Back in 2012 we posted a popular article about all in one vs. modular controllers. The controller landscape has changed a lot since then so we’re bringing you an updated 2015 edition!
Whether you’re buying your very first DJ controller or getting a new one, the question “Should I go modular or all-in-one?” will come up. Deciding between these workflows can be an important choice, as both have specific advantages you may not be aware of. In today’s article, I will help you understand the key differences and advantages of each – and explore the conceptual debate of DJing on a mixer versus in DJ software.
CLARIFY THE OPTIONS
To make sure we’re on the same page, let’s define what each of the two choices mean:
“All-in-one DJ controller”: A single controller that houses a sound card, mixing section, and deck controls in a single interface. Most all in one controllers also include a software license – entry level models typically include a lite version (i.e. Serato DJ Intro or Traktor LE) while higher priced models ship with the full version (i.e. Serato DJ or Traktor Pro 2).
“Modular DJ controllers“: Piecing together various controllers to make up a full control surface, and potentially using an analogue mixer and separate sound card.
Popular Examples Of All-In-One Controllers:
- Traktor Kontrol S2 MK2 (Review) – Portable 2 deck controller, hi resolution jog wheels, transport controls, loops, and FX
- Traktor Kontrol S4 MK2 (Review) – 4 deck controller with dedicated filter knobs, remix deck triggers, and loop recorder
- Traktor Kontrol S8 (Review) – Premium 4 deck controller with large color displays for waveform view, track browsing, and a touch strip
- Pioneer DDJ-SX2 (More Info) – 4 deck controller, improved jogwheels with better LED feedback, RGB pads, and DVS compatible
- Pioneer DDJ-SZ (Review) – Large 4 deck controller, full size CDJ platters, large RGB pads, FX section, and can also work as a standalone mixer
- Pioneer DDJ-SR (More Info) – Portable 2 deck controller, dedicated filters, large jogwheels, and 4 deck switch
- Numark NV (Review) – 4 deck controller with large color display for track browsing, waveform display, and FX control
- Numark MixTrack Pro 3 – Entry level 2 deck controller for Serato DJ with 5″ metal jogwheels, 100mm pitch sliders, and 16 backlit performance pads.
All of these controllers can be used by themselves to DJ with a laptop alone.
Popular Examples Of Modular Controllers:
- Traktor Kontrol X1 MK2 (Review) – Dedicated Traktor controller with controls for hot cues, loops, and effects for 2 decks. Features a new touch strip for pitch bending and FX control.
- Traktor Kontrol F1 (Review) – Designed for Traktor’s remix decks with 4×4 pad grid for samples/loops. Dedicated filter knob and volume faders for each remix slot
- Traktor Kontrol D2 – Dedicated track/remix deck controller with large color display for waveform display, browsing tracks, and viewing remix deck cells
- Traktor Kontrol Z1 (Review) – Portable 2 channel Traktor mixer, compatible with Traktor DJ for iOS. Add a Kontrol X1 or Kontrol F1 for deck control.
- AKAI AFX (Review) – Dedicated Serato DJ controller with controls for hot cues, Serato Flip, effects, and loops.
- AKAI AMX (Review) – Portable 2 channel Serato DJ mixer with phono/line inputs for turntables and CDJs, DVS compatible
- Pioneer DDJ-SP1 (Review) – Serato DJ controller with 16 velocity sensitive pads, loop controls, FX section, and compatible with Serato Video
- Midi Fighter 3D (Review) – 4×4 grid controller with high performance Sanwa arcade buttons. 4 banks, customizable RGB LED rings, and a built in motion sensor (perfect for modulating FX)
- Midi Fighter Twister (More Info) – 4×4 grid controller with large push style endless encoders. Customizable RGB LED indicators and white LED ring on each knob. Built in sequencer for sequencing Traktor’s remix decks.
- Xone:K1 – 52 assignable controls, fast access to level controls, triggering hot cues, adding FX and instant looping
All of these controllers generally require other devices such as mixers and soundcards for full DJ control.
