The origins of DJing included the use of vinyl. Since that time digital controllers have taken over the vast majority of mainstream DJing. But to the dedicated vinyl enthusiast there have been a small handful of controllers that could convince them to give digital a go.
In this review, we check out possibly the best option ever created for DJs that love vinyl and want to move into the controller space.
The Rane One is a revelation for scratch DJs wanting a controller. Packed with a range of impressive features it sets itself apart from the large range of fairly generic scratch DJ equipment.
The Rane One has a lot to offer the right type of DJ. Let’s break it down in detail to see if this controller is right for you.
The central mixer section of the Rane One is capable and refined.
One of the highlights is the Mag Four crossfader. A high-quality fader that is suitable for aggressive scratch routines. There is also ample space available around the fader giving you plenty of freedom in movement. You can adjust the curve to your preference via the dedicated knob on the front panel as well.
Above the crossfader are two-channel faders. While not as high quality as other Rane gear they are still perfectly usable and offer a little bit of resistance. Two central cue buttons hug the faders for sending channel signals to your headphones.
The Rane One features a battle-style central mixer section.
The EQ is a standard setup that features a 3-band EQ along with Level control and a Filter. Standard stuff but effective. The knobs feel good and are a good size. The added distance and different color of the Filter knob is also a welcome design choice.
The center panel features line switches for both decks. Below these, you’ll find level meters for both channels along with the master VU meter. Individual control over Master and Booth output is easily accessible here.
The rest of the mixer focuses on FX controls. Two FX paddles along with Depth and Beat control knobs. Plus 6 FX activation buttons. The paddles are fun to use and mimic battle-style mixers. A departure from the way many other digital controllers handle FX.
Nothing is notably groundbreaking in the layout. But, the spacing and feature set feels natural and encourages a smooth workflow. But for some DJs, the lack of access to an extra 2 channels may be a dealbreaker.
The Rane One offers Serato DJ Pro. Serato is the natural option for a controller like this. Solid software that is functional and well respected. Installation is a breeze and you’ll be ready to get mixing quickly.
As always there is a distinct difference between analog gear compared to digital-based gear. The FX and feature set is software-based. For some DJs that may be an issue. Note that if you do want to use the Rane for DVS it is an added upgrade to Serato.
If you don’t want to use Serato the Rane One offers compatibility with Algoriddim’s djay Pro AI, and Virtual DJ.
The real showstopper feature of the Rane One is the motorized platters. To put it simply they are a joy to use. The last time motorized platters were so well executed was on the Numark NS7II. That controller was my instant recommendation for DJs wanting to scratch with a DJ controller. The platters on the Rane One feel even better than the platters on that controller.
The Rane One motorized platters feel fantastic to use.
At 7.2 inches they are a good size and comfortable to use. Adjustable torque setting allows you to customize the platters to your preferred feel. The platters are tough, rugged, and dependable. The control discs emulate the vinyl feel exceptionally well. Extra features are also present with Slip, Motor Off, Censor, and Reverse options at your fingertips. A touch strip completes the deck area and while on the short side is a handy addition. Jumping to a section of a track is quick and seamless.
For DJs that want to experience the feel of vinyl without the huge price tag of a proper setup, the Rane One delivers. For existing vinyl DJs, it is the best controller available if you want to explore the controller space.
The pitch faders on the Rane One are 100mm and offer just the right amount of resistance for accurate adjustments. The faders feel solid and dependable. Range and Keylock options are available along with Pitch Bend. Features that give you more control over both tempo and Key. Sync is also available on the opposite side if you want to automatically match beats.
The Rane One offers 8 RGB pads per deck. These rubber buttons inherit the Akai MPC pad style. This results in a clean and seamless experience when you get deep into a pad routine. Excellent travel and feel.
The Rane One offers a good selection of performance pad modes.
The modes on offer are fairly standard with one notable inclusion. Hot Cue, Saved Loop, Roll, Slicer, and Sampler are the primary modes. From setting cue points to performing beat juggling routines with the slicer you’ll be well covered. Secondary modes are also available which further expand your creative options. Pitch ‘n Time, Auto Loop, Slicer Loop, and Scratch Bank. The latter is a new feature that has grown in popularity. It allows you to instantly load a track at a set point ready for scratching.
While there is nothing innovative here it is a useful set of features. Often I find new controllers offer new gimmicky pad modes that in practice most DJs won’t use or appreciate. What you have here is a refined range of options. But, the pad mode buttons are a little close to the performance pads. This can lead to accidental triggers if you are not paying close attention to what you are doing.
The FX controls on the Rane One mimic battle mixers. For a product with motorized platters, this makes perfect sense. Six FX activation buttons allow for some interesting combinations. The only limitation here is the software FX that Serato offers. While they are fine they are not as refined as hardware FX and I still prefer the sound of Pioneer FX. Despite this, you have plenty of options on hand to add FX to your sets.
The paddles feel great to use, it doesn’t surprise me to see this style of FX control becoming more popular on modern controllers. It is straightforward to use and very satisfying. Depth and Beat Control is available to further refine and control your selected FX. Note that there is no default FX set up so you’ll need to set them in Serato yourself.
