Stanton leaps into the portable controller-based market with an impressive all-in-one system that at once seeks to simplify the DJing process for those new to the game as well as provide a plethora of tools and effects for the most-battle hardened pros.
Unlike other controllers which rely on a laptop, Stanton’s SCS.4DJ system has an embedded computer running its own Linux-based operating system allowing for laptop-free performance.
With the possibility for four USB devices being connected as well as a host connection for those using a MIDI controller, setting up the SCS.4DJ is as simple as plugging in an external hard drive, flash drive, or smart device and jumping into the mix.
Centered on a 4.3-inch high-res colour screen, navigating through your music library and loading music onto each of the two decks is relatively straightforward. Most of the navigation of the central screen is via the navigation wheel that can also be supplemented with an external USB keyboard (not included) that will allow you to search for music the old-fashioned way.
Once you’ve found the tune you want and have loaded it onto the appropriate deck with the simple push of a button, you’re ready to roll. The layout is designed to mimic that of the traditional digital DJ set-up with the mixer flanked by two turntable platters.
Each deck has its own dedicated play/pause, cue, sync, and tap button (used to manually input the BPM of a song), while the platter itself can switch between "touch" and "scratch" modes on the fly.
By default, the 4.75" platter acts as a pitch bend control, but hit the "scratch" button and the platter will mimic "vinyl" mode on your CDJ, allowing for rapid cueing as well as the ability to scratch and rewind in real-time. Each platter is flanked by pitch controls complete with pitch bend and key lock functionality.
The one feature that really stands out is that each deck has a full range of surprisingly powerful and intuitive beat-synchronized F/X and Loop controls. Filter, flange, slice, delay, as well as hard knobs for real-time control, make adding unique effects to the mix one of the strongest aspects of the unit.
Likewise, the 3-band EQ on each channel is surprisingly powerful with complete kills and up to a +6 boost on each frequency. While there is no manual gain control, there is an auto-gain function that automatically adjusts the volume of each track to ensure continuity in your levels in the mix.
As with most controller-based units, in order to utilize the full-range of capabilities of the unit you must have your music "analyzed". Everything from the SYNC function to the waveforms display to loop-based effects relies on the system’s ability to analyze each individual file.
This can be particularly time-consuming if you have a large library on an external drive that you connect and hope to just jump into right away. Stanton has wisely come up with a solution that allows you to analyze your music library offline using their proprietary software QuickGrid in order to ensure that all of your music is ready for instant play once you plug in to the unit.
Otherwise, depending on how much music you are attempting to load, the unit can take hours to analyze everything and be ready to use, so don’t expect this to become the work-horse of your local club.
For those of us who learned to beat-match the hard way, the necessary evil of SYNC may be a drawback but is no doubt central to the ease and appeal these units have for introducing DJing to the masses.
With that said, as with most SYNC-based units, complex drum & bass / jungle beats seem to confound the algorithm beat-detection process of the SCS.4DJ which may frustrate those unfamiliar with the skill of manually beatmatching.
In other words, all you new-school junglists out there should expect to occasionally be confronted with mixes that even the almighty SYNC button will not be able to save.
With 4/4 beats, techno, dubstep, and more straightforward drum & bass, SYNC-mixing on this unit is a dream and allows for full attention to be given to creative use of the EQ, effects, and looping features.
Clocking in at under £400 list, this system seems an ideal entry-level unit for those bedroom DJs looking to get some time in behind the decks before upgrading to a higher-priced system for use in the clubs.
Words: Chris Muniz
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