Stanton has released the details of its new DaScratch touch controller, and I have to admit, it looks pretty terrific. About as far as anyone has gotten with a smart touch controller is an X/Y pad; this controller, by contrast, defines different areas of the touch surface for different functions and provides LED feedback so you can see what you’re doing. “Scratching” alone doesn’t really make sense in the computer world, even with DJ software, so you get lots of different functions for live performance. I think this may be as big a hit with Ableton Live users and laptop musicians as DJs.

Updated: Richard Devine video above now restored.

The specs:

  • 5 touch sliders, 3 of which are switchable via preset
  • 1 rotary touch controller (switchable)
  • Loads of buttons: 4 hardware backlit switches + 10 + 9 switchable buttons
  • USB bus powered
  • Windows, Mac compatibility (Linux should work, too; it’s class compliant — you just miss out on the included software app)

What can you do with those touch areas? Stanton suggests scratching, scrubbing, navigation, cueing, looping, sampling, pitch shifting, effects, and the like, but of course, you can hook it up to whatever you like, and for our friends building crazy Pd and Reaktor soundmakers, this could be even more fun.

By switching modes, you can shift the kind of gestures you’re using on the center touch area, selecting three vertical faders, or one vertical fader and a circular touch area, or one fader and buttons. That’s in addition to the buttons and fader areas elsewhere. I’m impressed that in a small space, there’s a significant set of controls. If you want more, you can even snap together multiple units.

The clever addition is that, on top of the hardware, you get a software app called DaRouter. Dumb name, but functional stuff: built on Bome’s MIDI Translator, the software makes it easy to swap between presets for Traktor and Serato or select a generic/Ableton preset. You can’t edit the software presets directly, but you can make your own in MIDI Translator. See the DaRouter page for more.

The best part? Our friend Richard Devine demoing the unit in the video at top. I’m sure Richard can do something a lot more out there with this as the controller, though.

Lots more at the product page:

SCS.3D: DaScratch

Pricing: US$299 list
Availability: Unknown

Stanton wants this to be part of some giant “system,” by which they mean they want you to buy more things from Stanton. I’ll leave that up for you. On its own, this looks like a potentially wonderful controller; I’m eager to try it and see if the hardware build and touch quality delivers.

Previously: Stanton to Release Touch DJ Controller; Surface One, Thunder, Reborn?

  • Intriguing. It looks pretty – touch control + blinky lights = gadget lust. OTOH it seems like it's a bit too small for live performance – I imagine it would require a lot of precision to make sure you're hitting the right control at the right moment, and the lack of tactile feedback can only add to that challenge.

    I feel similarly about the Faderfox controllers – elegant, mega-portable, but they tend to turn users into motionless hunchbacks, which is kinda uninspiring at a live gig (for both the audience and the performer, IMO).

    As a studio controller or for home use I can see it working out nicely though. One nice thing about touch surfaces is that the lack of knobs and faders encourages a uniquely graceful, sweeping way of playing with them. Plus, the price point seems reasonable.

  • Hrm why was the video remove?

  • Yeah this looks pretty sweet; I plan to go by a guitar center after work to see if they have one I can play around with. I've had mixed experiences with Stanton products, but this looks cool enough (and affordable enough) to be worth a try. Even though I'm a vinyl junkie, I love the idea of being able to do a gig without turntables when necessary, and it looks like this baby will easily allow for that, with some added benefits. I'm guessing it's true that Stanton wants us to see this as part of a package of more expensive products in the SCS line, but it really is on another level in terms of price and function than the other machines in the series. I wouldn't want a $1500 Stanton MIDI controller that basically duplicates the function of my turntable with a serato record on it, but I would definitely consider a $300 piece that allows me to do without the turntable entirely.

  • One other thing … Let's all agree to just call this thing the SCS3d, hmm? "DaScratch" is one of those awful condescending nods to some 50-year-old market researcher's idea of "street" culture. It reminds me of that t-shirt that says "I notice you're gangster … I'm quite gangster myself!"

  • Video is fixed now… I think they took it down because it had some odd, repeating glitch in it before.

    SCS3d, heck yes. I was wincing while writing the story.

    Or, even better, I think we should refer to it as "The Scratch."

    "Why, yes, I would be delighted to show you my The Scratch and its The Router control software. It allows me to throw down obese beats."

    Market researchers frighten me. Then, I expect that's why we have independent projects named in hexadecimal — with a lot more street cred. (Hello, monome 40h!)

  • Actually, when Richard says it, it sort of comes out D'Scratch, as though it's Italian.

  • @dj professor ben:

    ya "DaScratch" is a little cheesy, but i prefer to think that it's supposed to be a reference to "Da Cat" – the nickname of Miki Dora (, famed counterculture surfer, who if not a badass, was a true individual/iconoclasty character.

  • apalomba

    Hmmm can I use this with Max? If I could duck

    tape one of these puppies to my Monome, now

    that would be the daBomb.

  • It uses MIDI, so you can use it with whatever you want. And yeah, this + Monome could be really, really hot.

  • Observer

    DaScratch = Digital Audio Scratch. Heard it from a mouse…

  • does it seem to wobble about a lot on the desk as he hits the buttons?

