The DJ software controller has become a standard piece of gear for many digital DJs. Although the preceding articles point out how the iPad is beginning to be a truly practical option for software-based DJing, there is certainly a huge market remaining to tap for purpose-built boxes providing the same type of tactile control as the real mixers and players many of us grew up with.
Many of the units out there now are going for light weight, small size or other great ultra-mobile concepts. But for the working DJ, it seems to me that a solid, road-worthy piece of gear is still the most desired approach. Stanton has embraced this idea also, with their DJC.4 Controller with Audio Interface.
The DJC.4 is small (11” x 16”) but solidly built, to the point where it feels perfectly safe to carry it around in a reasonably padded soft-sided bag. The faders and knobs have no noticeable give like you often find on the “toy” end of the DJ controller spectrum. One interacts with the device via nicely grippable rubber transport controls, two smooth, solid-feeling (there’s that word again) jog wheels, a professional level, replaceable crossfader, two channel faders, two effects faders, plus 18 knobs and 58 buttons. Six of those knobs provide select-then-click functionality (for file browsing, loop control and effects control). All of this is designed to provide direct control of the bundled Virtual DJ LE software. While there certainly are a lot of controls, which might overwhelm at first glance, I found them to be very well marked and well-suited to the VDJ software.
Other standard professional features include a front panel 1/4” mic input with gain knob, a 1/4” headphone input with level and cue/mix/master selection knob, as well as controls for setting the crossfader curve and touch sensitivity for the jog wheels. Flipping to the back panel, there’s a 1/8″ aux input with gain, two stereo RCA inputs with phono/line switches, a master stereo RCA output and a balanced 1/4″ master out. Input 1 can be set to send a time code signal to a computer or as a thru for an external sound source.
The DJC.4’s audio interface has a nice crisp sound, with no noticeable crackling or other problems that you sometimes encounter in less expensive DJ controllers (where the audio interface seems almost like an afterthought.) This applies to the mic and aux inputs, as well as the computer-generated audio.
After a pain-free installation, the custom-mapped version of Virtual DJ LE was immediately usable. The hardware-software communication was tight, with no apparent latency when using the jog wheels for cueing up tracks, or with any of the faders.
The combination of well-designed controller and truly intuitive software (you can find out about all of VDJ’s many features at their site, www.virtualdj.com) made the experience of getting started an easy and pleasant one (unlike with some other more complex but less-well tailored controllers). For someone just getting started in the realm of hardware control of software, the DJC.4 is definitely a good way to go, with a user-friendly experience and a wallet-friendly price point (about $350, street). But it also promises more in-depth mixing possibilities for power users as well.
Filed Under: Business, Exclusive Online News and Content, Issue #151, Music, Sound
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