Coming up to NAMM 2014 there wasn’t a lot of new gear for us to be excited about. And then, with two days to go, on came the new exciting gear. Since I believe they owned the cycle this year with their announcement of the RMX-500 and the DDJ-SZ right before I got on my flight.
For the less exciting information, there were still displays with the DDJ-SX, SB and SR controllers, which still hold all of the Pioneer flash, but nobody here is really interested in that.
I’ll start with what I’m more excited about, the RMX-500. It’s a smaller cousin to the RMX-1000, but personally I think it is set up a lot more elegantly. It has two simple knobs which control each individual half of the controller. The left side is dedicated to samples and sounds so you can record your own rhythm tracks over your songs, and the right side is dedicated to effects. It can work as both an insert on your DJ mixer or in your recording chain for remixing tracks.
The RMX can be sync’d to your decks and have your hits quantized, though I couldn’t find how to set a rate for live quantization. The sounds included in the product were fine, and the effects were everything I was expecting, but what’s great about the RMX-500 is it comes included with a VST application which allows complete customization of the effects, their various curves, and the samples included in the rhythm side. I’m really excited to get my hands on it for review (hint hint).
Now, obviously, everyone else is SUPER excited about the SZ. Personally, I am of two minds on a controller like this. One side says the features they added are so critical to what digital DJs have been begging for over the years (dual USB, easy switch over, Pioneer quality jog wheels (though not motorized), etc.) but the other side says it’s just so massively huge. I mean, how is the average DJ going to fit this in any performance space. And while I know it CAN become an installation piece, I’m hesitant to believe a club is going to instal a controller as their default, even if it can fit CD decks and turntables next to it. Mainly for the same reason I find it unlikely most DJs will be able to bring it to a club: space.
The big comparison coming through is obviously with the NS7II. I find Numark’s new flagship controller packed with features as well, but due to its size it is rather cramped for my hands. Pioneer also received lot of feedback related to feature placement with the DDJ-SX, like the pitch fader being too close to the jog wheel. They took heed of these issues and the layout of the SZ really speaks to it. The controls are well placed, spread out and very easy to find. The buttons are large, well lit and respond very well.
I have not spent enough time in front of Serato DJ yet, but the more I see of it the more I like. The SZ manages to fit almost everything you’d need onto its face, or behind one shift layer, but because of that it is just huge. While I’m not as excited to get something like this to review due to, y’know, space, it’s still a very solid product with a lot of potential for a lot of DJs.