American Audio VMS2 & Versadeck
We go head to head with American Audio’s VMS2 & Versadeck
American Audios’s VMS2 is an all-in-one 2 channel DJ controller and is the baby brother to the 4-channel VMS4. Whilst the 4-channel comes bundled with either Traktor or Virtual DJ (you have the option), the VMS2 is only available with Virtual DJ. Unpacking reveals two notable things about the 2-channel version; It’s robust and solid – perhaps even heavy in comparison to similarly priced controllers in the market but this is a definite plus since you want it to withstand the vigour of gigging and this baby screams ‘solid as a rock.’
Secondly the VMS2 has platters as opposed to jog-wheels. The difference? Size, look and feel. They look like turntable platters, they’re clearly not as large but a decent size and whilst not weighted, the grooves on top and general feel make them quite responsive and tactile to use. All the regular features for mixing are present and layout is intuitive. This is a no-fuss unit without any nasty surprises and will no doubt get the job done.
Key features like balanced XLR outputs, 4-in/4-out audio interface, the option to add CD players to each channel so that the unit can perform as both a mixer or DJ controller, separate mic input along with gain and tone control and a 3-phase curve control for the replaceable VCA cross-fader (Innofader compatible) all suggest a product that, whilst priced to compete with many brands’ entry level models, is actually fully kitted for pro use.
With the DJ controller market quite saturated a big challenge for developers is to add another dimension to their units and in so doing give them the edge over their competitors. The Versadeck, presumably so named to suggest its versatility is one such unit that stands out for exactly this. Again, as with the VMS2, the build quality, weightiness and all round ruggedness of the unit is very impressive.
Visually it looks much like two CDJ’s connected to a 2 channel mixer due mainly to the VFD display at the top of each player and also the jog-wheels which look very CDJ like. Once again American Audio have not bulked on professional features such as XLR outputs, line input connectivity for CDJs, mic input, 3 Crossfader Curve Adjustments, hot cue and looping buttons, booth output etc, all of which it has in common with the VMS2.
However where the Versadeck really comes into to its own is with two killer functions that are sure to impress; I alluded to the VFD display screen earlier and you may have wondered about this. Since the Versadeck comes with a second USB port (situated at the top centre of the unit) you can connect a flash disc or portable hard drive and play directly off either of these devices. The VFD display then offers basic MP3 related info normally found on Media Players such as file name, IDM, MP3 resolution, time remaining etc. This USB feature works really well and I was spinning merrily on both decks off the one shared thumb drive within seconds.
Handily the package also comes with an Audio Database Builder program to manage crates, tags etc and thus prepare your sets offline. The other really impressive feature is the 5 On-board FX (Echo, Flange, Filter, Skid, Scratch). The bundled Virtual DJ LE software does not include FX so having an onboard FX unit is a real cinch, something the VMS2 lacks.
Both units are priced extremely competitively and are well worth checking out. Build quality is very good, the features list impressive and they offer a host of performance options. The VMS2 lacks FX – the bundled Virtual DJ LE version does not have these and there are no onboard midi-mapable buttons for this should you decide to change DJ software.
Nonetheless if you are looking for a good, robust controller that is also a mixer at a very good price, it’s a good proposition. The Versadeck costs a couple of grand more but comes with the onboard FX and second USB port which really does make it super versatile. You don’t need a laptop, just your Versadeck and Flash disc! The VFD display is a little oldskool by today’s standards but considering what you get for the price, one cannot really expect the full wave display.
Conclusion: Both units impressed and should be checked out before spending your heard earned dosh.
SA Distributor: Legacy of Sound | Tel: +27 (0)21 551 3296 or +27 (0)82 53 555 48
Expect to pay: VMS2: R 4,275.00 incl. Vat | Versadeck: R 6,719.00 incl. Vat