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Mid-range DJ controllers are gaining in popularity. Many of them offer professional features, while still selling for reasonable prices.

The two controllers in this comparison are direct competitors of each other: the Pioneer DJ DDJ-SR2 and the Roland DJ-505.

Both have hardware mixers, which means that you can connect your turntables and media players to them. Also, they both come with Serato DJ and expansion packs, such as Pitch ‘N Time DJ and Serato Flip. More on that later.

Both are priced at more or less USD 700, so if you are looking for a DJ controller in that price range, keep on reading!

Pioneer DJ DDJ-SR2

Pioneer DJ DDJ-SR2
Pioneer DJ DDJ-SR2
*Price Ranges in USD: 300:$  300-500:$$  500-1000:$$$  1000-2000:$$$$  2000+:$$$$$

The original DDJ-SR controller is one of the best Serato Dj controllers ever made and has achieved almost legendary status amongst its fans. So, when creating the followup, Pioneer had some big shoes to fill.

We can safely say the SR2 does fill those shoes admirably. Like the DDJ-RR the SR2 comes fully loaded with features: color-coded performance pads, a hardware mixer that supports Serato DVS, controls for Pitch ‘N Time, a great pair of jog wheels and a lot more.

Roland DJ-505

Roland DJ-505
Roland DJ-505
  • Price range*:$$$  (check current price)
  • ManufacturerRoland
  • More info: Roland DJ-505 product page
  • Bottomline: The smaller brother of the DJ-808, the DJ-505 is compact but has all the key features of the 808, including the 16 step sequencer/drum machine.
*Price Ranges in USD: 300:$  300-500:$$  500-1000:$$$  1000-2000:$$$$  2000+:$$$$$

The Roland DJ-505 brings the features of the DJ-808 down to a more compact size. Still, most of the features that make the 808 such a stand out DJ controller are still there: Serato DVS support, the 16 step sequencer, the drum machine with the sounds of the TR-808, TR-909, and TR-606, the high-quality jog wheels and performance pads…

That’s a lot of features for the asking price and considering the DJ-505 comes with the Serato Tool Kit, that costs USD 79 on itself.

The decks compared

DJ-SR2 (left) and DJ-505 (right) decks compared
DJ-SR2 (left) and DJ-505 (right) decks compared

The Pioneer DJ DDJ-SR2 decks are classic Pioneer DJ, with the typical cue and play/pause buttons, performance pads and large aluminum jog wheel. The deck also have 3 knobs to control 3 Serato DJ effects at the time, and buttons to switch between Serato DJ decks 1 to 4. The pitch fader remains small but certainly usable. The performance pads give control over various Serato DJ features, such as hot cue, slicer, roll, sampler and more using the shift key.

There are dedicated buttons to control the key features of Serato DJ, and the controller comes with Serato DJ Pitch ‘N Time bundled.

The Roland DJ DJ-505 has very similar decks, with a few notable differences. There are no dedicated controls for key shifting, but the functionality can be controlled through the performance pads. The effects can also be linked to the TR/sample module which is cool as it expands the creative possibilities.

Finally, the decks have a deck switch button to toggle between decks, while the DDJ-SR2 has the deck switch on the mixer.

Apart from those two things, the decks are pretty similar. The jog wheels on both decks are very good, but Roland has been building a reputation of having the lowest latency jogs that started with the DJ-808 and it’s probable that the jogs of the DJ-505 outplay the ones on the DJ-SR2.

The mixer compared

The DDJ-SR2 mixer (right) compared to the DJ-505 mixer (left)
The DDJ-SR2 mixer (right) compared to the DJ-505 mixer (left)

The Pioneer DJ DDJ-SR2 has a two-channel hardware mixer that accepts external audio sources. Each channel can be switched between two channels and a line/phono input. There is a 3 band Equalizer,  filter knob, trim knobs per channel and the usual navigation knob and buttons. In the center, the mixer has a master level and a booth level knob, and a sample volume knob as well. There are VU meters per channel and for the master channel, making it easy to keep track of your levels during a performance.

The Roland DJ-505 has, again, a very similar layout compared to the SR2. the main difference is that the channel switch buttons (toggle between pc, phono, and line) are found on the front of the controller and not on the mixer itself. I prefer to see those controls on the mixer, but this approach does save space and gives more room to the mixer controls. If you plan to scratch and beat juggle, the DJ-505’s mixer certainly is more spaced out.

Inputs & outputs compared

Inputs & outputs on the DJ-505 (top) compared to those on the DDJ-SR2 (bottom)
Inputs & outputs on the DJ-505 (top) compared to those on the DDJ-SR2 (bottom)

Both controllers have extensive inputs & outputs. Both have TRS Booth out, XLR Master out and RCA master out. Both being hardware mixers, each channel has RCA inputs to connect turntables and media players.

As said above the DJ-505 has several switches on the front, including crossfader curve, and channel input switches.

DJ-505 TR-S module

TR-S module on the DJ-505
TR-S module on the DJ-505

The killer feature on the DJ-505 is, of course, its TR-S module. It includes a 16 step sequencer and several controls to shape and modify the including drum machine sounds. More than that, you can also sequence your own samples with it, and you can control the sequencer from the performance pads as well, which allows for more expressive finger drumming.

Conclusion

Considering the almost identical pricing (around USD 700), which one is the best controller here?

The answer depends on what you plan to do with it. If you plan to use a lot of samples, and the idea of having a built-in drum machine into your DJ controller, it’s clear that the DJ-505 is made for you. I would even argue that even if you are not sure if it appeals to you, it might be worth going for, as long as it sparkles your interest. It’s something that really allows for extra creativity and if you are creative by nature, there is really no contest.

On the other hand, if drum machines and sequencers are completely out of your interest field and you are absolutely sure this will never appeal to you, the SR2 is the obvious choice. The added controls to manipulate the Key in Serato DJ also open for new creative possibilities. Also, it’s perfectly possible that in the future Serato DJ will open up the sequencing functionality to other controllers, which would bring the Roland controllers and controllers from other brands a bit closer to each other.

Finally, consider this: If you ever want to sell your controller, you might find a bigger customer base for the SR2 than for the 505. The 505 will probably become more of a niche controller for creative producers/DJs, while the SR2 will have a more “mainstream” appeal and thus larger user base.

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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