HID VS Timecode: Comparing Digital DJ Control Systems

If you walk into a club there are usually two “control” devices available: CDJs and turntables. If you are using Serato Scratch or Traktor Scratch, then you have the choice of controlling the software with these two hardware controllers adapted into the digital age.  You also have two ways of connecting the hardware with your computer via HID (digital over USB) or through timecode (audio signal over RCA). Which is better and why? That is the deep read for today. 


Timecode systems (or indeed Serato’s comparable NoiseMap system) are great for reading location and position information on a deck. If the common use for DVS is a user who wants to get the advantages of a computer based digital library but retain the control that they have from their existing decks, timecode/noisemap are the kings of digital vinyl. The user still has the ability to use a record, meaning that their analogue sound source now transmits audio that can be interpreted by a software system into digital information extremely transparently from the user’s perspective. We’ve covered timecode in the past – check out this article for more.


Sliding a timecode CD into a state-of-the-art CDJ-2000 will mean a number of limitations on functionality a CDJ offers. A big issue here is that any ‘smart’ functions of the CD deck when it comes to looking at the audio file, such as BPM detection, auto looping, and so on, won’t work – and functions that mess with the audio too much, like micro looping, will make the DVS think the signal is lost and either stop the audio or transfer playback to internal mode and start playing as normal. All the deck can see is the timecode audio, and it’s the DVS system that gets all the song information. Of course, you could use another controller to store loops and cues, but you’d have to be seriously enamored with the feel of a CD deck to use it at 50% power – which is why many of us have moved to controllers anyway.

When it comes to HID support, Serato is leading the way with Scratch Live. Connect a Pioneer CDJ2000 to a computer running SL, and you’ll be able to control everything in exactly the same way as the native operation of the CDJ, including extremely precise platter control.

Compare the basic HID support for the CDJ2000 in Traktor to that of timecode and you’ll be disappointed by HID. However, in Scratch Live the control is perfect, and really shows what’s possible (Virtual DJ has a pretty great stab at it too).


Platter control is one of the biggest advantages of HID – it allows the designer flexibility in communicating more complicated control types such as platter movement with the host software. The key parameter for platter control is not the platter’s current relative position but its angular velocity. Because of the relatively unpredictable timing of USB MIDI packet transfer this angular velocity (speed of rotation) must be calculated by the device itself.


MIDI: The VCI-100 sends a single relative CC which communicates both the direction and angular velocity of the jog wheel movement. This only allows 63 discrete velocity states for each direction for rotation.

HID: The Native Instruments S2 takes jog wheel does not communicate its velocity, but rather its 10 bit relative angular position at fixed time intervals of 1 ms. This allows the Traktor to calculate the velocity with far greater accuracy than is permitted by MIDI’s inconsistant timing and its low resolution messages.

One other advantage is data efficiency. In general, the state of each interface element on a controller will be communicated to the host with either a note or control change message. A MIDI message is generally three byes long, this means every time any interface element changes state a 3 byte message is sent to the host, if 16 buttons are pressed at once, a MIDI controller will take 48 bytes of data to tell the host. Each of these 16 messages must be parsed and interpreted separately by the host and each will arrive at a slightly unpredictable interval, making- time dependent control types such as platter movement more difficult to implement.

An HID device on the other hand can define the amount of data it uses to describe the state of each control type. For example, a button only requires a single bit to describe its current state, as it can only be off or on at any given time. If an HID device has 16 buttons, it would only need to use 2 bytes of data to communicate the state of all of its buttons.

Another example is the Native Instruments X1, another HID controller. It uses only 24 bytes to communicate the state of its 34 buttons, 8 potentiometers, and 4 encoders. Every time any element changes state, it communicates the state of every element with a single 24 byte packet, as well as which control group was the cause of the state change. This means the software can ignore anything that has not changed state and only needs to parse the relevant data.


These days the disadvantages are generally only relevant to hardware manufacturers who make devices for multiple software platforms. For now, only MIDI presents the advantage of being able to guarantee interoperability with virtually any audio software, whereas currently only Virtual DJ provides an interface which allows users or manufacturers alike to map functionality for any HID device.

Most (if not all) devices which are primarily designed for HID control of a partnered software also have a MIDI mode to allow use with different software platforms, so the user does not really miss out on much more than superior platter performance.


All that said, what exactly are the benefits of using timecode? What are the benefits of using HID?

