The Best Pioneer DJ Controllers Out In 2021 [TOP 7 REVIEW]

Pioneer is one of the most reputable and respected brands in the music industry, they were founded in Japan by Nozomu Matsumoto in 1938 as a radio and speaker repair shop. Since then the brand has seen a journey of musical evolution, manufacturing electronic devices ranging from DVD players and TVs. The brand eventually turned their efforts to the music industry and DJ equipment, they produce DJ controllers, CDJ’s, turntables, headphones, speakers and more.

Their equipment is used worldwide by a host of the most popular DJs across the world and has cemented itself in clubs and venues around the world as industry-standard equipment.

Their DJ controllers are no different, Pioneer offers an extensive range of DJ controllers for all different levels of DJ and at various price ranges.

For this reason, we have written a buying guide with the aim to help you find the best Pioneer controller to suit your needs, whether that’s a lower-cost controller, an entry-level controller for the beginner DJ or an all-out feature-packed professional controller for a DJ wanting the full experience, we’ve got you covered.

Below is a list we have compiled of the what we think are the best Pioneer controllers on the market for all levels of DJs.

Lets Dive In!


Best Pioneer DJ Controllers

1. Pioneer DDJ-1000 Best All Round Controller

  • Channels: 4 |Deck Control: 4
  • Inputs: 2 x RCA Stereo (Line) | 2 x Mic In (XLR & 1/4″) | 2 x RCA (Line/Phono)
  • Outputs: 1 x Headphone Monitor (1/4″ & 1/8″) 2 x Master (RCA/XLR) | 1 x Booth (TRS)
  • Software: Rekordbox Full License
  • Dimensions W/H/D: 27.8″ / 2.8″ / 14.2″

PROS

  • 4 Channel Controller
  • Intuitive Club Style Layout Inspired By Pioneer’s Nexus Range
  • Lightweight Controller – Easily Transportable
  • Rekordbox Full License
  • Extensive FX Options
  • Large Responsive Jog Wheels With An LCD Display

CONS

  • The Device Doesn’t Offer Standalone Mode – This Means The Device Requires A Laptop
  • Only Compatible With Rekordbox

Overview:

The DDJ-1000 is a great all-round controller for any level of DJ, it’s lightweight, making it easy for the mobile DJ to transport to and from parties and venues whilst still maintaining a professional experience in use.

The controller comes bundled with Pioneer’s own fully licensed Rekordbox DJ software, the software is new compared to other software such as Traktor and Serato but has quickly established itself as a leading name in the industry. The only downside is the device is not compatible with other software and this may be a deal-breaker for DJs that have learned and are familiar with other software.

The device has an intuitive club styled layout inspired by Pioneer’s professional Nexus range. One of the components inherited from Pioneers nexus range is the responsive full-size pressure-activated jog wheels with an LCD display in the centre displaying important track information such as the BPM.

8 Back-lit rubber Performance pads per deck to trigger Hot Cues, Pad FX, Keyboard Mode, Sampler, Key Shift and Beat Loop.

The DDJ-1000 sports a 4 channel DJM inspired mixer with 4 deck capability, each channel has a full 3 band EQ with individual trim knobs and VU meters. It also boasts two sets of hardware effects; 14 Beat FX and 4 Colour FX. Using these effects creatively can add texture to your mix.

Although the unit isn’t the cheapest on the list it’s certainly a great all-around controller with excellent features and functions. If you’re looking for a professional experience without spending thousands upon thousands on a setup, the DDJ-1000 is a great choice for any level of DJ.


