It might be hard to believe, but EKS, a small independent company from Finland have been pioneering Midi DJ technology since way back in 2003 when they released their first product, the EKS DJ controller. This was one of the first products specifically designed for DJs which combined soundcard and Midi controller in one neat package.
They followed this up with the revamped XP10, a jet-black model built to the highest specifications by the same company who manufacture components for NASA spacecraft.
The jog-wheel response was seriously improved by incorporating a conductive touch-sensitive centre into the design, which performed very accurately in our test.
The XP5 follows on with the same design and layout, but comes with a pure white paint job to distinguish it from its predecessor. Best of all, thanks to various factors, it's a damn sight cheaper than the XP10 and will set you back nearly £100 less as just £119.
It's as light as ever and weighs in at a touch less than 400 grams which makes it an ideal choice for mobile DJs or where portability is a concern. The shell is made entirely of plastic, but is rock solid and grips the table like a bugger so there's no problem with it slipping around under extreme pressure.
The sound card is USB 2 compliant, and comes with a custom Asio driver for PCs so that multiple devices can be used together with one program.
Mac users don't need to worry since OSX takes care of this automatically with its aggregate device feature.
It connects to mixers with RCA outputs, but there is no separate headphone output for monitoring, and the whole unit is buss powered through the USB port.
One criticism of the XP10 was that its Midi support was less than straight forward. We are glad to hear that EKS have taken up the slack and now include a newly written Midi driver for Mac and PC.
This should make it easy to use the XP5 with any Midi compliant DJ software, such as Traktor, Cue, MixVibes, etc. and it's expected to come with a template for Traktor 3. Also bundled is a Midi mapper tool to help configure the XP5 for other uses.
EKS make their own DJ software called Bison and at the time of writing, it's only available for PCs. It has a basic feature set that works well with the jog wheel scratch function of the XP10, and also performs time stretching and pitch shifting on tracks.