Electrix made their name over a decade ago with colourful effects and analog equipment, and this time Mixware is bringing them back in style and entering the MIDI world. They teamed up with Livid Insturments a few years ago for the creation of the Tweaker, a MIDI controller that bridges the gap between live performance and DJing with features including velocity sensitive pads, high quality faders, LED ringed encoders and a crossfader. Housed within a retro grey body with removable legs, the Tweaker can adapt to any setup with ease. Loaded with in depth mappings for both Traktor and Ableton, Electrix have given us lazy folk the easy route with amazing plug and play capabilities. Layers upon layers of Traktor mappings might have you overwhelmed at first but as you dig in you realize how thought out every decision was.
The selling point on this controller is the combination of 8 high quality velocity sensitive pads with the Launchpad style grid of LED buttons below it, along with a few endless encoders that, because they indicate position through an LED ring, you can use them for multiple controls simple switching between layers with buttons that come pre-mapped. The now lowered price of just $99 makes the Tweaker an easy choice for budding DJs looking to get extra control for their setup.
CUT TO THE CHASE
The good: A MIDI controller that bridges the gap between live performance and DJing with features including velocity sensitive pads, high quality faders, LED ringed encoders and a crossfader.
The bad: The pre-loaded mappings are very complex with multiple layers to toggle between.
The deal breaker: A combination of a little bit of everything wrapped up in a retro style casing with stylish LED colours makes this an easy choice for controller enthusiasts.
BEHIND THE SCENES
Right off the bat it's clear that the Electrix Tweaker was built to stand out. Measuring around 10 1⁄2” x 11” x 2” its gorgeous metal chassis and brushed aluminum faceplate dances with color when it’s plugged in. The outside cover and recessed faceplate feel sturdy and well put together, giving you confidence that this retro looking square box can stand up to the punishment of some serious wear and tear. The back-lit pads and buttons, LED-ringed encoders, faders and knobs are all of a considerable quality and the LEDs are bright enough for daylight but also look amazing the club environment, emitting red, green, blue, yellow, magenta, cyan, and white light. A simple but important feature is the four screw-in legs that raise it high enough to sit flush with mixers and turntables, or if you remove the two front feet, it also angles it nicely towards you should that be your preference.
The Electrix Tweaker began as a $300 DJ MIDI controller but the price has since dropped to just $99, and it works with any MIDI compatible digital DJ software. In the box is the controller, a set of screw-on feet, the bundled software (Traktor LE 2, the Tweaker Editor software), mappings for Traktor Pro and Serato Scratch Live, a remote script for Ableton Live, plastic overlays for Traktor and Ableton, and a USB cable. It features a 32-button, LED illuminated grid, velocity sensitive pads and push encoders, and a 2-channel DJ mixer style interface. The controller is a USB powered and is strictly a Midi controller (no built-in sound card), on the back there is a the USB socket as well as MIDI in/outs. Since Electrix has provided plastic overlays detailing which controls do what in the supplied mappings, initially it's just a case of learning what they have done before deciding on your own tweaks. Setting up involves no drivers, because the unit is class compliant with Windows and Mac.
The controller comes ready and mapped, also with an overlay for both Traktor LE 2 and Traktor Pro 2. Both of them provide a plug in and preform solution to controlling Traktor if your style of performing leans more towards cue-pointing vs using jog wheels.The first thing to be aware about Traktors mapping: there are a lot of “layers”. That being said, the layers are definitely logical. Loops, beatjumping, EQ, browsing, basic mixing, the Tweaker eats this stuff up for breakfast, but with all the crazy layers, remembering where you are can be difficult, and does require practice and studying the layouts.
With Traktor's mapping there are four modes, each independent to Decks A and B. The pitch fader and EQ knobs are all linked to the modes, and the pads control the effects. The pads are velocity sensitive giving you control over the dry/wet by pushing them harder or softer. It's also important to note that the controls for the dry/wet of the FX banks are inverted. The four layers for each of the decks are; Loops, Transport, Pitch and Effects. The rotaries have LED rings, so they'll always remember and show where they were set when you were last accessing a layer. It's a great feature that really helps you to keep track of things. DJing with just the Tweaker is totally possible on two decks with Traktor (again assuming you're not into the jogs). This Tweaker is built around two-deck control, but adding in another controller (or another Tweaker) is where things can really get interesting and creative.
Looking down at the Tweaker's grid of colourful buttons its hard not to think of Ableton Live, which more or less inspired the button-grid setup style of controller. Livid Instruments, the creators of the CNTRLR, OhmRGB and more, partnered with Electrix on the Tweaker and played a huge roll in designing it, making it no surprise that the Tweaker pairs with Ableton as a fantastic transport and launch controller. The Tweaker's relatively small size allows it to sit on a cluttered desk as a center for other pieces of gear. The controller comes complete with a remote script to enable it to sync up easily with Ableton Live and an overlay. Pairing this controller with Ableton Live gives you full control over launching/stopping clips using the button in the grid, mixer controls using the faders and EQs, and drum rack capabilities using the velocity sensitive drum pads which you can use to scroll the whole rack. If presets aren’t your thing, all of the Tweaker’s controls are programmable through the Tweaker Editor, or with Live's MIDI learn function.
Although the depth of the layering in Traktor makes the Tweaker daunting at first glance, after a few minutes of leaning how the Tweaker ticks, you will start find playing the Tweaker feels intuitive and natural. It easily controls any MIDI gear or software, but really shines and struts its stuff as an Ableton Live or Tracktor/DJ software performance controller. If you're a MIDI mapper extraordinaire you will get everything you need out of the depth and endless customization possibilities this magical box has.