One of the first stops of NAMM always has to be the shiniest and most stylized DJ booth at the show, Pioneer. This year, as most years, they didn’t disappoint with their assembly of custom built CDJs (done by the unmistakeable Jesse Dean), and collection of beautiful TV screens cycling through their variety of marketing materials. To get started, as I’m sure you’re all hoping for pictures of the gold SZ. Unfortunately, they didn’t have one here. I was disappointed, they understood. We all shed tears and then moved on to more exciting things.
HDJ-2000MK2 and HRM-7 Headphones
To start, Pioneer are going to be releasing two new headphones, a DJ model (HDJ-2000MK2) and a production model (HRM-7). The DJ model is a lot cleaner than they have put forth in the past, and the moving parts are very subdued. I’m really enjoying this trend in DJ headphones moving away from the giant circles and “look” like DJ headphones to products that look sleek, identifiable and comfortable.
The production headphones look extremely light and very comfortable. They were both under glass so we couldn’t get our hands on them, or our ears in them, but I could definitely see the care that was taken in designing something that would sit on your heads for hours. We are also slated to get them in for review, so we will have lots of critical words to put forth in the next few months.
Our main stop here, the newest thing Pioneer has announced, is their XDJ-RX all-in-one solution. To set the record straight, it does not offer HID support with Traktor, only a soon-to-be-announced TSI file, and has no HID Serato functionality, but I’m sure there will be a MIDI file sooner or later. We asked if there was a time frame for any HID integration with other software, and they said there wasn’t any yet. My guess is this is going to be a primary Rekordbox only tool, and boy does it do what it does well. The general layout is pretty much just like a CDJ or a DJM, but locked together like a smaller SX. The screen is clear, and bright and the waveform rendering is nice, but nothing to write home about. The general controls are easy to navigate and the windows are easy to get through and sort.
The four performance pads handle a variety of modes, as most controllers do, like Loop, Loop Roll and Hotcue. They have a noticeable click, which I (Jared) really like in my controllers, but Ray always complains about. The controls feel good, the buttons are clean and crisp, and everything holds to the standards of Pioneer. There’s a slight delay from the jog wheels to the screen, but it’s better than the NV, and on par, if not a slight bit worse than the S8. That makes sense in comparison, though, since everything is on board, instead of being transmitted via USB.
The two most interesting features are related to its connectivity. You can plug two USB keys into the front face. Both can be used to play from, so you can connect two different collections, or a variety of different files. One of those connections can also be used to be recorded directly to. You can’t play files and record at the same time, but that’s an understandable limitation. On the back, though, there’s an Ethernet port. This port can be connected to your computer to access Rekordbox directly. From there, you can use your computer sort of like a giant extended hard drive and sorting screen, and can load directly to the RX. When you do, you are not playing that track from the computer, you are playing it from the XDJ-RX. If Rekordbox crashes, or your computer loses charge, or any of the possible number of situations arise, the track will not stop because it’s on the XDJ-RX. As far as I’m concerned, this is a huge advantage of this product right there. You get the best of both worlds, effectively. You can travel with you USB keys and your laptop, and if you have the space have access to your entire collection, or just plug in what you need if you’re more cramped.
There have been other all-in-one solutions before, most notably the Stanton SCS4. But from our brief play with it, this is a much more complete thought. The rekordbox integration is very smooth and effective, and the ability to connect to a variety of different sources is really exciting.