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DJmag Tech Awards 2007

The results are in for the DJmag Technology Awards 2007.

It's been another great year for new developments in DJ technology. DJmag's annual Tech Awards honour the companies and products that keep our technology world spinning.

Our handpicked crew of DJs and producers that made up our panel of judges for this year's Tech Awards were some of the most enthusiastic yet. They spent hour after hour testing out 75 products during a marathon session at London club, The End, before deciding the winners.

THE JURY

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From Left To Right: David Eserin (DJmag), Eitan Zilka (WestEnd DJ), Danny McMillan (In-Flight), James Zabiela, Ed Solo (Against The Grain), JFB (UK DMC champ), Martin Carvell (DJmag), Si Begg (Noodles), Mark Settle (skratchworx.co.uk).

Our diverse panel of eight included the highly skilled James Zabiela, who helped develop Pioneer products and is renowned for his dexterity on the effects. This year's hottest turntable talent, UK DMC champ JFB is our resident scratch expert. Danny McMillan's DJ and production skills are undeniable and his tech knowledge goes as far as developing his own controller, out soon, while DJmag journo and Skratchworx web reporter Mark Settle (aka Gizmo) is a self-confessed gear-hungry tech fiend.

Hard working producer and DJ Ed Solo is famed for his d&b and breaks production skills, working with Krafty Kuts and Skool of Thought, while keeping the peace - or at least trying - were our very own technology editor David Eserin and knowledgeable industry stalwart Eitan Zilkha from London retailer West End DJ (westenddj.com).

CEREMONIOUSLY!

Over 160 industry moguls then came along to our special Tech Awards ceremony, at the Ministry of Sound in South London, following the PLASA equipment show. And it was down to Tom Middleton on compere duty to announce the results. Read on to find out the worthy winners in this year's DJmag Tech Awards 2007…

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BIG LOVE

Our Tech Awards are a massive operation, which wouldn't be possible without other people's help. We love you, The End, thanks for having us again this year. Once again, big up to Cyclon (their main sound engineer) who made a virtually impossible task run smoothly. And thanks to Tom Middleton for taking to the mic and JFB and Ed Solo for the tunes at the awards presentation.

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Most Innovative New Product

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VESTAX CONTROLLER ONE

£999 / 01525 850085 / vestax.co.uk

Just when you thought turntables had reached their peak in innovation, Vestax turn things on their head.

Ed Solo:
"Very interesting product, especially for scratch DJs who play with bands."

JFB:
"The first turntable that let's you change key instantly, at the push of a button. It allows turntablists more creativity with tones/sounds to improvise when playing complex notes. With turntable skills you could create/recreate endless melodies and rhythms."

Si Begg:
"It's the only thing that came out of the box and made me think, 'What the fuck is that?' Although it's extravagantly odd, it looks damn cool and certainly hasn't been done before."

James Zabiela:
"It's the sort of thing I might have in my house to muck around with at after-parties."

Ultimate Mixer £800+

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PIONEER DJM800

£1099 / 01753 789789 / djsounds.com

Pioneer keep their position as industry standard with their flash four-channel mixer.

Gizmo:
"Pioneer products scream quality and innovation and the DJM800 is no exception. The harmonic mixing is hot and Midi mapping caters for the current trend to make your mixer drive your software."

West End DJ:
"It's got everything you need on a mixer. Most DJs are familiar with the DJM layout. It's intuitive, easy to use and sounds great!"

JFB:
"The FX are wicked and can be assigned easily. It's got four scratch assignable upfaders and a nice assignable scratch fader, plus good sound quality."

Danny McMillan:
"Superb, improved sound quality, excellent EQs and very robust."

Best Mixer Under £800

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KORG ZERO4

£799 / 01908 857100 / korg.co.uk

The Zero4 was a clear winner with its seriously addictive effects.

Ed Solo:
"It's a good Midi controller and mixer at the same time, and in many different ways."

JFB:
"Boasts some really good FX for each channel, plus separate FX for master, with really good sound and scratch faders."

