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Pioneer's latest box of tricks the DDJ-SX2 aims to make its mark in the controller wars. But does it measure up?

The rate that DJing technology is moving at the moment is nothing short of breathtaking. Long gone are the days when a single new CDJ player or new set of headphones were the biggest changes in the DJ booth that year. So it should come as no surprise that Pioneer are releasing yet another shiny black box full of tricks. This time it is the DDJ-SX2, which is an upgraded version of their very popular DDJ-SX controller that was released barely two years ago, and designed for Serato DJ users.

While this might be news that sticks in the throats of existing DDJ-SX owners who have recently emptied their bank accounts to take one of these controllers home, for Serato DJs looking for a new controller this news will be welcome indeed. Of course if this latest version of the DDJ-SX is to tempt existing owners to upgrade their beloved controller, it will need to have some seriously tasty new features, as the layout is almost identical.

The biggest source of envy for DDJ-SX owners will no doubt be the fact that the DDJ-SX2 is fully DVS compatible, allowing DJs to use their turntables or CDJ players with Serato as well as the inbuilt controller functions — a feature that was conspicuously absent from the original unit. This DVS support is due to an upgraded audio interface that also has improved audio quality to further sweeten the deal for potential owners.

Another feature to be found on the DDJ-SX2 that is missing from the original controller is the Serato Flip controls, which we will cover in more detail later. However, existing owners can take solace in the fact they are in good company because the DDJ-SX2 is currently the only controller available which makes use of this new Serato DJ feature — although it is a safe bet that this will not be the case for long, as other manufacturers release new Serato DJ controllers.

Flip is a brand-new feature of Serato DJ 1.7, which requires a paid upgrade in the form of an extension pack. This new DJ tech tool allows cue points and censor actions to be saved, ready to be looped, re-triggered and started instantly. Up to six "Flips" can be saved per track and are perfect for creating edits, transitions and effects as well as opening up the possibility of auto skipping verses and choruses in tracks.

The DDJ-SX2 takes full advantage of this new Serato expansion via three buttons on the control panel. Each of these buttons serves dual roles, giving control over play, record, slot, save, loop and on/off functions. While handy, these buttons can easily be added to the existing DDJ-SX via MIDI mapping, so current owners can rest easy they won't be missing out on the fun. Exclusive to the DDJ-SX2 are multi-coloured cue point LEDs on the performance pads and cue point markers on the jog-wheel, along with a countdown, that all work in tandem with Flip.

While the DDJ-SX2 does have some new features, this is an evolution of the DDJ-SX rather than being a different beast altogether, and given how much Pioneer managed to get right in the first place, this is no bad thing. The four-channel mixer section remains largely unchanged. The banks of eight performance pads on each deck section remain, as do those gorgeous jog-wheels, complete with CDJ-style LCD displays in the centre.

Features that are new to the DDJ-SX2 are enhancements, such as multi-colour backlit LEDs behind each trigger pad, while the jog-wheels have improved performance in terms of latency and responsiveness, as well as digital cue point markers and countdown timers for loops, tracks and flip mode.

Given the success of the original DDJ-SX, this latest edition is sure to be a very popular choice among Serato DJ users, but due to the relatively small amount of improvements the temptation for existing owners to upgrade might be limited, especially as the new Flip controls can be easily MIDI mapped. Overall the DDJ-SX2 is a seriously tasty controller with a great build quality, that covers all the bases Serato DJ users could possibly demand from a controller.