After what has seemed like an eternity motorized jogwheels are back. And back with a vengeance. Scratch DJs finally have some new and innovative DJ controller options available. In this review, we check out the Pioneer DDJ-REV7. A stunning controller that is sure to be a massive success.
Pioneer DDJ REV7
The Pioneer DDJ-REV7 is a comprehensive DJ controller for scratching. Boasting an array of fantastic features. Motorized jogwheels, battle style layout, and substantial performance features. Check out the highlights before we take a closer look at this fantastic controller.
The Pioneer DDJ-REV7 is a fully-featured DJ controller with a stunning selection of features. Below we dive into the details of why this new generation controller is a perfect choice for scratch DJs.
By far the biggest feature of the Pioneer DDJ-REV7 is the spectacular jogwheels. It has been several years since we have seen motorized jogwheels on controllers. With the success of the Rane One, it was only a matter of time before Pioneer threw their hat into the ring. And they have come out swinging.
The Pioneer DDJ-REV7 features two large direct-drive platters that are a joy to use. Even more enticing is the metal build. These are durable and robust and built to handle the strain of frequent use.
The large jogwheels offer a fantastic scratching experience.
There is some intelligent technology behind these platters as well. There are no central spindles. The top of the platter magnetically connects to the interior ring. This has opened up some real-estate for the central screens. Another innovation over other motorized jogwheels of yesteryear.
The screens offer a range of options to display a variety of information. BPM, the time elapsed/time remaining, waveform, album art, or even your logo. At 3.5-inches they are also large enough to easily glance at from any angle. Less time looking at your laptop and more time focusing on your mix.
More importantly than fancy screens is the sublime feel. The vinyl-like surface is a joy to use. If you are looking for a turntable style feel in controller form this is as close as it gets. You’ll also have access to stop time adjustment and high/low torque. Further customization to achieve the feel you want.
The Pioneer DDJ-REV7 features innovative motorized jogwheels.
While you can rely on the screens to indicate platter position Pioneer has also included some stickers. You can attach these to the platters if you prefer this style of track position indication. You’ll also have access to Slip, Reverse, and Censor modes for the jogwheels. All the features you’d expect from a high-end jogwheel.
Pioneer has a habit of playing it safe with their controllers. But you can distinctly see how much they wanted to elevate the motorized platter experience with the REV7. If you are a seasoned vinyl veteran or a beginner wanting an authentic feel the REV7 is a fantastic choice.
In another nod to its intended audience, the Pioneer DDJ-REV7 features a battle-style mixer section. If you’ve spent any time looking at Pioneer mixers you’ll instantly recognize the similarities to the DJM-S7. This stays true to Pioneer’s recent push to standardize layouts. It makes it easy to transition back and forth throughout the Pioneer lineup.
The Pioneer DDJ-REV7 features two-channel faders and an impressive Magvel Pro fader. Arguably one of the best faders around. It is super responsive and accurate and much like the platters a joy to use. Further flexibility is present to adjust crossfader curves, tension, and cut lag. Ideal for setting up the fader to your preference.
The mixer section emulates Pioneer’s popular DJM-S7 mixer.
Moving up the mixer you’re greeted with two banks of 8 pads. High quality and responsive they are the same pads you’d find on Pioneer’s pro line of mixers. You’ll have access to an extensive selection of modes which I’ll dive into in more detail later in the review.
Above the pads is the refined FX section which once again will be a familiar site to turntablists that use Pioneer mixers. I’ll dive into the suite of options in the FX section below.
Rounding off the mixer section is the EQ components with everything you’d expect to see. 3-band EQ, Booth and Master Level knobs, and trim controls.
Output is also noticeably better than other Pioneer DJ controllers. Pioneer has utilized a digital-to-analog converter from ESS Technologies and it shows. This is quite possibly the best-sounding DJ controller Pioneer has ever produced.
It’s a spacious mixer section that is instantly recognizable. The workflow is exactly what you want if you are an existing turntablist. Also ideal if you are a beginner that wants to familiarize yourself with the Pioneer workflow.
On the software front, the Pioneer DDJ-REV7 comes with Serato DJ Pro. Sorry Rekordbox fans. But from a purely scratch enthusiast’s point of view, it makes sense to include Serato. It is the go-to choice for scratch DJs. A comprehensive software package that is loaded with features. A voucher for Pitch ‘n Time DJ is also included. Setup is quick and simple with instant plug-and-play support.
Build Quality & Design
Pioneer was not in the business of cutting corners with the DDJ-REV7. The build quality is fantastic. Solid and robust with attention to detail. The pads feel great, faders are top-notch, and all knobs are durable and dependable.
The Pioneer DDJ-REV7 is an attractive and well-constructed DJ controller.