James Zabiela:
"For the price, it's amazing. I love the FX on it - they're really versatile and you can really interact. It's so compatible with whatever else you are using."

West End DJ:
"This has features we've never seen on a DJ mixer before, it's a whole new way of mixing. Even as a stand alone mixer it's great value."

Gizmo:
"The Midi, audio and effects routing is outstanding, as is the ability to define your own EQ bands in software."

Si Begg:
"Korg are seriously upping the ante with their range of mixers."

[**** readers' vote ****]

Best Mixer Under £400

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PIONEER DJM400

£349 / 01753 789789 / djsounds.com

The DJM400 offers a step-up for bedroom DJs looking to take their set to the next level.

Eserin:
"If you are intending to play in clubs, then you'll most likely bump into Pioneer kit. So as DJs hone their skills at home for the big debut, it makes sense to learn on the 400. It uses much the same layout and EQ style as its bigger brothers in the widely used DJM family. Even though it's a little cheaper than its bigger brothers, it has unique control over the famous effects. Beat increment buttons adjust sample rolls and the beat-synch effects."

West End DJ:
"Again, typical high build quality from Pioneer. The amazing thing is the effects you get for this price."

[*** note – readers' vote ****]

Best Budget Mixer Under £300

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NUMARK DXM09

£219 / 01252 341400 / numark.com

This mixer runs circles around all others at this price due to its fat effects.

Eserin:
"I love this mixer because of the way it crams so many features into such a small space. It's one of the most playful mixers at this price with really responsive effects. It has the excellent, dubby, tape delay effect, which works well in so many different genres.
"It also caters for adding effects to vocals and there's plenty of connectivity and control on the channels and faders too. Total kill EQ and kill switches add even more to play with. Individual channel level meters and ample lighting make it easy to set levels and use in the dark. A top mixer."

West End DJ:
"Remarkable value for money, loads of effects, great sounding and pretty well built."

Best Scratch Mixer

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RANE TTM 56

£499 / 0800 652 5002 / rane.com

After years in the tech wilderness, the TTM 56 makes a comeback.

James Zabiela:
"It's dead simple and is built like a tank. For the purist DMC-style DJ, it's awesome. I'm sure you could chuck it in a lake and it'd still work after."

JFB:
"This mixer has really good magnetic faders and proper metal bits to prevent the fader snapping. Plus plenty of hand movement room around the fader areas."

Danny McMillan:
"Industry standard for scratch DJs - simple but effective and with great crossfader feel."

Gizmo:
"If you're in need of a near perfect blend of indestructible faders, outstanding sound quality and a build quality that will withstand a nuclear blast, the 56 is for you."

West End DJ:
"Pound for pound, it's as good as it gets!"

Best DJ Cartridge

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ORTOFON NIGHTCLUB MKII

£75 / 01235 511 166 / ortofon.com

Already a hit in nightclubs, the new version improves on the last.

Danny McMillan:
"Sounds good and looks great - what more do you want from a cart?"

West End DJ:
"The sound is stunning. Ortofon know what they are doing with this. We're already selling loads on line!"

James Zabiela:
"These are the ones I've chosen at home. I like them because they don't jump and they're really loud."

Eserin:
"These carts are seriously perfect for club installations more than anything with their frequency response, but equally worth investing in for professional home rigs."

[*** note – readers' vote ****]

Ultimate Turntable

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TECHNICS SL1210 MK5G

£469 / 08705 357357 / technics1210.com

The 1210 is the most famous deck on the planet and the public vote is the proof in the pudding.

Eserin:
"You have to love the 1210. If global opinion isn't enough then simply take a look in the clubs - you'll find a set of 1210s in every venue worth its salt.
"At home it can be a different matter. I'm a massive fan of the Numark TTX and Vestax models, but I have to admit the Mk5Gs always work their way back onto my deck stand. Not for the features, but for the familiar trustworthy feel and style that never seems to age. For this reason, the 1210 is the most popular deck ever made, but not the most exciting."

