With the NAMM Show going down in Anaheim, California right now, we can expect a variety of new DJ gear and electronic instrument announcements in the coming days, but the announcement of Pioneer’s latest DJ controller has caught our attention.
The DDJ-SZ looks to be a worthy follow-up to the SX, designed to be the largest, sturdiest, and most club-ready DJ controller yet released. At 22 pounds and in one single piece, the controller is gargantuan by most standards, but clones the dimensions and sturdy feel of CDJs and a DJM900 mixer. It boasts full-sized CDJ platters and the added functionality of performance drum pads (also present on the other DDJ-S models) that can be assigned to cue points, samples and effects. It also has two USB slots for different computers, to ensure seamless switching between DJs, as well as dual high-performance soundcards, one for each deck. In short, it’s a beauty by just about every standard, aside from bulkiness. It’s a controller that traditionalists would have a hard time hating and something not too far-fetched to be a standard in higher-end clubs, but it also leaves me scratching my head on a few things.
At a fraction of the price of new CDJs and a mixer, $2,399 seems like a bargain, but it also seems like a hell of a lot of dough when you remember this is specifically a controller for Serato. Pioneer’s reliability and sound quality, for better or worse, is widely regarded as the industry standard. It stands to reason that this controller would be subject to those same high marks, but it ultimately begs the question of its own price tag, especially in a market where the computer is becoming increasingly secondary to the controller. Is $2,399 too much to pay for quality in the form of a controller that is only a controller? With the existence and popularity of increasingly higher-end CDJs and the ease of removable USB media, at what point can we expect a controller that doesn’t even need a laptop?