What All-In-One Pioneer DJ Controller Is Right For You?

We’ve had a lot of requests recently to shed a bit more light on Pioneer DJ controllers and how they stack up against each other. With two new models (the DDJ-RX/RZ) on the horizon, the question for many DJs is “Which Pioneer DJ controller will suit my needs?” Read on for our analysis of the lineup and recommendations for all types of DJs.

Why Compare All-In-One Pioneer DJ Controllers?

Traditionally, DJ Techtools has had an inclination to Native Instruments and Traktor gear – not for any reason beyond it being the most interesting and exciting platform for us. But now the playing field has truly leveled – with Serato DJ stepping up their game in terms of effects (read our Serato/Traktor FX comparison), key detection/syncing in the just-launched 1.8 Public Beta and opening up to a diverse array of hardware. At the same time, Pioneer has launched their own DJ software, Rekordbox DJ – which works with all of their hardware.

Based on industry sales data, Pioneer has dominated the DJ markets over the last year – with the DDJ-SB-2, SX, and SR taking the top three slots for most popular DJ controllers. This means not only are these controllers a favorite among DJs, there also are going to be more of these floating around the used market for years to come.

But Pioneer has crowded their product line with seven different models of all-in-one controller currently in production. Which ones are right for what type of DJ? We break them down with our recommendations below:

For The Beginner DJ / As A Backup Controller

  • Controller: DDJ-SB2
  • Good For: Intro DJs looking for a very simple platform with all of the controls
  • Price: $249 (DJTT store) 
  • Buy Now or Wait?: Just released – buy now.
  • Compatible With: Serato DJ (Intro included, $99 to upgrade), no Traktor mappings, no Rekordbox DJ Support

The DDJ-SB2 is very much the king of the Serato DJ Intro controllers, with the update to the second generation adding in trim knobs on both channels and VU meters. The SB is unique in that it has a Filter Fade (similar to our FaderFX on VCI-100/400 SE), which allows DJs to high pass filter both tracks with the crossfader for easy bass mixing.

The SB2’s Filter Fade button

However, the build quality does tend to match up to the price. We’ve heard some complaints about the jogwheels and non-RGB pads not feeling up to the standard for the rest of the DDJ-S line. Theoretically you can also use this controller to control four decks, with buttons to switch to decks 3 and 4, but we wouldn’t recommend it for a DJ who plans to do a lot of four deck mixing.

The input/output on the SB2 is pretty simple – a stereo RCA out, two headphone outs (1/4″ + 1/8″), and a 1/4″ mic input with adjustable gain. The unit has no inputs, so it doesn’t work as a standalone mixer.

The Only iOS Pioneer DJ Controller

  • Controller: DDJ-WeGO3
  • Good For: iPad DJs, Super-Portable Rigs
  • Price: $297 (Amazon)
  • Buy Now / Wait?: Released Sept 2014, probably safe buy for now, especially since Rekordbox DJ support announced
  • Compatible With: Serato DJ (Intro included, $99 to upgrade), Rekordbox DJ, Virtual DJ (LE included), Algoriddim djay for Mac (included

This two-channel controller was seemingly designed to get Pioneer DJ gear into Apple Stores around the world – and it worked. The unit is prominently compatible with Algoriddim’s djay iOS software, and has an onboard iPad connector/charger port. Note that Pioneer made this a proprietary port, so if you lose the included Lightning cable, you’re out of luck.

The rear of the DDJ-WeGO3 – note the proprietary iOS connection

Unique features include “Pulse Control” – which can flash the lights around the jogwheels in time with the BPM of each track, or with the rate of the FX while they’re being controlled by the jogwheels. We particularly enjoy the around-the-jogwheel loop/transport controls which are a smart aesthetic decision for a real streamlined, compact workflow.

It naturally operates as a normal controller as well with other DJ software, and Pioneer’s new DJ software has built-in support for the controller – the only budget controller to get that status so far. It also comes in a few different colors (Black, White, Red).

