Once upon a time Pioneer DJ only made mixers and CDJ players and for a while it looked as though they were being left behind in the technology stakes, as the controller wars hotted up. But it turned out that Pioneer had merely been biding their time before unleashing a slew of controllers onto the market and they have continued this aggressive release strategy ever since, with many of their recent controllers being nothing short of game-changing.
The news of not one but two new boxes of tricks clad in the traditional Pioneer black being released will no doubt have more than a few heads within the DJing community turning rather sharply. The first of these technological treats is the DDJ-SZ, which is Pioneer’s new flagship Serato controller, and the second is the RMX-500, an effects box that is the little brother to the RMX-1000.
Hot on the heels of the release of the DDJ-SB, Pioneer’s entry-level two-channel Serato DJ controller, comes the DDJ-SZ, a four-channel controller that looks very similar to the DDJ-SX. But given the amount of extra features and improvements this new controller has been blessed with, Pioneer have decided it deserves its own identity.
The improvements are vast and sexy as hell because many of the new components have come straight from the CDJ-2000NXS, meaning this controller is the closest to a CDJ player yet. Both the mixer and the deck sections have had a complete overhaul and the result is a truly top-end all-in-one professional DJ controller that is going to have DJs selling their grandmothers to get their hands on one. The mixer section of the DDJ-SZ has been redesigned and conforms to the traditional DJM mixer-style layout, which is a definite improvement compared with the mixer layout on the DDJ-SX.
The big new additions to the mixer include colour sound effects with a dedicated control knob on each channel, including the master; there is a proper microphone channel on the control surface, a new oscillator function that is assignable to individual channels or the master channel, and the track browsing and loading functions have been moved from the mixer to the deck sections, giving a cleaner and more professional layout. Possibly the most exciting new feature the DDJ-SZ has to laud over the DDJ-SX has been taken directly from the CDJ-2000NXS, namely the platters.
These new platters are almost identical to the ones found on the CDJ-2000NXS — the most obvious difference is the colour, which is silver, and the edge of the platter has a slightly different design, but the screens in the centre of the platters are the same. They both have LEDs around the top edge of the jog-wheels and the stiffness and stop time control knobs have also made their way from the CDJ2000NXS to the DDJ-SZ’s deck sections.
For DJs who prefer to stick to CDJs but are looking for a way to add some more flair to their sets, Pioneer have announced their RMX-500 which is a portable powerhouse of effects putting a multitude of controls at DJs' fingertips. The RMX-500 looks similar to the RMX-1000, but this time there are two circular control sections with one dedicated to Rhythm FX and the other for Scene FX, with a smaller section in the centre of the controller dedicated to Release FX duties.
The RMX-500 remix station also has Pressure Controller knobs which are an industry first and promise to put even more control into DJs' hands. The RMX-500 can also work as a USB controller in conjunction with the included VST/AU/RTAS plug-ins for use in DAWs like Logic, Cubase or Ableton.
Both of these new products are exciting in their own right and DJs of all genres and styles will no doubt be rocking dancefloors with these new music machines in months to come. However given the revolutionary nature and downright sex appeal, the DDJ-SZ is likely to get most of the attention which is as it should be — because this controller really is the best in its class
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