Pioneer is one of the first brands you’ll come across when searching for the best DJ controller. With an extensive and ever-evolving range, it can be hard to choose the one that is right for you. In this guide, we check out the best Pioneer controllers currently available.
Pioneer DDJ 1000
A fantastic Rekordbox controller with full-size jogwheels. It also offers 4-channel mixing and pro-grade FX options.
Pioneer DDJ SR2
An excellent controller that goes beyond entry-level gear. It also offers a feature-rich and focused 2-channel mixer.
A Closer Look At The DDJ Systems
Let’s dive into the details of the best that Pioneer has to offer. From beginner-friendly options to professional-grade gear.
Pioneer DDJ 1000 Review
The Best Pioneer DJ Controller
- Full-Size Jogwheels – The DDJ 1000 jogwheels are amazing. Replicating the feel, size, and features of the ever-popular jogwheels on the 2000NXS range of Pioneer gear. These pressure-sensitive jogwheels offer excellent response and feel. On-board LCD screen delivers vital track info like BPM and waveforms.
- 4 Channel- Access to 4 channels is a must for a dedicated performing DJ. It allows the layering and preparation of several tracks. If you want to push the boundaries of your DJ skills this controller gives you that option.
- Professional Layout – This is the closest you’ll get to replicating a full DJ setup in controller form. Considering the dominance of Pioneer in the club scene it offers an easy transition to pro gear. Also, an excellent controller for the working DJ to practice sets at home.
- Expansive FX – Hardware-based effects open up a world of creative options for DJs. 4 sound color effects and 12 Beat FX make up the core. Once you add the suite of effects options included in Rekordbox you’ll be spoilt for choice. If you enjoy layering FX this controller is up to the task.
- Locked to Rekordbox– You’ll only be able to use this controller with Rekordbox DJ. If you are a dedicated Serato Pro user or prefer other software this controller won’t be for you. A small gripe but could be a dealbreaker for those not wanting to learn new software.
The Pioneer DDJ 1000 offers DJs of all levels everything they need. The jogwheels are excellent and will please scratch DJs that need responsive platters. The layout also places it in the perfect sweet spot for both pros and new DJs. The club based logical workflow helps new DJs learn while offering veterans a familiar layout.
While it isn’t cheap, it’s the DJ controller Pioneer has set as the flagship piece of gear for Rekordbox. It’s also the closest you’ll come to a professional layout in a portable controller.
Read our full Pioneer DDJ 1000 review for more detailed information.
Pioneer DDJ 1000
Pioneer DDJ SR2 Review
Feature-Rich 2 Channel Controller
- Excellent Connection Options – The SR2 is a mid-tier controller that packs a heap of connection options. This is ideal for mobile DJs that need the flexibility to handle different sound systems.
- Mobile DJ Orientated – Comfortable in both size and weight. It’s easy to transport this controller to gigs. Added flexibility to have it powered by USB adds further options to tailor your mobile rig to your requirements.
- Great Serato Implementation – This controller works fantastic with Serato. It offers a large amount of onboard access to key Serato features. Experienced Serato users will enjoy spending less time looking at the laptop.
- Good Price – The price point for the SR2 sits in that sweet spot between entry-level gear and pro gear. An excellent choice for new DJs looking to upgrade. Great for mobile DJs searching for an affordable controller. Also good for pro DJs needing a controller to use at home that offers a wide feature set.
- Touchstrips – The touchstrips are a great feature but the placement is a little hazardous. If you like to play with the FX you may accidentally touch the strips. While not something to worry about if you are careful it’s worth pointing out. Thankfully you can turn the touchstrips off if this becomes an issue for you.
The Pioneer DDJ SR2 offers intermediate DJs an excellent workhorse controller. Packed with a range of features it’s capable of handling the needs of most DJs. But, it isn’t a perfect controller with some odd design choices like the small pitch faders and awkward touchstrips placement. If you look beyond that it’s a dependable and rugged gig controller that ticks a lot of boxes.
Read our full Pioneer DDJ SR2 review for more detailed information.
