Over the past few years, digital controllerism has established itself as the logical replacement for old-fashioned vinyl turntablism by offering unprecedented control over loops, cues, and track transport. However, turntable veterans are still holding down the fort with new innovations such as digital vinyl systems (DVS), designed to merge digital possibility with analog feel. The Novation Dicer is yet another tool created to help bridge the gap between turntablism and controllerism.
At about the combined size of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, the two-part Dicer fits comfortably up against the platter of each of your turntables or CDJs. Don’t let its small size fool you, though – this controller packs a total of 60 possible MIDI signals into only 16 small buttons. What’s more is that all 60 MIDI signals are completely mappable to any function in Traktor or Virtual DJ. (Novation offers two standard Traktor mappings and a DJ Tech Tools mapping here.) The Dicer is also designed to be fully plug-and-play integrated with Serato Scratch Live, giving you full control of loop rolls, hotcues, and more. However, this integration is unfortunately not fully customizable; only half of the buttons can be MIDI-mapped to custom functions within Serato. For this reason, along with my own personal preference, I’ll primarily be evaluating the Dicer’s relationship with Traktor, though many of these features will carry over into other software.
The buttons are backlit by two LEDs each, offering a customizable spectrum of eight colors from red, through orange, to green. The standard Dicer layout divides its three MIDI “pages” into red, green, and orange, but you can program the Dicer to display any pattern of colors you like. For example, you may notice in the video below that I’ve created a stoplight pattern for my beatmasher page, and set my loop button to green when loops are active and red when loops are disabled. You can also set LED brightness to change based on certain parameters, such as effect dry/wet settings and loop size.
For the purposes of writing this review, I decided to create my own mapping, which I demonstrate in the video below. I’ve essentially taken the standard Novation Mapping for Traktor and tweaked it to my liking; the ease with which I was able to do that is easily my favorite feature of this product.
With a simple layout of only 16 buttons, the Novation Dicer is the perfect minimalist controller to afford extra musical control to the modern turntablist. However, DJs who have never touched vinyl or a CDJ will find just as much to love about the Dicer – its sharp looks, smooth functionality, and low price point make it a welcome addition to any setup.