MINI REVIEW: Serato DJ 1.2 Multi FX

Serato DJ 1.2 multi FX review (3)

Serato’s effects implementation has always been considered to be lacking. It wasn’t really, but when compared on a like-for-like basis against effects behemoth Traktor Pro, it’s not surprising that many considered its features to be in need of a boost. And that boost came courtesy of iZotope, and duly Serato’s next wave of controller software became properly effects equipped.

But one of the biggest mismatches between Serato DJ Intro and the full fat DJ product was the effects implementation. In DJ Intro, you could layer effects and have combinations of 3 different effects with a simple wet/dry control. But if you upgraded to Serato DJ, you lost this feature, but gained more control over numerous parameters of a single effect. This however has been changed with the introduction of multi FX in Serato DJ 1.2.

To explain how the effects work — Serato DJ offers 2 effects units, each of which can be assigned to any or all of the channels, as well as the master output too.

But what Serato DJ offers now is a choice:

Serato DJ 1.2 multi FX review (5)

Single Effect  — you can use a single effect in each of the 2 effects units and have a ridiculous amount of control over all manner of parameters. For example, the Phaser effect has an on/off with a wet/dry knob, a Q factor step between 0.2-2.0 selecteable by hitting the buttom below the depth knob, a 1-11 stage filter with feedback knob, and the beats parameter. Pretty comprehensive I think you’ll agree.

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Multi effect — You can select 3 effects per unit, with a simple wet/dry for each and a beat control. No fancy pants parameters — just good old-fashioned dependable effects, all of which are post fader too.

That’s better. It never computed to me that DJ Intro could actually be superior to Serato DJ, but to me the effects implementation was DJ’s Achilles Heel.

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In Use

Having now got different methods of working at our disposal, let’s see how each one stacks up. Actually, it’s not a matter of this way or that way at all, because having 2 effects units means that you can use each one any way you please and apply them any way you like. For example, you can have a single delay running in effect unit 1 and have complete control over all manner of parameters, and at the same time drop 3 more simple effects on top of that in the second unit.

Where it gets really clever and potentially complex is in the way you can route the effects. Because you can apply effects to individual decks, you have the potential to apply 1 effect to all 4 channels, or 6 effects to a single deck, or all decks, or the master output… mind-boggling and quite confusing in use. Then again, I was trying to break it, and thankfully didn’t succeed. I ran 6 effects all turned up to the max to all 4 channels and my 4Gb Macbook Air ran it all just fine. It was a terrible racket of course, but it does at least show that Serato DJ is capable of wrangling effects to the max and not choke.

But effects use is more about simplicity. It’s easy to create a cacophony of dreadful noise with these effects, just like Traktor too. But at least you have more choice in Serato DJ now.

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For some, aka a minority of DJs who manhandle effects to the absolute limits in their performance, this will be seen as too little too late. And for them, that’s probably true, but they’re probably using Traktor now anyway. But for the vast majority of DJs who generally use effects to add something extra to their sets, multi FX should be seen as a valuable upgrade that makes Serato DJ a safer $99 to spend.

The quality of the iZotope effects is very high, and much better than ITCH’s old effects. But for me, it’s the routing that offers the most flexibility and creative options. And if my hunch turns out to be correct, I’m sure we’ll see more effects added in due course, perhaps even as additional purchases for those who don’t quite need every variation of delays under the sun. That’s not a hint, but is simply a wish.

Bottom line — I’m much happier with these effects now. The upgrade from Serato DJ Intro to Serato DJ just became considerably more clear cut and worthwhile, and frankly probably saves us having to write that part of the review every damned time.