These Are The DJ Controllers You Want When Space is Limited

How can you get the most hands-on control of a laptop DJ set when you don’t have a lot of room? With so many of us called upon to DJ in a pinch – even as producers or live acts, onstage or in mixes – it’s relevant to almost anyone making electronic music. And finding a way to stay mobile a worthy question – but one you might miss if following DJ blogs and music store displays. Imagine if you were making a generic DJ controller prop for a bedroom display at IKEA. You know exactly what it’d look like. …


Digital Warrior Goes Open Source, DJ-friendly Step Sequencer Hardware Gets Better

A USB-connected step sequencer with controller is now improved, and open source. The Digital Warrior is a boutique hardware controller hailing from Cyprus, combining a 16-voice, 32-step sequencer with four pots and two three-color endless encoders, all attached via a driverless USB connection. It’s capable of acting as a step sequencer/controller with any tools you like, but out of the box includes support for Traktor remix decks and Ableton Live control. The remix deck functionality with Traktor is a particular draw; developer and producer/DJ Tomash GHz pioneered this particular way of combining step sequencers and Traktor’s Remix Decks. (Check out …


Midi Fighter Twister 4×4 Encoder Controller, and More Traktor Step Sequencing

DJ site DJ TechTools continues to create their own hardware, augmented by custom mappings to popular software, with the Midi Fighter Twister. From the early days of their 4×4 arcade button controller Midi Fighter, things have gotten a bit more sophisticated. The Twister keeps the compact housing and 4×4 matrix design, but swaps those on/off buttons with 16 encoders, each with push-button capability, ringed by color LEDs for additional feedback. (You get white LEDs for indicators, plus full-RGB color at the very bottom.) There’s no pricing yet, but availability is slated for January. Anyone wanting a box of encoders should …


Midi Fighter Spectra: Crazy-Sexy Arcade Buttons, US$175.99 [Live+Serato+Traktor]

If you want to mash on some arcade buttons for your DJ or live set, your perfect hardware may have arrived. Sure, okay – you’ve seen this before. DJ TechTools followed up on their original, DIY-centric Midi Fighter with the swanky-looking Midi Fighter 3D. The industrial design was gorgeous, replacing the homebrewed original with a crisp-looking case, subtle side buttons, and features like a custom USB cable. But we heard from plenty of readers who weren’t interested in waving the hardware around to take advantage of the gyroscope features. At a lower price (US$175.99 to the $249.99 3D model), and …


Connect Four: 4 Decks, 4 FX Units, Advanced Traktor Mapping [Video]

DJ tool makers keep working on integrated hardware/software solutions – as they should. But meanwhile, creative DJs and hackers keep rolling their own, personal solutions – as they absolutely should. Here’s one of the latest in action. Stewe on the DJ TechTools forums rigs a four-deck, four-effect mapping for the CNTRL:R, the Livid Instruments-Richie Hawtin collaboration. It makes for some intelligent, performative DJ setups here – and four of each, to me, is often more than enough musical elements to get creative. (One might argue that not only about DJing, but live electronic musical elements in general. There’s something about …

It's not a monster combining everything in a giant, coffin-sized case. Instead, the Z2 focuses in on 2-channel mixing and controls, and integrates with Traktor.

A Mixer, A Soundcard, a Controller: NI Traktor Kontrol Z2, Examined [Gallery, Details]

Native Instruments is continuing their hardware attack with a new device that combines three tools: controller, mixer, audio interface. Those knobs and faders control software, as an integrated controller for Traktor, but internally, the Kontrol Z2 is also a mixer and computer soundcard. It’s geared primarily for Traktor users, of course, but with pricing under a grand and support for MIDI and audio with any software, it’ll be interesting to see if this sort of all-in-one design appeals to users of other DJ and performance tools. The Z2 is unique in that it’s a 2+2 mixer. It’s not the first …


Arcade Buttons and Gyroscope: New Midi Fighter 3D from DJ Tech Tools

Building on the original Midi Fighter, a 4×4 array of arcade push-buttons, the Midi Fighter 3D adds interactive, light-up color feedback and gyroscope-powered motion sensing. The work of electronic music site DJ Tech Tools, it’s an impressive-looking piece of work. But if you’re not interested in the “3D” sensing, don’t overlook the clever color feedback and bank shifting, which could prove as much of a draw. The Midi Fighter 3D, announced today, will ship in April at US$249. There are now orders yet, but there is a preorder list. DJ Tech Tools is pushing the 3D orientation functionality. In a …


PocoPoco, Kinetic Music Control Gone Whac-a-Mole, and Our Tactile Future

PocoPoco is a delightful, fanciful device that takes music control into the realm of kinetic sculpture. Normally, the relationship of music controller is primarily about the operator making physical actions. With PocoPoco, the hardware itself moves. The essential musical structure is familiar: it’s the grid of light-up buttons, with strong similarity to the ongoing interaction design of Toshio Iwai in the 90s and (Tenori-On) past decade. Even aesthetically, there are similarities – perhaps not coincidentally as this team is also Japan-based. But adding in the element of solenoid-powered cylinders popping out of the grid adds a major element of surprise. …


New Performance Controllers: Midi-Fighter Pro will Face Grid+Fader Rivals

With game-style arcade buttons – and the pre-mapped combos to match – DJ TechTools’ latest wants your pocket full of quarters. Midi-Fighter images courtesy DJ TechTools. What should DJing with a computer look like? We’ve seen over a decade of products that can emulate the vinyl turntable experience, of course. But a native hardware interface for the computer – with all its internal looping, slicing, and effects capabilities – by definition must be different. DJ TechTools, led by DJ Ean Golden, has mixed writing about technology with designing custom solutions to that problem, interacting with the community on the DJ-centric …


A Controller Love Supreme: Beautifully-Crafted Wooden Jazz Controller with Ableton Live

Nick Francis poses with his DIY, wooden controller – good enough for jazz. Photo: Justin Steyer for Seattle’s KPLU radio. In a world of disposable computers and electronics, making something “custom” is an antidote to throwaway hardware, a way of putting one’s own handiwork, care, and attention into the object with which you play music. Of course, it’s one thing to say it, and another thing to do it, but Nick Francis falls squarely in the “doer” camp. A jazz-focused radio broadcaster from Seattle’s KPLU, Nick says he’s been chopping up audio since he was doing it with razor blades …