Pioneer DDJ SR2
Pioneer DDJ 400 Review
Excellent Value Rekordbox DJ Controller
- Full Software – Few beginner controllers offer full version software. You don’t need to pay extra for more features and the software works with a range of high-end Pioneer controllers. This makes for an easy and natural progression path for when you’re looking to upgrade your gear.
- Solid Layout – The layout tries to stick as close as possible to the layout of pro Pioneer gear. It offers the feel of two CDJs and a mixer in a compact and lightweight form factor.
- Tutorial Features – For new DJs, a range of built-in tutorials helps guide you through the basic features. This gets you up and running quicker. For new DJs that feel overwhelmed this can ease the initial learning curve.
- Pitch Fader Length – Small controllers often suffer from short pitch faders. The DDJ 400 offers longer pitch faders for more accurate adjustments to BPM. This makes manual beatmatching more intuitive and easier to learn.
- Cramped Mixer – For those with big hands, it’s not the most comfortable mixer section. The headphone/cue split knobs chew up a fair bit of available space. This would have allowed for more room for the main mixer section which does feel a little cramped.
Not everyone is in the market for a full-featured DJ controller. The DDJ 400 offers new DJs an ideal entry point into the world of DJing. It’s also a handy back-up controller for working DJs or those with space limitations in their home studio.
Packed with all the core features you need to prepare and execute your mixes. It also offers excellent value with full version software bundled with the controller. We like it so much it even won the top spot in our beginner DJ controller review.
Read our full Pioneer DDJ 400 review for more detailed information.
Pioneer DDJ 400
Pioneer XDJ RX2 Review
Outstanding DJ Controller With A Screen
- Central Screen – The main feature that instantly catches your eyes is the gorgeous full-color 7-inch screens. Parallel waveforms along with other key information allow you to focus on your controller. Easy browsing with the large dedicated knob makes it easy to find your next track.
- Excellent Layout – Spacious and packed with features. The RX2 imitates the layout of Pioneer’s pro-level gear. For experienced DJs wanting a rig to use in their studio, this is a great option.
- Plenty of Performance Options – The RX2 has taken a step beyond the original RX with 8 performance pads per deck. The performance options this opens is a substantial upgrade. For those that love to cue juggle it’s a big step up from the RX.
- Rekordbox – The RX2 is a stand-alone unit or you can connect it to your laptop. It comes with Rekordbox DJ allowing you to prepare your tracks and export them to USB. You can also set Rekordbox to the “Link Export” mode to cut out the exporting step while still maintaining that stand-alone feel.
- On The Heavy Side – While aimed at the all-in-one crowd it’s a hulking beast of a controller. At 9kg it’s a little heavy. Add to that the large footprint and it becomes slightly awkward for transporting.
The XDJ RX2 is a big improvement from the previous stand-alone controller from Pioneer. Improved performance capabilities add to what was already a popular line of controllers. It’s also in line with Pioneer’s recent philosophy of standardizing the appearance of their range of controllers. The central screen is crisp and clear.
It’s a good option for mobile DJs that don’t want to cart their laptop around with them to gigs.
Read our full Pioneer XDJ RX2 review for more detailed information.
Pioneer XDJ RX2
Pioneer XDJ XZ Review
Pro Quality Pioneer Controller
- Excellent Connections – A large selection of quality connection options. Two master outputs and balanced booth output along with a send output. Line In options for external gear and two high-quality mic inputs. Everything a pro DJ controller needs.
- Full-Color Screen – The 7-inch screen offers a central location with easily viewable information including stacked waveforms. Responsiveness is good and it does feature touch controls. Unfortunately, it does lack the finesse of modern touchscreen technology.
- Fantastic Jog Wheels – Large full-size jog wheels that are a joy to use. In-built screens for extra info and the ability to adjust jog tension. They feel just like the jog wheels on Pioneer club gear.
- Pro Level Mixer – Continuing the club gear standard the mixer section is solid. Excellent range of Beat and Sound Color FX. If you are used to pro DJ you’ll love how closely this unit resembles club setups.
