DJs who are looking to purchase a controller are certainly not faced with a shortage of choice these days, with almost every taste and platform catered for by one or more manufacturers. However despite the wide range of choice, one big problem that is faced by all controller DJs is the fact that they will need to take their controller with them to gigs along with the associated hassles of transporting potentially a large piece of equipment, not to mention squeezing it into a cramped DJ booth.
Now with the release of their new controller the XDJ-RX, Pioneer are looking at ways to eliminate this kind of problem by releasing a DJ workstation that provides DJs with a system that can be used at home to fine-tune their craft with the all-familiar layout and controls they will find in every DJ booth, but without worrying about carting said controller to the venue.
A solid move, as it firms up Pioneer’s position in trying to standardise the booth with their Rekordbox software and enabled equipment. DJs need only take a solitary USB stick and a pair of headphones to their gigs — and not worry about their laptops.
The XDJ-RX makes absolute sense, a perfect at-home solution for DJs who mix using CDJ players but aren't earning the mega bucks required to own two CDJ 2000NXS players and a 900nexus mixer. For up-and-coming DJs the XDJ-RX represents extremely good value for money and has the same workflow and many of the features from the CDJ 2000NXS players, which means transitioning from a XDJ-RX to a club DJ booth will be very easy.
And to be honest it is also ideal for a small club/venue that doesn’t require a full-blown Nexus set-up.
Another reason the XDJ-RX deserves special attention is that it is a truly stand-alone controller that doesn't need to have a laptop connected, as the USB ports can read USB sticks or hard drives and play music files directly from them, although tracks will need to be analysed using Pioneer's Rekordbox to make full use of the features on offer.
Laptops can still be connected via USB or Wi-Fi connection and tracks can even be played from smart phones either wirelessly or via cable, utilising the Rekordbox software or app.
The XDJ-RX has almost every single function of a CDJ 2000NXS; the notable exceptions are the SD card slot which is nowhere to be seen, and there is no strip search, but the workflow is identical and DJs will feel instantly familiar with the controls.
One big difference between CDJ 2000NXS players, XDJ-1000 players and the XDJ-RX is that while the former units have one screen per deck, the latter uses just one screen, which is shared by both decks and has a visual work-flow more in-keeping with DJ software like Serato DJ.
The XDJ-RX comes with a new set of trigger-style pads at the bottom of each deck section below the platter, which can be used in a variety of ways in association with the four mode buttons that sit slightly above these. The loop slice feature is probably the most fun way of messing with tracks, by using the pads to cut up sections over various beat lengths and trigger them (perfectly in time) to create cool cut-style mix effects.
The pads can also be used to trigger and delete hot cues as well as trigger traditional loop functions. In use the beat loop and slice modes are a huge amount of fun and are very intuitive to use. While old skool-style DJs are probably going to stick to using the pads for hot cues, tweakers and button pushers will spend hours coming up with sonically devastating drops, breakdowns and effects exactly like we did here at DJ Mag when Pioneer gave us the chance to get our dirty little mitts on the XDJ-RX.
Most of the other controls are exactly where one would expect, such as the pitch fader, loop controls, beat sync, jog mode, cue and play buttons, but the track search and search buttons have migrated higher on the control surface than either that of a CDJ2000NXS or an XDJ-1000. Not a major issue by any means. Each of the deck sections also have a lovely large jog-wheel: not quite like the ones on the CDJ2000, but big enough to get the job done.
The XDJ-RX comes complete with a massive central LCD screen plus a healthy smattering of USB ports, of which one can be used for directly recording sets — nice touch. Oh, and of course, there is wireless connectivity.
The biggest departure from the usual Pioneer way of doing things is the single LCD screen which sits centre top of the control surface. DJs who are used to the CDJ2000 way of working may take some time getting their heads around the shared screen concept, but anyone who has come from a laptop DJing background, i.e. Serato DJ will take to this instantly, and it actually does make a lot of sense because the waveforms of each deck are displayed on top of each other, making it much easier to see if tracks are beat-matched perfectly.
The mixer section of the XDJ-RX is a two-channel affair and is very-well-equipped, with features such as the separate mic input section which provides individual gain control knobs for each of the two microphone inputs, as well as a two-band EQ.
There are plenty of top-notch effects to play with as well, with sound colour FX (as seen on the DJM-900NXS mixer) with a control knob on each fader channel, and a beat effects section with quantised effects including echo, delay, spiral, reverb and flanger to name just a few. Each fader channel has a three-band EQ, gain control knob and has inputs for external decks or CD players. A crossfader with assignable curve settings plus the ability to use the XDJ-RX as a standalone mixer round off an impressive set of features.
After spending some quality time together with the XDJ-RX it has become apparent that this controller is the absolute next best thing to having a pair of CDJ2000NXS and a DJM-900NXS mixer. Yes there are a few things missing on the XDJ-RX compared with the aforementioned set-up, but if I were spending my own cash for a home or studio DJ console, the XDJ-RX would be a no-brainer.
This controller manages to get everything just right and DJs will be able to move seamlessly between their home DJ workstation and a club DJ booth, remaining completely comfortable with the controls at their fingertips. For professional DJs and those aspiring to play the club circuit, the XDJ-RX is arguably one of the best controllers on the market.
BUILD QUALITY 8
EASE OF USE 9
VALUE FOR MONEY 9
SOUND QUALITY 9
Sound colour FX, beat effects, CDJ 2000NXS-style features as well as Rekordbox workflow and four pad-style buttons.
The internal audio engine isn’t as good as a CDJ2000.
Pioneer have created the ultimate home or studio workstation for club DJs, with the same workflow and features as the CDJ2000NXS players at a fraction of the cost.
Copyright Thrust Publishing Ltd. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.djmag.com as the source.