Controllers at the supermarket: Is it really that bad?

This weekend, my Facebook timeline and inbox were littered with sarcastic comments that seemed to mask genuine fear about this MIDI controller that appeared in the Christmas offerings from UK budget supermarket Aldi. Looks perfectly harmless to me and an ideal starter box for budding DJs. But it did make me ask the question — why are some people so bothered?

Some felt the need to denigrate it as being a toy, even though the reality is that if plugged into the supplied MixVibes software, any reasonably skilled DJ should be able to keep an average top 40 crowd perfectly happy. If you’re in the market for something like this, the Numark DJ2GO, iDJ Live, or Gemini FirstMix look to be much better solutions to me though. It also struck me that this could be used as a solid secondary controller for effects and hot cues too.


There are far worse things for sale in supermarkets though, such as knives, caustic chemicals, and anything with “Kardashian” on it. A cheap controller really is a cool gift for just about anyone. I have one particular nephew who would love one to play with, especially at Christmas.

Over to you

Are you increasingly frustrated that just anyone can buy DJ gear? Do you find yourself horrified at cheap entry level DJ controllers being on open sale at Walmart? Or do you welcome the widespread availability of DJ gear so that everyone can be a DJ?

  • http://twitter.com/djrobfrancis Rob Francis

    we’re not cool anymore

    • H8er

      Never was, when i started a dj was sombody who was a stand in for a cheap venueowner who could not afford a live band or musicians.

      Then we got promoted to guys who built and kept the dancefloor packed for years.

      Today you are an professional ipod octopus driver! serving as a bartender and superstar at the same time!

  • https://www.facebook.com/joshtessler Josh Tessler

    Yes

    • https://www.facebook.com/DJWORXHQ DJWORX

      Why is it bad?

      • http://www.mobiledjforums.com/ GroovinDJ

        Why’s the rum gone?

    • https://www.facebook.com/joshtessler Josh Tessler

      In an already over saturated DJ market, I feel that if you want to get into DJ’ing you should at least buy decent gear. If you look at what they are selling it is utter crap. What’s next? Giving away micro controllers in cereal boxes? I embrace the technology, but this makes a mockery of what I have been dedicated to in 27 years of DJ’ing. Just my opinion, if you want to buy your set up from Aldi, have at it.

    • https://www.facebook.com/hoozn Manolo Hoozn

      the mix of knobs, faders and jogs is ridiculous. this controller is only suitable for a little bit of everything (eq-ing? only 2 knobs for 2 bands. scratching? tiny jogs. mixing? well, if you dont need channel faders. pitching? via +/- buttons. etc)
      sure, its a midi controller so you can map it the way you want. but it has either too little knobs or too little buttons.

    • https://www.facebook.com/djbuddhaman Niraj Gohel

      Josh did you start on decent gear? Most people don’t have the luxury of starting with top of the range gear.

      • synthet1c

        that’s crap,, most newcomers don’t have the disipline to save like most who have been doing it for over 5 years had to, that breeds lazyness and starts people doing it for the fame, not the love. There’s enough douchbags in the world, let ‘em watch sport and leave the clubs to the misfits,

        I couldn’t care less about this controller, but that is how I feel about the club culture now.

    • https://www.facebook.com/joshtessler Josh Tessler

      Back in those days you had to have turntables and a mixer. And it was costly. So I had to go in on equipment with friends, buy used, etc. My point is these people are pumping cheap crap into the market and giving people the false sense that they are a “DJ”.

    • https://www.facebook.com/ashley.martel.5 Ashley Martel

      im bought my first shitty turntable at a supermarket…

    • https://www.facebook.com/djbuddhaman Niraj Gohel

      Times have changed my friend. Any kids who start on one of these and decide to take it seriously will soon graduate to something better. Everyone has to start somewhere.

      • CDDJ

        You echo my sentiment 100% Cut a long story short; I don’t remember when it started (some day back in the UK pirate stations (1980’s) when I stayed up until 2-3am to listen to them). Anyway, in those days I was just keen/enthusiast but couldn’t afford Technics, so I bought some cheaper direct drive turntables and various mixers. These gave me a taste and I knew that I didn’t just want want to copy my favourite Dj’s but do it for myself. Back to now. After a short spell down under, I bought my first digital system 2x CDJ100, DJM 300 and the EFX500. Expensive back in the late 90’s but when have a love then you will progress through whatever the method. Next was the controllers – Beringher 3000, Numark Total control. they served their purpose. Then Mixtrack pro which I loved and gave away to my goddaughter, also a Vestax Typhoon which I have to this day. I now use a VCI-380 – I love the 380 and still use the Typhoon cos their jogwheels are excellent i.e. 380 (Tyhpoon is good for the price).
        Anything that get you into the real thing is good, if you are fake you will be found out. As others have said, ‘ A good DJ can use any medium but, soemone playing music on the most expensive equipment will be found out through lack of music knowledge/selection’.
        Hope I haven’t too many of you with my thoughts but that is how I feel and no, it wasn’t very short lol.
        Just enjoy the music

    • https://www.facebook.com/joshtessler Josh Tessler

      Since when were we talking about kids?

