BPM 2014 Trends Numark NV Traktor S8 Novation Launch Control XL

Native Instruments Kontrol S49 Demo

For the last few years I’ve been using the BPM show as an opportunity to look at the latest offerings in DJ technology and see if I can identify any new trends. It’s also good fun talking to the manufacturers and trying out all the gear! This year, it seems that two general trends are; screens on midi controllers displaying data from software and a tighter integration of software and hardware compared to general third party midi controllers.

Numark NV Controller

Numark NV

The Numark NV controller and the soon to be released Traktor S8 can be seen as a continuation of the post laptop era in DJ’ing which I commented on at the BPM 2012 show. At the time it seemed to be the iPad that was replacing or augmenting the laptop based digital DJ experience, in 2013 this became more widespread with Native Instruments releasing their own Traktor iPad app. This year, the trend seems to have peaked and moved to screens inside the controllers themselves.

Numarks NV controller is a 4 channel Serato DJ controller with two 4.3″ full colour screens. The DJ can scroll through track lists, select tracks and get important visual feedback all on the controller, allowing them to close the laptop lid during performance. Having the laptop between the performer and audience can be a barrier, so removing this barrier is a positive move in my books. The controller also features what Numark call “Touch-Active Knobs” which can be used as instant frequency kill switches or bypass effects when the user is not touching the control knob. It looks like Native instruments have also developed a similar product for their Traktor DJ software. The Traktor S8 has only been teased by Native Instruments, so the full functionality is unclear. Looking forward to the NV or S8 mk2 or 3, perhaps they will be able to do away with an external computer all together while offering the full digital DJ’ing experience.

Merging of DJ’ing and Music Production

Ableton Push controller

Walking around the booths at the BPM show, there is clearly a merging of music production and DJ tools, with manufacturers catering for both approaches. There is a steady refinement of ideas in new controllers, which offer very similar functionality. Manufacturers are moving towards tighter integration of midi controllers with software with examples such as Ableton’s Push Controller, Numarks’s NV and Native Instruments Kontrol S Keyboard series, Maschine, and S8 controllers which each serve different roles in music production, DJ’ing and live performance.

Controllers with additional screens built in add quite a price bump, but manufacturers are hoping that consumers are willing to pay a premium for tighter integration of software and hardware. In previous years at BPM, I saw the Ipad bringing on a change in DJ technology, but rather than the iPad becoming the controller of choice for DJ’ing, it has simply become just another option.

On the Show floor

Novation Launch Control XL

On the Novation stand, I was impressed by the Launchpad and Control xl combo, which offers a similar experience as the Akai Apc controllers. I teach a course in live performance with Ableton Live at the University of Northampton and we use the launchpads and have placed an order for some of the control XLs. The Launchpad mini’s also look interesting. They really are mini and remind me of the Monome.

APC40 MK2

Continuing my wander around the stands at BPM, I was impressed by the build quality of the Akai APC controllers. I also checked out the Pioneer DDJ SZ which is huge!

Pioneer DDJ-SZ

I spent the most time playing on the Kontrol S49 Keyboard. It was also really interesting talking to people from Ableton, Native Instruments, and Inmusic about making links with our Popular Music course at the University of Northampton. There was so much going on at BPM that I might go for two days next year! If you missed the BPM show, DJWorx filmed all of the gear demos on their education stand which are available on the DJWorx Youtube channel.

Past predictions

algoriddim djay Spotify

Looking at some of my other predictions from past years, there has now been integration of online audio streaming through links through Cross DJ’s integration with Soundcloud and Algoriddim’s integration with Spotify. I can’t see myself using it in a gig situation, but there are lots of interesting instrumentals in Spotify which it could be useful to loop up for scratch practice.

More from BPM

BPM 2014 Kontrol S49 Review

iPad DJ and the post laptop era of DJ’ing. Thoughts from BPM 2012

iPad DJ’ing continues. Thoughts from BPM 2013

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