As the line between producing and DJing becomes more obscure, companies like Vestax are creating products that are aimed at filling the grey area. With its traditional-style mixing console layout and excellent build quality, the VCM 600 makes it possible to bring the studio to the club and comes with its own mapping tucked inside Ableton Live. It’s easy to set up and use for both studio applications and live performances, so let’s take a closer look and see if it might be right for you.
Built Like an Armory
Throughout the years, Vestax has set the standard for build quality. The line faders are the perfect tension for precise adjustments but not too stiff for quick cuts, while the crossfader is classic and light. The knobs are small but rubberized and fine for studio work, though a little tight for my tastes. The controller feels heavier than its 11 pounds, but that translates into a durable product that should last a long time.
The Set Up
Pulling this out of the box and plugging it in took no longer than going into Ableton’s MIDI preferences and selecting VCM 600 as a control surface, about 2 minutes total in four steps.
- Select VCM 600 as a control surface in the preferences.
- Then set up 6 channels and drop an EQ 3 on each channel.
- After playing a full set with it, I decided to remap the pans to the lows of an EQ 8 and give myself a four channel eq on the VCM. This was as easy as clicking MIDI Learn in Ableton and turning the knobs.
- The last thing you will want to do is drop some effects on the A and B sends. After that, it’s done and ready to rock.
Who Needs Another Controller?
If you use Ableton as your primary production DAW and want to play out with it, this controller will fill both those needs. I loved the build quality and layout of everything on this surface. The black version of the VCM 600 is one of the most stunningly dressed controllers on the market. From a pure performance perspective, I found the buttons were too small to find and press quickly while performing and the knobs were a tad too stiff for quick EQ changes. Overall though, it’s a well-made controller that lends itself more to some great Ableton studio work. – Nisus
Love the look of this. I don’t really Dj, but I’m looking for a controller for performing productions live and I think this could be it! It could get me into digital DJing too which is something I have wanted to do for a while, a possible one stop shop?
I like the look of the APC but its very big and has too much going on… and from what I can tell the 600 can pretty much do the same stuff with less. Am I right in thinking that the 8 effects knobs map to the selected channels device rack macro knobs? If not I’m sure it would be easy enough to achieve and would mean this controller would wipe the floor with the APC.
Also, any idea of footprint difference between the two?
I would hardly call the tempo adjustment backwards. It is obviously modelled on a turntable pitch adjustment, and anyway, it is all MIDI, so you could change it if you really wanted to…
what kind of sound card would be required to use the features the vcm has?
Well I picked up my VCM 600 just on a week ago with intent on using in Traktor Pro and (hopefully) learning a little about Ableton. I had mapping for Traktor written on paper ready to go for four decks and two effects units. The mapping has a very strong focus on loop control. I am able to control loop, loop in, loop out and beatjump for all four decks without using deck focus.
The mapping requires deck focus to access 8 hotcues and also only uses one very simple single function shift modifier. Once my tracks are beat gridded I do not have to touch the trackpad or keyboard for any other functions I use in Traktor. This makes me very happy 🙂
So far the VCM 600 has exceeded my expecations. Firstly, when I plugged it in it worked in Win7 64 which was a nice surprise. Secondly, the improvement in workflow from my my Xone 3D is great (I really do miss those filters and fader curves though…). Thirdly, the faders and knobs feel tight and solid; this is a trait that I personally like. Finally, the thing is quite large and built like a tank. I’d estimate it to weigh around 4kg. I would not recomend it for the those who are conscious of how much weight they are carrying if you’re a working DJ.
Coming from 1200’s, to a Xone 3D, to the 600 there were two concerns I had. Firstly, I thought I’d miss the jog wheels a little. Secondly, I thought I’d be buying something “not as nice” (simply becuase it’s not Technics or A&H). I don’t scratch, but it does feel very natural to pitch bend with a wheel. This hasn’t really bothered me at all. On the second point it IS nice. In fact it’s really nice.