  • Pingback: Create Digital Music » Stanton DaScratch Touch Controller Images()

  • D-Beam Master


    …respect to RD but I have to wonder if he didnt feel a little silly promoting this thing.

    this device duplicates functions already available in your mixer, laptop, or iphone running Mrmr or i3L. and as beatfix said, is soulless and uninspiring in live performance.

    it is tiny, plastic, and has no expensive components (knobs and sliders)….yet Stanton charges $300 ??? you could buy a nice used synth for that price and map the controllers plus have something to do double duty for making music.

    With a name like "DaScratch" (which btw sounds like some sort of STD reference) you have to assume this device is marketed at young bedroom djs/producers who don't know any better. Just like Roland's groovebox series, they are promoted as a performance tool when in fact it detracts from dj-audience interaction and connection. Pretty lame business strategy if you ask me.

    "Traditional DJ gestures" on a little black circle…Really?… sounds about as fun as swirling my finger around on my laptop's trackpad. Seriously, this is coming from a guy who set his NEKO on fire!!! He obviously knows how to put on a show but with "daScratch" he is reduced to the "hot finger" dance.

    This thing may be functional but it should be 1/3 the price. If it was made by apple and called the iScratch nobody would touch it. It will be interesting to see if Stanton's branding can support their pricepoint.

  • Well, the points about gestures and how they relate to the audience, D-Beam and beatfix, are well taken. I agree there could be more exploration there.

  • This whole "midi controller that will change everything" is really getting old. It doesn't change the fact that you have to learn how to use midi to control your chosen software properly. Once you do that then practically any device you choose can rock. Also, if you are hoping that the looks will do something for you with the trainspotters, the Name Stanton plastered on it negates any hopes of that.

  • Look, there's marketing, and there's … well, the rest of us. I don't necessarily look for MIDI controllers to be revolutionary, just useful. Theoretically the "Behringer" name isn't going to win you street cred, but I've seen people do incredible stuff with a BCR2000. (actually, just got a blog item coming soon with some more on that) So you use what works, and ignore the marketing.

    More important is the build quality, though — if this falls apart and turns out not to be worth $300, that's obviously a big drawback. 😉 So have to see a shipping unit before making that judgment. Maybe it's great, in which case $300 is nothing to shell out. It's a matter of whether it winds up being lovable or disposable.

  • popo

    lol @ the guy's voice.

  • Well I walked into Guitar Center to check this out, but the promise on the flyer they sent me — "Get your hands on it at Guitar Center" — turned out to be BS. Nobody in ProAudio even knew what I was talking about, I had to show them, erm, Da website for them to even get what I was talking about, and then they were like, "whoa, that looks cool"… And this was Guitar Center in Hollywood; you'd think at least that store would have the special promo its advertising promises, but I guess not. Anyway I wanted to wait to play with one before deciding on it but I just broke down and ordered it on the spot, and paid $250 plus tax, so I guess that's the street price. Should come in next week, I'm looking forward to playing with it even though I share some of the skepticism being thrown around here — I'll let you know how it goes.

  • Mike

    Fischer Price DJ! Say Fischer Price DJ DJ yeah yeah!! Are they serious? This looks like a toy and I would laugh at any "serious" DJ that used one. Sorry, but every MIDI device Stanton has released lately looks cheesy and pointless. There are much better MIDI control solutions out there…

  • <blockquote cite=""> It’s a matter of whether it winds up being lovable or disposable. <cite> That really does sum up the entire Midi controller market.

    I think a lot of it's sucess will depend on how well it is configured initially. If it works with Serato, Torq, Traktor, Live, and Reason without having to do much in the way of assigning and reasigning of controls… then it will probably be a big hit. Most DJ's don't want to have to bother with assigning controls, they just want buttons that they know will do what they expect every time.

  • Damon

    I like it. Really versatile. It is clearly meant to be a DJ inspired controller with a much more diverse spirit. Has a bit of the just want one feel that came with the first Midiman Oxygen 8. Compulsory purchase music tech. Cool idea. Guitar players have had this nick knack by the dozen thing with inexpensive effects for years.



  • @Mike – you asked for it, you got it. Seriously though what's up with judging a DJ by his or her tools? If this thing proves useful, why not use it? And if you find a way to use a fischer price toy, why not? Look what people are doing with Guitar Hero — maybe these guys aren't "serious DJs" in your book, but this is really creative and impressive.

  • teej

    am i the only one that thinks this looks totally unintuitive? the interface looks to be very not obvious and not immediate. it is being demoed as used from the side. ok, then why are the transport controls set for vertical? and if it's supposed to be used vertically then the entire thing looks way too cramped to be fun. if it all just had a little breathing room it might make more sense. maybe i'm just that dumb.

  • Well, there's always a tradeoff between portability and how comfortable the device is; we've seen extreme examples on CDM of giant, stage-sized controllers and microscopic controllers squeezed onto iPhones and everything in between. So that doesn't seem dumb to me.

    I suppose it's not immediately intuitive, but it looks like a layout I might like over time. It seems like something you'd combine with other controllers, not use exclusively. Again, matter of taste, though.

  • Kevin

    Kinda looks like a dr sample ate a pacemaker.