BPM 2012: Pioneer DDJ-SX hands on

Just before BPM, Serato ably extracted their collective digits and announced their successor to ITCH. Serato DJ also ushers in the next generation of controllers, the first of which is Pioneer’s somewhat stunning DDJ-SX – a behemoth of a controller that looks set to win Pioneer a lot of new friends. Sadly, Serato aren’t quite ready to show the software just yet, but Pioneer worked hard to have some sort of coherent demo for the show, which the ever affable Rik Parkinson does with aplomb.

To get the Serato element out of the way first – I’m told that Serato DJ is feature complete, but they’re fine tuning the interface right now, so the looming November 1st deadline will most likely be met. But it’s the hardware we’re most interested in right now.

Obviously, it’s hard to speak about very much apart from quality and logistics, and on both counts I’m really happy. The Pioneer DDJ-SX is built incredibly well, and everything feels exactly as you might expect from a Pioneer controller that sits right at the top of the food chain. Despite some initial Numark/Vestax feelings, up close this is pure Pioneer.

Pioneer DDJ-SX Serato DJ Controller (6)

One of the key features that I’m sure most people want to know about are the pads. They’re rubber and feel just right. They have an even feel across the whole pad and seem to offer good feedback if the on/off LED performance is anything to go by. Without software though, it’s hard to say more than that.

Pioneer DDJ-SX Serato DJ Controller (2)

But it’s the jog wheels that impress me the most. I’ve never been a fan of the CDJ wheels – to me, they’ve always felt like spinning pebbles in a washing machine, but these new ones feel smoother than anything else I’ve touched. The centre display adds a real touch of quality, and I’m sure Serato have made good use of the lights too.

Pioneer DDJ-SX Serato DJ Controller (4)

Layout wise, it feels busy. It’s laid out in a very grid like way, with controls lining up without feeling like they’ve been simply dropped from a height. I’m sure that it’ll make a great deal more sense once I start using it Serato DJ. But just stood in front of it left me with a good feeling, whereas others have filled me with confusion. That’s a good sign.

One snippet of info I got – the DDJ-S1 is dead. Not hard to understand – with ITCH becoming extinct, and the price point of the DDJ-SX, I’m sure Pioneer would rather people bought the latest and greatest instead of the old and decrepit. But S1 owners will get a free upgrade to Serato DJ, so it’s not the end of the line for existing users.

It’s hard to have an issue with the Pioneer DDJ-SX. It’s crammed full of cool stuff that’s laid out in a sensible way and built to last, and importantly for Pioneer products at a price that does hurt as bad as normal. When it arrives in the worxlab, I can imagine that it’s going to be hard to send back.

UPDATE: For those struggling with the Vimeo video, here’s the Youtube version:

Don’t much care for Youtube myself – too many trolls and I can’t make it match the site’s colour.

UPDATE: Traktor

So many people are asking this, so I’ll state this plain and clear. There will be a Traktor mapping, but there is not a Traktor version on the cards at the time of writing. This of course may change, but if you’re holding out for a Numark 4Trak style version, my guess is that you’ll have a long wait, if indeed it appears at all. Time will tell how good the mapping is of course, but given that the Traktor mapping for the NS6 was merely adequate, my expectation of amazing performance from the mapping is not very high.


  • holy crap πŸ˜€ the more I see/hear/ read about it I want it. there is nothing on the controller you need to look for or 100% focus on in a dark booth, like on many other controllers with tiny round plastic buttons. I might be heavy but still a lot lighther then my 2 flight cases I carry around now. thanks for the grate video.

  • bas

    Where none of these units @ bpm hooked up to cdjs or turntables? Since it is also a stand alone mixer, how does it sound?
    At this price point, i want to know where pioneer has made compromises, does it sound the same as say a djm 900

    • No they were entirely standalone, so we don’t know how it sounds.

      • bas

        To bad, i am very curious how it sounds, guess i have to wait for the review then.

  • kebabtoy

    Ordered it last week. Can’t wait!

  • markaw4

    How big are the jog wheels compared to standalone Pioneer cdj?

    • i’d like to know as well although i’m gonna assume they’re slightly smaller.

  • Well I can’t wait to see what NI bring out in reply….surely the new Kontrol S5 is due out any day now.

  • daflex

    if the s1 is now eol, will the t1 shortly follow with a suitable succesor?

    • Pioneer do not comment on unannounced products.

      • Daflex


        • Not really. That’s the official Apple stance. Assume that if they haven’t talked about it, then it doesn’t exist. If it does, I’ll know when you do.

  • Jack

    Why do videos never seem to play smoothly on Vimeo? Always st ut t e r… s tut t er… stu tt e r…

  • Larac0

    Great review, many thanks. Any clue if the eqs will have full eq kill? Also what do the parameter buttons do at the bottom of controller and are the LEDs on the pads multicolored? Thanks

    • Jack

      This is one thing about this unit that has me leery because it says only -26dB next to the EQ pots. If it’s not full kill it’s a deal breaker.

      • Dizzy

        Ooh, I never thought of that. Not a deal breaker for me but it’s definitely a minus.

