Arrangements have been finalized for another collaboration with visual artist Thayne Whiting in the greenhouse at Diva's Coffee. We will start around 7:30 pm and finish at 10, Friday, March 27 at 1560 East, 3300 South. Expect a set of lush, dubby, global tracks.
Until now I have not really considered a pair of tabletop turntable style controllers because many include expensive motor driven platters, and two units plus a mixer are required.
($500 x2) I just finished reading the manual for the Denon DN-S1200. I noticed one of these at a shop but didn't really check the feel or quality, but now I'm seriously considering a pair. This compact (9" square) tabletop unit operates as a stand alone CD or USB player, or as a software controller, and has integrated a decent, 24 bit, ASIO sound interface. So with a pair of these and a traditional mixer I can spin in software, or I can leave the computer home and just pack a USB drive with a few hundred .WAV files. (That's really all I wanted in the first place.) Denon has three other players on the market now, but all include motor driven platters.
($300 x2 refrub) Numark has the similar iCDX which can be purchases direct for $300 for a refurb unit. I can only assume they meet Numark's standard of low quality and function. No mention of sound interface specs online or in the manual.
($700 x2) Pioneer's entry, the CDj-400 is amusingly expensive for a device that has no sound interface and can play no formats besides CD and MP3. (Not even WAV which is basically CD audio format? Seriously?) Pioneer enjoys being revered as the best player manufacturer. I gushed over the CDJ-1000 when it was initially launched. Their adoption of new technology has been glacial though.
($350+$700) Back at the 'software only' controller camp, this set of units is now a serious contender: Allen & Heath's XONE 1D and XONE 2D. The 1D is an elegant controller with MIDI and USB connections only. It could be used directly with a computer or chained through MIDI to an XONE 2D. The 2D combines the same controls as the 1D, a crossfader control, and some impressive sound hardware. The ASIO sound interface operates up to 24 bit 96 kHz (can input 192 kHz), and has enough input output channels for a seriously equipped DJ. After reading the Allen & Heath manuals, and knowing their mixers have a great rep for club installations, this combo has risen to a top spot on my list.
The research continues and my options are starting to expand.
($600) The M-Audio Torq Xponent is an attractive controller and sound interface. It gets some great reviews and seems to have many supporters. It has a touch pad the doubles as a pointer for your computer and a X/Y controller for effects. I was nearly ready to order, but discovered two things: The internal sound hardware is pretty wimpy and only deals in 16 bit 48 kHz. Also, one of the reviews that had sold me on the Xponent had a follow up about hardware problems leading to its return. Several reports of manufacturing defects have since made me hesitant.
($400-$150) Hercules has several controller with sound interface products that are suspiciously cheap. Most look like toys. Their nicer units do have metal cases, but I can find no specs for their sound interfaces. I had my hands on one of these DJ Console Rmx units and quickly dismissed it for the low quality sliders and knobs.
($500-$850) A leading contender for me now is the Vestax VCI-100. This unit has no built in sound interface, so fussy people like me may/must purchase one separately. It looks like a best selling controller for some major online retailers and has developed a faithful following. There are some interesting mods available for it which to me is another good sign that it is a durable, quality, functional component. (Vestax also makes the VCI-300. It does have built in sound and higher resolution jogs and pitch slides, but is designed fairly specifically for use with the bundled Serato Itch software and is not as adaptable to other apps.)
($600-$950) I don't recall what led me to Livid Instruments ohm controller, but I was stunned by how attractive it is. Designed to be a live VJ and video production controller, it has a huge array of buttons available for assignment, and is available in custom wood or rack mount versions. With a serious discount sale on now the ohm is incredibly tempting. My brain is contorting itself with possible solutions for cuing tracks without a jog wheel and justifying purchasing the green wood model.