How Pioneer’s TORAIZ SP-16 Sampler/Sequencer Works

We’ve only seen quick glimpses on social media of Pioneer DJ’s groundbreaking new TORAIZ SP-16 hardware sequencer. A few days ago, a series of videos were finally released that give us a better look at the unit and how it works. Get advanced, pre-release insight into this unit inside.

What Is The TORAIZ SP-16?

The first announcement of the TORAIZ SP-16 was back in April 2016, over four months ago. Let’s start with a quick refresher on the basic stats of this unit:

Key Features:

  • Full-color 7″ touch screen 
  • 16-step sequencer and 16 performance pads with velocity for live performance
  • Beat sync (via PRO DJ LINK) with CDJs to lock in time with tracks and quantize loops to the master deck
  • Analog filters by Dave Smith (the same as on the Prophet-6 synth)

On August 5th, Pioneer DJ released a series of tutorials on their YouTube channel that share more insight into the TORAIZ SP-16 than we’ve ever seen before. They’re fairly dry and low-energy tutorial videos – so we’ve summarized the most important parts in each section below:

How TORAIZ Projects/Samples/Tracks Are Structured

On the TORAIZ, there’s a fairly simple structure to how your work is stored:

  • Projects are the top-level of organization
  • Each project stores 16 scenes, 1 arrangement, and a mixer state
  • The TORAIZ can store as many projects as there is memory for
  • Scenes have 16 patterns, and assignment information for 16 tracks
  • Each Track is a sample player on a pad – it stores information on the amp envelop, insert FX, and any associated sequence.
  • Sample Tracks are based around a sample as the source of audio
  • Through Tracks use external input as the sound source
  • Patterns can be 4 to 64 beats long

TORAIZ Sample Browsing / Assignment

This video mostly is showing off how you browse and search for samples when working on the TORAIZ. Browse samples via the internal folder structure, or you can search for them with the on-screen keyboard (which is only a few inches wide).

TORAIZ Pad Modes

  • When no pad mode lights are lit, each pad just plays the associated track (without selecting it for manipulation on the sequencer or screen)
  • Track Mode: Selects the track assigned for a pad (think of this as putting a “focus” on a specific track for the entire unit. This allows quick sequencing and parameter adjustment
  • Mute Mode: Allows you to quickly mute/unmute tracks. This is like a simple mixer functionality. Shift + a pad in this mode will solo/unsolo any track
  • Slice Mode: Automatically slices a sample across all 16 pads so you can play / trigger any individual part of it
  • Scale Mode: Pitches a sample across 16 pads, increasing in 1 semitone on each pad.

TORAIZ SP-16’s Step Sequencer

The TORAIZ’s step sequencer works pretty much like one might expect – particularly for users coming from a workflow like on the Roland AIRA TR-8.

  • The color of the sequencer buttons correspond to the track being sequenced – this is nice for very quick reference of what you are manipulating
  • Start sequencing a track by hitting the associated pad (while in Track pad mode), or by tapping the track on the screen
  • Parameter automation can be recorded using the step modulation function – hold down a step key and turn one of the 6 parameter knobs below the screen.
  • It seems like you can easily map the ADSR of samples, the playback time, pitch, etc
  • With the record button on, you can play samples and adjust parameters in real-time instead of step-by-step. Quantization is available in the project BPM screen

Dave Smith Analog Filters

  • Drive allows a user to quickly add overdrive and distort a track with the filter section. An OVER light indicates when distortion is “in process”.
  • Low pass and high pass are self-explanatory filters – and interestingly, only Low Pass can be manipulated with the Resonance knob.

Trigger Types

There are three trigger types on the SP-16’s sequencer:

  • Full: Triggers everything: the sample, amp envelop, and parameters.
  • Half: Only triggers the envelope – the sample is not retriggered
  • Parameter: Only triggers the manipulated parameters – not the sample or the envelop

What About Sampling + Using Alongside CDJs?

So in the videos above, we’ve had a chance to finally see the TORAIZ SP-16 in action. One thing is very much missing: sampling. So far, there hasn’t been any media released that show the sampling process in action.

