So, even though we are fairly flooded with DJ gear nowadays Pioneer seem to think we need more. And yes they may be right as this new controller has a couple of tricks up its sleeve that may make it quite interesting. But if we start with the basics it’s been designed for dedicated use with Pioneer’s Rekordbox software, and even features tutorials to help you improve your skills. The controller carries over features found in Pioneer’s NXS2 range, and is portable enough to take anywhere. The kit is “lightweight and portable”, and comes with a club-style layout. Key operations such as play/pause and cue buttons are laid out like the professional Pioneer DJ ranges, allowing you to get familiar with the kit you might hope to play on in clubs in the future.
The controller will help beginners learn the ropes with Rekordbox DJ’s new tutorial mode – included in the latest update to version 5.3 – which Pioneer DJ says offers a step-by-step guide to basic equipment operation behind the decks.
Rekordbox 5.3 also includes a few other features aimed at making DJing easier and more accessible: ‘Track Suggestion’, which displays tracks that match well with whatever is currently playing, and a feature that makes it possible to upload mixes direct to YouTube and Mixcloud with track and time stamps.
The DDJ-400 is released later this month. It’s the third DJ controller from the company after the Serato DJ-focused DDJ-SB3 and DDJ-SX3, and follows the release of DJM-REC, an iOS app for recording mixes direct to iPhone and iPad.
The DJM-REC app allows you to easily control the peak limiter in the DJ mixer to minimise clipping and distortion so it doesn’t need to be done on the recording device itself. It uses the standard Lightning cable the iPhone or iPad charges itself with.
The app also functions as a simple live-stream tool, enabling the audio to broadcast over YouTube, Facebook Live, Periscope, Instagram and Snapchat. Once the mix has finished recording (as a WAV file), the app allows it to be quickly upload to services including Mixcloud, SoundCloud and Dropbox.
Round back there’s a simple USB port, phono output and mic input, while on top, Pioneer DJ have included their Beat FX from their flagship mixer series as well as looping controls, three band EQ, single-knob filter and LCD screens on top of each jog, though it’s not clear what information they’ll show if any.
So, Pioneer have done what was obvious to most of us for them to do – they’ve made that controller work as much like their expensive club DJ players do as they can. And if we are lucky Pioneer has hopefully blessed this product with its handling of low-latency which will provide a much improved performance. Something that is also quite interesting with this new machine is that Pioneer says the DDJ-400 is driverless and class-compliant. That means you have an audio interface, with cuing, and a MIDI control surface, that work with any device. In principal this means that this can potentially be your ultimate DIY tool going forward.
24-bit sound card
2-channel control surface
High/low pass filter (software)
Sampler (software), 16 slot / 4 bank
8 hot cues
Fader start / adjustable crossfader
1 mic input (1/4″ TS)
RCA master out
Dedicated headphone monitor (minijack) (note that you can also use this for cueing even as your computer speakers or other connected speakers handle output)
The DDJ-400 will be released late this June for £249 SRP including VAT.
At the same time, Pioneer DJ is also announcing a new update to Rekordbox DJ with features specifically designed to go well with this launch. The big points here are:
- built-in tutorials for learning how to DJ, which works interactively with the DDJ-400/DDJ-RB. It tells you what to each function does, and waits for you to do the onscreen instructions. Think of it like a video game tutorial level.
- Easy sharing of mixes to social media: Pioneer DJ has built-in a quick export feature for sets recorded on their software, integrating with Mixcloud, YouTube, and their own KUVO platform. Included in the export are track titles and timestamps that automatically are added by the software.
- Track Suggestions: Rekordbox DJ’s “Related Tracks” has gotten an upgrade:
“This feature ranks every track in your rekordbox library according to how well it matches with the one
you’re currently playing, helping you choose tracks that will fit well in your set. The track displayed at the
top of the track list is the most relevant one to play next. Quickly scroll through your music, making
maximum use of your collection. There are three sorting modes:
- Era: tracks with a close year of release.
- Mood: tracks with a similar mood.
- Association: tracks sharing traits such as artist, label, etc.”