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Tech Awards 2006: Results

Tech Awards 2006: Results

The results are in for DJmag's Tech Awards 2006. Which DJ kit is the best? Here's what DJmag readers and our panel of experts said.

As DJ technology continues to develop at an astonishing rate, it's been another great year for new products.

DJmag's annual Tech Awards is a chance to honour the companies and products that keep our technology world spinning.Picture: Fleming holding the winnerCaption: "You just turn up with your laptop and you're off!"

1. Innovative New Product

This mixer can do anything. Even make the tea.

Winner: Allen & Heath Xone:3D Midi Mixer

Our judges reckon the Xone:3D Midi mixer was well worth the wait.

Anyone: "When playing visuals you can use the 3D to control the video crossfader on the V4 mixer."

WestEnd DJ: "Yeah, you can use it for any software too, video or DJ - anything with Midi."

2tall: "I like the fact that you can control a whole studio set live, it's so versatile."

Andy C: "This brings together the conventional DJ techniques with the digital domain and has everything you need in one console."

2. DJ Mixer (Under £400)

Winner: Numark 5000FX

Strong competition here this year, but everyone agreed the Numark had the most to offer.

Eserin: "DJs with basic CD decks can now do simple tricks such as spin-backs."

Halliwell: "It always drops on the beat and the crossfader is the best out of the lot for chopping."

2tall: "It's got a more punchy sound when you chop on the crossfader."

Fleming: "It has pitch control which is manual, but it's possible to do same basic harmonic mixing."

Andy C: "For the price you can start with a small set-up and expand from there. If you transfer to a bar or club, you will have experimented with all the features available."

Fleming: "The sampler looping is so tight and the fact you can trigger the loop from the crossfader is brilliant."

3. DJ Mixer (under £800)

Andy C just loves the four-band EQ

Winner: Allen & Heath Xone:62

The simple charms of the ol' faithful A & H Xone:62 won over our judges in this category.

Andy C: "The four-band EQ allows you to roll off the bass while keeping the kicks and snares in there, or vice versa. I've tried out loads of different mixers and I don't think you can beat it. The filters basically are the mixer. There are loads of input channels and outputs too."

WestEnd DJ: "People immediately know it's good quality and for the price it's still very competitive. They've survived for a lot longer than others and it's down to simplicity. The Denon is a great mixer, but it's not as obvious, whereas the 62 - if it hasn't got a knob for it, it doesn't do it."

4. Top Of The Range Mixer

Keeping things simple meant A&H won this one

Winner: Pioneer DJM-800

The DJM-800 mixer has super advanced features that don't get in the way of a truly intuitive mixing experience.

Andy C: "It's a massive step on from the 600. The sound quality is loads better with no crackling distortion when it goes into the reds. Filters on every channel is totally good value for money and they sound decent."

WestEnd DJ: "It offers the versatility with the quality and the familiarity. There aren't any hidden features; it's all at your fingertips and stays simple."

Eclectic Method: "For us, the Midi is one of the best things as we can hook the crossfader up to our video mixer."

Eserin: "For the same reason that you see the DJM-600 practically everywhere in the world - I like the ease of use."

5. Scratch Mixer

Winner: Pioneer DJM-909

The DJM-909 is one of the most advanced mixers in many departments, not just scratch.

Halliwell: "I've spent years trying to find the perfect scratch mixer. I've gone through more than ten mixers testing all the faders and features.

"If you take the top half of the Pioneer away, it will still clean up.

"Just for the fact that you've got the tension control on the crossfader, you can assign your curves on both sides of the fader and see the settings on the screen.

"There's also a bank of 50 effects on each channel.

"I've got the EFX-1000, but there's a lot it can't do in comparison to the 909. The only problem is that it only has two channels."

2tall: "The synth is very useful to create music live and you can change the tone with faders.

"There's also loads of room so the turntablist's performance is not compromised by any of the extra features. It's very user friendly."

WestEnd DJ: "I haven't had a single mixer back that I've sold since they came out, the fader just lasts and lasts!"

6. Ultimate Turntable

This is a safe bet for the majority of DJs

Winner: Numark TTX

It was a close shave between the 1210 and the TTX, but the TTX won on price and features.

Fleming: "The Technics look like a German car and the rest look plastic, but the TTX really pushes things forward with all its features."

Halliwell: "It's strange how these decks have not hit the market so much as you'd be a much better DJ on the TTX. It's far more versatile. I like the fact you can adjust the strength of the motor. It's like a Skoda. No matter how good it looks, a lot of people will do away with it, but on paper it's the best one."

Eserin: "The TTX has the most features and it sounds really good. You can adjust it to dumb it down to have the same low torque as a Technics so you can get used to playing out."

