Back in 2004, Pioneer DJ set the scratch world on fire with the DJM-909. It was light years ahead of the game and became an instant if unaffordably expensive aspirational mixer. Many followed but never quite reached the space-age heights of having an embedded screen… until the Rane Seventy Two hit the market to usurp the more recent DJM-S9’s position as the most desirable bells and whistles laden übermixer for turntablists.
And now it’s the end of 2020. And while the second edition of the Seventy Two has landed, and the Rane Seventy (a natural competitor to the S9) has just hit retailers, Pioneer DJ figured it was time to reassert its seat on the scratch mixer throne. And the spanking new DJM-S11 seems to do that quite comfortably.
Words. So many words. Too many words. Editor sleep mode engaged:
Turn it up to 11: Meet the DJM-S11 professional scratch style 2-channel DJ mixer
Reach the next level with innovative features, never seen before
October 15, 2020: Raise your game with the DJM-S11. This new professional 2-channel, 4-deck battle mixer brings enhancements to various elements from its predecessor, the DJM-S9, and offers a host of brand-new features to help you perform more freely with Serato DJ Pro or rekordbox.
When you’re scratching and making mash-ups on the fly, every second is priceless. Spend more time focusing on your mix when you play on the DJM-S11 thanks to the mixer’s 4.3-inch customizable touch screen, which has all the information you need. Browse tracks, check on playback positions and waveforms, and dynamically change the texture of the music by moving your finger across the Touch FX screen. With Touch MIDI, you can even trigger functions in your DJ software. All this means you can stay focused and keep your eyes on the mixer during your performance.
Packing more sounds into your sets can make the difference between a good crowd reaction and a great one. In a battle, it could even push you up the podium from second to first place. You can play up to four tracks at once on the DJM-S11 thanks to Deck 3/4 Control. The additional decks appear on the touch screen with a selection of controls so you can browse and load tracks, adjust EQs, set loops, trigger Hot Cues, and more. If you’re using Serato DJ Pro, with Deck Move you can move tracks from deck 1 to 4 and deck 2 to 3 without a break in the music – enabling you to free up the main decks and prepare to drop in your next track. And you can switch on Dual Deck control to use one fader, knob, or control vinyl to manipulate the tracks loaded to decks 1 and 3 or 2 and 4. This means you can scratch two tracks at once, add effects, or adjust their volume simultaneously.
As well as a different look, you’ll also notice enhancements in the way the DJM-S11 feels compared to its predecessor. Its Performance Pads are larger and the MAGVEL FADER PRO has been strengthened to give you more stability when you’re scratching. Spotted some new controls? There’s a host of fresh features (which you can read more about below) including Smooth Echo, a new effect that you can automatically engage when you move the faders or hit the pads you’ve assigned as triggers. Sound quality has been improved too, with clear, powerful audio that reflects every nuance of your performance.
As a DJ, you’re unique – and so is your setup. The DJM-S11 has been specially designed so you can effortlessly play the way you like. Its built-in USB hub enables you to directly connect with CDJs and the DDJ-XP2. It’s also compatible with Serato DJ Pro and rekordbox straight out of the box, with no need for license keys, so simply plug in and play. Want to use another DJ application? Every fader, knob, and button is fully MIDI mappable.
If you want to add a distinctive look to your setup, choose the DJM-S11-SE. This special edition mixer inherits style elements from the classic DJM-909, which was released in 2004 and remains a favorite with purists to this day.
The DJM-S11-SE will be available from your local dealer in mid-October at the SRP of £1,899. Find out more about the special edition of the mixer.
4.3-inch touch screen with high frame rate: Reference tracks and settings, and trigger FX
Save the priceless seconds it takes to switch your gaze from your mixer to your laptop and back again. The high-frame-rate color touch screen on the DJM-S11 shows everything from waveforms to BPM information so you can stay in the zone and concentrate on what your hands are doing or look up to see how the crowd is reacting to your performance. It’s perfect for browsing tracks and it’s customizable, so you can set it to your preferred layout style.
Ready to express yourself in new ways? Switch to the Touch FX screen and you can control two effects at the same time by tracing one finger across the surface while the other hand is scratching with the crossfader or finger drumming on the Performance Pads. And in the FX Setting screen, you can save four sets of effect types and parameters, then instantly call them up in different scenarios, e.g., when you’re battling, mashing up tracks, or playing a club set.
Touch MIDI offers four pages of presets that enable you to control functions in your DJ software without touching your laptop. The controls can also be custom MIDI mapped, enabling you to set things up to suit your style.