At 23.6 lbs. (10.7kg) it offers just the right amount of heft without making it cumbersome. Stable yet portable. If you are sick of dragging your turntables around to gigs this is a great alternative.
Despite a nearly flawless build, there are some concerns around the connection points for the platters. Small plastic clips are an instant red flag. It wouldn’t take much pressure for these to potential snap. Whether that plays out is something we’ll have to keep an eye on.
Beyond the build the overall design is superb. The two turntable/mixer combo look is well-defined and inviting. There is a generous amount of space around the jogwheels leading to hassle-free scratching.
The layout is iconic and familiar. The sleek Pioneer professional look is on full display. An attractive controller that ticks all the right boxes.
Unlike most DJ controllers the Pioneer DDJ-REV7 opts for an alternative placement for the pitch faders. Once again this placement simulates a classic turntable setup where the pitch faders are located at the top.
The pitch fader placement can take some getting used to.
While not a traditional approach it has been adopted by scratch DJs as a way to get the pitch faders out of the way when scratching. It is a logical layout that I’m very happy to see here. The pitch faders themselves are nice and long and allow for precise tempo adjustments.
The Pioneer DDJ-REV7 features two banks of 8 pads for performance features. But it also features some new smaller buttons for the new Instant Scratch options.
For the main pads, you’ll have access to a total of 8 functions via the 4 buttons above the pads. As usual, the Shift button allows you to access the second set of functions.
The first pairing is Hot Cue and Pitch Play. Hot Cue is as you would expect where you can assign up to 8 cue points for your track. Pitch Play works in tandem with Serato Pitch ‘n Time for pitch range performing.
The performance pads are high-quality and offer plenty of modes.
The second pairing offers Loop Roll and Slicer Loop. Loop Roll is a popular performance feature that allows you to keep the track progressing in the background. Upon releasing the loop you’ll find yourself at the spot the track would have naturally progressed to. Slicer Loop splits a loop into 8 sections opening up juggling combinations. Much like Loop Roll, the track continues to progress in the background until you release the loop.
Next up you’ll have access to Saved Loops and Saved Flips. Both of these functions are for the well-organized DJ. You can store saved loops without having to create them on the fly. With saved flips, you can store a sequence. Great for DJs that want to execute a specific routine they have practiced previously.
Finally, the last pad mode pairing is Sampler and Scratch Bank. These are additional slots to incorporate samples and tracks for use in scratching and performing.
It is a comprehensive selection but there are some notable omissions including Gated Cue and Cue Loop.
Instant Scratch is a brand-new feature.
There is one final performance feature that is new to the Pioneer DDJ-REV7. Instant Scratch. This is a bank of pre-loaded samples to get you scratching instantly. It is fast and easy to load these up. You can also assign custom samples via the Serato Scratch Bank. A fun and useful performance feature for scratch DJs that is new on the REV7.
For performance-orientated DJs, the Pioneer DDJ-REV7 offers plenty of versatility.
The Pioneer DDJ-REV7 also features a broad selection of FX options. In true battle style, you’ll have access to paddles for quick activation of FX.
The REV7 features a large selection of high-quality FX.
Backing this up is a substantial 22 Beat FX including a few new additions. Duck Down, Fill Out, and Helix Out. While these hardware effects are fantastic you can apply Serato FX as well. Finally, you’ll also have access to high and low pass filters for each deck.
Looping functionality is straightforward on the Pioneer DDJ-REV7. Once again it calls back to the DJM-S7 mixer. Except the loop buttons are above the jogwheels. It’s a smart use of space but can take some getting used to.
The loop controls are simple and effective.
You can trigger auto loops and adjust accordingly via the ½ and double buttons. Manual loops are also available by using the Shift button in tandem with the ½ and 2x buttons. Nothing groundbreaking here but it works as intended. If anything I’m still waiting on the day that Pioneer decides to incorporate encoders for loops like Denon and Traktor gear.
The only concern here is the placement. Besides having to get familiar with the location the Auto Loop button also hugs the Instant Scratch button quite closely. If you are not paying attention you could select that button as opposed to Auto Loop. This will cause playback to stop and the Instant Scratch sample to load. You can only imagine how disastrous that would sound!
The Pioneer DDJ-REV7 comes with a broad selection of connection options. Something you would expect from a controller in this price bracket.
Around the back, you’ll have access to XLR Master Out or an RCA Master Out option. Backing this up is a TRS booth output. There are also two RCA Line/Phone input options along with a third AUX input. Two USB ports also allow you to connect two laptops to the unit. Great for back-to-back sessions and DJ handovers.
The REV7 features both balanced and unbalanced output options.