      • Andy

        What are they if they buy one of these controllers and use it to play music for people if they are not a dj? Does being a dj only happen if you buy expensive equipment from specialist stores? Anyone can be a dj if they play music for other people, irrelevant of what the music is and what they play it on. A good dj can play on (almost) any kit, but a crap dj will be a crap dj no matter what they use as well. It isn’t down to the equipment.

    • https://www.facebook.com/djbuddhaman Niraj Gohel

      This is obviously aimed at the teen and home dj market. Same way argos or wal-mart sell entry level guitars, they sell entry midi controllers now. You don’t see guitarists complaining that you can buy cheap guitars on the high street, why are midi controllers any different?

  • AL

    Why the fuck do we have to be so elitist all the time? Would anyone care if they sold cheap guitars in Tesco, or cheap pianos in Asda? No. So why can’t people understand that being a DJ is just another way of expressing musical creativity? DJs and producers should be supporting entry level gear like this, not slating it.

    • Andy

      Well said Al, but for years this has been on the cards, and most have ignored it or simply hoped it wouldn’t happen. Cheap guitars have been for sale in supermarkets for years, as have keyboards, but the MI industry has not folded because of it. Most people do not live close to a specialist store, or maybe just chose not to go into them because they fear (and often rightly so) they will be looked down on, so this opens up the dj products to a potential new audience. We all started somewhere, and usually not with the best, most expensive shiny equipment, so why the issue? Maybe these dj’s are afraid of competition…

      • Darksidah Chea

        midi controllers are a gateway drug , eventully .. you will upgrade !

      • http://www.mobiledjforums.com/ GroovinDJ

        I agree with AL and Andy. Any DJ that moans about stuff like this must either be totally lacking in self esteem/confidence or have little or no DJing experience/ability. What is there to be worried about?

        If you genuinely believe that someone with a £50 controller is going to affect your chances of getting a job, then you should be asking yourself a few questions.

        I have a DJ2GO myself, kept in my laptop bag for emergency purposes.

  • Darren E Cowley

    I rue the day that Woolworths started stocking Harpsichords, it’s been downhill ever since…

    • http://djworx.com/ Mark Settle

      The predicted harpsichord revolution didn’t really take off though. There are still warehouses full of stockpiled harpsichords that eventually killed Woolworths. FACT.

  • http://twitter.com/williamsells Guillermo Alvarez

    DJs need 2 get over it stop being snobsjust remember when u first wanted to be a DJ if a supermarket controller is what u got so wat

    • H8er

      Well back in the day when i started i worked til my knuckels bled to be able to buy my first Pioneer table top at realease, the launch of CDJ 500, i also bought all my music, there were no place i could visit to get my music for FREE, so instead of sounding crappy at my gigs i had all the originals recorded far better quality then many of yoyu find att blog or torrentsites in VBR “LOL”

      Then when it comes to djn, i did not stepped out of my house until i was ready a year later, and after that rigorous training i was ready, and as i lacked experience regarding reading the crowd, i went under the tutoring of a local dj, i never had problems with mixing, and i learned to skill of reading crowds also.

      Thats whats pissing me off, people want the topping but dont want to eat the cake!

      You need training to be good at what you do, but today we all skip that part and jump straing to caviar and dreams, why not +1000 people gig on ibiza as well.

      Well leave as soon you are ready, dockingbay 94

  • https://www.facebook.com/ericofaustin Eric Brown

    What Josh said,

  • Dave Coakley

    Looks sound that mate. Can you get an innofader in that lad?

    ; )

  • dj murj

    Use food stamps to buy dj gear. Welcomed.

  • https://www.facebook.com/bertbrannigan Bert Brannigan

    I love DJing, I wish I had started much younger, this controller may provide more folk with the opportunity get into mixing some choonz…?

