Percussa micro super signal processor

Numark’s new VJ product looks like it could be the missing link DJ controller hardware a lot of us wanted. The Behringer BCD2000 is inexpensive, but availability has been scarce and it doesn’t yet support the Mac, on top of some MIDI implementation oddities. (See shipping and driver complaints, full review on PC.)

The US$300 NuVJ, in contrast, looks like it might have just the combination of controller features and build that people want, with complete Mac and Windows support. More on that in a moment.

In the meantime, our friend Steve Cooley writes on somesoundswelike about the disappointing lack of nudge controls on the iDJ2, Numark’s revision to its iPod DJ mixer:

I’ve been staring at the iDJ2, and noticed there’s no nudge controls … you know, the thing that lets you simulate a spindle-twist or a finger on the platter to momentarily speed up or slow down a track that you’re beatmatching to another track … these are absolutely critical tools to beat matching … Oof. To come within 99% of solving all of the criticisms of the original iDJ, and then fall on your face for the last 1%… that’s a shame.

Shown: his picture, clearly laying out his response. I don’t expect this will get fixed, as the iDJ2 is supposed to ship some time in August. Sure enough, if you look closely at the NuVJ controller, it has the same problem, and even more oddly lacks transport controls. (Maybe Numark is planning a separate controller for the music market, and assuming VJs will just use the clip buttons to trigger their video clips?)

Thanks, Steve! I’m equally disappointed: this could be a deal breaker on the iDJ2. But back to the NuVJ, I still think some people might find it useful as a controller for software like Ableton Live, musicians and DJs alike, assuming Numark gets the other details right. See Create Digital Motion for a preview of the hardware, but here are the controls that could make it useful for music, from Numark’s specs:

  1. Dual large rotary wheels for scratch, scrub and pitch functions
  2. Illuminated pads for each of the two channels for assigning and selecting visuals
  3. A/B Auto Fade buttons on each channel for switching sides of the crossfader (largely useful for VJing — maybe you could reassign to nudge controls?)
  4. Tap BPM for synchronizing visuals to the music (musicians could use as tap tempo, or, again, could reassign to something else)
  5. Large backlit LCD to display messages sent by the software (excellent, provided you can send these messages via MIDI from other software)
  6. Instant black (or any other color) button (This refers to blackouts/breakdowns in VJing; again, you could easily reassign to something else)
  7. 360-degree rotaries: 2 for the effects on each bank, 3 for the master effect, 2 for the master brightness and contrast, 2 bank selectors (this could easily be used for filters, effects, etc., and I find a smaller number is often optimal instead of having a zillion different knobs)

What do you think? Is the NuVJ tempting, or would you rather have a different controller? The only thing really holding me back here is its size; for Ableton Live I’d really prefer something smaller.