Pioneer have taken a cheeky sidestep into the controller market with two tidy products that remain true to Pioneer’s ethos of easily recognisable kit. Users of their CDJ range would feel straight at home using either the DDJ S1 or the T1 controllers, but their new ERGO controller seems to have left their regular styling behind, and what we have is a product that looks like it has come straight off the set of a sci-fi film. Its slick white styling makes it really stand out.
Pioneer, of course, have been kitting out the world’s best clubs with pro kit for well over a decade. And now they have brought all their club experience to the comfort of DJs’ own homes. The ERGO is aimed at the casual user, the part time DJ who spins at home or at a mate’s place, sometimes plays the odd gig here and there. It’s simple to use — whip it out the box, connect a laptop via USB and it’s ready to rock, bop or grind, whatever the occasion.
The ERGO is a compact unit and has been made to be used with any DDJing software. It is fully compatible with software from Serato and Traktor 2, and for those who don’t already own a copy of either, there’s a version of Atomix Virtual DJ in the box. The layout of the controller has been designed with the open use format firmly in mind.
As soon as the DDJ ERGO turns on, EVERYTHING lights up and starts flashing. For those who are going to use this in a dark club, there won't be any problems when it comes to seeing what is going on with the controller.
The ERGO is dripping in style, and the ever-so-stylish and not-too-skimpy 115mm jog wheels not only spin and feel like the other platters that Pioneer used in their kit range, but they also come with the newly-developed Pulse Control System which uses lights to give a visual representation of pitch, beat, effects and which decks are in use. The built-in LEDs enhance the mixing experience and add a new visual angle to the art of DJing.
The DDJ ERGO is compact and is also lightweight, coming in at only 6.3lbs. This makes the ERGO the perfect travel companion for anyone intending to take this controller on the road. It is in this department that some care will be needed, as the ERGO may need a little bit more TLC because it’s not so robust. There seems to be a trade-off between its cool styling and being built like a brick shithouse and looking boring. DJ Mag can live with this, though, as it does look uber cool.
The actual layout of the ERGO could be likened to two Pioneer CDJ350 players, a small two-channel mixer, plus FX and sampler; the knobs and sliders have enough space, keeping the face uncluttered.
The illuminated buttons that allow users to control and switch between the two separate decks are perfectly placed and easy to use. All the knobs have center indentation and have super firm movement, while the crossfader is one of those air type varieties and there is little resistance to it — ideal for the scratch DJs in the pack. More slick styling: the channel faders glow red as soon as DJs slide them up. There are loads of dedicated knobs, buttons and faders for all those favoured functions, and users can choose between four decks, even though the ERGO is set up for two-deck operation. There are filter knobs on each deck channel too. Pioneer’s classic hot cue buttons are also present.
Another wicked little design feature is the feet, which are removable. When used with the ERGO, it enables DJs to slide their laptop underneath it (just like its predecessors the S1 and T1), leaving only the screen showing.
As far as connections and ports are concerned, the back of the unit has all the usual inputs and outputs and the all-important USB connection. At the front of the controller are the headphone outputs, both quarter and mini jack.
The DDJ ERGO has an auxiliary input at the back, which is a nice touch, as users can plug in an iPod or an external CD player or audio source to run through the mixer. The only catch is that there is no way to monitor what is going to come through.
One little thing to point out is the positioning of the tempo sliders. DJ Mag is used to a controller being mirrored: cut it down the middle, and everything is symmetrical. The way the tempo sliders are arranged on the ERGO are both to the right of the platters, meaning the left deck tempo control is sitting next to the volume sliders. There’s a danger DJs could hit the wrong slider by mistake in the heat of the mix.
The jog wheels are worth a little bit of a mention. When mixing, a blue LED on the jog wheel shows how close the beats are mixed. The bigger the difference in the beat mix, the weaker the light. The closer the match, the more brightly the light shines. There are a host of other great visual aids to help newbie DJs on the ERGO. Beat Pulse LEDs on the channel faders flicker to the beat of the track in play, plus, the strength of the light reflects the actual output levels of the track. Launch Pulse, and a red light travels from the Load button towards the jog wheel to indicate when a track has been loaded. While the flashing lights and aids are very useful for beginners, they can get a little excessive after a while. Luckily, they can be disabled by pressing SHIFT + Vinyl button.
The DDJ Ergo is a steal for the price, especially as it has so much to offer. Taking all the functions into consideration, it is being clearly aimed at the amateur market, but will appeal to the occasional weekend warrior as well as pros. Pioneer makes solid, high-quality gear that stands the test of time. For those in the market for an all-in-one software controller and sound card, the DDJ ERGO is a great piece of gear at a very competitive price.
|Ease of Use||8.0|
|Value for Money||8.5|
|Hype||Fully - Featured controller with a fab light display that works with a myriad of software
Not the most robust build. DJs will have to shell out for a decent hardcase to protect this bad boy if planning on taking it on the road.
The ERGO handles like a beauty, and even though it is aimed not quite at the pro end of the market, it is still worthy enough to be sat in the booth of any club.
Copyright Thrust Publishing Ltd. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.djmag.com as the source.