PRO AUDIO
DJ Scott Mad Flip

DJ Scott Mad Flip
August 24, 2011

Novation Makes Me “TWITCH” Review


As we learned months ago Novation was releasing a highly anticipated “controllerism” inspired Serato Itch controller.  Many of us saw the initial video and marveled at it’s unique layout and advanced functionality.  We finally got one in which magically coincided with Serato’s release of Itch 2.0.  We agreed that the Twitch merited some additional footage and documented it’s arrival and first impressions before we really got into the nitty gritty.  Here is what transpired.

First Impressions

The Twitch is a smaller controller compared to the usual suspects that occupy the market which I see as an advantage considering this is a niche product that probably won’t become standard in every nightclub or venue.  The layout is a little different, too.  The “juicy” area consists of 8 small pads on the lower left and right of the controller that trigger 4 performance modes. Above those is the Performance Mode selector buttons for Hot Cues, Slicer, Auto Loop, and the wonderful Loop Roll.  There are multi-prupose Touchstrips above those on both sides that take the place of traditional jog wheels.  These act as nudges, position drops, swipes, and also mode selectors for performance effects.  The transport section consists of cue, play, keylock, and the oh, so vital sync button.  The pitch adjust is an orthodox rotary knob that is actually more accurate in my opinion when dialing up the BPM by decimal point.  The beat grid set and adjust buttons, and shift button complete the area.  The center mixing section has long throw line faders, quality cross-fader, trim and EQs, and the unique fader FX section.  All output volume control for headphone, mix, booth, and master are located on the upper right of the controller just above the browse and load section.  FX control and selection for decks A and B are on the upper left of the controller just to the left of the Mic/Aux volume control.  Overall the Twitch layout is very logical and conducive to controllerism.  All of the knobs, buttons, sliders, and pads feel and look pretty good even in a full plastic construction.

The Goods

I love the versatility of the 8 cue buttons.  You can choose to control Hot Cues, a Slicer function, Auto Loop, and Loop Roll.  The pads felt good and responded well, but we couldn’t manually drum out sixteenth notes using them as Hot Cues.  Luckily, you can emulate this in Auto Loop mode.  The Slicer mode captures 8 beats at a time corresponding to each pad in a measure.  This makes for some really creative performances, especially in transition.  The gold star goes to the Loop Roll performance mode.  This gives you the ability to choose what type of roll to use on the fly as your track continues to play.  You can very accurately and seamlessly create glitchy remixes and expressive phrasing with absolute ease.  FUN.

Stripping and Syncing

The touchstrip is the most obvious feature simply because of the lack of any jog wheels.  You must approach mixing with a different frame of mind.  Many DJ’s (even those who use digital vinyl systems) utilize cue points at the first downbeat and trigger them to start their incoming tracks whether they use a button or a key on their laptop.  You should get used to doing this when using the Twitch with Itch and Traktor.  The touchstrip allows for navigation and drops when you are preparing cue points and grids for your tracks.  THIS PROCESS IS IMPERATIVE WHEN USING THE TWITCH.  You can also use the touchstrip to nudge your track faster or slower when it is in swipe mode.  Let’s face it, we all want accurate mixes and this controller is largely based on “sync” mixing so your tracks must be well beat-gridded.  Luckily, Serato’s Itch 2.0 allows for “Re-optimized Smart-syncing” and Grid Editing, even on the fly, and is relatively easy to accomplish.  Despite my love affair with Traktor I found it very enjoyable using this feature in Itch 2.0.

Changing the Game

The Twitch is certainly a great product.  The question is will it change the way DJs mix and perform?  The answer is yes.  The fact that there are no platters alone suggests this.  Not to mention it’s compatibility with Traktor and Ableton.  This is a solid product from the same guys that brought us the Dicers and the Launchpad.  Seriously.  Novation isn’t trying to take any one away from their turntables or DVS systems.  They are simply opening another door to those of us who have discovered controllerism and have the desire to add it to our arsenal.  This isn’t the first product to move into this direction, but it is certainly one of the best.  Especially at a price far less than $1000.  We will have more info on this an many more that follow I’m sure.  Check out our video and witness the strength.  Until next time, happy gigs!

Transcript:

