Pioneer DDJ SB2 Review

If you are looking for a great DJ controller that is reasonably priced, capable of many different functions, is small and portable, and is capable of working with Serato DJ software, then the Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB2 is a great option for you to consider. This controller is a fully functional MIDI controller, meaning that you can use it with many different DJ software.

This controller comes with two channels, its own soundcard, the ability to control tempo, 8 drum pads on each channel, two jog wheels, two platters, the ability to switch from vinyl to slip mode, master volume knobs, and so on. With the ability to unlock the capabilities of Serato and other DJ software as a MIDI controller, any professional DJ who wants an affordable entry-level controller at a great price that is lightweight and easy to carry around will love this model.

Why Choose This Controller?

Many DJs aspire to one-day use Pioneer equipment. Pioneer is one of the DJ’s industry’s most important manufacturers and is widely considered by many to be the standard for high-quality audio equipment. Although this controller isn’t as elaborate as the Pioneer CDJs that many clubs and venues have ready for guest DJs, it is still a great way to use and practice with this brand before graduating to a better setup.

Another perk of using this controller is that it is small and portable. If you are a mobile or traveling DJ who wants to carry around as little equipment as possible, this is an excellent controller for doing so. Measuring at 10.7” x 19.2” x 2.3”, the length of this controller is not too much bigger than a rule. It also weighs just over 6 pounds, making it much lighter than just about any vinyl turntable, mixer, or CDJ.

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Two Decks Can Be Used as Four (or More) Decks

Pioneer DDJ SB2 ReviewAny skilled professional DJ will be instantly limited by the presence of only two decks on a controller. As we can see above, there are these convenient buttons which can be used to switch the deck’s control to either channel 3 or channel 4. The left side has the ability to control channels 1 and 3 by default mapping settings, and the right ride controls channels 2 and 4.

Of course, you can always change the MIDI settings on your software to add in more than four decks should you so desire. However, any beginner – intermediate DJ will have enough difficulty controlling two – four decks and might consider four decks to be enough. If you were a little turned off by the presence of only two channels you shouldn’t worry too much, as long as you use Serato or another DJ software which provides four or more decks.

Included Serato Software

Anybody who is a fan of Serato DJ software or simply wants to learn how to use Serato software will love this controller. Since it’s buttons and faders nearly mimic the on-screen visuals of Serato, it is a breeze to learn how to use the software using this controller. Just keep in mind that the software that comes with this controller is Serato DJ Intro Free. Since this is the free version of the Serato software, you will not be able to unlock the full version unless you pay more money.

Since this doesn’t come with the full version of Serato, you can always decide to purchase another DJ software such as Traktor or Virtual DJ. Since each of these programs are used by professionals around the world at the world’s best venues and clubs. Since this controller offers support for each of these programs, you have the freedom to choose the software you want.

Quality of Tempo Control, EQs, and FX Controls

Pioneer DDJ SB2One big difference between MIDI controllers like this one and a standalone CDJ or mixer, for example, is that the tempo control, EQ, and FX control mechanisms are only as good as the software is. For example, if you use the full version of Serato DJ software you shouldn’t have to worry too much about these controls sounding similar to that of a high-quality stand-alone device. However, choosing to remain with the free version of Serato or a lesser-quality software will only make the quality of these features naturally decline in quality.

The quality of the knobs themselves isn’t too bad upon arrival. However, it is possible that they can get really loose and less sensitive as you use them for an extended period of time. If you are a professional DJ who is serious about their craft, this won’t bother you too much. Don’t consider this to be a controller that will last the entire length of your career. Buttons and knobs are always prone to falling off, becoming loose, and wearing them down. The best way to avoid any sort of problems with your controls is to keep your controller clean, be gentle with it, and never keep liquids (especially alcohol) near your device.

16 Drum Pads for Creative Mixing

No DJ setup is complete without drum pads of some sort that you can use creatively for mixing. The nice thing about the drum pads on this controller is that although they come equipped with preset settings to work with Serato, you can also map them to use them however you wish. As the presets work, the bottom four are used for playing/pausing, cueing, syncing the BPM to the other channel, and a shift button which works just like a computer’s shift button.

The top four drum pads on each channel (8 in total) can be used for jumping to different cue points, creating loops manually or automatically, or using them as sampler drum pads for your own creative sound FX. Many professional DJs will use all of these features within one set. As a result, it isn’t recommended that you adjust the MIDI mapping settings (especially on Serato) unless you know what you are doing. With any of the best DJ programs, there will be MIDI mapping that has been made by professionals and ready for you to use these features flawlessly.

Pad Trans Feature

Anybody familiar with the filter sound effect will love this feature. This button works as an automatic high-pass and low-pass filter for your sound. What this means is that all abnormally high and low sound frequencies (such as hard-hitting kick drums or hi-hats) will be cut out. This is a great feature to use while transitioning from one song to another.

Many DJs like to cut out the bass and/or hi frequencies using their EQ knobs when transitioning over to the next track. The pad trans button works very similarly to this process. This is a great way to save time and ensure that you don’t mess up your favorite EQ settings and forget to adjust them back once you change the crossfader over to the opposite side.

Vinyl and Slip Mode

Pioneer DDJ SB2Like many professional DJs who like using CDJs or MIDI controllers, you won’t necessarily want to use the platter solely for scratching. In fact, you might find it hard to scratch using a MIDI controller like this if you are an old-school DJ accustomed to the feel of a spinning platter or vinyl record. As a result, it is worth mentioning that the button illustrated above will allow you to switch between using the platter like a vinyl turntable, or putting it in slip mode.

Slip mode works by temporarily adjusting the tempo during a live mix. Unless you have perfect rhythm and timing, sometimes you will press play a little too early or late when you are transitioning over to your next track. Unless you want to gamble on whether or not the automatic Sync button will save your transition, it is best to simply use slip mode to fine-tune your beatmatching back to normal. This can be done within a matter of seconds while the music is playing. The audience probably won’t even notice your mistake, unless they are musically-trained.

Summary

For the price and features provided, this is a great MIDI controller for you to use professionally. Although it comes with Serato software, a decent soundcard to plug into your PA system, and all of the features to use Serato out of the box, you will only receive the free introductory version of Serato unless you pay more. If you would prefer to use other DJ software, this controller is supported by both Traktor and Virtual DJ. It also has the ability to transform into a four (or more) deck controller if your MIDI mapping and software is set up correctly. Considering the Pioneer brand on this device and the affordable rate, you really can’t go wrong with giving this controller a shot.

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