*Prices Ranges in USD: -300:$ || 300-500:$$ || 500-1000:$$$ || 1000-2000:$$$$ || 2000+:$$$$$
The DDJ-RB, being an entry-level controller, has a full plastic body. Still, the build quality is solid and everything seems to be attached well. The dimensions are the same as the DDJ-SB2, so if you own an SB2 case it will fit. Big changes compared to the SB2 are
- Jog wheels that are all black now
- Simplified effects section
- No more deck switch buttons
- Transport section that is now aligned with the rest of the DDJ line.
Let’s dive into the details!
Features & functionalities
In the Box
Quite surprisingly, the DDJ-RB comes with a full Rekordbox DJ license in the box, a gift from Pioneer worth USD 150. This makes the controller itself a bargain and a no-brainer for DJs wanting to start out.
The Transport Section
On the older DDJ-SB2, the cue and play buttons are integrated into the pads. On the DDJ-RB the cue & play button have been moved to their traditional spot, freeing up the pads to be fully dedicated to different features of Rekordbox DJ. This is, in my opinion, a great move, because it familiarizes new DJs immediately with the Pioneer DJ workflow. Considering that 90 pct of the clubs in the world are equipped with Pioneer DJ gear, that’s not a bad thing.
This is, in my opinion, a great move, because it familiarizes new DJs immediately with the Pioneer DJ workflow. Considering that 90 pct of the clubs in the world are equipped with Pioneer DJ gear, that’s not a bad thing.
The performance pads are not the same velocity sensitive backlit type fitted on other DDJ controllers, but they do trigger the same features in Rekordbox DJ (hot cues, beat jump, FX, slicer, slicer loop, sample slots & sequence calls).
A notable omission on the DDJ-RB are the deck switch buttons, making this a strictly two channel controller. I always found it annoying to try to mix more than 2 tracks on a 2 channel controller anyway, so I don’t really mind.
The loop section is now located to the right and extremely simple. You can launch a 4 beat loop or a manual loop. A bit more options such as launching an autoloop and setting the size would have been welcome.
The Jog wheels
The jog wheels on the DDJ-RB look good and feel great, offering the right amount of resistance when nudging or spinning. Not being a scratch specialist it’s hard to say if they will please scratch DJs, but from what I can tell they should be able to do the job fine.
The all black look is quite cool and matches the look of the controller. I love the fact that Pioneer refrained from integrating LEDs into the jog wheels, considering that on entry-level controllers LEDs are often more used to enhance the looks rather than truly deliver functional value. It really contributes to the serious look of the controller.
The Effects Section
You might notice by now that it’s becoming a recurring statement: simplicity. The effects section contains controls to manage only 1 effect compared to 3 on the DDJ-SB2, but, you can control the beats for that effect and the level/depth. So you have detailed control for 1 effect at the time. A smart move from Pioneer DJ, since most DJs really use 1 effect simultaneously, and many use the same effect all the time.
The Pitch Fader
This is probably the biggest flaw of the RB. The mini pitch fader feels out-of-place on an otherwise well-equipped controller and if you are learning to DJ this will not help to master basic techniques such as beatmatching.
Is it unusable? Far from it. But at some point, Pioneer DJ will have to find a solution as many competitors are including 100 mm pitch faders on their entry-level controllers and I’m pretty convinced that serious debuting DJs will pay attention to this.
The Mixer Section
The DDJ-RB mixer section consists of a 2 channel mixer, complete with 3 band EQ, a filter knob, VU meters per channel and even a master cue.
The line faders and the crossfader feel OK considering the price of the unit, it won’t rival the feeling on more expensive units, though.
There is a master level knob and a headphone level knob, and on top, there is the very bare bones library navigation section.
Input & Outputs
The I/O section of the DDJ-RB is stripped to the basics: a microphone input, an RCA master out and a headphone output. The controller is USB powered so there is no power connector either.
I wish there was at least an AUX input that sends audio straight to master output, making it possible to connect a sound source in case of computer failure. I can’t imagine it would add much to the total cost of the controller and we all know that having a backup when playing live is crucial.
The DDJ-RB is an excellent controller and a very good entry-level option for anyone wanting to get familiar with the Pioneer DJ ecosystem. Since it uses Rekordbox DJ, all the tracks you prepare with the software are also usable on high-end Pioneer DJ gear, so you only do the work of prepping your library once.
Still, if you want a controller that supports more than Rekordbox DJ only, there is always the Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB2, supporting both Rekordbox DJ as Serato DJ. You do miss out then on the improved transport layout of the RB and the cooler looking jogs 🙂
The fact the DDJ-RB comes with a license for Rekordbox DJ in the box is a huge buying argument. You effectively get the DDJ-SB for USD 100! I don’t think any other entry-level controller out there offers so much value for money at the moment.