2. Pioneer DDJ-SB3 – The Best Controller For The Beginner DJ

  • Channels: 2 | 4 Deck Capability
  • Inputs: 1 x Mic (1/4″ Jack)
  • Outputs: 1 x RCA (Master) | 1 x Headphone Monitor (Mini-Jack)
  • Software: Serato DJ Lite
  • Dimensions W/H/D: 19″/ 2.3″/ 10.7″
  • USB: 1 x USB B Port

PROS

  • Great Beginner Controller
  • Good Introduction To Scratching w/ Pad Scratch Feature
  • Intuitive Layout Inherited Components From Pioneers DDJ-S Series
  • Easy To Use FX – Perfect For A Beginner DJ
  • Light and Easily Transported – Perfect For The Mobile DJ

CONS

  • Only Comes With Serato Lite
  • Small Pitch Faders

Overview:

The Pioneer SB3 is second on our list as it is a fantastic controller for the beginner DJ. It’s easy to learn on and grow with and offers some great features and functions. Its lightweight and easy to transport, making the journeys to and from clubs and venues nice and easy.

The device comes bundled with Serato Lite, whilst the lite version is good to learn with, it lacks certain features the full version provides. The option to upgrade is always available straight away. We do recommend this as Serato DJ is great DJ software.

The layout of the SB3 is intuitive and has been taken elements from Pioneers DDJ-S series including the large, responsive low latency jog wheels, the low latency allows you to scratch with accuracy and precision.

Located at the bottom of each deck are 8 performance pads, these have multiple functions such as setting Hot Cues, FX Fade, Sampler, there is also a second set of functions such as Beat Jump, Roll, Slicer and Trans. Then we have Pad Scratch feature that allows you to assign different scratch patterns to the pads, this is a great introduction to scratching for a beginner DJ, coupled with extensive FX options that are easy to learn and super fun to play around with.

The unit sports a small and compact 2 channel mixer that offers 4 deck capability within the software. Each channel has a full 3 band EQ with trim controls and VU meters to avoid clipping.

The Pioneer SB3 is a great controller for any beginner DJ looking to enter the world of DJing, it offers great scratch capabilities due to the large low latency jog wheels, its durable design makes it perfect for the mobile DJ whilst maintaining a professional feel.

Click Here To See Our In-Depth Review Of The SB3


3. Pioneer DDJ SX3 – The Best Pioneer Serato DJ Controller

  • Channels: 4 | 4 Deck Control
  • Inputs: 2 x RCA (Line) | 2 x RCA (Phono/Line) | 1 x Mic (XLR) 1 x Mic (XLR/Jack Combo) 1 x Mic (1/4″ Jack)
  • Outputs: 1 x Master (XLR) 1 x Master (RCA) |1 x Booth (1/4″ Jack) | 2 x Headphone Monitor (1/4″ Stereo Phone Jack, 3.5mm Stereo Mini-Jack)
  • Software: Serato Flip & Serato Pitch “n” Time
  • Dimensions W/H/D: 26″/ 2.7″/ 13.9″
  • USB: 2 x USB B Ports

PROS

  • 4 Channels With 4 Deck Control – Allowing You To Connect CDJ’s, Turntables & Use As A Standalone Mixer
  • Dual USB Ports – Allows 2 Computers To Be Connected Simultaneously for B2B Performances.
  • Low Latency Jog Wheels Optimised For Scratching
  • Professional Intuitive Layout
  • Extensive Connectivity Options – 3 Mic Inputs

CONS

  • The Unit Is Expensive
  • Colour FX Could Become Outdated Quickly

Overview:

The SX3 has made our list as it is one the best and most powerful Serato DJ controllers on the market. The SX3 is the perfect controller for any level of DJ and has expanded on its features from its predecessor the popular Pioneer SX2.

The device sports a plastic body and a metal faceplate, this makes it lightweight coming in at 6.1kg but retains a solid and durable feel for transporting to and from clubs and venues.

Most Pioneer controllers come bundled with their very own Rekordbox software, the SX3 is different in that respect as it is a Serato DJ controller that comes bundled with Serato Flip & Serato Pitch “n” Time. Also included is a Serato DJ Pro voucher in case you wanted to upgrade to the pro software. Serato DJ has been around for a long time and is highly respected software within the industry.

The SX3 sports a professional layout inherited from Pioneers flagship Serato controllers, its design is intuitive and easy to learn on.

