels with adjustable touch sensitivity. Push-button EQ knobs for EQ kill on push. Very usable Traktor mapping available. Quite reasonable price.

The Bad: No booth outputs. Some plastic buttons where we’d prefer rubber. Front-panel buttons don’t press in. AC adapter not included. No full-version software included.

The Bottom Line: While it was seemingly designed for a version of Virtual DJ 7 LE, that shouldn’t dissuade users of other popular programs from trying the DJC.4. This feature-rich controller packs a lot of very well-made components into a small, but not overly-cramped surface area. It presents competitive sound quality and a couple of useful features not found on more expensive controllers.

BUILD QUALITY AND DESIGN

Check out this well-appointed controller. While it doesn’t break any of the established molds in terms of form factor, feature set, elegance, or ruggedness, it does cover all the bases and is a well-rounded 4-deck controller (with two channel faders and jogs, but the ability to control 4 decks) with a decent 16-bit/48 kHz soundcard for the money.

The bottom half of the chassis is molded plastic with rubber feet on the bottom, and the handhold side indents for easy carrying. A durable metal top plate and solidly constructed controls, including chassis-nutted pots, and slick touch-sensitive jog wheels, make the DJC.4 literally and figuratively shine.

In all there are 95 assignable MIDI controllers (63 buttons, 5 faders, 12 push encoders, 22 control knobs, and 2 touch-sensitive jog wheels), and all of them can have another layer of functionality through the Shift buttons.

Mixer section:

  • Replaceable crossfader with adjustable crossfader curve
  • 2 channel strips, each with 60mm volume faders, LED level meters
  • 3-band EQ with center detent push encoders (push=EQ band kill)
  • Mid and Low EQ encoders switch to Key and Filter knobs using Shift
  • Master section: master output knob, browsing encoder with 2 deck load buttons
  • Second push-button encoder and Sampler Volume knob that act differently according to the software and mapping used

Deck section x 2:

  • Touch-sensitive, jog wheels with adjustable sensitivity and a Scratch button for toggling the top of the wheels from scratching to pitch bending
  • High-resolution pitch faders with Key Lock button and Pitch Bend buttons (Pitch Range with Shift)
  • FX section with knobs and buttons for 3 effects, plus an endless rotary push-button encoder
  • Looping section with a push-button encoder and 6 buttons for loop length, loop in/out, loop on, and loop delete
  • Sampler section with 4 sample trigger buttons
  • Deck Select button (for decks A/C or decks B/D)
  • Sync button (Reverse with Shift)
  • Transport section with 3 rubberized buttons for playback and track temp

Back panel:

  • 2 stereo RCA inputs for a CD player, turntable, etc. — switchable from line to phono level
  • Grounding post
  • 1/8″ stereo Aux Input for a smartphone, MP3 player, etc. — with Input Gain knob and PC/Thru switch
  • 2 Master Outs: balanced 1/4″ outputs or unbalanced stereo RCA outputs
  • USB and power jacks
  • Power on/off button

Front panel:

  • 1/4″ Mic input with level control and Mic Off/On switch
  • 2 jog wheel Touch Sensitivity knobs
  • Crossfader curve control: long fade to quick cut
  • 2 headphones outs: 1/8″ and 1/4″ stereo (active simultaneously),
  • Headphones Mix and Headphones Level controls

CONTROLLER PERFORMANCE

Count the number of push encoders on the DJC.4 as one of its striking features. Particularly, the push-button 3-band EQ felt great to use. Pushing them activates EQkill for that band, although with all 3 EQ bands killed, you still get some output volume for the track; it is not completely muted.

The Shift button also adds some most welcome functionality. For example, Shift+Low EQ = channel Filter control, and Shift+Mid EQ = channel Key control. Shift+Pitch Bend buttons = adjusting the range of the Pitch fader, and you can also program in your own Shift operations.

A replaceable crossfader feels on par with the quality of a mid-range mixer crossfader, rather than the chintzy crossfaders you sometimes see on controllers that teeter dangerously close to the “toy” end of the controller spectrum.

If you’re used to the effects controls being laid out the same way from left to right on each deck, like most controllers do, it may take some getting used to as the DJC.4 effects controls are like a mirror image, with the FX Select and On/Off controls situation on the left-hand side on Deck A and on the right-hand side of Deck B.

The jog wheels on the DJC.4 are an interesting case. While some may prefer a vinyl layer on top, these wheels have a satisfying rotation action with neither too much nor too little resistance. You can adjust each one’s sensitivity with the front-panel knobs. At high sensitivity — and with the backlit Scratch button enabled — a tiny movement will initiate a scratch, and at the lowest sensitivity setting, a full revolution of the wheel will just barely give you a vinyl-style slowing or speeding up effect.

