Back in the ’90s, Electrix made rack-mount processors that were colorful and extremely easy to use because of their real-time controls—quite the opposite to the complex menu-driven processors in the drab black boxes that were offered by their competitors at the time. The simplicity and unique sound of the these processors was quickly adopted by such heavyweights as Richie Hawtin, Chemical Brothers, Massive Attack, and numerous others. Many years later, Electrix’s eclectic aesthetics and approach to interface design is back with the company’s latest offering, The Tweaker.

What is it?
The Electrix Tweaker is a USB-powered DJ MIDI controller that comes bundled with mappings to work with Traktor, Ableton Live, and Serato right out of the box. The Tweaker also features a 32-button grid with multicolor LED feedback, eight backlit velocity-sensitive pads with after touch, six push encoders with LED rings, MIDI In and Out ports, USB, and a two-channel-mixer-style interface. The Tweaker also comes with Ableton Live and Tractor overlay guides—very helpful for first-time users or those coming from another controller.

Layout/Interface
Instead of following the current trend of mimicking a traditional DJ mixer/two-jog-wheel-with-turntable layout, the Tweaker follows a different paradigm that can scale to the evolving world of DJ performance. While the layout can be a bit intimidating at first, if you spend more time with the controls it becomes quite apparent that the layout has really been thought through all the way down to button placement for optimal DJ performance. The art of DJing is no longer about mixing two tracks back-to-back, but rather layering stems with one-shots and effects to weave a new experience. Electrix recognized this new shift early on and really built the current iteration of The Tweaker to scale with this style of performance in mind.

Materials/Build
The materials and the construction that make up the Tweaker feel solid and tough enough for extensive touring; the unit doesn’t feel like it will fall apart overtime. The knobs, buttons, sliders, and crossfader do not feel cheap and are really smooth and easy to the touch. Time and use will tell how well the contacts hold up in the crossfader and sliders.

What we like about the Tweaker
We love the look and feel of the Tweaker as it is quite unique and different from the other run-of-the-mill controllers. The pads, knobs, and sliders are well laid out and feel really intuitive once you’ve spent a couple of days with it. The materials are professional-quality and seem like they might hold up longer than most controllers. The multi-color LED feedback feature is really handy when in a live situation or for instant recall of specific functions—especially with the included Ableton and Traktor overlay cards. The Tweaker editor is really helpful for creating and customizing mappings. Plus, the unit comes with Traktor LE. And there’s an included set of interchangeable legs to elevate the unit so that it’s flush with a turntable and mixer—ideal for the DVS players out there.

What we don’t like about the Tweaker
We have to question the manufacturer’s claim that the unit is truly plug-and-play. We spent a good 30-45 minutes getting the Tweaker to work with a version of Traktor Pro on two different machines. However, once we were able to get the Tweaker to work with Traktor, we were up and running and mixing, setting cue points, and adding FX in no time. The Tweaker does come with Traktor LE so there shouldn’t be any issues with true plug-and-play.

We attempted to test the Tweaker with Ableton Live 7 but found that the controller only supports version 8.22 and above. It would be great if the Tweaker supported Ableton 8 and below.

The Tweaker does not have a built-in soundcard (hint: ebox44 integration) so you will have to use an additional audio interface. The soundcard integration would be especially useful for entry-level users looking for an all-in-one controller at the lower end of the price spectrum.

Overall
If you are an entry-level user (or veteran MIDI-controller user) looking to go beyond the conventional DJ controller and move into the next realm of DJing with stems vs. just two tracks, then take the Tweaker for a test ride—especially with the included Traktor LE software. For the price (MSRP: $399), quality of materials, and layout, the Tweaker is a solid controller and would be a nice companion to any current DJ or Ableton Live DJ setup.

Photo by DJWorx.com