We expect that how the SP-16 integrates into the rest of a “typical” Pioneer CDJ setup will be critical in the success of the unit. If it’s a no-brainer that plays nice with the industry standard for track playback, every CDJ user will at least try the TORAIZ out. If it’s too complex or not intuitive, it won’t as easy of a sell. We’re betting Pioneer DJ knows this – and that a performance video of the sampling process is in the works.

We’re still waiting on a chance to get a first hands-on with the unit – look for a video in the coming weeks!

Editor’s Update: it looks like more details on the operation of the TORAIZ SP-16 have been revealed in the official manual which was just recently released. 

pioneer DJSamplersequencerTORAIZTORAIZ SP-16
Comments (35)
Add Comment
  • Pure Ambient Drone

    I really like the TR like sequencing buttons, like on the JDXA, JDXI and System 8 machines to name a few. Gives a nice option change things up on the fly.

  • Bobby Duracel

    I sorta feel like the more recently announced MPC live made this look overpriced and under-gunned. Am I wrong? I don’t have an all Pioneer setup and I have loathed CDJs since inception, so their internal sync is useless to me. I’m more on the AIRA train as far as that goes. Any thoughts?

  • Orion

    want. i would love to see the resampling in action. manual says only 32 seconds of sampling tho. did i read that wrong (page 32-33)?

  • evolakim

    Im not a CDJ user but I still want one of these. I just love strange and unique hardware set-ups. I love playing hard-ware and this looks like so much fun! The modulation modes and all the ”live” playing potential. I’ll def be grabbing one.
    I am interested to see sampling in action though.

  • Jake Bergeson

    What I want to know, is can this thing be used as a sequencer and/or send midi clock out to external gear? Aka, can I finally sync my TR-8 to my CDJs without a laptop?

  • Quenepas

    Well this will be Maschine 3 obviously. This even has the same terminology as maschine (Project, scene, pattern etc). Just wait for it: Maschine mk3 will have that same 16 step at the bottom (with RGB leds) and touchscreen display but will remain bound to the computer. Just Push becoming more Maschine and viceversa.

    • Dubby Labby

      And 1000€…

  • JayMan

    !aschine vs this?

  • Unreallystic

    I’m feeling weird now. When this was first announced, I felt it was overpriced and redundant, but, depending on how the sampling part plays out, this could fall in line with EXACTLY what I’ve been craving for – a new age MPC. I’m as pro computer as anyone you could know, but as someone who tries to work on music whenever he can, and doesn’t feel like dragging around his laptop AND equipment (15″ laptop + push is HEAVY), this has potential. The price is still a MAJOR issue for me, I can buy a FEW MPC2000s+ for $1500.

    But color me intrigued at least…

    • Dubby Labby

      It should be cappable of sampling from external inputs and load samples from pendrive. Anyways it’s a bit pricey but different beast than MPC.

      • Unreallystic

        How is it different though – outside of additional features, it seems like a stand alone MPC. And i’m not questioning, like its a real question. to me it comes off as an MPC 2000 met an MPC Touch and got a clickable sequencer.

        • Dubby Labby

          Standalone? Of course but…
          Tr sequencer.
          Loop and grid based, has chop/slice and it will be useful for finger drumming but it’s designed with recycle in mind.
          Live sampling and resampling will be but maybe not at release more than an update (no video on this seems Pioneer must implemented it after user feedback about its lack)
          No multilayer sampling (multisample for velocity)
          Let’s see about ppq and swing options due this is one of the specific specs of mpc family. Multiple midi output will be great addition too..

          In short: it’s oriented to fight against remix deck/ maschine/Aira. Sadly MPC as standalone is out of business since 1000/2500 units and didn’t seems to go back in the future (the intel news leaving the tablet/mobile platform could shot at MPC tablet, not the Touch, which seemed be the true reinassence…) so it could be possible do great HipHop tunes on this, yes. It will be a replacement for mpc? Not sure.
          Maybe the rumoured Roland SP sampler… If it comes someday!