- 2 Channel USB – While the XDJ XZ offers 4 channel control you’ll be limited to just 2 channels when using it as a standalone controller with USB inputs.
The Pioneer XDJ XZ is a fully-featured pro-level DJ controller from Pioneer. A rugged and durable controller that is an excellent alternative to running a full Pioneer club setup. The screen is functional but possibly starting to show its age. Despite this, it is one of the best Pioneer controllers currently available.
While it is an expensive piece of gear you’ll be hard-pressed to find a controller that mimics club gear this closely.
Read our full Pioneer XDJ XZ review for more detailed information.
Pioneer XDJ XZ
Pioneer DDJ SB3 Review
Great Choice For Beginners
- Good Quality Jogwheels – The SB3 offers new and experienced DJs good quality jogwheels. They will be able to handle your basic scratch requirements. Not as nice as pro-level gear but still very capable.
- 4 Channel Option – Unlike the DDJ 400, this entry-level controller does allow you to access up to 4 channels via deck buttons. For new DJs looking to experiment this is a bonus.
- Beginner Friendly FX – Mastering your initial mixes can be challenging. The FX Fade feature adds predesigned effects to your transitions. This makes for smooth and expressive mixes that help new DJs pull off cleaner sounding transitions.
- Intelligent Layout – Pioneer has continued to standardize its range of DJ controllers. The result is a controller that mimics pro-level gear. It’s a lot easier to move onto other Pioneer controllers or club level gear.
- Small Pitch Faders – As is often the case with beginner controllers the small size results in small pitch faders. Making fine adjustments to BPM is a little more challenging. While manual beatmatching is still possible it can be a little frustrating at times.
The Pioneer DDJ SB3 is one of the best entry-level controllers for DJs wanting to use Serato DJ software. It’s another excellent option for new DJs. It allows for a greater range of future controller options since you’ll become familiar with the popular Serato DJ package. While you’ll need to upgrade to a full license it still offers good value for those on a budget.
Read our full Pioneer DDJ SB3 review for more detailed information.
Pioneer DDJ SB3
Pioneer DDJ FLX6 Review
Innovative 4 Channel DJ Gear
- New Merge FX – An innovative feature that allows you to choose from a range of pre-built transition FX. Excellent for executing your favorite FX combos or to salvage a poor mix.
- 4 Channels – One of the first upgrades DJs seek is 4 channels. The FLX6 gives intermediate DJs a good upgrade point to explore 4 channel mixing.
- Reasonable Price – Sitting comfortably in the middle of the Pioneer lineup the FLX6 is a natural progression point. But with that price comes a reduction in component quality and connection options.
- Familiar Layout – Like all modern Pioneer controllers the FLX6 retains a logical and familiar layout. Whether you are coming from beginner or pro gear you’ll feel right at home.
- Jog Cutter – Pioneer continues to try and make scratching an automated affair. The Jog Cutter mode doesn’t sound great and confusing for beginners. You’ll be better off learning traditional basic scratches.
The Pioneer DDJ FLX6 is an interesting controller that could have been amazing. Access to 4 channels is a big bonus and the new Merge FX feature offers excellent customization options. While a bit gimmicky it is a lot of fun to play around with. Where it falls short is build quality and connection options.
This controller is ideal for the bedroom DJ that wants to move up to a Pioneer 4 channel controller without committing to the more expensive options.
Pioneer DDJ FLX6
Our Expert Buying Guide
There are several things to consider when looking at Pioneer controllers. Details on FX, mixer, and jogwheels can vary between models. But, there are some universal elements to Pioneer and their range of DJ gear that is worth exploring.
Pioneer has a long history of producing high-quality DJ gear. When looking for DJ gear the brand name does matter. A brand like Pioneer has the experience and that gives DJs a level of security that some brands can’t offer. If you want to learn more about how Pioneer has shaped the DJ industry you can check out their series of videos celebrating 20 years of Pioneer DJ.
Pioneer also has a good reputation for build quality. They use high-quality parts on the controllers they offer. There is a difference between entry-level gear and more high-end Pioneer controllers. But, they all aim to deliver the most robust controller within that price range.
