DJ Tech's DJ Mouse Mixing Kit

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Your initiation to the world of DJ mixing may be a click of the DJ Mouse away. The included Deckadance LE software puts almost every professional DJ tool within reach. I had just sprained my ankle before opening the box, yet I was able to create elaborate remixes even with one leg elevated! I'm not sure they would've "moved me" as easily if I were struggling to stand behind a more elaborate DJ rig.

While this affordable package has some limitations, it served my needs. It's hard to believe that one little mouse can replace an entire DJ booth, but thanks to powerful software that isn't far from the truth. Deckadance LE is the virtual equivalent of two advanced turntables, a mixer with a separate headphone mix, a seven-effect XY pad, a sampler, and a looping station. Software such as Deckadance not only replaces DJ equipment, but also many of the DJ's responsibilities as well. In fact, almost all DJ software now features automatic beat detection and even automatic crossfades between tracks (called "Automixing" in Deckadance.). Deckadance takes even more work off your hands with an option called "DJ-Style," which automatically beat matches tracks in a play list; freeing up time to handle other tasks or even enjoy the party yourself!

The DJ Mouse acts as a standard mouse that's also optimized for DJ software control-allowing fingertip access to cue points, effects, looping options, samples, pitch controls, and other mixing tools. Pressing the DJ Mouse's "Scratch Button" while hovering over the track enables intuitive scratching or scrubbing of the track based on the mouse's movements - hence the name "Scratch Button." This name might be misleading to the novice user, since even most basic scratching techniques require free control of a crossfader and a turntable at the same time, which is impossible with the mouse alone. The button does allow you to experience the feeling of dragging a track back and forth across a play head like a needle on a record. However, it feels very different to the touch, and another controller would be needed for crossfader control to perform most basic scratches.

If you're interested in more involved scratching techniques, then you may want to jump right into a package with a more intricate controller, such as the Mix Free, or assemble a more custom-tailored computer DJ system. Turntable-based DJ's have developed many complex techniques over the years that go beyond the capabilities of any one controller. USB, CD, and vinyl control systems are commonly used to perform specialized techniques on DJ software. Other controllers can be added to your Deckadance system later, after first taking time to explore the fundamental concepts in the software.

The DJ Mouse's capabilities may fall short of many turntable-based techniques, but this package provides a long list of utensils for creating complex and original remixes from your MP3 collection. Seven common DJ effects can operate through an XY pad in the program parallel with the DJ Mouse's movements on the mouse pad. Leave the mouse over the pitch, volume, EQ, or track position and automatically change that value using either the Jog Wheel or Vertical Wheel. Left and right clicks are used to enable creative control over four cue points, as well as looping options on both virtual decks. Use of the Scratch Button over any software control lets you tweak that parameter through the movement of the DJ Mouse-so you don't need to click, hold, and drag while changing the value.

In fact, the mouse's behavior in other software reveals that the Scratch Button has the same effect as clicking and holding the left mouse button. If I click the scratch button in the middle of this text, for example, text will be selected from that point to wherever I click the button again to release it. Conversely, any mouse with a scroll wheel has the same basic capabilities as the DJ Mouse other than the need to click and hold some values as you change them. In Deckadance, a standard mouse's scroll wheel will automatically control volume, pitch, EQ, and even track position (i.e. "scratching") when hovering over corresponding software controls. I did find that the Jog Wheel and Vertical Wheel provided varied control over different types of parameters. The Jog Wheel was more effective for course adjustments, (scrubbing through tracks in reverse or fast forward,) while the Vertical Wheel was useful for fine-tuning (matching pitches, adjusting levels, etc.)

Ultimately, the Scratch Button and extra Jog Wheel are not radically different from a traditional mouse, but serve as enhancements to a low-cost, compact DJ solution. The familiarity we all have with a mouse makes working with this DJ software completely intuitive, no matter what your purpose may be. Any mobile DJ probably already recognizes the advantage of an optical mouse over a laptop track pad; the DJ Mouse fosters that advantage. You may even use this mouse to complement a more advanced controller, or use the "click and hold" Scratch Button in some other software. Whatever use you find for the DJ Mouse, you won't need to reach any further than the included mouse pad for enhanced control-a feature that I, and my injured ankle found to be very valuable indeed.