All-Around Workhorses

  • Controller: DDJ-SR
  • Good For: Complete Serato two-channel control – ideal for mobile gigs
  • Price: $599 (DJTT store)
  • Buy Now/Wait?: Probably wait unless urgent – released September 2013. We expect this to follow the path of the DDJ-SX/2, and there will be an incremental update with RGB pads and a few minor control changes
  • Compatible With: Serato DJ (included), Rekordbox DJ, Traktor TSI available

In 2014, this was the most popular DJ controller in the United States – by far (it sold twice the number of units than the DDJ-SX). We’re not surprised, because this is where the DDJ line starts to really shine – the full performance pads feel great, as do the jogwheels.

The jogwheels on the SR and SX2 are both about the same in quality – not quite CDJ level, but definitely larger, flatter, and more accurate for scratching than the S4 or VCI lines (at least when using with Serato DJ – the jogwheels feel nowhere near as good with Traktor). Watch some cutting action on the SR below:

Additionally, this is where the line starts to become “professional” – it includes controls for Slip Mode, has master and booth outputs, an Aux In RCA port, and 1/4″ mic input. That’s why this unit makes such a good option for working DJs – similar to the new Kontrol S5, it’s just the right amount of I/O for it to be useful in most wedding/corporate/mobile gigs.

As with the DDJ-SB, you have the option to control four decks with buttons on the side of the jogwheels, but without dedicated channels we don’t recommend it for regular four deck use.

Unlike the DDJ-SX, the SR can run on USB power alone – no power adapter needed (checkout DJTT Audio optimized USB cables here)

  • Controller: DDJ-SX2
  • Good For: Serato DJ four deck control
  • Price: $997 (DJTT Store)
  • Buy Now / Wait?: Buy now, released Aug 2014, unlikely this unit will get an update soon.
  • Compatible With: Serato DJ (included) Rekordbox DJ, Traktor TSIs available

Compared to the SR, these two units are fairly similar, just with the addition of two more decks – but there are a few additional features that make this an important step-up:

  • XLR Out: For some DJs, this is critical to have balanced master XLR outputs – it certainly makes it way easier to connect up to a typical soundsystem!
  • Standalone Mixer: Way more I/O on this mixer overall, in addition to 2 phono/line RCAs, 2 CD RCAs, there’s also two mic inputs – one is a combo XLR/quarter and the other just a 1/4″.

  • Strip Search: The convenience of being able to jump around in a track you’re cuing up with just this touch strip is A+
  • Dual Deck Control: a feature that makes a jogwheel control BOTH decks at the same time (1+3 or 2+4)

On both the SX2 and the SR, we’re impressed with the shift-layer controls and that they’re all labeled clearly. Every Pad Mode has a shift layer, as well as all the loop, FX, tempo, and parameter controls. Having a clear second layer to a controller is great because you become more efficient at using just the controller to do things – it’s very similar to learning keyboard shortcuts.

The Beast: DDJ-SZ

  • Controller: DDJ-SZ
  • Good For: DJs who don’t mind a huge controller, the top-of-the-line centerpiece gear
  • Price: $1999 (DJTT store)
  • Buy Now / Wait?: We’re not sure what else Pioneer would do to this controller to release a second version – maybe add USB recording function and Serato Flip controls? Either way, it’s a good buy now as any new version would be incremental.
  • Compatible With: Serato DJ (included), Rekordbox DJ, Traktor TSI available

When we reviewed this massive controller, we dubbed it the “Cadillac of DJ Controllers” – and the title still stands true. They’re big and heavy, but they’ve got almost everything that you could want out of an all-in-one DJ controller.

We particularly like the dual USB ports/soundcards – making it easy to switch between DJs (and even share some of the mixing controls to do a B2B set), as well as the onboard FX and oscillator FX (cheesy, but fun).

The jogwheels absolutely feel better than any other of the DDJ line – they’ve got that nice CDJ-2000nexus weight behind them. There’s onboard DVS inputs, and of course it operates as a standalone mixer just like the DDJ-SX2.

Rekordbox DJ’s First Dedicated Controllers

  • Controller: DDJ-RX / DDJ-RZ
  • Good For: Dedicated Rekordbox DJ users
  • Price: $997/$1997 (Both now in the  DJTT store)
  • Buy Now / Wait?: They will be out later this Fall – but it is worth noting that we might expect to see a two-channel DDJ-RR in the future?

These are the two newest additions to the DDJ lineup, and they’re where things start to really get confusing. Pioneer has essentially created clones of the DDJ-SX2 and DDJ-SZ for their own Rekordbox DJ software, but with a tiny number of controls changed and labels rewritten to match up with the software.

