Link: Stanton – Price: $349/€369/£299
For a few years it felt like every single controller that came out was just bigger than the one before. They needed one-to-one mapping, were almost as large as two turntables and a mixer, and could barely fit into the average DJ booth. Thankfully, we have been seeing that trend go away and smaller controllers are getting released again. However, there’s still a demand for one-to-one functionality, leaving us with smaller controllers crammed with a ton of more buttons, knobs and features.
We here at DJWORX are generally skeptical about the necessity of 4 channel controllers for the average user. Most DJs don’t really need 4 channels and are just mesmerized by the bigger is better mentality. To get the full controlling power most manufacturers have been making these massive 4 deck controllers, or smaller 2 deck controllers with barely enough buttons and knobs to satisfy.
The Stanton DJC.4 tries to walk a fine line of being a smaller format controller, while still cramming a ton of controls in.
As far as build goes, the Stanton DJC.4 feels like a tank. The body is solid and the guts have some heft to them. The knobs and faders are hard soldered and nutted to the chassis and have very little wiggle or give. I would feel much more secure throwing this in a bag for a gig than my VCI-100 back in the day, or even my Twitch. The six EQ knobs and six infinite knobs are all push encoders, and the infinite knobs all have a resounding click when turned or pressed. I wish the two gain knobs were push encoders as well, just for those of us who like 4 channel EQ in our DVS and want push kills. The pitch faders send 14-bit pitch bend messages, allowing really accurate control, though the center detente is really small, leaving me searching for it more than anything.
Looking at this controller is an almost overwhelming experience. In its modest 16×11″ frame there are 58 plastic buttons, 6 rubber transport controls, two 4″ jog wheels, 18 knobs and 5 faders (including the replaceable crossfader). While the controls aren’t overwhelmingly cramped, there’s a ton of text and a lot of very small buttons. I would have appreciated a blank overlay, especially considering the branding is directed toward the copy of VDJ LE that comes with the controller and this controller just screams Traktor.
On the front of the controller there is a mic input with a gain knob, as well as two touch sensitivity knobs for the jog wheels. Right next to the touch sensitivity knobs is a cross fader control which sends a MIDI signal to your software of choice. The front panel is finishes with the Headphone Mix and Headphone Level knobs 1/8″ and 1/4″ headphone ports. In practice in a dark club I feel getting to these controls and using them would be a little frustrating. I’m more likely to use headphone mix while DJing than the master volume.
The back of the unit has a healthy number of inputs: an 1/8″ aux input with gain control, two RCA inputs with phono and line switches, an RCA master out and a balanced 1/4″ master out. The stereo inputs can be used for time code control with VDJ or Mixvibes and other open source solutions (see: not Traktor or Serato). Input 1 can be set either to send straight to the computer for time code or an external synth, or as a thru for an external CD deck or an iPod. In case you don’t have a lot of faith in your USB bus power there is also a power supply, though one is not included in the box.
Now, before I loaded this up with the included VDJ LE or one of the Traktor tsi files, my initial reaction to the controller is positive. The volume faders and crossfader might be a little too resistant for some people but I’m sure they will loosen up in time with use. The included fader is a alpha short body fader rated at a 100,000 cycles. It is the same type of fader in the S4, VCI-400 and other “industry standard” controllers. It is fully replaceable but will probably not be compatible with the Innofader Pro. It could work, but it’s going to be a tight fit.
The top of the mixer section has two metal switches allowing you to switch channel 1 input between Aux and Input 1/2, and channel 2 between the microphone and input 3/4. As this is not an analog mixer you can’t mix to external audio signals. Input 1/2 can be sent to your speakers instead of what’s coming from your computer, but in general these are going to be used to send audio or timecode directly to your software of choice.
The jog wheels are sleek and shiny, but once I start touching them they smudge really quickly. This kind of kills the aesthetic, and I’d rather it be a flat matte look, personally. They feel about as loose as every other controller on my desk and send 128 steps of resolution peer rotation.
The Stanton DJC.4 can also be used to DJ with video in VDJ. While this is not something that I generally dig into very much on my own, it opened up a bunch of options and gave the full controller over to mixing video. If you’ve been wanting to get into mixing video then this is a great controller to get started with.