Year-in-review: Top 5 DJ Controllers of 2014
Check out Magnetic's top DJ controller pics for 2014. Some big names didn't make the cut, but 2014's been one hell of a year for DJ's of all levels. We saw "entry-level" take on a new meaning with Flow 2.5 DJ software, and jog wheels replaced with HUD displays. Click the pages below to check what we decided made the cut!
5. Ableton Push Pad Workstation – $599
Ableton’s latest innovation features a 64-pad workstation with all the bells and whistles of the program itself, but doesn’t leave you mentally exhausted at the sight of it. The Push offers seamless control of Ableton from your lap, and acts as a canvas for your creativity. The pad intuitively works as a step-sequencer, piano roll, and automation editor, using different quadrants of the pad itself. One of its coolest features is the “Scales Menu” which allows the selection of 20 scales in all key signatures, making anyone an instant virtuoso/soloist. The Push is what you make it. Any DJ, composer, performer, or soloist can squeeze every drop of functionality the Push has to offer and then some. Considering its endless functionality, the price is definitely right.
4.Akai APC40 MKII Workstation - $399
The kind folks at Akai Professional lent me this bad boy a month ago, and after throwing it to the wolves (The Western Carolina University Tech Ensemble), I saw what the MKII was really made of. Along with being a whole lot sexier than the original APC40, the MKII’s layout is flawless compared to its clunky predecessor. The pan/send controls are right at home above each track, the buttons mirror the on-screen Ableton display, and there’s now a convenient bank button with 4 directional arrow keys to help navigate the beast. The MKII’s layout flows with the creative process. There’s no need for external power, just a USB cord (or your mom’s old printer cable). The MKII ditched the clunky chassi of it’s predecessor and got makeover with a flat rectangular design, making it easier to transport and set up. Definitely geared towards live performances, the MKII comes in at 3rd place because while it’s one of the most powerful tools on the list and doesn’t break the bank, it requires additional tools (mixer, decks, multiple outputs) to become a true standalone DJ controller.
3.Akai AMX Module - $249
The AMX serves as a two-channel mixer with an InnoFader and a built-in Serato DVS audio interface. Designed to be the centerpiece of your DVS surface, the AMX is not only sexy, but it delivers. It comes with the standard knobbage (gain, eq, FX), the best mini crossfader available, and dedicated DVS buttons (absolute, relative, internal). The AMX will sell for $250.00, pocket change compared to, say, the DJM series, but still more than the Traktor Z1 (a functional alternative).
2.Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S8 - $1199
The S8 challenged the dynamic between a DJ and his tools -- just check the LCD display! Quality. Unfortunately, howls from the techno-beyond beckoned for the jog-wheel to head towards the light, as we see the S8 take a leap of faith with new HD displays. In the wake of Numark's NV controller, the name of the game is controller independence, and it looks like Native Instrument's hopped on the bandwagon offering a higher-end alternative to the NV. The S8 comes in at number two for it’s revolutionary design, backed by Traktor’s legacy of quality controllers.
1.Pioneer XDJ-1000 - 999
Christmas came early to DJ’s looking to really step it up. Equipped with all the badass-ness we're used to with Pioneer's releases (similar layout to the CDJ series), the XDJ-1000 says sayonara to the CD deck and introduces a color-coded illuminated USB port in its place. The XDJ's also upgraded to a touch screen interface, while still rockin' the OG buttons, faders and potentiometers. The touch screen is segmented into Browse, Play, and Perform sections, so you can shift gears as soon as the inspiration hits you. The XDJ is compatible with current DJ software, but is designed for Rekordbox.
- QWERTY On-screen keyboard
- Beat Jump (enables DJs to jump backwards or forwards 1,2 or 4 beats from the current playback position)
- Loop Move (after DJs have created a loop, they can navigate 1,2 or 4 beats backwards or forwards through the loop)
- Wave Zoom (allows for 5x zoom so your cues/cuts/loops can be perfectly selected)
- Wi-Fi capability (load rekordbox-ready music from PCs, laptops and smartphones using a Wi-Fi or USB connection)
Wifi? Now that's sick. In the age of the cloud and "gadget outsourcing," more DJ's are leaning towards the internet for data protection, ease-of-access, and dependability. Hopefully, the XDJ isn't streaming these tracks... it's bad enough when your internet takes your party anthem to the butcher, but any DJ would trade death via spoon for a professional gig ruined by the venue's notoriously shit ISP.
Bottom line: The XDJ-1000 took the #1 spot because since it’s release, it’s become a landmark for professional DJ’s to use after leaving the intermediate realm of. The XDJ-1000 comes lock, stock, and barrel and is available for $999.