That being said, many of the other DDJ controllers work just fine with Rekordbox DJ, so what’s different?

  • Pad FX, Slicer, Slicer Capture, Sequencer labels which match up to the software controls 
  • Sound Color FX buttons which will be apparently customizable with future Rekordbox DJ plus packs
  • Rekordbox DJ license included (a $129 value)

So far we’ve only had a brief afternoon of hands-on with the DDJ-RZ – which you can watch in action below:

These are absolutely pricey controllers – and right now we’re not sure what the level of compatiblity is with other non-Rekordbox softwares – so your best bet is to try using Rekordbox DJ’s free trial before you go out and nab one of these units.

Standing Alone: XDJ-RX

  • Controller: XDJ-RX
  • Good For: An all-in-one setup without a laptop
  • Price: $1499 (DJTT store)
  • Buy Now / Wait?: Just released earlier this year – good to buy now, although many wonder if a 4-channel version might come out eventually.

Are there other all-in-one controllers from Pioneer (and other companies) on the market? Yes – but none of them deliver as close to a computer + controller experience as the XDJ-RX. This workflow is the hybridization of all-in-one controllers with media-player gear like the CDJs – and it works really, really well.

Essentially, two CDJ displays stacked on top of each other with additional FX information make up the large LCD screen. There’s basic pad controls under each deck, the best Color and BPM FX are right on the unit, and there’s even dual USB ports to use to load tracks from or to record to.

Older Pioneer DDJ Controllers

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the discontinued models that are still fairly prominent in the used gear market – and talk about why they might or might not be wise investments:

  • DDJ-SX: As the update to the SX2 was purely incremental and mostly cosmetic, these are still great buys – and often you’ll be able to find them for less than $700.
  • DDJ-T1/S1: Some of Pioneer’s first forays into the controller world,  these units never really felt completely polished, and they have stopped being supported. Note that they don’t have Rekordbox
  • DDJ-ERGO: Also another discontinued unit that is better left that way – it was designed for Virtual DJ, but the button layout and controls feel a bit awkward. Better to look for a used SX!
  • SEP-C1: Wait, you found one of these units from 2008? Impressive. Buy this one if you want start your own museum of DJ controllers!

Have a recommendation of your own for Pioneer controllers? Let us know in the comments below. 

all in oneall-in-one dj controllersDDJ-SB2ddj-srddj-sx2ddj-szddj-weGO3dj controllerspioneerpioneer DJ
Comments (36)
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  • Kristen Charles-Francis

    what dj controllers can you use with any
    software for example, free online DJ websites?

  • David

    I really think that the Pioneer
    ddj sr is a cool DJ Controller and especially for beginners. I love the look and feel of it and as a Pioneer user could easily see myself starting out on it.

    pioneer ddj sr

  • Peter Andrew

    i am setting up a hire company that along with other things audio/visual, sound & lighting will offer the hire of dj equipment. ive been out the game ten years (a life time i know) seeing as two cdj2000’s and a djm900 would set me back 6k alone what do you guys think i could get away with investing in for dj use. i could buy one djm900 and hire cdj’s in or ive been guided in the direction of a ddj sx2. what do you guys think? does anyone take vinyl out still? will a djm mixer be better than a controller or would i be better off buying a couple of controllers? the weg03 looks interesting/fun to offfer with a set of speakers for house parties for the money it costs…

  • Måñü Kûmãr

    As im a beginner what do I choose ddj sb2 or ddj rb

    • Loveleen

      Try out the software that works best with each one and then decide maybe?

  • Ro Gilhespy

    I know this review is fairly old, but I was suprised to notice (or couldnt find) that no one has mentioned that Ians video is the russian (?) overdubbed version, not the original english language one.

