AF’s Weblog

May 24, 2012

Gemini CDJ 700 Review

Filed under: DJ — Tags: , , , , , — audiofanzine @ 8:42 am

To read the full detailed article see:  Gemini CDJ 700 Review

Today, every DJ gear manufacturer wants a piece of the control surface market. That’s why Gemini decided to introduce now a versatile, fully featured CD deck. The CDJ 700 is a very appealing product with a look that recalls the Pioneer CDJ 900 — plus it has almost the same features and a much lower price. Let’s check out if the newcomer can compete with Pioneer’s leading products.

Gemini CDJ 700

The CDJ 700 is a multifunction CD deck that allows you to play tracks in different file formats (.wav, .mp3, .AAC…) from different sources. The deck is equipped with a USB port so that audio files can be read from an external hard or flash drive, an SD card port and, of course, a CD player. The CDJ 700 will also allow you to control any mixing software like Serato or Traktor. The deck also features a clear and convenient LCD touch screen display.

The CDJ 700 provides you with all the popular features you expect from such a product. You get a pitch function to adjust the speed of the track, six integrated effects, a real-time loop-creation tool and a scratch function controlled by an 8″ jog wheel.

In short, Gemini didn’t forget anything with regards to features, but let’s check out the quality of the product…

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a versatile, fully featured product, the CDJ 700 can compete with all other decks in its category. With regards to finish, the manufacturer ensures only the minimum quality required by the users. The only real advantage for that matter is the touch screen LCD, even if I personally find that it’s much easier to browse the tracks with the dedicated hardware controls. Maybe smartphone and tablet fans will find the touch screen interesting.

But the strongest selling point of the CDJ 700 is its price! For $600 you get a very comprehensive DJ deck — some other brands want you to pay twice as much for a comparable product. If you have a small budget and accept the few drawbacks mentioned above, the CDJ 700 is made for you!

Advantage: 
  • Affordable price
  • Many features
  • Easy-to-use and intuitive
Drawbacks:
  • Jog wheel a bit too stiff
  • The touch screen seems just like a gimmick
  • Average-quality effects

To read the full detailed article see:  Gemini CDJ 700 Review

December 12, 2011

Native Instruments Maschine Mikro Review

Two years ago, Native Instruments introduced Maschine, a kind of hybrid MPC combining software and hardware technologies. The software is now in version 1.7 and the manufacturer has also introduced Maschine Mikro — a simpler but cheaper version.

Besides being a huge success, Maschine marked an evolution on the hardware and software levels. First of all, the reader should refer to the user reviews. You’ll surely notice that some cons that we pointed out in our Maschine 1.0 review (in French) have been already fixed. But let’s start with the hardware of Maschine Mikro and the applications for which it has been conceived.

Mikro But Powerful

There is more than a family resemblance between Maschine and the Mikro version, but their dimensions are slightly different: the smaller brother is 12.6″ x 7.7″ x 2.2″ big (against 12.6″ x 11.6″ x 2.4″). This means that the Mikro version is about 6″ shorter, which is not bad considering a small desktop already fully packed with the computer keyboard, a MIDI keyboard, a mouse, controllers, etc. With a weight of 2.6 lbs (1.3 lb lighter than the “Makro” version), the Maschine Mikro is easily transportable in a backpack.

The first visible change is that the Mikro has only one display (instead of two) with a lower resolution (half as many pixels). Second major change: it has far less encoders! From the 11 encoders available on Maschine you get only one, placed above the display. The backlit switches are also decimated: you get only 28 from the 41 present on the original Maschine. Luckily, the number of pads is still the same (16) and the software is identical.

The transport console is almost the same (Loop is replaced by Restart) but there is no more direct access to the groups. With Maschine Mikro, you’ll have to push a Group button and then one of the pads. Two steps instead of one; slightly less practical. Also note that you can select a group using a keyboard shortcut as well, which is the lesser evil.

