This looks like the one. The one that won’t make me spend $6000 on a full Pioneer CDJ2000/DJM900 setup (it’s only $1,999 MSRP). The one that helps me pay for itself by being good enough to sell 2 or 4 of my 6 technic 1200’s. I thought the NS7II was the one, but it looks like I was wrong.
Let me break it down. For all the club circuit DJ’s out there, you’ve all seen the slow but steady transition to CDJ2000’s. Any club that doesn’t make you bring your own gear has a pair. They probably have a pair of 1200’s too, but they’re upstairs in the managers office and the last time you tried using them one wouldn’t work and you ended up doing instant doubles all night. So now you’ve been using the CDJ2000’s on a regular basis because it’s just so much easier to deal with. Setup is quick and painless. HID mode is a godsend, as long as you can put up with a few random skips throughout the night (totally worth it for me). You’ve come around to the feel of the CDJ’s and don’t miss your vinyl as much, although you still want it available for some random night you might just want to break out your DMC worthy skills!
If you’re like me, this has lead you to look at some of the higher-end controllers like the DDJ-SX or NS7. Maybe you’ve had a chance to play on one or both, but there was just something missing. You leave saying, I’ll think about buying this, it would make setting up so much easier, and it’s SO close, but just not 100% there yet. Well folks, I haven’t touched it with my own two hands yet, but I feel I can say the DDJ-SZ has changed this. Now let me tell you why.
Full CDJ2000 Jog Wheel
This is HUGE! Full 8.1″ CDJ style jog wheel. This is what all past Pioneer controllers have been missing. DJ’s have been asking for this for a long time. When I used the DDJ-SX for a gig a few months ago, this was the main thing I wanted to see. As someone who plays on CDJ’s regularly, you become used to the feel. Sound familiar vinyl heads? Now, it looks like you can pitch bend like you’re used to on the CDJ line.
2 Laptops at the Same Time
I think I said this before, but this is HUGE! This is what makes the DDJ-SZ a possible candidate for club and bar installs. I think the wedding DJ’s out there will appreciate this feature too. In the club, DJ’s are switching back and forth all the time. Openers, headliner, co-headliners, closers. Before the SL4 came out it was a royal PITA to swap DJ’s. You’d need two SL1’s or a transition mix on vinyl or CD. Lot’s of room for error. With the SL4 came lots of functionality but a lack of anyone wanting to learn how to use it.
Pioneer looks like they’ve come as close as anyone to solving this issue, making it easy to swap DJ’s throughout the night. For wedding and private event DJ’s, this mean you can always have your backup computer plugged in and ready to go in case the worst happens. The only downside I see here is that each laptop is assigned to the left or right 2 channels on the mixer, so you can’t choose your channel assignment like you can on the SL4. This will annoy me, but will be a welcome feature for all of the DJ’s who never wanted to learn how to assign channels with the SL4.
This thing will act like a Serato box! You can connect those precious turntables whenever you feel like lugging those heavy flight cases into the studio. It sounds like you can also connect additional CDJ’s or turntables to control deck 3 & 4, meaning you actually have the option of true 4-deck mixing. We’ll see how this actually plays out. If you can connect 2 CDJ2000’s in HID mode in conjunction with the DDJ-SZ, that will be seriously awesome!
DJM Style Mixer
EVERYONE is familiar with the DJM 800/900 mixers by now. Most of you probably play on one a few times a week. All previous controllers had something lacking in the mixer section. It just didn’t feel as good as the DJM900. Now that’s changed with a full 4 channel DJM mixer with a MAGVEL crossfader, P-lock fader caps and Color effects on all channels, including the mic and master channels. In the walkthrough video they even said each channel can have a different Color effect assigned! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to put the filter on one track and bit crusher on another. Now my dream may come true. New oscillator effects looks like a nice addition too!
8 Full-color Drum Pads
Not only do we now have 8 cue points with Serato DJ, but we can color code them so you never hit the wrong cue point again. You’ll never have to jump to the 2nd chorus when you meant to jump to the 3rd, or the cue the pick-up phrase and not the down beat. You can also use the pads for the sampler, loop roll and beat slicer, which was my favorite new toy when I played on the DDJ-SX.
What They Missed
– 24 bit / 96kHz digital output. While they did add 24 bit depth, CD quality sample rate is a bit (get it?) disappointing. A digital out would’ve been nice.
– Fixed laptop channel assignment. The inability for each laptop to choose which channels to be on will hurt when considered for club installs.
– No record out. While most will just use Serato to record, a fixed level record output has been an important feature on the DJM800/900 mixers.
What I Hope To See
– Mic recording. The DDJ-SX surprised me by not being able to record the mic input. Great feature for some, frustrating for most. An option would be great!
– CDJ2000’s for deck 3&4. While they’ve said you can use Serato control tone to control decks 3&4, the ability to use HID mode and really use CDJ’s as integrated controllers would be a beautiful thing.
– True CDJ jog wheel. I hope the jog wheel truly acts and feels like the CDJ2000 line.