Mixars Primo versus Pioneer DJ DDJ-RR: which one is superior? We try to answer that in this post, looking at both units features by feature. Both the Primo and the DDJ-RR have a lot to offer.
At the time of this writing, the Mixars Primo is not out yet, and we have only seen prototypes at both Namm 2017 and Musikmesse 2017. But we know enough of the unit to be able to predict how it will stand up against the competition.
The Primo is a direct competitor to the Pioneer DJ DDJ-SR, so it would be logical to compare both. However, the SR is pretty old, and I feel it’s rather unfair to compare both considering the age difference. Until Pioneer DJ updates the SR (and an SR2 might be around the corner considering the recent release of the SZ2), the best point of comparison is the Pioneer DDJ-RR. The RR is a Rekordbox DJ controller and will not work with Serato DJ, just to be clear. So choosing between the two means also choosing different software.
At USD 700 for the DDJ-RR and around USD 600 for the DDJ-RR, these are not DJ controllers pitched at beginners.With their hardware mixers, independent VU metering per channel & master output, performance pads, large aluminum jog wheels and professional grade inputs & outputs they are clearly aimed at serious working/mobile DJ’s.
The decks of both controllers are very similar, and knowing the DDJ-RR came out long before the Primo, we can safely conclude that Mixars copied with pride for their first DJ controller. Nothing wrong with that, as long as you do it well, and that for sure they seem to have done.
What stands out is the pitch fader. A 100mm version on the Primo, a small sized version on the RR. I have been a longtime critic of Pioneer DJ’s small pitch faders on entry-level DJ controllers, and while I can live with it on the DDJ-SB2 and DDJ-RB, I think it’s unacceptable on the DDJ-RR. Mixars proves it can be done by re-shifting a few of the buttons, and serious DJ’s will appreciate it.
The rest of the feature set is very similar for both controllers: both have a touch strip, loop controllers, performance pads for the respective performance features in Serato DJ and Rekordbox DJ, large aluminum jog wheels with LED animations, 3 button FX sections, grid controls, SLIP and censor buttons… The DDJ-RR has support for the Rekordbox DJ sequencer, and while the Primo does have a button to activate Key Sync in Serato DJ, it doesn’t have onboard controls for Serato Flip, the counterpart for the sequencer in Rekordbox DJ.
The Mixars Primo wins because of the 100mm pitch fader, so important for DJ’s that want to easily beat match.
Again, we see a lot of similarities here, and again Mixars beats Pioneer DJ at their own game: the Primo has 4 hardware effects included: noise, filter, crush and gate. This was introduced by Pioneer DJ in the DDJ line years ago and makes perfect sense on a DJ controller with a hardware mixer, as it provides a DJ with FX options on connected media players and turntables.
Both DJ controllers have independent VU metering per channel and master, 3 band EQ, booth, sample and master volume controls, trim knobs per channel and finally, both have channels that can switch between two software channels and 1 phone/line channel.
The Mixars Primo wins again here, due to the very practical onboard FX module that works independently from the computer.
Microphone, inputs, outputs
The Mixars Primo has a third channel, that is switchable between AUX and Mic. There are volume, tone and echo control for this input. There are also controls for the reverse the crossfader and to the control the crossfader curve. Finally, there are the headphone controls (volume and cue/master settings) and inputs. There is even a split cue switch!
The DDJ-RR has a cleaner design on the front, with headphone connections (jack & mini jack), headphone volume & mic volume. The headphone cue/master knob is located on the mixer. Not sure if it makes a lot of sense to separate both, but I do prefer controls to be accessible, and the front part of a DJ controller is not a good place for frequently used knobs & buttons, since it can be hard to access when the controller is in a flight case or when the space conditions (small DJ booths anyone) are challenging.
The backsides of both DJ controllers look almost identical: booth (TRS) and master out (RCA and XLR), RCA channel inputs with phono/line switch, USB input, power input and Mic input.
Finally, the win goes again to Mixars, with an additional AUX input (always handy for those emergency moments when the laptop dies), more crossfader control, split cue option…. Mobile DJ’s will appreciate the additional features.
On paper, the Mixars Primo looks like a very strong contender. It beats the Pioneer DDJ-RR on many fronts, and even it’s built for Serato DJ compared to Rekordbox DJ for the Pioneer DDJ-RR, it could sway potential RR buyers with its complete feature set.
Of course, we haven’t had the chance to actually test it, so things like build quality, sound quality and reliability are still up in the air. But from the prototypes, I saw, and the reputation that Mixars has built in their short lifespan, I expect this unit to be very well built and deliver high-quality output.
So does this make the Pioneer DJ DDJ-RR an inferior DJ controller? Not by any means. It’s actually my second favorite Rekordbox DJ controller (after the DDJ-RX). It feels solid and sounds amazing. But Mixars went the extra mile and included small improvements to the Primo that, at least in my opinion, make it a more versatile controller for mobile use.
Hopefully, Pioneer DJ will restore balance with a future DDJ-SR2, and if they do, we will be here to compare them!
The Pioneer DJ DDJ-RR sells for around USD 700 on Amazon.com. The Mixars Primo is not available yet, expected to be released during Q2 for around USD 600.
What are your thoughts on both DJ Controllers? Do you think the comparison is fair? Which one is your favorite? Comment below!