Generally speaking, it’s more difficult to browse through effects, sounds, patterns, plug-ins, and projects using only the hardware, due to the smaller display and the single rotary encoder. As we expected, Maschine Mikro makes the user more dependent on his computer mouse, screen and keyboard… This is not necessarily an issue if you use your DAW at home with your sequencer, but it might become a problem for live musicians because they don’t have the possibility of storing parameter automation data directly unto the hardware unit nor adjusting several values simultaneously. They’ll have to use an additional MIDI controller, which is not the case with the original Maschine. The last hardware difference is that Maschine Mikro has no MIDI connections on 5-pin DIN connectors!

Now let’s take a closer look…

Conclusion

Maschine is back — smaller and more affordable ($349 instead of $599). The difference with its bigger brother concern mainly the hardware unit and the fact that it is more difficult to make music without putting your hands on your computer mouse and keyboard. In fact, Maschine Mikro is designed for musicians who work at home with a sequencer and want to use the hardware controller mainly for groove programming. In this case, Maschine Mikro fulfills its role very well because grabbing to your mouse is not an issue. If you want to use Maschine for live performances, real-time sound tweaking and parameter adjustment, and also if you want to control everything from the hardware unit, try the “complete” Maschine version, which thanks to the frequent software updates has become more and more powerful every time.

Advantages:

  • Price!
  • Reliable and comprehensive software (version 1.7)
  • More than 6GB of sounds provided
  • Very affordable additional sound banks
  • Komplete Element for free
  • A real inspiring tool
  • Hardware quality

Drawbacks:

  • Not as powerful as Maschine for live applications
  • Recording automation data directly from the hardware unit is impossible

To read the full detailed article see:  Maschine Mikro Review

 

November 15, 2011

Pioneer DJM-T1 Review

Filed under: DJ — Tags: , , , , , — audiofanzine @ 8:26 am

Pioneer continues the development of its product range certified for Traktor, Native Instruments’ famous software, and presents now a new two-channel mixer with controller facilities specially developed for the new Traktor Scratch 2.0.

The Concept

Pioneer DJM-T1

First of all, let’s talk about the concept of the DJM-T1. Just imagine that Pioneer combined all the following in a single unit: high-performance two-channel mixer with a crossfader well-suited for scratching, sound card, the latest version of the famous Traktor Scratch Duo 2.0 software, and a Traktor-dedicated controller that allows the user to manage every feature in Traktor, e.g. transport functions, hot cues, effects, samples, etc. In short, you can control Traktor without having to even touch your computer.

Before trying out all DJM-T1 features, I will describe the mixer briefly to then focus on the most interesting part: using Traktor from the dedicated control surface.

Quick Hardware Description

After unpacking the mixer you’ll feel you hold a serious product in your hands. Anything different would be a surprise coming from Pioneer, who has been demonstrating the quality of its products for several decades. The rather compact dimensions (10.4″ x 15.9″ x 4.2″) of the device are ideal for demanding DJs who like to scratch and do beat juggling.

Pioneer DJM-T1

Let’s have a look at the front panel and the rear side.

The rear side offers all standard ins/outs: two Master outs on RCA/XLR and one Booth out jack for monitoring. Each channel provides phono/line inputs to connect either turntables or CD players. The rear side is also equipped with a PSU connector and a USB port to connect it directly to a computer.

Pioneer had the brilliant idea of adding an Aux input on the front panel to allow the user to easily connect an additional player. Most of the time, such connectors are on the rear, making access somewhat difficult. Moreover, this input is equipped with volume and EQ controls. On the front panel you’ll also find a mic input and a headphones output. The crossfader is equipped with a reverse switch and a curve-control trim.

Pioneer DJM-T1

The crossfader on the DJM-T1 has an exclusive Pioneer magnetic construction ensuring extreme durability. It feels smooth enough to allow for an easy scratching. I regret that the two faders don’t provide the same quality and smoothness (I find them a bit too hard).

The faders and the crossfader feature Pioneer’s P-LOCK fader caps, which will never come off in the middle of a mix (DJs who have already lost their crossfader during a performance know what I mean).

Pioneer DJM-T1

All other features are quite standard: gain controls, 3-band EQ on each channel, headphones section.