The deck section offers 2 x 5″ touch-sensitive, low latency jog wheels that have been optimised for scratching. There is also an onboard colour FX section offering four effects to be used on the fly, these effects are; Jet, Echo, Noise and Filter. The device also has long and precise pitch faders which are perfect for beatmatching manually.

8 multicoloured performance pads are located at the bottom of each deck, these are for setting Hot Cues, Beat Jump, Slicer, Sampler and Pitch “n” Play which allows you to adjust the pitch of the track independently of the speed.

The mixer is a standout feature on the SX3 and is where the device has changed in comparison to the SX2. The device is a 4 channel mixer with 4 deck capability, this means you can connect to CDJ’s or turntables and the controller can be used as a standalone DJ mixer. Each channel has a full 3 band EQ, trim controls and VU meters to avoid clipping.

The device also has 2 USB B ports allowing you to connect 2 computers to it at the same time for back to back performances.

Overall the SX3 is an excellent controller for any level of DJ and one we highly recommend. The device has extensive connectivity options and is a Serato ready DJ controller which will appeal to many DJs already using and familiar with Serato software.


4. Pioneer DDJ-400 – Excellent Budget Controller

  • Channels: 2 | 2 Deck Control
  • Inputs: 1 x Mic (1/4″ TS Jack)
  • Outputs: 1 x Master (RCA) | 1 x Headphone Monitor (Mini-Jack)
  • Software: Rekordbox Full License
  • Dimensions W/H/D: 18.9″/ 2.3″/ 10.0″
  • USB: 1 x USB B Port

PROS

  • Club Style Layout Inspired By Pioneers NXS2 Set-Up – Makes Transitioning To Club Set-Ups Easier
  • Bundled With The Full Version Of Rekordbox
  • Access To Rekordbox Tutorial Offering Tips & Tricks
  • DJAY Compatible – Allowing You To Stream Tracks From TIDAL, Beatport LINK and Soundcloud Go+

CONS

  • Only 2 Channels
  • Pioneer Could Of Utilised The Space Available In The Mixer Section Better

Overview:

Here we have the Pioneer DDJ-400, we have included this device in our list as it is a low-cost controller to buy and offers great features for the beginner DJ.

The device comes bundled with Pioneers very own fully licensed Rekordbox DJ software. Rekordbox is new software compared to others on the market but has quickly cemented itself in the music industry as solid software. The DDJ-400 also offers a tutorial feature that will help you learn and master the controllers’ capabilities. For DJs that have become familiar with other software check out more controller reviews here!

Like most budget controllers, the DDJ-400 sports an all-plastic chassis making it lightweight, but retaining a solid and durable feel making it a perfect controller for transporting to and from venues.

With an intuitive layout inspired by Pioneers professional NXS2 set-up, buttons and knobs are arranged in a similar way to professional club set-ups making the transition to the club and party set-ups easier.

Located in the deck section are 2 x 5″ responsive touch-sensitive jog wheels, there is a grip on the outer rim for making fine, incremental adjustments.

8 Performance pads are located at the bottom of each deck, these are used for setting Hot Cues, Beat Jump, Beat Loop and a Sampler. There is also FX section that can be set within the software that will add another creative dimension to your mix, these include Reverb and Echo.

The mixer section on the DDJ-400 is small and compact, we do feel Pioneer could of utilised space more efficiently. The mixer is a 2 channel mixer with a full 3 band EQ, trim and filter controls with VU meters to avoid clipping.

This is a great controller for the mobile and beginner DJ, it offers good features and functions along with the full version of Rekordbox and tutorials to help learn and master the controller.


