LINK: Behringer CMD Micro — Price: $69/€59/£53
Years ago, in the beginnings of the digital DJ market, a few manufacturers released small controllers that resembled the rackmounted CD controllers of old. Numark and Vestax released two of the better known options, with their DJ2GO and VCM-100 respectively. Since that time, though, very few products have been released that are small, compact, and offer all of the necessities for the digital DJ.
Enter the Behringer CMD Micro. While it doesn’t have an audio interface of any kind, it does sport a battery pack and just enough controls to get you through the most basic of DJ sets all by itself. Since there isn’t anything very current in the market to compare it to, it has to hold its own in a market flooded with controllers that look drastically different. That being said, for $69.99 it is hard to argue that it could easily end up on your desk when you want to bring as little as possible with you.
The Behringer CMD Micro is the stand out step child of the whole CMD line of controllers on my desk. This thing is small with very little control available to it, but for the price it is a great deal for a basic mobile rig or backup DJ rig. You can add two AA batteries to the Micro, as a backup to any power supply issues you may have. And while the main use does seem to be with laptops, the CMD Micro does also work with iPads too. Apparently the components sourced are specifically low powered so as not to drain an iPad, and gets the extra boost from the batteries. It’s a smart move, as I’d rather receive power from batteries than have one more thing to plug in to a wall. I couldn’t get any sort of benchmark information on battery life from Behringer, unfortunately.
The Behringer CMD Micro has two small 2 inch touch-sensitive jog wheels, a standard sized cross-fader and line faders and two small pitch faders. The jog wheels are loose and smooth, but I really don’t like the grip they use. If my touch is too light it feels like they are going to slip away. Some of the buttons suffer from the same inconsistencies I’ve seen in the CMD Studio 4a and CMD Modular units (reviews coming), but others feel the most accurate of all of the line. It is around 2″ thick and 15” long. Its only connector is a USB port, and has a red light that flashes when there is no battery power (whether or not it has sufficient USB power).
Unfortunately it lacks an audio interface completely. While I know adding one would increase the cost, a unit like this is just begging for one. If I could carry a little Macbook Air, or one of the new Asus Windows 8 Pro tablets with this thing I could have a drastically simple DJ rig for practically nothing. While all the ideas are there, I think it needed to be pushed to the next level badly. In fact, there’s a part of me that would love to mount two controllers above this one so I could use the small Micro as my mixer along with a supplemental controller, as needed.
The controls are cramped, but it’s not overwhelmingly tight. The layout is pretty simple and elegant, with a browse section smack in the middle over the crossfader. The pitch faders don’t send hi-res MIDI, but I wasn’t expecting it with the price point. It would have been a nice addition, though. The faders also don’t have a center détente, or a light to signify you are in the middle. I would have rather either of those added to remove the need to pay more attention to the screen while DJing.
As said before, the buttons feel alright, but if you don’t hit them correctly they won’t respond. They are also very hard plastic which when hitting the cue buttons can begin to get a little uncomfortable. I wish Behringer had put at least a little soft rubber on them for comfort, if nothing else. It does still provide all of the controls I need for DJing a simple set on its own, though.
For the price, the Behringer CMD Micro it isn’t a bad travel or practice piece. Bringing this to a coffee shop or on a plane to do basic track prep wouldn’t be a bad plan, but I just don’t see a common use case for it beyond the absolute basics, and with still needing to purchase an audio interface to get any use out of it I am just left unexcited. If this had one added in it would be much more attractive to me.
With all of that being said, for the price the Behringer CMD Micro is a great little controller. While there are many things I could think of to add to it, all of them would significantly add to the price, and Behringer wants to keep these controllers completely accessible to DJs at the beginner level while offering those who are more professional tools to add to their existing setup.