The Pioneer DDJ-SP1 — Serato DJ controls for mixers

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Considering the hullabaloo surrounding Serato’s announcement last night, I sort of feel like treading over old ground this morning. But retread I must, albeit with a little more detail. Let’s cover off the Pioneer DDJ-SP1 first. It’s essentially an add-on box to give the new DJM-900SRT a lot more direct control over Serato DJ 1.5.

As ever, the details from Pioneer:


Pioneer DDJ-SP1 Serato DJ controller (4)

Set Serato DJ free: Pioneer unveils the Digital DJ-SP1 – the add-on controller
designed for limitless access to Serato DJ

5th September 2013: Serato DJ users can reach new heights of spontaneity and creativity as Pioneer releases the Digital DJ-SP1 (Model Name: DDJ-SP1): the add-on controller designed for seamless access to the software’s four decks and inspiring performance features.[i]

DJs simply add the DDJ-SP1 to a set up that supports mixing and scratching with Serato DJ – for example a laptop, timecode CDJ/turntables and DJM-900SRT mixer or DDJ-S1 controller.[ii] They can then get hands on with pre-mapped buttons and dials to trigger the software’s six samples, eight Hot Cues and over 30 FX Powered by iZotope – without the need to touch the keyboard or mouse.

The DDJ-SP1 adds a further physical dimension to performance thanks to the dynamic Performance Pads: sixteen rubber LED pads that let DJs trigger seven modes – Hot Cue, Slicer, Roll, Sampler, Hot Loop, Auto Loop and Manual Loop. Velocity Mode lets them control the volume of samples by how hard they hit the pads. Plus, precision loops, scratches and reverses are made easy by Slip Mode, which silently continues playback and brings the track back in at exactly the right point.[iii]

Like its forerunner, the Digital DJ-SX (Model Name: DDJ-SX), the DDJ-SP1 was built to withstand the rigours of the booth, with a durable and stylish aluminium faceplate and rubber pots. With a slim build, instantaneous set up and sturdy T-U101 X-Stand (sold separately), this compact controller is a perfectly portable addition to any DJ booth.

The DDJ-SP1 is available from October 2013 at an SRP of EUR399 / GBP329, including VAT. Plus the DDJ-SP1 comes with a voucher for a free download of the Serato Video plug-in, worth around EUR 116/ GBP 92.


1. Pre-mapped buttons and dials for dynamic performance with Serato DJ
Pioneer worked closely with Serato to ensure seamless integration between the hardware and the software. The DDJ-SP1 has dedicated controls for all Serato DJ’s features:

  • Four deck control
  • More than 30 high-quality sound FX Powered by iZotope
  • Eight cue points on each deck
  • Syncable six slot sample bank
  • Auto Loops, Manual Loops and Loop Roll, for even more loop options
  • Slicer to chop up tracks and create new arrangements

2. Enhanced performance features for truly hands-on live performances
The DDJ-SP1 inherits the familiar layout from Pioneer’s popular controller range, with a few updates to make the DJing experience even more enjoyable:

  • Performance Pads: sixteen rubber Performance Pads are assigned to seven modes: Hot Cue, Roll, Sample, Slicer, Auto Loop, Hot Loop and Manual Loop. The LED illuminated pads’ Velocity Mode lets DJs control the sample volume with the amount of pressure they apply. LED illumination on each pad gives DJs an instant visual reference for the state of play.
  • Slip Mode: silently continues track playback during a loop, reverse or scratch and brings the music back at the right point when the DJ exits the performance.

3. Professional build quality and ultimate portability
The compact, slim DDJ-SP1 was built with portability and professional use in mind. The rubber pads and buttons are robust and durable, while the aluminium top plate gives the controller a premium look that will look good in any set up.

4. Other features

  • Fully MIDI assignable to control any DJ software
  • Can be mounted on the Pioneer T-U101 X-Stand (sold separately)


SoftwareSerato DJ, Serato Video
Input/output portUSB B terminal x 1
Maximum dimensions328 mm (W) × 178.7 mm (D) × 47.4 mm (H)
Unit weight1.4 kg


Applicable OS (Windows)Windows® 7
32-bit: (CPU) 2.0 GHz Core 2 Duo/(Memory) 2GB
64-bit: (CPU) 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo/(Memory) 4GB
Applicable OS (Mac)Mac OS X 10.8.4/10.7.5/10.6.8
32-bit: (CPU) 2.0 GHz Core 2 Duo/(Memory) 1GB
64-bit: (CPU) 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo/(Memory) 4GB
Display resolution1280 x 720 or higher resolution

* Serato DJ is a registered trademark of Serato Audio Research Ltd.

* iZotope, Powered by iZotope is a trademark or US registered trademark of iZotope, inc. in the US and other countries

* Mac OS is a trademark of Apple Inc. registered in the US and other countries

* Serato DJ is a registered trademark of Serato Audio Research Ltd.

[i] Serato compatible hardware was previously made exclusively by Rane Corp.

[ii] The DDJ-SP1 does not have an inbuilt Serato sound card

[iii] When using DVS control or connected to an all-in-one controller

Pioneer DDJ-SP1 Serato DJ controller (2)

So what we have here is a cut down DDJ-SX minus the jogs and mixer, that sits above or indeed below the new DJM-900SRT and adds a solid lump of Serato DJ control to an otherwise traditional setup. On one hand, it adds a lot of functionality to a turntable based setup, and on the other actually makes parts of a CDJ based one redundant.

The idea is nothing new, and I’m immediately reminded of the Zomo MC-1000, albeit from a slightly different usage point of view. The difference here is that I’m not seeing transport buttons, so unless there’s some nice mappings or keystrokes, you’re left using decks or having to interact with the screen if you just want to use the DJM-900SRT on its own. SO it’s important to remember that the DDJ-SP1 only controls key elements within Serato DJ — it’s it not a full blown controller, nor will it enable Serato DJ on any other mixer.

Obviously, it’s also a regular MIDI controller as well. A Traktor mapping will be available at launch, and I suspect just about every DJ software and app maker will jump on this. And it comes with a free download of Serato Video as well.

Pioneer DDJ-SP1 Serato DJ controller (3)

What we think

This is pure common sense for Pioneer and Serato to do this. Firstly, it smoothes the way for the DJM-900SRT to be embraced by the club world, and at the same time offers a more compelling performance unit to access key features of Serato DJ. That said, the Traktor Kontrol narrow format does fit better at the side of a mixer, and is possibly a better location. But from a turning up at the club and plugging in perspective, the DDJ-SP1 doesn’t require disrupting the booth.

Again, it’s another unit that confirms the long ago predicted move to modular controllers. A mixer is a mixer is a mixer, but it truly becomes a Serato DJ controller only when you add specific software based features via hardware add-ons. I feel that as a SP-6 controller, it still falls short of harnessing the full power, and for me is more of an overall controller for key features. This still only triggers samples — there appears to be no control for the finer elements of the SP-6.

That said, this will find a lot of friends in Seratoland and in the wider DJ landscape too. Granted, it’s not cheap, but this is likely be a solid workhorse for a long time to come. Being able to add in velocity sensitive pads into even the cheapest controller setup can be quite a draw. I’m looking forward to seeing what type of controllers the rest of the now seemingly open market will bring. With a single platform, Serato DJ makes it easier to either become an authorised accessory or to be easily mapped as a secondary controller.

Summing up, the DDJ-SP1 will be available in October, and will set you back $399/€399/£329.

What do you think?

Is it a take my money moment or a close but no cigar thing? Would you have liked to see anything else included?