If you're a Serato DJ you are spoilt for choice lately when it comes to finding a controller to use. Pioneer have been ever present in the Serato world however the likes of Denon and Roland have come in with some clever pieces of kit as of late which gives Pioneer something to think about. So why go for Pioneer? and what do the others have to offer?
Due to Pioneers dominance withing the club and DJ scene having something that looks and feels familiar can be a huge selling point. This is where the DDJ-1000SRT
shines above others. The layout is designed to mimic the popular Pioneer CDJ's. Add to that the full size jog wheels and a Magvel fader, this controller gives you the feel of a club standard CDJ. This means going from one of these to Pioneers flagship NXS2 setups is much easier.
The Roland DJ-808
can often throw people with its unusual size and form factor. Its a much taller unit than most and you have a host of special functions which are not Serato related but instead some addition tools for music production such as a 16 step sequencer and drum kits from the famous Roland TR drum machine series. The Roland DJ-808 controller's key selling point is the combination of DJ controller and production equipment all in one unit so it may take some time to get used to the layout however Roland emphasise that it will improve your work flow and give your performance more versatility.
Denon has been really doing some great things in the DJ world and sometimes it goes relatively unnoticed. However the MC7000
is a great unit with a very familiar feel. Layout wise it is similar to the Pioneer in that it has nice size jog wheels, a well built and sturdy mixer section and similarly 8 RGB pads under each deck.
The DDJ-1000 has a deep integration with Serato however there are a few small things missing which can really confuse people. Firstly, you have no control over the Serato effects when using the DDJ-1000. All the effects on the Pioneer unit are built in to the unit. The only way to access Serato's effects is to plug in an external midi controller like the DDJ-SP1. However on that note, the built in effects are brilliant and really high quality so many won't miss the effects they don't get.
Roland claims the DJ-808 has the deepest Serato integration of any controller. It would be difficult to argue with this as it does have almost every function mapped out and controllable on the unit itself. However with all the extra features on the top of the unit it still comes with a bit of a learning curve.
Pioneer are offering free expansion packs for a limited time when you buy a DDJ-1000 and similarly Denon offer 3 expansion packs along with Serato DJ Pro. Denon have done always well when it comes to playing ball with Serato, with their latest Prime models now fully integrating Serato into their user interface.
Build quality and connections
DDJ-1000SRT has an abundance of connection options which will get you plugged into any sound system, whether its at home or in a club environment. It has 4 inputs to connect CDJ's or normal turntables, plus a booth output, 2 master outs and 2 microphone inputs. It has a solid build quality with the weight and feel of something of quality.
The Roland DJ-808 doesn't mess about when it comes to connectivity either. It has similar inputs and outputs to the Pioneer however has a few extra connections to cater for the producer in you. It has midi outs along with USB power to plug in external midi units. The build quality of Roland is exceptional and you definitely feel like you are getting your money's worth.
Denon DJ kit may split people based on appearance. However putting personal preferences aside the Denon units arguably feel the best built. The MC series is very similar in terms of build quality to the DDJ-1000SRT. In terms of connections it does have a little less than the previous two however still everything you need to hook up to a club environment
Pioneer really does have some great competition now and going forward they may have to innovate more to stand out. However as for now, Pioneer does have the benefit of being an industry leader. This does translate in their products as you will notice the layout that alot of DJ's look for is one that is similar to Club level NXS2 set ups and that definitely what you get with the DDJ-1000.
The Roland is great but may be more suited to a producer/digital DJ who likes to integrate other instruments etc into their performance. However if you don't require the production suite included it may have too many buttons and toggles which can distract from the rest of the form factor. The odd form factor can indeed be a positive too as it is still compact and portable but fits alot in.
The Denon MC7000 comes in at the lowest price and this is evident in the build quality and feature set compared to the previous two. This drop in price however could have you fooled into thinking there will be a huge drop in quality however Denon have always been good at providing alot of kit for your money.
The Pioneer DDJ-1000SRT will still provide you with the most familiar DJ'ing experience of all the units and until Pioneer is taken over as the industry leader, it will be a while before they change too much....well, if it ain't broke..
All 3 controllers are available to buy now at Djtechdirect.com
or in store.