5. Pioneer DDJ-RZXThe Beast

  • Channels: 4 | 4 Deck Control
  • Inputs: 2 x RCA (Phono) | 4 x RCA (CD/Line) | 2 x Mic (XLR/Jack Combo)
  • Outputs: 2 x Master (XLR/RCA) | 1 x Booth (1/4″ TRS Jack) | 2 x Headphone Monitor (1/4″ Jack, Mini-Jack)
  • Software: Rekordbox Fully Licensed
  • Dimensions W/H/D: 37″/4.7″/21.5″
  • USB: 2 x USB B Ports

PROS

  • Inherits Components From Pioneers CDJ-2000NX2 & DJM Mixer Series – Jog Wheels, Performance Pads
  • Extensive & Advanced FX Controls
  • High-Quality Sound
  • 3 x 7″ Touch- Screen Displays Giving Access To Track Info – BPM, Waveforms, Key and Deck Display
  • Extensive Connectivity Options

CONS

  • Device Is Bulky Weighing 15.8kg.
  • Expensive Controller
  • Unit Requires A Laptop To Work

Overview:

Here we have the DDJ-RZX, the controller is an amazing device and is arguably the best of the bunch. The device has inherited many features and components from Pioneers professional CDJ-2000NX2 & DJM range and is a great controller for any level of DJ. We have placed it lower on the list as a consequence of the unit’s expensive price tag.

The DDJ-RZX comes bundled with Pioneers very own Rekordbox software and the device has been fully integrated with the software also offering Rekordbox Video. Rekordbox software is excellent and is constantly evolving and has quickly become an established software within the industry. Unfortunately, it is only compatible with Rekordbox and not any other software which may be a stumbling block for DJs who have already become familiar with other software such as Serato or Traktor.

The unit sports 3 x touch-screen displays offering important track information, waveforms and video control. Having this information is invaluable to a DJ, although we do recommend to avoid becoming dependant on these screens and information.

The device is of high build quality throughout the controller, from knobs buttons and controls to the tough metal frame with an aluminium faceplate.

The device sports a familiar layout inspired by Pioneers professional NX2 & DJM range including the large mechanical pressure-activated jog wheels, multicoloured performance pads and extensive FX capabilities.

The pitch faders on the RZX are long, smooth and precise, making them perfect for beatmatching manually.

There are 8 performance pads located at the bottom of each deck, these offer multiple functions; Hot Cues, Sampler, Slicer, Beat Jump, Pad FX 1, Pad FX 2, Loop and Velocity Sampler.

The RZX sports a 4 channel DJM inspired mixer with 4 deck capability with each channel having a full 3 band EQ with trim controls and VU meters to avoid clipping.

The device has 2 onboard effects; Colour & Beat FX which can be applied simultaneously, there are also sub parameters to the Colour FX. These advanced FX options have been taken from Pioneers professional range and add another dimension to your mix.

The DDJ-RZX is a beast of a controller and if you’re looking for something close to a professional set up and you’re not working within a budget this controller is a great purchase. There aren’t really many bad things to say about the device apart from it being bulky and carrying a heavy price. This controller offers a professional experience familiar to that found in clubs and venues around the world.


6. Pioneer DDJ-RB – Great Entry-Level Controller

  • Channels: 2 | 2 Deck Control
  • Inputs: 1 x Mic (1/4″ Jack)
  • Outputs: 1 x Master (RCA) | 1 x Headphone Monitor (Mini-Jack)
  • Software: Rekordbox Full License
  • Dimensions W/H/D: 19″/ 2.3″/ 10.7″
  • USB: 1 x USB B Port

PROS

  • Fully Licensed With Rekordbox
  • Perfect Beginner Controller
  • Low Price
  • Intuitive, Professional Layout
  • Lightweight & Easily Transportable

CONS

  • Short Pitch Faders

Overview:

Next up is the DDJ-RB, a great entry-level controller perfect for anyone looking to start in the DJ world. If you’re wanting to give DJing a try but don’t want to spend too much money or aren’t quite sure what to expect, the DDJ-RB could be for you.

The RB comes bundled with a fully licensed Rekordbox software, which is a great piece of software for any level of DJ. Fortunately, if you’re just starting out in the world of DJing and haven’t had any previous experience with other DJ software such as Serato or Traktor there will be no learning transition from one software to another and can focus on learning solely Rekordbox.

