Pioneer has secured its place in the professional DJ world with its range of CD players - starting with the CDJ-500 back in the 1990s.
In more recent years it has been trying to push its high-end mixers as part of a complete package, with a particular focus on Allen & Heath, who have a strong following in the larger club environment. Facing competition from the likes of NI's Traktor, Pioneer has also been extending its reach into digital music file playback in the guise of its rekordbox management software. Into this, quite naturally, Pioneer has developed effects units and controllers.
"The RMX-500 is dedicated to adding effects to your current set-up and can be configured in a number of ways"
The Remix-Station 500 (RMX-500 to its friends) is the younger sibling of the RMX-1000. The new arrival fits very much into the black Pioneer 'house look', with many similarities to the bigger RMX, though it is lighter and smaller. As far as price goes, the 500 comes in at a little over half the price of the 1000 at £339.
The RMX-500 is dedicated to adding effects to your current set-up and can be configured in a number of ways to maximise its potential. The main stereo audio ins and outs are on RCA phono connectors (unlike the RMX-1000 which also had unbalanced jack connectors).
You'll also notice a headphone output, which makes good sense when you consider that the unit can act as an audio interface for your computer when connected via its USB port.
Rhythm and Scene
Once hooked-up, accessing the various effects is quick and easy. The unit is dominated by two large rubbery knobs that are dedicated to Rhythm FX and Scene FX. Whilst twisting the knobs increases the depth of the effect in each case, pushing the knobs controls one of each effect's parameters. This makes interaction both flexible and fun.
Rhythm FX provide a range of roll, transform and chopping effects, all locked to the current bpm, which is automatically detected by the RMX (with decent accuracy for rhythmically regular material). Beneath this are the Instrument FX, which consist of a range of pre-programmed beat patterns (kicks, snares, claps, hats and cymbals), with variations again determined by the control knob.
Perhaps more usefully you can create your own drum beats on the fly using the built-in overdubbing sequencer. However, you are limited to Pioneer's choice of samples - there's no user upload option here.
Scene FX, like on the RMX-1000, provide a range of spot effects assigned into two sections (Build Up and Slow Down). These include a wide range of ups, downs, flanging, echo and the additional Echo+ button (for use at the same time as the others) as well as filtering. The Release FX - a way of ending your effects frenzy using vinyl-style brake, backspin or echo - are assigned to a single button, though still do the job adequately.
The final string to its bow is its ability to act as a controller for a plug-in version of its effects engine. This works very well and is a nice addition, though we wouldn't buy it for this alone.
For those using a predominantly software-based playback system it may offer less in terms of value for money when compared to the custom-controller alternatives, but the RMX-500 is a solid and well-rounded piece of kit.