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Pioneer DJM-850 4 channel DJ mixer review

The DJM-800 is popular among many DJs and is a great, if expensive, club mixer, but its lack of next-gen trickery has been apparent for many years. The DJM-900NXS closed the gap between the DJM series and its rivals, but it’s way out of the price range of most DJs, and in this age of austerity I’m sure a good many bars and clubs, too.

The DJM-850 occupies the middle-ground between the DJM-800 and DJM-900NXS. The DJM-800 is officially discontinued, but you may be able to get some units from the retail chain. But is it the best of the bunch or a disappointing compromise?

Ins and Outs

Pioneer DJM-850 4 channel DJ mixer review

Gone are the digital S/PDIF inputs of the DJM-800, which are now to be found on the more expensive DJM-900NXS, but that’s the only major omission. Otherwise, the DJM-850’s back panel has all the I/O you could want, whether you’re mobile, at the club or in the studio.

Pioneer DJM-850 4 channel DJ mixer review

There are two phono inputs located on channels one and four, and the other eight channel inputs are all line level. There are two microphone inputs, too, with one located on the top panel and the other on the back panel. The first accepts XLR or 6.3mm jack microphones, the second accepts 6.3mm jacks only. As for outputs, there’s a 6.3mm headphone jack on the top panel, while the back panel houses a 6.3mm jack booth output, an XLR master output, an RCA master output, and an RCA record output. There’s also a digital S/PDIF output and a 5-pin DIN MIDI output.

Pioneer DJM-850 4 channel DJ mixer review

You may not get the S/PDIF inputs of the DJM-800, but you do get the full complement of four CDJ fader-start control cable inputs, which are grouped together under the microphone and MIDI sockets. There’s also 6.3mm send and return connectors. Some may miss the S/PDIF inputs, but when viewed in the context of the DJM-850’s market placement it’s not such a bad omission.

Users of the DJM-850 are likely to be using it with TS Pro and won’t mind using the analogue inputs. If you do need digital inputs, consider the DJM-900NXS, which has limited support for Pioneer’s Rekordbox-enabled CDJs. The channel inputs are well signposted and easy to reach, so you can easily attach your decks if you come across the DJM-850 in a cramped booth. The microphone inputs are within easy reach, too, but the control cable inputs are tricky to access, especially if you don’t know the input sequence.


Pioneer DJM-850 4 channel DJ mixer review

The channel faders are typical DJM, the same faders as those on the DJM-900NXS, which means they’re smooth with just enough resistance to prevent them sliding around unintentionally. The crossfader is also typical DJM, which means that although you can do some basic cutting and scratching on it, you might struggle with more complex techniques.It’s important to remember, though, that this is a general-purpose club mixer and not a turntablist tool.

Pioneer DJM-850 4 channel DJ mixer review

The crossfader has three curves, with the sharpest curve providing a 2-3mm cut-in before the music plays at full volume and the other two providing smoother curves that let you fade the two tracks together with greater subtlety. There’s also a curve switch for the channel faders, with three different modes. When set to linear, the sound kicks in straight away and gets progressively louder, as you’d expect. When set to far left, the sound is heard from the second notch on the fader track and gets progressively louder from that point. The middle option emits sound from the first notch, which then gets progressively louder. It’s good to see the full complement of fader curve controls on the DJM-850, as well as the four fader start switches. The DJM-900NXS might be the flagship 12in DJM, but product differentiation hasn’t meant the DJM-850 loses out on the essential fader controls of the DJM-800. The fader section of the DJM-850, along with its EQ section, is everything you’d want from a high-end DJM.

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