With Scratch mode on, touching the top of the wheels will initiate scratching, while you can still use the sides of the platters for pitch bending.

On the topic of rubberized vs. plastic buttons, DJ TechTools may sound like a broken DVS vinyl at this point, but we tend to prefer well-spaced out rubber pads or arcade buttons for cue and sample triggering, particularly if the goal is to play such buttons like an instrument. On the DJC.4, the rubberized transport buttons feel great, while the rows of Loop, Cue, and Sample buttons fall into the slightly cramped, less playable plastic variety. Of course, this has become something of a fact of life for DJ controllers, and we recognize the catch-22 of providing big, playable buttons: They necessitate a larger, more expensive controller, and not all DJs will even care one way or the other.

So the standard recommendation applies: outsource the button-mashing duties to a separate pad or arcade-button controller. The compact DJC.4 will clear some room in your DJ bag for this!

SOFTWARE: VIRTUAL SANITY

The DJC.4 does not include a full pro version of any DJ software, and its control scheme was designed for a one-to-one connection with an included version of Virtual DJ 7 LE. Sure, VDJ may never be the most glamorous or popular of DJ programs, but the more we’re exposed to it, the more we’re coming around to it. In terms of features, it’s a serviceable program, especially if you have the Pro version (about $299) or are looking to perform music video mixing. Its simpler approach to certain areas, such as sampling may even feel less intimidating and more accessible to some people.

Additionally, using Virtual DJ may be the only way to squeeze every last available feature out of the DJC.4, for example, the Fader FX feature, which toggles the channel volume fader into an effects control, or the X-Fader Link and Smart Fade crossfader controls.

However, Virtual DJ is never going to be everyone’s cup of Red Bull. The good news is that mappings are starting to surface, and DJTT got the first Stanton Traktor mapping for the DJC.4 just in time to test it.

TRAKTOR PRO MAPPING

The Traktor mapping we tested came directly from Stanton and was made for a 2-deck, 2-Remix Set configuration. While some of the DJC.4 controls designed for Virtual DJ did not have a direct correlation in Traktor, just about every control did something useful, and the few odd buttons that did nothing could be programmed to your taste.

Most of the controls functioned in Traktor exactly as advertised. For example, the Scratch button toggles jog wheel scratching on and off, very nice for users of the Kontrol S2 who are missing that feature. The EQ kills work; the Deck Select button works; Shift+Low EQ works the channel filter and Shift+Mid EQ works the channel Key knob. In Virtual DJ, the DJC.4 Sampler buttons simply trigger pre-loaded samples. With this Traktor mapping, those buttons send loops of the specified loop length from Decks 1 and 2 to the Remix Sets of Decks 3 and 4 respectively, allowing for quick and easy capturing of sample loops.

The DJC.4 Select/Action encoder works the Traktor Loop Recorder. It selects loop length, and pushing it starts recording. The Sampler Volume knob of the DJC.4 controls the volume of the Loop Recorder playback. There are a couple of caveats to the Traktor mapping in the FX sections: the FX Select push encoder controls the wet/dry mix, and pushing it returns the wet/dry value to 50%. Also, if you have a Single FX deck open in Traktor rather than Group FX, the FX On button doesn’t turn the effect on. Of course, you can tweak the mapping if you desire.

When comparing the Traktor Kontrol S2 to this unit, the DJC.4 takes up significantly less surface area, shorter in both length and width. The Scratch button on the DJC.4 was nice, as were the EQ kills. Also, the Tap button on the DJC.4 enables continuous playback from Cue point from a paused state, without needing to hit Play as well. Of course, the S2 has the more playable rubber buttons, but not as many of them. Finally, with its external inputs and dual headphone outputs, the DJC.4 has more generous audio routing options.

SOUNDCARD AND USB BUS POWER

While there is an optional AC adapter for the DJC.4, out of the box it just comes with a USB cable to run off of bus power. That being the case, the output levels that DJC.4 achieves while having tons of backlit buttons to power are rather remarkable. With a single set of cans connected, the headphone output of the DJC.4 is super loud. Plugging in a second pair, the headphone output level drops noticeably, but still remains at a usable level for a club environment. I do wonder if that level drop occurs even when using an AC adapter, but we didn’t have one to test.

