To start with, I tested on a 2011 MacBook Air 4Gb 1.8Ghz Intel Core i7 running OS X Lion 10.7.4. It ran absolutely smoothly with zero dropouts and no special optimisation of the system.
A brief note about beatgrids – to me this is the kind of thing that goes hand in hand with track preparation, so I’m really not bothered by the lack of hardware controls, as I’m more likely to do this on my laptop offline. It’s a control omission that I’m quite happy with.
Coming from a multi-disciplined background, I found the VCI-380 a joy to mix with and scratch on. But it’s when I started to get a little more animated with the hot cues and rolls that the party really started. And with the Pad FX and a little too much coffee, I was performing in front of a stadium full of people, getting crazy mashing up track after track, all on beat and synced to perfection.
The VCI-380 offered me all the creativity I needed with just enough SP-6 one-shot action to compliment my own creativity. And this was where I realised the problems facing Vestax and how they dealt with them. Sample workflows are all the rage, and are well catered for in Traktor, SSL and ITCH. But the adoption of the more complex looping and syncing elements is still more of a niche than mainstream, thus I feel that Vestax have decided give the most basic start/stop one-shot functionality to the hardware rather than add more hardware controls to an already busy piece . You still get the full SP-6 feature set, it’s just at the end of your mouse. While I know nothing about future products, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Vestax or Numark come out with an SP-6 specific controller to compliment the VCI-380, and probably all other ITCH units.
Overall, my performing experience has been exemplary. Hugely engaging fun, but also very capable of doing some really clever creative work.
At this moment in time, the VCI-380 only works with ITCH. It’s slightly outside of its much-lauded 1 to 1 mapping ideal, as some features are now creeping under shift buttons. The official maps for Traktor and Virtual DJ will come, but not in a hurry. More on that another time.
What Vestax and Serato have delivered in the VCI-380 is a distillation of all that is good from the modern DJ menu, and delivers it in a very strong way with just a few compromises. Sample play is just that with no extra controls, but everything else is top-notch. The VCI-380 gives you the ability to be a club DJ, turntablist, DVS user, controllerist and VJ all in one unit to a pretty high level – provided you use ITCH.
There seems to be perceived need for controllers to work with everything, but in doing so they become a little vague and less easy to use. But being tailored specifically to ITCH makes the VCI-380 an incredibly smooth experience that just works. There is a price to pay though, one that sees the VCI-380 heading towards the 4 channel price zone.
It really is a matter of working out what features are important to you. For a regular 2 channel back and forth shout over the mic DJ, the VCI-380 is total overkill. But for more demanding needs, with a wide variety of styles and uses, the VCI-380 is possibly the biggest box ticker on the market.
While not being the beasts found in the 100 and 300, Vestax have made sure that the VCI-380 is as solid a lump as possible. And quality also extends to sound too, with great advances under the hood to make the VCI-380 sound as good as it can be
The VCI-380 aims to be the most versatile controller around, but some compromises have been made fulfil the expectations of the masses. Pitch isn’t great, and sample control is limited to play. But the overall feature set is a generous scoop of all that is popular.
Value for Money
It does a lot, does almost all of it really well and feels great doing it. If I were to spend this much money and get so much in return, I’d be very happy.
If you’re not swayed by 4 full channels or need Traktor, and want to do the maximum possible with 2 channels, the Vestax VCI-380 is a real contender for the most versatile controller out there.