  • https://www.facebook.com/jam.robinson.90 Jam Robinson

    How can anyone object? Objecting to this is like saying kids without expensive sports shoes should be banned from sports day.

  • https://www.facebook.com/fhofinger Florian Hofinger

    controllers are devil’s work… divorcing our children from the truth…
    someday they will find out the truth about the world… but NOT NOW….
    Where is CIA, FBI, NSA… we are loosing our children to controllers….

  • Will Felix

    Props to using Father Ted on the graphic!

  • https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000535885333 Manuel Dominguez

    I just saw one for kids at kmart for $50.dlls

  • https://www.facebook.com/luke.clarkson.969 Luke Clarkson

    It’ll be a good starting point for people, most will probably get bored after a few hours and never bother with them again, but some will go on and get more advanced kit. It’s not much different to what I’m doing with my two turntables and serato. So is it such a bad thing to find their way into DJing easily by picking something up when they are at the store?

  • http://twitter.com/TheDJGospel The DJ Gospel

    Eggs, bread, milk, controller…..makes sense

  • HankBizzle

    Now, I can totally get where people are coming from, especially older DJs. When I started DJing I had to shell out many hundreds, in fact I’m pretty sure it was thousands of pounds to buy decks a mixer and a decent supply of vinyl.
    Nowadays you can literally start DJing for about £50 providing you already have a semi decent laptop. I and my ilk had to learn to beat match manually which took quite some time to learn, at least to even be remotely confident enough to want to do it in public. Nowadays you just poke sync and hey presto your done, no fear of any horrific beat clashes mid mix.

    So yes, I can totally understand why older DJs and purists are against this sort of thing. But I personally stopped caring a while back, no point trying to fight it. This is the here and now. Let’s face it, no ones gonna buy one of these and then go rock out Ministry with it are they. This is purely a way in, just like back in the old days you used to get cheap ass belt drive turntables.

    • CutSelekta

      you just proved the point that even the most musically untalented kid can call himself a DJ nowadays. That means that being a DJ is nothing special anymore. It takes more skills being a garbage man than a DJ in this day and age.

      • HankBizzle

        Sad but possibly true.

  • https://www.facebook.com/dopedjmore Simon Petrow

    Make a review :)

  • https://www.facebook.com/dopedjmore Simon Petrow

    Make a review :)

  • squarecell

    Djing is and has never been about the gear, so who really cares?

    • CutSelekta

      That’s not true, i prefer seeing a DJ spinning on 2 Techs or SUPER OEMS rather than a CDJ or controller. Controllers just don’t catch my eye.

      • squarecell

        I mean that owning DJ equipment of any kind is not what makes a DJ.

  • http://www.mobiledjforums.com/ GroovinDJ

    Aldi are also selling a camera. Is David Bailey worried? They’re selling a cordless drill. Is Tommy Walsh up in arms? A fire extinguisher. Are the fire service complaining?

    On the 21st they’ve got some pork chops on offer. Better warn Jamie Oliver and Heston Blumenthal that their jobs are on the line!

  • Mark Goertzen

    I think we’re just annoyed there wasn’t something like this available even 5 years ago. Back when there really was only the VCI-100, you would have to get creative to get something on the cheap. Looking back I now realize I should have bought a multi channel sound card with midi input and used an old keyboard for control. Instead I saved up to buy the Stanton Scratch Amp which never worked properly with my setup (stupid Firewire on Windows). I originally started with CD’s because that’s all we could get music on. Using a $35 dollar pawn shop mixer with a pair of $20 home CD players. No beat-matching or any fancy stuff.

  • Ztronical

    I used to be pissed that people who didn’t skateboard started wearing the clothing and shoes. Mainly because I had put years into the sport. And many had gave me hell about being a punk and such. To see it become mainstream made me think I had been seen as a failure and now others had made it cool.

    But not so I looked at wanting to mix music just as many looked at the style of skateboarding.
    The old school DJs and people that have put their lives into this art. Have definitely been looked up to and made their mark. Seeing a controller in a supermarket is proof of the world recognition.

    • H8er

      May be so, but the respect for the art is gone right out the window, not many is willing to walk the extra mile to get someware, thats why Pioneer among others went the other way and shout “anyone can do it” as long as you are willing to pay an arm and a leg for our products, that we also do not care much about, as their customerservice could be vastley improved.

      im tired of beeing a testpilot that has to pay for my samples needed for my work.

  • CutSelekta

    controllers never catch my eye at stores or supermarkets, i ignore them like a chick ignores a geek. When i see a turntable on display i get the feeling of a little kid coming into a candy store.

