The home and professional Dj never had it so good ! With the migration from Vinyl to CD, then CD to mp3 or digital files, its been a forward march with technology for the last decade, with available equipment tending to move ahead in leaps rather than gradually in all areas, and the Dj world has been no different, hanging onto the older formats and known and tested tech, but eagerly awaiting the next ‘proper’ step forward.
Well it's here now. The Dj Controller. They are known by several names actually, mixing controllers, media controllers, midi workstations, or even digital decks, and they are the industries new leader, with every manufacturer coming forward with their own versions.
Though all media controllers will also work as standalone music players and mixers, either from USB files or from an attached source such as CD player, they are custom designed to integrate with computer based software and file management systems, hence them being ‘controllers’.
This software falls into two main camps, which is the more simplistic Dj software known as Serato, or the more production and club based system called Traktor.
Both these software systems will organise and catalogue your stored music files into virtual ‘crates’ of your choosing. Just as you would have a box of dance records, and a separate box for your hip hop or party music. You can alter the layouts to suit you, and have it as complex or as simple as you want it to be. The controller will integrate seamlessly with the software, with all major functions accessible directly from under your fingers from both dedicated and assignable pots and buttons.
Both systems now offer the ability to cue and mix from up to four tracks simultaneously, with each having its own level slider from the controller's built in mixer.
This is the other main feature of the Dj controller, in that it also contains your mixer, with all the usual EQ and cue features, assignable crossfader, and the now familiar jog wheel platter controls for each side of the ‘decks’.
Several of the newer more professional units now also feature in built colour monitor displays, so you are not tied to having a laptop open to view your crate and cue data. They also feature fully programmable cue point and sampler triggers, and a multitude of trick play and on-the-fly edit options which allow the sort of layered mixing that simply wasn't possible on other mediums.
Though the higher end ‘CD decks’ from Pioneer and Denon do offer media control, and compatibility as both Traktor and Serato controllers, they tend not to have the wealth of features that's available to you if you go the dedicated controller route, and this is reflected in that both those manufacturers also make separate software controller units too. The CD based units are also physically much larger, and are more for integration into already established systems such as bars and clubs. Media control will be the last major upgrade to adorn the now dying CD player market, as the format has simply gone as far as it can in this new era.
Ever mixed from four decks and created loop samples all at the same time ? …….