As we continue to check out and compile all of the information as well as our thoughts and experiences about our favorite brands from the NAMM show, today we’re met with another beautiful Rane product just released. This Rane Twelve DJ control system review will help you learn more about what this piece of DJ gear actually is, what it’ll hand us at our fingertips, as well as our thoughts on whether or not its worth the buy. For one, it isn’t necessarily a “real” turntable (as many enthusiasts out there would state, and they’re correct in a way) but that’s the point — it brings us a solution we feel is for spinning of the future. Let’s get into the details.
Highlights of the Rane Twelve
- Full 12” vinyl
- Motorized platter for playback control
- Strip Search
- 8 hot-cue-triggers access
- 5.0 kfcm high-torque motor
- 4 decks of control
- MIDI interface via USB
- Top panel rotary
- Motor Off switch
- Serato DJ OSA-ready
The Rane Twelve’s features
First and foremost, the Rane Twelve has a very solid steel construction — it isn’t cheap with plastic at all. For an investment and grabbing a solution that’s going to last you long-term, you will be fine with its build if you take care of it. Especially for traveling DJ’s, this may even be more of a preference since you won’t have to hassle with RCA wires, tone arms or take care of your cartridges and needles, or perhaps even save you money down the road when it comes to replacing them.
Their marketed ‘traditional turntable layout’ is definitely accurate here — it isn’t necessarily a DJ controller and not fully a DJ turntable, which may have people scratching their heads at first glance. However, after using this for a bit and getting the run down by Rane, it’s clear that this is just a hybrid of all of that — if you can get behind the lack of traditional “DJ turntable parts”, this does nothing but make your life easier.
To the core, it’s really a DJ MIDI controller for lack of a better term, since it doesn’t have a tone arm, cartridge or needle — you can’t actually put vinyl on top of it, no audio passes through (which ultimately may be a plus to help eliminate problems you can have on set) and it’s all controlled via the computer or your digital mixer. However, that’s actually the point Rane was trying to make here — less problems and hassle, more control and capabilities digitally. We understand that for some of you that isn’t a want, but for many others, it is.
But can you scratch with it? Oh yes, you can. Just as you’re able to do so with Serato and a regular turntable, nothing is different here aside from the absence of a needle. Scratching wasn’t necessarily “easier”, but in all honesty we felt no different if there were a needle or not with the Rane Twelve.
Using the Rane Twelve turntable
The torque of the Rane Twelve is adjustable, allowing you to select either high or low to pertain to your current setup and preference for feel. It’s quite precise as well and feels very smooth, and it helps knowing the fact that it has 3600 ticks of platter resolution (with our standard 33 1/3 or 45 RPM platter speeds). Of course, we have the traditional top panel rotary and traditional motor off mechanism for better control and yes, that wind-down effect. You can also use the slider up top for pitch control (8/16/50%) — the slider isn’t cheaply made, either.
We also loved the fact that you get 4 decks of control. Although many won’t always use that number of decks, it doesn’t hurt having that capability at our fingertips in case you’re able to or want to start doing so later on. Pair this up with the strip search with 8 hot-cue-triggers access (allows you to have a visual representation of where you are in the track), and you have a lot of the essential features most turntables should have.
In terms of connectivity, whether you have a hybrid or digital setup, you’re able to plug it straight into your computer with the USB port. You can also pair the Twelve up (or two of them) with any DJ mixer so long as it has a USB port — so no complete analog setup capabilities here obviously; however, who would want to with a turntable that doesn’t have a needle?
Of course, with as smart as Serato is, they’re continuing to partner and market with some of the big name DJ brands out there. So this particular DJ control system\turntable literally has that Serato logo on it; however, don’t let that completely steer you away from not purchasing it since you don’t have the software. It’s going to be “optimal” if you do indeed use Serato, however, and it may not be worth the buy for a lot of people out there if they don’t.
The final word on the Rane Twelve DJ controller system
Yes, we’d probably say it’s worth spending the money in this as opposed to another turntable if you aren’t using Serato, considering the full capabilities and power of this will only be optimal with Serato DJ. However, at the same time, there really isn’t a “DJ control system” out there like this right now. If this takes off and becomes popular, we can foresee a lot more DJ equipment brands going this needle-less route and perhaps add on some more compatibility with other DJ software (looking at you, N.I.). Time will tell.
Therefore, the question if this is worth the buy regardless if you have Serato DJ or not in your setup will depend. If you’re in need of DJ software altogether we recommend using it, or better yet, grab a copy of the Serato trial version and get going to see if you like it. If you’re set on using something else (such as Traktor), we only recommend grabbing this if you’re absolutely head over heels with the design. Otherwise for now, there are more effective turntables or DJ controllers out there for you for other software (for less money on top of it, too).
Rane also advertises this with a few “compatible with the Rane Seventy-Two mixer” catchphrases. You can read our Rane Seventy-Two review for some more information on that mixer (very impressive with touchscreen on it); however, it isn’t a complete must. Of course, you can grab two of these Rane Twelves and pair it up with a Rane Seventy-Two for a full and seamless workflow with Serato to match the picture above (which is what we feel Rane was hoping for), but this DJ control system\turntable is fine with just about any DJ mixer out there with a USB port.
All in all, we don’t mean to sound sensational with this phrase, but the Rane Twelve DJ control system is something of the future. It blends the traditional DJ turntable look and feel with needle-less and cartridge-less new digital technology all into one package. Yes, scratching is still alive and well, and we feel Rane wanted to keep that going. We think it pertains to both new-age and old-school DJ’s, although many in the latter category will probably flame this due to the slight change and tweak of having no cartridge, tone arm and needle, not to mention the lack of RCA wires for something truly analog. We’ll let you decide.