The two audio inputs for line- or phono-level external decks come with switches in the mixer section for Aux/Input 1-2 and Mic/Input 3-4. So you can’t have all four inputs active simultaneously, but you do have some good flexibility. The Aux input has a Thru switch that will bypass the computer audio and push the Aux Input to the master out. The Aux input will play without any software running, so it could save you in the event of a software crash, but if you have a computer crash, you’ll need an AC adapter to keep the DJC.4 powered and use the Aux input.

Audio fidelity tops out at 16-bit/48 kHz, which is lower than many controllers support, but it’s enough for most DJs anyway. I tested the audio quality at 16-bit/44.1 kHz against the M-Audio Conectiv and the Kontrol S2. I found that the DJC.4 had a smoother, less distorted bass response than the Conectiv and generally just a more satisfying sound. Against the S2, the DJC.4 exhibited better stereo sound separation, but other than that was pretty neck-and-neck with the well-regarded Native Instruments soundcard. I can’t definitively say whether one sounds better than the other, but for me, the fact that the DJC.4 holds it own says a lot.

FINAL THOUGHTS

In terms of build quality, included software and playability, the DJC.4 might not stand at an equal to the Kontrol S2 – but for a budget-minded controller, the Stanton unit makes a lot of sense. Sure, you might need to make some mapping tweaks to really make the DJC.4 on the same level, but it may be worth it. Additionally, the DJC.4 wins out in terms of size – making it a great choice for mobile DJ gigs.

If you’re already a Virtual DJ 7 user and want a good controller for it, you have many options – but the DJC.4 would be an excellent choice. Its features, build quality, sound quality, and portability all rate very high for the price.

Ironically, if you spend the $300 to upgrade to Virtual DJ Pro 7, that’s more than you’d pay for a Kontrol F1 and Traktor Pro together. But that’s the state of digital DJ gear right now. NI has largely made its hardware a gateway to its software, making Traktor Pro the best bundled program available right now. However, that takes nothing away from the DJC.4 as a piece of hardware. While at first glance it may look like just another one of the many “me-too” products out there, it’s a sleeper in the controller world.

If the DJC.4 seems like the controller for you, you can purchase it here on Amazon

  • Pingback: Stanton DJC.4 Reviews | Gear Leech()

  • uilton

    PLEASE HELP ME! I HAVE A DJC4 , BUT, MASTER OUT HAVE A SOUND VERY VERY LOW! I NEED INCREASE VOLUME GAIN AT MAX AND ALSO
    MIXER GAIN. THIS IS A DEFECT???

  • adenm

    its done it before an i have no idea how to fix it again i turn on the controller with the software and computer following directions but the controller will not work it turn on but with not be compatible with the computer please help!?

  • chuchocalle

    I have an issue with the master volume and sampler volume they both quit working, anyone have troubleshooting Ideas? I have tried different versions of VDJ and Traktor and still same problem.

  • HelpPlease

    I need help please I just got the controler today in the mail and I can’t seem to get sound out of the headphones. The headphones work fine as I have use them in other devices and they work, Please tell me if I’m doing something wrong. Also the secondary card is my controler Im freaking out please please help

  • ghostphace

    I’m having trouble mapping djc.4 to traktor pro 2 after upgrading. After importing the map there is no In-port/Out-port options next to device name under controller manager. Before the upgrade there was no problem, any advice would greatly help my frustration!

  • johndiz0

    has anyone be able to get the inputs to work on mixxx for timecodes. i mapped it but it only works with one input instead of two. just wondering if anyone has a good mapping where everything on this controller is useful. thanks

    • Jive

      You got it mapped for MIxxx? 😀 Are you willing to share that? I have been looking around but not much luck there. Cheers.

  • ali bombay

    I bought the djc.4 and I need the Traktor Pro mapping. Can someone help? thanks

  • Anonymous

    Maybe a stupid question, but how can this controller be considered a 4 deck controller, when it is missing the channel controls for 2 decks? I only see two on it.

    scamo

    • freshar

      Theres a button(next to that blue light) that toggles between deck A/C left side, and B/D on the right… The the channel faders control the respectable side

  • Nimbus

    Hey lads – thanks for the honest review. I did a tutorial about this model on my website.. for using this controller with Traktor Scratch, and using traktor to use this controller as a conventional mixer. maybe you lot at DJTECHTOOLS can do a better tutorial for us?? I don’t think most people realize how powerful ASIO4ALL can be to power up your controllers features!
    http://djnimbu4.wix.com/nimbustek

  • Magilla

    My experiences with stanton have all been good. A good piece of equipment for the $$$.

