There was a time when every DJ used a similar setup, but not any more. The technology is developing so fast, and in so many different directions, that it’s actually getting more and more difficult to say where DJing stops and music production starts.
2017’s crop of gear releases give DJs more creative options than ever before, no matter how they like to ply their performance trade. Booth hounds really have been spoilt for choice - here’s a guide to the products you rate most highly.
The MusicRadar Best in music tech awards 2017 are brought to you in association with Softube - Tools for the Audio Professional
Pioneer DJ DDJ-XP1
What they say: “Whether you use turntables, multi-players or external devices, the DDJ-XP1 will bring a whole new sphere of creative possibilities to your DJ performances.
“This robust add-on controller with intuitive layout and 32 performance pads is designed to get the most out of rekordbox dj and rekordbox dvs. So add the DDJ-XP1 to your setup and enjoy tactile control over Hot Cues, Pad FX, Beat Jump, Sampler, Beat Loop or the new Key Shift and Keyboard modes.”
Denon DJ VL12 Prime
What they say: “The Denon DJ VL12 Prime sets the new bar position as the most superior turntablist technology available today. Featuring the most optimal acoustic isolation capabilities, able to handle any loud, bass-heavy environment, there’s no classic or control vinyl-based gig the VL12 cannot handle.
This true quartz locked, direct-drive Pro DJ Turntable offers you the most exhilarating ‘hands-on’ performance experience you could ever imagine.”
Pioneer DJ DJM-S3
What they say: “Thanks to the built-in soundcard, this 2-channel mixer is Serato DJ enabled as soon as you unpack it. Featuring a highly durable Magvel crossfader, inherited from the DJM-900NXS2, the DJM-S3 delivers a smooth and accurate response.
“The scratch-friendly layout creates more room for you to be creative in the booth. No need to go easy, the DJM-S3 is built to withstand intense performances. And to bring even more creativity to your performances, you can connect the DDJ-SP1 controller and use its large Performance Pads for tactile control of many Serato DJ features, including its FX.”
Pioneer DJ DDJ-SR2
What they say: “The DDJ-SR2 has dedicated key controls for Serato DJ, allowing you to control the software features with the push of a button. This 2-channel controller takes after our professional DJ gear with multicoloured Performance Pads and a spacious layout. Being compact and 18% lighter than the DDJ-SR, the DDJ-SR2 is easy to transport to any gig.
“Enjoy a full package including the latest version of Serato DJ as well as the Pitch ’n Time DJ expansion pack, which lets you get creative with your track’s key and BPM, even in extreme tempos.”
Rane Twelve battle controller
What they say: “The Twelve is a simple, pure and powerful motorized DJ control system without the hassle of fragile needles and skipping tone arms. Keeping things consistent with a familiar turntable layout and size, the only clear differentiator is a precision, multi-function touch strip for track searching and setting or triggering hot cues in place of the tone arm.
“The vinyl experience is fully customizable with your favorite slipmat. With an all-metal body the Twelve is built like a tank, but it has the agility of a sports car. It is truly battle-ready. With the TWELVE, the DJ can scratch and play with all the direct spontaneity and creativity of a turntablist, but with the precision, repeatability and durability of the best digitally-based solutions. The Twelve is the very best of both. There is simply nothing else like it, anywhere.”
Denon DJ X1800 Prime
What they say: “The very centrepiece of the Denon DJ ‘Prime Series’ of products, the X1800 is a 4-Channel Pro DJ club mixer, familiar in layout but with new and exciting features to transport you to your next level of live performance.
The X1800 Prime brings dedicated Sweep and BPM FX controls, delivering multi-themed effects for each channel, giving you even more performance options to craft that unique sound. Why not add another dimension to how you utilize EQ in the DJ booth? Fire up the X1800’s choice of Classic or Isolation styles, then ramp up the sonic creativity with frequency-controlled, band-Isolation too.”
Rane Seventy Two battle mixer
What they say: “The Rane Seventy Two has been designed in collaboration with champion DJs and their crews all over the world. This battle-ready flagship offers the high standards of performance and construction that people expect from Rane, along with ground-breaking technology.
“With the Rane Seventy Two, two DJs can battle it out with their laptops simultaneously through the two USB computer connections. With a brand-new 4.3-inch color touchscreen, the Rane Seventy Two not only shows Serato’s moving waveforms and their cue points, it also brings a much-needed interactive experience to FX work flows, with two internal Flex FX engines and stacked Serato effects. Die-cast aluminum toggles and customizable MPC pads unleash the creativity that all battle DJs have in them.
“Importantly, the Rane Seventy Two is the first time that users will experience Rane’s brand-new Mag Three fader. Dramatically updating their patented, industry-changing Mag Fader design, the new Mag Three fader offers a unique touchless, tension-adjustable fader with perfect tactile feel and precision, combined with a long and reliable life. It makes for a DJ experience simply unavailable anywhere else.”
Denon DJ SC5000 Prime
What they say: “The Denon DJ SC5000 Prime represents a real paradigm shift in DJ Technology, right here, right now. This groundbreaking digital DJ Media Player has a high definition, high-contrast display that enables multi-touch gestures for the ultimate in latency-free, tactile track navigation, load and playback.
The SC5000 is also the world’s first DJ Player capable of on-board music file analysis, really empowering you with its innovative dual-layer deck capability and an 8-inch rugged jog wheel with central display that displays either current playing track or custom artwork.”
Pioneer DJ XDJ-RX2
What they say: “The XDJ-RX2 is an upgrade of the popular XDJ-RX, combined with features and traits from the flagship NXS2 series. The 2-deck, 2-channel all-in-one system delivers a professional DJ experience whether you connect it to rekordbox dj via your laptop or music stored on a USB device.
“The XDJ-RX2 boasts a large, 7-inch touch screen with QWERTY search, plus features inherited from the CDJ-2000NXS2 and DJM-9000NXS2, including rotary selector, track filter, short cuts, Sound Colour FX and Beat FX. The 8 large, multi-coloured Performance Pads give you smooth control over Hot Cues, Beat Loop, Slip Loop and Beat Jump. Take your performance to the next level as you enjoy the ease and portability offered by an all-in-one solution.”
Pioneer DJ DJS-100 sampler
What they say: “Add the DJS-1000 to your DJ set-up to intuitively create unique sounds and phrases in advance of your set, or on the fly. Use the DJ-friendly interface to sequence and loop your samples as you wish.
“With a 7-inch full-colour touch screen, 16 multicoloured step input keys, multi-coloured Performance Pads, a host of inputs and outputs, Live Sampling and various other performance features, having the DJS-1000 in the booth will propel your sets to the next level.”
Winner: Allen & Heath Xone PX5
What we said: “With few minor quibbles and many plus points, the PX5 achieves what it set out to do – take a shot at the title, and launch itself as a serious contender for the next industry-standard 4+1 channel high performance club mixer. Stunning work.”