When I saw the first press releases for the Pioneer XDJ-RX DJ Console it looked like it had all the features I was looking for in a home unit: dual USBs, full Rekordbox support, computer and mobile phone connectivity plus all the crucial filters and effects from Pioneer’s high-end DJ mixers. The DJ Console had grown up and was now ready for prime time, or at least ready to become the centerpiece in my dedicated home mixing setup. As with most professional djs, I have not been using cds to dj with for several years and I don’t miss them one bit. While I had a pretty efficient system for burning and direct-to-cd printing for the track titles, the whole process was exceedingly time consuming, especially since I was burning double copies of every cd that went in my “crate”. What’s more, any working dj will tell you that trying to find a particular track in a huge wallet of cds is not in any way efficient. I tried many techniques to help me remember what tracks were on what cds: adding the cover art to the cd labels, changing colors/fonts or marking specific tracks with what now looks like cryptic hobo symbols; but none of those really worked.
Once I moved to USB drives, finding and selecting tracks became much easier and quicker which freed up valuable time to focus on my performance rather than finding the next tune. While I have 18,000 vinyl records at home and still play them for in-town gigs, my go-to media for out-of-town gigs is USB. For the past few years, I have been using a basic Serato/vinyl setup at home so that I could play my digital music files but this was clunky at best: each time I wanted to play my digital files, I would have to transfer them to my studio laptop and create a crate in Serato which was wholly disconnected from my main iTunes/Rekordbox music library.
Thus I had been eyeing the Pioneer DJ consoles for a couple years and the XDJ-RX was the first unit to have everything I would need. Although I ordered it in March, it just arrived yesterday (27 June 2015) but it was worth the wait.
Here’s my first impressions which I will follow up with a more detailed review after using it for a couple months.
Right out of the box the XDJ-RX feels really solid. It’s not 100% metal but there are metal pieces like the top plate which makes this feel like a professional unit rather than a dj toy. The buttons and knobs seem rugged enough to take the unit on the road although I doubt I will use it that way. The jog dials seem a bit flimsy compared to say a CDJ-2000 Nexus but perfectly adequate enough for my purposes.
Setting the unit up is easy. In addition to the two built-in jog-dial players, there are separate inputs for each channel with a phono/line switch to allow for plugging in your turntables, additional CDJ or other sound module. While a 4-channel mixer would be ideal, again, I think 2-channels will be enough for my purposes. I set up my turntables and you can switch the input for each channel easily with a button on the top of the unit.
I plugged my Rekordbox formatted USB flash drives in and the XDJ-RX found all of the track data right away. Having dual USB slots is a great addition. You can assign any track from either side to either deck. You can also connect your iPhone/Android device with the Rekordbox app via one of the USB slots or via Wi-Fi if the unit is connected to a computer via ethernet (cat5) although I haven’t tried either of those. You can also play directly from Rekordbox with a connected computer although I haven’t tried that either. In some reviews I read that the unit will accept non-Rekordbox formatted USB drives (like CDJs) although it will not have the track waveforms. I have not verified this as all my USB drives are created in Rekordbox.
Browsing through tracks is almost identical to browsing on a CDJ so professional djs will be instantly familiar with the interface. Instead of the rotary selector knob being to the right of the display, it is in the center of the mixer section but it works exactly the same way. Just like the CDJ-2000s you can also view detailed information about each track with cover art, rating, file format, etc. Once complaint from laptop djs was that the search function was a bit clunky although one review said a firmware update will allow for attaching a USB keyboard for searching although there is no ETA for this feature as of this writing.
The large 7″color display is where the XDJ-RX shines. While not quite as nice as the individual displays on the Nexus, but having the waveforms of both tracks together is a step up from individual CDJ displays. Most professionals do not mix visually but if you are used to a dj console or laptop djing you will feel right at home. The display is crisp and the colors and text are very readable.
Lately I’ve been using the Filter effect on the high-end Pioneer mixers and this effect on the XDJ-RX sounds identical. The other effects seems like direct ports over from the most recent Pionner DJ mixers. Other notable features like Slip Mode, Beat Loops, Loop Slice and Hot Cues bring all of the high-end features found on the CDJ-2000s to this unit which were lacking on previous Pioneer DJ consoles.
Updating the firmware was easy: just download the firmware update to your computer from the Pioneer site, copy it to a FAT-32 formatted USB stick, turn off the unit, plug the USB stick into the USB-1 slot and turn on the unit and the XDJ-RX updates.
So far I’m loving the XDJ-RX – more detailed review to follow.