Portable vinyl scratching has been exploding in popularity lately. It’s so much fun!
In this article we will take a look at what you need to get started, where you can purchase the gear, DVS options plus some demo videos of me scratching on my portable setup to give you some ideas.
As I was writing this article, Mojaxx from DJcityTV released a great video detailing everything, which will give you a thorough idea of what is needed.
After, I’ll list out the products / links and take you through the options in more detail to help you get setup and get going.
Essential DJ Gear for Portable Scratching
If you said five years ago that scratching with portable belt-drive turntables would be the trend in turntablism in 2016, people would’ve laughed you out of town. It’s happening, though, and DJcityTV’s Mojaxx has been researching the gear required for cutting on the go. Watch above as he travels to a mountain in Scotland to see world champ Ritchie Ruftone in action and review the tools of the trade.
Let’s take a detailed look at all the products mentioned in this video plus some extras that you might not have considered.
The fader most people are using because of the AUX in capabilities which allow you to plug in a beat source such as an iPhone.
An Innofader version is
in production. Looking forward to that now available!
The first portable fader. Does not feature an AUX in for a beat source.
A Raiden Fader housing to make it feel like cutting on a regular setup / mixer. Works great!
Right now you are looking at the following main players:
Vestax Handy Trax
Now discontinued so it’s harder to find at a reasonable price point.
Sub $100 table that is still in production and freely available.
Vestax Handy Trax / Numarl PT01 Pros and cons by Paul Skratch
(via SoS member Chauncey Lemons. Thanks for sharing fellas!)
Numark PT01 Pros
- Square shape (closer to a reg. set up).
- Rubber feet helps from sliding.
- Dust cover / lid quick to lock and unlock.
- Price is great and is still in production.
- Raiden Fader fits in with kid / cover is on.
- Larger space for portable fader to be mounted.
Numark PT01 Cons
- Tone arm seems lighter and needle feels like it doesn’t lock onto the groove as the Handytrax. –
- Volume out isn’t as loud as the Handytrax.
- Tone arm lock clip is fragile and can be broken easily.
- Factory slipmat is glued on out of the box. You’ll have to peel it off and use a Goo Gone type solution to get glue residue off.
- Handle for carrying is a bit awkward for bigger hands.
Vestax Handytrax Pros
- Needle locks to groove well and helps from skipping. –
- Sounds a bit crisper than the PT01.
- Body is slim and fits in most backpacks.
- Torque feels stronger than the PT01.
- You don’t have to peel off factory slip mat since it doesn’t come with one.
Vestax Handytrax Cons
- Shape is a bit longer.
- No rubber feet for anti sliding.
- Currently not in production.
7″ scratch records are becoming really popular for use on portable setups and you can use them on normal setups.
These tend to be produced in limited numbers and sell out more quickly.
Popular titles include:
- Dirtstyle 7″ Vinyl Set
- Thud Rumble – Baby Super Seal
- Mini Enter The Scratch Game – 3 X 7′ –
- Ritchie Ruftone – Practice Yo Cuts 7”
- Raiden Fader – Triad Breaks
- Cut & Paste Records – Rocket Red 7″ Combinations with Rhythm and Flow (CNP003)
- Texas Scratch League – Sure Shot.
- Texas Scratch League – 10” Chicken Scratch
- Texas Scratch League – 10″ TSL Original – SOLD OUT
- Texas Scratch League – The Mini 7” – SOLD OUT
You need to hook up your setup to a speaker – you cannot use the inbuilt speakers in the turntables without some modding and rewiring.
I have used:
Minirig very kindly hooked me up with one of these. Thank you! Made just up the road from my hometown in Bristol. Ideal. Loud, powerful, rugged and solid.
A shameless Bose rip off at a fraction of the cost, surprisingly good.
Setup / Connecting Your Fader
For everyone that has asked me how to setup the Raiden Fader to their portable turntable:
- The Line out of your turntable (usually L/R RCA to 3.5mm minijack cable) goes to the INPUT on the fader.
