Hot on the heals of releasing the cheap, compact USB DJ controller X-Session Pro, M-Audio now has a consumer package of the same unit with software included. Expected to have a street price of US$99 and sell at consumer outlets like Best Buy, the new package is about as close as I’ve ever seen to a decent starter DJ kit. It includes the X-Session Pro controller, plus a new “LE” version of M-Audio’s torq DJ software for Mac and Windows:

torq MIXLAB [M-Audio Product Page

The LE software isn't bad at all. It has a really simple, clean interface that should be friendly to computer DJ newcomers, EQ, headphone cueing, and some effects (though not the full array of effects in the complete torq package), plus support for recording and playback of MP3, AIFF, WAV, WMA, Apple Lossless, and AAC. I got to play with it a little last night at the DigitalLife press event in Manhattan, and it was a lot of fun. It's simple enough to buy for your aspiring-DJ nephew or niece for the holidays, but the hardware is still good enough that more serious users might buy one for themselves -- especially at this price, if you're on a budget.

(One surprising note: the specs suggest a 7200 rpm hard drive. For two-channel DJ mixing? That sounds like overkill to me. I didn't get a close look at the Toshiba laptop M-Audio was using, but I wouldn't be surprised if it had a 5400 rpm drive in it.)

Now, the curious part: there are two products here with two different names that, aside from software bundle, are exactly the same. For "pros", we have the "X-Session Pro", whereas for "consumers", we have the "Torq MixLab." They both have the same price (around $100 street), but the only actual difference is that the "consumer" edition comes with software and the "pro" doesn't -- otherwise, it's the same package, and the same hardware. Then again, if you're liable to throw out the software disc and don't need it to use as a coaster or to complete your Giant Wall of CDs sculpture, I guess the pro version makes sense.

It is nice to start to see this stuff in Best Buy. Of course, I'm insane, so what I want to see next is My First Buchla Modular, or Reaktor for Kids. (Barbie Ableton Live Playset? Now we're talking.)

[tags]DJ, hardware, software, M-Audio, controllers, Mac, Windows, shopping, beginners[/tags]

  • http://www.soundclick.com/starswell Oetzi

    Gimme gimme gimme. Ooh and I like the sound of reaktor for kids.

  • http://www.jaymis.com Jaymis Loveday

    I think I may be recommending this for my Xmas list as an alternative to BCD2000 + Traktor.

  • http://myspace.com/tricil tricil

    lol.

    reaktor for kids.

  • http://www.corporation.tk corporation

    from the torq-dj.com forums, from Chad Carrier:

    Hey guys. Here's the skinny on Torq MixLab:

    Torq MixLab is a consumer-grade package comprised of the X-Session Pro MIDI Controller and Torq LE software. The X-Session Pro is like the older X-Session, except that the layout and selection of controls on the new XSP is more condusive for DJ use (vertical 3-band EQ knobs, vertical volume faders, etc.). Torq LE is a feature-reduced version of Torq that offers the bread-and-butter functions you need to DJ, but doesn't offer any of the advanced and more creative features available in the full version. Here's a quick synopsis of the differences (though not a complete list):

    - No Sampler

    - No Snapshots

    - No External Vinyl/CD Control options (even if you get your hands on some records or CDs, there is no way to use them with Torq LE)

    - No Line Inputs

    - No VST Plug-in support

    - No ReWire support

    - The effects are limited to three, which are hard-wired (cannot be changed by the user). They are Dual-Filter, Flanger, and Strobe.

    So, definitely usable, but the full version of Torq is probably what most of you are really interested in. Torq LE does still need a dongle to launch–the X-Session Pro is the dongle. You'll just use your computer's built-in audio interface at that point.

    Also, in response to imianwilliams' statement, you CAN use any soundcard you want with Torq (both the full version and Torq LE). You need to have the Conectiv attached in order to LAUNCH Torq, but you can always choose any other audio interface you'd like by choosing it in the Audio Preferences. We don't recommend it since all of our testing is done against the Conectiv, but there's definitely nothing stopping you from using another interface if you'd prefer. The Conectiv would just be a really big dongle at that point.

