ESI's pocket-sized audio interface!
In Texas, big is best, but when it comes to audio interfaces for DJs, the exact opposite is true, and small becomes beautiful. The UDJ6 from ESI comes in as one of the smallest and most stylish DJ interface packages yet, and would even fit in the pocket of a hipster’s skinny jeans — yes, it’s that small! The all metal casing is curved with a lovely champagne anodised finish, which gives the UDJ6 a very classy and stylish look and feel.
It's a professional 24-bit USB audio interface with six totally independent output channels to give a total of three stereo outputs. One of these outputs is designed with headphones in mind, and uses a jack socket to provide the output connection but can also be used as a conventional output if required. The other two stereo outputs are phono-style connectors, which are perfect for DJs wanting to connect their equipment to a venue’s mixer. Inputs are noticeably missing from this audio interface, the UDJ6 is an output-only device with no analogue to digital converters, which means that this interface will only really be useful for life on the road. This lack of inputs will rule out using the UDJ6 to record vinyl or CD into laptops, and will take it out of contention for a lot of musicians who need the option of recording vocals or live instruments.
The sleek design of the UDJ6 is complimented by a spartan control interface. So sparse, in fact, there are no controls to speak of to be found anywhere on the device. The front of the unit has a mini-USB connector, a solitary LED power light and a headphone connector while the back is home to the other four phono-style output connectors. The lack of a full-sized USB connector is a little bit of an aggravation, as they tend to be more delicate than their larger siblings, and cables with a mini-USB connector are much harder to find in most studios and DJs' lairs, should the cable supplied with the UDJ6 get lost or broken.
Installing the UDJ6 is extremely quick and simple. The packaging contains a CD with the drivers, or the latest versions are available on ESI’s website along with a video outlining the installation process to make life even easier. Once the drivers are installed, it is simply a matter of plugging in the UDJ6. ESI have done a top-notch job when it comes to the sound quality, audio is crisp and clean and the headphone output has plenty of power to produce the kind of volume levels required in a club or live gig environment. The controller software that is installed along with the drivers is slick, with the same minimalist vibe applied to the look and feel. A mixer is available by clicking the ESI icon in the taskbar (in Windows), which gives easy control of the six output channels, as well as a master channel, via nice long throw faders with a handy meter showing the dB setting at the bottom of each. Other settings for the audio interface such as latency, sample rate and buffers are also available in this window via an easy-to-find and well designed configuration menu.
A BREEZE TO USE
We decided to put the UDJ6 through its paces on a typical night’s DJing duties to see if it would live up to our expectations. The size is a definite bonus and setting up was a breeze. After connecting the UDJ6 to the laptop, it was a simple matter of connecting a stereo cable from the audio interface into the club’s mixer, plugging in a set of headphones and firing up the laptop. Everything worked like a dream, the sound quality of the UDJ6 did not disappoint and the headphone output was more than loud enough to cope with the job in hand.
ESI have clearly spent their time wisely when designing this interface. Given the size of the UDJ6, it will obviously end up in pockets a lot of the time, and the curved corners ensure that this will be a comfortable as well as safe experience, with no sharp corners or edges to spoil one’s day or chances of reproduction. While the UDJ6 will be a great travelling companion for many DJs and musicians, the lack of inputs mean that this audio interface will need to be complimented with another device back at HQ for recording duties. DJs or musicians looking for a high-quality audio interface to take on the road for playback only would be wise to take a long hard look at the UDJ6, as it could be just what the doctor ordered.
|Ease of use||9.0|
|Value for money||9.0|
Six individual outputs including a headphone jack packed into a beautifully crafted, compact interface.
The lack of a full-sized USB connector is a minor disappointment.
Beautifully crafted and packed with a huge amount of outputs for such a small unit, this pocket-sized audio interface is a perfect companion for a DJ’s life on the road.