  • EvO

    This is an absolutely killer deal for a controller of this magnitude. The only other controller out there with the amount of potential in this price range is the novation twitch, which I’ve used and hated every moment of it. It was terribly glitchy and lack of jogs make it pretty worthless. I’ve been running the DJC.4 for about a month now with no problems at all. Everything is extremely solid build wise and faders and knobs have a pretty nice resistance with no notice of them giving out or loosing said resistance. For a Stanton product i was a little wiery at first, but after playing the hell out of this controller i would give it a 8 outta 10. The only gripe is the plastic buttons on the cue/loop/effect section. Replace them with a rubber style and you’ve got a 9…My go to controller is the NS6, but this is a perfect compact package to take out and about while maintaining a hell of a lot of control in Traktor.

  • bob Dusan

    It’s a great controller. I just wish there were more mappings available for it. *hint hint, cough cough*

  • Mihaly

    Ive had many problems with stanton, with their internal software of their cdjs for ex, and their poor quality products that dont last at all…its just me but i would never buy stanton again, yea its cheap and cheerful but whos to say I wouldnt save for a couple of more months so I could get the more expensive S4 that I know I can run over with my car and itll still work? its not that hard to map kill switches after all

    • Megalex

      This is manufactured for Stanton by a company in HK… who make extremely good products for a number of top brands. They even make some of their own products under the VOXOA label. I have the C60 which is the sister model to the one above… but it has way more features… BOOTH OUT, MIC TONE CONTROL, DVS DIRECT, STAND ALONE MIXER MODE, ILLUMINATED JOG WHEELS.. and it works with Tractor Scratch natively.

      Its the best piece of kit I ever had..
      http://djnimbu4.wix.com/nimbustek

      • Noflex

        OH, and an S4 is a cheap plastic console with parts that fall out (headphone jack for example). Not good value even now that the prices is reduced by a few hundred $ already

      • IHateChineseKnockoffs

        I went to your website. You offer “reviews” about Chinese knockoff dj controllers. In one section you claim that the stanton above is a “rebranded version of the Voxoa C50” (which is the name of the knockoff controller). Go away.

        • UrAMoron

          haha you do know that the Voxoa factory makes this Stanton controller right? Stanton has them put the Stanton logo on it and then Stanton markets it as their own. So technically your hated Chinese knockoff is the original and Stanton has the copy. Try to learn a little about how the world works before blindly spewing your ignorant bullshit. Unless you like looking like a retard. Just sayin’

  • Mark Marlatt

    I have had nothing but issues with stanton! even if the product was ok, i still would never buy anything they make again. the customer service is downright terrible, and the products i have used broke all the time. even broken after getting repairs.

  • any chance we will see jog wheel Fx mapping for this controller? i love the Eq kills, something the S2 doesnt have, but ean’s custom S2 mappings are the shit! my next purchase just may be the DJC 4 instead of an S2.

  • tr4gik

    meh … TOY.

  • I like the 4×4 button matrix. Instant Grat anyone?

  • mmullen68

    Ever since i bought my s2 I’ve griped that i wish the eq’s where push button for kills like this offers. I also would have liked to see the s2’s gain knob push button to switch it between gain and a filter but on both recommendations I got shot down by forum members saying push button is horrible for eq’s. glad this proves them wrong. Still for the price of 350 you could get an s2 for about the same price and map it to control 4 decks just like this one does. I wouldn’t consider this new Stanton a 4 deck anyways . Its a 2 deck that can be mapped for 4 just like every other 2 deck controller. am i the only one who sees 2 volume faders?

    • You could always map the A/C & B/D botton select to change the EQs to filters?

    • Andrew Fountain

      I told you they were crap probably… and they are after about a couple of months of use they get very wobbly and make the mixer feel terrible to use although my comments are based on the Reloop Digital Jockey 2, which is what this is parts wise as they are made by the same manufacturer. I could be wrong…

      Synthet1c

  • I’d like to know why Markkus thinks this would be good for a mobile DJ?

  • ilasik

    What do you mean by your last sentance”…it’s a sleeper in the controller world.” Did you mean to say “keeper” Is this a typo?

    • “sleeper” is a term that i’ve heard in the context of cars mostly. it refers to a car (controller) that appears stock or vanilla on the outside but actually has high performance upgrades on the inside. he meant it’s nothing that would grab your attention but when you really analyze its attributes it is very functional and can keep up with sexier models like the S2.

    • In the US we say something is a sleeper when it is not considered a threat but becomes one.

  • DJ Freez’

    Good review, thanks. But how would you say this compares to the Reloop Terminal Mix 2? It seems that the two are quite comparable, having an almost similar price, both being 4-channel controllers, though with 2 line faders. Serato on the Terminal Mix 2 is a big plus for me, but how do the two compare in terms of build quality and options?