Timecode Benefits:

  • Want to scratch? Timecoded vinyl is the most realistic sensory emulation
  • Works in almost all DJ CD players

Timecode Limitations:

  • Audio cables everywhere!
  • No information on the CD deck
  • CD deck functions like loop and reverse can cause problems for the DVS

HID Benefits:

  • Lower latency possible than timecode
  • Full use of all functions on the deck possible
  • Advanced displays

HID Limitations:

  • Requires a USB slot for every deck (and at some point you’ll forget a hub)
  • Inconsistant support across different host softwares

So, do you use timecode with CDJs? Do you use HID, or have an HID based controller that makes you look at MIDI with a pompous air of superiority? Maybe you’re still a pure CD/vinyl DJ. Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Note From The Editorial Desk: We’ve made a number of edits to this article to reflect feedback on the correctness of some of the information in the original publication. This article should only be treated as a basic introductory comparison of HID and Timecode, and in the future we’ll be taking a closer look at HID and it’s uses. Thanks for your feedback!  


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  • Tristan 'Twiz' Mackie

    If I wanted to use 2 cdj 2000nxs’ with a djm900srt and use timecode disc for serato dj am I stuck using standard RCA or can I use the digital audio out in order to free up some channels on the djm and reduce the cable clutter?

  • Eddy...

    Hi, is CD’s old fashion now? What’s the percentage of famous DJ’s using CD players?? Can i have an official review that CD players are not old fashioned?

  • DJ Kwest

    Hi all.
    I’m new to the digital era (oldskool vinyl jock here) and was wondering…
    I have a pair of CD decks (DZ1200s) and a Vestax vci-400.
    Do I need a DVS box to use timecode CDs to control my Traktor software, or will the vci-400 pass the info through properly to Traktor and translate accordingly?

  • Anonymous


  • Anonymous


  • Asdadas

    I switched to Serato to be able to use my CDJ 850s in HID and have never looked back. MIDI and Timecode are outdated technology in comparison. It seriously pisses me off that NI hasnt released advanced HID support on TSP. I guess they want to sell more traktor boxes..

  • Anshul Vishwakarma

    I’m confused. It seems like you’re using the terms HID interchangeably with MIDI and with Timecode. What is the difference between HID vs. MIDI vs. Timecode? Is MIDI the same as HID? What components do you need for Timecode vs. MIDI? I know that for MIDI you don’t need anything other than the MIDI Controller itself, but for timecode, do you need specific audio interface for the turntable that you’re using? Thanks

  • Anonymous

    Jeez, are you guys DJing or gaming? No offence, each to his/ her own, but IMHO a DJ shouldn’t even have to know (or even wonder) what all these acronyms stand for.

    Anyway, computers are on the way out. The next big thing will be rocks. Or trees. Trust me.

  • nem0nic

    “The key parameter for platter control is not the platter’s current relative position but its angular velocity.”

    That’s one part of the platter messaging, but what is primarily relied on is message frequency and the associated timestamps.  Software is looking not just at the message, but how many of them were sent.  And it’s looking at the timestamp on each of those messages to sort out that “inconsistent timing”.  The last byte of the CC message is only one small part of the whole – and not the “key parameter”.

    “MIDI: The VCI-100 sends a single relative CC which
    communicates both the direction and angular velocity of the jog wheel
    movement. This only allows 63 discrete velocity states for each
    direction for rotation.”

    You make it sound like there are only 126 possible steps in a given platter’s messaging if that platter is using a relative message.  This is not correct.  As I said above, the DJ software is looking at HOW MANY messages are being sent in a given interval.  Although it might not be good practice, you could send THOUSANDS of messages to the host software per second (if for example your platter sent 4000 counts of resolution in a single rotation). 

    “HID: The Native Instruments S2 takes jog wheel does not
    communicate its velocity, but rather its 10 bit relative angular
    position at fixed time intervals of 1 ms. This allows the Traktor to
    calculate the velocity with far greater accuracy than is permitted by
    MIDI’s inconsistant timing and its low resolution messages.”

    Your conclusion here isn’t as cut and dried as you make it out to be.  Again, platter messaging is about throughput.  So it’s easily possible (even commonplace, since platters like the NS7 use MIDI and have almost 4000 counts of resolution per rotation) to get more than one message per millisecond.  So much for “low resolution”.  And again, these messages are timestamped.  But you DID touch on something interesting here, and a real benefit of HID.  The Native platter uses a 10bit message.  That’s just about right for a platter or a pitch fader.  It’s nice to decide on an ideal resolution, and then be able to implement that (what is a standard 10bit MIDI message, and what is support for it like?).

    “A MIDI message is generally three byes long, this means every time any
    interface element changes state a 3 byte message is sent to the host, if
    16 buttons are pressed at once, a MIDI controller will take 48 bytes of
    data to tell the host.”

