Review: Pioneer’s DDJ-WeGo and Vestax’s Spin 2 Go Head-to-Head

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As the little $20 DJ software that could, Algoriddim Djay has been stepping up its hardware support game. Two compact new controllers — Vestax Spin 2 and Pioneer DDJ-WeGo — natively support Djay with a sub-$350 price tag and then divert from there. The Spin 2 directly connects to iPad and iPhone, but only for Algoriddim products, while the WeGo broadens your horizons with Traktor and Virtual DJ support.

Reviewed: Pioneer DDJ-WeGo controller
Price: $399 (MSRP), $275 (on Amazon)
Available: Now
Ships with: Virtual DJ LE software, USB cable
Weight: 3.5 pounds (1.6 kg)
Dimensions: 15 x 8.2 x 2.6 inches (66.3 x 35.8 x 7.1 cm)

 

Reviewed: Vestax Spin 2 controller
Price: $349.95 MSRP (on/in Apple’s store)
Available: Exclusively in Apple Stores in the USA (additional availability later); available now in other retailers outside the USA
Ships with: AC adapter, USB cable, Djay for Mac license
Weight: 3.2 pounds (1.45 kg)
Dimensions: 13.9 x 9.8 x 1.9 inches (354 x 250 x 47 mm)

THE BUILD

Even though both the DDJ-WeGo and Spin 2 come from DJ companies with an unimpeachable pedigree in constructing high-end, roadworthy gear, these compact controllers probably won’t escape the nagging “toy” comparison we often see leveled at controllers targeting a casual or beginner audience.

To be sure, both units are somewhat limited for their price. The Spin 2 only works with Apple hardware — Macs, iPads, iPhones, and iPod Touches — and Algoriddim software: Djay for Mac and iOS, and Vjay for iOS. A 30-pin connector cable attached to the back lets you plug in and charge Apple mobile devices directly, but only when the Spin 2’s included AC adapter is plugged in. (Another adapter, sold separately, is needed for newer iOS gadgets with the Lightning plug.)

[Editorial Update, Jan. 23, 2013: The Spin 2 only officially supports Algoriddim applications, and was reviewed as such. However, we can confirm that it can also work with certain other software and apps, but we do not assume it will work with everything the same way an open-ended MIDI controller will. Thanks also to our diligent readers who reported in the comments that their Spin 2 was working with Traktor 2.6, DJ Player 5.7 for iOS, etc.] 

While Pioneer’s DDJ-WeGo thankfully supports MIDI over USB, it still officially only supports Djay, Virtual DJ, and Traktor Pro 2.6 with the use of a TSI file available on Pioneer’s site. And though the WeGo makes efficient use of its small surface area, it understandably can’t offer a control set on par with larger, more deluxe controllers. It does offer some wicked LED light shows courtesy of the jog wheels, which have to pull quadruple control duty to make up for other dedicated controls.

Compact and light is the name of the game for both of these controllers. As such, their mostly plastic constructions keep the weight down, but in exchange sacrifice a degree of the travel-ready toughness that so many other Vestax and Pioneer products are known for.

Control elements of both controllers mirror their predecessor. Neither company skimped on the touch-sensitive jog wheels, which on both units are very responsive, have great rotation action, and inspire confidence with their sturdiness. On both units, the knobs and faders feel solid, but I don’t think either one got the top-shelf buttons. It’s not that they feel cheap as in fragile, but the hard-clicking buttons on both controllers are neither the most effective nor comfortable for playing rhythmically.

Neither controller really trumped the other on build quality, but the WeGo’s body does feel slightly more stable, and it earns some brownie points for having five bottom-panel colors available: red, green, violet, black, or white.

THE CONTROLS

The Spin 2’s control layout looks a bit more traditional, and simply offers more on its larger surface.

On the other hand, the WeGo relies on its brilliantly-colored jog wheels to carry the load for tweaking effects, scratching and track searching (via the Shift key). Five buttons above each wheel turn on various modes (including three effects and two controls variable by the software), and then the jog wheel adjusts the parameter for those modes. With the effects engaged, the wheels launch a multi-colored light display to let you know their function has changed. Effects can be triggered simultaneously, and the wheel will then adjust them all at once. It’s a clever system, and the jog wheel makes a great knob so to speak. The only drawback is if you get absent-minded and start to tweak the wheel when it is actually in scratch mode.

