Pionner DJ has introduced us to a new line of beginner controllers with the DDJ REV 1. This controller boasts a new layout that duplicates the battle style pro setup of 2 turntables and a mixer. This device is catered toward those with smaller budgets, but want the experience of battle style scatching and open format djing. With the advent of this new style of controller, the question arises, “Is this a beginner controller or a budget pro controller? Let’s take a look at the layout and a few features as I to try and answer that question.
DDJ REV 1 - The Layout
The layout of the device is truly one that will take some time to get used to. Never before have we seen a battle style layout on an entry level controller. Let’s take a quick rundown of the more significant layout changes from previous iterations of controllers.
Traditionally, entry level controllers were equipped with performance pads beneath smaller sized jogs like on the DDJ SB3. The Rev 1 has completely broken that mold as it boasts a layout that copys th mixers like the DDJ S5, S7, S9 and the Rane 72 series. The purpose of this new scratch layout intends to promote “muscle memory” for those trying learn how become a scratch dj. The placement of the pads in the center and the addition of the effects paddles are part of the battle legacy that was introduced by the S9 years ago. The jogs are larger on the unit, 5.2” in diameter, primarily to promote scratching. The pitch faders are placed above the jogs and are longer than any in this class previously. This allows for greater accuracy when mixing. One interesting thing to note about the layout is the obvious smaller size of the cue button. This may be due to the fact the when you are djing in battle mode, the cue is rarely used. Another interesting observation with this controller is the fact that there is very little information about the tracks that are being played. The only info that the layout provides is a master level meter, thats it. Any other info that is needed will need to be obtained from the software, hence, “serato face” for the beginner. Seasoned djs will not need to view the software as much. The layout of the device is also very dark. I have the all black version. It is very hard to see your knob levels when there is any kind of limited light. Definitely not the device to take on the road to play in a dark room or outdoors. I had to change my knobs to colors using DJ Tech Tools Chroma Caps. It surely helped with the view and i recommend changing the knobs out for anyone that plans to use the REV 1 via mobile. By the looks of it, the available gold trim REV 1-N will be hard to see also.
DDJ REV 1 - The Software
The DDJ REV1 comes bundled with Serato DJ Lite. This is a great tool for entry level djs that want to eventually graduate to the world renowned Serato DJ Pro. Lite, however, has some limitations which may effect the way the user performs. One such limitation is the track information on the virtual deck. Lite does not provide track information like time, and tempo. As a result, beginners would most likely have to resort to “serato face” to see the information they need to start. Lite also limits the distance of auto loops and the amount of effects you can use. The feature that stands out the most to me is one that is not there. The record function. Beginners need to be able to hear their progress in order to improve. Not having a record feature forces users to find another way to record their sets, if they manage to find a way at all.
Probably the most useful feature of the software is the ability to connect to several steaming services. As of this writing, Beatsource, Beatport, Soundcloud and Tidal are the available options for streaming. These services provide a source of tracks that users can load into their decks, as long as they have reliable internet. Without reliable internet, this option is sure to fall short of expectations.
To conclude, the DDJ REV 1 is a solid entry level controller that can also double as a budget controller for seasoned djs. The features that are available are just enough to learn the basics of being a scratch dj. The layout is advanced and forces the user to use movements that mimick to larger pro setups. For seasoned djs, this controller provides a great tool for practicing sets on the go or with limited space and resources. You get the best of both world with this device. It’s a solid choice for anyone interested in a compact battle style setup.