AF’s Weblog

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

 

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

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