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The Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB2 was launched last year as the successor of the DDJ-SB and comes with some interesting additions and changes. It is a compact and very basic solution for beginners, at the same time mimicking the feature set and layout of much more expensive Pioneer DJ controllers.
The build quality is good, and in line with other entry-level DJ controllers from Pioneer DJ. It’s an all plastic body, but the buttons and knobs feel solid and the jog wheels are made of aluminum and feel very qualitative.
Features & functionalities
The DDJ-SB2 support Serato DJ Intro, Serato DJ and since recently Rekordbox DJ as well. So that makes it a very flexible unit for its price!
Let’s dive into the detailed functionality.
The jog wheels are of a very decent size, have low latency and have a good feeling overall, whatever your DJ style is. They look much like jog wheels in Pioneer’s pro-level DJ gear but lack the typical center display. The stickers make up a little bit for that.
Included onboard is a vinyl button per deck that toggles the jog wheel between vinyl and “nudge” mode. In vinyl mode, you can scratch, in nudge mode, moving the platter clockwise will speed up the playing track, moving it counter clockwise will slow it down. Of course, you can always nudge using the jogs sides, no matter in which mode you are.
The DDJ-SB2 has a slightly different approach to transport buttons compared to its more expensive siblings in the DDJ family. This has been corrected in the brand new DDJ-RB. The difference is that instead of 8 pads for hot cues, loops & samples you only have 4 (the top row) while the rest is reserved for play, cue, shift and sync buttons.
The pads are not velocity responsive either and unlike other controllers in the DDJ line, they are not backlit across the entire surface of the pad. That being said, they do their job well enough, and as long as you don’t expect to perform finger drumming routines, will please most users.
A novelty on this controller is the pad trans effect (see the video below for a demo). This effect allows to, using the pads, cut the volume of the playing track in time with the beat. Which gives a dynamic, rhythmic effect that works quite well in a live set.
The pitch slider is small thus low resolution, but you cannot really expect more in this format/price point. Do keep in mind that this is a limitation when beatmatching manually.
There is also a button to switch each deck to deck 3 or deck 4, but considering there are only two channels on this mixer using it effectively can be a bit of a challenge.
The effect section is quite simple. 3 buttons to activate/deactivate effects, with 1 knob to control the amount/level of effect applied that serves as well, when combined with the shift button, to set the number of beats for the active effect(s). Simple, but it works well.
The most apparent change from the DDJ-SB is the channel level meters, that give basic control over your levels. In addition to that, the DDJ-SB2 features a trim knob per channel as well. Both these additions are welcome enhancements to the original and lift the DDJ-SB2 beyond the bare basics.
Finally, the filter fade button that combines two filters with the crossfader for smooth transitions has been retained from the DDJ-SB.
Inputs & Outputs
Nothing spectacular to report here. the DDJ-SB2 has two headphones inputs, 1 1/4 jack, and 1 mini jack. Also present is a 1/4 inch jack mic input. The only available output is a standard RCA stereo output. Enough for basic use and probably not more than the target audience expects.
All in all the Pioneer DDJ-SB2 is a very decent entry-level controller and a good way for DJs to get introduced into the world of Serato and Pioneer gear. It’s not the controller that will grow with you as you evolve as a DJ beyond beginner needs, but even if you go pro or serious amateur, it still can act as a nice backup unit or a practice unit on the road.