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

Advertisements

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

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 4, 2009

Novation Remote Zero SL MKII

Filed under: Control Surfaces — Tags: , , , , , , , , — audiofanzine @ 12:09 pm

When Novation announced Automap Universal at the 2007 NAMM many were instantly intrigued by the concept. Many producers and long time fans of MIDI control were eager to get this revolutionary product integrated into their set up. Now with the Mk2series and Automap 3 available, Novation seems to have taken their product to a new level. Does it live up to expectations?

The software that arrived with my original Remote Zero SL (MK1) back in ’07 certainly didn’t disappoint. Plug-ins and virtual instruments that would have usually taken a substantial amount of time to map were instantly displayed across the unit’s two displays. The ease and speed of further customisation was also impressive for a version 1.0 product.


Since 2007, I have been an avid user and regular beta tester of the Novation Remote SL line and their associated Automap technology, so when the chance to review the new Mk2 version of the Remote Zero SL came up I was more than happy to take delivery of the unit and give it a test run…

Conclusion

This is no doubt one of the best dynamic midi controllers out there. With its slick design, innovative touch-sensitive, illuminated panel and mature software you can’t go far wrong. This is certainly an improvement on the last model and shows a step in the right direction when it comes to hands on control of production software. It’s a shame that the second display has been dropped and that there aren’t more endlessly rotating knobs on the unit but as I said before this isn’t the end of the world. Also it might be worth throwing this in a flight case if you want to take it on the road, though the plastic case, although well made, might not stand up to the rigours of regular gigging.

To sum up, I really love this device, in fact so much that I have hung on to the review model and it has become my controller of choice in the studio … And this comes form someone who has used, Mackie, Euphonix and Jazz Mutant products.Clear innovative touch sensitive controls

Advantages:

  • Illuminated buttons for clear feedback

  • Crossfader for digital DJs

  • Competitive price point

  • USB powered

  • Awesome, mature regularly updated software

Drawbacks:

  • Plastic casing throughout may not strand up to live shows

  • Only one display as opposed to the previous models two

  • No power supply as standard for use with low power USB hubs

To read the full detailed article see:  Novation Remote Zero SL MKII Test

May 25, 2009

Wacom Nextbeat

Filed under: DJ, Musikmesse 2009 — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — audiofanzine @ 6:35 am

Wacom presents their Nextbeat, featuring touch technology and a wireless control unit.

To see more exclusive video demos visit Audiofanzine Videos.

May 21, 2009

Behringer DJX-750 Mixer

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.

May 4, 2009

Video Demo: Open Labs D-Beat

Filed under: DJ, Musikmesse 2009 — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , — audiofanzine @ 8:20 am

Open Labs presents their first “keyboard-less” product, the D-Beat which comes jam-packed with interesting features.

To see more exclusive video demos visit Audiofanzine Videos.

Blog at WordPress.com.