If I was to have a whinge about something it would be the buttons. For my taste they feel a little too ‘snappy’ (especially when compared to A&H soft touch niceness). This is only a very minor concern for me personally, but I know for a lot of the controlerists this would be a very significant point.
This is the first time I’ve owned a piece of gear and haven’t thought “this would be better if it had/changed…”. This is probably a fair indication of my perception and experience of the product.
I’m probably one of the few people in this comment section that owns both the APC and VCM600. I’ll have to echo the comments of Hidden Driveways in that they are both aimed at different uses.
I’ve never dragged my APC out for a live show, and see it almost exclusively as a studio tool. While the clip matrix is nice, you really have to be familiar with where all of your clips are in order to accurately trigger them.
The VCM600, imo, works better for clip triggering with its combination of rotary knob for scene selection + channel play/stop. Plus, there’s the dedicated layout of EQ knobs/kills and filter controls for each channel; which gives the VCM far better channel strip capabilities than the APC. My only gripe is the red marking on the EQ knobs which is hard to see in a dark club… easily fixed with a thin brush and white paint, tho.
APC is great for mapping to devices and doing tweaks on single channels at a time, or adjusting sends, or integrating with Max. As a performance tool in the DJ vein, it falls a bit short.
Mudo, what the hell did you say? lol!!
nice review, annoying camera work.
haha good to see the APC fanbois out in force 😛
Good review guys. top work
i have to agree with hidden driveways that the VCM is more ‘dj friendly’ than the APC. two totally different beasts. I have a VCM and am loving it. it just oozes quality.
4 decks in traktor plus 8 ableton tracks = APC killer
and if you want a button grid then pick up a monome or launchpad
This review arrives soooooooo late.
@ Christoph the opening track is my new one Urma. You can download it here Urma by djNisus
@Mudo: don’t suppose you like Pioneer, do you?
I saw booth open and I repair these things. Vestax is not “so” quality and it is more or less the same “crappy” faders as Faderboard and overpriced.
And good equipement cost extra for a reason, sure… because people who believes in “brenchs” and prefer pay for crap.
It is not only about vestax or free hate. My macbook (white polycarbonate) is crappy too with cracking topcase…
please open your eyes and argue with knowledge and facts.
To see and try out a VCM-600 in person is a lot different than making a judgement call from looking at it on a computer screen. This is a very different controller from an APC40, and comparing the two really doesn’t make sense. The VCM-600 is the ultimate controller for a DJ who wants to control the EQ on multiple decks. The mappings work very well, you can scroll around and trigger clips easily. You practically don’t have to touch your computer at all. The APC is all about the secret handshake, grid control, and the ringed LED knobs that map to which ever device you select. It’s an awesome functionality, but it really suits the studio more for my needs. In my opinion, The VCM-600 is a DJ tool all the way, even more so than the APC40. The VCM-600 is a killer tool. Good equipment costs extra for a reason.
Just need to add something here… why are we complaining so much about the price if we consider this is bridging the gap between live and studio and can be used for both. Studio equipment is notoriously expensive, especially if it had a name of quality such as Vestax behind it. We can justify spending extra money on arcade buttons because we really need to if you really need this controller for production/live work i’m sure you’ll find the money from somewhere 🙂
I was just asking myself about the opening track of the video. Can you help with a little hint? Thanks a lot
Is there any mapping for traktor pro?? i have the vcm600 and i try to map it, but i have no time with my job and i dont want to spend the few time i have mapping it. thanks!
How Much? When can we purchase? Where? Audio I/O…pleeeeasse.
BTW what is the deal with the new Akai APC40 or APC20….can that work with Traktor? Anyone have feedback on that whole gig?
APC40 is a lot more customizable now that Max4Live is out. Plus the APC40 has a big fan base with great tutorials + help. the VCM600 is just gonna be another slider controller with no creative aspiration thought into it.
Sounds good 🙂
thanks for the “constructive” camera tips guys. That was actually me behind the camera for a change- and I dont have too much experience doing hand-held video work with an SLR (we use the nikon d-5000). I was also doing all focusing on the fly, which was a challenge. In the future, we will stick to more tri-pod mounted shots until I get the new Pentax HD with auto focus- whoo-hoo!