But for this review we want to focus on the Traktor control capability, so let’s give it a try…

Conclusion

With the DJM-T1, Pioneer strikes a decisive blow in the market of DJ mixers/software controllers. This mixer is a serious competitor, especially for Rane’s TTM57 SL, which works with Serato.

With a sleek and sexy product, Pioneer meets its goal and allows us to fully benefit from the Traktor Scratch Duo 2.0 new features. Everything is useful in this mixer. All controls are exactly where DJs want and expect them to be. The DJM-T1 is almost perfect!

Advantages: 
  • Finish
  • Ease of use
  • Effective crossfader for scratching
  • Great Traktor integration
Drawbacks:
  • Faders feel a bit too hard
  • Less interesting without Traktor
To read the full detailed article see:  Pioneer DJM-T1 Review

 

July 8, 2011

Native Instruments Traktor Pro 2 Review

Filed under: DJ, Software — Tags: , , , , , , , , — audiofanzine @ 10:11 am

Having reviewed the Traktor Kontrol S4 at the end of 2010, I got an email from Native Instruments in early April offering me a free upgrade for Traktor Pro 2. The differences between both S4 and PRO 2 versions are not so big as you’ll see in this review, however there is an important gap between the previous Traktor version and the upcoming Traktor 2.

Installation

Native Instruments Traktor Pro 2

Like every Native Instruments software, you’ll have to authorize the product via the service center: a small interface that allows you to enter your activation key, follow the recommended updates and download the documentation and drivers relative to your NI products. You will have no problems during the installation. I have three Traktor versions installed in my computer to compare them for the review: Traktor PRO 1.2.7, Traktor PRO S4 1.0.1 and the brand new Traktor PRO 2.

 

The first thing I did was check if my Numark Omni Control worked properly using the Setup Wizard in Traktor 2. As expected, the controller as well as its internal sound card were recognized and all controls worked properly. As a reminder, you’ll find all supported controllershere.  In fact, you’ll notice that among all 42 control surface listed in Traktor, only two of them are not officially supported by Traktor 2: Allen & Heath XONE 3D and VESTAX VCM 100. I don’t have any of these controllers, so I couldn’t do a test, but my guess is that they do work…

The Traktor Range

A quick overview of the Traktor 2 range (see all features here).

Traktor DUO: the version just below Traktor PRO with only two decks, two FX processors, six effects, no loop recorder…

Traktor PRO: this version has four decks, four FX processors, 30 effects. It lacks nothing except for a timecode control for vinyls.

Traktor SCRATCH (either in DUO or PRO version): adds two major features, timecode control for vinyls and a native audio interface (Audio 6 with DUO and Audio 10 with PRO).

Tracktor LE: Traktor’s light version. You get no loop recorder and no sample decks, and you get only three effects. This version is only available bundled with other products. Here is a list of all products that include Traktor LE.

Now let’s take a closer look…

Conclusion

Expectations for Traktor 2 were high, but this is no revolution. The main improvements in this new version are the samplers and the loop recorder. These features alone are worth the upgrade price. All new effects sound excellent, even if they won’t change the world. The waveform display looks very nice but is certainly not essential for most of us. However, Traktor is still very effective if you want to get perfect mixes. Furthermore, everyone will appreciate its reliability and stability. Nevertheless, Native Instruments could have been a bit more ambitious, for example in developing more sophisticated crossfaders like some competitors have (e.g. Avid’s Torq 2.0).

Advantages:

  • Samplers and loop recorder
  • New waveform display
  • Some additional effects
  • Still very reliable
  • Upgrade price

Drawbacks:

  • No sophisticated crossfader

To read the full detailed article see:  Native Instruments Traktor Pro 2 Review

December 27, 2010

DJ-Tech U2 Station MK2 Review

Filed under: DJ — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — audiofanzine @ 9:25 am

How about mixing MP3 files without a computer? That’s the goal of the DJ-Tech U2 Station MK2…

DJ-Tech’s commitment is to offer affordable products for the masses, as their slogan clearly states: “not only for DJ.” That’s why the manufacturer offers fun products that meet the needs of most people, from beginners to a bit more experienced DJs.

