In this article, I’m looking into two top-level controllers: the MCX8000 from Denon DJ and the DDJ-1000 from Pioneer DJ. Both cost a bit over 1000 USD, both have 4 channel hardware mixers and both have built-in LCD screens. What the MCX8000 has over the DDJ-1000 is the capability to run fully standalone, without a computer. Does this makes the MCX8000 the best choice, or does the DDJ-1000 have some other tricks up its sleeve? Let’s find out!

Denon DJ MCX8000 Serato DJ controller/Engine media player

The Denon DJ MCX8000
The Denon DJ MCX8000

 

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

The Denon DJ MCX8000 is, in many ways, a revolutionary controller. It is the first Serato DJ controller that at the same time can operate as a standalone media player, with two USB ports onboard for USB sticks or SSD disks. The MCX8000 works with Denon DJ’s Engine software for track preparation and analysis when used as a standalone media player with USB media, and very recently Denon DJ announced that the MCX8000 would finally get supported by Engine Prime.

With its 4 hardware channel mixer, onboard screens, fantastic jog wheels and so many other features the MCX8000 is a top choice for mobile DJ’s. At +/- USD 1.300, it’s affordable as well.

Pioneer DJ DDJ-1000 Rekordbox DJ Controller

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

The DDJ-1000 is the first DJ controller built from the ground up for Rekordbox DJ. And that shows. The lay-out of the decks and the mixer is reallly different from other DDJ controllers of the last years, that were largely Rekordbox DJ rebranded versions of Serato DJ controllers.

As such, Pioneer DJ choose to mimic a DJM/CDJ setup as closely as possible, while at the same time innovating and putting high-quality LCD screens in the middle of the jog wheels.

The result is a well-equipped controller, hitting the right balance between size, usability, and available features.

But how do the MCX8000 and the DDJ-1000 compare? Let’s find out!

The screens

Denon DJ MCX8000 versus the Pioneer DJ DDJ-1000: the screens compared.
Denon DJ MCX8000 versus the Pioneer DJ DDJ-1000: the screens compared.

The MCX8000 being a standalone media player next to a Serato DJ Pro DJ controller, it needs adequate screens onboard so it can be used without a computer. The screens are therefore capable of showing your track library, waveforms in full resolution, effects…

The DDJ-1000, on the other hand, needs Rekordbox DJ and a laptop to operate. The screens are minimalistic, but still, contain a good amount of information: BPM, a compact waveform, a phase meter, hot cue position, needle position… You will still need your laptop screen for track browsing, but in between that you should be able to DJ without looking too much to your computer screen.

WINNER
MCX8000 For quite obvious reasons the screens on the MCX8000 are superior, only because they display a lot more information than those on the DDJ-1000. And this, of course, is tied to the fact the MCX8000 can function in standalone mode. Still, if you are searching for fully functional onboard screens that allow track browsing and selection, the MCX8000 is your obvious choice.

 

The jog wheels

Denon DJ MCX8000 versus the Pioneer DJ DDJ-1000: the jog wheels compared.
Denon DJ MCX8000 versus the Pioneer DJ DDJ-1000: the jog wheels compared.

The MCX8000 has large 133 mm aluminum jog wheels.  There is no LCD screen included in the center of the jogs, but around it, there is a LED ring that indicates the position of the needle of the playing track. For some (including me) this ring feels a bit gimmicky. In use, the jogs are well weighted and comfortable in use.

The DDJ-1000 has super large, 202 mm aluminum jog wheels that are actually the same as the ones on the Pioneer DJ CDJ-2000NX2 save for the central LCD screen that is much more advanced on the DDJ-1000. These jogs, contrary to the ones on the DDJ-RZ, are mechanical and not touch-capacitive. So they require pressure on the top plate in order to react. Additionally, the jogs have a tension adjust knob, which is quite handy to have.

WINNER
DDJ-1000 Has definitely the best jog wheels of both. The large size, the fantastic built-in LCD screens, and the tension adjustment knob ensure a professional look and feel. Especially if you are used to play with CDJ’s, these jogs feel as good, if not better.

The performance sections compared

Denon DJ MCX8000 versus the Pioneer DJ DDJ-1000: performance section compared
Denon DJ MCX8000 versus the Pioneer DJ DDJ-1000: performance section compared

The MCX8000 has 8 performance pads per deck, and these cover all key performance features of Serato DJ: cue, cue loop, saved loop, slicer loop, velocity sampler, sampler, roll, slicer, pitch ‘n time and flip. There is a separated loop section as well, which is quite useful as looping is typically something that should be really easy and quick to engage.