Industry-first1 Smooth Echo: Trigger the echo automatically with a fader/pad you choose
Assign the Smooth Echo effect to your choice from a selection of controls, e.g., a fader or pad. Then, when you turn on Smooth Echo with its dedicated button, the echo will be triggered as soon as you move the relevant control. With changeable parameters for the effect, this new feature – never seen before on a DJ mixer2 – gives you the chance to create sounds while you’re scratching or finger drumming that were previously difficult to achieve.
World’s first3 Deck 3/4 Control: Play up to four tracks and easily create live mash-ups
Want to pack more sounds into your sets? Play up to four tracks simultaneously thanks to Deck 3/4 Control, a never-seen-before4 feature that offers two extra decks, accessible via the touch screen. These additional decks include a range of controls such as EQs, Hot Cues, pitch bend, and more, making it easier than ever to create live mash-ups of multiple tracks.
When you use Serato DJ Pro, you’ll have access to two powerful additional features. With Deck Move, you can reassign tracks from deck 1 to 4 and deck 2 to 3 without interrupting the sound. This enables you to free up the main decks so you’re ready to start playing your next track or scratching a new sample. And when you switch on Dual Deck control, you can adjust the volume and effects parameters for two decks at the same time, or scratch two tracks simultaneously.
Enhanced design, larger pads, and low latency: Perform more intuitively than ever
Easily find your way around the clean design and feel the mixer respond to your performance.
The load button is larger than the one on the DJM-S9 and ideal for quicker track selection. Latency is minimal and the eight Performance Pads are bigger too, making them easier to hit in energetic battles.
Scratch Bank: Rapidly access your sounds from Serato DJ Pro
With the new pad mode Scratch Bank, you can instantly load scratch samples from four banks that you’ve assigned in Serato DJ Pro by simply tapping a pad. You can load from a specified start point too – handy if you want to use this feature to drop in full tracks during a routine.
Activate Combo Pad mode in Serato DJ Pro to use up to four different pad modes simultaneously (two modes per channel, four pads per mode) and combine more features.
High-quality audio: Rock the crowd with crystal-clear sound, faithfully reflecting every nuance of your performance
Under the surface of the DJM-S11 is a host of premium audio technology that ensures every detail of your performance is heard loud and clear. With studio-quality 64-bit mixing and dithering processing inside the DSP, plus a low-jitter clock circuit and 32-bit high-quality D/A converter in the master output section, the mixer inherits a high-density, raw sound from the industry-standard DJM-900NXS2.
Improved MAGVEL FADER PRO: Feel supported when you scratch
If you liked the crossfader on the DJM-S9, you’ll love the improved version on the DJM-S11. We’ve enhanced the feeling of the MAGVEL FADER PRO and boosted the rigidity of the knob mounting axis in the vertical direction by 30 percent. This means you can scratch with more confidence, while the tougher coating around the crossfader area reduces wear to the top panel – preserving your mixer’s fresh look.
22 built-in effects including new Beat FX: Add texture to your tracks
Spice up your sets with all fifteen Beat FX from the DJM-S9, plus seven new ones including Channel Fader Pitch and Helix. You can instantly trigger the effects saved in four FX Banks and edit them via the touch screen whenever you like. While you’re using one of these effects, you can also trigger up to six more from your DJ software to create sounds your crowd has never heard before.
Direct USB connections: Ditch your hub
There’s no need to use an external USB hub with the DJM-S11. Simply plug your DJ controllers and other devices into the dual USB-A ports to play with them. You can hook up two CDJs to use HID mode and the mixer includes two USB-B ports so you can plug in two laptops simultaneously for smooth DJ changeovers.
Plug and play and MIDI mapping: Use Serato DJ Pro or rekordbox for free
The DJM-S11 is a Hardware Unlock device for rekordbox – giving you free use of Performance mode – and it enables DVS control when you connect it to a computer running the application. You can also enjoy plug-and-play use of Serato DJ Pro for free – there’s no need to activate a license key. A voucher for the Serato Pitch ‘n Time DJ Expansion Pack is included, which enables key shifting and key syncing with perfect audio quality. And, with advanced MIDI mapping, you can assign every button and knob to control various functions in the DJ software, enabling you to perform however you want.
1, 2, 3, 4: According to research conducted by AlphaTheta Corporation. Smooth Echo and Deck 3/4 Control features are also patent-pending.
