GEAR EXPO SUMMER 2022: The first half of 2022 has been relatively slow on the DJ gear front. Most of the major brands in the sector have been fairly quiet so far this year, and we’ve seen only a handful of significant controller, mixer or even accessory releases.
Why is this? It’s hard to say – possibly it’s a hangover from the past two years when the international club and event sphere largely ground to a halt. It could also be related to the supply chain issues that have slowed a lot of other music making and technology sectors. Then again, it could just be a coincidence.
There is one notable exception to this trend: Pioneer DJ. Eagle-eyed readers will note that the club giant – now rebranded under the umbrella brand AlphaTheta – occupies four out of six slots in our round-up below.
Will these trends continue into the second half of the year? Only time will tell. For now, let’s run down the DJ gear highlights you need to know about…
Pioneer DJ DDJ Rev-1
Traditionally, scratch DJs and turntablists are fairly poorly served by entry-level DJ gear, which often features cheap crossfaders and small, unresponsive jogwheels. This affordable entry into Pioneer’s new DDJ Rev range aims to address that.
This is a controller designed for use with the free Serato DJ Lite. Its layout is based on Pioneer’s higher-end DJM-S mixer and the brand’s PLX turntables. Unlike most Pioneer controllers, the Rev 1 (£259) is positioned in a ‘battle’ layout – meaning the tempo sliders are positioned above, rather than alongside the jogwheels, which is a setup generally favoured for scratching.
The Rev 1 also features jogs that are noticeably larger than most other entry-level controllers, which is another factor that should aid those trying to develop their scratch skills. Other key features include an array of performance pads – these can be used for sampling and cue point tricks – and a mic input to suit budding streamers.
Pioneer DJ DDJ Rev-7
The second entry into Pioneer’s DDJ Rev range, the DDJ Rev-7 (£1,829) is a top-end controller that – like its little sibling, the Rev-1 – comes in a battle layout to suit scratch DJs and turntablists.
The Rev-7 is designed for use with Serato Scratch Pro. The general layout of the Rev-7 is fairly similar to its budget sibling, but everything has been upsized with plenty of added features. The key improvement comes to the jogwheels, which are motorised with a turntable-like feel and on-jog display. Other highlights include dedicated sample trigger buttons above each platter, a range of 22 built-in effects and a Magvel Fader Pro crossfader.
A combination of phono/line, mic and aux inputs mean you can hook a variety of additional gear up to the Rev-7, too, making it a handy potential hub for scratch performance or streaming setups.
Technics SL-1200M7L 50th Anniversary Limited Edition
Technics' SL-1200s are undisputed icons; the definitive choice of turntable for DJs of all stripes from the 1970s right up to the present day. Yes, there are other excellent DJ decks out there, but even the best rivals owe a debt to the style and form of these original DJ turntables.
Despite the heritage, the 1200s have had a few ups and downs over the past couple of decades, going out of production for some time only to be reintroduced in 2016 in an updated new form.
These latest limited edition models (£899) are designed as a celebration to mark 50 years in the game. Based on the standard SL-1200MK7, which was unveiled in 2019, the limited-edition M7L is available in seven colour options (black, red, blue, white, green, yellow and beige) that are designed to “pay homage to the street culture which inspired the rise of DJs”.
Omnitronic TRM-422 4-Channel Rotary DJ Mixer
German brand Omnitronic has won plaudits in recent years for its TRM-202 and 402 rotary mixers. Traditionally, rotaries are seen as top-end, audiophile gear and tend to come with high prices to boot. Omnitronic’s offerings have stood out for bringing the rotary workflow to a more affordable price point while still boasting an impressive level of quality.
The TRM-422 (£805) is a new mixer that lands at the top end of the TRM line. It takes the basic 4-channel design of the 402, but expands upon it with additional features. These include expanded I/O – with extra flexibility for external effects – plus a crossfader, which makes the 422 appear like a cross between a classic rotary mixer and a more traditional, fader-equipped device.
Pioneer DJ HDJ-CX Headphones
Given their look, it doesn’t take an expert to work out that the HDJ-CXs (£120) are Pioneer’s answer to Sennheiser’s industry-leading HD-25s. Much like that widely-used set of DJ cans, the HDJ-CXs are designed to be lightweight but robust, making them ideal for DJs regularly shifting them on and off the ear.
They also feature easily replaceable cables and accessories, which should extend their lifespan, especially for regularly gigging DJs. That said, they’re not quite as ‘rebuildable’ as the HD25s.
Where Pioneer believes its cans have the edge over the competition is in the sound, as well as the level of comfort over long periods of use. Whether that’s enough to topple the champs in this sector remains to be seen!
Pioneer DJ DM monitors
Not content with the controllers and headphones it's already released so far this year, Pioneer DJ has also added new models to its DM range of monitors.
The DM range was recently refreshed last year with the addition of the DM-50Ds, which aimed at filling the gap between DJ, studio and home-use monitors. They achieve that via a mix of inputs – with RCA, mini-jack and TRS available – plus DSP-powered sound adjustment that lets users go between ‘DJ’ and ‘production’ modes at the flip of a switch.
The 50Ds have now been joined by a more compact model, the DM-40D, which offers the same basic feature set albeit with a smaller, 4-inch woofer. Both the 40D and 50D models are also joined by new BT variant, which adds Bluetooth connectivity.
Prices start at an attractive £150 for a pair of DM-40Ds, while the DM-40D-BTs will set you back around £170 for a pair. The DM-50D-BTs, meanwhile, land with a street price around £230 a pair.