Pioneer DDJ-S1 Controller Review
Overview: The Pioneer DDJ-S1 Serato Itch Controller allows for easy transfer of music from the user’s laptop with a USB connection for simplicity and quick “plug-and-play” capability. Pioneer was nice enough to send me a new unit for a complete Video review. This is a great two-deck/two-channel controller that
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Review Video & Demo
Setup & First Impressions
The Pioneer DDJ-S1 is a very solid all-in-one two-channel/two-deck Digital DJ Controller. Everything that the unit is capable of is done very well. Pioneer set out to make a high quality controller similar to their CDJ and DJM counterparts and, for the most part, they have succeeded. At the top of the Pioneer list is always build quality and the DDJ-S1 is no exception. The metal chassis with the hard plastic faceplate is strong yet light enough to be transported by the DJ. The sound quality of the DDJ-S1 is excellent.
As I stated in the video review, the DDJ-S1 just sounds better than all of the other DJ controllers that I have used to date. I’m not saying that there isn’t some settings I could have gone through to make the others sound better, but from the initial default setup, the DDJ-S1 has the best output right out of the box. The highs are crips and the bass booms.
The Jog wheels on the DDJ-S1 are very nice and they have a nice size to them (not too big, not too small). They are the pressure-top type of jog wheels that almost feel like you are pressing down on a piece of vinyl. The jog wheels have high resolution and never skip within the software even when spinning as fast as you can through a track. The Crossfader is also very good as it is the same high-quality Crossfader found in other DJM Pioneer Mixers. I was able to pull off all of my fader tricks and scratches using the Crossfader even though the cut-in distance was about 1.5mm. I felt that I was able to “get-adjusted” to the fader cut-in distance faster than other Controllers with almost the same distance (I guess its just the overall feel of the faders).
The Pioneer DDJ-S1 has lots of other cool features for DJ’s to play with like the 5-Hot Cues per deck, effects, the needle search, and the Slip function. The DDJ-S1 also has (2) Microphone inputs with their own separate 3-Band EQ, Gain knob, and on/off/talkover switch.
On the downside, the Pioneer DDJ-S1 Digital DJ Controller cannot function as a standalone mixer or a standalone unit. The user must always have a computer present in order to use the unit. To go along with this point, the DDJ-S1 doesn’t have any additional analog/digital Line inputs. Meaning that if a DJ wants to add a set of CDJ’s or Vinyl Decks to this setup, they will not be able to.
You can’t really use the DDJ-S1 as a starting point for a bigger setup or setup timecode decks for additional control. This is simply a high quality two-deck digital device. My final gripe with the unit is the non-user replaceable crossfader. Even though the Fader feels like it can take a beating, it would still be nice to know that if something ever does go wrong or if the user wants a fader upgrade, that you would be able to replace the fader personally. On a side note, I have never seen a DJM fader break or malfunction, so there is no real worry in that regard.
Conclusion / Recommended For
In conclusion, the Pioneer DDJ-S1 Digital DJ controller is one of the best Serato Itch controllers out there on the market today. The DDJ-S1 is recommended for DJ’s who can afford the $1200 price tag as this is one of the most expensive all-in-one controllers out there. It is also recommended for those who only need two-decks of control and don’t want to expand to a timecode DVS setup as there aren’t any additional line inputs to do so. If you are a Serato DJ, then the DDJ-S1 will have you right at home on the Serato Itch software. If you prefer Traktor, then you might want to take a look at the Pioneer DDJ-T1 which runs on that platform (review coming soon). From beginners to experts, DJ’s of all types will appreciate the features and build quality of the Pioneer DDJ-S1.
Pros & Cons
- Great Build Quality (Sturdy and Durable)
- Sound quality is Excellent
- Nice Jog Wheels
- Good (scratch-worthy) Pioneer Crossfader
- Nice Features: Hot Cues, Effects, Needle Search, and Slip
- Two Microphone inputs with separate 3-Band EQ
- Cannot use as a Standalone unit (computer required)
- Lack of analog line inputs or timecode compatibility
- Crossfader not user replaceable/upgradeable
- Expensive compared to similar Digital DJ Controllers
Features & Specs
Key Features Include:
Plug-and-Play USB Connectivity
– All buttons and knobs have been pre-assigned, so users can quickly connect the controller to their laptops with the use of a USB cable, enabling them to start their performances without having to adjust any complicated settings. Additionally, the DDJ-S1 can be powered through the laptop’s USB port.*1
Multiple Input and Output Options
– The controller is equipped with various inputs and outputs including a balanced XLR output and 2 Microphone inputs (XLR, 1/4 inch PHONE) for connection to professional PA equipment.*2
Designed Specifically for Serato ITCH DJ Software with Advanced Pioneer Functionality
– The DDJ-S1 offers tight integration with Serato ITCH DJ software and is loaded with original functionality. Unique features include song progression status on a LED display; an alphabetic search function for quick song selection from large music collections; and a slip mode for looping, reversing, and scratching without changing the song tempo. The DDJ-S1 also includes needle search functionality to quickly skip through songs to a preferred playback point.
Specially Designed User Interface
– The controller layout and Serato ITCH software interface are the same, ensuring ease-of-use and precise control. The DDJ-S1 is modeled after the established design of the professional Pioneer DJ player and mixer and integrates centrally placed level meters and an effect control area, so DJs can add Serato ITCH DJ FX to the mix.
- The controller is optimized for Serato ITCH DJ software and incorporates technology from Pioneer’s professional line of DJ equipment to ensure the highest quality sound output.
Additional Features Include:
* Proprietary lock mechanism called the P-LOCK Fader Cap designed to prevent fader caps from slipping. *3
* Premiere built-in sound card.
* Both microphone inputs are equipped with a talk-over function to lower the music volume when receiving voice input from the microphone.
* Included Software: Serato ITCH
* Input Terminals: Mic x 2 (top XLR / 1/4" Phone, front 1/4" Phone), AUX x 1 (RCA)
* Output Terminals: Master Out x 2 (XLR & RCA), Headphone Monitor Out x 2 (front 1/4" Phone, Mini-pin)
* Other Terminals: USB-B Connector x 1
* Frequency Range: 20Hz to 20kHz
* Total Harmonic Distortion: 0.01 % or less
* Included AC Adaptor: 120V (60 Hz), rated output 5V DC
* External Dimensions: 26.8in (W) x 12.5in (D) x 3.7in (H)
* Weight: 11 lbs
* Compatible OS: Mac OS X (10.4.11, 10.5.11, 10.6 or later), Windows 7 Home Premium/Professional/Ultimate, Windows Vista Home Basic/Home Premium/Ultimate/Business (SP1 and later), Windows XP Home Edition/Professional (SP3 and later). (Note: Not compatible with Windows XP Professional x64 edition)
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