Cortex HDC-1000 Review

The Cortex HDC-1000 is a dual digital music controller that allows DJs to transport their entire musical collection without carrying a laptop, CDs, turntables or vinyl. If you want to refresh your memory a little bit, click here. The first thing I have to say about Cortex’s sweet looking music controller is that it is great at being exactly what it is, nothing more. Cortex actually had me call them before I opened up the HDC-1000 to notify me that the music controller would be the introductory product to a series of HDC products they will be releasing, which will provide features that you may want that aren’t found in the HDC-1000. With that being said, let’s find out what this baby can do!

The first thing I noticed about the Cortex HDC-1000 is how great it looks. The controllers’ LCD screens both light up blue with white text, the CUE buttons light up blue and the play/pause buttons light up white. Look has always been an important aspect of any musicians rack – especially DJs that gig around at hip nightclubs.

Cortex had also instructed me to go to their website and download the firmware update and Cortex’s intelligent databasing software before starting to mess around with their product, so I did just that. When you first turn on the HDC-1000 it will prompt you to plug in a device. I had a little bit of fun with my iPod Nano (since the HD is small), and quickly took it out and plugged in my LaCie 150 GB HD instead. The correct name of my HD came up, and quickly uploaded all of my music into the device. I was actually really surprised at how quick everything got into the HDC-1000, my musical library consists of 1,000+ songs. The big black “jog” wheels on the HDC-1000 allow you to easily navigate through your library. Once you’ve selected a song, it’ll play. The HDC-1000 is that simple when it comes to playback.

Now that I had figured out how to navigate and play a track, I did the next thing any DJ would do – start mixing and setting cue points. If you aren’t familiar with cue points, they basically let you save the location in the song where you would like it to cue, or start playing. Each song on the HDC-1000 can have one cue point. I started playing a song and set a cue point on a different song, and started to test out how the HDC-1000 flowed between songs, which was perfect.

The HDC-1000 also features easy to use navigation buttons. You can fast forward and rewind with the left and right navigation buttons and skip tracks using up or down. If you’re like me and want to keep your hands on the wheels, all you have to do is hit the jog button above the jog wheel and you can rotate the wheel to browse through tracks. You’ve also got two separate types of playback modes: single or continuous play (great if you’ve got a playlist and cues all set up ). Which brings me to the next great thing about the HDC-1000: its playlists. You can program your own playlist in the HDC-1000 and it will save on to the unit (along with the cues for each song) and load each time you power on the HDC-1000. You can also set the HDC-1000 in shuffle mode, which isn’t really DJ-like, but sometimes you just gotta hit the dance floor and let your gear work for you.

The most professional feature of the HDC-1000 is its pitch wheel. It is definitely something that DJs that are into beats, electronica, trance, hip-hop and more are into. Pitch wheels allow you to change the pitch of whatever is being played. On the HDC-1000, the pitch wheels perform perfectly. There’s no response delay (which is crucial), and you have selective ranges of how much you want to pitch the music. You can adjust the pitch wheel from a range of 4%, 8%, 12% and 24%. If you choose 4% or 8%, you can able to advance at increments of .05 percent allowing for a more precise control over your pitch bending.

The final feature of the HDC-1000 is its search utility, which allows you to search for music in two different ways. First, you can search through a menu by selecting and artist, title or album (the same way you would through your iPod). The second way is to input letters or numbers using the navigational keys or the jog wheel for selection.

The HDC-1000 is limited, a turntable on top of the unit would have been magnificent (something that Cortex is said to offer with the HDC-3000), but the positive aspects of the Cortex HDC-1000 really outdo the negative. You can pick up a HDC-1000 for $499.99, which isn’t too bad at all when it comes to musical gear.

Cortex HDC-1000 [product page]