    And how likely is it that 16 buttons will be pressed all at once?  Isn’t it more likely that we can rely on at most 10 buttons being pressed at a given time – ESPECIALLY in DJ software?  And wouldn’t the normal mode of operation be MUCH LESS than that?  So at WORST, you’re comparing 24 bytes to 30 bytes – and at best MIDI might just need 3 or 6 bytes to reflect a state change.  Which brings us to…

    “It uses only 24 bytes to communicate the state of its 34 buttons, 8
    potentiometers, and 4 encoders. Every time any element changes state, it
    communicates the state of every element with a single 24 byte packet”

    Neither controller is sending traffic when it’s NOT in use.  And lets say that both the HID and the MIDI controller send state changes at 1 “tick” per millisecond.  Every time there is a state change – even if it’s just the use of one button – the X1 is sending a large 24 byte message.  Every PPR of the encoder on the X1 is sending a 24 byte message.  But on the MIDI controller, that same button push or encoder twist will only send a 3 byte message.

    What you’re saying the benefit of HID is that although it’s sending this gargantuan message every tick, one of the bits in that tick is the control group that originated the message – and that the software can just ignore the other stuff.  But that 24 byte HID message did hit the transport mechanism, didn’t it?  So why do we care that the software can decide to ignore part of the messaging if you’re still flooding the transport mechanism?

    MIDI on the other hand is only communicating the state of the changed controls.  So given identical controllers except that one is sending HID and one MIDI, I would think it highly likely that the MIDI device would tax the transport mechanism MUCH LESS than the HID controller would.  Turn one knob on the HID controller and you get a 24 byte message per tick.  Turn one know on the MIDI controller and you get a 3 byte message per tick.  If I use 8 controls on the MIDI device at once I get to 24 bytes, but what 8 buttons would I be pressing at once in ANY DJ software?

    This is what I meant by being “chatty”.

  • Chiebs

    If you don’t scratch, why do you use cds or vinyls instead of a hard drive?  And if you do scratch, you better be black; I’m not black – that’s why I don’t scratch.

    • Chiebs

      ok so what i said was dumb, here’s the “actual” question.  If you don’t scratch, why are you using any of the  two “control” devices available instead of just controlling the music in your hard drive with software.  I actually want to know if there is a logical reason.

    • Justin Turner

      DJ Shiftee isn’t black, in fact he’s one of the whitest DJs I’ve seen. Are you telling a DMC world champion not to scratch?

  • Jimmy

    Ok I’m going to have my say. Every time I see an article posted about this subject I get a little flutter of the old heart, as this is how I DJ, using Traktor Scratch Pro (HID) and CDJ’s. You may ask why? because it’s the closest thing to industry standard I can get and still use Traktor! honestly what is the point of timecode CD’s if they don’t act like CD’s in a CDJ 1000, 800 900 or any pioneer deck that lets you cue to a beat. The method of cueing cd’s using Traktor time code is totally different and pathetic, just another pointless skill to learn. On the other hand I get the DVS systems and can understand why people use them to play vinyl. 

    It dumbfounds me how Native Instruments bring out all of there (new) products so quickly, expect us to pay top dollar for upgrades, new software, new hardware but haven’t yet implemented things like advanced HID, especially with Pioneer’s CDJ’s! Seriously WTF! this has been going on for years and it seems NI relationship with pioneer is still at a distance, maybe not that strong compared to some of it’s rivals. IMHO Advanced HID could of made traktor an industry leader! I love being able to rock up to a club and use X2CDJ 2000 as paired devices both there own individual soundcards and custom mapped to how you want them to operate, there’s no need for huge controllers and you can switch between them with ease to play the odd CD USB file etc. Alas this however never happens! not smoothly anyway and because of poor relationships between two great companies we suffer. I’m not going to go into detail but anyone out there that’s used this system before will know how temperamental it all can be and how the word ‘Stable’ never gets a mention.I know this isn’t an article on solely traktor and pioneer but perhaps DJTT could get to the bottom of this once and for all! people aren’t stupid they know what’s happening, company’s like Serato have caught up, and seriously good for them they have almost got me!Rant Over

    • Felix

      Amen brotha!! Same issue here.. This is why I went back to my old Serato box to use Adv. HID and ableton for effects.. NI needs to do something..

  • Daybreaker

    When I’m at home, I still use my Traktor Scratch set up (since I never wanted to give up my turntables), but when I go out to play a gig, I just bring CD’s and use the CDJ’s like you would a vinyl on a turntable. From experience, I’ve come to learn fairly quick that turntables in a club/rave environment can lead to many disasters and set backs, even with timecode set ups, whereas with CDJ’s they tend to be unaffected by the typical obstacles you expect in a party environment. The other “DJs” that I see play with controllers always make me laugh (mainly from a personal stand point) but I feel that controllers are for cop outs (at least that’s who tend to use them around here). No disrespect to people like Ean who can utilize that equipment well. But that’s my take on it. No reason to have all that gear when all you need are your CD’s and your skills. 

    • DJ Yoni

      Give this guy an award!! Very well said!