Another four buttons under the WeGo’s wheel set and trigger the cue points, as well as samples when in Sampler mode. These buttons feel ever so slightly more playable than the Spin 2’s buttons, and they are better placed under the wheel, rather than above them like on the Spin 2.

On the Spin 2, you only have 3 cue buttons per deck (on the hardware; the Djay software supports 6 per track), but you get more Bounce Loop and Instant FX buttons, which are feature specific to Djay. Bounce Loops trigger rapid-fire repeating loops when you hold down the 1/8, 1/4, or 1/2 buttons, and the track picks back up where it would be linearly when you release the button. These are fun to mess with, and with the Shift key, they launch Instant FX, which are short bursts of preset effects in Djay.

The Spin 2 also has a more flexible AutoLoop section of three buttons: one to activate/deactivate the loop, and one each to halve or double the loop length after that. The WeGo’s sparse looping section consists of a single push-button encoder that sets and adjusts autoloops or sets and adjust manual loops with the Shift key.

Another Spin 2 extra, two track-searching touchstrips sit above each deck section. Unfortunately, these don’t feel as precise in their searching as we’ve seen with other touchstrips. But it also feels as if the touchstrips are redundant, as track searching using Shift+jog wheel worked just fine. It seems like a wasted opportunity not to use the touch strips for some kind effects tweaking or blending instead.

One advantage the WeGo has over the Spin 2 is the ability to scroll through effects using the Shift+FX buttons. With the Spin 2, you have to select the active effects from the software.

COMPATIBILITY

With its locked-down approach to the Spin 2, Vestax has gone full-blown Apple on our asses. The unit only works with Mac computers or Apple gadgets, and only works with Algoriddim iOS apps and Djay for Mac. We understand the argument for designing a closed hardware/software system to ensure lockstep compatibility between the two and a stable user experience. However, relegating a perfectly capable controller to a single company’s software just seems like a waste of resources, even for a big baller who can plunk down the $350 on a Discover card like it ain’t no thang. Probably some enterprising young evil genius could crack it, but that’s beyond the scope of this article.

Before this sounds too callous, we definitely respect the growing momentum for making mobile devices a legit platform for music creation and DJing. The Spin 2 is ahead of the curve there. If or when an iPad could carry your entire music collection and DJ software sophisticated enough for pros, migrating to tablets could be as natural as migrating from record crates to hard drives was.

In the here and now, a Spin 2 controlling Algoriddim Vjay for iPad sounds like a pretty viable option for running visuals at certain parties, where a VJ is often an afterthought or non-existent. Vjay has quietly become a powerful creative tool for live, tempo-synced visuals. The Spin 2 comes with a license for Djay for Mac. The iOS versions of Djay and Vjay are sold separately.

With the WeGo, you get a controller that seems about as compact as an all-in-one controller get without sacrificing too many options, 4-deck control, and MIDI-over-USB, although official software support for the unit is still limited. WeGo supports Djay for Mac natively and comes with Virtual DJ LE for Mac or Windows. (Virtual DJ Pro 7.2 also adds WeGo support with a custom skin, visible at right) With a downloadable TSI file, Traktor Pro 2.6 rounds out the supported WeGo software at the time of this publication.

The WeGo doesn’t have the same direct access to Djay-specific functions (like Bounce Loops and Instant FX) that the Spin 2 does, but it’s also the obvious choice of the two if you want to use it for anything other than Algoriddim software.

The Sound Cards

Both Vestax and Pioneer are staying vague about the audio resolution of the Spin 2 and WeGo sound cards, calling them such things as “studio grade.” For that reason, I’d guess that they are 16-bit, rather than 24-bit, but that’s just a guess.

Suffice to say, I noticed little remarkable difference between the sound of these units, aside from a bit of a beefier low end emanating from the WeGo. The WeGo also had slightly louder sound levels, although neither unit was ear-splittingly loud. You can use both the WeGo’s headphone outputs at once, and with no volume drop-off.

Just like a 2013 Hyundai will be more reliable than any car from 30 years ago, as components get less expensive and processes improve, low-cost sound cards today can (not always) sound just as good as the best of the best from 10-15 years ago. Both of these units sound quite good for the price. Using all the same cables as on the Spin 2, the WeGo introduced some noise and hum into my speakers that the Spin 2 did not, but nothing too drastic. It certainly wasn’t noticable once the music started pumping.

