My research into a setup so far.
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  1. #1
    Tech Guru Bassline Brine's Avatar
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    Default My research into a setup so far.

    I recently wrote this whole thing up and posted it in my blog, asking some folks whom I know aren't into DJing at all for feedback. So take it with a grain of salt at the explanation of some of the information, it's basically meant to explain my thinking.



    I've been on a kick for the last few months about digital DJing and have really been looking into various options to get myself into it. I figure I've been a musical consumer for years, and it's finally somewhat of my chance to step up my game and really get into the nitty-gritty of understanding my music and mixing it correctly.

    That being said, there is much to be said for a turntable/CDJ setup. But I'm looking for something that is extremely mobile and can still get a similar musical result out of the speakers. I would still love to get turntables in the future, but it's not in my outlook for the near future. And so I've turned to what I consider the “future” of DJing, the MIDI controller route.

    My plan for this is to make something of a hobby out of it. I've seen more than a few DJ's perform, and sometimes I sit there and think to myself, I could probably do a better job if I put my mind to it. Well this is me putting my mind to it, or at least getting my initial research done so I can begin down that road. I've come to a point in my musical career in which I want to take the next step. I want to produce on the side, and I also want to learn how to mix the songs I know and love. I know my music. My music is something that even within my circle of best buddies, I know I have a unique taste in. So we'll see where this brings me.


    First off would be getting a professional quality pair of headphones. It's a constant debate, and in all honesty I am not quite sure exactly what I want to get. I've seen my buddy Cole's Xone XD-53 headphones (I'm pretty sure that's the model) and they are quite nice. But I've also recently had my eyes on the Ultrasone DJ1 Pro Headphones. http://dancemusic.about.com/od/djgea...soneDJ1Pro.htm is a review. Those are the ones I'm leaning toward at the moment, because of the ability to have quality sound played at a lower actual volume level. I also have a huge head, and they are supposed to run on the larger scale of things so that's great in my book. (Plus I think they look sharp, but that's not a huge selling point).

    Ultrasone DJ1 Pro:


    After headphones (which I chose/am choosing to get first, since they are relatively simple in the scheme of things... and I really could use a new set of headphones), it's time to decide on a “DVS.” A DVS is technically a “digital-vinyl system” which allows you to control music within your computer. Serato SSL and Traktor Scratch Pro are great examples of this. I, however, am not planning on using CDJ's or turntables, so that both opens me up and limits me on my choices. SSL is incompatible with standard MIDI controllers, and that's the system I have the most experience with. (Which isn't saying much tbh.)

    So my real options that I am looking between are Traktor Pro and Serato ITCH. I've pretty much narrowed it down to those two items, and they are similar and yet very different. I'm not really interested in any of the other options for the sake of reliability. Torq is good but I really just don't feel it's for me. The choice of software really is the key point for me to decide which controllers are actually compatible, and this is the point I'm pretty much stuck on. ITCH is brand new, and very limited in my controller choices, and Traktor is full of bells and whistles, but I'm not the biggest fan of the gui/layout.

    Serato ITCH


    Native Instruments Traktor Pro


    Right now I'm really tossed up in between the two. I like the layout better in ITCH from the get go, but Traktor has a monster amount of features and has a lot wider range of available controllers and support. It really comes down to what I will feel more comfortable with in the end, and I'm still trying to figure that out. It's one of those things that I either have to go with a controller that is ITCH compatible, or I am stuck without the option of using it. (All controllers that I know of so far are compatible with Traktor.)

    As far as controllers are concerned, I've really narrowed it down to two controllers (one for ITCH, and one for Traktor). They are made by the same company, Vestax, and have similar features. In fact, they are pretty close to the same damned thing except the VCI-300 is a newer model of the VCI-100 that was/is custom tailored to the ITCH software.

    The VCI-300



    (One of the better explanation videos of the controller I could find, even if the kid is a bit goofy.)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=<obje...mbed></object>

    The VCI-300 is a new controller put out by Vestax to be paired with the Serato ITCH software. It uses state of the art information encoding to make it one of the most responsive controllers on the market. The “jog wheel” platters have been compared to Pioneer CDJ's for their reliability, feel, and ruggedness. It is an “all-in-one” solution, meaning it has an audio interface built in. It is designed perfectly to work with the ITCH software, so it's pretty much plug and play out of the box. It was designed after the VCI-100 and is basically a side-grade as far as some things are concerned.

    I've heard mixed things about the built in audio interface. I've heard it's fine, and I've also heard it can't handle a huge club system. This is something I need to look into before I get one, because if any part of an “all-in-one” unit can't hack it... well, the whole thing can't hack it. But it is something that I really just don't know about, and I really don't see myself doing anything in a club anytime soon, so we'll see.

    What I don't like about it? It has a few less buttons and controls than the VCI-100, and custom mapping is not really an option in ITCH. You can get it to work with Traktor, but it comes down to the fact that it was designed for ITCH, and won't be as good on any other interface. It also doesn't have the community of support that is out there for the VCI-100, and the LED's behind the buttons aren't as bright. It's also slightly larger than the VCI-100, which can be both a good and a bad thing.