  • JPlatt

    I’ve been using Scratch Pro with my CDJ1000’s for about a year now and for the first couple months it was a pain with the looping and the cues but honestly, using my midi fighter on the side of the decks all mapped out for cues and loops is such an easy fix and so much more fun IMO

  • Shanshanxs

     Love is ever the beginning of knowledge as fire is o
    vibram five fingers outlet.  Activity is the only road to knowledge .?The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet

  • Bome

    It’s great to present HID in an article. But if you compare it to MIDI, get the facts right… pretty much everything stated about MIDI is wrong, or put into a wrong context. Feel free to ask for details.

  • Clanoue1167

    Traktor is really missing out by not using HID advance mode with the 2k’s. i wont leave serato until someone comes out with HID advanced for the 2k’s. I use it every night i play and couldn’t imagin going back to time codes ever again.

  • Twohouse

    Timecode = ??.

  • Descent900

    I personally use the CDJ 900’s with Traktor Pro. I will admit it definitely has a tiny bit of a laggy feel when compared to timecode however I don’t scratch or cue my tracks using vinyl mode so it works quite well for me. I’ve been using HID since the CDJ 400 and it has served me well these past few years. But again take into account I am just a mix DJ. I’m not pulling off any big tricks here so I can live with the awkward feel of the jog wheel in HID.

  • LektroLights

    i started DJing about two years ago, and i’ve used Numark and Native Instruments controllers with both Virtual DJ and Traktor, but i have always felt more at home and even more occupied using a DVS or even real vinyls. one of my tables recently died and i had to use just my Native Instruments Konrol X1 for my last set. i cant stand just hitting a cue and play button to cue up my tracks, it seems uninteresting. I have Never Had much of a latency issue with Serato, and only once had a usb dropout because of my latency settings. And I agree, this article is not all that informative. any tech savvy dj needs more facts than this. i would expect more from dj tech tools. very good subject though

  • Parker Fitzpatrick Aka DJ Fitz

    Sounds like the HID is what I was looking for when it came to using cdj’s with SL. I quickly found that I was unable to use the jog wheel or see time line on the CDJ200 with SL timecode. Those were the very reasons why I liked havig a couple of CDJ’s in my setup for gigs before SL. Because unable to use, I prefered to use SL only with two MK2 Tech’s. I would bring the CDJ’s as backup just incase of malfunction of stylest, computer, etc.

  • Loco_diablo

    great article,problem is selecting the propper hub for use in serato hid mode,coz some hub just dont work

  • Houseincorporated

    You can digital dj with cd’s (time code), keeping your beatmatching skills.

    HID is MIDI!

  • DJTrudge:-)

    Been a club dj for years and just joined the digital dark side , pioneer ddj-s1 & a mac and I’m bloody lovin it ! This artical is confusing and point less , every dj has there “set up” and think there the best dj ! But it’s all about the fun for me playin out great music to drunk people out havin a laugh :-). Party on !

  • Jimi Barrz

    i went from technics sl1210 mk2s with a kontrol x1 on TSP2 to a Kontrol S4, to a VCI 400, and then back to my turntables + x1. i’ve never been happier. i haven’t tried HID, but the response on my current setup has not been better anyway else. new, non-turntable djs do not know what fun they are missing! 

    • Mrgavgrant

      totally agree mate!  likewise,,,, 1210’s mk2 to cdj1000’s to vci100 to apc40 now…..back to my 1210′, xone 92 mixer (with apc40 mapped for tp2 effects)…but aye, its all about proper decks.  those small platters be it s4 or vci400 at the end of the day just don’t do it eh……pish! 🙂

    • Orlando Gamino

      Same here, I have cdj setup, a controller and a pair of turntables, There is nothing like turntables, period.

  • AndyB

    Why haven’t you mention that the HID mode skips when there’s a lot of bass within the area. HID mode skips almost every time i’m recording my sets. I had to switch back because of this problem.. Plus Serato still hasn’t fixed it’s update with OSX Lion. I love Serato but it’s suffering a lot of issues with it’s updated Mac users… 

  • Djchriswoods.co.uk

    I use timecode control for tsp2 with CDJs, but i also use a controller for transport and effects. It did used to bug me having to wire up my audio 8, but the purchase of a DJM900 has got rid of that chestnut! A single usb cable from mbp to djm900 and away i go!

  • Dj80n3

    Use Traktor kontrol S4 scratch with timecode vinyl and numark tt200.

  • Houseincorporated

    HID is still MIDI….
    There is nothing like time code or cd.

  • Djmabonzo

    I am kind of disappointed with Native Instruments, because of the lack in provision of hardware that compliments the complexity of functions and features. They decided to be an innovator in the DVS age in terms of their Traktor pro, Serato seems to a generation ahead in terms of catering to the change demands of DJs you are opting for hybrid setups.
    Rane has eliminated the problem of having to setup a million cables by intergrating their popular audio interface with their own mixer: presto I have a midi/ analog mixer that not only controls my software, but will also reads timecode (CD or Vinyl)
    As for the HID or MIDI debate I would like to see serato and NI (+all the others) work on creating a middle ground where HID can be standardized so that there is no hassle when it comes to picking a product (in this case Itch or Traktor). for example,the issue with CDJs 900 and 2000 performing better on serato, even though both softwares are using an HID protocol

    NI I love you,
    …but get your shit together!

