Digital Vinyl Systems (A Step by Step Guide)
As I mentioned In an article a few weeks ago, there are many DJs that are ditching their controllers and CDJs and are now preferring the more old-school feel of the turntable.
This switch has several pros and cons, plus several differences, one of them being that using turntables requires the use of something called a Digital Vinyl System, or DVS for short.
In this article, I will explain what is a DVS, how to use it properly with your turntables, and the history of them. I hope you find this article useful!
First of all, it's important to explain what is a Digital Vinyl System, or DVS for short.
A Digital Vinyl System is a software that transmits the inputs and signals of a turntable with the help of software, so that the music that passes through it can be manipulated by a mixer, just like how it happens with controllers.
In other words, a DVS is something that is necessary to use a pair of turntables with a mixer to DJ live or in your bedroom.
When it comes to DVS, there are many options on the market that you can use. Some of these options include Deckadance Final Scratch MixVibes DVS Serato Scratch Live Torq Traktor Scratch Pro.
In the future, I will be making a comprehensive review of all the most popular Digital Vinyl Systems on the market, but for now, let me tell you that most options are really good.
Some are a little bit harder to set up and use than others, but overall, they are all worthy choices, for both aspiring and newbie DJs.
What to Look for in a DVS Program
Since most of you reading this are new to DVS programs or even DJing really, it might be wise to know what things to look for in a DVS system.
Even though there are many programs out there that are worthy of your money, there are many others that are pretty complex, which means that you should be choosing the most intuitive ones.
After all, turntable playing is pretty complex by itself. Below, you will find information on what you should be looking for in a DVS system.
- Ease of use: the most important thing to look for is how intuitive and easy to use a DVS system is. As I mentioned above, you don't want to overwhelm yourself with a massive amount of new features. Rather, I'd recommend that you choose something simpler to use, so that you focus on what matters the most: the actual mixing. Thankfully, many DVS programs right now are as easy to use as traditional DJ software, so find a DVS that is easy to use is something very easy.
- Affordability: one of the cons of using turntables is the fact that using them can be pretty expensive. aside from the fact that you need to buy the turntables themselves, you also need to maintain them, which can be pretty costly, especially in the long run. The same thing holds true when it comes to DVS systems. A good DVS program can be over a hundred dollars, which is something to keep in mind if you are on a limited budget. Since this article is meant for newbies, most of the DVS recommendations that I mention will be affordable.
Types of Digital Vinyl Systems
As you probably know, there are different kinds of DVS systems out there, and the one that you choose will depend a lot on your specific needs. Below, I talk a little bit more about Digital Vinyl Systems and their different kinds.
DVS-enabled audio interface
The first choice is the DVS enabled audio interface. This is a box that connects to a mixer and a pair of turntables and it allows for the transmission of the vinyl sound onto the mixer, which in turn enables the usage of turntables for DJing.
This DVS kind is ideal if you already have a mixer and do not want to get rid of it because you are going to use turntables. When it comes to the pricing, this tends to be the most affordable way you can get a DVS.
Expect to pay about 250-400 dollars for entry-level DVS of this kind, which isn't too bad when you check the prices of the other kinds of DVS. Also, DVS-enabled audio interfaces tend to come bundled with DJ software so it's a pretty good deal if you ask me.
When it comes to DVS-enabled audio interfaces, there are many good models on the market that I would personally recommend. Depending on which software you might want to use, I recommend DVS solutions such as the Denon DJ DS1and Traktor scratch A6.
The first one uses Serato, while the other uses Traktor. If you want to use Rekordbox, the best thing to do is to use a DVS-enabled controller instead, which is a kind of DVS that I will talk about below.
As the name suggests, a DVS-enabled controller is a way to use a DVS using a controller that can support this feature. This has its pros and cons for obvious reasons.
One of the pros is that you get to also have a usable controller that you can use when you can't or do not want to use turntables. This might be super useful if you are going to be playing at a crowded nightclub and do not have space to install or set up the turntables.
Another big pro of this is the fact if for any reason you can't use the vinyl of the turntable because it's unusable, you can have the controller handy.
Using the DVS system found on a controller also gives you the opportunity to use both the turntables and the controllers at the same time. This means that you get to take advantage of the benefits of both types of technologies.
I have seen quite a few DJs doing this, with very nice results overall. The only problem with this is the fact that you are going to have to set up everything on a big table.
If you are going to be DJing in a crowded place, this might not be feasible. The inclusion of a controller with turntables at the sides might be pretty overwhelming for many DJs, so It might be wise to try the setup privately before bringing it out in public.
Perhaps the most expensive option on this list, the DVS-enabled mixer is perhaps my favorite option of the three choices shown here. As the title suggests, this DVS option has to do with buying and using a mixer that has DVS functionality.
This system works by connecting a pair of capable turntables to the mixer, and the mixer has internal software that allows for the mixing to take place.
Some mixers that feature DVS functionality include many Pioneer mixers, including the DJM-900nxs2, the DJM-s3, many Denon mixers, including the X1800, the X1850, among other models.
The mixers mentioned above not only give you the ability to use them as a DVS, but they also allow you to connect them to a standalone players, which is one of the pros of using a DVS-enabled mixer.
Not only can you use one to mix with turntables, but you can also use them with something like a CDJ. When it comes to pricing, these types of mixers tend to be found in the 500-800 dollar price range, which is pretty expensive if you ask me.
also, you need to purchase a DVS, which is more money. What I'm trying to say is that this option can be pretty expensive, so while It's, in my opinion, the best choice, I would only recommend that you choose this one if you are also going to be using the mixer with a CDJ.
