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Budget Banger!

Kam’s new CD player is the real deal minus the big bucks price-tag

Kam's KCD400 MP3 CD player is clearly aimed at those of us who aren't members of the Saudi Royal Family or superstar DJs, and are therefore living in the real world and on a budget. Competing with the likes of Pioneer's CDJ100S, this Kam offering provides some great features in a package that won't require a government bail-out.

While the KCD400 isn't as pretty or slick to look at as the Pioneer unit, it's certainly not ugly and feels pretty sturdy despite the all-plastic construction. It's perhaps not the best choice for heavy touring duties or a permanent install in a club where it will be on the receiving end of untold abuse, but the KCD400 is perfect for home use and packs in the features for just £300.

As its name suggests, the KCD400 MP3 plays MP3, which is great for cutting down the amount of CDs lugged around from gig to gig, as well as limiting the mind-numbing boredom we all face when burning CDs.

The buttons on the KCD400 are nice and firm, needing a fair amount of pressure to operate, which is certainly better than some of the flimsy efforts we have seen on other units. The cue and pause buttons are backlit, which is great for dark rooms and adds a nice bit of bling to the black and white control surface.

A large blue back-lit LCD display keeps DJs informed of all the crucial information while in the mix — names, tracks, position and modes are all displayed along with other info such as BPM — the BPM can be set by using the tap button, but there is no auto BPM detection. While this is a little bit of a let down, it's not something that is likely to put anyone off buying the unit.

Options

The mode buttons select what the jog-wheel controls, giving the option of pitch-bend, search or scratch. Pitch-bend mode is the default setting and, as you would imagine, pushing the jog-wheel forward or backwards will bend the pitch of the track being played.

Search mode allows DJs to find the cue point in the track. When in scratch mode, pressing down on the jog-wheel will stop the track in order for you to scratch back and forward. The scratch mode isn't the tightest we've come across and while it's a tiny bit sloppy it certainly isn't terrible by any means, especially at this price. 

The three hot cue buttons found above the jog-wheel allow cue points to be set, which is very useful for cueing purposes as well as providing a killer effect if used cunningly. A range button switches the pitch control slider from 8% - 6% or even 100%, but the 100% mode won't work with MP3s.

The coolest feature of the KCD400 is definitely the built-in effects. Flanger, filter and echo effects are activated at the push of a button and the jog-wheel is used to control the parameters of the effects, while the current settings of effects are displayed on the LCD — pretty damn cool! Used wisely (and sparingly) these can be used to deadly effect while in the mix.

The KCD400 also has seamless looping capability, and the start and end point of loops can be moved by using the skip buttons, which is a nice touch.

CDs are loaded into the KCD400 via a tray, which is bit of a let down. It would have been better to see a slot loading mechanism on the KCD400, as care must be taken not to damage the CD tray while lost in the mix (doubly so if mixing while a bit tipsy!), but with careful handling this unit should give years of faithful service.

Looking at the back of the KCD400 we find both standard analogue outputs, as well as a digital output, which is uber handy for getting ultra-clean samples into a computer or sampler.

Overall, the KCD400 MP3 is good value for money and provides some great features and performs very well. It would have been nice to have a slot loading CD rather than the tray but as long as care is taken, this isn't a major gripe.

Verdict

Price   £299.95
Contact   kam.co.uk
Build Quality
  3.0
Ease of Use   4.0
Features   4.5
Value for Money   4.5
Sound Quality   3.0
Hype   Packed full of features, this CD player gives the same functionality as much pricier units, coupled with built-in effects.
Gripe  

The lack of auto BPM detection and use of a CD tray instead of slot loading are a bit of a let down.

Conclusion  

Big on features and low on price, this is a sound CD player for bedroom DJs and anyone on a budget.

Overall Score   3.5/5