          • Unreallystic

            It cost too much IMO to be a real replacement. It KILLED me when I found out the Touch needed a computer. Akai essentially has 3 damn near identical in function devices between Touch/Renaissance/Studio – but no stand alone devices.

          • Dubby Labby

            Agreed about price and akai no sense. I love hardware samplers but nowadays the best price/specs in hardware are electribe 2, novation circuit and an iPad with the right combo of apps. 1500€ is too much.

          • Unreallystic

            Honestly, when I was about to splurge on a MPC5000 (before finding out the 4000 was better), I got excited about the idea of just carrying an MPC with an iPad, the volume of synths and drum machines AND filters AND effects on there, would create endless potential when simply used as a sample source for an MPC. The MPC app itself isn’t bad, especially when run through Tabletop – but drumming anything complex or rapid just lacks ‘feel’.

          • Dubby Labby

            Impc and pro aren’t bad but I prefer samplr, vidbox, dm1 and similars throught AUM or Modstep for something similar like Toraiz. Then ipolysix, imini, module… For synth part and some fx for the final part. New garageband also for clip mangling… For finger drumming and looping impc pro or traktor app plus loopyhd (via audiobus) makes the work.

          • Mark

            I think they’re quite different, to be honest. Sure, they’re all controllers – but the Studio is just a controller. The Ren is a controller and interface with heaps of Q Links and hardware menu functions, whereas the Touch has a touch screen with software menu functions and audio interface built in. All at different prices too. That aside, the Renaissance is no longer a current product – it’s only the Studio and Touch which are current models.

          • Unreallystic

            I’m not disagreeing with you, but considering where Akai came from, and now being attached at the hip to the computer as no longer stand alone devices, its gotten frustrating for me *personally*. I’ve love an updated MPC, and that’s admittedly not the point of this it could be “so close”.

    • John Viera

      A laptop and PUSH is heavy???


      • Unreallystic

        Depends entirely on your laptop, I have a MASSIVE laptop that I originally purchased for gaming, so carrying that around plus the Push every where is a lot of weight. If we were talking to a gig or something – you got me, that’s fine, but as something I was dragging to work everyday to work on during lunch, the weight became a serious annoyance.

        Personally – I am trying to get a smaller laptop in the 13″ range – all SSD to pair with my Push, my old laptop is OLD (like 2012) so it struggles along, especially compared to my beast rig in the home studio, but the wife hasn’t allowed me to use the funds (kicking tenant out is tying up money right now). But as mentioned, more than a Push/laptop combo, I want an all-in-one portable device for beat making that is more flexible than the Circuit (I had such high hopes until I actually tried it ugh). Right now, that is still the iPad…

    • CUSP

      I kinda’ see this right there with Maschine (Mk2) only with a step sequencer (which may or may not be all that useful). One thing is certain though is that sound packs are pretty darn important for drum machines, so let’s hope they start releasing good ones soon.

      • squaretooth

        Maschine also has a step sequencer and it can even do step parameter locks (Elecktron-style p-locks).

        • CUSP

          Oh I guess I should have been more clear: Maschine doesn’t have the Step Sequencer buttons on the bottom of the controller like this drum machine (and the Roland series) does. I’m pretty familiar with most of the functions of Maschine, and it’s actually pretty easy to use, just select the mode and tap away on the 4×4 pads for the time sequence (lower left, across to the right, and then up to the next row, all the way to the upper right, and then it repeats).

          • Dubby Labby

            CUSP the point is standalone. Maschine is a lightbox itself… It’s almost class compliant or still need run a driver?
            ToRaiz is pricey but compared to laptop+soundcard+maschine+traktor remix deck price it seems pretty cheap.

          • CUSP

            I think by “stand-alone” you mean “It doesn’t need a computer hooked up to it during it’s performance”, which is true, but to say this device doesn’t need a computer would be a misleading. The Toraiz still needs to interface with a computer for sounds, and to access most of it’s advanced features. The argument that “stand-alone” is really necessary (or even desired) anymore is up for debate, as notebook and project computers get smaller (form factor-wise), and people seek more integration in their gear (which is why companies like Native Instruments sells a family of products).

