Pioneer DDJ-SX — official info, real prices and opinion
After last night’s Serato induced hullaballoo, it’s time to have a proper look at Pioneer’s new mothership of a controller. The DDJ-SX has been rumoured within the industry for a while. I was led to believe that it was the one controller to rule them all, with no details whatsoever. Then I was informed that it would run Serato’s new software, but still no details. But last night, the rumours took shape and form. And the DDJ-SX really does look to measure up beyond expectations.
Firstly, let’s have Pioneer’s Dave Eserin give us a most welcome walkthrough of the DDJ-SX and all that it purveys:
Some really glossy mouth watering shots:
And finally the official Pioneer Europe words:
Make way for the Pioneer DDJ-SX
– the first native controller for today’s other landmark launch: Serato DJ
4th October 2012: Serato users: prepare to be awed as Pioneer launches the DDJ-SX – the world’s first native controller for the brand new Serato DJ professional software, also launched today.
The DDJ-SX has been carefully designed and developed in partnership with Serato to deliver intuitive control of the included software’s exciting features. Dedicated buttons and dials give pro-DJs plug-and-play control of Serato’s four decks, up to eight Hot Cues, six samples, and ten high-quality FX Powered by iZotope.
Pro-DJ performance is even further enhanced with the debut of Performance Pads: sixteen rubber LED pads that add a new dimension to mashing up tracks. DJs can trigger four modes: Hot Cue, Slicer, Roll and Sampler. And the new Velocity Mode lets them control the volume of samples with how hard they hit the pad.
The DDJ-SX takes performance pleasure even further with Dual Deck Control, which allows DJs to perform live edits on two decks simultaneously; so scratching on Deck A can be applied to Deck C at the same time. Slip Mode silently continues playback while DJs perform loops, scratches and reverses without affecting the original track direction. And the new FX Mode enables sound effects to be applied to two decks at once.
The club-standard DDJ -SX has been built to withstand the rigours of the booth; the aluminium jog wheel and top plate are both stylish and durable. And the unit can be used as a four-channel standalone mixer, giving DJs the flexibility of connecting to CDJs or turntables for even more performance options.
The DDJ-SX, bundled with Serato DJ, is available from November at a SRP of EUR 999/ GBP 809, including VAT.
PLUS the first 10,000 units come bundled with a free licence for the Serato Video plug-in, worth around EUR 116/ GBP 92.
1. EXCLUSIVE: native control of the new Serato DJ software
Serato DJ combines the popular features of Serato ITCH and Serato Scratch Live, and adds new features that will be popular with lovers of both. Pioneer worked closely with Serato to combine the features of the software with the operability of the hardware to create true plug-and-play compatibility and intuitive control.
In addition to four-deck control, the DDJ-SX has dedicated controls for new features including:
NEW: FX engine Powered by iZotope
Serato DJ’s FX engine, now powered by popular manufacturer iZotope, features ten high-quality sound effects, including REVERB, ECHO and PING PONG DELAY.
Dual Deck Control for advanced live edits
DJs can push a button to enter Dual Deck mode and apply scratches, recall Hot Cues, perform loops, use the Slicer and Slip Mode – all on two decks at the same time. Trigger a Hot Cue on Deck A and one will also trigger on Deck C.
Plus old favourites such as:
- Eight cue points on each deck
- Syncable six slot sample bank
- Auto Loops, Manual Loops and Loop Roll, for even more loop options
- Slicer to chop up tracks and create new arrangements*
2. Enhanced performance features for truly hands-on live performances
The DDJ-SX inherits the familiar layout from Pioneer’s popular controller range, with a few updates to make the DJing experience even more enjoyable. Pro-DJs can use a combination of buttons, dials, faders, jog wheels and Performance Pads to stamp their mark on every set.
NEW! Performance Pads make mashing up tracks even more fun
The DDJ-SX’s large, rubber Performance Pads are assigned to four modes: Hot Cue, Roll, Sample and Slicer. The LED illuminated pads’ Velocity Mode means sample volume is controlled by the pressure applied, giving even more control and really putting the DJ back in the performance.
Slip Mode for precision edits
Inherited from the new club-standard CDJ-2000nexus, Slip Mode silently continues track playback during a loop, reverse or scratch and brings the music back at the right point when the DJ exits the performance.
Improved jog wheel enhances scratching pleasure
The DDJ-SX has the industry’s lowest latency jog wheel that has been fine-tuned to ensure DJs always get the scratch response they expect. Plus the controller borrows the backlit-LED On-Jog Display from the club-standard CDJs, showing the playback status of the current track for even greater scratch and reverse precision.
Sound Colour Filters on every channel
Like the DJM-900nexus professional mixer, the DDJ-SX boasts a Sound Colour Filter for each channel. DJs twist the dial left for Lo Pass Filter and right for Hi Pass Filter, for even more creative sweeps, blends and FX manipulation. This works with the software and external sources, with a hardware filter built-in.
3. Professional build quality and design
The controller has been built with the rigours of professional use in mind. The high-quality faders are robust and durable, while the push-button style knobs were designed with portability in mind. And the aluminium jog wheels and top plate give the DDJ-SX a premium look that will fit right into any booth.