  • ace

    Thanks for the review. Any chance you can get the dimensions. Also, are the jog wheels plastic or metal like the NS6?

  • Jack

    Any word on how stored loops work on this unit? Does the playback jump like a hot cue when stored loops are engaged or does it behave normally so the loop begins when the playback reaches the selected stored loop and is engaged?

    • Shishdisma

      There’s a Loop Active control in the loop section, so that one specific feature Serato users freak out about seems to be still there.

  • Manuel

    anyone else having problems playing the video? i just get an error.

  • tony

    No headphone split cue,no likey.

  • djjoefresh

    Thanks for the video and first impressions Mark!

  • Loudist

    I’m stunned at how reasonably priced this is.

    I’m still going to wait for the Traktor version before spending any money – but, still…

  • Bulge

    I love the “pebbles in washing machine”, perfect. Always been a deal breaker on anything pioneer for me. Glad they have seen the error in their ways. Still to bulky for my uses. Vci-380 perhaps with a complimentary controller (ala vfx1) will be the winner for me.

  • Johnny Scratch

    Try finding a DJ bag to fit it in..it’s a beast alright.
    Will wait for the Traktor version which I’m sure won’t be too far away;)

    • DaMelloOne

      I doubt there will be a Traktor version seeing all the time and investment Pio put in the new Serato DJ. NI really should open up the NHL protocol so we can have other “real” choices in hardware.

      • Involver

        I agree. It feels like NI are making it difficult for other companies to make Traktor controllers (eg. no third party support for remix decks, no third party Traktor scratch controllers etc.) I think NI are geared towards selling their own hardware. Pioneer may have made the decision to concentrate on Serato for this part of their range, and just allow people to map it via MIDI if they want to use other software.

  • Shishdisma

    Looks pretty solid all around, I’m a little disappointed they went with cheap touch jogs over the rather robust and responsive pressure/bearing mounted CDJ ones (or “clacky, crap jogs” to the teenagers who slap them around in Guitar Centre). But I’m curious how they’re mounted with the display in the middle, might end up holding up pretty well in the long run if theres a thicker spindle than the average touch jog.

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  • will it be available for traktor?

  • Jere Dj freestyle Tidwell

    To the gu yup top who said he was upset with the jog wheels. These jog wheels are way more exspensive tech then what pioneer uses now and feel and look alot more exspensive and well built. They are the platters that are on the ns6 and they blow pioneer cdj platters away.

  • Ryan Supak

    He said the first 10,000 customers will get a free Video-SL license. Did he mean “Serato Video”? I’m not sure if Video-SL still exists, I think it might have been completely “rationalized” into Serato Video. rs

  • James

    Any reason why the LEDs were flashing/flickering throughout the video?

    • It’s a clash between the frame rate and light frequency.

  • Jared Helfer

    There are some really interesting things here. Adding Slip into software is kinda awesome, especially with Flux just getting announced. Dual Deck mode can be interesting, but I’m not sold on the idea. If I ever get to see it that might change my mind.

    Interesting there’s no Loop Roll control. At least, I couldn’t see any. They took the 380 and Twitch layer out and instead replaced it with a front facing Sampler.

    Also,… am I the only one who thinks velocity sensitive samples can be an issue? Well, if it’s a toggle that’s great, but if it’s always velocity sensitive, that might not be ideal at all.

    • Loop Roll is called roll and uses all 8 pads below. Pads can be either hot cues, loop roll, slicer and sampler

      • Jared Helfer

        Somewhere in the last week I have forgotten how to read. You are more than correct, and ignore that point of mine.

  • Honestly, this sounds like a full court shot for Serato tryna catch up with Traktor Pro. Competition is good, but I’ve used Virtual DJ, Itch, Torq….none of them are as good as TP. I do have a Twitch controller, so we shall see if it can “do what it do”……:D

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  • Oi, please have your camera people work on focus, I’m getting a headache as they sloooowly hunt for it.

    • We’ll try harder.

      • part of the solution may be not opening up so wide on the DSLR (or not using a DSLR?) Your depth of field is barely a few inches in that shoot.

      • Mark, you might think about using a tripod to, getting real dizzy at times.
        Personally no fan of the split screen edit, rather make a real full frame edit IMO. DonΒ΄t mean to bitch about the videos, all in all, very nice Mark!

  • I think Pioneer is fed up with NI perpetually pissing ’em off…

  • Killa Party

    I’ll try and clear up a few questions. After Speaking to a Pioneer Tech Guy at BPM he told me there were no plans to make a Traktor Version as its a special one off with Serato. The lights on the mixer were all flashing as it was in Demo Mode. So it wont look as pretty in reality as most of the light will be in darkness. I must admit I’ve ordered one. I now need a quality flight case with a laptop shelf. Why are all the flight case manufacturers behind on this? I need one with a laptop shelf in it. Swan Flightcase have one but no laptop shelf.

  • Killa Party

    P.S will it fit in the S1 Flight Cases? dimensions are 664mm x 358mm x 71mm for the SX vs 680mm x 318mm x 95mm for the S1…..?

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  • split one side of that thing off and make it a stand-alone, and i will be very pleased. Absolutely do not need a full unit.