The opinions expressed in these end of decade pieces are the author’s own, and not necessarily those of the whole DJWORX team.
Over the last ten years, we saw the end of Vestax, the sale of Rane, the hibernation of Native Instruments, and the inexplicable (OK not really) domination of Pioneer DJ. It’s been a decade of consolidation and, to an extent, stagnation.
That’s not to say there haven’t been flashes of inspiration… I’d argue the Kontrol S8 was daring and forward thinking (which doesn’t usually work well with DJs), and Denon DJ have thrown pretty much every little bit of tech at their hardware, and if you ignore the software, it’s very impressive.
On a personal note, I threw myself head first into the industry (which is now my bread and butter), and started a family… we got married, bought a house, had two kids. I also co-ran a techno night in Huddersfield for a couple of years, and saw my DJ setup evolve from a Korg KM-404, Stanton C.324s and two Faderfox DX2s, to a Xone:62, two 1210s, and a pair of X1s, to now having a custom Xone:96/K1, 1210s, and occasionally a Push.
The “Hardware of the decade” award: Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol X1 (+ Mk2)
In all seriousness, I don’t think there’s any hardware that has had such a profound impact on certain corners of the DJ world. It’s such a succinct companion controller, and thanks to Richie Hawtin, captured the imagination of a generation of techno, tech house, and progressive house DJs. Slap a pair of these next to a club mixer and you’ve got full control over all four Traktor decks, and all four effects banks. It not only proved that four-deck mixing was achievable, it also managed to unite the turntable crew alongside by providing the perfect companion to Traktor Scratch.
The design also set the tone for the next half-decade of NI’s industrial design, with the Maschine, F1, D2, etc all sharing the familiar build quality. Native Instruments should be very proud of this bit of kit. I just wish the Kontrol D2 saw similar success…
The “I’m glad that was just a fad” award: the Portablist starter pack (Numark PT01, GoPRO, hiking boots)
Jesus Christ. Who the fuck wants to see another shaky video of a dude in a snapback doing chirps on a cheap 7 inch turntable while on a cliff or kite-surfing?
The “Single-handedly bringing back a trend but in a good way” award: Rane MP2015 rotary club mixer
While rotary mixers were a thing long before linear faders became standard, the Rane MP2015 represented an accessible, idealised view of rotary club mixers, with its class wood panelling, chunky chromed knobs, and big LED level meters. It also helped it was actually really, really good. Off the back of the 2015 and the boom in vinyl sales, we saw the resurgence of boutique rotaries from the likes of Superstereo and Mastersounds, which are far cooler than scratching sat on the side of a fucking waterfall.
The “Fuck me, those crazy bastards really did it” award: Denon DJ Prime hardware range
I mean, regardless of Pioneer DJ’s perceived market domination, the technology is tired and stagnant. Most recently, the DDJ-200 came out and is an abomination (in my opinion), and the ‘new’ XDJ-XZ is really completely whelming and overpriced. Yeah, yeah, rekordbox USBs. Whatever.
Then we got a studio visit from the Prime 4, having been introduced to the SC5000s. And we were privy to not only a demo, but some super secret tasty surprises hiding inside… We now all know about the built in networking and new streaming ability. But what the Prime series (except the mixer, which just feels OK) offers is pretty much from the future: two decks per unit, super smooth multi-touch screen, cue buttons, all the connectivity you could ever need.