4. Multiple input and output options for every DJ set-up
The DDJ-SX is equipped with a variety of inputs and outputs, for ultimate flexibility. Four inputs allow DJs to connect the controller to DJ players and/or turntables, to use it as a stand-alone mixer. Two master outputs (XLR and RCA) and a booth output enable connections direct to professional PA equipment. And two MIC inputs open up possibilities for MCing and announcements.
5. High audio quality
The controller inherits its high-quality audio circuitry from Pioneer’s pro-DJ equipment. A built-in 24-bit soundcard, low-jitter clock and high-performance DAC ensure a clean, powerful sound with no degradation.
6. Other features
- Channel Fader Start: use the channel fader to control Cues
- Needle Search: touch strip for intuitive, fast searches
- Master level and channel level meters: instantly identify levels on each channel
- MIDI Compatible: control any DJ software
- Crossfader curve adjust: to suit any type of sound
Software Serato DJ Input terminals CD x 2 (RCA), combined LINE/PHONO x 2 (RCA) MIC x 2 (XLR&1/4 inch combined PHONE x 1, 1/4 inch PHONE x 1) Output terminal MASTER OUT x 2 (RCA x 1, XLR x 1) BOOTH OUT x 1 (1/4 inch PHONE) HEADPHONE MONITOR OUT x 2 (front 1/4 inch PHONE, MiniPin) Other terminals USB B terminal x 1 Frequency range 20 Hz to 20 kHz Total harmonic distortion 0.003% or less S/N ratio 105 dB (PC) Supplied AC adapter Power source AC 220-240 V 50/60 Hz, rated output DC5 V External dimensions 664 mm (W) x 70.4 mm (H) x 357 mm (D) Weight 5.8 kg
Serato DJ System Requirements
Applicable OS Windows 7 (Windows) 32-bit: (CPU) 2.0 GHz Core 2 Duo, (Memory) 2GB 64-bit: (CPU) 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo, (Memory) 4GB Applicable OS Mac OS X 10.7.4/10.6.8 (Mac) 32-bit: (CPU) 2.0 GHz Core 2 Duo, (Memory) 1GB 64-bit: (CPU) 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo, (Memory) 4GB Display resolution 1,280 x 720 or higher resolution
Last night, in a state of utter tiredness bordering on hysteria, I thought I wanted the DDJ-SX sooo bad. But I’ve since slept, showered and had a suitable amount of tea to make a better decision. I now KNOW I want the DDJ-SX more than I’ve wanted a controller since the Numark NS7. I have a list of actual needs, which is small and serviced perfectly by any number of controllers out there. But the DDJ-SX seems to have covered every hankering desire I could have wished for in a new lump of digital shiny.
I’m looking over the specs, and Pioneer seem to have thought of everything. All the cool things you find on other controllers like velocity pads, slicer, touch strips, built in mixer etc etc seem to be included. But then they go a few steps further and add slip mode, a CDJ style centre display, dual deck mode and channel fader start. Open question – has anything obvious been missed? Or are there less obvious things that you’d like to see?
No, not Rik off of Pioneer, but the law that dictates that stuff expands to fill the space available. And there’s no denying that the DDJ is a big controller, crammed to the gills with controls. Beautifully organised of course, but it’s hard to imagine adding anything into this unit, or indeed making it any bigger to accommodate more features.
And this is why Serato DJ allows secondary controller mapping. There’s simply no more room for expansion without turning controllers from portable playthings to draggable mission controls. So should users need more control, they’ll be able to plug in more knobs and buttons to fulfil their complex needs. And this will be the trend for the future too. Now that Serato have wedged the formerly closed door open a little, I’d like to see a new crop of small controllers appearing – ones that service existing needs in different ways, but also offer future expansion.
Ones To Watch
With the Vestax VCI-400 and Reloop Terminal Mix 4 having a large number of controls, perhaps we can expect them to blossom into the controllers that we expected them to be at launch. Obviously at the time, the decision to add a cropped down 2 channel software to controllers capable of so much more made little sense – I hope it does now.
But there’s one company missing in this equation, and that’s Numark. Clearly they’re capable of making ITCH dance, and I have no doubt that the same will be true of Serato DJ. I would keep a keen eye on the next couple of trade shows, as I’m certain they’ve been just as busy as Pioneer.
I’m still pretty solid on my assertion that controller club standards will never happen though. Even with a Pioneer logo on it, this technology is such a fluid concept what you’re reading about today will be seen as old in 2-3 years time, with the masses baying for more and ebaying their old stuff.
The Bottom Line
Yeah I know I always do this, but with Pioneer products, we can read about all the new stuff and want it all very badly indeed, but it’s always about just how much we’ll have to fork out for the “overpriced lump of shitty plastic fanboy junk” or similar comments that proliferate the forums.
So here’s the thing – given everything you’ve seen and read, the Pioneer DDJ-SX will come in at $1199/€999/£809 and should be in your favourite retailer from November 1st. Even amongst we industry types, a much higher price tag had been expected. And even without the Pioneer logo, that’s a very fair price. But with it, it signifies a marked change in price points for Pioneer, one that has me wondering if people won’t just save that little bit more and not look at the the lower controllers in the Pioneer food chain at all.
I recently described Pioneer as the company people love to hate and hate to love. But with this new controller, the price and the opening free Serato Video offer, Pioneer are about to win a lot of new fans, and maybe some of those could be the haters. I hope it measure up to expectations.