Future of digital DJ-ing?

by dj Kone


Seems that Vestax + Serato finally came out with gadget that DJs may love. VCI-300.

In short: you only need a laptop and that’s all. Very useful controller, audio interface and mixer, scratch-enabled.
I have not tried it (£600 in UK, $900 in US), but according to videos it is friendly, logical, simple and stable.

Useful features I noticed:
You don’t need to touch your computer: select tracks, make loops, adjust scratching jog wheel’s time, EQ and more with the device itself.
It allow DJ to be much more artistic/creative in easy intuitive way.
Only 3 cables needed (stereo out + USB to laptop). So connecting while another DJ is playing is not so much problem. Big Jack outputs included.
Buttons visible in dark.
Serato is best DJ software available, trust me, I ‘ve tried them all, in real clubs. Most stable, intuitive, best sounding (well Ableton Live sounds great too).
Vestax produce one of the best DJ mixers in the world (well, after Rane =) so it must sound well. I hope that “delta-sigma modulation 24 bit stereo D/A-A/D converter” tell you something.

Please notice that I LOVE VINYL.
I collect/play vinyl since 1996. I tried to became digital DJ in 2007. First turntables + Final Scratch + PowerBook G4 (absolutely unstable, sounds terrible), than turntables + Serato + PowerBook G4 (more stable, sound great, but not as great as vinyl). I played this digital setup for one and half years, and have RETURNED TO VINYL.
1. Connecting/disconnecting while people are dancing and DJ is playing is terrible for you, for DJ before you, for clubber. Imagine: you have 6 (six) audio cables + USB cable + power cable. 8 in total. If you make mistake = party breaks. If your setup don’t works from first time, you have to disconnect, connect again, restart, check the needles, ask previous DJ to play one more tune = party breaks. Nightmare!!! Your party mood disappear, you get nervous, clubbers feel it, you completely loose control and forget what you wanted to play. DJ must be relaxed and self-confident. Otherwise party breaks.
2. The concept itself, Turnable + Computer is sick (even if it great Technics 1200s and Macintosh). It only works when turntables are brand new, needles are brand new, there’s no dust in the air, there’s no vibrations from strong sub bass. Real clubs: Technics 1200 are 10 years old. Your needles are (hopefully) only 2 years old. Dust and humidity. Strong sub bass. Everything is vibrating, including your laptop’ hard-disk.
I understand manufacturers, they wanted transition from vinyl to digital to be smooth, DJs love vinyl-touch, so at first this seemed to be nice idea. But it was not stable. It used to happened to me a lot: you’re playing great set, clubbers are happy, stuff is happy, and suddenly sound disappears. STOP. You have to find real record to play, drop it, its not what you meant to play, yo start this checking/restarting process, maybe twice, you’re dead. The mood you and clubbers have just created together is gone. I discussed it with other DJs, they bring with them set of records just in case. You never can be 100% sure about this vinyl controlled digital setup. Computers crash time to time too.
So I returned to vinyl. Its expensive, yes. Post takes a week, yes. Sometimes a record is not as good as you expected when listening to it in myspace, yes. Sometimes B-side appears a nice surprise, yes! Sometimes you play a record only couple of times, and than you want a new one, yes. It is heavy, yes (why not to buy a used car and forget about overpriced taxi? You will save yourself from liters of alcohol too). Yes, lot of problems. But it is one hundred percent stable. It has sleeve. It’s music on physical domain, just think about it, how it is unique in itself! You own a track embedded into plastic!

But, I must admit. Digital is the future.
Sound systems in many clubs are way far from perfect, so clubbers may not feel the difference. Serato sounded better than Final Scratch, and hopefully future devices will sound even better, I mean less digital, closer to vinyl (VCI-300?). Playing digital allows you to be more creative, to make re-edits on the go, to mix faster, not to worry about bit-matching and to play your own edits of the tracks (I mean not your own remixes, may sound bad, but just changing parts of the audio, copy/paste). You can scratch a little, too, crowd will love it. You can be more artist and selector, than just selector.

One DJ said to me, that he feels like labels itself try to convert vinyl DJs into digital ones, by selling vinyl/digital release with best remixes as digital-only. Interesting opinion. So let’s see. But this toy make me think again. Maybe I will continue to play Jazz/Bossanova/Funk on vinyl, and my second love, Techno/House as digital again. At least with this device a step in right direction is taken.

Published by kone

Kone, DJ / promoter/ producer. Started to spin vinyl in 1996, in 1997 founded Varka Kru together with DJs Betons, Ginnz, and Dr_Ups. Produce music, by now famous track is ambient dub "Trip to Vuokatti" feat You Koshkin, appeared on many compilations. As DJ plays a lot of styles: from electro house, minimal techno, old' and nu' skool jungle and liquid drum'n'bass to nu' jazz, latino, balkan, reggae and dancehall.