    • Jared F

       Not sure why you think Serato is ahead on this one. NI has a multitude of controllers for hybrid systems and you also have the DJM900 now which is an amazing mixer with Traktor compatibility.

      I have a ton of friends running from SSL due stability issues which used to be NIs downfall.

      My big gripe with the CDJ2000’s ‘HID’ mode is that its running MIDI on traktor which you can really tell when using the platters. Kinda a fail in my book.

  • Djf0tif0

    Straight up controllers and i love it

  • Fakeemail

    “why use HID or time codes”? Because I do t want to look like a noob using a controller! Yeah i said it. Controller djs are noobs. It’s obvious that the creators of this site are HUGE controller supporters and are trying to get everyone to switch over. Not me!

    • safadao

       Fakeemail you are probably is still using a Victor Victrola so don’t worry … no one will ever mistake you for a noob … but maybe a boob …

      • Fakeemail

        I actually use 2 pioneer cdj 2000, ecler evo 4 mixer, MacBook pro, serato. And if I want to really show off, I use my customized technic 1200,s. BOOM!

  • Frankieforreal

    NI needs to open up the hid editor to its customers . MIDI mapping is a pain in the A… I own the S4 and maschine. I want to be able to edit anything on the controller . MAX for traktor would be incredible . I still love my time code vinyl tho … but never out at a gig. Just at home. MIDI will die HID is the future it just needs to be standardized .

  • Max George

    also worth mentioning is that you can use the digital out on the cdjs – providing superior sound quality to the serato/traktor boxes, provided u have mixer with digital ins. in fact I’d say even the analog converters in the cdjs are better than the serato/traktor converters

  • Brent Silby

    I’m sort of going against the trend and have returned to playing CDs. In the environment I DJ in, there is just too much risk of spillage. After a couple of near misses, I have decided to leave the laptop at home. And it’s not just drinks that cause me concern.

    When I do use laptop at other gigs, it’s with timecode CJs. Sometimes I pull out the timecode vinyl. The crowd always show an interest in seeing turntables in use.

    • Brent Silby

      Sorry, I didn’t finish the sentence… it’s not just drinks, but accidental bumping into the laptop when I have guests in the booth.

  • Jasonmd2020

    I use timecode on CDJs for two reasons. One: they were lighter than lugging my turntables to a gig. Two: Just in case the laptop goes down I can do a quick cable change on my mixer and use audio off of cd’s.

    • Jimmyjackdaw

      Dude brilliant! Just signed it!! 

  • przzz

    So what players out there have true plug and play hid support with ssl? Just the pioneers?

    The Denon 3700/ sc3900 is hid other than timecode? Seems like a major.mistake releasing the new one.with the same timecode hybrid mode as opposed to straight hid like pioneer.

  • nem0nic

    It’s pretty sad that article about HID versus Timecode doesn’t actually talk about either with any authority, and gets many facts wrong.  For instance…

    “Because latency in HID is almost non-existent, HID can provide even
    tighter control than timecode – an audio signal that needs to be read
    and digitized before it’s useful.”
    This statement is true for ANY digital protocol – NOT just HID.  That said, you never explain (for instance) the actual resolution of common timecode schema, what the minimum latency for a DVS system is (and why), and the penalty for an error read.

    “MIDI pushes data to a host device, and so if you want to provide
    sensitive and accurate control you will often encounter problems with
    the signal getting overloaded”
    What?  Overloaded how?  If you’re trying to dumb down some technical concept, please feel free to explain – because this sounds more like uninformed babel and NOT a well researched article.

    “For instance, instead of just communicating information changes on a jog
    wheel platter, MIDI will continually relay the jog wheel’s positional
    On a tabletop CD player, the jog wheel only transmits information when it’s interacted with – and this is true for either HID OR MIDI.  When the platter is at rest, neither is sending information (why would it?).  So this is wrong as well.  Let’s say instead that we’re talking about a device that has a motorized platter (like the Denon player).  What is the difference between the amount of traffic on the USB bus when using timecode or various protocols?  Are you saying that HID is “less chatty” than timecode or MIDI here?  Why?

    “The first issue is that whilst HID is a recognized control protocol, it’s vastly more complex than MIDI.”
    HID can be very simple as a protocol, but let’s assume you’re right here.  Why is being complex a disadvantage for HID?  Are you implying that this is harder for hardware to process?  I hope you’re not making this point because you’re implying that we as users need to learn more to use it – because that isn’t the case.  If HID were implemented widely by software developers, software would either contain a “controller manager” like Traktor, or an abstraction layer (like VDJ).

