During the course of a year, Crossfadr reviews a good amount of equipment, tests a bunch of apps, and listens to albums from practically all EDM subgenres. Throughout it all, we observe the changing technology and sounds.
2012 was a significant year for Electronic Dance Music (EDM). The sounds continued to climb up the charts, with festival attendance reaching an all-time high, dubstep turning into a major force in North America, performers infiltrating major music venues, and the producer prodigy seeing his profile rise. On the gear side of things, 2012 indicated iPad DJing, through new equipment and apps, is no longer a novelty and may, even, be the successor to laptop DJ setups.
For Crossfadr’s 2012 awards, we selected the best of gear and music for the following categories:
DJ/Studio Monitor of the Year: KRK RoKit 8 Monitors
When it to comes to sound, not just for DJing but for any instance in which clarity is a must, and an innovative design, the KRK RoKit 8 Monitors surpass the competition. The second generation of this device, the RoKit 8 no longer has a massive bottom end but retains the first generation’s essential features. Voicing and sounds are about as good as you can get, and an affordable price makes these monitors a must for any DJ, producer, or musician.
DJ Controller of the Year: Vestax VCI-400 DJ Controller
Bigger size doesn’t always mean a controller is better than the competition. The Vestax VCI-400 is more compact but solidly built, and a variety of controls, intuitive layout, and versatility make this DJ controller a strong piece of gear.
For a four-deck DJ controller, the Vestax VCI-400 features a complete dedicated effects section and a good selection of soft pads with switchable, customizable layers for loops and samples. Additionally, this controller allows the DJ to mix auxiliary audio independently from a laptop, and as it integrates with CD players and DVS systems, the combinations of digital and analog audio sources are practically limitless. Working well with Serato, Traktor, Virtual DJ, and practically all DJ software programs doesn’t hurt, either.
DJ Mixer of the Year: Allen & Heath Xone:DB4
Absolutely no other mixer gets close to the Allen & Heath Xone:DB4, which essentially functions as a DJ’s own control center. The Xone:DB4 is greatly more advanced than any other mixer on the market, offering a high-quality, easy-to-use design with an intuitive layout ideal for club use.
What makes the Xone:DB4 so great? To start, each channel has a dedicated effects unit, providing the DJ with a high level of creative control. MIDI capability surpassing what you can do with a laptop is another bonus.
App of the Year: Algoriddim djay iPad
Tying into our Product of the Year Award is the top app of 2012: Algoriddim djay iPad. While already the No. 1 DJ app downloaded from iTunes and the winner of the 2011 Apple Design Award, Algoriddim djay is extremely clear and easy to understand. Basic on the surface, djay quickly unfolds to more complex – and more professional – capabilities and offers a realistic look of turntable platters. For the DJ, the app further accurately detects BPM, offers a well-organized library, and makes mixing straightforward.
Album of the Year: Ultraista Ultraista
Scores, if not hundreds, of EDM singles come out over the course of a week, and the genre boom in 2012 means greater attention is being paid to these releases. Ultraista’s self-titled album is just one of several releases out over the course of the year, and while not a producer’s or DJ’s disc, it is both a great record and one indicative of the latest EDM development – genre-blending. This three-piece act with Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich at the helm merges melodic synths with subtle percussion, adding hip-hop, pop, and jazz influences into the mix. Intelligent but danceable, Ultraista presents a disc’s worth of soundscapes and complex tracks that never sound forced.
Product of the Year: Numark iDJ Pro
When the iPad emerged as a possible DJing device in 2010, it appeared as a novelty – moderately innovative but falling short and ultimately too limited to surpass the laptop. Fast-forward more than two years, and the Numark iDJ Pro shows the iPad is the next level of DJing technology. With complete and total iPad integration and compatible with Algoriddim’s djay app, iDJ Pro offers a streamlined experience, improves creativity for the performer, and integrates the tablet’s touch screen surface with the layout of the controls.
Innovation and design don’t just make this equipment stand out. Wireless and cloud technology are further part of it. Why is this significant? When it comes to track finding and selection, iDJ Pro allows the user to quickly access and load tracks into a set and fully eliminates the need for a physical track-storing medium.