Link: Vestax – Price: $999 /€799 /£629
In the first of 2 full reviews from different writers, legendary UK DJ, producer and remixer and now photographer Paul Dakeyne temporarily joins the DJWORX team and casts his very experienced eyes and ears over the Vestax VCI-400. And took a handful of pictures too. I hope it’s not the last time we see him round these parts either.
The Vestax pedigree for ground-breaking DJ controllers is set firm in the consciousness of users themselves and the industry in general. The VCi range has proved itself worthy of both high-end professional use and easing new blood talent into the bigger arena. When the VCI-400 made its first UK appearance at the BPM show in 2011, myself and other reviewers placed it in the top 3 of the “how ‘bout that…” list at the after-show drinks get together. The unit’s main USP was clear as day, being the world’s first multi DJ software device to ship with a relatively blank top panel interface. This then can be used with the provided physical overlays enabling users to switch between the likes of Serato Intro, Traktor Pro and Virtual DJ or adapting a blank overlay to customize for any MIDI capable application.
The VCI-400 locks together the very best of what a kick-butt, 21st Century DJ controller should be. Two Vestax tried and trusted control platters are switchable to operate between a default two, then up to four decks where the utilized software allows. The unit boasts four individual deck faders, a crossfader, full 3-band EQ, Gain, Monitoring and Master controls plus a simple to use and logical crate navigation and track load feature. In addition, a comprehensive panel set dedicated to expressive manipulation of loops, cue-points, multi-effects, dedicated filter control and sample playback options where needed are logically laid out and easily accessible. It’s no shrinking violet when it comes to build quality and a sizeable, reassuring ‘pro’ style fascia either, but remains light enough to be truly portable for traveling DJ/Producers visiting gig venues and project studios alike.
The VCI-400 also makes its mark as the company’s first unit to use the new Bit Perfect Audio protocol, offering a next-generation (digital audio conversion) jump up in overall sound quality outputted from such DJ oriented devices. Of particular note as I write this review is that Vestax just announced an April ’12 firmware update that takes the VCI-400 into the ability of operating as a stand-alone hardware mixer, negating the need to run any form of software to run external audio sources through the hardware – As if that wasn’t ‘wowza’ enough, channel’s C & D will be able to run DVS systems too, making the value for money factor off the proverbial hook.
Build & Features
The VCI-400 is a metal monster – tough as ol’ boots and whilst winning no prizes for the most minimal, aesthetic layout ever, it rocks its big gun controls on and around the work area, safely housed by the full metal chassis and solidly bolted together. The Vestax jog wheels have been long-time favourites of many controllerist DJ’s and, here on the 400, adding (coarse/fine) touch sensitivity control and a central rubber screw to adjust torque as well. Vestax have found that wonderful balance between resistance and freeflow movement in the unit’s faders too, with the main 4 channel one’s being stiff enough for subtle fade movements and the crossfader offering that fine threshold area of ‘flickability’ (not loose, but not holding a fast movement back).
The 3-band EQ, channel Trim, Master and FX knobs are the VCI’s most luxurious controls, offering a lovely rubber grip feel to them and seem to be bolted to the inner chassis very firmly. The tough plastic knobs elsewhere on the top panel are decent quality too but seem to have a slight degree of play in them, rocking side to side when used perhaps a tad aggressively, especially on the front panel cue/master/level ones. The four major red filter knobs however bring back the luxury element for sure, being wide and chunky, sweeping the audio signal through lo-pass and hi-pass, elegantly and smoothly. Accessing quick switch parameters is an important necessity for DJ’s and the VCI-400 fires on all cylinders in this department. Vestax provide two types of feel for the unit’s two main areas, with the default loop and cue (square and rectangular) buttons being flush, large, illuminated of course and offer a gorgeous sounding and positive ‘click’ response when tapped in anger. Underneath the jog-wheels, the transport play, pause, cue and sampler default buttons are more raised from the metal panel, a touch more rubbery in feel and have a ‘muted’ click response. The much smaller (though no less accessible) PFL, FX selector, Sync, Load and Vinyl buttons return to the noisier click/response variety.
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