*The Djay software can use your Mac’s built-in mic or mic input to record samples.

LET THE RIDDIM HIT ‘EM

While this is not a review of Djay, let’s look at the prospect of using it to DJ. It continues to add performance features, such as multiple effects and looping panels that neither of these controllers can match 1-for-1 on a hardware-to-software basis. It offers slick iTunes integration, tempo detection and beat matching, key detection and key matching, browsing of songs according to the Circle of Fifths, rudimentary effects and sampler, and a visually pleasing interface—all for $19.99 on the desktop.

Algoriddim Djay for Mac looks the same whether its used with the Pioneer DDJ-WeGo or Vestax Spin 2.

Sure, it’s basic; sure, the manuals and marketing materials say things like “anyone can DJ!” Well, can’t anyone DJ? Of course they can. To be really good, it helps to practice… a lot. But if someone wants to stash one of these controllers in the living room so they can spin their iTunes collection on a Friday night, more power to them. (And if they want it to look really cool in the dark, I might recommend the WeGo.)

While little, these all-in-one controllers pose big differences to prospective buyers. They both natively support Algoriddim’s Djay, with the Spin 2 adding some dedicated controls for Djay-specific functions. If someone imagines that Djay is all they’ll ever want out of DJing, and particularly if they want to use it on an iPad or an iPhone, the Spin 2 is probably the way to go.

With the Pioneer WeGo, you lose the direct iPad/iPhone connection, but you gain: a more feature-rich software in Virtual DJ LE, compatibility with Traktor Pro 2.6, a slightly more playable control layout, a slightly louder and more bassy sound, and—wait for it—pretty lights! Overall, it probably gives a DJ more room to grow and expand a setup and a mixing skill set.

Markkus Rovito is the DJ TechTools technical editor. Want him to review some gear? Let him know in the comments or on his Twitter.

  • The Governor

    Thanks for a great article!

  • DJ KNIX

    I had the chance to try them out last week and i gotta say im impressed with their performance DDJ-WEGO

  • Does ddj wego work with iPad 2 and what adapter do I need?

  • WH4LE

    Djay is what I used in my first year of dj-ing, just trying it out to see if I was any good… Even now, playing main rooms in clubs all across Melbourne over 4 CDJ2000’s and some of the most expensive gear on the market I love coming home to practice in my room using Djay… I have a Traktor Pro 2.6 and have used Serato Itch but… nothing is quite like dragging a track from your iTunes library, having the software get the BPM in under 2 seconds (and is one of the most accurate that I’ve found) and have the key of the track…

    I would 100% recommend Djay to anyone!

    I’m just trying to consider if I buy the Wego for my gigs in smaller clubs (where they only have 2 decks set up… I NEED 4 decks 😛 )… Can you tell me what the sound levels are like compared to a CDJ into a club mixer? Thanks a lot guys 😀

  • Quacken

    Im new to dj’ing and beat making. Regardless of your experience level I cant understand why a product would receive so much scrutiny. More specifically why dj’s seem to be so picky about what hardware someone else might use and how they might use it.
    I was curious to mod my dj hero controller to gain a piece of hardware for free, versus hundreds of dollars for real equipment. Theres no such thing as toys unless they are being used like toys. I want a wego Midi fighter combo. Im lost in most programs. but I make beats with my hands in everyday life, with a midi fighter and a wego I feel I could have a nice combo. If a fellow DJ feels my equipment is amateur, well, it is, I am. But if I have fun with it, thats all thats important. I feel the key word in this article is “Room to grow” Meaning its a place to start. The little discrepancies between buttons and jog wheels is all about preference. It all comes down to how and what works best for you personally.

  • andretti

    Ok so I’m trying to get your opinion on the Vestax VCI 100 MK2.

    I’m guessing there isn’t a lot of love for it on this forum.

    At the moment a new MK2 sells cheaper then the Spin 2 over here.

    Surely it would be the better buy for Djay 4, as it is also natively supported?

  • Gábor

    DJ Player also supports the Vestax Spin 2 from version 5.7, so it’s NOT DJay only.

    Here is a video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BB8vfCSiGzI

    It extends this unit to 6 cue points directly available, and you can easily do a custom mapping with jog FX or fader FX.

    (Btw Spin2 sends MIDI over traditional USB to both Mac and Windows.)