Like many budget controllers the device sports an all-plastic build, this makes the unit lightweight and perfect for transporting to venues, clubs and parties. In use, the device retains a solid and professional feel.

The layout of the DDJ-RB is intuitive, being inspired by Pioneers professional controllers the DDJ-RZ & DDJ-RX series. The jog wheels are a good size and responsive, unfortunately, the pitch faders are short making the art of beatmatching manually harder to master.

8 Performance pads are located at the bottom of each deck, these are for setting Hot Cues, Loop, Slicer, Pad FX 1 and Sampler. There are secondary functions that can be accessed via the shift button, these include Beat Jump, Pad FX 2, Slicer Loop and Sequence Call. Pad FX 1 & 2 are assigned via the software.

The device sports a 2 channel mixer, each channel has a full 3 band EQ with trim controls and VU meters.

This controller is perfect for the beginner DJ, its lightweight and compact with large responsive jog wheels and solid FX options. The device also comes bundled with Pioneers Rekordbox fully licensed software all for a great price.


7. Pioneer XDJ-RX2 – Professional Pioneer Controller

  • Channels: 2 | 2 Deck Control
  • Inputs: 2 x Line (RCA) | 2 x Phono (RCA) | 2 x Mic (XLR & 1/4″ TRS Jack | 1 x AUX (RCA)
  • Outputs: 1 x Master (XLR) | 1 x Master (RCA) | 1 x Booth (1/4″ TRS Jack) | 2 x Headphone Monitor (1/4″ Stereo Phone Jack, 3.5mm Stereo Mini-Jack)
  • Software:
  • Dimensions W/H/D: 26.2″/ 4.2″/ 17.4″
  • USB: 2 x USB A Ports | 1 x USB B Ports

PROS

  • Inherited Features From Pioneers Flagship NXS2 & DJM Series
  • Large 7″ Touch Screen With A QWERTY Keyboard For Searching
  • Rekordbox Fully Licensed Software
  • Professional Experience In Use

CONS

  • Only Has 2 Channels
  • The Screen Is Good But Could Of been Better

Overview:

Last but certainly not least is the XDJ-RX2, an all-round controller that is a perfect controller for any DJ.

The device comes bundled with Pioneers very own fully licensed Rekordbox. As mentioned many times above Rekordbox is new software compared to other software like Traktor and Serato but has quickly become a dominant software in the industry. Unfortunately, the device is only compatible with Rekordbox and may raise an issue for DJs that prefer other software.

The CDJ-RX2 sports a 7″ touch-sensitive full colour QWERTY keyboard giving you access to important track information such as BPM, Waveforms and more.

As with most Pioneer controllers, the build quality is excellent throughout the controller, the device has an all-plastic build with all components offering a solid feel in the mix and creating a club-like experience.

The XDJ-RX2 has inherited features from Pioneers NXS2 & DJM Series like the onboard Sound Colour FX and Beat FX which adds an abundance of creativity to your mix.

8 multicoloured performance pads are located at the bottom of each deck, these can be used to set Hot Cues or to free more creative energy making use of Beat Jump, Beat Loop and Slip Loop.

The jog wheels on the RX2 are large and responsive, unfortunately, they are touch-sensitive, capacitive jog wheels rather than the mechanical, pressure-activated jog wheels found on the DDJ-RZX. A great component the device has is the long pitch faders, which are perfect for beatmatching manually.

The 2 channel DJM inspired mixer is solid, each channel has a full 3 band EQ with trim controls and VU meters.

Another great controller from Pioneer, the device will suit any level of DJ from bedroom DJs to professional club DJs. The XDJ-RX2 offers a professional club-like feel sporting quality features, functions and components from the NXS2 & DJM series for a fraction of the price. The device is a fierce rival for all the best DJ controllers on the market today from Denons’ Prime 4 to Numarks’ NS7iii this controller holds its own.


Our Buying Guide On Pioneer Controllers

Before buying there are a few things we believe you should consider before making the purchase.