TO PLAY OUT OR NOT TO PLAY OUT (THAT IS THE QUESTION…)
The first question to ask yourself is how much time you plan on spending DJing live. The reason is the requirements become very different in live environments and must be taken into consideration when choosing professional equipment.
“I PLAN TO MAINLY PLAY AT HOME AND A FEW HOUSE PARTIES”
An all-in-one controller will probably be the best option for you. They are generally the most economical way to get started, portable, and easiest to use/set up. Just want to plug in and start mixing right away? The all-in-one console style systems are your friend, since packages like the Kontrol S4 MK2 or Pioneer DDJ-SX2 come with a controller, soundcard and DJ software. Especially when compared to the cost of CDJ/XDJs, the money spent on a single CDJ/XDJ would be enough for a high quality all-in-one controller.
“I WANT TO PRACTICE AT HOME AND THEN USE THAT GEAR IN CLUBS “
This is where it gets more complicated. The gear you want in a party environment will often be very different than a basic home setup – for reasons we’ll go into later. The gear you practice at home with should ideally also be the same style of gear you play on in public, so that the skills and experience translate smoothly into the club. Not always, but usually, a modular setup is better at that.
REAL MIXER VS. VIRTUAL
This is the next important question you need to ask yourself. Do you want to mix inside software and use all virtual controls, or keep a little analogue flavor in the mix and run your decks out to a mixer? DVS DJs using Serato DJ or Traktor Scratch Pro 2 typically mix externally outside the computer by default, but Traktor Scratch also has the option of mixing internally or externally depending on your preference.
“I WANT TO MIX INSIDE MY SOFTWARE AND SEND A SINGLE STEREO MASTER OUT TO THE SPEAKERS”
This is common for Ableton Live and many Traktor users. Having a sound card inside a controller is all you will need, and often a lot easier to set up. These sound cards, like on the Kontrol S2, generally have two or three stereo outputs:
- One for your headphones
- One for the master
- One for the monitors/booth (sometimes)
“I WANT TO MIX MY VIRTUAL DECKS ON A PHYSICAL MIXER OUTSIDE THE COMPUTER”
In this case you need a multi-channel sound card, which I recommend be separate from your controller. Each deck or channel goes out of a discrete output on the soundcard and is then mixed on a “real” analogue mixer, just like any other DJ input including CDJs or vinyl.
Since each virtual deck needs its own discrete audio output. The correct sound card depends on how many decks you plan to run in parallel.
- 2 decks: Audio 2* (*has no inputs for turntables/CDJs)
- 3 Decks: Traktor Audio 6
- 4+ Decks: Traktor Audio 10
BENEFITS OF MIXING INTERNALLY?
There are a few benefits to mixing inside the computer with all signals mixing together there.
- The routing is more flexible
- You can easily record and edit mixes in the future, no need for cables and external recorders
- There are no digital to analogue conversions
- It’s much easier to mix more than three sources of audio with a limitless virtual mixer
Here are the downsides:
- It’s debatable that analogue summing sounds better and can be pushed harder without digital clipping
- You don’t have easy access to the booth, loud headphone, and master output controls on the house mixer in clubs (big disadvantage)
BENEFITS TO MIXING EXTERNALLY?
Mixing externally has some significant advantages if you plan on playing live:
- The mixers are all full-sized, well spaced and designed for live performance
- There are always mixers available and plugged into the sound system at most venues ready to be used
- Access to analogue clipping and a 2nd gain stage on each channel is very useful
- The headphone outputs are usually much louder
- You have direct access to the DJ booth and system master directly on your mixer
- Some mixers like the DJM-900 Nexus/SRT have a built in soundcard for easier setup
It also has some downsides:
- Running multiple channels of audio into a mixer can be a pain in the ass to set up properly – requires more cables to setup
- You need to have a good sound card with multiple outputs, which drives the cost up
Personally, I think that mixing in clubs using the real mixer is the best way to go. Therefore, your home setup should also have a mixer involved so the entire setup translates well. I prefer mixers like the DJM-900 Nexus (read my review here), which have four channels of USB audio available right on the mixer. Just plug in your USB cable to the mixer and 4 decks are instantly routed to each of the 4 channels on a house mixer. Very few people can afford to have a $1500+ mixer at home, so I advise getting an budget 2-3 channel mixer in the $300 – $500 range for practice only.