    -Chad

  • Karen Weiss

    Everything I've read so far about this product suggests that you do the deejaying work on your own, and the result is a recording that you can play live. I'm looking for something that lets me do live deejaying. I've used Acoustica's DJ Twist & Burn before. I like the way it lists the BPM and lets me change the speed of songs without changing the pitch, but its interface to segue from one song to another is not possible to manage live. Is MixLab the right product for me?

  • Khris

    In this unit (M-audio x-sessions pro) where do you plug in headphones? can you plug in headphones??

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Karen — the bundled software here will do what you need.

    Khris — glad you asked that, as I didn't make that clear. This is a controller only; it doesn't do audio, so there is no headphone jack. You'd need to couple this with another piece of gear. That's okay, though, because it means you can position the X-Session controller where it's convenient for you, while whatever you're connecting to audio is close to the audio cables.

  • Niq

    Can you assign scratching?

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    You can assign the controls to anything you like. The problem is finding a control that would work well for scratching. You might want a separate controller for that.

  • Pingback: Create Digital Music » M-Audio Torq DJ Tool in Action, On Test; More DJ Bling

  • Chris

    What do I need to buy so that I can get songs from my computer, mix them together on the X-Session pro and then hook up my computer to an amp?

    Also, I am really into live editing. What would I need to buy in order to hook up an external beat mixer (something like the M-Audio Trigger Finger or Korg Synth Pad)?

    All I want to do is mix from my computer and add effects from an external piece of equipment. I've spoken to so many people and looked everywhere online but no one has the answer.

    Can anyone help me out?

  • Anthony

    So when is the MixLab going to be available? I bought the x-session pro, because I couldnt find the MixLab, but I was wondering if I could download the Torq LE from the m-audio website.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    MixLab should be available now. I don't know if they'll make Torq LE available to current XSP users or not; my guess based on what I've heard so far is that they won't since they're keeping the consumer stuff separate. You would have to check with them.

  • Anthony

    Well, my guitar center didnt have it. I bought the only XSP they had. I will stop by there tonight and see if they have it. If so, I wil just swap it out for the plain XSP.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    My understanding was that Mixlab distribution will be through consumer channels (think Best Buy) and Guitar Center would only carry X-Session Pro. So that could explain why you didn't find it.

  • Natalie

    can I pay for the MixLab somewhere on the Net and download it after that,..? thanks!

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Natalie, it's a hardware bundle, so no.

  • Natalie

    ;) thanks Peter, so what the hell is hardware bundle?

  • djavr3

    i got two products from m-audio, the conective dj performance/production system with the torq performance software first and the m-audio mixlab digital dj system with the torq le software, to me both of the softwares where the same only the le came with some extra plug-ins but the sychroscience by m-audio that i got first has the 4×4 usb dj audio interface with phono/line inputs (for headphones, and a mic) i'm just waiting on my virtal vinyl so i can cut it up with my turn-tables. over all i love these products!! keep it up m-audio!!

  • Mike Kane

    Can you clear up a few things for me? I'm kind of a newbie at this….

    So I can play an mp3 file through the included software and load another file to crossfade to later? All on one comp and with no additional hardware?

    If thats true than it's exactly what I need. If not could you possibly point me to something more like what I need?

    Thanks!

  • Tim

    I can't seem to get the audio to play through external speakers and play through the headphones at the same time. I have the griffin Imic USB and thought I might be able to use it to act as two soundcards so i can hear the cue. It only shows outputs 1 and 2 in the prefs menu. Anybody know how to help me so i can cue without the music playing through the master output?

  • http://www.myspace.com/shadowhawk78 Shadow

    Personally I see this as a wannabe hercules type bundle with virtual dj wannabe software. From what im hearing it looks like to actually do anything like actual dj'ing youll need to spend a bunch of extra money for effects…audio plug in…etc. The hurcules console may be a bit pricier…well the mk2 version is…the normal one is about 80 on ebay..but the mk2 has a built in soundcard. Also with the hurcules dj controller you dont need anything else…you can hook up a mic…amp…pc…everything directly to it. Also the bundled software of virtual dj is by far the best ive ever used…and can be used for live events. So if your looking to go virtual…like myself…and dont want to pay for a full setup…get the hurcules mk2…and itll be all youll need.

    Hope that helps…

  • Ben

    Can you hook the x-sessions pro to your amp then to the house system?