Review: Vestax VCI-400
When describing its new VCI-400 USB/MIDI DJ controller, Vestax stressed that creativity and versatility were at the core of the sleek machine. Featuring two touch-sensitive jogwheels, color-coordinated controls on four decks, and a clearly demarcated surface, the controller is remarkably easy to use. Veteran vinyl junkies and tentative knob-twiddlers alike will find accessible ways to blend their tracks with a variety of effective, no-bullshit EQs and big, highly responsive looping buttons located just above the jogwheels. The spacing and large labels splashed succinctly across the equipment invite the DJ to do his own thing, a comfortable and frictionless introduction that encourages play. Even the Sync and Vinyl buttons light up when you’re ready to match tempos or do a little rewind, helping bring a rhythm and authenticity to your set.
As with any MIDI DJ Controller, the interplay and set-up required to gain a smooth to-and-fro with your computer is pretty important, and in this area the VCI-400 excels. Just insert the disc, install the software, plug in the USB, and you're ready to play tunes. The enjoyment of watching the hardware light up and respond so seamlessly with the corresponding knobs and sliders on-screen should not be understated. This isn't your older brother's MIDI-oriented mixing station; the software locks in perfectly with the controller for a high-functioning experience.
Admittedly, as attractive as the filter knobs and sliders are, their physical response feels a bit flimsy, and they could be a bit more weighted. The EQs, on the other hand, feel excellent when manipulating with the controller, and though they sound slightly digitzed compared to outboard mixers, were obviously built with care and attention. Implementing FX is as simple as triggering buttons on top of each channel and sending through the channels via separate knobs and buttons at the top corners of the hardware, although linking each effect from computer to machine can be a bit tricky at first. It's a similar case with the switches used to alternate between VCI-400's four decks, which can definitely take some getting used to, but the opportunity for expanded mixing capabilities make acclimation quite hard to resist.
All in all, the VCI-400 controller is clean, simple, attractive, and a hell of a lot of fun. It's also as light as most other controllers on the market, and possibly even thinner, which are major pluses for the eternally window-seated DJ who dreads slinging down that chunky duffel bag from the overhead compartment.