The U2 Station MK2 is the second version of the DJ-Tech U2 Station. The concept of this small mixer is to allow the user to mix digital audio files in MP3 format. Offered at a reasonable price, the device works as a full standalone mixer without any computer support.

The 14.1″ x 9.4″ mixer has a nice, black glossy finish — you can almost see yourself in it, but watch out for finger marks! The control elements have different quality levels: faders and EQ controls are not very smooth, but the backlit switches react very well and feel pleasant under your fingers.

Inside the product’s box you’ll also find a CD with Magix Audio Cleaning (SE). This software only works on a PC (no Mac version) running Windows 2000, XP or Vista (no Seven support). In fact, the software provided with the product is Audio Cleaning 9.02 while the current version is 16.00. I find it a bit awkward to provide such an old version. Nonetheless, this version is enough to convert your CDs into MP3, which is the program’s main purpose. However, Magix’s support reacted very fast and gave me version 16 for free, which I could install on Seven without a hitch. This software will allow you to import all your analog audio sources (vinyls, tapes, etc.), clean them (of noise, hum, etc.) and convert them into MP3 files so you can use them directly with the U2 Station. The unit hosts an internal USB sound card that allows you to connect all sorts of old analog gear to your computer.

Sound Sources

Each channel has four different inputs:

DJ-Tech U2 Station mk2

– Line/phono input (switchable via a small selector on the rear panel of the U2 Station). It’s an excellent idea to provide a facility that allows you to connect analog sound sources to a digital mixer. However, notice that not all functions are available for this input, most notably the BPM counter, which works only with digital audio.

– Two USB ports (A and B ) on the top panel. Note that it is not necessary to connect two USB devices to be able to mix: only one USB device is enough. You can use all songs included in the USB device with both players, fully independent from each other.

Your USB hard drives and keys must be formated in FAT 16 or 32, the only formats supported by the U2 Station. One might have expected an Apple iPhone/iPod connection, like on other DJ-Tech products, but that’s not the case this time around! You got it right, the mixer provides you with two independent MP3 players. They constitute the core of the U2 Station.

Bloody Sunday for My MP4!

The mixer’s main advantage is that it’s a fully standalone concept made possible thanks to the USB port for hard and pen drives with up to 250 GB in capacity. But watch out, there is an important limitation: this mixer can play back only MP3 files! It does support all possible MP3 files from 32 to 320 kb/s bit rates (CBR and VBR) but no other formats like AAC (.m4a), OGG, WAV, etc. All non-supported files will be ignored when you browse the files so they won’t disturb you during your search.

Now let’s take a closer look…

Conclusion

The small U2 Station MKII is a controller you can take with you anywhere. It’s an excellent product. It lacks almost nothing, all essential features are present, except for a button to sync the BPM and beat of the two MP3 players automatically. This feature, as well as AAC compatibility, is a real drawback considering that the product is designed for beginners who mix for their grandma and cousins. Otherwise, this mixer has everything a professional product does and it offers many features you’ll only find on much more expensive mixers or tools that use sophisticated software and require a computer.

Advantages:

  • Mixing from a USB device
  • No need for a computer
  • Possibility to mix real line/phono audio sources
  • Portability
  • Three good quality effects
  • Scratch function with the jog wheel
  • Crossfader (auto start, curve control)
  • Overall finish
  • Sound quality

Disadvantages:

  • Somme controls don’t work smoothly
  • No auto sync for the two MP3 players
  • No AAC file support
  • No iPhone/iPod connection

To read the full detailed article see:  DJ-Tech U2 Station MK2 Review

December 17, 2010

Gifts for Geeks

Clock is ticking, and there is still time to please and be pleased. Here are some ideas for Christmas gifts for musicians and gear heads to fit all tastes and wallet sizes.