    • Ztronical

      Haha I didn’t know chicks ignored geeks anymore. Oh wait what’s a geek?

    • David De Garie-Lamanque

      valid point, but the chicks vs. geeks argument is now a thing of the past! all the better for us geeks!

  • Mauri Moore

    Nobody can buy EXPERIENCE , end of the history .

  • One Hand Solo

    im getting one! Love technology :)

  • Alexio Beez

    This kind of controllers comes very handy if you mapped them as an effector ;).Just be carefull at the quality of the buttons.

  • http://djlogic.es/ djlogic

    Many young kids do not have 200-300 € to spend on a controller … I think it’s okay to start and practice … the talent is not something you buy…Spend € 6,000 in DJ equipment, does not make you better DJ.

  • Dj Why

    Unfortunately controllers are not that durable, at least most of them. And with every major software update the need for their upgrade/replacement is greater. Take turntables/CD players still usable after tens of years use even with today’s technology. Do you think there will be at least one controller that people will remember after 10 years? The answer should tell you everything. Oh and what about when that lovely setup crashes. Sh*t I have to reboot. Oh wait I can just play a record or a CD in the meantime – not with a controller you ain’t.

    • Dj Why

      And better equipment does make you a better DJ!

  • The_KLH

    Well, my opinion is that this isn’t as bad as just using a phone or tablet. Still, the way we’re going, there will only need to be an internet connection as there will always be a DJ ready to perform somewhere in the world…

  • DJ Tang

    So many haters. Is there a possibility that many of them are concerned that a young dj using lower end gear may be more talented than they are? I learned to mix on a sashio belt drive, a technics belt drive and a soundlab sound mixer without a crossfader. Its like a training tool. You focus on the important stuff like mixing sounds and tempo control. Doesnt matter as long as it all works.

    • H8er

      You political corrected people are so fucking funny, did you know that, as long as someone disagrees with you we are either racist, fanbois or haters!

      Well guess what, thats why i choosed a fitting nickname so there would not be some misunderstanding!

      /H8er

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  • Buxton The Red

    That’s the same hardware as GetInTheMix have been selling as the “SG-1 MIXit” (incidentally, they only wanted £30 last time I looked). It’s a MIDI controller, many of the buttons light up, it can be mapped for Traktor very easily – so I mapped it as a dedicated track-prep / gridding tool. You could also use it as a dedicated control surface for FX or anything else you can imagine mapping up.

    Don’t be angry that inexpensive toy-level kit exists. Instead, figure out how you might benefit from it.

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  • tygaelement

    I would also add the Icon idj usb dj controller to the list of low budget alternatives..

  • shambles1980

    nothing will ever beat turn tables and vinyl, but cheap controllers are good fun. and something people “with correct software” can be happy to have. You just cant get decent drum and bass mixes with out some stupid mc yelling all over it and shouting rewind any time a good track comes in. but atleast people can now sit down with their fave mp3’s manage a half respectable beat match and crack out a cd/mp3 they are happy to listen to whilst driving.

    i have been trying to mix since the early 90’s its a lot more work than some people would believe, “mainly track selection” and knowing when to mix what in. beat matching is something that may take a while to figure out, but 1ce you have then thats it. your not going to just forget. the reall talent comes in track selection and when you blend something in. any one can match the beat with some practice then wait for one song to die down and slowly bring in the next one just as it starts to get louder. but a reall pro would have them playing in tandem with the timing of melody’s complimenting each other with both tracks kicking to make a remix. whilst at the same time preparing the next track selection.

    the people who complain that they had to learn to beat match and so the software and controllers give them a bad name arent dj’s they are wanna bees. any dj knows that beat matching is just the 1st small step you need to take. and although software will match the pitch for a 1st time dj, they stil have to match the beats up which is 50% of the process of learning to beat match on any sort of set up.

    i will always say that a real dj uses vinyl. but if some one can teach them selfs 99% of the trade with this sort of stuff and then move on to vinyl i do not see the problem with that.
    But like i said, i think the main benefit of these things is so people can mix their fave tunes together in to one compilation they are happy to listen to in the car or when out and about.
    and if you have a problem with that then i think you have some issues.

  • H8er

    If its over $50 its to expensive, i wish i had the budget to be a deejay with this HI end hardware, and then theres the music, to expensive, then theres the punters to naggy, then theres the drive to long to get to work, and then theres the wife, no sex.

    I’ll have a coke, a cigarette and a smile instead

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