The Pioneer Range is extremely extensive, so it can cater for all needs, from beginners to flagship models that you'll find in nightclubs all around the world. The Pioneer brand needs no explanation itself, as they have been the market leaders for well over a decade, fighting off stiff competition from other manufactures to cement (not literally) their products in every DJ booth. The beauty of Pioneer, is that as every DJ eventually wants to be playing infront of thousands at festivals or club venues therefore, will almost certainly be using a Pioneer product at the helm. So does this mean that you have to go out and spend big money on getting a club set up replica whilst your working your way up? Not at all, far from it actually. The reason being, the formula for the success is virtually the same from their base model, up to the flagship, apart from more features of course, but thats what you pay the extra money for.
The CDJs/XDJs, mixers and headphones all have the unique Pioneer look and feel, the same footprint lets say, so if you learn ion the base models, with a few tweeks, you'll be able to emulate your skills on the big boy models.
We'll split this into 3 categories - Entry-Level, Mid-Range and Flagship, taking a look at the best media players, controllers and headphones that you can get for your money.
The introductory range of the Pioneer headphones are nothing to turn your nose up at, as they can command comfort and quality, for a respectable price. The HDJ 500's are without a doubt, the best DJ headphones that you can buy for sub £70, there really isnt any other manufacturer that offers anything to get anywhere near the quality.
The HDJ 700's are the new kids on the block and perfectly bridge the gap for those wanting Pioneer headphones, but do not have the budget for the mid range models. This is previously where Pioneer may have lost potential customers to lets say, someone purchasing some basic Sennheisers. The 700's have a similar design to the 500's but do have a much more professional feel to them, so you do see where your extra £30 goes as the RRP is £99.
Now its going to be really hard for me not to be bias here, as I own a pair of the C70's - ones that I ditched my Sennheiser HD25's for... That will have the Sennheiser faithful seething, but I honestly can not fault them one bit. I always loved the on ear headphones but with a few of the venues I play in, the volume just didnt seem to cut it with the way that I angle my cans. The C70's just seemed like they had the same driver as the top model of Pioneer headphones (hdj2000's) but with the design that suited my cueing style. The comfort and lack of fatigue that it gives your ears is spot on also.
First impressions count in all walks of life and wow, these look stunning. The feel and comfort just oozes class and professionalism, plus its more than backed up with superb sound quality. One thing that you'll notice when you first use these, is the noise cancellation is spot on, which is perfect for producers looking to use these in the studio. That is perhaps the only fault that I had with the original version as it was close, but not perfect and when you're spending around £250, you really do want to have no concerns. These, hands down, are the best all-round headphones on the market.
The recent upgrade to the DDJ-SB was somewhat needed, as other brands cornered the market with the entry level units. The SB was good, but it kind of rode on the brand name more than anything as people were just buying it as it was Pioneer, not for its actual handsdown quality. The SB2 is a different story completely! The ability to control 4 channels and the build quality stands out straight away and notches itself back up to the best unit for under £200.
There are a few midrange controllers from Pioneer, but its only fair to pick this one as it uses the new Pioneer Rekordbox DVS. Not only that, just like the DDJ-SB2 it has a whole new feel about it but it still looks like its predecessor the DDJ-SX2, one of the most popular controllers ever made. The SX2 was probably the first controller that wasnt sniffed at if it was seen in a dj booth in a venue, due to its ability to perform and many computer based djs seen this as the perfect alternative to buying a whole cdj set up. The DDJ-RX (not to be confused with the XDJ-RX) is portable and has substance to it, so it still feel professional and is just a scaled down version of the big boys - So transitioning to cdjs would be 2nd nature. Another good feature, just like the SX2, you can use the unitas a standalone mixer, so if you have cdjs or turntables, you can hook it up to the DDJ-RX and have a complete setup.The DDJ-RX is the first native controller for rekordbox dj, giving you the flexibility to prepare your tracks in rekordbox and then get plug-and-play performance directly from your laptop. The contoller mirrors the software's layout precisely to enable intuitive and creative performances. It has larger jog wheels that the introductory controllers, like the SB2 and they are optimised for a perfect scratch response. They also have illuminated cue point markers and an accurate countdown for even greater scratch and reverse precision. This controller comes with four preset Sound Colour FX buttons - Noise, Crush, Pitch and Filter - which you'll be able to customise in the future with upcoming rekordbox dj Plus Packs.
Pad FX lets you create multiple FX chains using all 16 pads, while the Sequencer mode allows you to record, play and loop sample sequences on the fly. Trigger up to three of rekordbox dj's quantized Beat FX and twist the dial to manipulate the parameters of each. Plus you can release complex FX patterns with a vinyl brake, echo or back spin.
The top-flight DDJ-RZ is again, a specific controller for the new rekordbox dj, giving you the ability to prepare your tracks in rekordbox and then get plug-and-play performance directly from your laptop.
The controller emulates the software's layout precisely to enable on the fly, creative performances. With an inbuilt club-quality magnetic crossfader, large jog wheels (which are the same as the cdj 2000's) the DDJ-RZ is literally a nexus setup, fused together as a controller.
The unit gives the tightest possible integration and super fast response with rekordbox dj, it mirrors the software's layout for instinctive performances. It has 16 large, back-lit rubber Performance Pads instantly trigger quantized Hot Cues, Slicer and Pad FX, so you literally have it all at your fingertips.