Pros & Cons of using Digital Vinyl Systems
So if you aren't too familiarized with DVS systems and are more accustomed to using controllers or CDJs, you might be wondering if using a DVS system is a good option. In the following paragraphs, I will talk about the pros & cons of using a Digital Vinyl System, so that you can make a more informed choice
Pros of using a Digital Vinyl System
One of the main pros of using a DVS instead of DJing with a controller or a CDJ is that you get to use traditional vinyl instead of replacing it with an electronic alternative.
This is something that appeals a lot to the DJ that is more traditional, and I personally know many DJs that switched to vinyl because of this. Scratching on a DVS feels super natural when compared to doing it in a jog wheel, no matter how well made it might be.
Talking about scratching, one of the other pros of using a DVS and a turntable for that matter is that it's the best platform if you are dead set in becoming a scratch DJ.
In fact, while some might tell you that you can scratch just as well in a CDJ, I'd say otherwise. There are some hip hop genres that strongly recommend that you use turntables for the mixing, and if you are intent of playing that kind of music, you really need to go for the DVS options.
There's another pro that many people often don't consider when talking about the pros of using a DVS is how cool you feel when using one. Using a DVS will make people look at you like you are more experienced than what you might actually be.
The added attention that you might get in events might be a big pro for many reading this article. Now that I talked about the pros, let's talk a little bit about the cons, which are summarized below.
Cons of using a Digital Vinyl System
Now when it comes to the cons of this kind of system, one of them is the fact that you are going to be missing several features from controllers and CDJs.
For example, it's easier to find beatmatching assistance when using controllers or CDJs than when using a DVS, which makes a DVS not the best choice for beginners, which brings me to my next point.
Using a DVS isn't as easy as using something as a controller. They are definitely not as straightforward as their more technologically advanced counterparts, so that's why many people often recommend newbies to start out with an inexpensive controller to learn the basics of DJing.
Another con is the fact that setting up a proper DVS can be pretty expensive. As I mentioned above, there are 3 ways to set up a digital vinyl system, and the one that you choose will depend a lot on your budget.
I would personally recommend that you use the controller option because this way you also have a spare controller to use in case you don't want to use vinyl for any reason.
Is using a Digital Vinyl System worth it?
Now, this is something that is strangely asked a lot, so I decided to answer it for everybody that is wondering the same. Is using a digital vinyl system really worth it?
The answer is that it's going to depend a lot on what you are looking for. For some people, using a digital vinyl system is the only way to DJ. Not everybody has a modern controller and CDJs that are now becoming more mainstream.
This is especially true for more older DJs. Some of these guys only have turntables to DJ, and so for them using a digital vinyl system makes perfect sense, especially if they want to take advantage of all of the technological advancements of the last few decades.
There's also the kind of DJ that wants to DJ that old-school way. DJing with turntables is often said to be a bit harder but so much more authentic that it's worth it.
This tends to be the kind of guy that tends to listen to music on vinyl and prefer vintage stuff over more technologically advanced stuff. If you relate to that person I'd just described, then it makes perfect sense to get a digital vinyl system for obvious reasons.
Also, DJs that want to scratch will find DVS systems to be indispensable and worth it. While most DJs that heavily scratch have moved on to CDJs and controllers that have a great jog wheel, there are some others that despise the new gear, alleging that they feel is not the same and the scratching quality isn't the same either.
If this applies to you, getting a DVS and starting to use turntables exclusively might be worth it.
So if you resonate with the above paragraphs, I'd say that getting a DVS is definitely a good buy.
Now, there are a few reasons why getting a DVS might not be worth it. The first one is if you are unwilling to dedicate the time to actually becoming good at using the turntables and the DVS itself.
The truth is that becoming a good turntablist is something that takes time and effort, and many people aren't willing to invest the time needed to really become good at it. But I guarantee you that if you invest the months of practice, you could hold your own with any DJ using CDJs or controllers.
The other reason why it might not be worth it is because of the price. Using a DVS system can be expensive as I said above, and while there are more affordable systems out there, it can still make a dent in your wallet, especially when compared to using a controller.
In short, a DVS, short for Digital Vinyl System, is a software that transmits the inputs and signals of a turntable with the help of software, so that the music that passes through it can be manipulated by a mixer, just like how it happens with controllers. This is one of the only choices that you have if you really want to use turntables primarily.
There are three kinds of DVS programs available: DVS-enabled audio interfaces, DVS-enabled controllers, and DVS-enabled mixers. I recommend that you purchase either a DVS enabled controller or a mixer.
They might be more costly than the first choice, but it tends to be more useful over the long run. They are also the ideal choice if you aren't sure if you are going to stay playing with turntables long term, especially the controller.
There are a few pros & cons when it comes to using a digital vinyl system that you probably know already. When it comes to the pros, there are a few obvious ones, and a few less known ones as well.
The first one that I need to mention first is the fact that using a DVS allows you to use traditional vinyl for mixing instead of replacing it with an electronic alternative like a controller or a CDJ.
This one pro is the reason why so many people are switching to DVS systems on a yearly basis. It's hard to argue about the appeal of using vinyl. Not only is it much cooler, but scratch DJs are really going to appreciate the change.
Talking about scratching, that is one of the other pros that are undeniable when it comes to using a DVS. If you are interested in playing scratch heavy music or scratching in general, then getting a DVS is something indispensable. It's often said that the difference between scratching in a controller or CDJ and a turntable is massive.
I love researching and writing about new and exciting things in the world of mixing, including tutorials, reviews on hardware and software, as well as finding the latest and greatest. My goal is to help people become better DJs by providing them with all the knowledge they need to do just that!