You have no idea how much I despise idle speculation without facts. But when Pioneer DJ pushes out a teaser video that appears to show rekordbox changing from library manager to full DJ software, I’m forced to tear said video apart and see what can be gleaned from it.
But first, I’d like to start with…
TOLD YOU SO
When the very first performance features appeared in recordbox, it was obvious to me where this was going, and I’ve stated it many times over. Back then I posed the question to the team, and while at first the response was one of thinking I was a bit mental, over the last year or so, we’ve all come round to the same way of thinking.
My thinking has been driven by a seemingly throwaway comment tossed in my general direction at a trade show. It was along the lines of “if a DJ needs it, we want to be able to fulfil that need”. When you think about it, The PLX-1000 turntable is little more than a product gap filler and hardly expected to make Pioneer DJ pots of cash in an already full market.
But Pioneer still needs to talk to the software industry — more so Serato though, as they partner to put out hardware. So for me, it was a no-brainer that rekordbox would become much more than it already is. And now that Mixvibes is no longer in the rekordbox equation, it’s just a matter of time and resource as to where rekordbox will go.
WHAT THE VIDEO TELLS US
I love this bit — frame by frame dissection of a teaser to pull out any clues that may give us clear and not-so-clear pointers to what is coming. For the record, we haven’t been told anything so we’re free to say whatever we like, as are you to post speculation in the comments. So let’s go.
First impression — Serato DJ and Traktor have a child and its name is rekordbox. It’s also clear that Serato DNA is stronger which is understandable. I can’t tell if that’s the final name or not, but I see no reason to add DJ at the end to split the product into a separate category. I imagine that the hardware will enable all the necessary software features, making rekordbox a standalone library manager or a fully fledged DJ app.
The first half of the video is all about rekordbox as a library manager. It’s very complete, and looks to do everything you might need to with your library. But it’s the second half of the video that is of most interest.
Tagged “PERFORMANCE”, the brave new world of new rekordbox is tantalisingly teased, perhaps with more detail than a teaser should have, but certainly enough to get the internet twitching. There’s not much but here’s what we’ve spotted:
We’re assuming (a word we’ll use a lot) that this sits at the top of the screen and allows you to enable different views. So in this case we’ve got effects, color effects, sampler, mixer, and REC. This may allow you to see any or all of these options on screen like Serato does.
There’s nothing too out of the ordinary compared to what Traktor and Serato DJ do. But they definitely indicate a more Serato-esque approach to workflow. Hot cues, Pad FX, Slicer, and Beat Jump are on display, none of which require too much thought to work out. This for me is a clear indicator that new hardware will be coming to properly service these new features, because there isn’t a controller in the Pioneer rekordbox range that currently can.
This is most interesting for us. Clearly Pioneer DJ is pinning a lot on this feature as it’s fully specced. We can see 4 banks of 8 sample slots per deck, with selectable outputs, syncing and quantising. One thing that has us intrigued is the SEQ1 box next to the SAVE button… sample sequencing perhaps? Is this recordable sample triggering saved for later recall? Time will tell.
Pioneer is known for its hardware effects, and these appear in the software too. It looks like you can apply effects (FX1 would indicate more than one bank or channel) to 1, 2, 3, and 4 with M being master, and we’re assuming that S is the sampler. You can also see the 3 dot and 1 dot buttons, meaning that you can apply 3 effects with a single adjustment per effect, or a single effects with 3 different parameter adjustments.
WOT NO DVS?
Obviously as a teaser, there’s a lot that we’re not seeing. But one obvious omission is DVS aka the very thing that Serato and Traktor really built their reputations with, and by far the coolest and most difficult thing to pull off. Seeing as Pioneer has a turntable in their range, the likelihood is that if rekordbox is working with controllers then at some point it will with turntables too. It doesn’t have to be a Pioneer turntable of course, but if rekordbox can be made to work with turntables, then to use street vernacular, shit just got real.
So from these screens alone, we can see that Pioneer DJ is looking to emulate Serato DJ and Traktor with this teased release of rekordbox. But what does this actually mean for the industry?
THE BIGGER PICTURE
Here’s how these things work — Pioneer has a strong relationship with Serato, and is pretty much the poster boy for Serato DJ Intro and full fat DJ. Serato and Pioneer work together implementing hardware and software, and at some point money changes hands between them, either in lump sums or for bulk buys of licences. And up to now, rekordbox and Serato specific hardware don’t integrate.
But now rekordbox is coming out with Serato DJ style features, which makes me wonder if their one stop shop ideal is being pushed to the fore. Could this mean that Pioneer DJ will be coming out with all new controller hardware that negates the need for Serato at all? A solid percentage of DJMS, CDJs, and XDJs already work with rekordbox, leaving just the DDJs. The XDJ-RX in particular has I’m told been a runaway success. Perhaps Pioneer DJ is so bullish post-buyout that they’re genuinely convinced that they can go it alone, and not work with any other software company. For what it’s worth, we think that they probably could.
If rekordbox is truly capable of doing what others are able to offer then we could see Pioneer DJ really become that one-stop shop. Because of the way Serato works in terms of essentially welding hardware and software together at a code level, we could see an end to Serato based controllers from Pioneer, unless of course Pioneer DJ felt it financially prudent to keep on offering Serato controllers. It’s not the same thing for Traktor, Virtual DJ, and the rest of the software vendors because they can be mapped (officially or otherwise) to hardware, a luxury not currently offered fully by Serato.
To be fully independent, they need to get their own flavour of DVS working. I don’t see licensing deals for such things being Pioneer’s style anymore, so we can only assume that they’re on the hunt for some DVS/timecode technology to own, or are developing their own. Give it a year, and we predict that it’ll become part of the rekordbox offering, and that PLX-1000 can be demoed by leading scratch DJs without worrying about having Serato DJ installed.
Pioneer DJ (or Pioneer as it was back then) isn’t new to DJ software. You may remember the original Pioneer DJS software. Actually probably not, because it was quite awful. Rekordbox however isn’t, and with all the hoopla surround Kuvo, Pioneer DJ is building itself a very solid ecosystem, one that hopefully isn’t an island with closed borders. I wonder what’s next — Apple Store style retail outlets? The club experience in a retail environment? Wouldn’t it be funny if after my many assertions that NI was ‘doing an Apple’, it’s actually Pioneer DJ that’s going down that insular route after all.