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The Best Pioneer DJ Controller [2020] - Home DJ Studio

Best Pioneer DJ Controller : 2020 Review

Comparing and working out what the best Pioneer DJ controller is can be a daunting task. In this review, we’ve done all the research for you and highly recommend the Pioneer DDJ 1000.

Pioneer is one of the first names that come to mind when it comes to DJ controllers. 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 DJ Controllers

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 (4.8/5)

The Best Pioneer DJ Controller

Software: Full version Rekordbox DJ | Channels: 4 |Deck Control: 4 |
Outputs: 2 Master (RCA/XLR) 1 Booth (TRS) 1 Headphone Monitor (1/4 Inch & 1/8 Inch)
Inputs: 2 RCA (Line/Phono) 2 RCA Stereo (Line) 2 Mic In (XLR & 1/4 Inch)
Size (W/H/D): 707.9mm – 73.4mm – 361.4mm | Weight: 6kg

Pros

  • 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 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.

Cons

  • 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.

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Pioneer DDJ SR2 Review (4.7/5)

The Best 2 Channel Pioneer DJ Controller

Software: Serato DJ Pro and Pitch ‘n Time | Channels: 2 | Deck Control: 4 |
Outputs: 2 Master (RCA/XLR) 1 Booth (TRS) 1 Headphone Monitor (1/4 Inch & 1/8 Inch)
Inputs: 2 RCA (Line/Phono) 1 Mic In (1/4 Inch)
Size (W/H/D): 551.2mm – 63.5mm – 332.7mm | Weight: 3.7kg

Pros

  • 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.

Cons

  • 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 your 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.

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Pioneer DDJ 400 Review (4.6/5)

The Best Value Pioneer DJ Controller

Software: Full version Rekordbox DJ | Channels: 2 |Deck Control: 2 |
Outputs: 1 Master (RCA) / 1 Headphone Monitor (1/8 Inch)
Inputs: 1 Mic (1/4 Inch)
Size (W/H/D): 482mm – 58.5mm – 272.4mm | Weight: 2.1kg

Pros

  • 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.

Cons

  • 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.

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>> FULL PIONEER DDJ 400 REVIEW <<

Pioneer DDJ SB3 Review (4.5/5)

The Best Beginner Pioneer DJ Controller

Software: Serato DJ Lite | Channels: 2 | Deck Control: 4 |
Outputs: 1 Master (RCA) 1 Headphone Monitor (1/8 Inch)
Inputs: 1 Mic (1/4 Inch)
Size (W/H/D): 482.6mm – 58.5mm – 272.4mm | Weight: 2.1kg

Pros

  • 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.

Cons

  • 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.

>> CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON <<
>> FULL PIONEER DDJ SB3 REVIEW <<

Pioneer XDJ RX2 Review (4.5/5)

The Best Pioneer DJ Controller With Screens

Software: Full version Rekordbox DJ | Channels: 2 |Deck Control: 2 |
Outputs: 2 Master (RCA/XLR) 1 Booth (TRS) 1 Headphone Monitor (1/4 Inch & 1/8 Inch)
Inputs: 2 RCA (Line) 2 RCA Stereo (Phono) 1 RCA (AUX) 2 Mic In (XLR & 1/4 Inch)
Size (W/H/D): 728.2mm – 108.4mm – 443.7mm | Weight: 9.07kg

Pros

  • 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 to USB. You can also set Rekordbox to “Link Export” mode to cut out the exporting step while still maintaining that stand-alone feel.

Cons

  • 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 on 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.

>> CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON <<

Why Choose Pioneer DJ Equipment?

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.

Trusted Brand

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 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.

Pioneer Ecosystem

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.

DJ Software

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 were the main choices 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. It’s origins as a music library management tool also makes 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 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.

DJ playing on a Pioneer DJ Controller

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 professional 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.

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.

The Best Pioneer Controller

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 recently released Pioneer DDJ 1000SRT. A near-identical controller but designed 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.

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Patryk Biernacki

Patryk Biernacki

For over 20 years I've been involved in the world of DJing. Now I want to share my experience so that DJing is more accessible for anyone with a passion for music.

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