            When you add Maschine to a (Traktor and) Notebook setup, you’re probably also going to have a controller (that has a sound card) as well, which minimizes the proposed price differential-gap (especially when considering the Maschine Mikro). Maschine ends up being one more piece of gear integrated into your set, rather than some labyrinthine add-on. It’s worth noting that Native Instruments tends to build their interfaces with a similar look and feel, so you don’t have to change your thinking paradigm when moving from one software application to another… and you can literally drag and drop loops from Maschine to Traktor’s remix decks.

            There is no doubt that the Toriaz will attract people interested in the Dave Smith filters, the touch screen, and the “no computer required” attributes, most-notably the CDJ and Vinyl DJs who don’t want to use a computer during their sets. Comparatively, the Maschine software suite is (arguably) more advanced partly due to the extensive integration with all other Native Instruments software, a monstrous library of sounds, and the NKS interface. Maschine makes no bones about the fact you have to plug it in to a computer, but it does not compromise at all for that concession. You get the full production suite right there at your DJ gig.

          • Dubby Labby

            Yes I mostly agreed but look I have no regular computer anymore and only gig with idevices and some external fx… ToRaiz will fit perfectly but Maschine isn’t class compliant or works with maschine 2 app… Right?

            I can understand Pioneer fans or hardware (mpc) die hards sometimes…

          • CUSP

            How do you load your music then? I would not assume you have all the songs you ever wanted in a device and streaming cannot be trusted right now… getting the actual tracks in is kinda’ important.

            iDevices typically end up being consumer interfaces with some capabilities, but they’re really not intended to be worked hard, for hours. I’m sure Native Instruments has plans for adding more capabilities to their mobile devices, but I think it would be silly for them to do that instead of working on their (laptop/notebook) computer applications.

            Are you suggesting we go back to CDs or Vinyl? I think many of us have seen what computers have given us (in abilities and limitations) and are unwilling to go back.

          • Dubby Labby

            Music load as songs with dropbox/audioshare mainly (mini iPad 4 64gb) but I’m more in live production than mixing so…

            iPad pro generation (and less my mini or iPhone 6s) are very cappable of hardworking. Power has grow exponentially from each version, just look Djay pro cappabilities (video, stems…) and I made some test with more critical things like Aum+modstep+loopyhd and some hungry IAA routing (vocoders, delays, compression) and it works more or less like my sold mac mini i5 ssd… Forget x86? Not of course but focus on post pc. Pc seems reaching a plateau where price/specs aren’t growing side by side meanwhile Arm platform has grown so much being cappable of most of the use for djing or producing…

            So yes, actually if I need scratch go straight for vinyl or cdj and if I need to mix I will do the same but any of them is more than possible with iPad 2 and above. More powerful more possibilities but basic stuff (even 4 tt dvs) was possible in old devices (or almost 2 tt) so why risk a macbook where I can bring an iPhone?

            All this mesh finally is getting at home and I wonder day to day about going gigs with single machine. ToRaiz and maybe the new Roland groovebox but even a simple garageband or launchpad app could do the trick. For live acts the combo modstep/loopy/Aum and fx is the best of Ableton at my pocket for less money, even legal apps (not jailbreak at my devices) and I can control all from lemur/touchosc at my phone…

            No brainer for me and never looking back, word.

          • CUSP

            Your style seems cool enough for what you do, but it’s not for a lot of people. My argument is for the average DJ here. Most DJs will still mix A-to-B (the best they know how) so their friends will have a great time at whatever party they’re at.

            I think you’re trying to minimize the importance of a computer for file management as “using a friend’s computer.” At some point, a computer becomes necessary for file tags… that’s non-trivial. No tablet or smartphone handles data management of files very well. Most of the time, tablets and smart phones like to lock you out of control of your files, and that’s a real let down for people who just want to do something with their own data. That is a strong point for computers (still). It’s something most of us are unwilling to part with because we care about how our files are tagged.

            Most of this new generation of DJs think about music files as the samples they are, complete with hot cues, and beat grids. They’re not doing it the old school way because they don’t have to… this way makes sense to them, so turntables are something that’s basically a big ol’ clunky controller that works with their computer and keeps “old school style, enforcer-types” off their backs.

