The explosion of electronic music in recent years has ushered in a new era of unprecedented opportunity for the mobile DJ. Gigs that simply did not exist ten years ago have not only become a reality, but are very quickly merging into the status quo for regular working DJs - with art galleries, weddings and even sneaker stores now booking DJs on a consistent basis (and each with their own specific set of technical requirements and challenges.)
Roland's new Serato-based controller looks to be tailor-made for mobile DJs, with unique routing options that offer a kind of flexibility previously unseen in portable DJ controllers, but the question still looms, is this the all-in-one solution mobile DJs are looking for?
The DJ-707M is a response to DJs that are increasingly expected to not only DJ but to act as a jack-of-all trades: being an audio problem solver, setting up events with speeches, other instrumentalists and possibly even recording the gig are all very much part of the reality of the modern DJ. For these applications, portability and flexibility are key. The DJ-707M is an all-in-one solution, allowing for up to eight inputs, which can then be routed through the four main channels, with two mic inputs and two line inputs that can also be utilised and tinkered with to fit the unique and challenging situations facing the modern DJ.
As with most controllers in this bracket, the DJ-707M has access to most of the Serato features through physical buttons, including track selection, hot cues, loops, live slicing, pitching, FX, crossfader curve and selection with the obvious three-band mixing EQ and upfaders. The crossfader feels quite smooth and all the knobs feel nice to the touch.
Every feature of the DJ-707M is plug and play. Auto downloaded drivers on Windows and class-compliant on Mac, everything just works the way it should, which is a real plus for gigs where setup time is minimal. There are also two USB connectors which can be used to seamlessly transition between DJs or to use an iOS device to play music through one of the channels, or even for use as an audio interface with the ability to record each channel and the master individually.
One key feature for mobile DJs is size and weight, as they have to transport gear from gig to gig: every kilo counts! Despite utilising metal faceplates for the centre mixer and hardware for the knobs and crossfaders, the DJ-707M weighs in at only 3.5kg, and is small enough to fit inside a large backpack/road case.
With portability in mind, Roland have adapted the size of some controls on the DJ-707M to make space for the sheer breadth of features on the unit. Pitch faders and jog wheels are slightly smaller in comparison to past controllers, and there’s now only one FX dry/wet per side, but each one is assignable to three different FX algorithms and to any channel. When used in combination with the FX available on each individual channel, I found this was more than enough to play with while DJing.
A TR drum sampler is also included which allows you to play drum loops and live drum samples which are fed through a channel allowing you to add FX and EQ on the fly. The 'osc' function is basically a sampler with eight sounds pitch-shifted an octave up and down.
While the TR drum sampler and ‘osc’ function will no doubt be useful to some, the routing options are what really put this controller in a league of its own. The onboard processor allows you to edit scenes, which can then be tweaked to your hearts content and later recalled with a click of a button. Whether you’re plugging in eight different inputs and running a live set through the mixer with EQ and effects, using the zone out to send only bass frequencies to a subwoofer using the onboard settings and maintaining independent control of its levels via the mixer, or sending audio to master and booth speakers and use the zone output for recording, there’s plenty of routing options available. The best part is that most of these can be done simultaneously and you could have a scene set up for each function which would allow instant changeovers, meaning no more intermission music. Crazy stuff!
In the settings, you can assign what individual channels send to each output, which is useful if you are looking to send the mic to the master but not the booth monitors to avoid feedback while talking, although you could always use the onboard anti-feedback setting with the flick of a switch. There’s gain, EQ/isolator, FX, high-pass filter, gate, pan and duck settings available on each individual mic input with physical knobs for level, EQ and FX for ease of use. The preamps sound extremely clean and should be perfect for any setting.
On each of the three outputs there is also four-band EQ, three-band compression, a limiter, mono mode, pan and attenuation control. A limiter and attenuation control are the real lifesavers here. If you are letting someone else use your setup after you, having the attenuator means you can make sure your system is never clipping and the limiter means even if the other person is overzealous with their gain structure, the mixer will still sound smooth and not enter nasty digital distortion.
Although this controller uses Serato software, you are able to use it in standalone mode, where all external inputs, channel FX and vocal FX are available. This is useful for recording an all-vinyl set, recording a podcast, playing music through a phone or simply DJing from CDJ's.
All in all, the Roland DJ-707M fills a hole in the market for mobile DJs with the ability to be the centrepiece for a wedding, function, live set and classic DJ setup all in one, which can change at the click of a button and fit inside a large backpack. If you're doing events in more than one location and want minimal setup time, this controller is a surefire way to get the party started in no time.
Hits and Misses
Portability and ease of use
Quality routing options
Nice sounding preamps
Overall smooth functionality and integration with Serato