    I’m not attacking you personally, Chris.  But this article is obviously unresearched, and it reads like a greatest hits of forum misinformation.  Before you can compare 2 things, you need to accurately DEFINE those things.  And you didn’t do that here at all.  What’s more, you didn’t touch on any of the non-technical issues that revolve around the wide implementation of HID.  How it wold impact DJTT?  How could communities like DJTT get around the wide implementation of HID?

    • Chris Cartledge

      Hey Craig,

      first off thanks for your candour, I guess it doesn’t do anyone any favours to beat around the bush! I’m going to make a couple of clarifications to the article and I’ll end up editing it to make sure it reads correctly when I get a chance later today. For now though:

      1. I’ve done a fairly in depth piece on timecode before, going into latency issues, error rates, and so on, and rather than drudge up the same info I’ll link to it. I suppose that should have been done in the first place.

      2. When it comes to MIDI having difficulty with high resolution signals, or perhaps more accurately the OS having issues with receiving massive amounts of data through MIDI, again I’ll provide links to previous articles where we’ve spoken about how MIDI’s handled. In general giving entry points into in depth knowledge via very simplified concepts or analogies has proven to be the most effective way to tread the line between useful information and overly technical (for the majority of readers) in the past. Perhaps sometimes things are over simplified though.

      3. As far as the point I was making with regards to MIDI data ‘pushing’… to be honest I have to hold my hands up here, it doesn’t read that well. My point is that information floods in from (for instance) a spinning platter, regardless of whether it’s asked for – and that’s the source of problems. I’ll tidy this up later; if you have any suggestions feel free to let me know!

      4. I think that there are clear reasons why something as highly standardised as MIDI has advantages over HID, right? For HID to be able to be as widely adopted in the DJ equipment market there would need to be a degree of standardisation of which there currently is not.

      Thanks again, Chris

      • nem0nic

        Thanks for responding.  Like I said, I’m not trying to do anything except make sure that information is presented to the readers as accurately as possible.  There is so much misinformation surrounding this topic, and too often people just take what they read as fact without questioning it.

        If you’re really going to compare timecode and HID (or MIDI), it makes sense to define each to the user, using standard metrics that the user can understand.  Talking about things like “high resolution messaging” in abstract is pointless.  What are we comparing it to?  Why not use timecode as a base reference (since we’re comparing it with HID)? Using this approach also works well when you talk about MIDI, because being able to easily define message resolution is one of the benefits of using HID.

        “My point is that information floods in from (for instance) a spinning platter, regardless of whether it’s asked for – and that’s the source of problems.”
        No, it isn’t.  Either protocol will only send data when the platter is being manipulated.  MIDI isn’t a more “chatty” protocol than HID.  No matter what protocol is used, data is going to be sent when the platter position is updated.

        To take this further, let’s say that we’re not talking about a product that exists, but a mythical motorized platter controller that can work via HID or MIDI.  The platter position is constantly updating, so now what you’re saying might make more sense.  But if bus bandwidth was an issue, developers would develop strategies to address it.  For instance, the Stanton SCS.1d has a motorized platter but only sends data when there is a DIFFERENCE between the motor speed and the “record” speed (indicating that it’s being manipulated).  But if a hardware developer were designing a motorized platter controller, it might make more sense to use a higher bandwidth bus and allow a 1:1 relationship between platter movement and software playback.  At that point, all the subtleties of platter manipulation translate correctly to the software (as well as all of the problems).

        As far as standardization of HID goes, I would LOVE to tell you that it’s necessary for the widespread use of HID.  I’m an outspoken fan of MIDI, and would hate to see more controllers utilizing HID instead of MIDI.  But software developers could easily support multiple HID devices – all with different implementations.  Virtual DJ manages to do this while also giving users a way to easily map their HID controllers.  It just all takes place through an abstraction layer.

        • Guesty

          hey did you know that Ean Golden is the godfather of laptop DJing?
          they didn’t even bother to correct G4. Misinformation rulez!

        • Anonymous

          The discussion about high res controllers gets confused because people don’t separate “resolution” from “rate” from “latency” inthe conversation. Take for instance 1-bit audio recordings – they sample audio signals at such a high rate (MHz) that a resolution of +1, 0, -1 is enough to encode any sound with redundancy enough to compress losslessly. High Res MIDI has a lot of accuracy per sample but (apart from pitch faders) people are usually more interested in low latency, and any resolution accuracy can easily be replaced by transmitting “delta” differences at a higher rate. 

          Unfortunately, USB-MIDI has in-built latency at both ends. HID also goes across USB and has the same latency. At the end of the day it’s about the quality of the drivers, and “bit rot” as drivers need replacing as OS’s get updated. USB-MIDI will always be around, custom drivers will rot and so your device will over time become useless. 

          USB-MIDI for the (future proofed) win!

