Akai Pro AMX and AFX — bringing Serato to producers

NI’s own modular controllers set the DJ world on fire and have become a often spotted part of many a DJ setup, including Serato setups.  But I’m sure that Serato would rather see their logo on similar hardware running natively with Serato DJ. But to make duplicate units lacks imagination, so working with Akai Pro, the new AMX and AFX modular units unlock some serious features in some very small packages.

PR follows:

Akai Pro AMX AFX Serato DJ Controller

Akai Professional Introduces Studio-Grade Control to Serato DJ

Versatile AFX and AMX Announced for Serato Users of All Kinds

Cumberland, RI, USA – August 4, 2014. Akai Professional (akaipro.com), a leader in the innovation of electronic music production and live performance for over 25 years, announces the AFX and AMX controllers for Serato DJ. Over a USB connection, AFX and AMX each add extensive hands-on controls to a variety of DJ setups ranging from Serato NoiseMap™ Control Vinyl (DVS), minimalist controllers, HID-capable CD transports, and more.

AFX, a controller for both modern electronic dance music artists and turntablists, features an intuitive array of knobs, pads and buttons for advanced track manipulation. Ten pad modes enable DJs to trigger samples, set and launch hot-cues, slice songs, and assemble loops on the fly from 8 velocity-sensitive, backlit pads. Touch-activated FX knobs provide sound sculpting prowess with a creative twist – a Touch mode allows the knobs to respond with a turn, a tap, or both. An endless controller with LED readout delivers needle-drop access to any point in the track for a hyper-efficient workflow. AFX is the first Official Serato Accessory to include exclusive controls for Serato’s newly minted Serato Flip Expansion Pack. Serato Flip allows users to record their Cue Point and Censor actions, which can be saved and looped, ready to re-trigger and start in an instant. Serato Flip lets users create and save up to 6 “Flips” per track, ready for playback in the studio or club. Voucher codes for the Serato Flip Expansion Pack and the popular Back Pack FX Expansion Pack are included with every AFX.

AMX is a plug and play mixing control surface with inputs for Serato NoiseMap™ control signals. AMX unlocks the full-version of Serato DJ, and features a 24-bit, 96 kHz audio interface for sending the mix to a speaker system with studio-grade quality. With gain, EQ, Filter knobs, two line faders, and a mini innoFADER™ crossfader, AMX is the ideal central hub for a Serato DJ setup utilizing turntables or CD controllers with Serato NoiseMap™ (DVS). Further, AMX is the first interface to take advantage of Serato’s newly announced DVS Expansion Pack. Each EQ and Filter knob is touch-activated for generating all-new sonic expressions. Transport and library navigation controls complete the mouse-less experience that combines the power and flexibility of Serato DJ with the hands-on hardware experience DJs demand.

“Producers and DJs exist in worlds that have been colliding at a rapid rate. Today’s leading artists want to manipulate music in real-time with the level of control Akai Professional has made famous in the studio,” noted Dan Gill, Akai Professional Product Manager. “AMX and AFX let DJs of all walks expand their control set and take advantage of every ounce of performance power Serato DJ offers.”

AFX Highlights:

  • Expands audio command control of Serato DJ; FX, loops, cue points and more
  • Serato Flip-capable -create custom edits, extend your music or re-imagine it altogether in the studio or club
  • Includes Serato Flip and Back Pack FX Expansion Packs, a $49 value
  • 4 decks of control over a single USB connection
  • 9 touch-activated knobs for groundbreaking effects tweaking and EQ kills
  • 8 velocity-sensitive, backlit pads with RGB feedback
  • 10 pad modes for triggering hot cues, loops and slices
  • Powered by a single USB connection

AMX Highlights:

  • Mixing surface with 24-bit/96 kHz audio interface for Serato DJ
  • Plug and play with Serato DJ (included) – no upgrade purchase required
  • 2 sets of phono/line inputs for Serato DJ timecode signals such as DVS & HID (DVS Expansion Pack sold separately)
  • 9 touch-activated knobs for cutting-edge EQ kills and Filter sweeps
  • Pro-grade, adjustable mini innoFADER™ crossfader
  • Powered by a single USB connection

Both AFX and AMX will be on display at DJ Expo, Booth 416, August 12-14 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. AFX will be available this fall for $199.99 / £139.99 / € 179.99. AMX, also available this fall, will carry a price of $249.99 / £179.99 / € 229.99.

