DJing with MP3s is great in theory, but stripped of the showmanship associated with mixing vinyl it can be a tediously sterile process. Whether you’re recording mixes at home or playing to a crowd, that performance element is vital, and that’s where the VCI-100 comes in.
This laptop-sized slab of metal mimics the controls of a two-channel DJ mixer with a pair of jog wheels and connects to your PC or Mac via USB. It’s compatible with all software that accepts MIDI input (although direct support in most DJ applications has not materialised) and comes bundled with Traktor 3 LE software. Despite the ‘LE’ label, the software is more than up to playing a decent set and works seamlessly with the VCI-100 straight out of the box.
Drag your music files into either channel of the Traktor screen and it automatically senses the tempo of the track. It works amazingly well. You don’t need to prepare your files beforehand, as Tracktor detects the peaks in the waveforms and works it all out from there.
With two tracks loaded, it’s a simple matter of pressing either Sync button to lock one tempo to the other. Alternatively you can do it manually with the pitch controllers. Now the tempos match, you can get creative with the transport controls, jog wheels, faders, samplers, effects and EQ.
Scratching…just like vinyl
And those jog wheels really do let you scratch. The metal inner circle is touch sensitive and will stop the track dead when you lay a finger on it. Now you scratch the track back and forth just like a record, using the crossfader to complete the effect. The backlit acrylic jog wheel rims can be used to nudge the tracks forwards and backwards for fine timing adjustments.
One thing you will need to add is a decent audio interface, such as the M-Audio FireWire Solo – at the very least you’ll need the assignable headphone output for monitoring. If you’re still unconvinced by MP3 DJing, give the VCI-100 a whirl and prepare to be converted.