Stanton's SCS.4DJ does a lot of smart things in its attempt to be an entirely inclusive digital DJing system—it's compact, it's easy to use, and it can be completely set up and utilized to its full potential without ever touching a computer.
How It Looks
The SCS.4DJ looks and feels like a budget product, and that's because—to some degree—it is. For the money though, Stanton seems to have focused its design efforts in the right places. The knobs and faders (with the exception of the crossfader) have a pleasant amount of resistance, and the well-labelled buttons offer a satisfying click. When looking down on the unit, the controls are easy to identify and their placements feel natural—two channels worth of volume control and corresponding high, mid, and low EQs are in the middle section, while each channel has its jog wheel, pitch control, FX buttons, and various other controls split to either side. At the top of the center section is a tilted screen—just a shade bigger than an iPhone's—where you can select your tracks, see waveforms of the songs being played in real time, and essentially work the "brains" of the unit. Though it may seem to be a bit of a small screen at first glance, when in use, it has no trouble displaying all of the visual information needed.
How It Works
What's truly unique about the SCS.4DJ is that it's a DJ controller that is in itself a computer. There's an engine inside of the unit which analyzes tracks, organizes files, and runs the entire show, hence why there is no need for a laptop (although there is the included Quickgrid software which can utilize a computer to analyze the files a bit more efficiently). Using the plethora of available USB ports or the empty hard drive compartment on the bottom of the unit, one is able to utilize the music from their own storage devices with the SCS.4DJ. Once the tunes have been analyzed (a large amount of new songs can take a while), cue points are generated (these can be manually changed through the unit as well), waveforms are generated, and rather accurate bpm estimations are made for each file along with a beat grid (which can be manually shifted or tapped out as well). From a user standpoint, getting up and running is pretty simple.
Standard pitch control and pitch bend can be used for each channel. Good-sized jog wheels with the self-explanatory "Scratch" mode and not-so-useful "Touch" mode—which makes the top of the jog wheel go back to a cue point upon being touched—are placed conveniently for the user to speed up, slow down, back cue, and do just about everything else a DJ needs to do in the course of their mix.
How It Sounds
The SCS.4DJ is capable of 24-bit/44.1kHz audio, and smartly gives users both unbalanced RCA and balanced quarter-inch outputs. It even allows for a large amount of recording time from within the unit. The pitch controls are impressively clean, only when pushing songs to the furthest reaches of tempo change are there any hints of digital artifacts, and the EQs on each channel are also of absolute quality. The only downfall in terms of sound for the SCS.4DJ is its on-board FX. The "Delay" and "Flange" FX sound decent enough, but the "Filter" and "Slice" leave a bit to be desired. Each FX section's controls are a bit weak, too. Specific types of filters can't be selected, and while the "Time/Rate" knob displays various note divisions, it's hard to precisely land on them without looking directly over the knob.
The Bottom Line
The SCS.4DJ is an intelligently built controller/all-in-one DJ system, with—for some—the invaluable added bonus of very little computer interaction. Is this unit going to be at the booth of every professional DJ gig and festival anytime soon? Most likely not, but it's not supposed to be. What the SCS.4DJ offers is an easy-to-approach stepping stone for budding DJs who—quite reasonably—don't want to throw down a chunk of cash on a computer, mixing software, and a controller (or a pair of decks to practice on) just to start developing their DJ chops. For those who find themselves in that situation, the SCS.4DJ is certainly an option worth serious consideration.