DJM-S11 / DJM-S11-SE specifications
Serato DJ Pro
20 Hz – 20,000 Hz (USB, LINE, MIC, AUX)
115 dB (USB)
105 dB (LINE)
90 dB (PHONO)
80 dB (MIC)
90 dB (AUX)
Total Harmonic Distortion
LINE x 2 (RCA)
PHONO x 2 (RCA)
MIC x 1 (XLR & 1/4-inch TRS Jack) AUX x 1 (RCA)
MASTER x 2 (XLR, RCA)
BOOTH x 1 (1/4-inch TRS jack) HEADPHONES x 2 (1/4-inch stereo jack, 3.5-mm stereo mini jack)
USB (Type A) x 2
USB (Type B) x 2
AC 100 – 240 V, 50 Hz / 60 Hz
Maximum Dimensions (W ｘ D ｘ H)
267 x 452.2 x 107.9 mm / 10.51” x 17.8” x 4.25 “
5.2 kg / 11.46 lb
Fader bumpers (A x 4, B x 2)
Serato DJ Pro Expansion Pack voucher (Pitch ‘n Time DJ)
Certificate of Guarantee
Quick Start Guide
Visit rekordbox official website for its specifications:rekordbox.com/
Visit the Serato DJ Pro official website for its specifications:serato.com/
Before we start
Having played the media game for longer than most, product launches are nothing new to me. But when the Pioneer DJ DJM-S11 mixer comes complete with the heart and soul of one of ours embedded into it, it’s worth taking some time to write something that matters, and not just spray paint socials with content to keep the numbers up and please the industry.
You see, Drew Bach aka our Professor BX is part of the team that brings you the S11. Being at Pioneer DJ, he’s been able to look at what’s out there, and within the confines of the Serato partnership, do more. Obviously, it’s not a solo effort, and he definitely doesn’t claim that the S11 is his baby, but it’s fair to say that you have a lot to thank him for.
My heartfelt principles have however denied me a review unit. Despite it being teased, leaked, and pre-embargo retailer pages being up (yes I found them), my refusal to sign an NDA meant that a unit would not be coming my way. Drew would send me two of everything if he could, but dishing out review units are not in his remit.
Yay — free time, so I fixed up some plan chests I bought pre-lockdown for the impending future business, and dodged a serious friendship test should I have found things I really didn’t like. And that’s considerably more important to me. But I digress.
So I decided that instead of getting lost in the required day one media onslaught of Pioneer DJ’s new shiny, I thought it better to pause, see what was being said by pundits, influencers, retailers, and the community, and then offer some words that add to the conversation.
THE NATURAL COMPARISON?
When I sat down to write this, I wasn’t too sure about which approach to take. Should I see how the S11 holds up against the Seventy Two MKII, or show how things have changed from the S9 to the S11? Decisions decisions…
I’m going with brand loyalty. Given the cost of these things, jumping around in a GAS fuelled haze from übermixer to übermixer isn’t exactly cost-effective, especially now. So a Seventy Two user isn’t likely to jump to the DJM-S11 for the extra features it offers.
I feel however that an S9 user is likely to have held out for an updated model and will want to know how things have changed. So here’s a useful image that shows just that.
The front and back aren’t so different. The back does have USB connections for players i.e. CDJs and Rane Twelves. They’re not for charging phones or plugging in drives though. You do that at your own risk.
The lower half of the faceplate is much the same too. The pads are bigger, and now have multi-function buttons to enable extra features on the pads. Obviously having to accommodate a screen, things have been moved around making it a little longer.
It’s fair to say that screen aside, it looks similar to the S9, another reason why I went down this comparison route. It’s probably to make S9 owners feel more comfortable about updating.
Scratching beneath the surface
When I look at the new head-turning features, much of it isn’t visible. There’s a big screen, but not an embarrassment of new controls to show all the new stuff that’s happening beneath the surface, much of it tied to Serato DJ Pro rather than rekordbox.
Just touching on this briefly — the DJM-S11 is marketed as “a professional scratch style 2-channel DJ mixer”. I know most of you are generically calling it a Serato mixer, but it’s for Serato DJ Pro and rekordbox. And the Serato logo doesn’t appear on the S11 but does on the Rane Seventy Two MKII. It’s a subtle but important difference.
Without having an S11 to play with, I see no point in trying to sound knowledgeable about the features. There are all manner of first looks and reviews from the usual suspects — check Mojaxx, We Are Crossfader, and Cleveland Terry for videos, and Digital DJ Tips for a deeper dive written piece. I’ll just pull out a few things I like.
Four channels No really. Essentially you get pseudo channels inside the S11, with touch screen controls as well. You can also tie them to the real channels that you control via hardware too. It’s confusing, complex, but clever. The We Are Crossfader guys cover it right here.