            ** Side note to all you hecklers out there for DJs that aren’t playing on Turntables: Really?! Do we really need to hear how much we suck while we’re literally watching a room full of people dancing to our tunes? Maybe we should come to your work and tell you how much you suck and point out to your co-workers that you’re doing something all messed up, and publicly humiliate you for not doing it some other way.

            I agree that small form-factor computers are getting better, and they’ll go through growing pains as they’re installed in devices too (hopefully they’l stop trying to dominate everything with proprietary connections, or locked out features). Here’s the thing: most people just don’t care about computer monitors in the DJ booth anymore, we’ve fought that battle and won it. Until a small form-factor computer can do what my (not much larger form-factor) notebook can do, I’m going to use it. I expect that many others think this way too.

            Oh, I was on the forefront of DJing with computers. People used to try and shout me down for “bringing on the death of DJing” and “Not really doing it myself, I just let the computer DJ for me.” That hasn’t happened, and it took a long time to bring these people around… but they’re finally here… with a very small amount of hold-outs.

          • Dubby Labby

            Well I can do all I need with the NAS because is well crafted but I understand yout point. It right I don’t need tagging or cue caring due if I need to mix A>B I will go the Djay route with spotify and (as it being a job not hobby) buying my tracks at iTunes or so. Just straightforward without no bells and whistles because I don’t find it interesting or innovative anymore. About stems/remix decks I see them as a tool for own produced music or own edits/versions of “personal taste” songs so again tag or cue aren’t problems due I will craft all inside the same machine (and using traktor in these case makes me dependent of x86 one at this moment). That’s why I decided to jump, I win more than I lost. ITOH hardware samplers (and new groovebox turntables) surely will fill some gaps making redundant some options in x86 hardware and being useful for these who play only with hardware solution (or tablets without all the options of x86 platform).

            In any case if NI doesn’t updates Traktor dj app (includding tagging and cueing curation) I’m not going to worry because I’m not going to play A>B anymore or do it with spotify. When I played for others (job) I play the music boss want; when I play mashups or so it’s for me or mixtapes; when I go live I play (realtime) my own tunes and I don’t need A>B dj software anymore. Turntables neither. I love to use booth sometimes but not necessary anymore.

            Check synology NAS mate, there is where I keep my music and samples. I will search for the tools to tag/cue (I have since I sold my mac mini and I use it few because I also left djing as I stated)

            Thanks for the constructive chat. 🙂

          • CUSP

            I believe the Maschine controllers are class compliant, but drivers certainly enhance user experience. It’s very easy to misunderstand that Maschine is both the controller and software, they’re intended to be used together, but if you’re already using your laptop for Traktor, there’s no additional need for hardware. Would I suggest whipping out Maschine on the bus? No, but that’s what iMaschine is for, it’s not as fully featured, but it does have a bunch of “sketch pad” features. All projects can be moved into Maschine (from iMaschine) pretty quick and easy.

          • Dubby Labby

            Yes I understand the combo maschine software but this make it less standalone yet. I’m not so sure about class compliance… But ir could be, sure! Control the rgb and so from plain midi and integrate it with iPad apps will be great but obviously without right app support and without desktop it doesn’t makes sense the expent money. Anyways I’m not a Maschine hater or ultra Pioneer fan (sincerely booth have drawbacks and strong points)
            My argue is the necessity to expent so much money to do basic things that I can achieve with a cheaper, ipad based, setup. Even not so easy things (modstep has features of Ableton Live ie) could be performed and when I think in buy something I expect compatibility. Being so crimpled (to desktop/laptop or to propietary protocols) to unleash “special features” what I doesn’t need and cutting basic ones (rgb or lcd vs class compliant) is not the way to go IMHO and I left these and there is no step back.
            NI should focus into improving iOS apps and class compliancy now that we have USB3 adaptor which charges ipad in addition to regular cck options and even explore the smart connector on pro models because Pioneer is doing their homework very well.

  • Alex

    Any links to further info? You guys seem to be the only site with this