Computer Music

Line 6 MIDI Mobilizer

Line 6 MIDI Mobilizer : and your iThing speaks MIDI

Together with an Apple iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, and the free MIDI Memo Recorder app, MIDI Mobilizer can play, record, and backup MIDI information any time, any place. Whether you want to capture a quick musical idea or back up the settings of all your MIDI gear, MIDI Mobilizer is a simple and compact solution for everything MIDI.  Price: $70

Peavey AmpKit Link

Peavey AmpKit Link :

Turn your iPhone into a virtual amp for $30. The sound quality is fair considering the price. The marketing strategy of offering a free amp and then have us pay for additional amps is not so bad, considering that guitar players usually have their favorite amps and do not play with 15 different models.

Plugin Lexicon

Plugin Lexicon :

The new software package makes all the effects processing of Lexicon’s PCM96 available as a plug-in designed to add “inspirational new sounds to a user’s DAW that are not available anywhere else.”  The PC- and Macintosh-compatible PCM Native Effects Plug-In Bundle is designed to work with DAWs like Pro Tools and Logic, as well as with any other VST, Audio Unit or RTAS-compatible host.  Price: $1200.

Apogee One

Apogee One : All in one in your pocket

ONE is described as a single input, stereo output USB music interface designed to work seamlessly with Apples iTunes, GarageBand, Logic, Final Cut or any Core Audio compliant application on a Mac. Unlike any product in its category, ONE features an internal reference condenser microphone, ideal for capturing inspired musical moments, according to Apogee. ONE also includes a microphone preamp, an instrument input for guitar, bass, and keyboards, and a studio-quality stereo output for headphones or powered monitors.  Price:  $249

 

Native Komplete 7

Native Komplete 7 : The Bundle of the Decade?

The latest version of the Komplete bundle combines a range of NI products, while the Komplete 7 Elements collection is designed to set a new price point for music production enthusiasts on a budget.  The seventh generation of Komplete now comprises 24 individual products, including the latest Reaktor 5.5 version as well as the new Reaktor Prism, Rammfire, Reflektor, Traktor’s 12 and Vintage Organs. Other products now contained in Komplete include the Abbey Road 60s Drums vintage drum library, the performance effect The Finger, the electric pianos and an electric bass by sampler Thomas Scarbee, the four acoustic pianos from the Classic Piano Collection, the cinematic Acoustic Refractions instrument and the Reaktor Spark synthesizer, amounting to about 10,000 sounds and 90 GB of studio-grade sample material overall.  Price: $559.

Guitar Pro 6

Guitar Pro 6 :

Version 6 is definitely a major update for Guitar Pro. What used to be a small software tool has become the ultimate reference in its category thanks to its intuitive user interface, well thought-out features and an absurdly low price. Should you upgrade your previous Guitar Pro version for $29.95? Yes, a thousand times yes! You’ll benefit from a better design and a much better sounding and efficient audio engine than in previous versions. Should you buy the full version for $59.95 if you don’t own a guitar tab editor? Yes, a thousand times yes!

Pro Tools 9

Pro Tools 9 : Compatible Soundblaster (among others) !

Pro Tools 9 is an open platform that doesn’t require an Avid/M-Audio interface anymore, but can work with or without any Core Audio or ASIO compatible interface – on Mac AND PC.  The new version enables bigger mixes with more tracks, and pro features including Automatic Delay Compensation, multitrack Beat Detective, full Import Session Data dialog, DigiBase Pro, and other separately priced add-ons—now standard.  Price: $599 for the full version.

Pianoteq Play

Pianoteq Play :

Pianoteq Play is a virtual piano based on the physically modeled Pianoteq software instrument, appraised by many musicians for its close intimacy and responsiveness.

Modarrt says there is no need to tweak settings and parameters, as Pianoteq Play is delivered with “perfectly designed instruments.”  Pianoteq Play supports all Pianoteq instruments, and the grand pianos K1, C3, and M3 are embedded.  Price:  $99

RME Babyface

RME Babyface :

RME succeeded in launching a compact and rugged interface with remarkable sound quality. At about $750, this baby provides two quality mic preamps and converters, ADAT in/out, a jog wheel, a transport bag, and a pair of nice-looking VU-meters. Add TotalMix FX —the virtual mixer that allows you to manage all 22 channels and process the signals (EQ, filter, reverb, and echo)— to the package and you get the best mobile audio interface on the market.