- OUTPUT goes to your speaker – usually a 3.5mm minijack to minijack or whatever connection your speaker has.
- AUXILIARY IN – the input for your beat source – iPhone, iPad, iPod, mp3 player, computer loopers, table beats app etc.
Here are some of my roughly recorded raw audio portable setup videos so you can see more of what’s possible. It really is a lot of fun scratching on a portable setup. More fun = better sounding cuts.
There are loads more of these kinds of videos on the School of Scratch Instagram Channel if you want to browse and look through the archives.
One of the most exciting recent developments in the portable scratch game is the experiments around using DVS such as Serato. At the moment, this involves some hacking and it most definitely is possible.
Raiden Fader takes us through the setup process:
Seems like alot of users are trying out this dvs setup with the recommended DJ Player app. We will post a detailed tutorial with screenshots of settings on our site soon. For anyone having issues here is the a hook up procedure and some tips for now…
- USB goes from the handytrax into your iPhone.
- Audio is routed out of the iPhone into our fader.
- You can set volume on the handy trax to zero so you don’t hear a test tone coming out the stock internal speaker.
- To enable the dvs type your using, you will need to go into the settings of the app and enable input, and assign the turntable under dvs settings on the bottom of the screen. Settings such as frequency may need to be changed depending on the vinyl your using. Traktor vinyl may need to select the reverse phase option. (We tested serato vinyl and it works with no major setting changes needed)
- To enable sound, you go under output settings and select the 2 deck option if you using a splitter cable, or 2 deck with internal mixer if your not using a splitter and just using one Chanel in the app.
- If using a splitter with 2 channels routed into the fader input and aux, and you hear levels not equal… You can use the balance in main iPhone settings to adjust. Under settings/general/accessibility.
Here are some more shots and overviews to get you inspired from the Raiden Fader Instagram channel:
Plus an additional setup guide video just added from DJ Ragz
7″ DVS Serato / Traktor Vinyl
At this point you might be wondering where to get a 7″ timecode vinyl from.
There are currently 2 options.
Option 1 – DIY
*DISCLAIMER – please take extreme care! Use at your own risk. Do your own research and make your own decisions. If in d0ubt, do not use this method!
Please Serato make official 7s!
Option 2 – OpenFormat.la
Matt Fajardo @underkut has created this new platform Open Format for everyone that is interested in joining the portable turntable movement. He creates custom 7″ Serato and Traktor control vinyl for those of you who don’t want to cut down a record yourself. (Puts hand up, that includes me! 😀 )
That’s everything you need to get going AND there is one final option that you might want to check out…
themixfader.com is a high quality portable wireless bluetooth crossfader that links to an iPad that you can also use with a regular USB turntable as in this video:
I have tested it with my Vestax Handy Trax USB turntable and their edjing Scratch app and it totally worked. I’m excited about the possibilities!
Here are some rough videos of me testing it out so you can get the idea.
Note: I didn’t have a cut down 7″ Serato vinyl so I’m using a 12″.
Big thanks to mixfader for letting me try it out.
That’s a wrap.
Gotta Love DIY Culture
It feels like we are witnessing the birth of something huge here.
I love the DIY culture and observing the creativity that is making new things possible for all of us. It feels like the early 2000’s when crossfaders were being modified with pieces of credit cards to make the cut in point sharper, before new companies like Pro X Fade and Innofader started making new products to serve that need.
Turntablists have always been innovators ho push boundaries and I believe that this will continue to make all kinds of awesome possible.
I am wondering who will be the first company to make a brand new 7″ portable with with USB and DVS built in. I find it truly amazing that batteries, iPads and iPhones can power all of this for us.
Now we really can scratch pretty much anywhere. Even in the bath.
If you have any questions, leave a comment or shoot me a message.
Have fun with it!
Happy Portable Scratching! 😀
– Emma Short-E