I did an A/B/C test between the Ebox44, Novation Twitch and Stanton DJC.4 with iTunes running into a small sound board. The Ebox44 was clearly the loudest, the Twitch coming in second and the DJC.4 coming in a close 3rd. I had a hard time getting it very loud, but it always sounded crisp and clean. While this isn’t the loudest audio interface, at this price point it is solid and clear. I would feel comfortable taking it into a professional environment, especially considering both my DJ software can increase volume further and I would be plugging into a board or a mixer to give me more boost if necessary.
The mic sounds exactly like it should, good for talking at a club but nothing for serious recording. The aux input sounds fine, getting loud but not crackling at all when using an external CD deck. The option to over-ride the sound coming out of the computer can be great for one of those oh-shit moments, but the switch is hidden in the back, making it less than ideal for a backup solution.
Before we get into the features they have jam packed with VDJ LE and Traktor Pro, I would just like to take a minute to say that for this price point, this controller is filled with features. The interface sounds good, but doesn’t get terribly loud, and there are a TON of buttons. If you don’t have any software and need a starter we’ll take a look at what it can do with VDJ LE, but if you are instead more interested in using Traktor this could be used for quite a lot. If you are already an experienced Traktor Pro user, at $350 this is a great backup controller, allowing you to scale down the size but not lose most of the controls you’d have otherwise had access to.
The DJC.4 can be used with standard MIDI and includes a custom mapped version of VDJ LE and a Traktor Pro 2 TSI file. I am not well versed in Virtual DJ, but I know that users who buy this as a first controller will most likely get their first DJ experience with the LE version. It is important that users know what they are walking into when they purchase these controllers, especially when after purchase remapping is hard to do, as it is with these LE versions of DJ software.
The skin is tailored for the Stanton DJC.4, of course, and carries all the branding for a direct resemblance to the controller. The default samples are everyone’s favorites: siren, a little sax line, a voice saying “push” every beat, etc.. The jog wheels feel pretty smooth, allowing for a good scratch feel. As I usually have to add, I am not a scratch DJ, but I didn’t notice any drift or latency while using the jog wheels.
All of the controls responded very well and quickly allowing for no noticeable latency. I did notice, while banging on the hotcue buttons, that I just didn’t like the feel of them. After a while the buttons seemed to start feeling flimsy, and I couldn’t really tell when they were getting pressed or not. If you are taking your time they feel very strong, but once you start moving quickly you may notice that the response isn’t as great as you would expect. This is not the case for the rubber buttons in the transport section, though, which felt great no matter how much I banged away on them.
In VDJ LE there is an included Fader FX mode which was interesting, but not something I ever really bought into as a technique. It worked with most of the FX, though not all, and felt fine, but I am not sure as to how often I would ever use such a feature. Thankfully, if you don’t want to use it you aren’t required (yay choice).
One other VDJ LE limitation I noticed with FX was that you are restricted to only two knobs for FX. I’ve been told that if you upgrade to Pro, though, you have access to 3 FX. I believe this is one of the only MIDI controllers in VDJ which has access to 3 FX per side. Something to keep in mind for current VDJ Pro users.
There was one layout issue that kept griping at me in the beginning but I found myself slowly adjusting to. It is slightly complicated to explain, so see the attached picture. The knob for FX D/W in Traktor or FX select in VDJ is out of order with the other knobs on the right side of the deck. So the knob order on the left side from left to right is Loop, FX Select, FX 1, FX 2, FX 3. On the right side, from left to right it is FX 1, FX 2, FX 3, D/W or FX Select and Loop. I don’t really think there was an easy way to do this once they got the unit in, but it did throw me off in use. As I said, though, as I used it more I just simply adjusting. Since the knobs feel so different it makes it easy to know whether or not you are holding the right one.
As far as the Traktor TSI goes, my initial run through with the 4 deck mapping was fine. There were some strange quirks, like the load LEDs being tied to Snap and Quantize, instead of whether or not the deck was loaded, but once again, that is something that can be changed by the individual user if they need it. I’m assured by Stanton that there will be a 2.5 compatible release to support Sample Decks.
Once I dialed in a good jog wheel sensitivity the platters felt wonderful. Most of the setup is identical to VDJ and is easy to navigate. Having the FX knobs out of order, though, did get on my nerves more in Traktor than VDJ, though I think that’s just because I’m more comfortable in Traktor and expect a certain workflow.