Akai APC 20

Akai APC 20 : Enter the Matrix

Yes, the APC40 is much more comprehensive than the APC20! But if you have only $200 for a Live controller, the APC20 has only one competitor in the form of the Novation Launchpad. The latter is less expensive but doesn’t have any faders, which makes it less interesting…

DJing and Live Sound

Traktor Kontrol S4

Traktor Kontrol S4 :

Combining an extended version of the existing Traktor Pro software with a dedicated hardware controller, the Traktor Kontrol S4 is aiming to provide an all-in-one solution for digital DJs. The controller comprises a four-channel mixer, an integrated 24-bit/96kHz audio interface based on NI’s Audio 4 DJ, and interface sections for looping, cueing, track browsing and effects control.  Price: $1000.

Hercules DJ Console 4-MX

Hercules DJ Console 4-MX :

Hercules launched this year the newest version of their DJ Console line for Pro DJs, the DJ Console 4-Mx, a controller featuring large jog wheels (each equipped with touch sensor) a built-in audio interface tailored for DJing, and control over 2 and 4 virtual decks.  The DJ Console 4-Mx has steel and aluminium crafted body with a variety of controls including 89 controls in 2-deck mode and 150 controls in 4-deck mode.  Price: $450.

Pioneer DJM-2000

Pioneer DJM-2000 :

Let’s be clear: this is a great piece of gear! Well thought-out, nicely finished and with a great sound, it offers countless possibilities to allow the most demanding DJ’s to have endless fun. With this product, Pioneer targets night clubs with big budgets who want to offer the best to their DJ’s. The latter will have the possibility to prepare their sets before performing, and to come to the club with only a CD or a USB key — no need for a computer.  Price: $2500.

Denon DN-X1700

Denon DN-X1700 :

The DN-X1700 is a four-channel tabletop mixer with rubberised knobs, 60mm Alps K Series channel faders, 45mm FLEX cross fader, a color LCD display, extended 24-point LED channel and output metering, and LED ring metering around the control knobs.  In operation, the principal features related to the power and flexibility of the DN-X1700 are its Matrix Input Assignment with digital input and MIDI/USB audio, independent and parametric three-band EQ with Kill on each channel, and dual independent EFX processors.  Price: $1800.

Fender Passport 500 Pro

 

Fender Passport 500 Pro :

The eight-channel Passport 500 PRO is the new top-of-the-line Passport system:

  • A port that lets you record your performance with CD quality (.wav) straight to a USB flash drive.
  • CD-quality .wav and mp3 file playback.
  • Sub-out jack for an external powered sub-woofer.
  • Redesigned speaker system with 10″ woofer and improved clarity.
  • Price: $1000.

 

Presonus StudioLive 24.4.2

Presonus StudioLive 24.4.2 :

StudioLive 24.4.2 sports the same user interface, feature set, and I/O configuration as the StudioLive 16.4.2 but with several additions and enhancements. The main difference is that the new mixer provides 24 input channels and 10 aux buses, whereas the StudioLive 16.4.2 has 16 channels and 6 auxes. In addition, the new mixer’s Fat Channel has fully parametric EQ, rather than semi-parametric, and the gate and limiter have been enhanced. Instead of one stereo 31-band graphic EQ on the main bus, you get four dual 31-band graphic EQs that can be assigned to the mains, subgroups, and aux buses.  Price: $3,300.

To see many more gift ideas see:  Gift for Geeks- Xmas Shopping 2010

October 13, 2010

Pioneer DJM-2000 Mixing Console Review

With its 11 rhythm effects, multi-band frequency mix crossfader, RJ45 port to connect CD players, four-channel stereo sound card, and 5.8″ color touchscreen, the new Pioneer DJM2000 mixer is very appealing. And we obviously wanted to find out what it hidden under the hood. Let’s go!

