Yes, DJ controllers dominate the Digital DJ market today, however many DJs still prefer the tactile hands-on feel of using timecode vinyl (AKA vinyl emulation) to control DJ software like PCDJ DEX 3 (and previous versions).
Vinyl DJs will tell you there's something about feeling the groves in a vinyl record that connects them with the music that they don't get with DJ controllers (even more so with a keyboard or a mouse). DJs that scratch prefer vinyl for obvious reasons: you simply can't perform the myriad of scratch techniques using another control method. Of course, there's a visual presentation when performing with vinyl and turntables in front of the audience that is still unmatched (although Smithson Martin's Emulator is certainly an attention getter)
Vinyl emulation software allows the user to physically manipulate the playback of digital audio files on a computer using the turntables as an interface, thus preserving the hands-on control and feel of DJing with vinyl. This has the added advantage of using turntables to play back audio recordings not available inphonograph form. This method allows DJs to scratch, beatmatch, and perform other turntablism that would be impossible with a conventional keyboard-and-mouse computer interface or less tactile control devices.
Setting up and using timecode control vinyl to control PCDJ DEX 3 (and version 2) is pretty simple. First, you'll need the following gear:
This diagram depicts exactly how to connect your turntables, audio interface and computer for timecode/vinyl emulation control:
Now that you've have everything connected, the next step is configuring PCDJ DEX 3 (or version 2):
The next step is to launch PCDJ DEX 3 and click Options, then select the Audio Tab. This is how you want the options configured (please note that if you're using another audio interface other than the Electrix Ebox-44 you would select it from the "Select Audio Device" drop down menu)
At this point, you're amost ready to start mixing and scratching. The final step is to select the TCV option on the DEX 3 skin.
You have two options for TimeCode Control:
Absolute Mode: In this mode DEX will only track the velocity of vinyl movement on the turntable, not position. If you pick up the needle the corresponding DEX deck will stop playing, and if you drop the needle within any groove on the timecode vinyl it will start again – without tracking the position of the needle on the vinyl. This picture displays how to enable Absolute Mode on the DEX 3 skin (you would choose this option for both Deck A and Deck B on the skin):
Relative Mode:Relative mode pretty much acts just like regular vinyl would. In this mode DEX 3 will track the needle position in addition to velocity. If you needle drop (pick up the needle and place it in another groove on the vinyl) DEX 3's deck will jump to that position within the track. Here is how you set up DEX 3 for Relative Mode (choose this option for both Deck A and Deck B on the DEX 3 skin):
Now you're ready to start cutting, scratching and performing with PCDJ DEX 3 and timecode vinyl emulation!