When choosing a professional DJ controller in 2017, you might think that most manufacturers have professional DJ controllers with built-in screens in their range. But we haven’t seen much released this year and most of the controllers with built-in screens are starting to age.

Nevertheless, there are two controllers that, against all odds, seem to be destined to compete with each other: the Denon DJ MCX8000 and the Pioneer DJ XDJ-RX2.

Denon DJ MCX8000 VS Pioneer DJ XDJ-RX2
Denon DJ MCX8000 VS Pioneer DJ XDJ-RX2

Hold on, the XDJ-RX2 isn’t really a DJ controller, is it? Officially, it’ an all-in-one DJ media system that can act as a midi controller for Rekordbox DJ. In practice, you can use the XDJ-RX2 as a fully fledged DJ controller if you wish. And this makes it comparable to the Denon DJ MCX8000. The MCX8000 can operate as a Serato DJ controller, but can also work in standalone mode, reading tracks from USB.

The XDJ-RX2 is a couple of hundred dollars more expensive than the MCX8000, yet it has a 2 channel mixer compared to the MCX8000’s 4 channel mixer. How do you decide between 2 pieces of gear that share so many common elements, yet are so different?

Let’s delve a bit deeper!

Denon DJ MCX8000

Denon DJ MCX8000
Denon DJ MCX8000
IN SHORT
*Price Ranges in USD: 300:$  300-500:$$  500-1000:$$$  1000-2000:$$$$  2000+:$$$$$

The Denon DJ MCX8000 is a fantastic DJ controller with many facets. It acts primarily as a full-blown Serato DJ controller, with 4 channels, 8 performance pads per decks and most importantly, a high-resolution screen per deck.

Secondly, the MCX8000 can play tracks from a USB device. In order to prepare your tracks, you will need to use Denon DJ’s Engine software.

Thirdly, the MCX8000’s mixer supports Serato DVS, so you can connect external devices to it such as turntable and media players. Combined with professional level inputs & outputs, the MCX8000 is a true workhorse for the professional DJ.

Pioneer DJ XDJ-RX2

Pioneer DJ XDJ-RX2
Pioneer DJ XDJ-RX2
IN SHORT
*Price Ranges in USD: 300:$  300-500:$$  500-1000:$$$  1000-2000:$$$$  2000+:$$$$$

The Pioneer DJ XDJ-RX2 is seriously improved over the previous model. The screen is now touch enabled, and the amount of performance pads on the bottom of each deck doubled from 4 to 8. The mixer has added sound color effects and reminds strongly of the equally new Pioneer DJ DJM-450.

Additionally to the obvious standalone feature, the XDJ-RX2 also works pretty well as a DJ controller for Rekordbox DJ. Which makes it a true hybrid machine, and the reason why it made this comparison.

The screens compared

Pioneer DJ XDJ-RX2 and Denon DJ MCX8000 screens compared
Pioneer DJ XDJ-RX2 and Denon DJ MCX8000 screens compared

The approach for each device is quite different. The MCX8000 has 1 screen per deck, the XDJ-RX2 has 1 big screen placed centrally.

The MCX8000’s screens are good and display a fair amount of track and track library data. The layout changes a bit depending on if you are playing from a USB stick or directly from Serato DJ, and that can be a bit confusing when in use, but it isn’t a major grip. One thing the MCX8000 cannot do is stacked waveforms, so for Serato DJ’s that rely on those, they will have to look elsewhere.

The screen on the XDJ-RX2 is big, crisp and easy to use and navigate. The waveforms are displayed in a stacked format, which makes visual beatmatching easier. The touch capacity is limited though, don’t expect the screen to behave like a tablet like on the Denon DJ SC5000. And that is a bit of a shame for a new piece of DJ gear in 2017.

WINNER
I have to go with the Pioneer DJ XDJ-RX2 here because the screen is easier to use because of its size. The stacked waveforms are a good extra help for DJ’s that aren’t beatmatch champions.

The decks compared

Pioneer DJ XDJ-RX2 and Denon DJ MCX8000 decks compared
Pioneer DJ XDJ-RX2 and Denon DJ MCX8000 decks compared

The decks on both devices couldn’t be more different: the MCX8000 is a typical Serato DJ deck, complete with 8 performance pads. The XDJ-R2’s deck is true to the classic CDJ design, but with the added performance pads.

A big advantage of the MCX8000 is that it supports 4 decks in Serato DJ. The jog wheel is solid and feels goods in use, and the blue led ring acts as a visual aid, indicating the track’s position. The performance pads support Serato Flip (sequence your hot cues and save them as separate clips) and Serato Pitch ‘N Time (stretch and bend the pitch of a track and create remixes with it).

The XDJ-RX2’s decks are, as said, more traditional and while the performance pads support controller-like features such as Beat Loop and Slip loop, it doesn’t go as a far as the MCX8000 in supporting all the performance features of, in this case, Rekordbox DJ. The jog wheels are as good as the ones on any other professional Pioneer DJ controller.

WINNER
I prefer the MCX8000’s decks. The performance pads are higher quality and better for performance tricks, and the support for 4 decks is handy if you regularly need 4 decks of control.

The mixers compared

Pioneer DJ XDJ-RX2 and Denon DJ MCX8000 mixer compared
Pioneer DJ XDJ-RX2 and Denon DJ MCX8000 mixer compared

Things become quite interesting here. The most obvious difference is the number of channels here. While the MCX8000 supports 4 channels when used with Serato DJ (using it in standalone mode you can only use 2 channels), the XDJ-RX2 only supports 2 channels.