Test Configuration

Pioneer DJM-2000

I put on my prettiest sneakers, grab my good old CDJ-100 CD players (yes, I know, they are not as nice as the CDJ-2000…), a small Shure mic, my MacBook, a pair of headphones, a Sennheiser mic, and a fat RCF sound system to shake the ground under my feet. I am now ready to welcome the new Pioneer jewel… The picture on the box doesn’t look very attractive, but as soon as you open the box, you know that you have a serious mixer in your hands: 18.7 lbs of technology in a rather big housing (15.7″ x 16.9″). The package also includes 28 pages of operating instructions (the bare minimum, considering the device), a CD-ROM with PC and Mac drivers for the sound card, the power cable, a USB cable, and four rather unusual RJ45 Cat5e cables for DJ equipment. We will come back to this later…

It doesn’t include any software, but on Pioneer’s website you can download Rekordbox for free — like I did. Installation was a breeze with my Mac Book Pro but the software was quite useless for this review: it cannot read more than one channel simultaneously and it is quite limited if you have no CDJ-2000/900.

The Concept

Pioneer DJM-2000

Pioneer tried to pack as many technological innovations as possible into this new high-grade mixer. Some of them have been inherited from other products. With this mixer, Pioneer successfully implemented into a hardware product some unique features that you usually find only in computer software. The mixer is very well manufactured. It has a very nice and professional finish, pursuing the spirit of previous Pioneer products, especially through the classic level meters with peak indicators. Almost every button is backlit, some of them flash to show their status while others have different lighting intensity. We just miss the possibility to adjust their brightness more precisely.

You obviously have a headphones output to monitor all channels and effects, a mic input with a two-band EQ and talk-over (that attenuates the level of the master signal when the mic level increases), and a master zone with stereo meter that allows you to adjust the output volume and balance. We won’t spend much time describing these features since they are quite standard on mixers in this range.

Instead, we’ll focus on the four channels and their multi-inputs, the great crossfaders, numerous effects, and the sound card that make this mixer one of the most versatile in its category.

Channels

The four channels are placed to the sides of the center LCD. You can use the outer channels (1 & 4) to connect your turntables and the inner channels (2 & 3) for your favorite analog players. Each channel features an S/PDIF input and another digital input through the internal USB sound card.

Each channel has exactly the same features:

  • A trim control to adjust the input level
  • An almost standard three-band EQ with an “isolator” mode, which allows you to extend the range of the rotary controls to be able to cut the respective frequency band up to -40 dB instead of -26 dB. Thus, if you turn all three controls fully counterclockwise, you won’t hear anything anymore.
  • A “filter” control that allows you to adjust the level of the INST FX for the channel.
  • A CUE button dedicated to the pre-listen function in your headphones.
  • A fader to adjust the channel volume. You can choose the fader curve to be either linear or logarithmic. Perhaps I’m wrong, but it doesn’t seem possible to change the faders, in spite of the three visible screws (there is no information about this in the operating instructions).
  • A convenient selector that allows you to freely assign the channel to one side of the crossfader (see crossfaders section below).
  • A 15-segment level meter with peak detection.

Now let’s take a closer look…

Conclusion

Let’s be clear: this is a great piece of gear! Well thought-out, nicely finished and with a great sound, it offers countless possibilities to allow the most demanding DJ’s to have endless fun. This definitively high-grade mixer was conceived by Pioneer to work with several CDJ-2000 or CDJ-900. If you want to get the most out of it, you’ll have to buy them as well.

And this results in the biggest problem for most of us: the basic setup (DJM-2000 + two CDJ-900) would amount to about $5,100… it’s hardly what you’d call cheap! With this product, Pioneer targets night clubs with big budgets who want to offer the best to their DJ’s. The latter will have the possibility to prepare their sets before performing, and to come to the club with only a CD or a USB key — no need for a computer.

Advantages:

  • Finish and sturdiness
  • Sound quality
  • Number of ins/outs
  • Integrated eight-output sound card (four stereo outs)
  • Seven crossfaders per frequency band via touchscreen
  • Real-time, BPM-synced effects and sidechain remix.

Drawbacks:

  • Price (about $2,500)
  • BPM counter works too slowly and not precisely enough
  • Only one BPM counter
  • Not Traktor ready

To read the full detailed article see: Pioneer DJM-2000 Review

May 5, 2010

Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol X1 Review

Native Instruments has been announcing the launch of Traktor Kontrol X1 for several months now and it was even possible to pre-order it on the NI website, if you wanted to be one of the lucky first owners. Was the waiting worth it? Does the Kontrol X1 fulfill our expectations? We’ll see… but let’s unpack it first!

