Imagine my delight as my bleary eyes scan over the news from Pioneer DJ HQ about a new Serato DJ scratch mixer. “It must be the built like a brick shit house but lacking the frippery model I’ve been banging on about for ages” I mused. A quick scan down the email revealed a sub £500 price. A metaphorical fist in the air followed, soon to be replaced with a look of incredulity — I’ve seen the new DJM-S3 before haven’t I?
Before I add my commentary to this, let’s see how Pioneer frame a near identical version of the DJM-250 MK2 but with a Serato logo on it:
7th September 2017: We’re releasing a 2-channel mixer that offers a new entry point to the Serato specified DJM series: the DJM-S3. The DJM-S3 is Serato DJ and DVS Enabled thanks to its built-in sound card inherited from the professional DJM-S9, so you can plug it into your PC/Mac and start using it with Serato DJ1 straight out of the box.
With its scratch-friendly layout, the DJM-S3 is built to withstand intense performances, and the highly durable Magvel crossfader, inherited from the DJM-900NXS2, provides a smooth, accurate response. The mixer is Serato DVS Enabled, so you can control your digital tracks via turntables using the Serato Control Vinyl.2 And to bring even more creativity to your performances, you can connect the DDJ-SP1 controller3 and use its large Performance Pads for tactile control of many Serato DJ features, including its FX.
The DJM-S3 will be available from late September at an SRP of €549 including VAT.
Download the latest version of Serato DJ to use with the DJM-S3 from serato.com/dj/downloads.
KEY FEATURES OF THE DJM-S3
- Built-in Serato DJ-ready sound card with DVS support
Thanks to the built-in Serato-dedicated sound card inherited from the professional DJM-S9 mixer, you can connect the DJM-S3 to your PC/Mac with a single USB cable and immediately use Serato DJ. Mix and scratch your digital files via turntables and the Serato Control Vinyl, or by using compatible multi players.
- Professional Magvel crossfader
Scratching on the DJM-S3 feels instinctive and effortless. The responsive and tough Magvel crossfader – taken from the DJM-900NXS2 professional mixer – is accurate, smooth and durable for more than 10 million movements.
- Independent channel filters
Turn the filter knob on each channel to create unique textures. By twisting the parameter knob, you can adjust resonance and add tension to your performances.
- Professional sound quality
Whether you’re playing with digital or analogue sound sources, the DJM-S3 creates high-quality audio thanks to its dithering technology.
- Other features
- XLR terminal – high-quality audio output
- Two headphone outputs – ¼-inch stereo jack and 3.5-mm mini jack
- Signal GND terminal – easily attach and securely hold ground wires from analogue turntables
- Independent Mic section – use a microphone and the Aux input at the same time
(*1) Free download of Serato DJ included. Download from https://serato.com/dj/downloads
(*2) Serato Control Vinyl sold separately at https://serato.com/dj/downloads
Software Serato DJ Channels Audio 2 channels, MIC 1 channel, AUX 1 channel Input / Output terminals Inputs LINE × 3(RCA), PHONO × 2(RCA), MIC × 1(1/4″ TS × 1) Outputs MASTER OUT x 2 (XLR x 1, RCA x 1), HEADPHONE MONITOR OUT x 2 (1/4″ STEREO PHONE JACK, 3.5 mm STEREO MINI JACK) Others USB (B) x 1 Sampling rate 48 kHz D/A converter 24-bit A/D converter 24-bit Frequency response 20 Hz to 20 kHz (LINE) Total harmonic distortion 0.005 % (LINE-MASTER1) S/N ratio 94 dB (LINE) Power supply AC 100 V to 240 V, 50 Hz/60 Hz Power consumption DC12V 0.6A Maximum dimensions (WｘDｘH) 230 mm x 319.5 mm x 107.9 mm
(9.1 in × 12.6 in × 4.2 in)
Weight 3.0 kg / 6.6 lb Accessories Power cord, AC adaptor, USB cable, Operating Instructions (Quick Start Guide)
Supported operating systems Windows Windows® 10, 8.1, 7 (latest service pack) Mac mac OS Sierra 10.12, X 10.11, 10.10 (latest update) Processor Intel® processor Core™ i7, i5, i3 1.07 GHz Memory 32-bit, 64-bit: 4GB or more of RAM USB Available USB 2.0 port Free HDD Space 5GB Display Resolution 1280 x 720
The same but different
It’s impossible to gloss over the fact that the DJM-S3 is a DJM-250MK2 but with different coloured cue buttons and a Serato logo. The aforementioned 250 is however a rekordbox only mixer, whereas this is “Serato DJ and DVS Enabled” which I take to be thinly veiled code for “will work just fine with rekordbox too, but not officially supported”.
So it goes without saying that it’s a good mixer, and a great price point for an entry level Serato DJ mixer. It eschews the endless frippery that seems to be shoehorned into each successive Serato DJ mixer release, and instead offers just the basics in a plug and play box.
But here’s the really huge difference — the DJM-250mk2 (a very capable rekordbox DVS mixer) is $349/€349/£299, whereas the DJM-S3 is a rather more eye watering $549/€549/£499. I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking that the old Pioneer Tax should be renamed to the Serato Tax these days.
WHAT’S GOING ON HERE?
Well games are clearly afoot between Serato DJ and Pioneer DJ. It’s important to understand that while they’re partners, they’re also competitors, making for what is most likely a very uneasy relationship between the two. For context, Pioneer DJ dumped their new and ultra competitive rekordbox in Serato’s lap a few years ago, and set off into the big wide world on their own path. This path however was quite short and led right back to Serato’s doorstep. The world seemingly wasn’t ready for rekordbox, certainly at the high end.
So the partnership was back on, and a number of Serato DJ badged Pioneer DJ products appeared. But development on rekordbox has continued, and subsequent rekordbox only products have been released too. So while on the surface there’s a lot of handshakes and smiles, both Serato and Pioneer DJ wish for their software to dominate, and in turn their hardware to shift many boxes.
And what’s to be made of this mixer? Given that it’s the same mixer rebadged and aimed at the same market with a £200 price difference (aka almost 70% more), either Pioneer DJ wants to gain a foothold with the entry level DVS market badly via the DJM-250MK2, or that Serato is extremely confident that their tax is achievable simply because of their name.
One thing is for certain — there simply isn’t a £200 difference in value, perceived or otherwise, just for Serato software. If asked, I’d recommend the DJM-250mk2 to a starting out DVS DJ in a heartbeat, because Rekordbox DVS is actually rather good. But I think Pioneer DJ realises that to get traction for rekordbox, it will have to work from the entry level up rather than the pros down, especially from a DVS perspective. If only they could get a VIP scratch DJ to jump ship. Pioneer DJ needs someone to do a Laidback Luke for rekordbox DVS.
The Serato DJ based DJM-S3 will be out late September for $549/€549/£499 — just add control vinyl and you’re ready to go.