Scott: Novation Twitch is a product that, we know it’s a game changer, so we wanted to do something that’s going to parallel that concept.
We wanted to do something that’s going to present it, we wanted to interact with the other users, the other people that are kind of pushing the envelope, in an environment like a DJ Expo there is no greater environment than that.
Well, the revolution is at stake, honestly, Novation has come out with some products that have been go to products for DJ’s, for producers, for the Live PA.
Twitch is going to really change the game and Novation is putting themselves out there, gladly, because they’ve got the technology and performance to really back that up.
It’s making me sort of think outside the box of the way I do things and I’m really enjoying that, I know a lot of DJ’s out there are going to move into it and absolutely love it, kill it, destroy it.
Twitch is a dynamic controller making a DJ more like a musician without just the element of turntablism.
Twitch is changing the game because it’s the first product of its kind just blazing a trail for a new style of DJing, that’s what it’s doing.
The Touch Strip allows for, the direction the technology in my opinion is going, people want a phone that they can touch, people want a screen that they can touch, there’s nuances of pinching to expand and that is what twitch delivers, integrating technology with the new form of DJing.
The learning curve, for me it was pretty easy, because I was familiar with the software, you know, you have to approach it differently and you have to be patient about that or you can actually see it as an open door that’s going to lead you to greater things and that’s how I saw it.
Kid Cedek: What’s going on this is Kid Cedek I’m here with Unique Squared over here on the Mobile Studio we’re over here at the DJ Expo.
UniqueSquared brought me out to really get my hand out to some really different DJ’s and producers to let them know who I am and what I do with UniqueSquared. The Twitch is definitely a game changer, the more and more I play with it the more I’ve noticed how relevant it is probably going to be in the near future.
All the effects are like post fader, so actually, if you have an effect you can switch to what ever effect you want and the way you are controlling it is as simple as turning the volume down on that channel, and it’s going to give you the effect, so you get as much as you bring down, so you can do some really cool stuff with it.
Scott: It’s just the new era of DJing, I know that it’s just going to get better from here and I very much look forward to it, this is how they’re going to start with controllers, honestly? They are really going to change the game.

Comments

  1. Keenan says:

    The twitch is a perfect example of a company being innovative but lazy at the same time. It is a product that had the potential to be great, when really it just ended up being good. I owned one for about a week and I must say it’s -fun- but not complete in any sense of the word. The sound output of the sound card is very quiet, which is surprising because focusrite owns novation and they are known for their quality sound cards. Pairing it up with Itch was also a big let down because honestly, with no fanboy-ism attached…Traktor is leagues ahead of Itch (even the 2.0 update). The twitch was meant to be an effects based, controllerist piece of kit but it is so heavily limited by the lousy effects in Itch. It comes with a traktor overlay but the mapping that comes with it is really limited as well. Controlling effects through traktor with the provided mapping is really counter-intuitive (pressing around 3-4 buttons just to activate one effect). In short, the twitch was a result of great ideas but poor execution. Hopefully Novation realizes the mistakes they made and provide a Twitch 2.0 of sorts in the near future.

  2. Brendan Peterson says:

    Twitch will smash the boards and drop the dope tracks!

  3. Zach says:

    The Twitch is a controllerist’s dream. You’re right, its definitely not going to become a club standard but for the djs that are all about crazy loops, cues, and just overall going nuts on songs, I think this is perfect. I still think most people are going to go for other things like the Kontrol S2/4 or Numark NS6 because most people are not good enough to be able to make real controllerism sound good. Don’t get me wrong, Im not very good at it either, but Im working hard at it and Im trying to get better. Thats the thing, it takes a lot of work to be able to get to a level where you can work with the twitch and make it sound awesome… but at that level you may already be on to bigger and better equipment. But honestly, I hope thats not the case, cause this is a solid piece of equipment in my opinion. I hope I get to see these in action in a club sometime soon.

  4. Bryan Bowman says:

    I wish I had something to say about it…the strip feature makes sense…but it’s just not innovative enough to make me want a new controller…I have owned Korg Kaoss products for years….so a simple left to right touch strip does not raise my eyebrows…the poster above pretty much nails it on the head for me…

  5. Bryan Bowman says:

    also, as a marketer…I hate twitch, scratch, and itch…they don’t sound musical as product names…and indeed make me feel like they are more of a disease than something I want to go out and buy haha!

  6. Siddharth says:

    Cos’ TWITCH is super TWISTED that’s gonna rock out! So surely it’s gonna hit. That too hard!

  7. Josh E says:

    I am on the fence with this decision, but I feel this could be a “hit”. The concept is very fresh and the compact nature would definitely appeal to many controllerists and possibly current itch users (or even traktor users) looking for a rugged, portable solution to back up or combine with their setup. Another appealing factor is the personal customization through mapping, which many users, and not just controllerists, will thoroughly enjoy. Also, Novation has proven itself through many reliable and popular products, which should put users at ease.

    On the contrary, I think many users would miss the feeling and looks of the traditional deck setup. Another inhibiting factor is the price. Yes, it’s affordable in comparison to larger setups, but to some there are always better options. And the itch software is still lacking in comparison to traktor, but like Keenan said hopefully they do a proper mapping and provide an upgrade.

    In the end, I believe people will be receptive to the layout of this new setup and with the direction that music and digital mixing is going this could definitely expand people’s creativity in not only production, but performance as well.

