May 29, 2013

Behringer CMD Studio 4a Review

The long awaited and highly anticipated Behringer CMD controllers have finally arrived at our offices, and we got a chance to take them for a test drive. We immediately set our sights on the Behringer CMD Studio 4a as this has been the most talked about DJ controller in the line. Its a four deck DJ controller that comes with an access code to download the new DJ software from Image Line, Deckadance 2. We have reported extensively on the updates and changes to the CMD line since we first saw it back in January of 2012. You can read about the evolution of the CMD line on an earlier blog post. In addition to Deckadance, you can also use the CMD Studio 4a with other DJ softwares.

Software Compatibility

Behringer are fully aware that not all DJs want to be limited to one proprietary software. If you are savvy enough with MIDI mapping, then getting the CMD Studio 4a working with Traktor, Virtual DJ, Serato DJ, Ableton, or any other MIDI mappable software should be no problem. For those that are not and want to get rocking right out of the box with Traktor, Behringer will be providing a .TSI file. They  have also made a couple Ableton Live scripts that they have shared with us. We will test these scripts out with some of the other Behringer controllers as well as play around with some of our own ideas for how they can be mapped.

While you may choose to use another software other than Deckadance out of preference, you should definetley give it a try when you first hook up your CMD Studio 4a. It bears a very striking resemblance to Traktor but more importantly it is a solid piece of free DJ software. In it’s current version, the ability to have an all inclusive layout including a view which has a mixer and FX control HUDs, does not really exist. You have to switch between different views with your mouse. This is kind of a let down as some DJs want to be able to control everything from the controller and not have to use the mouse and keyboard.

Deckadance is a great free software but you can also use others.

Deckadance is a great free software but you can also use others.

Things We Liked

Like the Numark Mixtrack Pro, the CMD Studio 4a has large jog wheels at six inches in diameter. This is great for the DJ who wants to do some scratching, or if you want to have tighter control over where you set loops, cue points, etc. One feature that you won’t find on any other DJ controller in this price range, are the long pitch faders. They are 100 mm and have a nice resistance for accurate pitch adjustment. Having 4 decks is obviously a plus. Switching between decks and knowing which deck you are controlling at which time is very easy, especially with the LED illuminated deck select buttons. We also really liked having a total of eight hot cues per deck. Even though you may not use all eight all the time, having the option for eight is a nice touch.

Behringer Studio CMD 4a

Large platters, EQ kills, long pitch faders, and LED line levels are among the things we liked.

Another great feature is the inclusion of full EQ kills. Why this is not a standard feature on all DJ controllers is perplexing when they can really add a lot (or take away rather) when performing. You have a standard three band EQ and the buttons illuminate blue when a particular band has been killed. The LED main line level indicator was a nice touch as well. This is especially useful for having a visual readout of how much volume you are putting out with the CMD Studio 4a.

Things We Didn’t Like

There are a lot of features on the CMD Studio 4a that are really great, but there were also some things we found a bit lacking when in practice. For instance the fact that you can select up to eight hot cues is great. The only drawback here is that you have to select the delete button each time you want to delete a hot cue. It would have been nice to have the option of holding down the delete button when deleting several hot cues. If you are someone that meticulously plans their DJ sets, then this is less of a problem. But for the guys that like to make impromptu changes really quickly, it seems a bit clunky to have to delete hot cues individually rather than all at once. At the very least it would have been nice to have the option of deleting all the cue points quickly with the delete button held down.

The CMD Studio 4a is not USB powered and must be powered using the included DC power supply. Our guess was that this is used to illuminate the very useful LED back lit buttons on the controller. Other DJ controllers (maybe not at this price point) have similar functionality when it comes to LED illumination and do not require a separate power supply to do so. Additionally the fact that this cannot be used as a standalone mixer only further points to the fact that the power supply is meant for light. When we tried to connect the CMD Studio 4a to our laptop without the DC power supply, we could not get the CMD Studio 4a working with Deckadance. After some experimenting we realized that the power supply not only illuminates the controller, but is essential for any kind of operation. Now this may not be a problem for you, but I found it rather limiting in terms of portability to require a DC power supply.

Should I get one?

There is no denying that the CMD Studio 4a has been highly sought after since we first saw it at NAMM 2012. It is one of the most affordable four deck controllers on the market, it’s well designed, comes with software, and can do just about everything other DJ controllers in this range can do, including having eight hot cues and full EQ kills. Although the hot cue deleting and the necessity of a DC power supply was a little less than perfect, these are rather minor flaws when considering all the great things the CMD Studio 4a has to offer. If you are in the market for a DJ controller you can take from the bedroom to the stage but you are on a budget, the Behringer CMD Studio 4a is definitely something worth considering.

Be sure to check out the video we have linked at the top and feel free to post a comment or question about the Berhinger CMD Studio 4a. To purchase the Berhinger CMD Studio 4a, visit



CMD Studio 4a is a four deck DJ controller from Behringer. It comes packaged with the new Deckadance 2 LE DJ software, and has a quite a bit of performance features while retaining a very low price point. Construction wise you have a combination of metal and plastic. The body of the controller is plastic with the top of the unit having a brushed metal finish. The faders, knobs, and buttons are all plastic. The buttons do have a nice feel and react well when making quick selections.
At the top of the controller you have a knob for controlling your main output and you also have an LED display to show your main output’s line levels. The first thing you’ll notice is that the platters are larger than most when compared to other DJ controllers. They are 6 inches in diameter and are a combination of brushed metal on the top and plastic on the sides. The Transport Section has all the usual suspects with controls for cue, play and sync. The EQ section is pretty standard with control over the highs mids and lows. A nice addition is the inclusion of full EQ kills that light up blue to show that a particular band has been muted. Your pitch faders are on the side and longer than most controllers at 100 millimeters.
You can select up to 8 hot cues and to delete them simply hit the delete button and select the corresponding hot cue. You cannot hold down the delete button to delete hot cues. You must hit delete each time you want to delete a hot cue. Deckadance allows for a wide loop range. You can go as high as 32 bars and as lows as 1/32 for glitchy stutter effects. When scratch mode is enabled you can start and stop a track by pressing down on the platter, as well as scratch. With scratch mode disabled, the platter acts as pitch adjust. You can select 1, 2, or all three FX and control the paramters of that effect with the corresponding knob. The first FX knob controls the mix with which those FX are heard in the mix. You will notice that the button illuminates only after you have zeroed out the mix control.
On the back of the CMD Studio 4a you have two RCA output connections, as well as your connections for DC power and USB. On the front of the controller you have a ¼ inch headphone connection and controls for adjusting headphone mix and headphone volume. For more in depth information on the Behringer CMD Studio 4a including what other DJ softwares its compatible with, visit the UniqueSquared blog by click the link in the description below the video. If you are interested in picking up the CMD Studio 4a for yourself, be sure to go to the UniqueSquared website. You’re watching