Serato DJ is one of the most popular DJ software platforms. It’s also one of the most supported. In this review, we check out an excellent 2-channel Serato controller from Pioneer.
Pioneer DDJ SR2
The Pioneer DDJ SR2 bridges the gap between entry-level controllers and more professional gear. It’s both compact and feature-packed and is an appealing choice for many different types of DJs.
There is no shortage of great features on the Pioneer DDJ SR2. Let’s check out each section in more detail.
The central mixer section of the Pioneer DDJ SR2 offers DJs a detailed and professional layout.
It offers 2 channels with faders along with a full 3-band EQ. A dedicated filter knob is also available on each channel along with trim controls. Both Master and Channel level meters sit between the faders for accurate control over the volume of your mix.
The SR2 offers a clean layout that is easy and intuitive to use.
There is a row of 4 volume controls that run along the center of the mixer section. From top to bottom you’ll have access to Master volume control, Booth volume control, and Headphone Cue/Master controls. The final knob controls Sampler volume.
The top of the mixer section includes a browse knob for navigating your music library. A few dedicated control buttons are also available to make navigating easier. Large load buttons complete the navigation controls allowing you to load up your next track easily.
Finally, there are source switches that allow you to switch between decks or Phone/Line inputs.
The mixer section has a solid layout. One of the features it lacks compared to some other Pioneer controllers is hardware FX. But considering the affordable price point, I wasn’t expecting to see them here.
The Pioneer DDJ SR2 is a Serato controller. Full version Serato DJ Pro gives you unfiltered access to one of the best DJ software platforms available.
Unlike many entry-level controllers, you won’t need to fork out extra cash to upgrade. This makes it even more of a good deal when you consider the affordable price of the SR2.
Also included is Serato Pitch n’ Time expansion. This opens up a range of creative harmonic mixing options. The tight integration with Serato is evident with dedicated controls for these features.
You can Sync the Key or jump up and down along the harmonic range with easy-to-use buttons. An excellent inclusion that adds further value.
Across the whole controller, the integration with Serato is smooth and seamless.
The Pioneer DDJ SR2 offers large 5.2-inch jogwheels with a good selection of features.
You can switch between both Slip and Vinyl mode depending on how you use jogwheels. Scratching on the wheels feels good. Not amazing and possibly a little loose depending on your preference. Either way, they are large, capable, and high-quality. They also feature illumination to highlight details like which deck is currently active or if the current track is ending.
The Pioneer DDJ SR2 offers large and capable jogwheels.
The jogwheels are also capable when adjusting beatgrids. An excellent option compared to having to use your mouse or keyboard. Censor and Reverse mode round out your choices allowing you to keep your mixes clean for underage parties.
Finally, there is a needle search strip located above the jogwheels. While an effective and easy to use function the placement is very close to the jogwheels. The potential for accidentally hitting it and screwing up your mix is there. This becomes even more pronounced when you factor in the FX controls that sit above the strip.
One of the most disappointing aspects of the Pioneer DDJ SR2 is the short pitch faders.
At this price point, I would have expected to see long-throw pitch faders for accurate BPM adjustments. While not overly short where beatmatching by ear becomes annoying they still feel a little touchy.
I can understand the reasoning here as there is a concerted effort to keep the size of the controller down. Usually, pitch fader length is one of the easiest ways to achieve this. But, when you consider this is a mid-tier controller for more experienced DJs it is a letdown.
The obligatory Sync button is also present for automatically matching your tracks.
The Pioneer DDJ SR2 offers a range of performance pad options. Each deck has 8 RGB pads available.
The first mode allows you to set and recall Hot Cues. It also offers a secondary Cue Loop option. Standard functionality that most DJ controllers offer.
The Pioneer SR2 offers a range of flexible performance pad modes.
The second button opens up the Roll function along with Saved Loops in the secondary slot. The Roll is popular among DJs as it lets you hold a loop while the track continues to move forward. When you release the pad the track resumes from where it would have naturally reached.
The third slot gives you access to the Slicer and Slicer Loop function in the secondary slot. The Slicer will carve out 1 beat “slices” that you can then juggle between using the pads. A great way to execute live mashups and remixes.
The final button is for the Sampler mode and Pitch Play Mode. This gives DJs further creative options. You can fire off individual samples or alter the Pitch of the track on the fly.
With a total of 8 modes available there is plenty of flexibility for dedicated controllerists.
The Pioneer DDJ SR2 has a good selection of connection options.
Master output offers you the choice of RCA or XLR connections. This should cover you for the vast majority of speakers you’d want to connect to the unit. A balanced TRS booth output is perfect for your booth monitors.
The Pioneer DDJ SR2 offers DJs some flexibility to configure to their preferred layout.
The SR2 also offers two RCA Line In options that can be either Line or Phono. Excellent for adding extra gear.
An unbalanced TRS microphone connection rounds out the back panel. Control over the microphone volume is on the front panel.