This controller comes with four preset Sound Colour FX buttons - Space, Jet, Pitch and Filter - which you'll be able to customise in the future with upcoming rekordbox dj Plus Packs.
Another smart feature of this flagship model is that it has 2 USB ports, meaning that if there were 2 djs, it allows seamless integration, which has always been an issue in the past with controller djs in venues.
Like i said earlier, this unit is literally a nexus setup fused together as a controller, with the use of Rekordbox DJ.
Quite possibly the best thing that Pioneer have ever manufactured. Okay, yes the nexus range is special, but for a unit that is basically a club setup fused together, this has ultimate ticks in so many boxes - mainly the price. For something that allows you to record straight to USB, work as a standalone mixer, burn vinyl to mp3, has a high res screen, has the same layout as cdjs and so on and so on, which is just over £1000, its mental.. If we get into the nitty-gritty, the nexus range wins hands down but it also costs near enough £3500 more. So for someone that wants to practice their sets before they play in venues, wants to use it in a venue that has a shocking system, wants to step away from using laptops or simply needs to save a bit of space.. THIS IS PERFECT!!! I literally can not say anything bad about it... for a more detailed view, check out the specific blog i done previously.
(This section would have been called cdjs, if it wasnt for the xdjs)
The Pioneer XDJ-700 is the little brother/sister to the ever populer XDJ100's... So whats different? Well basically, the size and the price. The 1000's are very well priced and they are the same as the CDJ 850's (maybe the death of the 850's now) but they were maybe still a little too expensive for those just starting out or for those that want to put them in a small venue. You can get a pair of touch screen, usb/media players for less than £1000, so these are ideal for those that have been looking at the Pioneer XDJ-RX but want to use a different mixer or still like the idea of having separate units rather than one thats fused together.
The Pioneer CDJ 900 Nexus has a full-color LCD screen, compared to the standard 900 which still looks a bit 'blocky' and cdj 800. The LCD screen displays track information similarly to the CDJ-2000NXS, including waveform display, beat countdowns, and a phase meter. The 900NXS’ also are totally compatible with Rekordbox, including playing tracks wirelessly off of smartphone and tablet installs of Rekordbox. This unit also includes the “controversial” beat sync that was introduced on the CDJ-2000NXs units, as well as slip mode, quantize, and beat divide features. This would be in comparison to the XDJ-1000 also, but as I mentioned the XDJ 700 just, its virtually the same, but with the 900's you have the ability to use the good old, vintage compact disc.
I wrote a review on this deck a few weeks back, in regards to upgrading your decks to 'club standard' equipment https://www.djtechdirect.com/blog/why-upgrade-your-dj-equipment/ and as the days have passed, my love for this new unit has grown immensely. I was talking to a colleague about 6 month ago and we both wondered what Pioneers next step would be in relation to the cdj 2000 or if theyd even have cdjs, in light of the XDJs. We thought that they may introduce a display like the xdj rx, where you can see the layered wav forms horizontal together and we did guess the touch screen, but never did we think it would be this impressive. 8 hot cues.... 8 HOT CUES... on a deck, not a DVS... 8!!! Honestly, if you use rekordbox, start using hot cues a lot more as your sets will be more creative and less, well the same as everyone elses.
This impressive piece of kit is already in every respected dj booth and it has the pro's brimming with excitement with how much this will elevate their sets.
Okay, I know that Pioneer have models smaller that cost less money, but I believe that if you are buying Pioneer, you really do not want to limit yourself to two channels.
At a quick glance, you know this is a Pioneer mixer and one that you'd have to look closely at to see which model that it is. The beauty with the whole of the Pioneer range, is that they all have the same 'foot print' or have buttons etc in the same places, so its very much like driving a car - once you can drive one, you can drive them all, albeit some have extra gadgets that you can play with, just like the mixers.
Another great feature is that the effects are virtually the same on all of the models, so if you start to master tricks using various options, it is transferable between mixers.... we all love a good delay or echo ;)
One feature that is different with the DJM 750, is that you can only use the colour effects on the master and not specify a channel that they manipulate... Saying that though, some people prefer this, especially when it has a 'boost' button that sends the effect mental - in a good way!
Mid Range / Flagship
Pioneer DJM 900 NXS2 / Pioneer DJM 2000
Now this was a tough one... If i wrote this before the DJM 900 NXS2 came out, then the DJM 900 would have been mid-range and the DJM 2000 would have been flagship, but I cant chose between the two now. The DJM 900 Nexus is a staple of any dj booth and i think this has been due to it being a direct upgrade to the DJM 600, which has legendary status. For a club owner, when they need to buy a new mixer, they tend to just get the latest model of what they previously had, hence ending up with the DJM 900 Nexus. When the DJM 2000 was launched, it simply scared too many people, including djs.... I mean, its a monster, a fully fledged mixer on steroids! Now for a club owner, do they run the risk of DJ Derek turning up and having a mental breakdown when he sees the 2000? Of course not...
Sooo, Pioneer have now launched the NXs2, which is of course the 900 but with major improvements, like the ability to connect effect units a hell of a lot easier, without having to choose between beat fx or external fx, the ability to connect 2 DVS straight to the mixer and a hefty 24-bit sound card, to name a few. So is this now the flagship? Im unsure still, as even though the 900 and 2000 DJM are very similar in so many way, they are also miles apart too. I guess if you learnt the 2000 inside out, then it would still be king of the castle.