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  • Marquez Antonio

    I agree with Macro the choices of getting a good midi controller is really testing them out I purchase the DDJ-SX when it 1st came out thinking this was going to be a beast and then BAM!!! The Mic output was a line level I tried to deal with it and was very disappointed. I ended up trading it for the Vestax VCI 380 a much smaller midi then the DDJ-SX, and it had what I was looking for plus it is compact. So here were I’m going with this, I like the compact part of the VCI so I ended up getting the WEGO. A nice smaller midi that I could take to gig’s for the “JUST IN CASE ISSUE” meaning that how many dj’s go to a gig were the place has there own gear and it doesn’t work right. With the abuse of other dj’s punishing the mixer or decks this has been a issue for all dj’s. So the WEGO fit well for me it had what I think is the most important part of a midi controller level meter. This help you out big time knowing the volume level your pushing out to bring in your songs your blending in. However no gain control knob,you had to do that manually through the software. You paid for what you get… So then Pioneer came out with the SB it was nice just didn’t have the level meter or gain control. As everyone does you wait for them to do it right and they did by putting level meter and gain control on the SB2. It may feel like your playing with a toy, however it does the job very well. RCA out and piggyback it to a mixer line and your good to go. If RELOOP had this I would of gotten one hack even GEMINI with the SLATE for a backup however they don’t so I pick the Pioneer SB2. Serato should be smarter and allow other dj company to use Serato DJ beside Numark,Vestax,Pioneer,Gemini,Denon. There are other small midi control that have the same features as the SB2. Like Dj Tech Dragon Two
    or Voxoa C60 were you can actually use separate EFX on these controller. I can tell you this Virtual DJ is not about name brand it’s about which midi controller is right for you…

  • blackdominoes

    The older T1 and S1 are both incredible values.
    They have full size pitchfaders and XLR/TRS connectors in back.

    Both are an absolute must as features for a pro controller.

    Most club DJs/professional DJ’s don’t use sync, and need proper size pitchfaders to mix tracks. Most club DJ’s/professional DJs plug their gear into soundsystems and PAs.

    • Peter Croce

      Dude. Can’t thank you enough for this suggestion. Just scooped one up locally for $400 with a flight case for my mobile gigs. It’s the first time I’ve ever enjoyed playing mobile gigs thanks to this “more professional” feeling equipment. Even the SX had way too many pads and things for me.

  • Gabriela Gonzalez

    It would be great if they made one we can use with Serato Dj + Rekordbox + USB. Or, is there one already that I don’t know of? Please, enlighten me 🙂

  • Buts

    Bought a used DDJ-T1 about a month ago for just 350 euros and I couldn’t be happier with it. I haven’t used any of the newer controllers yet, so I can’t compare, but I certainly wouldn’t call it unfinished.
    It’s not supported by Rekordbox DJ though, but that’s forgiven since it was released in 2011 I think.

  • tony corless

    How well do these controllers in particular the sx2 work with traktor and how much messing about does it take?

    • mikefunk

      Tony, my firend was testing SX2 with traktor and it works… meeeh. You can feel significant difference between software driven Serato and midi driven Traktor on it. It’s just not same class. It will work but nos as crisp as Serato. To be honest now on the market for Traktor users are only 2-3 options. Buy dedicated NI controller or switch to Rekordbox (or Serato but serato is mostly for scratch DJ’s, hip hop and alike). Either buy troktor kontroller for traktor as midi mapping is hell and never works as good as NI protocol used in their controllers. Or switch to Rekordboks and be able to play on any CDJ in any club which is a big plus.

  • Mauri Moore

    you forgot to mention DDJ SX2 have Dvs , something you can’t find in the regular SX .

  • Catte Vest

    I think it should be pointed out that the DDJ-SZ doesn’t allow Serato FX(or any other software FX for that matter) to be post-fader. The hardware FX are post-fader but you only get 4 and you can only use 1 at a time. For some this isn’t so much of an issue but for others this makes the DDJ-SZ more of a side-grade than a straight upgrade from the DDJ-SX.

  • Jane

    sad that you missed out the very versatile and compact XDJ-Aero (I ‘think’ it’s still one of Pioneers product range – still is featured on their website) in your older controllers section. A great 2 channel stand alone unit that can play tracks from USB or smart phone, or function like a controller and work with Traktor or Virtual DJ (mine’s mapped to Mixvibes Cross). Has a hardware mixer so can even work with CDJs or vinyl turntables. Nice basic FX (post fader) and filters, and wonderful smooth platters. The display is very limited sadly (more like a CDJ 350 display) and no hot cues, but does have some basic sampler functionality.