  • Does anyone really, seriously want jog wheels? Knobs do a more (space) efficient work at controlling effects.

    I swear, the most time I see jog wheels being used is when someones pickup for the night is in the booth, puts the headphones on her head and pretends to “scratch the wheels” while her girlfriend is taking a picture.

    • LoopCat

      Can you use the jog wheels for pitch bending?

    • evil twin

      I do. Whenever I use tracks that are vinyl-rips, you cannot apply a perfect beatgrid to them. Or some tracks that are played live. Manual adjustment is necessary and jogwheel is much better for that purpose, rather than, say, pitch-bend buttons-joysticks-whatever. Sure, I could do the same with a pitch fader. I guess that mostly it’s an old habit. But I do feel more comfortable when I have the option of using jogwheels.

    • campark43

      Pretty narrow minded opinion. Just because u can’t professionally use jog wheels doesn’t mean shi.t. prob because you never used vinyl, there’s a big difference between pushing a button and feeling the beat through the jog wheel/or vinyl. If u ever get enough skill u might understand.

      Some great DJs don’t use the jog, andsome do.

      New schoolers/preschoolers will never understand. Practice and u might one day.

      Difference is I can mix without cue points set up. Without proper beat gridding set up. Much quicker workflow. If I need to beat match manually its easy for me. Practice.
      Can u do that with your buttons? Very slowly, in comparison.

      Jog wheel DJ is more versatile, no pre planned sets that suck, ability to handle requests with ease. Djing on the fly

  • David Thornhill

    I have to say the price tag is probably what killed both controllers for me. 400$ for a controller that “not compatible” with other dj software (ultimately we all know where there’s a will there’s a way) is pretty steep for someone who just wants to rock out on iTunes.

    There’s ton’s of controllers that are multiple times cheaper, fully midi mappable, and offer more options right on the unit itself.

    Though I am digging the way Pioneer went with the design and colors.

  • Apoco

    I don’t know where else to mention this, but numark has announced their new controller called the ns7 II. And it looks like they’re releasing their own version of the midi fighter 3d only its wireless.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the review. One thing that wasn’t clear to me was whether the WeGo sends out midi for all of the controls and could be used with any software that allows midi mapping?

    • Good question; Pioneer is being a bit coy about the details of the WeGo’s MIDI implementation. They’re only saying that it has MIDI communication and gives a small list of officially supported software. I don’t want to report any blanket statements that I can’t back up for certain, but the WeGo did show up as a MIDI device in some other software that I tried. And I don’t know for sure if all the controls send out MIDI, but traditionally in any controller that has MIDI, the only controls that may not send MIDI are those that are hardwired to sound card functions, like the Master Output knob.

  • Simone Phoenix

    I just got hold to the “first generation” Vestax Spin, just to have a little something on my desk attached to my Mac, you know, for messing around with ideas quckly. I was taught in a pretty traditional manner, with turntables/CDJs. If and when I go the route of a controller set-up, I’m thinking that this experience would give me a bit of a preview. So it’s all good. Postscript: when I finally go with one of the “big boys”, it’ll probably be Pio’s DDJ-SX. Just maybe. *grins*

  • Sam

    Thank you so much for this comparison!! I’ve been debating the WeGo vs. Spin2 ever since the latter was announced. This will certainly help inform my decision!

  • EveryDay

    Hey guys, I was really excited when we first got the spin2 into our DJ store and the first thing i did was test it with Traktor 2.6 – lo and behold it worked. It’s not in the list of supported devices and everything you read about it says ‘djay only’ but I made a really decent mapping of it easily enough in the controller editor section of the preferences pane right within Traktor. The one weird thing was that the ‘sampler’ button actually switches between midi layers and changes the messages being sent by the controller for the 3 loop/beat division buttons. So you can’t map anything to that button (and you have to remap those 3 buttons again if you switch) but it could be useful in the same vein as the layers on the A&H Xone:K2. That was weird to explain, but I urge the DJTT peeps to test it out for themselves. Peace

    • EveryDay

      Also it’s not exclusive to the apple store (maybe only in the US?)

      • Alexandros Roussos

        I also confirm this, I bought it online at Thomann.

        • You are correct, guys. the Spin 2 is exclusive to Apple Stores in the USA only, and that may change in the future. Sorry if I was unclear. I will make an amendment to the article to reflect this.

