Not inside or outside the house smart guy, inside or outside the computer! If the right controller was out there, would you like it to control all the functions inside the software including mixing? Or, would you prefer to mix on a real mixer and use all the functions of devices like the VCI-100 for other purposes?
INSIDE THE MACHINE
This has several advantages including recording, consistency and centralized control. First of all, if you are mixing inside traktor its very easy to record all of your sets. You can even record them ass mix files live, go back fix any mistakes and then bounce it to audio. Next, consistency is a wonderful thing. You never have to worry about showing up and playing on a janky mixer with terrible EQs. You always get the eq, effects and cue settings you prefer and they will never break! Finally, centralized control is a big factor. while mixing with the vci-100 in a club I often put it to the right of the mixer on top of a turntable. This works out 90% of the time but having all the controls you need in one ergonomic space that you can place right in front of you is better. When I am doing controller-ism or juggling routines then I have to use the crossfader on the vci-100 because it needs to be right next to the controls that are triggering the cue points.
OUTSIDE THE BOX
This has several advantages including sound quality, number of controls, layout and convenience but largely its a personal preference thing. First the sound quality is better when you use an analogue mixer. Not only are the EQs and pre-amps warmer and add more sonic punch to your mix but they are going to naturally distort the signal in a smooth way as you turn it up. Inevitably all djs find themselves wanting to turn up the signal louder and louder. With a professional mixer like Rane, no matter how hard you push it their built in analogue limiters will never distort and the mix always sounds pro. In digital and, there is a very low and unforgiving ceiling. once you push it past that point the signal will start to digitally distort and sound really poor, even if your playing high quality files.
The layout and amount of controls on a mixer of course doubles your arsenal. Often, especially on the vci-100, there are not enough midi controls to cover all the different things you can do in today’s software programs. The mixer gives you solid knobs, faders and gain controls that are usually easy to use and well spaced freeing up your midi controller to really tweak out the tracks. Finally, there is a convenience factor. Dj booths are almost always centered around the mixer. All volume controls for the master and booth come from there and the monitors are placed to make that position the optimal spot for listening. Sure you can stick your controller on top of the mixer but that does not look very pro and without some foam your gear will slide around uncontrollably.
If your mixing at home and you don’t own a mixer chances are mixing inside makes more sense financially. if you plan on playing in clubs, however, you may want to give some serious thought to the best way to handle this import part of your dj setup. Ultimately though, we want to know what you think? Do you prefer to mix in or out of the box?