There are few (if any) DJ controller manufacturers that do better than Pioneer, and this company did even more with the Pioneer DJ SR. This is what you’d be looking at if you were looking to upgrade from a low-level controller to a mid-tier controller. The solid build and features make this a near-perfect professional kit, the complexity of which you can tweak as your DJ-ing skills grow.
16 Performance pads provide hot cue, roll, slicer and sampler functions. Precise scratching and mixing capabilities.
Unpacking the Pioneer DJ SR reveals a weighty but desirable build with a pair of huge silver jog wheels and a pair of rows of performance pads below each jog wheel. With its solid up faders and the smooth crossfader, using the DJ SR for the first time is a fantastic experience throughout. The crossfader provides feedback with a pleasant click when you move it back and forth.
Behind the controllers is a host of ports enough for any set up with external gear. Among the available outputs are a couple of quarter-inch jacks. There is one for the master output, a pair for your booth output – these have their own volume knob – and one each for headphones and a microphone on the unit’s front.
Other than the ¼” jacks, there is also another 1/8” headphone jack, a USB port, and a pair of RCA auxiliary input ports.
On its face, the Pioneer DJ SR boasts clearly labeled functions and fundamental shift layers. With a metallic top-plate, the DDJ-SR will easily withstand the abuse that comes with rigorous mixing all day and all night long. The build quality is also sturdy enough to survive constant movement without affecting functionality or operability.
To facilitate portability, Pioneer does you one better by mixing things up with the materials it uses. Other than metal, the DDJ-SR also features plastic bits and trim that cut down on its already heavy weight at 10 pounds. Still, the plastic is hard enough to withstand constant use. In the end, the controller does not feel as plasticky as some others using the same build style.
- Compact build meant for portability and performance
- Strong and sturdy build
- In-built soundcard
- Pre-mapped controls for Serato DJ software
- No 100 mm pitch fader
- Lack of a jog display
- Mid to pro-tier pricing
Pioneer DJ SX2 Review
If you think the Pioneer DJ SR is a killer controller, then you will be at awe of the features and capabilities of its big brother, the Pioneer DJ SX2. The DJ SR is modeled to offer near-similar capabilities as the DJ SX2 but at a more affordable price point.
The DJ SX2 is easily what any top-tier DJ would have in his stable. It is a premium four-channel controller optimized for use with the Serato Pioneer DJ software. The SX2 was itself an improvement over the DDJ-SX and added extra buttons, jog wheels that are tighter and brighter, and access to Serato DVS.So what do you get with the pioneer DJ SX2 that you don’t on the Pioneer DJ SR?
Dedicated buttons for serato flip. 4-channel performance dj controller designed for serato dj. Updated jog wheel with "hot cue countdown.
The one thing that hits you right of the bat is the nifty center ring on each of the jog wheels. These show cue countdown markers, enhancing functionality. Then there are three buttons for Serato flip, namely, record/loop, slot/save, and start/On/OFF. For easier recognition, the performance pads on the Pioneer DJ SX2 are multicolored depending on your settings.
Finally, unlike the interface of the DDJ SX which had “dual-deck” buttons that let you switch simultaneously between the four available channels, on the SX2, you can enable dual-deck mode by pressing both deck buttons.
As this is a more robust controller compared to the DJ SR, we look at some crucial features below.
Unlike the SX or the DDJ SR, the performance pads of which only light up in blue, in the DJ SX2, they are RGB backlit. The colors that the pads mimic are programmable in the Serato pioneer DJ software. With this function, it makes it easy to remember and recognize your hot cues even in the dark. For DJs who like cueing their songs a lot, this is a nifty feature indeed.
This is a function that allows you to leverage hot cues to create routines that can then be played back as a loop or as a one-time shot pass. By hitting the record button, Serato starts recording the flip. You can then save the flip in a Flip slot and play it back whenever you want.
As a top-tier controller, the SX2 features highly sensitive jog wheels. They are low latent and extremely accurate when scratching. At the center of the jog wheels are a mid-placed cue countdown timer and red cue point markers. These visual aids help you scratch better without having to glance back at your laptop.
It is these onboard displays that contribute to the reason why the SX2 is much more of a joy to use and a better controller than the DDJ-SR or the DDJ-SB.
For most other DJ controllers at or below $1000, you will hardly find anything that allows you to mix using turntables or CDJs. The DJ SX2 comes complete with Serato DVS compatibility, unlike its predecessor, giving you the ability to choose between using a single control medium or multiple control mediums.
Form, function, and flexibility are the qualities that make the DJ SX2 an ideal choice for any digital DJ setup. However, to enjoy the full capabilities of this controller, you have to be ready to use Serato DJ as your daily DJ software.
For those looking for a premium multi-channel Serato DJ controller, the DJ SX2 is an excellent choice. While it is on the higher end of the pricing spectrum, it is not overly expensive.
- Serato DVS compatibility
- Programmable RGB backlit performance pads
- Serato Flip functionality
- Features a mid-placed jog wheel display to boost practicality
- Pricier than most controllers
Pioneer DJ Software
The above DJ controllers primarily use Serato Pioneer DJ software. For that reason, it would be great to find out what makes this software the choice for a good number of Pioneer controllers.
Most Pioneer controllers are optimized to seamlessly run with Serato Pioneer DJ software. While some premium controllers come with the Pro version, some only come with the lite version, which means you have to pay to access its full functionality. The best thing about Serato is its potent power when used with compatible hardware. It is easy to learn and get the hang of, and it is even easier to tweak to your preference.
With such features as those of the Serato DVS, you also enjoy the ability to connect turntables or CDJs and control Serato DJ Pro using Vinyl records or CDs. Serato DJ Pro has a high-resolution interface and crisper text that make visuals a treat to look at. If you have poor eyesight, then Serato DJ Pro is among the best DJ software in the market.
The software also has a practice mode that lets you familiarize yourself with it. In practice mode, you have access to two-deck mixing, hot cues, a crossfader, tempo controls, and your library without connecting any hardware to your laptop. This is a much welcome feature as previous versions of Serato required connecting hardware before accessing the two decks.
The last improvement on the Pro version is that it is now a 64-bit application, making it a more stable application.
This brings me to the conclusion – Serato DJ is renowned for its reliability and stability. Unlike other DJ software, Serato will hardly crash.
The Competition – Pioneer DJ vs Numark
If there ever was a boxing bout pitting DJ controller manufacturers, a Pioneer DJ vs Numark match would no doubt be one to watch. Both Pioneer and Numark have been at it for a long time. However, the question of which is the best depends on who you ask and what you are looking for.
If you were to pit Pioneer DJ vs Numark, Pioneer could possibly come off as the winner when it comes to high-end controller manufacture while Numark would take the entry-level end of the spectrum.
However, that again is debatable. In the end, it is up to you to choose which one works best for you and run with it.