Ultimate CDJ

PIONEER CDJ1000 MK3

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£749 / 01753 789789 / djsounds.com

CD decks are commonly called CD mixers or CDJs, which shows how deep the CDJ1000 has cut into our collective conscience.

James Zabiela:
"As basic as possible but still allowing you to be creative."

JFB:
"It's tight for scratching and the pitch is easy."

Danny McMillan:
"Installed in every decent club around the globe."

Gizmo:
"The CDJ1000 Mk3 delivers features by the truckload, giving you serious levels of creativity that you just can't get from analogue."

Si Begg:
"Yep, still the original and best."

West End DJ:
"Again, this has that intuitive feel and layout, meaning anyone can just jump on it and use."

Best Dual Media Player

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DENON DN-HD2500

£749 / 01753 688485 / denon.dj

Denon's name is built on a solid reputation and the new 2500 media player doesn't let the side down.

James Zabiela:
"It's got the effects on the jog-wheel, which is cool. There's quite a lot on there but it's not tough to work out. It feels really solid, like one chunk of metal. Nice and simple display."

Ed Solo:
"I'm very impressed - nicely laid out, good sound quality and I'm surprised that the jog-wheels are so responsive."
Danny McMillan:
"The ultimate wedding DJ console. Most of the products in this area can't touch this for sound quality."

West End DJ:
"It's built really well, the features and effects are top-notch, it's great for clubs and bars with regular playlists. The Cortex DMix300 was a close second."

Best FX Unit

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KORG MINI KP

£99 / 01908 857100 / korg.co.uk

Si Begg:
"This is not just an FX unit, it's a lifestyle accessory. Take it wherever you go, remix your world, stick your telly, iPod or Playstation through it - no home should be without one."

Ed Solo:
"Has lots of different FX and one of the easiest to use."

JFB:
"The mini KP is wicked! It's small, fits in your pocket and has sick effects."

Danny McMillan:
"Dirt cheap and useful in the club and studio environment."

Gizmo:
"It's like the soft fluffy bunny of effects boxes - it makes you go 'aaah' and want to pet it. Effects for the rest of us rather than just the rich."

James Zabiela:
"You can sit on a plane and goof off with it. I use the EFX-1000 and the mini KP in every set I play. It's so easy to set up. I can stick it into any channel and do something with it."

[*** note – readers' vote ****]

Best Headphones

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SENNHEISER HD25

£119 / 01494 551551 / sennheiser.co.uk

The HD25s are the strongest set of DJ cans on the market with the best isolation and sound.

Eserin:
"If you can work with headphones that push up against your ears, then these are the very best. The earcups press up hard giving a tight seal from the outside DJ-booth world and they offer incredible audio fidelity. They have 2W drivers, which always sounds more impressive when you say 2000mW."

West End DJ:
"Industry standard now, and there are a couple of new versions out too with new headbands and cables. They keep going strong."

JFB:
"Yep, they're wicked! I had a pair for two years and used them all the time. The reason they only lasted two years is because I lost them!"

Best Digital Vinyl System

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RANE SERATO SCRATCH LIVE

£359 / 01494 551551 / scratchlive.net

Facing some stiff competition, Serato clung to their title due to its ease of use and stable software and support.

JFB:
"Traktor Scratch came close with its better tracking, but Serato tracks fine. It's easy to use with the best layout and I can sample audio and instantly scratch it back."

Ed Solo:
"The official forums are great - you can post a query and a member of staff will get back to you quickly."

Gizmo:
"It's not as fully featured as others, but you can depend on its rock solid performance and that's what counts for the working DJ."

West End DJ:
"We sell these day and night. It works on almost any computer system and spec. The best thing though is the support and free updates."

Best DJ Controller

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M-AUDIO XPONENT

£459 / 01923 204010 / maudio.co.uk

To DJ with your laptop you need software, hardware control and a soundcard - the Xponent has it all.