I really want one of these but they are just too expensive 🙁
I use the VCM-600 with a Novation Launchpad (which makes up for the missing clip launch matrix of the VCM). If you wanna use the Ableton EQs and AutoFilter, this is a dream combination.
You can also use the Ableton EQ8 with the VCM without further adjustments when you turn off frequency band #4.
Good review but FYI that pitch fader is the standard style for those who use Turntables. Away is pitching down toward is up.
@Johbremat : sorry i make a tipo, my VCM-600 works perfect for W7 32 bits, i just say i don’t know for 64 bits.
I thought it was a solid review. Camera stuff didn’t bother me in the slightest, and the reviewer covered the stuff you needed to know in a efficient fashion.
@elefanc: There might be something wrong with your x86/32-bit installation if you’re having issues. The VCM-600 is a compliant controller and doesn’t require any drivers.
I’ve plug’n’played on XP, Vista and 7 in all their incarnations and it just works.
One year i use the VCM-600, both with Ableton Live and Traktor Pro. Mapping is very easy to do for Traktor Pro, and allows to control 4 decks, 4 Fx and navigation in playlist and collection. The only thing it miss is an area for hotcues, so i use the VCM-600 with a PadKontrol.
The only drawbacks i see, like said above, is the lack of visual feedback for the knobs (thin red line is dark club is hard to see), and the lack of official 32 bits driver, although it works on Windows 7 64 bits. But i don’t make a deep test session, i prefer to rely on my W7 32 bits, makes me safe.
yes please, better camera works, this give nausea with all that movement and scene change! 🙂
Keep up the good work!, ok review, i would like to see more of a more deep analysis of the gear.
I see twice inside and faders are the same crapiest…
really expensive, the real differences are:
apc: live true integration.
@the caper: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=22Dn1LR9LRY
i like the bit about durabability and portability, well said Nisus, i think there is a very fine line between the two and its hard to please all but im waiting for a 4 channel midi controller that has an equall balance of both,
Expensive and low quality. Best Apc40 (with innofader) by far…
Think you’ve got it the wrong way ’round. The VCM-600 is a far better piece of equipment than the APC40, and if you absolutey MUST have a matrix, supplementing the VCM with a Monome or Livid Block would do the trick.
Camera work makes this review a bit of a pain to watch, could have been a whole lot better
whoa. what’s up with the MTV camera work?
good review otherwise.
whoa. what’s up with the MTV cameral work.
good review otherwise.
Hold the video camera still!
A black VCM-600 would be sick. built in i/o ?
Expensive and low quality. Best Apc40 (with innofader) by far…
Any news on when the Black VCM-600 is going to be released?
Terrible camera work, ok review. One bigger problem with the Vestax is that you cannot see the position of the rotary knobs in a darker environment. Then the red knob lines are barely readable, so I made them white with a marker.
Furthermore I think the Vestax is quite amazing 🙂
For movies about how to program the Vestax smart with Ableton for DJing, please go to
Just want to respond to that Video.
I like the way you point out the important features quick and easy.
But please keep the fingers off the Lens.
Blurry images might be a stylistic device but it its really annoying if you use it too often.
You should try to shoot stills of the interesting sections of such a controller and move the camera some times but not all the time.
But still like your Videos! They give a much better feel of controllers and how to handle them than just reading an article with pictures.
Keep up the great work guys!
Love the review Nisus, the unit looks really nice, seems to me to be a jack of all trades, master of none? Is this the point though? Well made and useful in a few areas but are there more dedicated controllers for live and studio uses?
p.s no disrespect as I love the site but was the camera work meant to be like that? 😉
Amazing timing with this one! As an unsatisfied Zero8 owner Ive been looking at this for the past couple of days. But as I understand it, it suffers the same major issue as the Zero8… No 64-bit drivers.
Much too expensive
oh yeah ……this will replace my korg nano Kontrol…..how bout a ableton contest to so i can get my hands on that!
not first! but this is really cool….this will make dj with ableton alot more fun….