The best DJ gear of the year: 2013

23rd Dec 2013 | 09:50

The best DJ gear of the year: 2013
Mixer of the year
Pioneer DJM-750

In all honesty, 2013 has been a relatively slow year in terms of straight DJ mixers. That’s not to say that our Mixer Of The Year is any less deserving of the title, but it’s a win founded on tweaks and improvements to an existing product we already liked, rather than revolutionary innovation.

Still, as tweaks and refinements go, those on Pioneer’s updated ‘affordable’ four-channel mixer are pretty generous. With its ability to communicate bi-directionally with a laptop across all four channels, its adjustable EQs and its newly beefed-up effects section, the DJM-750 is a properly forward-thinking and future-proofed mixer at a relatively accessible price.

Another impressive, although not exactly revolutionary, Pioneer mixer worthy of a honourable mention is the DJM-90SRT; which eagle-eyed readers will notice is simply 2011’s Mixer Of The Year but updated and configured for use with Serato DJ.

Meanwhile, Reloop’s new RMX-80 gives the DJM-750 a decent run for its money at a slightly lower price point, albeit lacking the MIDI/soundcard capabilities of Pioneer’s offering.

Find out more about the Pioneer DJM-750

Also in the running

Pioneer DJM-900SRT

Reloop RMX-80

The best DJ gear of the year: 2013
DJ controller of the year
Numark NS7 II

If you’re looking for a compact, affordable DJ controller, Numark’s updated NS7 certainly isn’t the one for you. With its rugged metal casing, chunky four-channel mixer and turntable-like jog wheels, Numark’s flagship unit is a big, rugged beast that retails at a price that will likely turn off even the flashest of hobbyist DJs.

There’s no doubt, however, that you get what you pay for with the Serato DJ-aligned NS7 II. Not only is the controller built like a tank, but it also packs an eye-watering array of features.

From the 7” vinyl, motorised jog wheels, to the touch-sensitive EQ knobs, the 16 Akai-built, MPC-style pads and the standalone four-channel mixer, the controller outstrips pretty much everything else on the market right now.

An honourable mention, at the complete other end of the spectrum, goes to Native Instruments’ updated Traktor Kontrol X1 MK2 - a sleeker, refined version of NI’s excellent supplement to a Traktor Scratch setup.

Find out more about the Numark NS7 II

Also in the running

Traktor Kontrol X1 Mk2

The best DJ gear of the year: 2013
DJ software of the year
Ableton Live 9

It might not be a straight DJing application in the ‘virtual decks and a mixer’ sense, but it’s hard to think of any other piece of technology that has revolutionised the way that electronic musicians perform in the way that Live has.

The long-awaited version nine was more about tweaks and refinements than radical changes, but there are plenty of small changes to keep DJs and performers happy. The ability to add automation to clips is a godsend to those performing loops and mixing tracks, as is the addition of automation curves. The vastly improved browser is great for grabbing tracks and samples on the fly too.

Serato’s latest offering, Serato DJ 1.5, certainly deserves and honourable mention in this category too. By finally uniting the digital vinyl and controller-focused incantations of the company’s application, Serato has laid the groundwork for (hopefully) a bright future to come.

Read:Ableton Live 9 review

Also in the running

Serato DJ 1.5

The best DJ gear of the year: 2013
DJ innovation of the year
Reloop RP-8000 turntable

It seems a little odd to refer to a vinyl turntable as an innovation, but with the RP-8000 Reloop has endeavoured to bridge the gap between the old and new worlds of DJing in a manner so brilliantly simplistic that we’re surprised nobody has done it before.

To be fair, Novation pioneered the idea of adding MIDI controls to a turntable a few years back with their excellent Dicers. Still, given the sad demise of the Technics SL-1200s several years ago, it’s pleasing to see a company still investing in turntables and updating the classic vinyl player for the modern age.

By adding a strip of MIDI controls alongside the platter, the RP-8000 offers DJs the ability to dabble in digital sampling, looping and audio manipulation whilst still enjoying the satisfying feeling of mixing with a pair of vinyl records playing on a sturdy, well-built turntable. Here’s hoping the idea takes off.

Find out more about the Reloop RP-8000

The best DJ gear of the year: 2013
DJ player of the year
Pioneer CDJ-900 NXS

With this latest update to its CDJ range Pioneer continues to bridge the gap between traditional DJ players and controllers.

As with its bigger sibling - the CDJ-2000 Nexus, which was released last year - the 900 NXS marries the ability to mix with CDs with Wi-Fi capabilities, meaning that tracks can be pulled from laptops and smartphones. Add to that the fact that a single source can be shared across up to four CDJs, along with the flashy Beat Divide and Slip features, and the CDJ-900 NXS begins to shape up as a fantastically futuristic device for DJs who aren’t ready to go fully laptop-focused.

Find out more about the CDJ-900 NXS

Also in the running

Pioneer XDJ-R1

The best DJ gear of the year: 2013
iOS DJ product of the year
Native Instruments Traktor DJ/Traktor Kontrol Z1

The iOS DJing market has been growing rapidly over the past few years, with both the volume and quality of DJ apps and peripherals increasing exponentially.

Even so, the arrival of Native Instruments to the fray earlier this year, with the launch of Traktor DJ, was still a significant leap forward. Not only was NI the most notable brand yet to lend its name to an iOS app (not counting Pioneer’s rekordbox) but Traktor DJ was by far the best designed, most effectively implemented, and all round most useable iOS mixing tool we’d seen to date.

Meanwhile, NI’s iOS-friendly Z1 controller offers a fantastic complement to the app. Its basic mixer and effects controls combine brilliantly with the touchscreen capabilities of an iPad to offer a simple yet very effective DJing setup. While its surprisingly loud and clear built-in soundcard, and the fact that it’s also compatible with Traktor Pro, makes the Z1 an excellent, affordable introduction to the world of DJing with Traktor.

Read: Native Instruments Traktor DJ review

Also in the running

algoriddim djay2 for iPad

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