The MIDI controller market has no shortage of choices on offer at the moment. For every software title and style of DJing there seems to be a range of controllers at various prices available for DJs and producers to take home. Any newcomers into this market had better have something special up their sleeves to have any hope of surviving in this competitive territory.
If there were any team that could come up with a controller that ticks all of the boxes for DJ/producers, it would have to be the combination of Magda and NYMA (aka Berlin producer Nima Chatrsimab) who have put their heads together along with Glanzmann DDS and Faderfox to create the Versus controller.
This is aimed at a special niche of DJ/producer types who have a technical itch they can't quite scratch when performing live. Given both the technical pedigree and experience that this design dream-team brings to the party, it should come as no surprise that the Versus is something more than a little bit different — as well as being rather special.
Rather than being built for a particular market segment to a price point, as most controllers are, the Versus is a labour of love. A no-compromise approach has been taken to the design and manufacturing process.
In fact, not only is the Versus not being mass produced, it was never actually meant for production in the first place — it was conceived as a controller for the personal use of Magda and NYMA.
The limited number of Versus controllers that are being made available to the public are hand-built in Germany and Switzerland by Faderfox and Glanzmann DDS, which means that the build quality and craftsmanship of these controllers is second to none.
Of course, all of this handcrafted, limited edition Swiss and German engineering comes at a price — and these costs are reflected in the price tag, a whopping 1500 Euros. Compared to many other controllers the Versus seems expensive, but for a handful of DJs and performers this controller will be their favourite new piece of equipment.
The sales of the Versus are likely to be small, which is as intended, but the quality is high and this is something to be celebrated in this era of mediocrity, mass production and corporate greed.
The Versus is designed to bridge the gap between production and DJing, making this a controller which will suit more technically-minded DJs or producers wishing to bring some of their production tricks and tools to their DJ or live sets.
While this controller has not specifically been designed for one piece of software, given NYMA's background working for Ableton and the Traktor 2.5-configured files made available with the Versus, it's clear which pieces of software the creators had in mind when designing this controller.
The layout suits both Ableton and Traktor with its remix decks and forthcoming Stems track format perfectly, but could be put to use just as well on any MIDI-compatible DJing or production software.
The Versus is designed to provide two-deck control with four 60mm faders on each side (a total of eight), each of which have a dedicated group button and FX assign button which dominate the top half of the control surface.
There are then an additional four potentiometer knobs with dedicated buttons located at the top for FX control and assignment. Each deck section has its own dedicated loop section complete with a two-digit display, located either side of a V-shaped track-browsing and loading section.
The bottom of the controller is loaded with banks of buttons, with each deck section having four buttons for pitch control and bending, a bank of eight hot-cue buttons and a rather innovative transport control button arrangement.
The build quality and design of the Versus is in a league of its own, but given the price tag this controller is going to be a very niche product indeed — which is something that makes us love it even more.
£1100 — £1300 (depending on exchange rates)