Due to the prevalence of Pioneer gear and the excellent build quality, the aftermarket value of Pioneer gear is also strong. If you do end up upgrading your gear you’ll likely be able to get a reasonable amount for your original gear.
No company is perfect but when you buy Pioneer gear you know what you are getting. High-quality gear from a team that has years of experience. That level of comfort is hard to put a price on.
One of the main benefits of buying Pioneer DJ equipment is the overarching ecosystem of Pioneer DJ systems. In recent years they have continued to refine their controller and pro-level gear options. In this process, they have standardized the layout of their gear for all levels including the Pioneer DDJ controllers.
This change is one that I’m very happy to see. It’s easy to recommend an entry-level Pioneer controller. It’s then natural for a new DJ to move onto more advanced gear without having to completely overhaul their workflow. As you continue to move up the Pioneer line you’ll feel at home.
The other benefit of this is that it works in reverse as well. Experienced DJs can pick up a controller for their studio as opposed to a full club level setup. Smaller portable controllers give experienced DJs the core tools to prepare and plan mixes. All without dedicating mammoth amounts of money and space.
With the release of Rekordbox DJ Pioneer threw its hat into the ring for dedicated DJ software. In the past, Serato or Native Instruments Traktor software was the main choice for DJs. While other DJ software exists it was these pieces of software you’d most likely come across in a club environment.
Rekordbox DJ has opened up DJs to have an alternative. One that’s crafted for even tighter integration with Pioneer DJ gear. The software is powerful, full-featured, and continues to receive regular updates. Its origins as a music library management tool also make it easy to prepare and manage your music collection.
While I’m a big fan of both Serato and Traktor I’m glad to see Rekordbox doing well. Luckily, the relationship between Pioneer and Serato remains strong. In fact, our choice for the best Serato DJ controller is a Pioneer model. The result has been a new generation of controllers that offer DJs the greatest choice in both hardware and software. In my eyes the more choice the better.
The Club Equipment Standard
If you’ve ever been in a DJ booth at a club or festival you’ll likely have seen Pioneer DJ decks. This is often why selecting a Pioneer controller is a good choice if you want to become a pro-DJ.
It’s a common sight to see Pioneer DJ gear in a professional setting.
The skills are universal but not all DJ equipment is the same. It’s a lot easier to move up to more advanced gear if you stick to the same manufacturer. Not every DJ can afford to replicate a pro-level setup so a controller is also the most affordable option.
If you do start to DJ professionally you may also come across older Pioneer setups. The full Pioneer setup is expensive and not all clubs want to update gear that is often unseen by the punters. Keep this in mind as well. While things have evolved the core layout tends to roughly remain the same.
If you are a mobile DJ you’ll already be familiar with how trusted brands tend to deliver the best results. Especially when it comes to DJ speakers. If you are looking to get into mobile DJing and want some DJ speakers you can check out our guide to the best 15 inch powered speakers.
Preparation is a key part of success so it’s worth asking the promoter or club owner what gear they have. This way you can compare to your current setup and prepared for any key differences. Sticking to one of the most popular brands of DJ gear will minimize how much of a difference there will be.
That’s not to say you can’t get a different controller. Many other manufacturers produce amazing controllers. But, it is something to be mindful of since you’ll likely be seeing that Pioneer logo sooner or later in your DJ career.
Which One Should You Buy?
Pioneer continues to provide DJs with a wealth of options when it comes to controllers. Every DJ wants a solid, reliable, and capable controller. It’s because of this that the Pioneer DDJ 1000 is the best Pioneer controller currently available. It’s packed with features and a layout that makes sense for the modern professional DJ.
If getting locked to Rekordbox is not something you like there is always the near-identical Pioneer DDJ 1000SRT for Serato. But, if you like Rekordbox or don’t have a preference for software the DDJ 1000 is an outstanding controller. Of all the DJ controllers Pioneer has released it’s the most impressive to date. A unit that should be at the top of your list of options for a Pioneer controller.
Pioneer DDJ 1000