INTERNAL SOUND CARD VS. EXTERNAL SOUND CARD
This next question is important. Should you buy a controller with a soundcard in it, or buy a separate sound card with it’s own USB plug. This is a more subjective choice, but here are a few things you should know about them.
In the past internal sound cards were not the highest quality, and usually consisted of a $50 sound card thrown in for marketing buzz. However in recent years controllers like the Pioneer DDJ-SX2 and Traktor Kontrol S8 have solid internal sound cards with great converters and loud outputs.
If your sound card and controller are combined, this may present a problem when there’s downtime. If the controller glitches (which they do sometimes), restarting it will require turning off the sound to the club – not good! Keeping mission critical systems isolated is good for NASA and good for DJs too! If the sound card is separate from the controller, then you can disconnect a controller that’s glitching without any audio drop outs and carry on with your set.
Internal sound cards have two primary advantages:
- Convenience: eliminates multiple USB/audio cables
- Price: the “bundle” is often less expensive than purchasing comparable items individually.
MODULAR VS. SINGULAR
Now that we have teased out the soundcard and mixer issue, let’s ask the more simple question. Should all of your decks and effects controls be on a single surface or pieced together?
THE CASE FOR SINGULAR
- A single uniform playing surface that is well-designed with all critical controls is very nice to play with. I’m a big fan of the Kontrol S2 for its simplistic ease of use. They’re quick and easy to setup for small, short gigs and if you’re travelling for gigs you can easily throw it in the right backpack.
THE CASE FOR MODULAR
- This comes down to flexibility over time. If you want the ability to easily add more controls, take some away and slowly add more pieces at incremental $200 price bumps – then modular is fantastic. Pick the exact parts you need and add more over time without a huge investment. Using an analogue mixer means that it’s possible to incorporate hardware like synths or drum machines that can be layered into the mix.
- Personally I use 2 Kontrol X1’s for 4 deck control, a Midi Fighter Twister for sequencing, and a Midi Fighter 3D for samples and motion FX. If I want to play a simple gig with two decks, then Kontrol X1’s make the flight. If its a big set with all four decks in the works, then all four controllers come along.
- In this particular case, since I use analogue mixers and only a few small modular controllers – my DJ bag is actually smaller and lighter than most all-in-one “singular” controllers.
SOME LIVE DATA
Now it’s time to bring up some observations from the real world. Most professional DJs using controller who I encounter play in a similar fashion:
- Just a few choice modular controllers, in many cases just one or two X1s and a standard analogue mixer.
This provides them with a simple utilitarian interface, where very little can go wrong. It’s very rare that I see touring DJs use all-in-one controllers on the road (Zedd and Porter Robinson are the notable exceptions). In some cases they actually present a serious problem. The S2 and S4, for example, have magnetic jog wheels which, when subjected to intense vibration, can move on its own and completely throw off a mix! For this reason a live rig should:
- Be very easy to set up quickly
- Be simple and easy to understand under stress
- Be fairly indestructible and take the regular abuse of a show
- Integrate and fit well into a wide variety of DJ booths without much hassle
THE BOTTOM LINE
There is no clear cut answer on which model of DJ controller will be right for you as it depends on your personal style and how you want to play. That, of course, is the exciting part of this entire controller revolution! DJs can finally choose how they want to perform without being wedded to a single “industry standard” and express themselves creatively through whatever interfaces they want.
What do you use – a modular or all-in-one setup?
Let us know in the comments below!