Speaking of the front panel, here you’ll find two headphone connection choices. ¼ inch and ⅛ inch. No need for special adapters to handle your preferred set of cans.
The Pioneer DDJ SR2 also offers dedicated FX controls at the top of each deck.
You can assign and control up to 3 FX at a time. Serato offers an excellent selection of software effects and the integration here is smooth.
Altering the parameters of the FX is easy with the dedicated knobs. The Beats knob completes the package allowing you to alter the length of the FX.
If you like to add FX to your mix you’ll have plenty of fun with this FX section. As mentioned in the jogwheel section be careful when playing with the FX as it can be easy to accidentally activate the touch strip.
Looping controls are also solid on the Pioneer DDJ SR2. Each deck offers a dedicated set of controls.
You can easily set auto loops and then increase or decrease the length with the ½ and 2x buttons. You’ll also have access to set in and out points of your choice if you don’t want the default auto loop. Shift functions include the ability to move your loop.
Plenty of flexibility and clean integration makes the SR2 well equipped to handle your looping needs.
The Pioneer DDJ SR2 offers a relatively small footprint. It isn’t that much larger than some of the entry-level controllers. This makes it an excellent compact and portable option for mobile DJs.
The Pioneer DDJ SR2 strikes a good balance between features and size.
The unit is also lightweight making it easy to transport between gigs. This also opens up the option of having the controller as a backup unit in case your primary gear fails.
Build Quality & Design
The build quality on the Pioneer DDJ SR2 is what I’ve come to expect from Pioneer. Nothing truly amazing but certainly not cheap and nasty. Pioneer strikes a good balance between quality components that will stand the test of time. The jogwheels are solid, the pads are responsive and feel good, and the knobs are sturdy and durable.
Excellent components in an attractive and functional DJ controller layout.
The bright illumination of the functions adds to the professional edge. Well suited to working in dark environments. My only gripe is that due to the compact size of the controller it does look very busy.
With so many features it could be overwhelming for new DJs. But, once you get used to the workflow it all makes sense. An attractive piece of kit that backs it up with great features.
What Others Have To Say
Most DJs are happy with the range of new features available on the DDJ SR2 compared to the original SR. Some dedicated scratch DJs find the jogwheels not ideal. But, most see the controller as an excellent portable piece of gear.
Do You Need A 4 Channel Controller?
The growth of a DJ varies but sooner or later you’re faced with a burning question. The move from 2 channels to 4 channels. For some experienced DJs, this is necessary while for others it will not be.
It all comes down to how you DJ and what your ambitions are. If you foresee wanting to layer vocals from one track, bassline from another, and melodies from a third you’ll need a 4 channel controller. If you want to look at adding extra gear to your setup like turntables or CDJs a 4 channel controller also makes it easier to accommodate these setups.
4 channel controllers closely resemble club gear but are more challenging to learn with.
But, the vast majority of DJs can comfortably perform while only using 2 channels. This also depends on which genres you spin. Some genres just don’t lend themselves to excessive layering. You’d be better off improving your transition techniques. Or you could learn more creative pad performance routines.
While it can be a difficult decision if you are looking to save some money or you are a new DJ I suggest starting with a 2 channel controller.
As you move into the mid-tier range of controllers there are many interesting options available to DJs. Here are some other controllers worth considering.
Rane One Review
The Rane One is an excellent option if you want to focus more on scratching. It also features excellent Serato integration and solid build quality.
- Motorized platters for tactile control. Perfect for scratching.
- Clean and logical layout with high-quality components throughout.
- Excellent range of connection options.
Read our full Rane One review for more detailed information.
Pioneer DDJ 1000SRT Review
Moving up in the Pioneer range you’ll find the excellent Pioneer DDJ 1000SRT. Based on the popular DDJ 1000 it opens up 4 channel mixing and hardware FX controls.
- Large jogwheels with displays that provide important information at a glance.
- Club standard layout making it easy to transition to pro-level gear.
- Misses out on some of the features of the DDJ 1000.
Read our full Pioneer DDJ 1000SRT review for more detailed information.
Pioneer DDJ 1000SRT
Roland DJ 505 Review
If you’re not interested in a 4 channel controller the Roland DJ 505 is another excellent option. This unique controller speaks more to producers with an integrated drum machine.
- Built-in drum sequencer for creating beats using legendary presets.
- Responsive jogwheels are great for scratching.
- Not worth it if you have no interest in the drum machine component.
Read our full Roland DJ 505 review for more detailed information.
Roland DJ 505
Should You Buy?
The Pioneer DDJ SR2 is one of the best Pioneer controllers currently available. Tight Serato integration and the expansive set of features give DJs all the tools they need. Good build quality and flexible connection options make it an attractive choice for mobile DJs as well.
If you are in the market for a 2 channel controller with more bells and whistles than beginner gear you should have the Pioneer SR2 on your shortlist.
Pioneer DDJ SR2