Potentially the only issue here is for DJs that are familiar with the FX setup on other controllers. If you prefer more knobs to adjust each FX independently you may find the paddle style a bit restrictive.
The connection options on the Rane One are expansive and well thought out. At this price point, you’d expect a quality range of options and Rane has delivered on this front.
The Rane One offers an excellent range of connection options.
Main out offers XLR and RCA. Booth output is also XLR. You’ll also have access to dual RCA options for Line In as well as a further RCA AUX-In. Dual USB connections also allow for easy back-to-back sessions or DJ handover. A solid range of choices that can handle the majority of potential sound setups. The only thing missing is a TRS option for a Main Out which for most will not be a concern.
Two microphone combo jacks complete the package. Microphone controls on the front panel offer Level along with a 2-band EQ.
Finally, on the front, you’ll have ¼ and ⅛ inch headphone options. A switch for Split Cue is also available. While a good feature to have the switch itself is tiny and difficult to access. There are several of these switches for other applications on the controller. I would have preferred more pronounced switches.
The Rane One offers an excellent footprint compared to a traditional vinyl setup. If portability is important to you this is an excellent option.
The Rane One manages to condense a traditional setup into a compact package.
It is on the heavier side but that is due to the abundance of metal and platter motors.
The looping controls are okay on the Rane One. The dedicated section includes an activation button and Loop In and Loop Out buttons. You can also halve or double the active loop.
While on the surface this is fairly standard the placement of the buttons is not ideal. Within proximity of the performance pads, the controls feel a little out of place.
When you factor in the size of the controller and the platters it isn’t a huge surprise. But, it can take some getting used to compared to other controllers.
Build Quality & Design
This is one area where Rane always excels at. Initially, I wondered if that level of quality was sustainable at this price point. I’m happy to report that Rane has not disappointed. The metal build is fantastic. It offers an excellent level of heft and delivers a premium feel. If you are familiar with plastic controllers you’ll love the huge jump in quality. It’s on another level and feels like professional gear.
The Rane One looks great and is built tough.
The pads and knobs all feel high quality and appear like they will be able to stand the test of time. The sound quality is also excellent. Something often overlooked when comparing various companies. The Rane One is among the best-sounding controller available.
As for appearance, it is an attractive controller. The layout is familiar but condensed into a smaller package. While a little cramped in certain sections it doesn’t look overly busy either. The elevation thanks to the added feet is another benefit. It brings the controller up to a more natural height. Plus it gives you the ability to slide a laptop underneath or to manage stands or cables.
The price point of the Rane One isn’t exactly cheap but every bit of that is well spent. This is a controller built tough and ready to handle the rigors of consistent use.
What Others Have To Say
There was plenty of excitement with the reveal of the Rane One. The motorized platters are a huge draw for certain types of DJs and the battle mixer setup was also well received.
The Difference Between Vinyl And Controllers
The transition from a vinyl setup to a controller comes with both pros and cons.
The biggest con comes down to feel. You can never replace the tactile feeling of a good set of vinyl decks. From the first moment, you are fully engaged with your music. Selecting records and mastering the ins and outs of vinyl DJing is both challenging but extremely rewarding.
The experience of mixing with vinyl is hard to replicate in a controller.
But, there are also some cons to consider. Vinyl is expensive and building up a good collection takes time and money. Additionally, a proper setup is also expensive. If you are budget conscious a controller is a better alternative.
Beyond that, the weight and portability of controllers are a huge benefit. Especially for working mobile DJs. Having to lug around a full turntable set up along with your records is a daunting task.
Digital controllers have improved in leaps and bounds. While they may not ever be as good as a vinyl setup you’ll still have a blast.
There is a large selection of DJ controllers available. Here are some of the best alternatives to the Rane One.
Pioneer DDJ REV7 Review
The Pioneer DDJ REV7 is an excellent controller that pushes the scratching design further. It offers a battle-style layout that mimics a turntable setup.
- Large and capable motorized jogwheels that feature onboard displays.
- Expansive pad modes and paddle FX.
- More expensive than the Rane One.
Pioneer DDJ SR2 Review
If scratching is not as important to you, the DDJ SR2 from Pioneer features a more traditional club-style layout. It has expansive features, including pad modes and detailed FX controls.
- A familiar layout within a small footprint makes it a good choice as a portable controller.
- Excellent selection of connection options that support a wide range of pro gear.
- The short pitch faders does make adjusting tempo a little fiddly.
Pioneer DDJ SR2
Pioneer DDJ REV5 Review
If the high price of the Rane One is beyond your budget, the REV5 from Pioneer is a decent alternative. While not as robust as the Rane One, it offers some excellent functionality.
- Logical battle-style layout that will suit scratch DJs.
- Onboard Stem controls and extensive performance features.
- Doesn’t feel as solid as the Rane One.
Pioneer DDJ REV5
Should You Buy?
The Rane One is an outstanding controller that ticks a lot of boxes. It is an excellent choice for scratch DJs that want a more compact controller. While it will never be able to compare to a proper vinyl setup it is also substantially cheaper than a full rig.
The exceptional build quality and thoughtful design make it among the best. If you are a scratch DJ you can’t go wrong with the Rane One.