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[…] 2015 Edition: What Controller Is Right For … – Whether you’re buying your very first DJ controller or getting a new one, the question "Should I go modular or all-in-one?" will come up. Deciding between … […]
[…] 2015 Edition: What Controller Is … – Whether you’re buying your very first DJ controller or getting a new one, the question "Should I go modular or all-in-one?" will come up. Deciding between … […]
[…] 2015 Edition: What Controller Is … – DJ TechTools The largest community for DJ and producer techniques, tutorials, and tips. Traktor secrets, controller reviews, a massive MIDI mapping library … […]
I use a laptop that has traktor, serato, and djay pro installed. I keep my iPad mini as backup or simply my iPhone 6+. Along with thumb drives with my two favorite genres of music House and Drum & Bass. At home I have a serato setup with 2 v7s and a nuo 2.0 plus a traktor setup that is two denon Dn-s3000s, numark m3 and audio 4 box. I also have a launchpad mapped for djay pro and use either mixer I have plus the audio 4 box with it or the wego3 which is also my iOS controller when needed. If I’m DJing along at a house party or for hours in a club I personal rather bring my wego3 and iPad. Because it’s light and works perfectly for that environment. If it’s an event with multiple DJ’S I play on the default setup two turntables or CDjs with a serato or traktor box and my laptop. Once again light and easy to connect and disconnect. I don’t see the point in a modular setup unless you are headlining and playing for more than an hour. Which in most situations I don’t see to many people play for more than 60 minutes even headliners unless maybe you are BT. Modular is a cool rig no doubt and fun to use if the situation is right.
I use for mobile and home setups my traktor s8 and a mschine mk1
i know almost nothing about DJing, but i want to create my own songs, what should i use to mix and make music with.
Ean, analogue summing and clipping may be preferable, but you prefer the DJM-900 – which mixes and does things digitally inside. So where are those benefits? 🙂
Digital mixing is cleaner and digital clipping in mixing doesn’t exist with 32-bit floating point or well-designed fixed point implementations – only at the output point, at the sound card, or at the internal recording stage, in the encoder.
What modern mixers really do (inside their digital hearts) is they reduce the output to a low level which almost never clips at the DAC, then pump it up with a very powerful analog pre-amp. It would be great if DJ sound cards could do this trick.
I don’t agree with the external mixer headphone output louder point: i heard many all-in-one controller’s headphone output, and they VERY loud, way beyond the healthy point. You had a great article about ear problems before!
*x1 mk2 and audio 2 dj for old clubs
*with new places that have normal pioneer mixer, i work with the pioneer soundcard via usb
*and for outside club events i carry the S8 (Also Ipad mini with z1 as backup)
I have an Kontrol S2 but wondering how good the soundcard is, can anybody tell me if they think its best to have an external soundcard for club use? Looking into Novation Audiohub…. thanks ppl!
Right now: 2 Vestax PDX 2000, 2 Technics SL-1200mk2, Vestax PMC-580pro mixer, Kontrol F1, Electrix Tweaker, Traktor Audio 10 sound card, Boss RE-20 Echo, Allen+Heath ZED PA mixer…
the Worst Part of an Al in One Controller….Even the some like the Numark NS7 2 is sooo cool,yet so Bad.,Is simply because if the Controller breaks or a small piece of solder disconnects because of heavy bass vibration….the whole Rig has to be Sent back and the/Your Show,is Over…..Having an Analog Set Up,with a few Modular Add on less the Risk of something going wrong so completely that you cannot perform by 20,000,000 to one…and thats just with 2 extra controllers…However…An Analog set up is a,well,Tougher technology and has been time tested…and there is a chance that is something does go wrong,one could borrow from another dJ colleague….So,there it is…I would love any Moving Platter all in one,or even an S8….but again….one thing goes wrong…and not only will you not get paid….but your Fans or People you are building who love your work and came to see you,will be let down…Not Cool-
Repairing a piece of analog hardware is easier than repairing an all in one as well. They tend to tear down easier for maintenance and it’s more soldering than micro soldering.