The Software

Most of the controllers on our guide are Rekordbox ready with only 1 exception being the Pioneer SX3 which is a Serato controller. The other trusted software is Traktor but for the sake of this buying guide, we will stick to the two software in question.

Both software’s are great both offering great features, functions and capabilities. Serato has been around for a long time and is highly respected among DJs across the world and rightly so but since Pioneer introduced their very own Rekordbox, the software has evolved and quickly become an established name within the DJ industry.

Of course, Pioneer can integrate their technology with their own controllers better than others as it is all under the same brand, this can enhance the performance of the controller and the DJ. Pioneer is constantly updating and reinvigorating the software for the user.

When it comes to software it is down to personal preference if you have already been using other software such as Serato and Traktor you may not want to make the transition across to Rekordbox, but for the beginner DJ with no prior experience with DJ software Rekordbox is excellent software to learn on, offering tutorials and guides to help you become a better DJ.

Which Type Of DJ Are You?

Are you a mobile DJ travelling to and from venues and clubs? or are you a bedroom DJ enjoying the craft as a hobby?

This is something to consider when choosing a controllers size weight and transportability, you may need a lightweight controller that can be transported easier if you are DJing at parties and venues. This may not be such a problem if you DJ from home mostly and are looking for a more professional experience.

Channels, Jog Wheels, Pitch Faders and FX

Other things to consider are how many channels the controller has, does it have 2 or does it 4? For example, 2 channels will be perfect for the beginner DJ but having 4 channels can offer more creative potential than 2. As you progress you may want to connect turntables or CDJs and a 2 channel controller will not be suitable for this.

There are differnet types and sizes of jog wheels, we recommend larger jog wheels that are responsive with low latency especially for scratch DJs. The following are a few different types of jog wheels you may come across;

  • Capacitive Jog Wheels- These type of jog wheels are found on more budget controllers, they are touch-sensitive and highly responsive and if touched accidentally can mess up your mix.
  • Mechanical Jog Wheels- These are pressure activated jog wheels and are found on Pioneers professional ranges, as the name suggests they require slight pressure to activate – These are our personal favourite.
  • Motorised Jog Wheels- These jog wheels are found on turntables and rarely on controllers except the fantastic and personal favourite of ours the Numark NS7iii.

Pitch Faders

Pitch faders are a vital component when it comes to mastering the art of beatmatching manually, a fundamental of DJing.

Long, smooth and precise pitch faders found on higher-end controllers and professional set-ups can drastically increase your performance, along with helping beginner DJs master the art of beatmatching in comparison to short and sensitive pitch faders found on more budget entry-level controllers.

FX

FX controls vary from controller to controller, some of the professional models above offer onboard FX such as Sound Colour & Beat FX which can allow you to unleash your creative potential when used properly.

Whilst some of the more budget controllers offer good FX through the use of the performance pads and software, these include FX such as Beat Jump, Beat Roll, Slicers, Samplers and Looping Controls.

About The Brand Pioneer

Pioneer has been and still are a leading brand within the industry with many of their Controllers, CDJ’s and Mixers being industry standard and used in clubs and venues across the world.

They offer reliability and great build quality on all of their controllers, of course, the better the controller the better quality components and sound you will get but no matter what level of controller you buy you can be sure you will get a quality DJ controller.


Final Thoughts & What Controller To Buy

All of the controllers above are excellent in their own way, depending on your budget, ambitions and level we believe there is a controller for everyone.

When it comes to making the decision we believe that is down to personal choice, of course, we would recommend the XDJ-RX2 or the DDJ-RZX as they are professional controllers and offer extensive features, functions and capabilities but we know they are expensive and you may not want to spend that kind of money straight away especially if you’re just starting out.

You have the DDJ-1000 which is a fantastic controller at a more reasonable price which we feel is the best all-round controller on the list, or if your on more of a budget go for the DDJ-SB3 or the DDJ-400 to get a feel for the craft before investing in a more professional unit.

We really hoped our article has helped you in deciding a controller for yourself, thanks for reading.

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