First of all, allow me to wish a Happy New Year and all the best for 2017 to all the DjTechZone readers. The blog has come a long way since the beginning of the year and if we can grow at a similar pace in 2017 we are in for a big ride!
What were the trends and changes in the DJ gear / software landscape in 2016? There were many, and below are my personally most important ones.
The rise of Denon DJ
Denon DJ has slowly but surely been outpaced and beaten by Pioneer DJ were it counts: in the DJ booth. These days, if you go to any club or any festival, chances are that you are going to see a line-up from Pioneer DJ, nothing else.
Denon DJ released their most recent media player, the SC2900 years ago and today the Denon DJ media player line-up lacks the modern features offered by Pioneer DJ professional hardware combined with Rekorbox’s music preparation capabilities.
But all that might be about to change. During 2016, Denon DJ released the MCX8000 and the MC7000, two excellent DJ controllers for Serato DJ. The MCX8000 being the first DJ controller to integrate standalone capability using USB drives and the Engine software for music preparation. Later this year, Denon DJ announced their #changeyourrider campaign, defiantly stating that DJ’s will be switching to Denon DJ in their riders as they get to know their upcoming media player. Will this happen? I think that Denon DJ is not joking around, and to be frank, it’s time to shake things up a little bit. The DJ world will not massively drop Pioneer DJ and switch over, but if Denon DJ can get but a few influential DJ’s on their side, and we see shiny new Denon DJ gear being used in big festivals, that will definitely bring a sense of competition to the game. And that is never bad 🙂
Pioneer DJ Tour System
With this system, Pioneer DJ puts the bar extremely high for anyone wanting to challenge them in the top-level of the market. Each player/mixer has a 13 (!) inch screen to visualize track and library info, putting the full power of Rekordbox at the reach of any DJ without the need of using a computer.
Composed of (ideally) 4 CDJ-TOUR1’s and 1 DJM-TOUR1, the full setup will set you back the price of decent family car: USD 20.000. It’s clear from the feature set and price tag that this system is not intended for regular club use, but only meant to be installed in the largest of venues. Expect it to show up massively in the festival circuit of 2017.
Rekordbox DJ is here to stay…
Last year Pioneer DJ launched Rekordbox DJ, a so-called performance extension to their existing Rekordbox music preparation software. Just to make sure people took notice, they launched a series of DJ controllers made exclusively for the new software, such as the DDJ-RB and the DDJ-RR. The software is still fairly new, but Pioneer DJ hasn’t slept on the job and with frequent updates & fixes it has matured quickly, and from my own experience playing long gigs with it under demanding circumstances it does measure up to the likes of Serato DJ and Traktor Pro. With Rekordbox DJ, Pioneer DJ is positioning their music preparation software as a central hub for all DJ activities, from music preparation to software based or standalone performance.
…But Serato DJ is not going anywhere either!
Serato DJ has certainly taken notice of what Pioneer DJ is doing and they haven’t been quiet either. Serato DJ has been pushing out new features in a steady pace in 2016, such as HID integration with the NXS2 system, Ableton Link integration, and much more.
Most importantly, in an exciting partnership with Roland, they brought out the DJ-808, the very first DJ controller from Roland. More on that below.
Finally, everyone thought that the partnership with Pioneer DJ that brought us the excellent line of Serato Dj controllers was dead with the arrival of Rekordbox DJ, but the recent release of the Pioneer DJ DDJ-SZ2 definitely is proving that perception wrong.
Roland gets into DJing!
Roland has finally taken the plunge and released a DJ controller, the DJ-808, and they did make sure to get things right from the start. We could have forgiven Roland for bringing out a “1.0” version to test the waters: a rebadged, not very original product. They choose to bring out a revolutionary Serato DJ controller that not only delivers on all fronts (4 channels, excellent jogwheels, full Serato DJ support including advanced performance features), but it does more: it integrates a sequencer, drum machine and a voice transformer. That makes the DJ-808 the first DJ Controller/live producer instrument on the market and sure sets the bar very high for future products.
Traktor Pro is still going strong
Amongst all the DJ software novelties, Traktor Pro is still going strong, and even released an important update in 2016, version 2.11. This version offers Ableton Link support and turns the remix decks into a sequencer, opening up new performance possibilities.
Many Traktor Pro users have been frustrated with the lack of updates, and the release of 2.11 gives the Traktor community hope that Native Instruments is serious about their flagship DJ software. No word yet on Traktor Pro 3.0, but hopefully that will change in 2017.
Where is Gemini’s SDJ-2000?
Last year at Namm 2016 Gemini presented the SDJ-2000 in prototype form and everyone excepted to see a full production unit in the months after. But things stayed quiet and nothing more was heard of it, so here is me hoping Gemini was holding out until Namm 2017 to do the full launch.
The unit looks very promising, with a central screen (in the style of the Pioneer DJ XDJ-RX) , a 4 channel mixer 8 performance pads per deck. Most importantly, the unit accepts USB sticks so it can operate without a computer. Let’s hope we see it coming to the market in 2017!
Screens, screens, screens…..
Finally, the most important trend in the Dj controller market were the continuous release of controllers with onboard screens.
From the top of the line Pioneer DJ DDJ-RZX to the entry-level Numark Platinum, most brands have now a midi DJ controller with onboard screens, and with the advancements of technology (smaller and more efficient processors, memory and storage, USB-C faster data transfer speeds) we can only assume that we will see more DJ controllers with integrated screens and hopefully standalone units that can operate fully independently from a computer if required.