Studio Gear : Kontrol Z2 + 2x CDJ 800 MK2 + Trigger Finger Pro
Gig Gear : club set up + trigger finger pro as traktor Remix Deck Controler
My modular setup 🙂 takes hour + to build though 🙂
What software are you running all that through? Traktor and a midi-sync’d ableton?
heh 🙂 she is pretty good with the TR: “_”
how is the D2?….I was hoping that with the D2,for its price,the X1 would be obsolete and the F1 would become great as just a 2nd controller for remix decks….please,tell me is it really unique enough to own?…or is it just the screen that makes it unique?….because as far as my reconnaissance Data…its basically an X1 and F1 plus Screen….yea,it will play stems,but so will the F1….also,a Small screen,Like the new mini Samsungs or even an Android…will give view of the screen for yet still cheaper than the D2 itself….it is pretty cool looking,and looks well built compared to the X1 and F1…I have had 4 – X1’s all Die,some even on stage!!!…lol…….But thanks to my Turntable-Loop Pedal-and Denon Dns3700 with a USB stick with 64 gigs of Albums and a “if all goes wrong’ I-Pod…. I would like to Learn more about the Unit before I purchase…It cost more than am SP404 sx…a Super stand alone baby MPC…with screen and fully analog sound…Please lemme know-if and when you get time-
I really like the experiense of the D2 – actually I am playing with four decks , and was using 2×1 + F1 , I wouldnt say the D2 replqces F1 , but it surely almost replaces 2 X1. The screen is great thing but the whole browsing and loading is much more fluent and fun, as you can see I use surface or traktor – and had access to touch control , with the D2 , it is really obsolete.
I t is a good tool – but in the end – yeah it just for pressing play 🙂 , but the whole looping , freezing cutting – is just part of your flow.
Thank you for the speedy reply man…Ive heard mixed things,but more along the side of what you are saying,…Thank you for your honesty and candor…if you ever get a chance,check me out here-and I have a Video too…again,thank you sooo much man…https://soundcloud.com/rasphaunt and my new video is over here-http://youtu.be/WfwRwo0j-uU
I started 20 years back with vinyl and TTs. Then discovered Ableton in the early 2000’s (discovered Live 3 through a friend, bought Live 4). I kept my eyes open and on Native Instruments… first final scratch, then Traktor 3 and finally Maschine. Not to mention Komplete which has always been a flagship.
A few years ago I ditched Live as they wanted me to pay for my upgrade from Live7 to Live8 and bought an S4 MKI. For the first while I was happy, but soon felt that it sounded almost lifeless compared to the sound I got from mixers “back in the day”. So, I sold my S4 and upgraded to the NI Z2 and noticed a world of difference in sound. One being an All-In-One and the other being modular, but both mixed internally.
With the Z2 there was a problem, the stigma of it being a Native Instruments mixer lead a lot of Serato users in my circle to confusion, when doing shows and fund raising benefits for our local community radio station. They couldn’t wrap their heads around the fact that it was a stand alone mixer that they could patch their SSL boxes into, just like any other mixer.
Soon after, I found that I wasn’t happy with software channels for decks C/D and their rotary volume control.
Once again I upgraded, this time to a DJM 850. This I found gave my music the colour and warmth that I had so profoundly missed over the years as it mixes externally using the mixers’ circuit path. I have yet to spend time proper with a Xone (a couple weeks would be nice), but I can honestly say that I’m pretty happy with my DJM.
Studio set-up : Z2 + X1 MKI + F1
Gig kit: DJM 850 + CDJ 900 x 2 + X1 MKI + F1 x 2.
I’m a modular guy, 4 decks, remix decks, eagerly awaiting stems:
Xone:K2 for internal mixing 4 decks and basic deck control (when I play out solo I mix externally tho)
Traktor Audio 2 when mixing internally in a club
Reloop Contour for extended deck control (and soon Stems!!!) and as a 4 channel sound card when mixing externally in the club
NI kontrol F1 for remix deck + FX (tekken)
MF twister for drums + loops
Some extra pro’s & cons:
Many surfaces means more possibility of shit going wrong.