    I’ve used this unit as my main controller for small gigs/places where the gear isn’t that great. So many times I’ve turned up to a venue with a terribly cramped/’designed’ DJ booth and that this unit doesn’t need a laptop has saved the day on more than one occasion.

    I even pedal into town to do gigs with my Aero – it’s ‘just’ about light enough (I don’t think I could manage that with one of the newer XDJ controllers)

    Well worth a look at if you see one 2nd hand or reduced instore. The sound card is great – and mine’s been gigged for years now and still working as new.

    please note though: the all new Rekordbox DJ doesn’t currently work with the Aero, but it does work with all versions of Rekordbox (including the mobile phone app – that’s great for grabbing tracks from iTunes for those requests for a track you don’t have).

    • Dan White

      Great notes! To be honest, the XDJ-Aero has been discontinued for a while and didn’t even cross my mind – but good to hear that it’s still solid. Don’t expect RBDJ support though..

      • Jane

        Cheers Dan and Mike for the comments and yeh I think it is a shame that Pioneer didn’t get behind this controller more, but tbh where they’ve gone now with the XDJ-RX is amazing to see so I guess you’re spot on there Mike in that it was more a test product.

        I’d def say that the Aero is more for playing tracks in an AB style rather than controllerism kind of things, but if you combine it with the Traktor mappings it does work quite well as a controller (though not really suited for the remix/stems decks). I’ve got mine mapped to Mixvibes Cross and I’m mixing video and audio with it and it’s a huge amount of fun.

        And I forgot to also mention that the latest phone App version of Rekorbox works brilliantly with it. The updated it a while back and it’s very versatile (and again very compact). I usually use the phone to browse the tracks on the USB stick, and to control loops or combine the basic FX in an X/Y kind of ways (similar to how the DJM 2000’s screen works)

        This was a test mix of mine I did back at the end of 2013 the day the upgraded firmware dropped.

        Ah well, I’ll stop going on about it – tbh it’s got it’s limitations too but for DJs on a budget looking for a versatile/compact bit of kit I’d recommend looking at those 2nd hand/discounted models.

        Cheers Dan for the article btw – great read and very handy for those who’re not sure which of the (now pretty many!) Pio controllers to go for.

    • mikefunk

      It’s discontinued because it was too good IMO and it would cannibalize current market. Basically they gave away too much too soon for the price at the time. It was test product for current RX and it had to go, sadly. It would have been strong contender for current controllers if it was updated.

  • Golan Lampi

    If you really want to be a professional DJ, and perform in large amount of different places, you have to be prepared for a situation where there is limited space available in the DJ table. Traktor X1 is very good for this. It is pity that Pioneer does not have any such a small controller (except for SEP-C1 which discontinued, very old and most likely does not support HID). 🙂

    • DubluW

      If your a proffesional and playing in a lot of different places then 9/10 times you’re using pioneer CDJ’s and rekordbox and not a controller.

      You’re right in that its useful to have a an X1, especially if using traktor however.

      • Golan Lampi

        Well I consider myself a professional DJ and I know only a few people that use Rekordbox. Of course a lot of people use CDJ.

        Even that Traktor is now my main platform, I play maybe 30-40% of gigs with CDJ. And when I do I almost never remember/have time to analyze tunes use Rekordbox. It does make life more difficult with CDJs, not being able to see the structure of the song.

        I (and many other professional DJs that I know of) needs now and then play in an UG party with outdated or cheap CD/USB players and limited table space. In such situations it is MUCH more convenient to bring a laptop + small controller. Setting up a DDJ-SX (or Traktor S4) in such a situation while previous artist is performing can be a nightmare.

        • Martin Wilson

          I dunno. I just got an SX2 and actually run Traktor on it most of the time, instead of Serato, I’m also evaluating Rekordbox DJ. I Find that having muscle memory built up around Pioneer gear is always helpful and let’s me play on CDJs with almost no lost time trying to remember where the controls are. But, you do have a major point that it’s not that portable… I guess real small controllers like the X1 are just not as fun for me.

  • thundercat


  • Marco Hooghuis

    Why just Pioneer controllers? Just be honest, you’re doing this because of Rekordbox DJ. I own a DDJ-SR, but it surely wasn’t the only brand I considered. I seriously considered Vestax, Reloop and Native instruments as well. And just because I picked the SR it doesn’t mean nobody else is justified in picking the TM8 for instance.

