Novation Dicer Controller Review
Overview: The Novation Dicer is a palm-sized cue point and looping controller that has been designed to fit exactly where you need it: on your Turntables, CDJs, Mixer, or Laptop. DJ D-Mac from DJbooth.net gives us his feedback on these nifty new devices.
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The Novation Dicer is a Digital MIDI controller built to work with DJ software programs such as Serato and Traktor. It allows DJs to set and execute cue points and loops using buttons on the device rather than clicking using your laptop. Its compact design allows it to be mounted on top of a turntable or laptop for easy access while DJing.
The first thing you Notice about the Dicers is their size. Each Dicer is only a few inches in width and has 5 large buttons on the top with 3 small mode buttons. The Dicer is extremely light but seems durable enough to sustain general wear and tear. On the face of each Dicer are 8 buttons, 5 of which are large and three of which are smaller. The large buttons are assigned to functions like cue points and loop controls, whereas the small buttons are used to switch between different modes – i.e. Loop Mode, Cue Mode, etc.
Included in the box is are the following:
? 2 Dicer MIDI Controllers
? One TRS cord used the connect the Dicers to each other
? 1 Sheet of DJ Putty (used to mount the Dicers on a Laptop or Turntable)
? Setup guide
For the purpose of this review I am using an Acer 1410 computer, Vestax 05 pro II mixer, two Technics 1200 M3Ds, and Traktor Scratch Pro.
Physical setup of the Novation Dicers was simple. You simply connect the Dicers to each other using the TRS cable and then connect one of the Dicers to your computer using a Mini to Standard USB cord (both are included). One of the most unique features of the Dicers the way it is designed to fit into the 45 adapter storage nook on Technics turntables. You simply remove the 45 adapter and pop the Dicers in. If you dont have a Technics turntable, the Dicer can be mounted on top of a CDJ or laptop using the included DJ Putty. Either way, its compact design puts the Dicers right in the middle of the action for easy access during sets.
Although the Dicers are built to work with Serato Scratch Live out of the box, setting them up to work with Traktor was simple using the resources that Novation provided me. For your convenience I have linked to them below:
Dicer Setup Guide for Traktor - instructions for setup
Dicer Mapping File for Traktor - the file you need to load into Traktor
Dicer Mapping PDF - shows how the buttons on the Dicer map Traktor functions
Simply follow the instructions and you will do good to go.
As mentioned earlier, the Dicer has five main buttons and three mode buttons. When using the default Traktor setup, the three modes are as follows: 1. Hot Cues 2. Loops 3. Effects
When in hot cues mode clicking on one of the 5 main buttons sets a cue point. Holding the mode button and hitting a cue button deletes it. The second mode controls loops. You can easily set a loop, move it left or right, and extend/contract the loop size. Lastly mode three controls the FX module, allowing you to activate and deactivate effects as well as increase or decrease the wet/dry setting. I found the cue point mode to be the most useful since you can easily jump to different points on the track.
With Serato the mapping is slightly different. Modes one is still used to manage hot cues, but mode 2 and 3 are used to control Loop Roll and Auto Loop functions.
However, you are not limited by the initial MIDI mapping. The Novation Dicers allow you to create your own mappings – so you can program any button to match any function in your preferred DJ Software. Since there are 5 buttons, 3 modes, and a shift function for each button you have 60 available mappings.
Although Novation was able to fit a lot into a small device, my one gripe is that they didn't include a rotating knob. Although buttons are great for setting loops and cue points, a knob would have been a great way to give DJs a convenient way to navigate through their music collection as well as move loops and set effects. This is a function I really enjoyed on the Traktor X1. However, the Dicers main advantage over controllers like the X1 is their size, which allows the Dicers to sit nicely on top of your turntables.
Conclusion (Recommended For):
At less than $100 dollars a pair, the Novation Dicers are a great tool for any DJ looking for a device that gives them more convenient access to cue points, loops, and effects (for Traktor Scratch users). DJs looking for more functionality in their MIDI controller, including library browsing, may want to also consider the X1 because its increased puts more functions at your fingertips and gives you knobs for browsing through your library. However, Novation did a great job of fitting essential MIDI functionality into a small package that fits nicely on your turntables and doing so at a price point that makes it attractive to just about any DJ. The Dicers come highly recommended, as I believe that DJs will find the added control addicting and will eventually wonder how they got by without them
?-The compact design fits right onto your turntables for easy access during sets
?-Ideal for DJs looking to beat juggle or remix tracks on the fly using cue points
?-Low pricing makes it a great addition for a DJ on a budget
?-No turn knobs. Buttons aren't ideal for browsing through your media library
?-Minor gripe: Buttons lack a “click” that would indicate when they are pressed.
Features & Specs
Dicer gets all the power it needs from a single USB cable, with no need for an external power supply. A mini Jack cable transmits power and data to the second Dicer.
Ready-made setup files for other DJ software
Quick setup files for other major DJ software, including Traktor Scratch Pro, are available to download for free from www.novationmusic.com
A Fully class compliant MIDI device
Dicer is a plug and play device, so no need to install any drivers
Integration with Serato
Full integration with Serato Scratch Live (including LED feedback) requires Serato version 2.1. Without this, Hot Cues, Auto Loop and Loop Roll functions can all be assigned to Dicer using Serato's MIDI learn function.
Physical controls and Indicators
• 5 large round multi-colour back-lit trigger buttons
• 3 small round multi-colour back-lit function buttons
• Micro USB 1.1 connector; the most robust and compact USB connection.
• Kensington lock space
• Mini-Jack connector for connecting pairs.
Weights and Dimensions
Single un-boxed unit (Dicer always comes as a pair):
W & D = 90 mm / 3.5 “; H = 13 mm / 0.5“
Weight: 72 g / 0.16 lbs
NOTE: One Dicer only. Height includes rubber feet / excludes adapter
W=165 mm / 6.5 “, H=240 / 9.5 “, D=60 mm / 2 3/8“
Weight: 0.4373 kg / 0.96 lbs
NOTE: Includes single brown outer box
Multi Box (10):
W= 307 mm / 12“, H=492 mm / 19 3/8“, D=187 mm / 7 3/8“
Weight: 5.253 kg / 11.58 lbs
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