  8. George says:

    Personally I don’t agree with the above statement at all it reads more like the user was lazy and not working to get the full potential of the twitch. I will agree that sound is quite low and I often find myself maxing out my master to get the best potential out of whatever sound system I am outing through. Otherwise I find the overall ease of use on the device amazing, Itch 2.0 very great for getting started, and with the right working material the ability to play with the sound and remix on the fly is amazing. The day I got it I spent 3 hours mixing around on it with mostly new material but found it incredibly easy to set up songs. I often had issues with the beatgridding from Itch on some songs but it was easy enough to beat match by ear and eye. You could use the drop feature to scan through the wave form, slowly swipe to the down beat and hot cue it up setting up the song in less than a minute to fully mix around. To really get the full potential you have to beat grid the songs up ahead of time(takes about 5-10 minutes depending). I found it easier to beatgrid in Itch than I have traktor though it in both I recommend doing it ahead of time, especially Traktor. The traktor overlay it comes with is just a started guide to getting the Twitch set up for traktor. Being a completely programmable midi device if you have the gumption, know how, and time it becomes a monster for controlling Traktor. I personally run traktor as a 2 channel, 2 sample, extended setup. The easy on and off filter along with the eq3 and gain adjustments between my 4 decks is incredibly simple. The FX setup is not as easy or intuitive as it is for the Itch setup however, if you program it how you want it becomes much easier. I personally use the FX setup with no no problem and uses the buttons that come with no binding initially to launch my samples. Along with that I altered the initial beat gridding layout to make it easier to work with on the fly. But it should always be done before you mix, and I find it easier with a mouse. The only complaint I would have is when you want to really move the touchpad precisely you don’t get that as much as you’d like sometimes. This can be fixed by just altering it’s sensitivity in traktor but there is no option in Itch for that. Overall I see this device as promising new look at whats to come in the world of DJ controllerism and I am happy to integrate into my setup.

    I currently run Ableton Live sync’d with Traktor and VDMX for full sensory experience and using the Itch with it hasn’t slowed me down in anyway :)

  9. Vincent Dacio says:

    I’ve been yearning to get my hands on a Twitch since I watched the teaser that was released in March. The Twitch is a great new controller that someone will have a field day with. While similar to a Vestax VCI, the Twitch boasts more controls and more buttons. The internal sound card would also reduce the mobile DJ’s load that he would have to lug around to each gig. Combining the Twitch with other controllers, such as the Kontrol X1 or a Midi Fighter, brings out even more possibilites. Novation continues to come up with new, innovative products!

  10. mario says:

    Because Twicht is Twisted, I Want it

  11. R.D. Spinz says:

    The twitch has a lot of cool innovation, and at first glance, I was very impressed and almost considered getting one. This product is unfortunately a gimmick at best. It won’t be a top seller, simply because of the other highly functional controllers that have also come out around this time, including the NS6, and The Traktor S4. While this does look like a fun toy to play around with, I think it’s should be clear that nothing too serious can be done with just this alone.

  12. MykroBeatz says:

    Stop making products look so easy, Madflip. I’ll end up buying something and not having a clue on how to use it lol

  13. Taylor says:

    I have a Novation Twitch, got it last week. Yes, it is an innovative product that is perfect at that price point. Yes, the build quality is near perfect (faders seem a little loose). Yes, it is a nice size for the mobile DJ. But, I don’t think this is the future of digital djing. It’s an easy to use controller that will take a little while to perfect but it doesn’t feel like something that I will continue using, especially as a club DJ. I bought it so that I could try bring some more digital DJing to clubs, it worked well but it didn’t feel natural. All in all, it is a very good controller for the mobile DJ, a brilliant controller for the bedroom DJ but not acceptable for club use.

  14. djkommodore says:

    Its a good product at the right price point, and it works with software other than Itch. They will sell alot because there are not alot of killer controllers for under $500 and the Vestax VCI-100 II (closest competition and no Itch)was not a big improvement.

    All those big cue buttons beg to be pressed!!

  15. I think the Novation Twitch will be a miss simply because it lacks the standard control for MIXING! There are no jogwheels. Sure you can set a cue point and drop it in at the right point but no way will it stay spot on for EVERY song especially vinyl rips. I’m not sure how accurate it would be using touchscreen faders to nudge it on or off. I think it will suffice for very quick mixes but you can’t beat anything that represents something similar to traditional tables/cdjs. This also cuts out for scratch DJs to showcase their talent.
    I’m not sure what audience of DJs Novation was aiming for. Scratch DJs will want some control to scratch. House DJs will want vinyl control to mix.
    Though the effects and loop pads are pretty cool, you get the same thing on just about any controller or cdj out there so I don’t see how it makes the DJ more of a musician.
    It may be cheaper than the S4, but it is missing the essentials for any seasoned DJ.

    1. hoolio says:

      I own one and the touchstrip is amazingly well adapted to nudging.

      1. I agree completely, especially in Traktor.

  16. Deepak says:

    I think this will be a success, being a gamechanger in the Deejaying arena, looks tempting enough for me to splurge on it if I have the spare cash !

  17. Mihaly,Stojka says:

    For first look i really miss the jog wheels or even just one jog wheel somwhere at te middle…but i’m sure i want to try it…

  18. Last Martian says:

    The Rwitchloos SO SICK! I want onr now!

  19. Cristiano says:

    Novation is just about trust! There is no better choice

  20. Justin says:

    It is time to get ready to leave the old turntables behind with innovation such as this. It will certainly be a game changer.

  21. Kevin Liu says:

    Looks really versatile and portable. It would work perfect as back up kit if something goes wrong with your cdjs.