Many surfaces also means that it becomes increasingly difficult to locate problems (especially under pressure). Setting up has felt pretty stressful at big gigs.
I have strong suspicion that 4 decks + fx is a problem for the internal mixer. Not so much because of clipping (just leave headroom and adjust at the club mixer), but in the way a new song hardly seems audible over the one that’s playing, until it suddenly pushes it out. Especially when layering kick drums with the Twister. Routing all four decks to the club mixer, even over the reloop interface just sounds better.
Has anyone actually tested the sound quality difference (based on tech specs or tests) of all-in one controllers vs external soundcards / pro mixers?
I noticed Plantrae performing live with an RME Babyface. I also noticed his sound was extremely lucid. If you REALLY care about sound quality, get a top-of-the-line interface like a Babyface and forget about the ones built into other devices.
I don’t think you can distinguish the different sound quality of a modern sound cards in a live event.
Hence why I asked if there have been any controller sound card tests.
Huh? Of course you can. That’s the point. Why bother asking about comparisons of sound cards then?
Well, that’s my point. I don’t believe you could distinguish a song played via say a Traktor Kontrol S2 vs a the same song played over an RME Babyface in a live environment. All in blind test of course, so you wouldn’t know which interface is used.
But I do believe that technically you could maybe see differences when tested and measured in a controlled environment. Things like distortion could be measured and we would see how much of a difference there is really.
My take: the choice and setup of the speakers is a hundred times more important in a club setup than the brand of the soundcard used by the DJ.
>My take: the choice and setup of the speakers is a hundred times more
important in a club setup than the brand of the soundcard used by the
You’re probably right about that.
>My take: the choice and setup of the speakers is a hundred times more important in a club setup than the brand of the soundcard used by the DJ.
So true… those people telling me CDJs sound ‘better’ and have more punch or their DJM has a more warm and full sound while 80% of all clubs and bars have absolutely lacking sound systems and environments.
On a great soundsystem even your macbook internal soundcard delivers enough to make a crowd go bananas.
Many people get top of the line interfaces for minimal latency over any minor improvement in sound quality. At this point, most sound interfaces are spectacular for playback. It’s recording where they differ… and latency. Latency is where men are separated from boys.
I have a DB4 but with all the issues it has with audio on my mac I can’t trust it. I went out and bought a Z1 and X1mk2, i also had the F1. Completely modular, and I have rocked clubs with that setup. when A&H get their shit together then I may get a K1, that would give me 2 pro setups depending on where i play. i also have a mdi fighter 3d/twister for effects. but I am finding myself not using those as much as I thought I would.
What happens with your DB4 and the mac? Are these well known issues or specific to your device?
Newb here, I am completely lost on the sound card part, and am tired of trying to figure it out so I’ll just look stupid and get an answer hear hopefully. I’ve got a laptop with an S2 (ignore the other equipment – its not important), it already has outputs, but it doesn’t have an internal sound card that I am aware of, so what’s the benefit of me buying an external soundcard verse what the S2 spits out? I’m sure I can improve the sound quality a bit, but with the gigs I’ve gone to to help my friend (he’s got an all in one Pioneer), the return on SQ seems weak – between room acoustics, crowd noise, etc does it really make that much of a difference?
As for the overall point of the article, I go by what my pop’s taught me growing up. I asked him why he had a tape deck, a CD changer, a receiver, an EQ, etc instead of one good unit that can do it all. His response (summed up), you get better control and options and when something dies (like the CD player did), you can replace it without changing everything. With DJing and production (honestly that is more me), often the modular approach is tied to what ‘feels’ good. The MF Series just FEEL good to play on. I’d rather bang out drums on my 3D or Spectra, than my QuNeo, but the QuNeo does a better job of giving me back feedback for Traktor/Ableton/Reason.
Of course the S2 has a soundcard built in. Otherwise the audio connectors won’t make sense.