The MCX8000’s mixer is a real powerhouse. It has 4 channels, individual filter knobs, EQ knobs for the 2 microphone channels, Full 3 band EQ on each channel. It feels and acts like a professional club mixer, and since its a hardware mixer, it supports external audio sources as well.

The XDJ-RX2’s mixer is limited to two channels, but frankly, that’s where the negative news ends. The mixer is fully packed and has onboard effects. Next to 4 sound color effects with a handy parameter knob, it has a complete beat effects module, with 8 beat effects. These work with the built-in decks, but also with external equipment connected to the XDJ-RX2, or even when used as a midi controller with Rekordbox DJ.

WINNER
I can’t decide between the two. The MCX8000 has 4 channels but lacks the onboard effects, while the XDJ-RX2 has only two channels and two onboard effect modules. Hard choice, but I do like the DJM mixers from Pioneer DJ, so the XDJ-RX2 has my preference.

Inputs and outputs compared

Pioneer DJ XDJ-RX2 and Denon DJ MCX8000 inputs and outputs
Pioneer DJ XDJ-RX2 and Denon DJ MCX8000 inputs and outputs

Both devices are equipped with professional inputs and outputs.

The MCX8000 supports external devices on its 4 channels. It also has 2 microphone inputs, XLR and RCA master out and XLR booth out.

The XDJ-RX2 has a very similar setup. Double microphone input, inputs for external devices for the two channels, XLR and RCA master out and TRS booth out.

WINNER
A tie between the XDJ-RX2 and the MCX8000.

Conclusion

First of all, let me make clear I really like both devices. Despite their obvious differences, both should appeal to similar audiences: professional DJ’s that want a sturdy all-in-one media player that can handle multiple types of input. Until the release the XDJ-RX2, the MCX8000 was the only DJ controller that could claim the “stand-alone” label. With the release of the XDJ-RX2, Pioneer DJ delivers a truly hybrid machine, that can do (almost) everything.

OVERALL WINNER
While the MCX8000 is our overall favorite professional Serato DJ controller, it cannot beat the XDJ-RX2 when it comes to overall flexibility. Therefore the XDJ-RX2 is the overall winner of this comparison! Disagree? Comment below!

 

 

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  • Oli Ashman

    The RX2 could of killed off the Denon by incorporating a 4 channel mixer. It is difficult to compare as the Denon was released 18 months before the Pioneer. Overall I am disappointed the Pioneer doesn’t do more but think I am going to wait for a Denon Engine Prime stand alone controller. Would love to spend £4400 on the Denon Prime set up but think they will release an all in one unit with Prime for about £2000 in 2018.

  • Jay Kwiz

    MCX8000-owner here, chiming in.

    I had this same debate prior to the launch of the RX2, and went with the Denon. What I really wanted was for Pioneer’s RZX to have slots for flash drives, but Pioneer is greedy so that didn’t materialize. Anyways, for as solid as the MCX8000 hardware is, the software is equally as abysmal. The Engine software is a joke, and supposedly Engine Prime-compatibility is on the way (an afterthought from the developers), which was announced a year ago. Supposedly they are going to do beta-testing with users before releasing the software, but at this point, why? The reason the software is important is because while this is an Outstanding Serato controller, it barely passes the grade in standalone mode. The latest firmware update has been hosing peoples’ units, so there’s that. The biggest insult is the official forum, which isn’t a place for meaningful discussion (posts not of the party-line variety are regularly edited or deleted), but a haven of Yes Men and DenonDJ apologists. Everything is always “oh, it’s coming soon, trust us” or “your expectations are too high,” or “you’re doing it wrong.” The official solution put forth by DDJ for people’s deck displays and transport controls freezing is “You need to turn down the brightness of your display so it doesn’t draw so much power.” How ridiculous is that! Listen, my fucking expectations aren’t too high because I want my $1400 controller to be able to set beatgrids in standalone mode (fun fact: Slicer and Roll are both useless without beatgrids). So basically, I opted for the Denon because of the 4-channels vs. 2 (the extra two are nice to have), but if I had known at the time i would have to RMA my shit because their firmware engineers are probably unpaid interns and also that there would be NO COMMUNICATION WHATSOEVER from Denon DJ regarding the MCX8000 at ALL (because this piece of kit was released 3 seconds before the Engine Prime line, it’s clearly not something worth supporting), I would have said Fuck the extra two mixer channels and bought the RX instead. What really grinds my gears is that there are two USB slots, but no onboard recording due to the underpowered internals. At any rate, it’s past the return date for the MCX8000 so all we who own it can do is just hope DDJ gets their shit together, because regardless of who they get to “change their rider, lol”, as far as I’m concerned, they’re fucking failing compared to Pioneer, whose shit just works. And that, my friends, is why quality shit is more expensive. Because you can just use it and be happy and not end up so pissed-off you start penning 500-word novellas on DJ forums.

    At this point all I want is for Denon to release the source code and schematics for Engine (onboard and desktop) because it fucking sucks and the people who own an 8000 have more of a vested interest in getting this thing to live up to its potential more than the suits who have already lined their pockets and are on to the next thing. (“But… but Engine Prime compatibility is coming… trust us! Have faith!”)

    Yeah, right.

    /rant

    P.S. If you want to buy a like-new MCX8000 with Decksaver and carrying case, shoot me an e-mail: jbinfosystems@gmail.com

  • Chris Anson

    I’m going to have to go with the MC8000. Denon has done their homework and VirtualDJ is rock solid on it!