Vestax pretty much set the standard as to what people expect as far as how a MIDI controller platter should feel, and the VCI-400 is no slouch. The platters feel ridiculously solid, and the included tension control mechanism is quite smart. What looks to be a decorative center section is actually a tensioning disc, and allows for the platter to be locked down almost to the point of not being able to move it, or you can make it extremely loose as well. The top plate is finished in a grooved painted finish that, while not feeling like vinyl, gives an immediately familiar feel and gives a great amount of finger “stick”. The outer portion of the platter is not touch sensitive, and has enough extra space around the edges that you shouldn’t have to worry much (if at all) about accidently triggering a scratch message when pitch bending. The platter LED’s do not provide any sort of positional information, but instead tell of platter touch state. That said, they are very attractive, and I’m glad they are there.
Vestax will mention, any time they have the chance, their new XMOS powered audio interface. To the average consumer, XMOS is just another company, with no real meaning if it doesn’t sound good. So, how does it sound? Good. Very very good. The audio coming out of the VCI-400 is punchy clear. Putting it next to my Mbox 2 (not the best or the worst performing interface, I know), the VCI-400’s output is louder, clearer and overall better. Put next to the Native Instruments S4, the performance difference is reduced, but the VCI-400 does get a win with a slightly more clinical clarity and overall better transient response. I was able to run the interface at 24bit/48k at 64 samples latency with zero issues on my mid-tier 2011 Macbook Pro over the month of testing. I didn’t test the ASIO drivers, but hopefully they will perform up to standard as well.
Aftermarket faders (Modding)
The question always pops up eventually-“Can I put an Innofader/Pro X Fade in there?”. The answer is no. The space for the faders is incredibly tight, and neither will fit. But wait, there is hope!!!!!
For the review, I was provided both a Vestax CF-X2 magnetic fader and a prototype Mini-Innofader, and both work and work VERY well. The CF-X2 is plug and play, and feels amazing. The cut in time is superb, and the feel is suitably loose. Honestly, it made me realize how much the scratch performance of a controller really depends on the fader, as my platter performance did not improve yet I suddenly felt like D-Styles. A tired, possibly hung over D-Styles, but you get the idea.
The Mini-Innofader required a modification in the circuit (but the molex connector fit perfectly and required no re-wiring), but this won’t be an issue with retail units. The fader does mount from the bottom however, so one needs to either machine a bracket or hope that Audio Innovate come out with an Innobender for this model. Again, scratch performance was improved tenfold, and the feel was quite lovely. Either option would be an excellent choice.