So the leaks were true (they generally are), and Rane is now in the turntable business. The digital turntable business that is, for the Rane TWELVE (love the name) is essentially an audio-free turntable without a tonearm, and a few buttons and bits added for good measure. Yes, it’s a controller for Serato DJ more than anything.
I have a lot to say about this, so first let’s read what Rane is proposing with the new TWELVE:
The TWELVE Battle Controller
Rane DJ presents the TWELVE Battle Controller, a simple, pure and powerful motorized DJ control system without needle skippage or tone arm hopping. The TWELVE has all the characteristics and simplicity of a “traditional” direct-drive turntable but without the hassle of fragile needles and skipping tone arms. Keeping things consistent with a familiar turntable layout and size, the only clear differentiator is a precision, multi-function touch strip for track searching and setting or triggering hot cues in place of the tone arm.
The vinyl experience is fully customizable with your favorite slipmat. With an all-metal body like the SEVENTY-TWO, the TWELVE is built like a tank, but it has the agility of a sports car. It is truly Battle- Ready. With the TWELVE, the DJ can scratch and play with all the direct spontaneity and creativity of a turntablist, but with the precision, repeatability and durability of the best digitally-based solutions. The TWELVE is the very best of both. There is simply nothing else like it, anywhere.
Highlights of the TWELVE:
Full 12” Vinyl with motorized platter to control playback
Traditional, familiar turntable layout, no need to learn something new
Strip Search with 8 hot cue triggers access
5.0 kfcm High torque motor with Hi/Low torque adjust for more traditional setups
4 decks of control so you can use one, two or more
Extreme precision—3600 ticks of platter resolution for seamless performance
MIDI interface via USB that can be connected to the SEVENTY-TWO or your computer
33 1/3 and 45 rpm platter speeds
8/16/50% pitch with precise dual resolution detented slider
Top Panel rotary and traditional Motor Off switch, allows traditional wind down effects
Serato DJ OSA READY
“Our challenge was to develop these breakthrough products while still maintaining our unwavering commitment to our legendary performance quality and rock-solid reliability,” said Colin Issler, Senior Design Engineer for Rane’s Seattle-based Engineering and Design team. He added, “We love a challenge. We thrive on a challenge. Hold my beer. Challenge conquered.”
U.S. retail for the SEVENTY-TWO and TWELVE will be $1899 and $799 respectively. Availability will be 4th Q 2017.
Please visit Rane at DJ Expo August 14–17, 2017, booth #115.
IN A NUTSHELL
The Rane TWELVE is a controller with a full sized motorised platter, slipmat, and vinyl. It has no media slot, tonearm, or audio capability at all. It is designed to plug and play with the Rane SEVENTY TWO, but will also work from laptops via USB, making it Serato DJ capable for users of other devices too.
FIRST THOUGHTS ABOUT THE RANE TWELVE
I saw the first render floating around online about 10 days ago, and to be honest I thought it was fake. Being pretty poor image quality with a layout that lacked a screen and poor button positioning, I just dismissed it, and waited for something better.
But what I saw via Skype from inMusic HQ in Rhode Island was exactly the same as the low res render. This was not what I was expecting at all. I’m used to envelope-pushing designs crammed full of every modern bell and whistle imaginable. Instead I was presented with a box that lacked a lot of what I expected, and in a layout that just didn’t make any sense.
I don’t think my initial reaction went down as well as the collected Rane staffers had hoped. So allow me to explain why I didn’t wet my pants and fall head over heels in lust.
I don’t think I’ve ever been so split on a new product. On one hand, I simply cannot believe that Rane didn’t take the opportunity to deliver all that is great and good in the brave new DJ world in a turntable sized box, especially when the SEVENTY TWO goes into nextleveleness overload in comparison. There’s not even a screen. And when you look at the implied battle position layout (the screen print dictates that), everything is at the back and as far away from the DJ’s hands as possible. Now if you turn the turntable 90° to regular turntable orientation, controls are more at hand, but then the pitch is in an unfamiliar place for turntablists. But it can be agued that it’s actually better.
Right now, the lack of screen bothers me. I’ve come to expect some visual indication of relevant track information on controllers, and the TWELVE lacks any, to the point where offing the tonearm no longer gives me any kind of idea how far into a track I am. I now have to look at either the tiny mixer screen or the laptop screen. I thought we were trying to eliminate the need to gaze and bring focus back to the gear? Seems like we just made it mandatory.
I have to keep in mind that it has been deliberately designed to appeal to turntable (largely Technics) specific seasoned battle DJs. And in this respect, it fits that brief perfectly. But I would still have made some concessions to the established features found on other decks, specifically having pads under the platter right next to the fingers. This would have been especially useful and more appealing for those DJs who don’t own a SEVENTY TWO or S9.
On the other hand, this slavish adherence to a 40+ year old paradigm is potentially a genius move. Battle DJs are used to turntables, so simply removing the tonearm and replacing it with a touch strip makes it instantly accessible to all the battle DJs that are used to the workflow of turntables, and frankly any other turntable rocking DJ too. No adaptation necessary — everything is already where it should be. This should allow these DJs to adapt with minimal fuss, and if the comments on reading online are anything to go by, this would appear to be a canny move, and one that accelerated acceptance. It does replicate the sole function of a record player, but in the digital world, with a few added extras too. So in this respect, it has win written all over it.
I am however taken with the styling. Rane’s ID is very metal boxish, and it would have been easy to make the TWELVE m0re turntable like. But instead, they’ve made the chassis just like their mixers. And with the SEVENTY TWO, it’s a few bolts away from being a beast of an all-in-one controller. Looking at the group shot, I cannot remember a setup that went so well together.
The Rane TWELVE a bit of a conundrum for me, perhaps because I expected something more, but instead got a thing much nearer to the actual needs of battle DJs. I’m going to need to play on them myself before really understanding the thinking, and seeing if I get it or not. I obviously defer to rather more experienced battle DJs who will be able to offer a more knowledgable opinion as to whether this works for them or not.
To be clear, while I’m displaying obvious doubts, I have always loved digital turntables. The now 13 year old Numark CDX was probably just ahead of its time, and perhaps not quite up there for the hardcore vinyl guys, who are now happily using DVS without complaint. The proof of this pudding will definitely be in the eating, or in the scratching as it were.
At $799, this is more expensive that the turntable it aims to compete with. It is however suitable for anyone who uses Serato DJ, as it plugs into your laptop as well as the TWELVE specific ports on the SEVENTY TWO. I’m pretty sure that users will naturally be looking forward to a TEN, NINE, or SEVEN too, the latter in particular would be likely to do very well indeed for small controller owners.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Having followed the leaked pictures on social media, there seems to be a majority in favour of the TWELVE. Some called it the beginning of the end of Rane, while others (a decreasing minority however) spewed the usual purist bollocks. But what do you think? Did your GAS kick in and demand a box full of multitouch screens and a carpet bombing of buttons? Or are you much happier that the strictly adhered to turntable blueprint makes this the digital deck your heart has been aching for?