Hey guys. Remember the Ecler Evo5?
That beast of a mixer, which I immediately jumped on as soon as it hit the streets back in 2008, came with the following feature set at release:
- 5 channels with post-fader effects
- Built-in, DVS-enabled firewire audio interface (Traktor certified, 2 Firewire ports)
- Built-in RGB display driven by an onboard unix operating system for full standalone operation
- Digital control over CF/line fader cut-in and curves
- MIDI output on every single button, encoder and fader
- Ability to edit, store and recall custom MIDI mappings on the unit
- Various internal effects with BPM-synced LFOs/patterns
- Ability to edit, store and recall custom effect presets on the unit
My point: that was TEN YEARS AGO.
TEN. YEARS. AGO.
I’m stressing this ALLCAPS style, because a lot of the people out there haven’t even been in the game that long. And while we’re at it…
Remember the Numark V7?
Released just 2 years later (in 2010), this was basically the first NS7 without the mixer part. That is, an external Serato deck controller with:
- Two deck layers
- Individual audio outputs per deck, allowing it to be connected to any mixer
- 7″ motorized platters (with a TTX motor, which delivers more than twice the torque of a Technics 1210)
- Individually adjustable platter start/stop time
- Search strip for “needle dropping”
- Browsing/loading encoder
- Loop controls
- Hot cue pads
- Effect controls
- Bleep/reverse switch (same as on the CDX/HDX)
My first thought back then was:
“Wouldn’t it be cool if the next version of this became a 10″ or 12″ standalone unit with limited internal storage or a USB slot, allowing me to load scratch sounds directly – or even better, ANY timecode audio file, allowing me to control whichever DVS I want?”.
As a proof of concept, I ran the V7 through Serato Itch, loaded Traktor timecode files into both decks there, and then hooked the V7s’ outputs up to a NI Audio8 box. It worked flawlessly, but I decided that with a pair of PDX3000s and the Evo5 at my disposal, it just wasn’t worth the trouble.
Then I thought:
“Man, if this took some inspiration from the Vestax Controller One, or at least accepted MIDI input for pitch control like the PDX3000, it could seriously raise the bar. Heck, it already has a USB port, just add that functionality to the firmware…”
Pretty sure I wasn’t the only one thinking all those things either. I don’t believe I’m smarter than you. It really seems like a no-brainer after taking just one good long look at the unit. So, who pulled the plug on making this awesome and decided to keep it so utterly basic, and why was that decision made (again)? Entertain that thought for a second: how much better would such a product sell if it weren’t tied to a single platform and actually became an advanced performance tool that can adapt to anyone’s workflow of choice?
It’s in your hands… I mean your wallet
A decade later, the industry can’t stop throwing around words like “revolutionary” and “game-changer”, when the products that they push onto the market not only have been done – but in many cases have been done better, a very long time ago.
It seems like even (or perhaps especially) the brands which have incredible budgets at their disposal simply lack the balls to release a product that would really push the envelope, challenging both the market and the users alike – and instead choose to play it safe, regurgitating the same formula over and over again, which is just boring. I can’t help but be underwhelmed by the lack of truly ambitious, next-gen DJ gear.
As a tech enthusiast who loves to go into ridiculous detail about the amazing things you can do with the right combination of hardware and software… what the heck am I even supposed to write in a review or news piece if things don’t start changing?
“This new thing does exactly the same thing as those twenty other things that have been available for the last couple of years. Honestly, just go by the colour or something, it doesn’t matter.”
The problem is: I still care. A lot. But I’m also just one guy writing words – I can’t change a thing on my own. Luckily, when they’re not busy fighting over which computer / DVS / controller / mixer / laundry detergent is better (Ariel DJ 4 lyfe — Ed), DJs are actually a strong community… so here’s some food for thought.
Remember that as a consumer, you vote with your money. Don’t succumb to celebrity-driven hype — instead, take the time to really evaluate what that new thing you’re looking at does (we’re here to help you with that!), and consider if it’s really that big an upgrade over your existing setup. Do that before you whip out your credit card, then sleep over it and do it again. Because in most cases, the answer will likely be a decisive, resounding NO.
If we make that NO reflect in numbers on the industry’s end, maybe someone out there will put the right people in charge – people who’ll finally do something bold and exciting again. Because it’s about damned time.
And hey – if (I really want to say “when”) this happens, we’ll take care of the hype part ourselves.