          • Anonymous

            That “asshole” happens to run a division of one of the big-name, A-list music hardware manufacturers. A little respect, eh?

          • Jon Cooper

            Respect is earned, not purely given because of a corporate title (which in fairness isnt displayed anywhere in that post so David had no idea who he was insulting). Not saying he is right. An insult is an insult. But the tone of the previous 2 posts does in fact lead an impartial reader to believe that he is in fact being an asshole. Just stating a fact.  

          • nem0nic

            Everyone has opinions, and I’ll live if someone (else) thinks I’m an asshole.  I also don’t think that I deserve anyone’s respect because of my job.

            But I do know what I’m talking about.  And my observation here was accurate and honest.  The details of this article were lacking, many of the conclusions were incorrect, and there was no corroboration from knowledgeable sources.  If you’re comparing timecode and HID, who better to get to chime in than someone from Serato (or Pioneer)?  Or maybe even someone active in the community, like Adion.

            And like I said before, I have nothing against Chris.  I’ve met him in person, read every article he’s published on DJTT, and love his enthusiasm.  If anything, this is a failure of the DJTT editorial staff.  There was obviously either no peer review for this article, or those reviewing it had less visibility into the issues than Chris. 

          • Guesty

            And we get back to the point of DJTT being a frat house with no real PRIDE in what is being delivered. Most articles have blaring relevant omissions or misinformation.

            While being the go-to resident DJTT writer is a professional point of success, I don’t really see Chris going anywhere up but fading away in the terms of Journalism and writing. He just doesn’t make the necessary effort to champion the topic at hand.

  • Hedgehog

    I’m using CDJ2000s in native mode since I don’t possess a Serato-compatible soundcard. While I’d prefer to use my Traktor Pro library the standard HID-mode takes away too much of the decks power.

    This article should provide more technical details about the formats of HID-and MIDI-data.

  • Anonymous

    I went from vinyl to DVS years ago but even after all these years of development, I’m still not happy with the stability. Besides the hassle of setting it up, I found myself quite a few times in live situations running into time code detection problems that forced me to switch back to good old CD’s that I carry as back up.
    So, as others are suggesting, I’m considering leaving my DVS at home in the future. Not sure what I will use for live performances; S2, S4, good old CD’s, I have not decided yet.

  • random poster

    @ chris

    thanks for the good article. hopefully as awareness and demand for HID grows, manufacturers will be more inclined to see it as a point of competitive advantage. (im looking at you NI !)

    • Michael Mitchell

      NI already use HID over MIDI for their own devices.
      The problem is that there is no economic advantage for NI and Serato to work with each other and with the smaller players to establish a standard format for interaction with HID controllers. 

      • random poster

         true. i was more referring to advanced HID support for for CDJs.

  • Randy Sciangula

    This is why I enjoy the denon 3700 and am looking into the new SC3900. Seems to be the best of both worlds.

  • Vincenzo Turi

    HID is more powerful than MIDI but it’s also more complex! So customize the controls  will be hard

  • Daeih Faeg

    Denon devices like DN-S3700 are combining software generated timecode (as relative mode) to HID for everything else (buttons, switchs, rotary/linear encoders, and even inputs like lcd, leds, etc). That’s “hybrid” mode. NI & Pioneer lack these features (good HID host for NI, hybrid mode for Pioneer) and it’s REALLY expensive. So what ?

  • Fyoog

    I would say this also comes down to budget as for a full Serato set up with 2000’s you are looking to spend at least £2,800 to get started!! Plus what ever you decide to spend on a mixer on top so your already pushing £3k easy. Even 900’s in that set up and a mixer would be taking you close to £2.5k. 
    Then really you have to ask what’s the point as you have shelled out for two decks and mixer (rhetorical question time) why not just use them without the laptop and save the Serato cost?

    • Thedjally

      hotcues. instant doubles. sample player. Fx. NOT having to reburn my discs weekly.

      • CocaineBadger

        Pioneer Mixer FX, Hotcues on CDJS, Thumb drive +links between players. Its all in your head dude

    • Audun Notevarp Sandvold

       Setup a Pioneer controller at home with Itch at home, then bring SL2 to the club install cdj2000/900….

  • Richard

    Learnt to DJ with vinyl* but have been using CDJs for some years now.
    Purchased Traktor Scratch with the Audio8 and have been using that with cd timecode. It emulates vinyl well enough for my level of scratching, basic flares and transforms.I really would like to move to a controller but my preference would be something that replaced the CDJ rather than an all in one. A smaller footprint Stanton SCS.1D would get my thumbs up but as Bram says the lack of support within Traktor is frustrating.I spent a morning playing with the VCI-400 and the jog dials just can’t compete with timecodes. It’s not the feel that’s the problem, it’s the latency. Most likely, back to Bram’s point, this is due to NI not supporting the HID. This annoys me greatly as I’d love the S4 features but prefer the size and layout of the VCI.I’m tempted by the current S2 deal but I wish it had the option to use timecode like the S4 and I would like to know more about the Kontrol F1.After the teaser and announcement, the lack of info on the F1 has me pessimistic about what NI’s next offer will be. I have a habit of committing to a purchase just before they announce the next big thing.* Any recommendations on transferring vinyl to digital?
    Through my 1210s with Ortofon Concorde blue via an Ecler HAK310, it come across quite bass heavy.

