Vestax have a very long history with robust faders. When controllers first came out, faders were merely good enough. But now, with demands on hardware and software being ever higher, fader requirements are becoming important factors, especially on a performance unit like this.
For a controller, the fader section is pretty well specced. The faders are 45mm, with regular square Vestax caps and raised 3mm above the faceplate. The crossfader is slick and wobble-free, whereas the linefaders are a tad stiffer and better suited to mixers. Both have physical curve controls (down to roughly 2mm lag), and the crossfader has a software reverse/disable toggle.
While the crossfader is perfectly scratchable and able to pull off the clickiest of crabs, Vestax have made it relatively easy to swap out the stock fader for their rather nice CF-X2 crossfader. I don’t have one to check it out with, but it feels amazing in my 05 Pro IV mixer. I can also confirm that a regular Innofader is too deep to fit, but the Innobender version does work. So if the stock fader isn’t good enough for you (for most it will be), there are options.
ITCH offers 8, 16 and 50% pitch ranges via a small button just above the jog wheel. Shift-hitting the button enables keylock – great speeded up, but not too clever when slowing down more than 15%. Given Serato‘s pedigree in this area, I was a little disappointed. I was equally disappointed with the lack of pitch bend buttons, but that’s personal preference and can be achieved with the jog wheels.
The VCI-380 offers short 60mm throw pitch faders that are stable and smooth, but lack a centre detent or even any hardware LED indicator for 0%. Bearing in mind that these are short throw, the resolution is hard to nail, but seems to be 0.03% at 8%. Given the more sample/sync based workflow of the VCI-380, I’m less bothered than I would be on more mix-centric units, but it’s worth bearing in mind. And like previous ITCH units, I found it reasonably easy to confuse ITCH with repeated range changes and pitch shifts.
Treat pitch tenderly, and she will serve you well. But for me this is probably the weakest part of the VCI-380 by some way.
IDEA: Probably heading into broken record territory here, but Serato – I’ll just leave this one here…
Ins and Outs
The days of audio interface free controllers are almost gone. It’s pretty much expected that controllers will be plug and play – USB cable in, audio output in and you’re off. And when you get to this high-end level, ins and outs are quite seriously catered for.
Starting round the back, for the mobile guys who are adopting controllers on an increasing basis, there are 2 separate mic inputs – 1/4″ and XLR, and each with their own volume controls. Thankfully Vestax have thought to add chunky rubberised knobs to the volume controls, making reaching over the back less of a pain. Side note – no effects routing for the mics.
Next up are the RCA inputs. They’re switchable between line and phono and also have their own trim controls. These inputs are useful should you need to reboot your laptop or swap over between DJs as they work without the USB connected, and still use the onboard EQ and even th effects controls work as filters. Clever stuff. More importantly, these allow you to use your favourite DVS package through the VCI-380, but we’ll get to that in a few paragraphs.
Outputs are served pretty well with balanced XLR outputs – just XLRs, rather than having unbalanced RCAs, as well as separate booth outputs with its own volume control on the back. There’s also the now standard large and small headphone jacks with master/cue and volume controls. No split cue though. Am I the only one who likes having a split cue?
One important point with the VCI-380 is that it requires power, which in turn means it’s loud, and all the LEDs light up nice and bright.