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The Pioneer DJ DDJ-RR makes a very solid first impression, although it is a bit lighter than its predecessor, the DDJ-SR. The black finish looks classy and aligned with the new line of Rekordbox DJ controllers Pioneer DJ has been putting out. The RR is an upgraded & improved version of the DDJ-SR, the Serato DJ version of this controller that came out around 2 years ago. The SR is a favorite amongst DJs for its professional qualities in a compact unit, and I predict the RR will go the same way.
Features & functionalities
A lot of features in a small form factor, that could be the tagline on this controller. Let’s go step by step.
Jogwheels & Needle Search
The jog wheels are the big attraction on this controller. Slightly bigger than then ones on the DDJ-SR, it features a black shiny finish and rubber sides, with a center led ring that changes color depending on the certain functions, for example, when switching decks.
Unfortunately, Pioneer DJ didn’t incorporate a center led with track position indication as on the more expensive controllers in the DDJ range, but that is a minor grip. On the plus side the jog wheels feel amazing and the latency when using Rekordbox DJ is almost non-existent.
The quality of the jog wheels is excellent, with a top plate in brushed aluminum.
The needle search is a brand new addition to this price range in the DDJ range and makes it a lot easier to navigate around a track. It works only when the track is stopped so there is no chance you will activate it accidentally when playing around with the effects.
You will also find hardware buttons for slip, slip reverse, all allow very cool manipulation of your tracks. See the video below for examples!
This controller is marketed as a performance controller and that is not a lie. The effects section on this controller is very flexible. First of all, you can configure 3 effects and change them in the software on the controller using the shift button.
First of all, you can configure 3 effects and change them in the software on the controller using the shift button.
Secondly, you can manipulate the beat length to take into account for each effect when activated. And lastly, you can launch what Pioneer DJ calls Release effects, which are activated by pressing the rotary encoder.
This gives more than enough creative options to DJ’s using the DDJ-RR, and compensate for the lack of sound color effects on the mixer that are available on higher-end models such as the DDJ-RX and the DDJ-RZ.
Everything you expect from a pro-level DJ controller is there. Play, cue and sync buttons laid out in the typical Pioneer DJ way, and a pad section that works in much the same way as the ones found on more expensive DDJ controllers.
There are 8 highly responsive velocity sensitive pads, and four different modes (eight if you count the functions behind the shift button) to play with. I personally love the pad fx mode. Loop rolls of different beat sizes, and pre-configured effects such as echo, flanger and vinyl brake. Again, check out the video below to see how it works.
The right part of each deck has the controls for the sequencer, where you can record, play & loop pad routines on the fly. Underneath the sequencer section, there are all the usual loop controls, both auto loop, and manual looping.
There are a lot of buttons in this area and it does feel a bit cramped.
What I really miss in DDJ controllers is some sort of loop length indicator built-in, this would be so handy and avoid having to look at the laptop screen all the time.
The DDJ-SR had a loop size indicator built right in, it’s a mystery to me why Pioneer DJ didn’t port this to the DDJ-RR, I guess there simply wasn’t any space left…
The DDJ-RR features a two-channel mixer including filter knobs for each channel, a 3 band EQ, trim knobs per channel and the possibility to switch, per channel, between two decks and phono/line. This means this is a hardware mixer and it’s possible to connect external sources such as CDJ players or turntables. The DDJ-RR also supports Rekordbox DVS that comes as an add-in to Rekordbox DJ, so you can use this controller with timecode vinyl if you wish to do so. The channel switch between decks is an interesting approach opposed to providing deck switch buttons on the decks (as done on the DDJ-SR).
Beware though that since this is a two channel mixer, if you switch between software channels, your physical knob settings won’t match the ones in your virtual decks if you change them. For this reason, I find 4 channel capability in a two channel controllers always a bit of a danger zone if you don’t know exactly what you are doing.
Furthermore, we have VU meters per channel, as well as one for the master channel.
Finally, in the center of the mixer, you will find a master level knob, a booth level knob, and the knob to toggle between master and cue in your headphones.
Inputs & Outputs
On the front side, the DDJ-RR has no more than the headphone inputs & level and the microphone level. Nice and clean.
On the back, we find a wealth of inputs. First of all, this controller can take external audio sources, each channel has RCA input. Then we have two master outputs, 1 RCA, and 1 XLR. Lastly, we have TSR booth out. Here you will also find the mic input. Overall more than enough options to connect the DDJ-RR to whatever possible sound system configuration.
In my opinion, the Pioneer DDJ-RR is a very solid offering, one of the best out there. Compared to the DDJ-SR the RR feels a bit lighter, suggesting that maybe the quality of some materials is a bit cheaper here, but in compensation, it adds so many features that you quickly forget about those minor gripes. Hardware mixer & DVS support, needle search, independent VU meters for master & channels, XLR, RCA & TSR out… the list goes on. I’m pretty sure this controller will seduce working DJ’s of all sorts, and it merits to do so.