7. DJ Cartridge

A safe bet for the majority of DJs

Winner: Shure Whitelabel

A close call with the Shure M447 but the Whitelabel clinched it.

Andy C: "I've tried out all the top of the range cartridges and found the Whitelabel had the warmest and loudest sound. They also cue really well; not as good as the Shure M447 though, but all round the Whitelabel is on top."

WestEnd DJ: "How versatile do you need a cartridge to be? It's proven on sound quality, tracking and durability. It's also got the cheapest needle to replace of the expensive carts."

2tall: "Again, I'm a big fan of the M447, but for the average DJ the Whitelabels give
the best result overall."

Eserin: "It's the only all-in-one cartridge which is fully adjustable and it just looks so good."

8. Single CD/MP3 Player

"Anyone who has used a piece of DJ gear before can get to grips with this in 10 minutes," said Eclectic Method

Winner: Pioneer CDJ-1000 Mk3

The CDJ-1000 has gone from strength to strength and is still the king of clubland.

Andy C: "They're just the industry standard aren't they?"

WestEnd DJ: "I'd personally go for a DN-S3500 because of the features, but for clubs it's the same reasoning as the Technics. The CDJ-1000 is the SL-1210 of the CD players. Unlike Technics, Pioneer actually made progress with the newer versions. It's got enough on it; it's similar to why they don't put sat. nav. on a Ferrari!"

Eclectic Method: "Anyone who has used a piece of DJ gear before can get to grips with it in 10 minutes."

Eserin: "For club DJs and bedroom DJs it's the most solid player. There are no major frills but it can do some pretty cool tricks at the same time."

9. Dual MP3/CD Player

As solid at No.1 as they are in the clubs

Winner: Denon DN-S4500

The Denon brand looks set to stay solidly at the top with their dual CD deck.

Halliwell: "This one has the strongest build quality of them all and I know the Denon drives are as reliable as they come."

WestEnd DJ: "It's built like a brick and lasts forever. We've never had any back for repairs or replacements. They go in all the toughest environments."

Eserin: "I've seen so many CD players in clubs and bars that are in pieces, but whenever you see a Denon they are nearly always still working. You have to love them for that."

10. DJ FX Unit

Andy C says: "This works for most styles of DJing, including mine."

Winner: Allen & Heath Xone:VF1

With so much variety in the FX category, it was a tough decision, but the VF1 had the best sound and simplicity.

Halliwell: "It's difficult because they are all so different. Sound is one of the most important things, but so is creativity so it was a tough call."

WestEnd DJ: "Clubs need a unit that any DJ can walk up to and start using."

2tall: "I think the sound of the A & H is the best, the others are a bit complicated or too pricey."

Fleming: "It depends on your style. I don't mess about with all the delays, I do smooth mixing. If you produce music and DJ and understand studio equipment like I do, the A & H is a cracking piece of kit."

Andy C: "I'd have to agree with John but it works for most styles of DJing, my style included."Eserin: "I've seen so many CD players in clubs and bars that are in pieces, but whenever you see a Denon they are nearly always still working. You have to love them for that."

11. Virtual Vinyl Controller

Our scratch expert judge hails the king

Winner: Serato Scratch Live

Virtual vinyl controllers are all about the scratch sound and with that in mind, the Serato Scratch Live is leaps ahead.

Eserin: "The sound of the slow scratches is the best out of the lot and the whole point about virtual vinyl controllers is to emulate the feel and sound of real vinyl."

Andy C: "I know a lot of people who have started out on other platforms and moved over to Serato."

Halliwell: "The quick calibration saves loads of time. You want to just put the needle down and it works. It's the stability that swings it for me."

2tall: "For someone who has spent ten years honing their skills on vinyl, they can move over to Serato and feel at home straight away."

12. DJ Software

Very little argument to find the winner here

Winner: Ableton Live 5

Another category with quite different products, but Ableton Live was the clear winner.

VJ Anyone: "It's between Ableton and Traktor really, but Ableton is much more versatile."

Andy C: "It's creating a whole new type of performance, whereas Traktor is emulating traditional methods such as CDs. I'd really be interested in trying it out, but it's so alien from what I do on the turntables."

Halliwell: "I think it's an amazing DJ tool but I wouldn't use it live as my style is more hands on and interaction with the crowd."

Fleming: "Everything that you use in your productions in the studio - your plug-ins, Midi, synthesizers and samplers - you can take it all to a club. That's what I love about it."

13. Beginner's VJ Product

VJ Anyone says: "It's a glorious lap lightshow!"

Winner: Resolume

Resolume is the most versatile and complete VJ software at a bargain price.

