Kontrol DJ Kontrol: DJ
With surprisingly little choice in the DJ controller market, it's great to see another contender enter the virtual DJ booth.
And this rugged MIDI controller is an open-source development that at first glance seems to offer everything a virtual DJ needs.
The first thing that strikes you is the unit's weight. That strong, metal casing looks and feels like it could take a good thrashing and endure the rigours of travel.
Included are spare rotary pots, replacement sponge pads, and some heavy-duty rack ears.
The jog pads are a good size and feel solid – the only surprise is that the outer ring isn't utilised for a form of control and the centre pad could use a more dimpled surface for when you're hands on.
The faders seem sturdy apart from a disappointing crossfader. This has a slightly flappy feel, but it's still up to the job.
After installing the driver, plugging the unit in results in more surprises when a multitude of buttons glow with back-lit LEDs.
These remain on or off (and even flash) depending on which function you assign to them. The unit transmits MIDI and is powered via USB, although there's a MIDI In and Out if required.
The Kontrol:DJ website offers a number of solutions for different software (including Tracktor, Virtual DJ, MixVibes and BPMStudio).
While it doesn't present itself as a straight-out-of-the-box solution, getting the unit working with Traktor was fairly straightforward using the info on the website.
The Kontrol:DJ requires a piece of software called Konverter, which must run in the background, and is used alongside some freeware called the Maple Virtual MIDI Cable.
By selecting the virtual output from Konverter on Maple MIDI channel one, you can allow Traktor to see all the MIDI messages from the Kontrol:DJ hardware.
This might sound annoying and a bit of a faff, but actually it was relatively simple.
Within Traktor's MIDI preferences you can load a preset from the Konverter program files folder, which then assigns everything up automatically for an easy life.
The controls can then be tweaked to determine jog wheel resolution and acceleration speed for a more accurate feel under hand.
The jog wheels may not be motorised, but they are dual-function – switches on either side of the unit select either pitchbend (for CDJs) or a scratch function mode for vinyl emulation.
In the admin department the push-and-click rotaries work perfectly for selecting and loading tracks into each deck.
It's easy to lose track of which button does what, so overlays for the more popular software would have been helpful. But overall the Kontrol:DJ presents a tidy package.
Although it isn't the all-in-one solution we'd hoped for, it's very well-built and should enhance the virtual DJ's lot no end.
Excellent build quality. SImple to set-up. Good control layout.
Button overlays can be confusing. Lack of popular software.
A well-built, solid unit you can trust when playing live, and those jog-wheels are some of the best around.
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Controller number and Channel Edit Drum Pads
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