James Zabiela:
"This has loads of buttons and super light to travel around with easily. The fact it's built solely for DJ Midi control and has a built-in soundcard makes it easy to use."

Danny McMillan:
"It was up against some serious competition but this wins because of the all-in-one soundcard, controller and DJ software - especially good if you have a low budget."

West End DJ:
"M-Audio are famous for their soundcards and interfaces and they've brought it all together for DJs. It's a bit on the big side, but that just means you get a bigger jog-wheel. Everything is well laid out and uncluttered."

[*** note – readers' vote ***]

Best DJ Soundcard

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NATIVE INSTRUMENTS AUDIO 8 DJ

£219 / 0208 207 7880 / native-instruments.com

The Audio 8 DJ is the most fully featured DJ soundcard and production tool on the market.

West End DJ:
"The Audio 8 has really surprised us, it's got everything a DJ could need, it's very well thought out - as you'd expect from Native Instruments - and it's built to withstand some knocks."

JFB:
"I've only used it with Traktor so far but it seems really good, especially for the price. The sound quality and latency is sick."

Gizmo:
"I've been using this for a while now and I'm really impressed with the quality and options for the money. It delivers serious quality audio, as well as loads of ins and outs. It's the attention to detail, like the USB cable hook, that raises it above the rest."

[***note – readers' vote****]

Best Portable Recorder

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M-AUDIO MICRO TRACK 24/96

£189 / 01923 204010 / maudio.co.uk

M-Audio have a knack for creating stupidly good, value-for-money kit, as the Micro Track proves.

Eserin:
"The Micro Track is an extremely compact and seriously no-fuss portable recorder. Instant access to level controls and a good screen make it easy to set up.
The connections are solid and ideal for DJs making set recordings. And should you decide to do some field recordings, you can connect up all sorts of professional or semi-professional microphones. The sound quality and compact memory flash also top the bill."

[***note – readers' vote ***]

Best Studio Software

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ABLETON LIVE

£329 / 01923 204010 / ableton.com

Ableton is becoming more of a professional choice for studio production.

Danny McMillan:
"This is both great in and out of the studio and is a mainstay for both areas of my working life - both DJing and production."

Si Begg:
"Possibly one of the most important pieces of software to emerge in the last 10 years. To focus on live performance was a brilliant and much needed concept. It's perfectly executed to boot - all software should be like this."

Eserin:
"This software has completely changed the way we approach music making and DJing."

[*** note – readers' vote ***]

Best Studio Controller

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M-AUDIO TRIGGER FINGER

£129 / 01923 204010 / maudio.co.uk

The Trigger Finger offers great control for a number of applications and at a cool price.

Eserin:
"For £129 you get a great tool for programming in beats, but also for triggering clips in Live and more. There are faders so you can mess with parameters, such as effects and volumes. It's light and compact and above all it's cheap as chips."

Danny McMillan:
"Great little tool for the live set-up and programming in the studio."

[*** note – readers' vote ***]

Best DJ/Production School

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POINT BLANK

020 7729 4884 / pointblanklondon.com This college has stayed No.1 in the Tech Awards for a staggering six years!

Eserin:
"If there is one school that is really forging the way ahead, it's Point Blank. Building on their already established and respected college, they are fully embracing online technology to deliver top-class educational packages to anyone around the world. Their online courses offer one-on-one tuition time with industry experts and a clear working programme. With support networks, such as their radio station and record label, there's no easier way to get into the industry."

[*** note – readers' vote ***]

Retailer Of The Year

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WEST END DJ

020 8208 6988 / westenddj.com

West End DJ embrace the web to bring us video demonstrations of all the top kit.

Eserin:
"West End DJ are apparently the biggest stockists of many top lines of gear, including Pioneer kit. Their persistence to bring added value to their customers is second to none. With their online video demonstrations of all the best kit, it's easy to see what is going to suit your needs. West End DJ's recognition this year is highly deserved."

Danny McMillan:
"The pro's choice. What more can I say?"