Audio / Hands-on Review

Gift Ideas for Your Favorite DJ

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Any time we head into a holiday season, you may be searching for gifts for that special someone. If they are a DJ professional or enthusiast, consider the wide selection of gear at B&H, for any application and budget. Perhaps you are looking for an all-in-one controller that comes with software, or you’re more the “old-school” type who is looking for two turntables and a mixer. There are also digital media decks (CD players) and digital vinyl solutions that bridge the gap between the old school and new school.

All-In-One

Pioneer offers a wide selection of controllers that are compatible with Serato DJ or its own rekordbox DJ software. The DDJ-SR is Pioneer’s entry level two-channel performance controller for Serato DJ, and features two low-latency jog wheels, as well as 16 illuminated performance pads (8 per channel). The controller does not come with Serato, so you’ll need to factor that into the equation. The DDJ-SX2 DJ controller supports four decks and includes two jog wheels, 16 illuminated performance pads, and ships with a full version of Serato DJ. The DDJ-RX is a four-channel rekordbox dj controller that not only works and ships with rekordbox dj, but also features connections for CDJs and analog turntables. The high-quality Wolfson DAC provides excellent sound reproduction, while the 16 illuminated pads provide four modes of operation including Hot Cue, Pad FX, Slicer, and Sampler. For advanced control, check out the XDJ-RX rekordbox dj control system, which features 7" dual waveform displays, two channels/two decks, three-band EQ/isolators, and sound color FX for each channel. The flagship DDJ RZX offers four-deck control with no fewer than three 7" touch screens, which provide direct access to track info, such as title, BPM, and key using deck display mode, and enlarged waveforms for each track. The display can also trigger Beat FX and Release FX, while the Touch FX lets you add and adjust parameters by tracing on the X and Y axis on the display.

Pioneer DDJ-SX2 Serato DJ Controller

Denon DJ is another respected company bringing the heat with its highly regarded All-In-One DJ player/ controllers. The flagship MCX8000 costs less than half of the flagship Pioneer controller and includes two high-definition displays, built-in effects, and 16 velocity-sensitive performance pads. What’s more, the MCX8000 utilizes DJ Engine, which is Denon DJ’s proprietary stand-alone technology that allows the controller to operate without the need of a computer. Your files are processed via Engine on your computer and saved to a thumb drive for quick and easy control and access. The MCX8000 also works as a four-deck Serato controller, a four-channel digital mixer with line/phono inputs, and two USB ports for connecting two computers for easy transitions and back-to-back DJ performances. The Denon DJ MC7000 is a smaller controller, designed for Serato DJ, and includes four decks/channels, dual USB connections, solid 6" touch-capacitive platters, and 16 velocity-sensitive performance pads. Other lower-cost Denon controllers worth checking out include the MC6000MK2 and MC4000.

Denon DJ MC7000 4-Channel Serato DJ Controller / Digital Mixer with Dual USB

DJ Mixers

There are a number of high-quality mixers that won’t break the bank and are great for smaller setups or beginners. Check out the DIF-1SV2 from DJ-Tech, which is designed for professional turntablists and includes an improved Audio Innovate mini innoFADER as the crossfader. The mixer also features three-band EQ, adjustable crossfader curve and reverse, as well as a built-in DVS mode that lets you switch between traditional vinyl/CD setups and a DVS software setup without reconnecting a single cable. Another low-cost alternative is the Allen & Heath XONE:23, which boasts two channels with each channel offering phono and line inputs, simultaneously. The mixer features an enhanced version of Allen & Heath's XONE voltage-controlled filter system with resonance control, a three-band total kill EQ per side, VCA faders, illuminated switches, and a user-upgradeable crossfader with curve selector. The XONE:23C offers the same form and function as the XONE:23, but also includes a four-channel 96 kHz/24-bit sound card. For Allen & Heath’s newest flagship model, check out the XONE:PX5, which features an integrated 20-channel sound card at 24-bit/96 kHz resolution. The mixer features X:LINK for XONE:K Series controllers and includes the XONE Filter with HPF, BPF, and LPF selections.

Allen & Heath XONE:PX5 4+1 Channel DJ Mixer with Soundcard

For professional applications, the DJM900NXS2 is found on just about every artist rider worldwide. With its simple interface, powerful effects, and intuitive control, you can see why it’s considered one of the best mixers on the market today. This “next-generation” version includes a high-definition 24-bit/ 96 kHz sound card with support for up to four stereo channels. There are four line inputs and four phono inputs (one for each channel), as well as digital inputs via S/PIDIF and a S/PDIF output for connecting the mixer digitally to an appropriate digital sound system. There are two top-mounted USB connections, and an additional USB port that supports iOS devices for use with Pioneer's optional RMX-1000 for iPad. An independent Send & Return section allows for external effects to be used simultaneously with the internal effects.