Two microphone connection points are also present. A ¼-inch TRS and an XLR/TRS combo jack. Level controls are available but both share the same two-band EQ. Finally, you can also apply Echo via a dedicated knob.
Completing the connection options is a choice between ¼-inch ⅛-inch headphone jacks. Cue/Split is available via the utility menu which I’m sure many will be happy to see. This will send one channel to one ear and the other channel to the other.
Dual USB ports are great for DJ handover.
Now onto what is possibly my biggest issue with the controller. The power bank. It’s big, clunky, and cumbersome. IEC power would have been preferable and something that the Rane One offers. It may not seem like much but having to rely on a power brick does come with some inconvenience. There is nothing worse than showing up at a gig and forgetting your power brick. At least with IEC you can grab another cable and be off and running. It’s a small gripe and for some a non-issue, but it’s still worth mentioning.
The Pioneer DDJ-REV7 is by no means a small controller. Similar in size to the DDJ-1000 but noticeably larger than its biggest competitor the Rane One.
The DDJ REV7 is large but still portable.
Despite its size, it is relatively portable and not cumbersome like some controllers. Light enough to transport but as always I’d suggest a good flight case for travel.
This is one area where I’m a little torn. On the one side, the motorized platter DJ controller space doesn’t offer many options. The Rane One is the natural comparison and it is noticeably cheaper than the REV7. But the Pioneer DDJ-REV7 does offer a familiar layout and different jogwheel technology.
The Pioneer DDJ REV7 is an advanced but expensive controller.
Simply put there is nothing quite like it on the market. From a scratch DJs perspective getting a full turntable setup is a costly adventure. In that regard, this controller is a fantastic alternative. Pioneer does produce excellent and reliable gear so it is always worth factoring that in.
While it is expensive the Pioneer DDJ-REV7 is a fantastic controller that is worth the high price of entry.
Blurring The Lines
DJ controllers have come a long way. The explosion of interest in DJing has given birth to a multitude of fantastic and affordable options for new and experienced DJs. But for the longest time DJ controllers were always looked down on compared to pro gear. And in most instances the criticism was valid. Fewer features, crappier build quality, and gimmicky designs.
Over the last few years, things have begun to change. The sheer amount of money to be made has pushed manufacturers to develop better and more innovative controllers. Pioneer in particular continues to provide controllers that mimic or come close to their pro line of gear. This is great for both new and seasoned DJs.
Modern DJ controllers are blurring the line between casual and pro gear.
New DJs can become familiar with the Pioneer workflow and ecosystem. And there is now a clear upgrade path from entry-level to pro gear. Seasoned DJs now have controller options that are suitable to practice on if they don’t want a full pro setup at home. It is also great for smaller bars and venues that don’t want to fork out the cash for a full Pioneer CDJ setup.
With the release of the Pioneer DDJ-REV7, the lines between pro and casual continue to be blurred. And from my perspective as a DJ controller fan, it’s exciting to see these choices available and dream about what may come next.
The selection of DJ controllers available today has never been bigger. Below are some alternatives to the Pioneer DDJ REV7.
Rane One Review
The Rane One is the natural alternative to the REV7. It also features motorized platters but leans more heavily into a traditional controller layout.
- Fantastic motorized platters that are large and a joy to scratch with.
- Robust construction and high-quality components.
- Not quite a battle-style layout which some scratch DJs would prefer.
Pioneer DDJ REV1 Review
Releasing alongside the DDJ-REV7 was the smaller sibling the REV1. This entry-level controller is an excellent starting point if the REV7 is out of your budget.
- Large jogwheels but they are not motorized.
- The budget price point is great for new DJs that want a battle-style layout.
- Only comes with the Lite version of Serato. You’ll have to pay to upgrade.
Denon Prime 2 Review
If you are not looking for an authentic scratching experience, the Denon Prime 2 is worth considering. This portable all-in-one option is perfect for a compact and refined mobile setup.
- The central touchscreen gives you access to everything at your fingertips without the need for a laptop.
- A familiar layout that is more akin to standard club gear.
- The jogwheels are small and not motorized, making them not as authentic to scratch with.
Denon Prime 2
Should You Buy?
Pioneer has delivered something truly special with the Pioneer DDJ-REV7. Not since the days of the old Numark controllers have scratch DJs enjoyed so much attention. In a short space of time, both the Rane One and DDJ-REV7 have given them exceptional choices like never before.
The Pioneer DDJ-REV7 in particular is an excellent example of delivering what DJs want. A fully-featured controller that borrows so much from more expensive gear. The motorized jogwheels are fantastic. The build quality is high. The layout is near perfect, and the creative opportunities are endless.
If you are a scratch DJ or have ambitions to be one, the Pioneer DDJ-REV7 is the best DJ controller available today.