Pioneer DJ DDJ-1000 Controller Review

Pioneer DJ DDJ-1000 Controller Review

Last Updated on by Daniel Lawrence

Pioneer’s DDJ-1000 controller for Rekordbox DJ has four channels and two full-size jogwheels with high-resolution displays. The displays look great and the jogwheels are responsive and mechanical, similar to a CDJ-2000NXS2. With the included Sound Color FX and Beat FX, this unit offers DJM-style effects tweaking, further bridging the gap between a DDJ controller and a CDJ/DJM-style setup. In recent years, it has been Pioneer DJ’s best controller. You can use this controller for intermediate and advanced gigging DJs who want the closest approximation to a club set-up in a laptop DJ controller. I recommend it.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS / SETTING UP

dj controller

The DDJ-1000 features four channels with trim pots, three-band EQs, Color FX knobs, and an assignable Magvel crossfader. Each deck has a jogwheel with a built-in display, performance pads, pitch controls, transport controls, deck select buttons for switching to decks 3 and 4, and loop buttons similar to those on a CDJ. Because it comes with a Beat FX section in the mixer, there are no FX controls like what you’d find on a DDJ-RX, DDJ-RZ, and so on.

On the rear of the unit are XLR and RCA Master outputs, 1/4″ Booth outputs, RCA phono/line inputs, and two combo Microphone inputs. Furthermore, it has a power jack, a power button, and two USB ports for connecting up to two laptops at the same time. The front of the unit features 1/4″ and 1/8″ headphone jacks.

With the DDJ-1000’s wall wart power supply connected to my laptop, I started Rekordbox DJ, turned the unit on, and got started.

IN USE

Jog Wheels and displays

dj controller

The jogs on the DDJ-1000 are some of Pioneer DJ’s best. Thanks to its mechanical nature and the addition of Jog Adjust controls, it feels more solid than an XDJ-1000 and is similar to a CDJ-2000NXS2. My preference has always been touch-sensitive jog wheels (see DDJ-RZ and DDJ-RZX), but these mechanical jogs are starting to change my mind. While they’re not as flimsy as a flagship CDJ-2000NXS2 player, they still retain the overall feel of a flagship product. As far as Pioneer DJ controllers go, the DDJ-RZ with full-size jogs and no onboard screens is twice as expensive as this controller.

Next, we should discuss the displays: they are stunning. They may not be as gorgeous as the iPhone X or Samsung S9, but they are certainly a cut above Pioneer DJ’s media players. Pioneer DJ lacked a high resolution and a high frame rate when compared to its current rival Denon DJ. In terms of displays, the DDJ-1000 brings Pioneer DJ firmly into the 2018 era, and there’s no reason why this kind of display can’t appear on an upcoming CDJ / XDJ media player (CDJ-3000NXS, anyone?).

The display shows album art, waveforms, and time. The phase meter also displays an indicator every four bars, which is great because, in dance music, important developments occur after four bars. Thanks to Pioneer DJ’s phrase meter, you can tell where you are in a four-bar phrase.

There are two ways for you to see your position on the track. The first is with a play that goes from left to right, and the second is with a bar that goes around the display like a hand on a clock.

The display can be customized: you can change the color of the waveform, hide album art, and choose if you want to see the remaining time or elapsed time of the track.

Sound Color & Beat FX

Pioneer DJ’s DDJ-1000 is Pioneer DJ’s first controller to feature two hardware effects sections. Most of the effects are taken from the DJM-900NXS2, but some are exclusive to the unit (more on them later). This means that these effects are built into the controller itself rather than being controlled for Rekordbox DJ’s effects, and you can use this to add effects to any audio that passes through the mixer section of the DDJ-1000.

There are four types of Sound Color FX: Dub Echo, Pitch, Noise, and Filter. On each channel, you can control each of these. The Beat FX section has 14 other effects, selected by the rotary switch: Low Cut Echo, Echo, Delay, Spiral, Reverb, Transformer, Enigma Jet, Flanger, Phaser, Pitch, Slip Roll, Roll, and two Mobius Effects. Mobius Effects let you create looping effects that loop into each other, and are hardware exclusive to the DDJ-1000 (it is included in the latest Rekordbox DJ software update as well). A small OLED display on the Beat FX lets you see which effect you’ve selected.

The effects are good, but more importantly, the way they work is the same way you’d use them with a DJM mixer when you’re spinning at the club. If you haven’t used a CDJ/DJM set up before, then you can practice using the effects on your controller at home. But if you’ve never used a CDJ/DJM setup before, then you may find this confusing. As a result, you will be more confident to tweak effects at the club.

Loop controls

A looping section on the DDJ-1000 is similar to that on a CDJ or XDJ player: there are Loop In and Loop Out buttons, and you can create four-beat Auto Loops with a single button. It works to familiarize you with how looping works on CDJs / XDJs, which may seem confusing to new club DJs since the loop control layout for the previous DDJ controllers relied on performance pads.

Performance pads

Each deck has eight performance pads with eight pad modes: Hot Cue, Pad FX1, Beat Jump, Sampler, Keyboard, Pad FX2, Beat Loop, and Key Shift. A Shift layer can be used to access the final four pad modes.

The pads themselves are smaller than those found on the DDJ-RZ, DDJ-RZX, or DDJ-SZ2, and are closer to those found on the DDJ-RX. The pads are springy and responsive, and they’re built to be used and abused, which is great, since the Keyboard mode lets you perform melodic cue juggles, just like you would with the DDJ-XP1 pad controller.

CONCLUSION

Pioneer DJ’s DDJ-1000 is an important controller as it represents a step forward in their gear production. It releases gear regularly and often, but a lot of those releases are simply iterations of its previous controllers: more pads, a new silkscreen, a few new buttons here and there, but nothing that dramatically changes the way the controller works. DDJ-1000 has a different approach. Pioneer DJ has produced one of the most advanced and powerful DJ controllers for Rekordbox DJ, a device that could very well be at the very peak of its current technological capabilities. Pioneer DJ cannot add other innovations to this device moving forward without introducing a paradigm shift in what DJing is or what DJ controllers should have.

In addition to the displays and jogs, you also get two sets of hardware effects: Sound Color FX (controlled by the color knob on each channel) and Beat FX. These are the kinds of effects that you would typically find on a DJM club mixer. Therefore, you are basically getting something that is very close to a CDJ/DJM setup and layout, with the exception that you still need to connect it to your laptop running Rekordbox DJ.

DJs looking for a serious controller for practice and gigs will find the DDJ-1000 to be a great choice. DDJ-1000 also ticks the box if you’re a club DJ who spins with a laptop and you’re looking for something that bridges the gap between club and home setups. Additionally, the onboard mic inputs and the variety of Master and Booth outputs give you plenty of connectivity options if you are a mobile DJ or a pro. DJ segments that the DDJ-1000 will not serve are absolute beginners who are still learning how to spin, and DJs who spin exclusively without a laptop (i.e. thumb drives or vinyl).

It’s by far Pioneer DJ’s best controller in recent years, and there isn’t a better device for professional laptop DJs on the market today. A must-have.