Unpacking

Traktor Kontrol X1The packaging is good quality and all parts are well protected. The box contains a USB cable, a 37-page “Getting Started” document in English, German, French, Spanish, and Chinese, an installation CD including Traktor LE, the drivers, the full user’s manual as well as alternate mappings for the different Traktor versions (Duo, Pro, Scratch, etc.), and the Traktor X1 unit with an overlay to rename the buttons manually if needed. On the CD, you’ll also find the Kore 2 Player software (available for free on Native Instruments’ website) as well as the Controller Editor software that allows you to customize the assignment of each button for MIDI applications.

Traktor LE v1.2.4 was already installed on my computer (the X1 driver is already included in the software ever since version 1.2.3 came out), so I just needed to connect the Kontrol X1 and it was immediately recognized without the need for any further installation (however do notice that if you have an old computer you will not be able to use the controller given that it requires a USB 2.0 port!). The Kontrol X1 is USB powered so you only need to do that one connection! I had already experienced problems with other hardware controllers for Traktor, but this one is really plug ‘n’ play. It’s a joy not to have to spend hours before the controls light up.

How Does it Look?

Traktor Kontrol X1When you switch it on it looks like Knight Rider’s KITT… The dark design is sober but well-achieved, all buttons and knobs feel sturdy, pleasant and they seem to be good quality. The Kontrol X1’s layout is symmetrical and almost all controls are mirrored so that you can control both decks (A and B) independently. The only buttons that aren’t doubled on the X1 are Shift and Hotcue.

The unit is light (1.5 lb.) and slim (4.7″x2″x11.6″). If you play live with a full DJ set, you’ll have to buy the optional Kontrol X1 Bag so you can raise the Kontrol X1 to the same height as a mixer or turntable. The Kontrol X1 includes four anti-slip pads.

All buttons have two different backlit levels: dimmed when inactive and bright when active. This feature is very convenient to find a specific function in dark environments. Both brightness intensities can be adjusted in Traktor. The knobs are not backlit but you can find them pretty easily thanks to the buttons around them.

Each button has different colors to distinguish the different functions:

  • Effects = orange
  • Browsing and loading = orange (it would have been nicer if it was a different color)
  • Loops = blue
  • Transport = blue (a different color would have been nice)
  • MIDI = green
  • Shift and Hotcue = white

Now let’s take a closer look…

Conclusion

The Traktor Kontrol X1 is a well-manufactured and excellent-quality product that seduced us. It is extremely easy to install: real plug ‘n’ play. The backlit buttons look great and are very practical in dark environments. So, yes, the Kontrol X1 looks really hot! But it is almost impossible to use it as a mixer with a notebook, which is a pity because it would be a real plus for this slim and light controller which fits my carrying bag perfectly along with my notebook. It only lacks two controls for Native Instruments to be able to target DJs using compact systems.

Advantages:

  • Plug ‘n’ play
  • USB powered
  • Great design and finish
  • Lightweight and compact without compromising operation
  • “On” button in the filter section

Drawbacks:

  • No track volume control! Requires an additional mixer!
  • Price ($199)
  • Additional products required to make full use of the Kontrol X1: Traktor Pro ($199) and Kontrol X1 Bag
  • Unfortunate names on some buttons with Traktor LE

To read the full detailed article please see:      Traktor Kontrol X1 Review

September 2, 2009

Behringer – DJX-750 DJ Mixer

Filed under: DJ, Mixing reviews — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — audiofanzine @ 7:36 am

Behringer presents the DJX-750 DJ Mixer which features the capability of altering FX parameters in real time.

To see more exclusive video demos visit Audiofanzine Videos.

June 4, 2009

Serato Rane SL 3 Audio Interface

Serato presents their Rane SL 3 audio interface for DJs.

To see more exclusive video demos visit Audiofanzine Videos.


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