Akai Pro AMX AFX Serato DJ Controller

Wait… Akai and not Numark?

When you look at the AMX and AFX, like me you most probably see a mixer and an effects controller that should normally bear the Numark logo. But when you sit them next to the new APC-40 MKII, you can see a family developing, one that spans the gap between DJ and producer, and fits in both worlds. And in this area, the Akai Pro brand carries considerably more weight, and is likely to attract the attention of a wider market. Serato will bring DJs to the table, and Akai Pro will definitely catch the eye of the music makers and performers. Serato has tried to do this for years, and hooking up with a brand more in line with production hardware may well work.

Akai Pro AMX AFX Serato DJ Controller
The Akai Pro AMX rear panel with inputs for external players, and outputs for sound systems.

Serato DVS Expansion pack?

Due to time zones, it’s often hard to coordinate announcements, but this AMX/AFX one can’t happen with mentioning the yet to be announced Serato DJ DVS expansion pack. I’m not going to dwell on this for too long as the full announcement will be made later. But yes, Serato is enabling certain Serato DJ controllers (and only controllers) to work with DVS with this new expansion pack. So you’ll be able to plug your turntables directly into the AMX and use control vinyl directly, with no audio interfaces required.

A different take on the #futureofdjing

One cannot help but see how the cosying up of established DJ and producer brands is a direct response to Native Instruments. With Akai Pro making the de facto Maschine competitor (of should that be NI making the definitive MPC competitor?), it was only a matter of time before units similar to NI’s Kontrol X1, Z1, and F1 began to appear. It’s not that you couldn’t use the NI units with Serato DJ, but having ones properly designed for it is always a better solution.

The one thing that is still really missing from this equation is a production based software element. But let’s look at other elements in the Akai Pro family, and in particular the new APC units. You can immediately see the strong DNA between the APC40 MKII, the APC KEY 25, and APC Mini. And this has been expanded to the AMX and AFX. You can see immediately how the bringing together of Serato DJ and Ableton Live is happening at a hardware level. It’s just a matter of getting a coherent way of getting them to interact with each other.

Akai Pro AMX AFX Serato DJ Controller

Digging into Akai Pro AMX

At first glance, you could easily say it’s just a Kontrol Z1 clone, but that simply isn’t the case at all. Feature-wise, there are many similarities, but when you factor in the full audio interface and add the DVS expansion pack for Serato DJ, you end up with a complete DVS mixer. And that mixer has a mini Innofader with curve control as standard for the crossfader, comes with the FULL Serato DJ package and does it for just £179. So yes, it’s a tad more than the street price of a Z1, but it has a lot more going for it. The capacitive controls will also make using Serato DJ that bit more intuitive too.

We must be clear here – this is a controller, and not a full-blown analogue mixer. You will still need Serato DJ to run it, even if you’re just playing regular vinyl though it. But what you get is the most compact Serato DJ DVS solution out there. It does need something to stand on though.

Akai Pro AMX AFX Serato DJ Controller

And the AFX?

Think of this as all the cool features that the last wave of Serato DJ hardware brought with it. I’m talking effects controls and that performance pad loveliness. This is a pocket-sized Pioneer DDJ-SP1, but for half the price and coming with the new Serato Flip expansion pack (for which the buttons are already mapped) and the existing Back Pack effect expansion pack.

Having Akai’s pad in there does give you a greater feeling of confidence when hammering away. And I also like the capacitive knobs, as they do make accessing features a lot easier. Akai Pro has definitely squeezed a lot in here, not just in terms of features but also price. I’m not a fan of layers for decks so time will tell if four channel users can get to grips with having to switch layers to get access to decks three and four, and how well that works. Most people however are probably going to get on just fine.

Akai Pro AMX and AFX — bringing Serato to producers
In-house testing of the Akai Pro AMX and AFX controllers with Denon DN-S3900 media players.

Summing Up

Serato DJ and Akai Pro makes a world of sense. Each brand brings something to their respective markets, and does it without breaking the bank. It’s fair to say that these are aimed more at turntable users than controller users as they’re most likely to already have much of this functionality. But for those who do use DVS, the AMX is in particular is incredibly exciting. I cannot wait to get one in for a dabble. I may even invite some proper scratch guys round for a test too.

Quoting the PR one last time: AFX will be available this fall for $199.99 / £139.99 / € 179.99. AMX, also available this fall, will carry a price of $249.99 / £179.99 / € 229.99.

AMX Gallery

AFX Gallery