My brief play with the Pioneer DDJ-SZ (insert air horn here)

Yesterday, despite the endless media warnings of hell on earth being caused by the tube strike, I ventured off to the bright lights of London town, mainly to record a hopefully periodic DJ technology based interview with Pioneer DJ radio, but also on the off-chance that I might get to play their flagship (or more accurately spaceship) controller the DDJ-SZ. This I did, but while there, I couldn’t help but verify for myself that the air horn button isn’t actually a total wind-up. Yes people, the air horn button is quite real.

Technics Pioneer turntable mockup fake

I’ve been known to abuse Pioneer product with my Photoshop-fu — I teased a “PUT DONK” button on the alleged CDJ-1000 mk4, as well as the above Technics/Pioneer CDJ hybrid, that actually caused people to call up retailers to pre-order. So you’d expect that at some point, an air horn button on a lump of DJ gear would fall well within my remit to create for shits and giggles. But they beat me to it, and the new DDJ-SZ has 4 oscillator buttons, one of which is the classic air horn sound.

Now I can mock Pioneer for doing this, but for a great many DJs, the air horn is a staple feature in their sets. Yes it’s an absolute no-no in some circles, but in others it’s positively expected. I really would have liked to an accompanying gun shot and explosion sound too for the fullest Westwood experience, but this is for everyone. Who knows — perhaps firmware updated can bring new sounds.

Pioneer DDJ-SX to Pioneer DDJ-SZ size comparison
To get an idea of scale, we compared the existing DDJ-SX to the new DDJ-SZ. Yep — it’s a serious slab of DJ real estate.

As to the Pioneer DDJ-SZ itself — it’s easy to formulate an opinion based on reading PR and looking at glossy pictures. But it’s only when you get in front of one that you realise the magnificence of this epic beast, and just how much like a DJM, CDJ, Serato, and gaffer tape solution this really is. I didn’t get anywhere enough time with it or the equally smart RMX-500 (which is going to sell by the metric boatload). But first impressions are very good indeed. At this point, I’m looking past the price because I always start with what something does, and then see if it’s worth it or not. But rest assured, the DDJ-SZ is a serious bit of gear for those wanting a more traditional Pioneer experience from a new controller.

Pioneer DDJ-SZ

As and when review units become available, we’ll be all over it like a rash. It’s so bloody big that it’ll take a few of us to review it anyway. In shifts. With a map. I swear this thing has its own postcode, and it’s a place I’d be happy to live in.