The Stanton SCS 4DJ got me excited when I was shown a pre-production model at Frankfurt earlier in the year. In fact, I was pretty pleased for the company as I immediately saw the promise in this black plastic box of DJing magic.
Stanton are a manufacturer that has had a long history within DJ culture — far longer than most of you reading this mag will know about or even remember — but whilst they have been innovative and steady, they haven’t found the heady industry-standard of success as companies like Pioneer. They have still managed to service a whole generation of DJs in one way or another, especially when it came to the trusty turntable — who wouldn’t remember Stanton cartridges and needles?
Anyway, jumping back to the present day. The SCS 4DJ is a DJing device aimed at changing the way we look at digital DJing, and Stanton went into the task with their usual innovative approach and decided to do away with the laptop. “Arghhhh!” I hear you scream, but hasn’t this been the point since the world embraced digital DJing? The desire for hands-on control without awkward mouse control and hours of screen-gazing and fiddling with a computer?
The Stanton SCS 4DJ is a two-channel product all in one unit. It’s an all-plastic build, which — whilst it may not have the pro feel of some of the other kit out in the marketplace — is more than satisfactory, and doesn’t really distract from what the unit is about. Each of the two channels has the full EQ compliment that DJs will be accustomed to. The jog wheels are very responsive (as cueing up and scratching proved), and the layout is uncluttered and quite instant to use — nothing too daunting going on here. One thing that has to be mentioned is that there are loads of USB connection ports all over the unit. The SCS 4DJ doesn’t have internal memory, but Stanton have got it right in that any USB storage device can be hooked up to it. This forward thinking means that unlike some laptops and other audio playback devices, once the memory has been used up there is no more space to hold your tracks. This isn’t going to be a problem with the 4DJ.
The layout of the SCS 4DJ follows the two-deck/mixer approach. In the middle mixer section the user will find all the usual suspects: EQ controls, sliders and cross-fader for the two channels, a huge dial for track selection and page browsing, and a pretty decent-sized coloured LCD screen. Its plain black styling also gives the product an air of professionalism that will deceive the user and onlookers, given the budget-friendly price that the SCS 4DJ comes in at. To each side of this are the jog wheels, transport controls, pitch and FX knobs. The jog wheels have a nice firm feel to them, and the rubberised outer circle of the jog wheels help you when manipulating audio tracks, but the rest of the buttons and knobs are all plastic.
In use the jogs are good and when it comes to scratching they really do work. Some budget controllers have a terrible lag and don’t feel responsive when it comes to this department, but the SCS 4DJ can fool you into thinking that you are actually scratching on turntables!
The dedicated software really works hand in hand with the physical side of the unit. For instance, when tracks are loaded up, the 4DJ will automatically normalise the track so all tracks are playing at their optimum sound levels. No need for any extra gain or trim dials, plus this frees up space — which is why the unit isn’t cluttered with loads of knobs and so forth.
I’m not going to write an in-depth review of the software but what I will say is that it works a treat — anyone who has used the likes of Traktor or Serato will be familiar with how it works. It’s the same basic principle: the only difference is that it’s all done in the SCS 4DJ, and not on an external laptop. Loops can be set up, FX can be added onto your tracks, waveforms and track information can be viewed, and beat grid and syncing is all available to the DJ. The SCS 4DJ really does take the heartache out of this and makes it a simple operation, as simple as putting a piece of vinyl onto a deck. I thought this was a real breath of fresh air, as with Pro DVS software it can get quite complex in operation, so full marks to Stanton for delivering a piece of software that — whilst being simplistic — isn’t lacking (other than there being no hot cue points and the ability to save loop points) and does come across as truly functional.
To get maximum advantage from the software side of the SCS 4DJ and all its features, users will have to analyse their tracks through the system. This can be very time-consuming, so it’s best to prepare your library before your gigs, but a little bird told me that Stanton are looking at making a stand-alone bit of software that can be run on a computer to speed this process up — offering another plus to the package.
In order for DJs to be able to see what is going on, Stanton have a rather nice high-resolution colour screen above the main mixer section. There are a row of buttons on each side for changing parameters and the likes. I kept hitting the colour screen, thinking it was a touch screen, but alas it’s not. I hope future versions will have a touch screen.
There are various views that can be toggled on the screen by using the four buttons that sit directly underneath it. The Home/Waveform view shows the user either the album art of their tracks or the full waveforms and track progress for each channel. It must be said that the visual representation of the tracks as they scroll along in beautiful colour is very smooth indeed.
The Browse menu takes the user to a list of tracks that are available to play off your USB storage devices. Playlists is exactly like the playlists that many of you would be used to in programs such as iTunes — in fact, if an iPad or iPhone is plugged in, your iTunes playlists will be available. The system button takes the user to the utility page where the unit set-ups can be tweaked and altered for personalising the way the SCS 4DJ plays for each individual DJ. Everything is thought out with simplicity in mind — and it works.
I had a great time using the SCS 4DJ at a recent gig. Mixing tracks was a breeze even when not using the auto sync features, and the unit performed just as would be expected. The party was rocking and the tunes were slamming, testament to the fact that the SCS 4DJ performs admirably. Superstar DJs might turn their noses up at it but this really is a great bit of kit for DJs getting started — or even the seasoned professional.
I would love to see a pro version of this with a more sturdy build, nice tactile feel to the buttons and knobs, slightly more pro feeling faders, cross-fader, jog wheels, a slight upgrade to the software to add a few extra features but nothing too major… If Stanton were to make this (and I hope that they do), then there could be a possibility that digital DJing will get an industry standard. Remember when DJs just turned up to a gig with just their records? This would be the same: turn up to a gig with your USB storage devices, plug in and play — can’t get simpler than that.
|Ease of Use||10|
|Value for Money||10|
|Hype||Great value for money all-in-one package. A very usable option for the digital DJ that really does perform.
A few omissions in regards to the software, and with its all-plastic design it will need to be looked after when gigging out on the road as a few knocks will definitely take its toll on the SCS 4DJ.
The SCS 4DJ is a very good piece of DJing kit that, whilst aimed at the lower end of the market, can hold its own against the competition.
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