The DDJ-1000 is Pioneer DJ’s first real Rekordbox DJ controller, has previous models have been Rekordbox DJ versions of already existing Serato DJ models. Therefore, the DDJ-1000 has Rekordbox DJ specific functions under the pads: hot cue, keyboard, pad fx1, pad fx2, beat jump, sampler and key shift. The pad fx feature is great and worth mentioning since the decks themselves don’t have any way of activating Rekordbox DJ’s software effects. The pad fx is a good alternative though, and actually really fun to use. The loop buttons are the same as on Pioneer DJ’s CDJ and XDJ’s and are located on top of the decks.

WINNER
A TIE Frankly, both controllers have excellent performance sections, each tuned to work with their respective software. I would say that I prefer the straightforward way the MCX8000 implements looping and the fact it’s located next to the performance pads. But on the other hand, the DDJ-1000 follows the CDJ/XDJ design template and will please many.

The mixers

Denon DJ MCX8000 versus the Pioneer DJ DDJ-1000: mixers compared
Denon DJ MCX8000 versus the Pioneer DJ DDJ-1000: mixers compared

The DDJ-1000 has hands down the very best mixer of any Pioneer DJ controller on the market today, for the simple reason that it is fully functional DJM mixer, very similar to the likes of the DJM-750MK2. It has 4 sound color effects, plus 14 built-in beat effects, two microphone gain control and shared HI/LOW EQ for the two microphone inputs, a Magvel crossfader and 4 hardware channels that accept external audio sources and Rekordbox DVS. That is a LOT for the requested price and tremendous value for money.

The MCX8000‘s mixer is equally impressive. Channels 1 & 2 support Serato, Engine (standalone mode) and Line input, while channels 3 and 4 support Serato and Line input including DVS setups. Heavy microphone users will be well served here with two microphone inputs with each their own gain, hi/low EQ and echo effect. The big minus is that there are no hardware effects on the mixer itself. When you are using standalone model, however, it’s possible to use the deck effects, but there are only 3 of them: echo, phaser, and noise. This mixer is a bit more spacious than the one on the DDJ-1000, so if need a maximum amount of space to DJ, this is the better choice.

WINNER
DDJ-1000 By a very narrow margin. I love the fact this is a standalone, high-end DJM mixer squeezed into a controller that costs little over 1000 dollars, and the built-in effects are really key for me. The MCX8000 is a very, very close second because this is an almost perfect DJ mixer on its own.

The inputs and outputs

Denon DJ MCX8000 versus the Pioneer DJ DDJ-1000: inputs and outputs compared
Denon DJ MCX8000 versus the Pioneer DJ DDJ-1000: inputs and outputs compared

Both controllers have an extensive array of inputs and outputs. The MCX8000 has some interesting extras: a single entry USB hub to connect a media device that will open up on your computer, and an ethernet port to control lighting and video through the StagelinQ protocol.

The DDJ-1000 has, besides the expected inputs and outputs, two USB inputs, one for each deck. This enhances the CDJ/DJM feel of the controller, as each deck has their own track navigation buttons and knobs. Also, on the mixer, each channel can be switched between USB ports A en B, making it super easy to connect a specific channel to a specific computer.

WINNER
DDJ-1000 I believe the double USB input combined with the per channel USB port selection put the DDJ-1000 over the edge here. This is useful for easy and smooth DJ switches, but also to have a backup laptop ready and connected in case of laptop failure, something that isn’t a luxury for mobile DJ’s that take their job seriously.

Conclusion

No matter how fantastic the MCX8000 is, and it’s one of the best Serato controllers on the market today, the Pioneer DJ DDJ-1000 is hard to beat. Yes, the MCX8000 can work in standalone mode, but ultimately it works best as a Serato DJ controller, as most of the pad functions won’t work in standalone mode, and the effects section is, in that case, limited to 3 effects.

The DDJ-1000, while lacking standalone mode, offers the next best thing to a CDJ/DJM setup in a compact unit for a very reasonable price. The large size jog wheels not only look good, they are a joy to use and the built-in LCD screens make optimal use of the of limited space available. Finally, the mixer is fantastic, with built-in beat and sound color effects. Connect two extra turntables or media players to it and, you will have a very professional looking 4 player + mixer setup for the fraction of the price of 4 CDJ media players and 1 DJM mixer.

OVERALL WINNER

Pioneer DJ DDJ-1000

Denon DJ MCX8000 versus the Pioneer DJ DDJ-1000: the winner!

The DDJ-1000 is, at least for me, the winner in this standoff. The full-size jog wheels, built-in LCD screens, complete mixer section and double USB inputs make it a very versatile machine, even if it lacks the standalone capabilities of the MCX8000.

 

Agree or disagree with my choice? Comment below!

 

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