    • Keeer

      cart + TT are solid! You have an NI soundcard with CirrusLogic convertors>? rip them straight through that one (without the mixer).. MUCH cleaner

      • Richard

        Genius, forgot the Audio8 can act as the phono preamp. As you say, cut out the mixer. Let the mission begin, only 3k ish to do.

  • Austin Poff

    HID better never replace midi, or our community will be doomed.

    • Tombruton87

      there is no problem with hid replacing midi, along as there is a way for it to be customised such as a scripting language or mapper like trakor. but HID is a bad term to use and doesn’t really make any sense

    • Alex

      Psh, we’ll all just become HID programmers, sounds good to me :D!!!!

  • Bram Sniekers

    I use Scratch Live at home in Adv HID with my CDJ2000’s, and in the club I use DVS. One never knows what they’ll get at a club, so I find showing up with timecode CD’s my safest bet. The “cables” limitation for DVS is ambiguous: I hook my SL3 up in less than 10 seconds, only messing with the RCA’s going to the mixer and HID requires USB cables & a *powered* USB hub (right, with a power cord!). To stir the Traktor vs Serato debate a bit up: NI will never support HID or Adv. HID in full, since they are in the controller business and want to sell you an S4/S2/etc. Serato takes the right approach here and allows the user to choose the interface/controller, and is making sure it is working at the software level. 

  • Jan Aagaard Meier

    I use both HID and timecodes, both with Virtual DJ, and I definately love HID the most. 

    I have a lot more control over my CDJ400’s, and i can map all buttons just the way i want, whereas with with timecodes its just controlling the CD, and i often bring an extra midi controller with me to control effects when i play with timecodes.

    On top of that, setting up HID is also easier, as noted in the article it requires far less cables, and you don’t need to unplug everything from the mixer mid-set if you are taking over after another DJ. 

  • Keeer

    I think the only downside using these timecode control is the setup stage (cables, cables) still burning the mp3s to a cd and grab a bag of vinyl for the show.. selecting them at home using DVS

  • Michielygil

    Timecode suits me fine and gives me that vinyl feel (don’t like cd players t.b.h.). As far as cables go, I don’t think 2 audio cables going into a mixer is that much hassle, since I’m using a scratch certified mixer.

    • kargas

      i ditched my vci arcade, i ditched my db4, i ditched my s4, i ditched my jazzmutant lemur and i ditched my laptop.. i bought the limited edition white cdj 2000/djm 900 nexus package and analyzed my tracks with mixed in key and then rekordbox for beatgrids and bpm detection..

      let me say this.. having been a serato junkie initially with the SL1 and 1210’s, then traktor with VCI and then S4.. then back to serato for advanced HID with my black cdj 2000s (which by the way was amazing), i took a break, sold my gear and have now found the perfect solution and rediscovered what fun it is to just dj again old school.

      with fx post faders, although i still own my db4 and can say that the sound quality is better, the nexus for its simplicity and quantized beat effects make it an absolute joy to play with.  pop in my usb stick in the cdj, link up with the other one and everything is organized the way i want, with everything quantized for effects/loops etc…

      its just 100% pure awesomeness – particularly now that theyve sorted the MT issue in older CDJ firmware.

      well done pioneer.


    • Keeer

      You’re right about the cables (2 pieces..) but you have to place your laptop / reach out for a power input / lay your cabling / switch 1 deck at a time befiore you begin (after an other DJ)…. for homeuse supurb.. But (treid and tested midicontrollers / cdj-2000 rekordbox etc) I prefer now to bring a good bag of vinyl; the digital releases are burned to an audio cd… no laptop, no cables, no stress.. plug n play!.. Selecting tunes to bring/burn is really nice using a DVS system at home… 

      • Djmatt1

        Have been using CDJ2000s and Rane Sixty Eight in advanced HID for about a year now… Simply the best! Was a die hard 1200 fan but HID in many ways is superior. Not to mention the various other issues with timecode vynal such as: bass vibration causing tracking issues (big one) an dust build up on the stylus causing tracking errors. Most 1200’s that are installed in clubs have been beaten to death and aren’t maintained – tone arms bent, head shell to tone arm connection f-up (Ortofon Concord use is primary cause) if the turntables are located on a stage that moves around – tracking errors.. Hate to say but IMO timecode vinyl is dead… RIP