This past summer, Pioneer DJ released the DDJ-RR controller, which comes bundled with the company’s rekordbox dj software, and I’m still excited about it. Why? Give me a minute and I’ll count the ways…
But first, let’s talk controllers and related software (aka Digital DJ Solutions or DDS). As most of you know, two biggest players in the DJ-software market are Serato DJ and Native Instruments Traktor. But plenty of DJ companies are angling to become another player in that world—and with rekordbox dj, Pioneer DJ has made a big play.
Initially starting out as a content-management system, Pioneer DJ’s original rekordbox offered DJs a solution to organize tracks and metadata (labels, colors, tags, cue points, etc.), which enabled an easy plug-and-play experience for those using the company’s trademark CDJ players. This solution was great because now DJs didn’t have to burn CDs—they just did all the prep work on their laptops, moved the updated digital files from rekordbox to their USB sticks, walked into the gig and… away they went.
Of course, as Pioneer DJ is a major brand for venues and festivals worldwide, it would decide to build upon its already-successful content-management system. So, as we saw the launch of the XDJ-RX—Pioneer DJ’s first all-in-one player that used a similar controller feel to its existing controller line—it included an onboard screen powered by rekordbox. In reality, it was like a “plus version” of rekordbox because it worked like a CDJ-controller hybrid, acting similarly to other DDS, but “powered” from a USB stick.
So, with a content-management in rekordbox, an all-in-one player in the XDJ-RX (which used the platform), it was only a matter of time until Pioneer released its stand-alone DDS—rekordbox dj. So, let’s get back to the DDJ-RR, which got me so excited in the first place…
DDJ-RR: For about the last year, Pioneer DJ has had a controller that was either a dedicated rekordbox dj controller (DDJ-RZ and DDJ-RX) or one that enabled its Serato-designed controllers to work with its new DDS. But the difference with the new DDJ-RR ($699 list) is two things.
First, Pioneer DJ added features on the controller that weren’t on the Serato versions of that controller, which essentially means that the DDJ-RR has more bells and whistles. They include extra ins/outs, RGB backlighting on pads, VU meters, needle search and more.
The second is the fact that Pioneer DJ is beginning to give away its software for free (or, in this case, bundling with a hardware purchase), getting DJs accustomed, then making its hardware play. (The DDJ-RR comes with rekordbox dj “Plus Pack.”)
The System: Taking a page from Apple’s playbook, Pioneer DJ isn’t just producing strong hardware or software—it’s seamlessly integrating the two, creating a true DJ system.
Again, from the hardware perspective, the compact DDJ-RR—which Pioneer DJ calls “the little brother to the DDJ-RZ and DDJ-RX” controllers—includes some premier features.
What do I love? What initially grabbed my attention was the addition of responsive LED lighting in the center of its platter, which makes a big difference for DJs who like to scratch, DJs using a lot of cue points or DJs who play in dark settings.
The second nice move was the addition of the PC Master Out, which allows DJs to play master output through a computer’s internal speakers or a connected desktop speaker, while using the controller for headphones at the same time. This makes prep-work easier than ever. These additions make this nifty unit a fully functioning rock-star, in my book.
Workflow & Progression: Usually, to get the premier features, such as four channels or, for scratch DJs who like the center-LED-responsive lighting, DJs had to shell out about a grand. Now with the DDJ-RR, DJs get all the joys for flagship control and quality for $300 less in cost.
Also, crucially for some DJs, this system basically allows you to go from laptop to controller to CDJs without having to do extra work because it’s all the same system. Nifty.
Conclusion: Well-done, Pioneer DJ. We know that the digital-DJ world is evolving at the speed of light. But, as always, we’re curious to know what else Pioneer DJ has up its sleeve.