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Everything Is Under Control

Is the Finnish EKS company coming of age with their new Otus digital DJing interface?

The Otus comes across as a truly professional product for controlling DJ software and features a built-in six-channel Burr Brown soundcard, which sounds really fat.

It's one of the first pure Midi controllers designed to the same scale and layout as a Pioneer CDJ-1000 - built for controlling virtual deck playback and effects. Constructed on a solid aluminium base with an elaborate and colourful design the Otus really stands out, both visually and stylistically.

At 2kg it's sturdy on the bench and its cleverly designed feet make it stand firmly on a turntable when the DJ booth is too cramped. Similar to Stanton's Da Scratch Midi controller, it features touch-sensitive control areas, such as the XY pad, relative pitch slider, and touch buttons.

There's also a large traditional touch-sensitive jog wheel, which gives a similar feel and performance to the Pioneer CDJ-1000.

One of the key aspects in the design of any controller is coming up with a familiar layout that works for the task at hand. The Otus makes a good compromise between controls for advanced features and traditional CDJ-style buttons, but lacks a big rewind button in place of a smaller one.

It's aimed at DJs who want to use a traditional DJ mixer and like keeping elements separate. Saying that, it can easily command an entire set using virtual mixers, by assigning mixer controls to whatever controls on the Otus that you want and plugging in your headphones to the jack on the back.

Built into the heart of its workings is a dual layer deck switch, so the Otus can control two decks. A pair of Oti would be ideal for four-deck software like Traktor, and it provides the audio connections too.

Unlike Da Scratch, and because of its sheer size, Otus can't be slung into your laptop bag. The control knobs that stick out on the top mean you'll need to take it to gigs in the box or invest in the Otus bag from UDG.

OUT THE BOX

Otus comes with EKS Bison and Deckadance LE in the box, which natively support Otus. They require no set up, which makes Otus great for beginners, and this supplies higher resolution scratch control by using HID instead of Midi to communicate.

Preset Midi files on the EKS website (eks.fi) kick-start your set up and MixVibes, PCDJ and DJDecks will also natively support the Otus via Midi soon. HID support is coming for existing Deckadance and Serato users too, so it's clearly got the full support of the industry's top players.

For a more professional custom feel, the Otus is highly adaptable and comes with Midi mapping software, which provides Midi modifiers. Like using the shift key on the computer keyboard in conjunction with another key for a totally new effect, combining controls greatly expands the functions of the Otus.

IN THE MIX

The dual layer idea works brilliantly with different coloured lights to show which deck you're currently using. Hold the swop button to momentarily control the other deck, or a make a decisive double tap to swop over for good.

We're not massively keen on the shiny touch surface, which can be a bit sticky. The precision of the XY pad, which doubles up as a mouse, also has room for improvement. The pitch slider has three settings for course, medium and fine control.

Even with age-old Midi control, the scratch wheel offers a pretty good feel and is great for cueing tracks naturally. But if you want to scratch like a pro, you'll need HID support to be taken seriously.

We like the little loop buttons, which are plentiful for advanced performances, but they're a little bit too small and close together.

SPECS

TECH SPECS

• Burr Brown audio interface with six channels - stereo headphone jack and two stereo RCA outs, and S/PDIF
• 16bit/24bit, 44.1kHz/48kHz
• Frequency response 4Hz-24kHz
• SNR >115dB JEITA (a-weighted), THD+N 0,002%
• Windows, OSX, Linux compatible with ASIO and Core Audio drivers
• USB2.0/USB1.1 buss powered
• High resolution 7.5" touch-sensitive wheel
• Midi messages - note, aftertouch, control change, program change, channel mode, pitch wheel and extended
• Define minimum and maximum range and define sensitivity
• Four mini push-button jog dials, 17 low travel buttons, six touch buttons, 10 control knobs
• Touchpad XY control surface for mouse or effects
• 80mm touch sensitive pitch slider, with position LEDs
• Sized 365mm x 335mm x 70mm and weighs 2kg

PRICE

£579 / €790 / $899

CONTACT

eks.fi/arbiter.co.uk
0208 207 7880

VERDICT

BUILD QUALITY 4.5
EASE OF USE 3.5
FEATURES 4.5
VALUE FOR MONEY 3.5
SOUND QUALITY 4.5
OVERALL 4.5

HYPE

This highly adaptable Midi controller's two virtual decks, touch-sensitive scratch control, and forward-thinking DJ layout make it a professional option.

GRIPE

Twin layer can lead to confusion, knobs feel wobbly, loop buttons are too small and the unit isn't that portable. Some refinements would boost the scores.

The Otus works well for forward-thinking digital DJs looking to control the new generation of DJ software, in one box.