It seems that Pioneer DJ and Serato are still buddies if the new DDJ-SB3 is anything to go by. The entry-level controller gets bumped up a notch features wise, and also becomes a beginner’s learning tool via the new scratch pads and FX fade features, or once again is the death of DJing depending on your viewpoint.
Extensive words and moving pictures follow:
Start from scratch: Meet the DDJ-SB3 – improved DJ controller designed for Serato DJ Lite – Features include world’s first Pad Scratch for performing scratches co-developed with DJ Jazzy Jeff
1st March 2018: We’ve upgraded one of our popular Serato DJ controllers to create the 2-channel DDJ-SB3, designed for dedicated use with Serato DJ Lite (previously known as Serato DJ Intro). The new controller offers an intuitive interface for beginner DJs to craft professional performances and improve their skills.
The DDJ-SB3 improves on the renowned DDJ-SB2, which gained a strong reputation with a wide range of DJs – from beginners to pros – thanks to its combination of professional features and easy portability. The interface of the DDJ-SB3 is even more intuitive to use than its predecessor’s, inheriting traits from the layouts of the top models in the DDJ-S series, including the introduction of the dedicated play and cue buttons and the independent Auto Loop button.
In collaboration with DJ Jazzy Jeff, we’ve created Pad Scratch. The brand-new feature on the DDJ-SB3 enables you to reproduce scratches based on the legendary hip hop DJ’s own recordings by simply pressing the Performance Pads. Plus, smooth mixing is a breeze thanks to another new feature, FX Fade. You can use these features to create a professional performance, even if it’s your first time behind the decks.
The DDJ-SB3 will be available from 1st March 2018 at an SRP of £229 including VAT. Watch the introduction video or find out more about the DJ controller.
The DDJ-SB3 unlocks Serato DJ Lite when connected to a computer running the software. Download Serato DJ Lite for free.
KEY FEATURES OF THE DDJ-SB3
- Designed for use with Serato DJ Lite for intuitive DJ performances
The layout design of the DDJ-SB3 is inherited from the top models in the DDJ-S series. The jog wheels, Performance Pads, play and cue buttons, independent Auto Loop buttons and all the knobs and fader positions in the mixer section are arranged in a way that enables intuitive, professional DJ performances.
- World’s first Pad Scratch for easy, professional scratch performances*1
By simply pressing the Performance Pads on the DDJ-SB3, you can use the Pad Scratch feature to imitate eight different scratch techniques recorded by DJ Jazzy Jeff. Any track that you’re playing or have cued up will be scratched, and the scratch speed automatically matches the track’s BPM. So even if you have no experience, you can create professional scratch performances without breaking rhythm. Use the feature in isolation or combine it with your own scratching on the other deck for limitless creative possibilities.
- FX Fade for smooth mixing
Using the new FX Fade feature, you can reduce the volume and apply FX to a track at the same time. Whether you’re an experienced DJ or a beginner, this enables you to smoothly transition to your incoming track, even if you’re playing with different genres of music. There are eight FX patterns to choose from, with two of each of the following types: high pass filter, low pass filter, loop playback and back spin.
- Visual design enables intuitive performances
The DDJ-SB3 feels natural to use thanks to the clear visual division of the player and mixer sections, which feature a hairline and glossy finish respectively. The aluminium jog wheels create a quality look and feel.
- Other features
- Built-in sound card (audio interface) – plug and play by simply connecting the controller to your laptop using a single USB cable.
- Class compliant – no need to install a driver.
- Mic input circuit – clear audio without distortion, even with high input level.
- USB bus powered.
- Grab handles on both sides – easy to carry.
- Paid upgrade to Serato DJ Pro (previously known as Serato DJ) – for more professional DJ performances (available separately).
*1 World’s first feature of this type in the DJ controller category (according to internal investigation as of 21st February 2018).
Software Serato DJ Lite (previously known as Serato DJ Intro) Frequency Response 20 Hz to 20 kHz Total Harmonic Distortion 0.005% S/N Ratio 103 dB (USB) Input / Output
Inputs MIC x 1 (1/4-inch TS jack) Outputs MASTER x 1 (RCA x 1)
HEADPHONES x 1 (3.5-mm stereo mini jack x 1)
USB USB (Type B) x 1 Power Supply USB bus power (DC 5V) Power Consumption 500 mA Maximum Dimensions (WｘDｘH) 482.6 × 272.4 × 58.5 mm Weight 2.1 kg Accessories USB cable
Quick Start Guide
Compatible OS Mac macOS High Sierra 10.13 (updated to the latest version)
macOS Sierra 10.12 (updated to the latest version)
OS X 10.11 (updated to the latest version)
Windows Windows® 10, 8.1, 7 (the latest service pack)
CPU Intel® processor CoreTM i7, i5, i3: 1.07 GHz or above Memory 4GB or more of RAM
A few things. Firstly, the DDJ-SB3 has progressed from what I’d class as a cut down optimised controller to something that we’re more accustomed to. I scoffed at the “dedicated play/pause buttons” in the video like “and that’s a call-out feature?”, forgetting that the SB2 didn’t have them at all. This in turn means that the pads adopt a more familiar layout and function (albeit just with one colour), and other standard controls such as loop buttons make a welcome appearance.
It’s also interesting to see the DDJ-SB3 adopt an asymmetric layout, with pitch faders to the right of each jog wheel. We ran a survey a good while ago now, which showed that people generally preferred this style. I don’t care for it myself, especially on a small controller, but that is pure personal preference as opposed to something being executed poorly.
The ins and outs have been switched around a little too, with a single headphone out on the front, and the mic being moved to the back, something that makes this feel more like bigger more capable DJ gear.
“You hear that Mr Anderson?”
As Agent Smith says in The Matrix, that is the sound of inevitability — the sound of automated scratching via the USP of the DDJ-SB3. Essentially, any sound have cued up can be scratched via 8 different preset patterns at the press of a button. And these are Jazzy Jeff’s own scratches that have been digitised and included in the DDJ-SB3.
The idea is not new. Ray tells me that the 2001 Traktor DJ Studio had some sort of scratch function. But more recently Stanton’s Deckadance 2 has scratch macro buttons too. Recording movement isn’t a difficult thing to achieve these days, but the idea of including it in a controller is absolutely going to ruffle a few feathers.
But wait — there’s more. Pioneer DJ has included something called FX Fade. This is a feature that makes quick exits from one track to another much easier. For example, previously you have to actually do a spin back and slam into the next track — it’s now at the press of a button.
I await the knee jerk full caps rant into the comments box, recycling the same old tropes and clichés. Alternatively, you might just see this as at worst a novelty, or maybe a useful teaching aid that allows beginners to sound better from day one, and inspire them to actually learn the techniques instead of pressing buttons. Jazzy Jeff is correct — what the DJ scene needs is more DJs, not a bunch of wannabes who fall at the first slightly tricky technique hurdle. If we can teach beginners to be better, we should right?
Expect a longer examination of this next week.
Taking a step back from the minutiae, what Pioneer DJ has delivered here is a controller that ticks more boxes than most and definitely has a place in a beginner’s bedroom, as much as it does a bar or booth. When looking at the feature set, I struggle to see more that I would really need (as opposed to want) in a controller. And this is in a Serato DJ Lite controller too. It seems that a beginner’s needs are catching up with those of the pros these days.
As to damage — the DDJ-SB3 will set up back a relatively paltry $249/£229. The Serato DJ Lite download is free and activates when you connect the hardware.