This weekend, a couple of suitably blurrycam images (here and here) started circulating on social media. “Looks like a birthday cake someone’s made” was one comment in our Slack channel, a comment that is hard to disagree with. But a little forensic Photoshop work revealed that this unit, clearly from Pioneer DJ, looks to be quite legit.

And then this video popped up on Dirtybird Record’s Twitter channel:

So it’s clearly not a birthday cake. But before I speculate, let’s make a few things clear:

  • I don’t know what it is, nor have I received any info on it. Thus I’m not breaking any embargoes or confidences. I never do.
  • Seeing as it’s appearing in assorted social media posts (and importantly not being taken down), this is classed as journalistic fair game.
  • Pioneer DJ has been approached for comment, but none is forthcoming.

Clear? Good. Now let’s have some good old-fashioned DJWORX fun.

WHAT IS IT?

Despite the assorted logos being gaffer-taped over (I’ll get to that), this is quite clearly a Pioneer DJ unit. The round buttons are the biggest giveaway, but the general look and feel of the unit scream CDJ, and also Toraiz.

And this dear reader is exactly what I think this is — a Toraiz SP-16 in a CDJ box. Here’s my usual extrapolation of the media I have available:

…and here’s my Toraiz jigsaw frankenshop chop:

So basically, I’ve taken the Toraiz SP-16, moved it around a bit, tried to work out what the buttons are, and left some spaces where I know buttons exist but cannot tell what they are, and haven’t spent as much time on proportions, simply because I was getting lost in Photoshop and not writing. I’m not even going to try to talk knowledgeably about the features, because it’s not my area of expertise.

I must stress, this is very much my imagination and Photoshop skills at work. I have no idea what the product is called, but adopting a familiar DJ format suggests it being an advanced sample player rather than full-on sampler and editor. This is why I dubbed it the “DJ-16 professional sample player” and have put it in the Toraiz product group, albeit hedging my bets with a rekordbox logo too. There is some debate about this in the team, so let’s look at my thinking.

It’s clear that Pioneer DJ has solid intentions in the producer/performer sector, but putting a device like an MPC or Maschine in front of DJs doesn’t always compute — it doesn’t conform to two turntables and a mixer, nor does it fit into a logical place in that setup. So making a Toraiz into a familiar media player format immediately fits into a standard setup, and makes it more attractive to DJs. The leaks show one sitting in a conventional setup with three other CDJs.

But for me, it’s not strictly a DJ player. It’s a sample unit, and fitting better into a performer or producer workflow. As a reworked SP-16, it makes more product sense to leave it in that product group than have a very similar unit sat in the DJ sector. There’s also a benefit in not having it in DJ — should it fail to capture the attention of DJs, then the DJ sector can avoid a flop and have an untarnished reputation.

It is of course equally plausible to see this as say an SDJ or BDJ and happily sitting in the DJ sphere. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

LOOKS FAMILIAR?

This isn’t the first time that buttons have been postulated for DJs. Back in 2012, Numark floated the trial balloon called the MPC DJ, essentially an NS7 with the mixer section replaced by Akai controls. It never really went anywhere despite appearing on may retailer’s site. Indeed, it still listed by some today.

And while technically an all-in-one controller, the Novation Twitch bravely ditched the jog wheel in favour of an all control affair. And while it didn’t change any games, it did at least get people thinking beyond traditional workflows.

And in the same breath, we must talk about the Traktor Kontrol S8 and S5, but specifically the Kontrol D2, the small format controller that is pretty much a full deck for Traktor’s attempt at redefining the #futureofdjing. It didn’t, and the MPC DJ never made it to production. Can this Pioneer hybrid unit change that?

Much will depend on support. Stems haven’t really set the world on fire. And putting a sample workflow into a DJ setup without a steady stream of decent content is doomed to fail. If however Pioneer DJ can deliver a steady stream of material to run on this unit — and by this I mean samples and loops from popular artists just like Maschine Expansions do, then it might be in with a chance of wider adoption. It would also be rather nice if it worked with Stems too.

WE LIKE IT

I’ve already talked about wanting to step outside the A to B and back again of regular mixing, and wanting to experiment with loops. And this unit would give me the functionality I’d need without the need for a jog wheel. Indeed, three years ago we talked about the need for jog wheels at all, and while it’s clear that people prefer them, some at least are open to the idea of trying to DJ without them, if not already adopting a non-jogwheel workflow.

Even though this is obvious to most, I’ll point this out anyway — just because Pioneer DJ is dabbling with this concept, it doesn’t mean they’ll be throwing jog wheels away. This will be in addition to, not instead of jog wheels.

Now for Pioneer DJ to go down this route suggests that they’ve done their research and have seen an area that at best will make them some money immediately, or at least opens doors to other profitable areas. They don’t do things on a whim, especially when answering to investors who want a return. So while some of you will think the idea of such a unit is plain nuts, there’s a reason it’s being made.

YOUR THOUGHTS?

Does this appeal to you? If not why not? Or are you putting all your DJ gear on eBay as we speak in readiness for this dropping?