There’s a lot of customisation with the DJM-S11, especially with the effects section. A lot of new effects and the ability to tie smooth echo to faders and pads is a clever touch. I also like the TouchFX and the ability to tie effects together and use the screen as an XY Pad. This has always been something I loved about Algoriddim djay too.
This is a Serato DJ Pro feature more so than an S11 one, but having key scratch sounds, loops, or even full tracks available quickly is far easier than having to keep loading in a scratch sentence. And I’m sure that some creative techniques can be developed with it too.
Having watched the videos, I’ve barely skimmed the surface of what can be done on the DJM-S11. I urge you to watch them all, but set aside a couple of hours — they’re all insanely long.
Back in the days of skratchworx, I posted a very rough sketch of a future scratch setup where I predicted the mixer was the brain. And that’s where I feel this particular technology thread is heading.
Obviously, there are logistical considerations when designing scratch mixers. And making them bigger to add more features isn’t really an option. But adding them inside the mixer and making them easily accessible is.
It feels like we’re heading away from using laptops and putting the power into the mixer itself. This is the path taken by Denon DJ with the Prime range, and here we have a mixer that seems to be heading down the same path.
There are limits though. Condensing an entire laptop-like experience into a relatively tiny window will take some next-level UI/UX skills. But I wouldn’t be surprised if standalone DVS didn’t become a thing before too long, and possibly even built in Phase technology. Wouldn’t it be nice to just plug a USB drive into a mixer and just use turntables? Or just the S11?
WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING
With every Pioneer DJ release, there’s always a heap of trolling from haters and competitor’s foaming fans. I’ve picked up predictable tropes about subscriptions and copying Rane (this thread sheds light why that is utter nonsense). But overall, the reception has been almost universally outstanding.
There’s a little buyer’s remorse from some who have just bought the new Rane Seventy Two MKII, but otherwise this launch has lacked the expected Rane fan backlash. Or is that just a Denon DJ fan thing?
The first looks and reviews have barely found a thing wrong — just a few niggles here and there such as lack of split cue. Try harder you workshy fops — there’s always something to find. That’s what happens when you don’t use a screwdriver to review with. 😉
WHAT I’M SAYING
Like many others, I could see what the Seventy Two was trying to achieve, but it just didn’t quite gell with me. The embedded screen is the focal feature, but cramming a laptop screen into a tiny window doesn’t quite work for me, especially for browsing. It felt like shoehorning a subset of all of Serato DJ Pro into a smaller and less useable space, but with access to the innards and preferences of the Seventy Two in a much easier way than a little LCD screen could bring.
But the S11 delivers features that are accessible through the screen that are genuinely useful and add to the experience. The 3/4 deck and XY pad are but a couple that make real use of the screen that you don’t get on a laptop screen. Chances are that they’ll migrate back to Serato DJ Pro for all to use, but right now you’ll need the S11 to access them, if you do actually need them that is.
I can’t really comment beyond that. I can form no real opinion about how things work, feel, or look without laying hands (and screwdriver) on the unit myself. But if it helps, I can see nothing that makes me shake my head in disappointment. There are niggles but certainly no deal breakers from what I’ve seen. Give me 30 minutes with one and let’s see if that is still the case.
The DJM-S11 was inevitable. And they knew that just seeing the Seventy Two wouldn’t be enough. So they’ve had to see and raise by a significant lump and delivered some outstanding features that will definitely turn a few heads.
But it’s not for everyone. The DJM-s11 is a mixer for the Gods who will make use of the obvious and hidden gems lurking inside. It’s a product that leans more towards opportunity than it does fixing things. For me, it’s the personification of wants trumping needs. For turntablists, this is the ultimate serving of GAS-fuelled WOOT.
You’ll bloody well pay for it though. The best part of 2K is a serious slice of anyone’s currency, and I suspect that some will throw plastic at the screen to do little more than scratch aaah and if they’re feeling adventurous a little finger drumming. For most of you, the S11 (and the Seventy Two for that matter) is overkill and you know it.
For a great many users, the DJM-S9 still delivers, but the DJM-S11 takes the S9, fixes perceived problems and shovels a liberal scoop of coolness under the hood.
Sidenote — As the only media outlet old enough to review the original DJM-909, I absolutely love the special edition too. It’s the perfect blend of modern and retro. I also love the touch of the screen mimicking the original colour scheme in the video too.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The Pioneer DJ DJM-S11 will set you back $1999/£1809/€1999 and is, of course, available today. Well, last Thursday as it turns out.