Pioneer DJM-900NXS2 4-Channel Digital Pro-DJ Mixer

Rane makes some of the best sounding mixers and its Sixty-Four four-channel club mixer offers dedicated controls for complete plug-and-play control of Serato DJ. The mixer offers digital and analog inputs, 32-bit float/48 kHz audio drivers, dual USB connections, FlexFX for analog and digital FX routing, a three-band isolator EQ, and six built-in FX. The Rane MP2014 is a smaller two-channel version of the four-channel MP2015, and features premium performance audio converters, three-band EQ for each channel, resonant sweep filters for each channel, a three-band isolator for the master bus, and dual USB ports for easy changeovers.

Rane Sixty-Four 4-Channel Club Mixer

Turntables

The most sought after and highly respected turntable on the market is the Technics SL-1200 turntable. It was discontinued in 2012, but recently was put back into production with an ultra-high price tag. B&H still has “new old stock” of the Technics SL-1210 MK5 turntables. These are factory sealed and about ½ the cost of the new re-issue. If the Technics 1200 is out of your price range, then check out some of these other makes and models that are affordable and well suited to professional club use. The Reloop RP-8000 is an advanced hybrid turntable that features an upper torque direct quartz-driven turntable with digital correction and a bank of eight user-programmable MIDI buttons, with Serato Scratch live mappings and a trax encoder for browsing your library and loading digital tracks onto the decks. Weighing 36 lb, the Stanton STR8.150 turntable is one of the heaviest and most skip resistant turntables available. It features a straight skip-proof tone arm with a direct-drive brushless DC motor, steel construction, aluminum platter, phono/line switchable, and a digital S/PDIF digital output. Available in silver or black, the Audio-Technica AT-LP120USB is a professional-quality direct-drive turntable with a dedicated USB output. The deck offers +10% and 20% quartz pitch control and includes a built-in phono preamp, so it can be connected directly to any line-level input. The USB interface allows you to record your vinyl into your computer with the included Audacity software.

Audio-Technica AT-LP120USB Direct Drive Professional DJ Turntable with USB Output

DJ CD, MP3, and Media Players

For the digital DJ looking to perform music without a computer, the Pioneer CDJ and XDJ-Series media players offer excellent hands-on control. The units are networkable and allow a single thumb drive to connect up to four players. The CDJ2000NXS2 is the latest offering, with high-resolution 24-bit/96 kHz file compatibility, and a 7" full-color touch screen. The unit is also Wi-Fi audio-streaming capable, which lets you stream audio from your phone directly to the player. The touch screen offers a QWERTY keyboard and search filters to navigate and select tracks quickly. The player can also play files for CD/DVD, a flash drive, or an SD card. The CDJ900NXS offers the same rekordbox playback with wireless streaming, CD/DVD playback, flash drive, or SD Card, but forgoes the touch screen. For even greater savings, the well-appointed XDJ-1000 and XDJ-700 offer the touch-screen display, but lose the CD/DVD media players. All units are rekordbox compatible and are capable of Wi-Fi streaming from your phone, tablet, or computer. Other cost effective media players worth checking out include the Reloop RMP-3 Alpha and the Denon DJ DN-S1200.

Denon DJ DN-S1200 Compact Portable DJ CD/MP3 Player and Controller with USB

Digital Vinyl

For the DJ who wishes to bridge the old-school technique of mixing vinyl/CD with computer technology, Serato DJ and Native Instruments Traktor are the current favorite of many professional DJs and home enthusiasts. The Denon DJ DS1 is a bargain digital vinyl system and includes Serato DJ and DVS expansion pack, two NoiseMap vinyl records, two NoiseMap CDs, and a 24-bit/96 kHz stereo in and out interface—everything you need to get you up and running with Serato DJ. For Traktor, the Scratch A10 interface offers 10 inputs and outputs, a microphone input, MIDI I/O, and 24-bit/96kHz resolution. The interface includes two control vinyl and two control CDs and ships with the Scratch Pro 2 software to get you going.

Serato DJ

Do you have a particular favorite piece of DJ equipment? Tell us about it in the Comments section, below.

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