Scroll to the bottom of the screen.
fair question – i am on OLD PC dude and I always assumed “sound card” meant an ESA/PCI bus card, until it finally dawned on me that “card” was about as relevant as “record” – what they meant was “a device capable of appearing as a multichannel audio I/O device” whether that’s through USB, PCI, Thunderbolt or a couple of startled gerbils.
The term sound card should be deprecated – it’s an anachronism that really doesn’t make sense any more.
thought I’d pass along a rec for a nice piece of gear. the S2 does have an internal sound card, but if you wanna get more outta your digital audio, run it through something like this by BBE. brings out the warmth and width of the bass and takes down that digital distortion/rasp on the highs: http://www.musiciansfriend.com/pro-audio/bbe-282ir-desktop-sonic-maximizer-with-unbalanced-rca-and-3.5mm-connections?src=3TP5GEA#productDetail
Great article Ean. For complete beginners, my S4 helped me learn quickly about the craft and techniques in an easy to access way, but when I started to play out I learned quickly that (unless you have a rider) to expect Pioneer CDJs, an Xone or DJM mixer (often without a sound card) and a generally “anti-tampering” attitude to the booth setup in clubs.
Having bought just about every piece of gear there is, I give folks the advice I wish someone had given me which is;
– A&H 42/62/92 or Pioneer DJM 800 mixer as they are all minimal viable spec for a club
– 2x Pioneer CDJs with built-in sound card (eg: 850/900/2000) which teaches you the basics of aggregation and gets your Rekordbox/CDJ ready for those times you can’t plug in a laptop
– Midifighter, Kontrol X1 (MK-I still my fave!) or Xone:K1/2 for hot cue and FX play
Professionally I eventually invested in a full Pioneer DJM900+CDJ 2000nexus rig as I provide the backline for gigs involving 3-4 DJ and nearly 100% prefer the CDJ USB “plug and play” approach but the DJM 900 enables anyone to plug in Traktor and now Serato if they want to (I just wish they supported dual-USB inputs for change over).
For my own home studio, I love my dual Kontrol D2s plugged into my Xone:DB4, brilliant, all rounder controllers that make Traktor a joy to play with and a mixer that offers so much creative potential I’ve barely scratched the surface.
Now if Pioneer would get off their butts and give us some 64 bit application drivers I’d be ecstatic.
Interesting. So I play out on an Apple Macbook, never had a driver problem (UNLIKE my A&H DB4). Is this a Windows problem or a broader issue?
Windows ASIO support issue. Core Audio doesn’t have the same issue, it’s unbuffered where as Windows is. Instead of using native WASPI or direct x drivers for audio, Steinberg created low latency audio drivers. 32 bit application drivers gives us access to only 2Gb of system RAM, which is kind of rediculous considering my laptop has 16Gb. The release of 64 bit drivers is a fairly big issue for Windows users that own Pioneer products. To be fair if I’m being selfish and want to run Traktor, Machine and parts of Komplete I plug into my Z2. The 850 is what I use when I share with friends.
Good to know, thanks for educating me!
You closed off with a killer point, which is that, after a love for music, more than anything else digital DJ’s need flexibility and versatility in terms of the technology they’re able to manage – from T1200s and vinyl to CDJs to Serato – which I think makes a strong case for modular.
For example, I was in a hotel in Vietnam where the mixer had blown up and the resident DJ brought in his “mixer”, which turned out to be a Traktor S4 – again, the good news was that with Traktor all setup and ready to go, I plugged in and away we went.
Another hotel in Singapore was setup for Serato (SL-3) but also had CDJ-900s, so I plugged in my USBs and away we played – now it wasn’t as technically interesting as using a controller with 8 hot cues and Remix decks, but we had a great party.
Finally, one of the best parties we ever had was with a box of old 45s, some pretty basic (read – CHOPPING!) mixing but song selection and the vibe was epic.