Eclectic Method: "For this category, Resolume is the most versatile and interesting piece of software."

Eserin: "For £130 you get an expandable set-up, loads of effects to keep interest going and easily assignable clip banks, plus DMX control for lighting shows."

VJ Anyone: "It also memorises setting, works in high definition (HD) and VJs can control clip speed by music beats."

Halliwell: "There's a vast differrence in the price and I think VJs will get bored quickly with the other software."

WestEnd DJ: "Even after buying a controller it's still better value for money than the rest and it's a lot more versatile and well designed."

14. Budget Lighting

Surprising results for this bargain package

Winner: ACME Dynamo Pack

The most unlikely nomination proved itself to be the best for mobile jocks.

Andy C: "The beams don't look as sharp as the Martin and the Robe lights, but I think for a punter at a disco they won't be too bothered about that, and you can't argue with the price."

Eserin: "You can get four of the Dynamo lights for two-thirds the cost of one of the big scanners and they kick out nearly as much light. For a mobile DJ, this is the most impressive result for such little money."

Fleming: "I really like the scanners most of all, I think they're the most impressive and the ACME pack comes with a basic controller too. Even if it was £500 it would still be a bargain."

15. MIDI Controller

2Tall says, "This is a total bargain."

Winner: Behringer BCD2000

The Midi controller with the most was the Behringer BCD2000 with its built-in soundcard and DJ-friendly layout.

Eserin: "I'm with this one because it's got a soundcard built-in, it's dirt cheap and it's the most accomplished DJ interface out of the lot.

"It works with any software including Traktor and Ableton. All you need to do is plug some speakers in the back, headphones in the front, map your controls and that's it."

WestEnd DJ: "We've got to think about the majority here and the fact that it will work with Ableton is great."

Halliwell: "I think most DJmag readers are going to be into the Behringer because it's the only controller that properly mimics a DJ interface and it's so cheap."

16. Portable MP3 Recorder

Small but perfectly formed

Winner: Creative Zen V Plus

Watch video, view pictures, record voice memos or just play some tunes, but most importantly record DJ sets on this tiny Zen V Plus.

Eserin: "It plays MP3 and WMA audio, plus MP4 video and comes with software for converting and transferring files over USB.

"Drag and drop any file using Windows Explorer, where the Zen will appear as a flash drive.

"And the good news for DJs is that it also has the rare ability to record line level signals via its minijack input.

"Just plug it into the back of a mixer, rinse some tunes and it'll record to WMA. Even though it won't record CD quality WAVs, it can play them.

"The Zen V Plus comes in a blue 4GB, green 2GB and orange 1GB version and is priced similarly to the iPod Nano."

Winner: Sennheiser HD25

The public have spoken

17. DJ Headphones

The latest incarnation of the HD25 has proved popular with our readers taking first place with Technics in close second.

Eserin: "The HD25s have a split headband design for a unique fit and pump out a really loud clear sound from their tight fitting small ear cups.

"Every last bit is replaceable, which makes good sense considering the abuse us DJs subject our cans to. One of the best things about them is the small size, whereas so many others are just far too huge."

18. Budget DJ Mixer (Under £300)

A close call with the Numark DXM-09

Winner: Reloop RMX40 DSP

A surprise result here with this German company taking first place, just a hairline in front of Numark's DXM-09 effects mixer.

Eserin: "The Reloop RMX40 DSP is a keenly priced four-channel mixer that takes its design ethos closely from Pioneer's popular DJM-600 mixer.

"It's got similar effects which lock to the beat, along with more features and connections. The build quality and sound is surprisingly good for a mixer of this price, which is why it has proved so popular. It brings features normally only found on mixers twice the price."

19. Best DJ/Producer School

Point Blank get the most votes of all categories

Winner: Point Blank

Point Blank go from strength to strength every year

Eserin: "This is their fifth annual DJmag Tech Award in a row. Starting off in North London, the popular school has since expanded to Sheffield.

"They also run their own internet radio station that the students help manage. They've also expanded into sample CDs for their students, which has gained good support.

"Another great aspect is their online course for students all over the country who can't get to a school."

20. Retailer Of The Year

Massive in-store investment in recent years has paid off

Winner: Guildford Sound & Light

Guildford Sound & Light have one of the most well equipped shops we've seen with dedicated specialist areas.

Eserin: "It's no wonder Guildford Sound & Light have caught our readers' attention as they've really upped the stakes with their massive warehouse and shop, which holds around a million pounds of kit, so nothing is ever out of stock.

"They've also got special areas to cater for VJs, digital DJs and music production with staff who really know their stuff.

"Not to mention all the DJ gear, sound systems and lighting gear that can be blasted at a customer's request. They've also got a slick website