    • Alexandros Roussos

      I can confirm that my Vestax Spin 2 unit DOES work as a USB Midi controller and as a CoreAudio audio card with Traktor Pro 2.6 recognizing it out of the box. The only issue I had, which is probably due to my poor skills in MIDI-mapping, was to map the Jog wheels for scratching in the middle and nudging at the exterior part while using the “scratch button” to switch between scratch/nudge. If someone (maybe EveryDay) can help me on this I would be so glad, so far I mapped all the other buttons but the Jog wheels aren’t mapped as they should. If I can fix this, then I will share my mapping on DJTT’s mapping section. Once I’m done with the basic mapping, I’ll also explore some FX-focused or 4-Deck layers 🙂

      • EveryDay

        Hey hey, I had the same troubles mapping the jog wheels. The trick is in the way that the controller is sending its messages. As you first touch the wheel/let go of it, it will send a MIDI CC and as you hold it down it sends a MIDI note. You need to map ‘deck common>jog touch on’ to the CC and ‘deck common>jog turn’ to the note. Play around with adjusting the sensitivity of the jog turn mapping as I found 100% was crazy and about 60% seemed more reasonable. Another trick I found was to map a really small amount of ‘deck common>tempo bend (stepless)’ to the CC. This gives you a little bit of a better scratch response, like a turntable platter kicking back in underneath the record.

        • Alexandros Roussos

          Hi EveryDay, I actually also tried this way but I cannot get it to work, I have used the “Encoder” type of control in “relative mode” with sensivity at 60% and accelleration at 0. Could you be more specific on how you map the jog wheel ? I would also be interested to make use of the dedicated “scratch button” in order to enable/disable scratch mode and eventually use this button to switch between jog scratch and jog FX modes in a more advanced mapping. If you can share with us your mapping of at least one jog wheel, it could be really useful to anyone who wants to start his own mapping. Other controls should be easy to map.

          Thanks.

  • I look at these controllers and ask myself… Why? I get that there are a lot of iPads out there and that there are a lot of people with iPads looking to DJ, and there are a LOT of really good Controllers that can be jacked in through the Camera cable, but these controllers seem very expensive for what they provide. One or two year-old controllers with more features than these can be had for less money. Have we really come to the point where striving for excellence has now become a battle for who has the most bling-bling on their decks? If we were to rate these controllers against the Native Instruments Kontrol S2, Novation Twitch or anything else with the same capabilities, these controllers seem a little bit “me too” and not much else.

    • That is pretty narrow and you sound like my boy DJ Subculture who is a regular around here. All you house heads may like nothin but buttons but the rest of us have a use for the jog wheel. I want to upgrade my Console RMX because the jog wheels are not touch sensitive and I don’t want to spend more than $300. I play beats, hip hop, house, old school, whatever, I want to be able to scratch them in or cut them in, hard to do that with the original RMX. You can adjust the software but its still not perfect.

      • Crowdboy

        then don’t look for this toys!! look for 2 deck controllers such as Akiyama Pulsar, if it’s not sold in your country looks pretty much like the stanton djc4 and its a but cheaper.

        • djfourmoney

          I didn’t say it was a toy? The Stanton is cool but I like the newest Pioneer 2 channel that’s about to drop for $299. Its between that and the RMX 2 which has trigger keys as well.

  • If I have to choose a brand, between the two, no doubt Vestax. I think that compared to Pioneer offers an excellent balance between quality / price / performance.
    However, in this case, break a lance in favor of Pioneer. The Vestax Spin 2 is limited to users iOS / Mac. I had the opportunity to test first-hand the Pioneer DDJ-We go and found it very robust accurate and reliable. A good compact controller that offers more freedom compared to Spin 2.
    But this is just my point of view. ^ ^

    • Alexandros Roussos

      For having been using it for about a month, I can say the plastic design does feel cheap, considering I switched from a VCI-100 with a full metal case. However, it’s so great to carry a so light gear along with an iPad when you go to a party or a bar. It would have been perfect with an aluminium-made top that wouldn’t make it much heavier and would make it fit even better with Apple products.

      • Alexandros Roussos

        If someone is crazy enough to create an aluminum layer with a killer-Traktor Pro 2.6 mapping for the Vestax Spin 2, this will certainly bring a whole lot more value to the package 🙂 I know there are crazy enough people at DJTT so, just saying… 🙂

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