    Just picking one brand and seeing which one fits your needs the best is a poor strategy in my opinion.

    • acemc

      You are certainly entitled to your own opinion, but………….
      What exactly in this article’s title didn’t you understand?
      Pioneer are doing the complete range, from entry all the way to pro level.
      I think the only other company to offer such a variety is Numark.
      If this article was to cover all different brands, there will always be someone else (just like you) asking why didn’t you include xyz controller. If there is anything to complain about in this article, it would be that specific key features of controllers were left out. IE: Sound card / DVS capability included in the SX2. The uncertainty of whether the RX will be DVS ready. Pro’s & Con’s of SX/SZ vs RX/RZ. Rekordbox vs other software.

    • Dan White

      You’re right, anyone buying new gear should just use this as a starting point to compare the full range of Pioneer gear. I wrote this piece because we’ve never compared all of the current Pioneer controllers against each other, and they tend to be the common choice for a lot of new DJs. Rekordbox DJ is absolutely a factor as many of these controller will work with it, but that just makes this a more timely article, it’s not the only reason we’re doing it.

      Vestax doesn’t make controllers (or anything) any more – and no Vestax means no support in the future (not an issue with their mixers and turntables because there’s no software).

      Reloop definitely makes some good controllers – note we’ve just done a review of one of the more interesting ones: http://djtechtools.com/2015/09/30/reloop-beatpad-2-review-has-ios-djing-finally-arrived/

      • mikefunk

        I totally agree. There are currently only 2 players on the market for certain people – Traktor users mostly. For people that don’t use Serato. Serato sucks for EDM DJ’s. Traktor Rules and Rekordbox has unique value of freedom to be able to DJ anywhere as most clubs host Pionner gear. For my friend it’s a crucial factor. For me I don’t care i Use Traktor – BUT – Traktor has limited number of controllers and no one else now is making Traktor controllers besides NI. My friend is old school so am I, we need jog wheels, end of story. So now we are left only with old NI controllers or with Pioneer controllers and Rekordbox (and it’s freedom to use on CDJ’s in clubs). Our options are limited. Myself I am considering now switching to recordbox once they release (open I hope) DVS system. Hopefully working with my Xone DB2 mixer. Traktor is fine but is branching out in certain direction where not all DJ’s want to go. Pioneer is keeping old school vibe so far so it’s winning for many people. That is why this article is probably the most important piece of work (Thanks!) this year for many, many people. Kudos!

        • Justin White

          ” My friend is old school so am I, we need jog wheels, end of story. So now we are left only with old NI controllers or with Pioneer controllers and Rekordbox (and it’s freedom to use on CDJ’s in clubs). Our options are limited.”

          I’m leaving Traktor because the next upgrade from an S4MK1 is a jog-wheel absent model S8 and above. I have no desire to spend that kind of money on a system that isn’t supported at 90% (or more) clubs across the country. Speaking locally, clubs in Los Angeles almost always have Pioneer everything, or have very little room to add your Traktor and laptop, so having Rekordbox analyzed libraries is a must, leaving us with one option, switch to Pioneer controllers because of Pioneers gorilla grip on the club scene.

          I’ve not used Serato for more than 30 minutes, just playing around at a friends place, and I’ve never been a fan, so making the switch from Traktor to Rekordbox won’t be a huge shift in workflow.

          .. I mean STEMS… come on… Dedicated controls for a audio format with very little market share or support? Thats a whole other issue.

    • Damn!

      And why did you choose the rx instead of the tm8? I have to do the same choice and I don’t really know what’s better…

      • Marco Hooghuis

        I chose the SR, not the RX. It’s a totally different controller.

        • Damn!

          Oh yes, sorry, I got distracted while typing, but I meant the sr

          • Marco Hooghuis

            I play on traktor, but I can make my own mappings just fine so any midi controller is a possibility. I also play on CDJ’s so the layout of the SR is more user friendly. I also just liked the placement of buttons that I use regularly better and it was cheaper. At the time I bought it there was a cashback offer. And I don’t really use more than two decks that often so 2+2 is enough. If it’s better for you it totally depends on what you want to do with it. Remember, the TM8 is not a bad controller at all, I think I would’ve been satisfied with that one as well. But I like this one just fine.