    The VCI-100SE

    (A good explanation of the VCI-100SE and working with Traktor.)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=<obje...mbed></object>

    The VCI-100SE is a special edition controller. It's put out by DJ Tech Tools, and has constantly updated mapping and a large “cult” following. Which I greatly approve of to be honest, great aftermarket support is always a plus. The hardware works seamlessly with Traktor, and there are endless possibilities in MIDI mapping. It has a very intelligent design, and has been out for awhile now and is shown to be reliable. The SE edition also comes with extra bright LED's that would be great for visual feedback in a dark environment.

    It does not come with an internal audio interface, which is both a blessing and a curse. What I mean by that is, it's something extra to carry around, but I can choose which one I want to use and generally get a more powerful audio interface.

    What I don't like about it? It cannot be used with Serato ITCH software, and so I'd be forced into using Traktor or another DVS system. It's controls are slightly less sensitive than the VCI-300 because it uses standard MIDI where the VCI-300 uses HID signals that were designed to work directly with ITCH software. (Mainly referencing the jog wheels.) Another thing that I don't really like is the fact that it doesn't have visual volume/gain levels on the mixer itself, which is a feature the VCI-300 incorporates.


    So it basically comes down to this, the VCI-300 VS VCI-100SE

    Here's a link to a very good article comparing the two:
    http://www.djtechtools.com/2008/10/0...00-vs-vci-300/

    (Continued in next section)

  2. #2
    Tech Guru Bassline Brine's Avatar
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    In price, both controllers come out to be quite close in the end. So it's not really a question on that front. It really seems to be if I want to use Traktor and have an external audio interface, or if I want to use ITCH and have an “all-in-one” type of solution.

    I would be wanting to learn how to mix and beat match first, and then worry about effects once I have that down. You have to start with the ingredients of baking a cake before you put the frosting on, and it works the same with DJing. And so I'm kind of stuck on which I actually want to get at the moment.

    Right now I'm leaning more toward the VCI-300 and ITCH. It just seems like it follows more of the K.I.S.S. (keep it simple stupid) policy. I am someone who could get really into the custom mapping of the VCI-100 however, and so that's something that is to consider.

    At this point in time, I also generally like the Serato ITCH layout better than Traktor. It just seems more intuitive, and I really like the wave mapping that Serato products have. I also feel that if I wanted to get a true DVS system and get turntables in the future, I'd want to use Serato Scratch Live (SSL) and using ITCH would be more intuitive toward that.

    I have nothing against Traktor however, and it does have a lot more features than the Serato counterparts. But Serato is also known for making products that have spot on reliability above and beyond any other distributor, and that's pretty huge as well. The worst thing would be having the software lock up and no sound to be coming out.

    The one thing that makes me second guess getting the VCI-300 is that you need an additional controller to unlock the effects in ITCH, and the effects are much less than with Traktor. Basically meaning I'd have to spend more money to have all the features that come native in Traktor. Now I know I don't have much experience using them, but it seems like effects are something I would really enjoy playing around with. But it also makes it so if I got the VCI-300 I would be focusing more on the bread and butter of making a mix sound good rather than playing with the effects right away. Which I know I would do.

    Right now I'm at the point where I wish that the Traktor layout was like ITCH, with the waveforms next to each other and with the Serato color scheme. I know DJing is not a visual art, it's an audio art, but it's a feature I really like about the Serato products. Other than the waveforms, Traktor seems to be spot on competition if not possibly a better product. But if I'm to be dealing with something on a consistent basis, I'm going to want something I want to look at.

    Basically I like the VCI-100 and I like ITCH. And they are not compatible, and so I need to figure out one or the other.

    After looking at numerous setups, and trying to decide what would work best for me, these are my two finalists. I really like the Stanton SCS3 System, but I've decided to learn with something a bit more traditional first. I do plan on getting TT's in the future, they are something I think would be just enjoyable to have and learn on, but I want to get something that fits my budget and my "plan" first. The VMS4 system looks nice, but I really just like the reliability of a brand like Vestax. The XoneX is also interesting, but it's out of my price range for starting into the process. If I did get a VCI-100, I'd probably add some form of MIDI controller as well, such as the X1 or a MIDIFIGHTER for added benefit.

    I don't know if anyone was able to read through that entire write-up, but any feedback would be great. What are your experiences using Traktor vs ITCH is mainly what I am looking for. I doubt I'm the only one in this thought process boat, and figured this might help someone else looking into a similar setup.
    Last edited by Bassline Brine; 01-25-2010 at 03:43 AM. Reason: added more.

  3. #3
    Tech Guru Bassline Brine's Avatar
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    saved for future use (explanation of the setup I do choose to get)

  4. #4
    Tech Guru Bassline Brine's Avatar
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    saved for future use (explanation of the setup I do choose to get).

  5. #5
    Tech Guru BradCee's Avatar
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    have you got a shop nearby that sells them and has them on display to play with?

    Win 7 / 2x Reloop Contour / Numark M6 /Traktor Pro 2.5
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  6. #6
    Tech Guru Bassline Brine's Avatar
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    Yeah the Guitarcenter locally has both, and I need to get down there to check them out. But really just looking for other folks who have had a chance to compare the two software and hardware packages out.

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