All modular here. I started producing on ableton live and now I kinda emulate all the regular DJ hardware features using ableton with Launchpad S, Launchcontrol XL, and Maschine MK2 for more fancy produced performances. (also always with my komplete audio 6 interface and my laptop). I would never be able to do the regular mixing style as I have alot of things going on, and I really need the 8 channels that I setup (I’m actually strugling to stay with only 8). I love the flexibility that I have and has been a really good practice to mix with ableton, cause i’ve been able to know it better, and produce faster. It’s a reaaaally heavy work to prepare all before the show, but the results are amazing, and nearly imposible to do with the regular DJ hardware. Also the controllers are amazingly portable! love that 😀
Will someone please make a 4 channel jogless, DVS ready serato controller already. Sheesh.
I have both. Modular in, z1, x1’s one of each version an F1, 2x Denon sc2000 jog wheel controllers and now an s8. Since the d2’s were too expensive considering I would need a 4 channel mixer to get the best out of them. Hence why I went for the s8. So needless to say a have more than a few options. also have the iPad loaded up for backup.
I love modular for the reasons you state, the flexibility and ease of use / carrying. However I still like the all in one for the bigger controls. I tend to use a mixture of kit depending on my mood. really enjoyed the article Ryan.
I am leaning towards producing music, but i want to learn the DJ side as well. Possibly try and DJ for a source of income until I can make some tracks. I am leaning towards a controller with serato, but should I just DJ off of Ableton? What’s your opinion? Over at aaronslatton.com I blog about some beginning DJing and would like some input.
Traktor Scratch Pro 2 with….
Allen & Heath Xone 42 (Amazing filters and no need for mixer effects since I use traktor. also super simple set up)
Kontrol X1 MK2 (A given in any traktor modular set up)
Midi Fighter Classic (Instant Grat…coz its OG..duh)
Midi Fighter Spectra (Remix decks C & D)
Audio 6 ( for two channel mixing / third channel to remix decks)
2 x technic 1200’s
Now if I am feeling frisky….
Same set up but….
Add Roland Tr-08 to layer drums.
Audio 8 so I can use decks “C” for both remix decks and deck “D” for the tr-08
I started on a Numark Mixtrack Pro in 2010..went to the S4… now Im here.
The fun part is fine tuning what gear fits you. Try it all. Buy It. Sell It. Trade it.
I used to play at weddings/birthday parties using a Kontrol X1 and a DDJ-SB. Now I’m playing in some events I’m making, playing korean/japanese pop and mixign anime songs, because of that I’m slowly changing to a modular setup, investing in a custom controller and a mixer with soundcard.
i’m looking for a easy way to setup my midifighter classic (FX) and a traktor f1 (midi-mode or remixdecks) to use when i go for a dj set in a club.
at home i use the traktor s2 and then the f1 and midifighter. when i go to a club i’d like to just replace my s2 with the typical club-setup of 2 cdjs and a mixer.
do you know how i can set this up fast and easy?
Easiest would be an audio6/10 and timecode control CDs
but if i want timecode i need to buy the whole scratch-pack right?
no chance to only use HiD mode?
HID mode is fine if you know you will always have that type of CDJ there. I’ve only ever played in 2 places where they were! In addition you will still need the soundcard to get the F1 running (I assume you are running further decks through rather than just extra controls over your existing 2 decks?)
You do get the full traktor scratch software + timecode kit with the audio 6/10 cards anyway though 😉
The alternative is something like a kontrol x1 mk2 and a soundcard which is how I play – 1 or 2 X1s, an F1, a midifighter and a soundcard, or less depending on the gig!
i use the MF in every 4 decks as effect panel and the F1 for cuepoints (A/B) or sometimes as Remixdeck switching between C/D.
if i would use HiD Mode can i use the effects of the MF and the cue control in F1 midimode both only for deck A&B without problems or should i buy the soundcard/interface anyway?
You should be fine like that yes as your additional devices are just giving midi control over existing decks. This is something you definitely want to try out before you get to the club though!
thanks man! i’ll try that out 🙂