The Pioneer DJ XDJ-XZ, the product you didn’t know you needed.
It’s been a little while since Pioneer DJ updated the RX family of players. The all in one devices that provide home users the feel of a club set up with the functionality of a controller have been unbelievably popular, with the XDJ-RX2 a firm fan favourite. However, it wasn’t just home users that were lapping up the XDJ-RX2 with the all in one unit showing up in bars and clubs too. All the Rekordbox USB functionality that professional DJ’s required in a package much cheaper than a DJM/CDJ set up, it’s not hard to see why operators started to use the unit in more professional settings.
However the RX2 was never designed for use in more professional settings, it lacked full size jog wheels, a proper standalone mixer mode and connectivity with third party software. The stage was set then for a proper all in one console with a four channel mixer, stand alone effects, professional mic controls and full sized jog wheels. Enter the XDJ-XZ, the latest all in one unit that aims to bridge the gap between the CDJ and XDJ families.
The Key Facts About the Pioneer DJ XDJ-XZ
- 4 channel mixer with DJM style effects unit
- 2 internal channels for playback of Rekordbox USB’s
- 7” Touchscreen to control and display information from internal channels and externally linked CDJ’s
- 2 Professional Mic channels with 3 band EQ and Anti Feedback
- Professional Sound Quality with a 3 band EQ on Master Channel
- Full size mechanical jog wheels with internal colour LCD screens
- 16 RGB Performance Pads
- Compatible with Rekordbox Performance mode, Rekordbox Link Export and Serato DJ (coming 2020)
- RRP £1899/$2299/€2199
Is this a four channel XDJ-RX2?
Let’s get the burning question out of the way first! Ever since Pioneer DJ released the original XDJ-RX way back in 2015, everyone has been crying out for a 4 channel version of the all in one player. This demand intensified when rivals Denon DJ released the Prime 4 player early last year. So does the XDJ-XZ answer everyones four deck dreams? Erm, no, not quite! The XDJ-XZ does feature a four channel mixer but the third and four channels are for external devices only.
You can plug turntables, CDJ’s or computer into these channels but you can’t use the internal hardware to mix dual layers like you can on the Prime 4. Many users will be disappointed with this choice but it’s worth remembering that the XDJ-XZ isn’t aimed at home use. It’s a professional all in one solution, more aimed at taking centre stage in a local bars DJ booth than sitting in a bedroom.
It’s not all bad news however. You can connect CDJ’s via the link ports on the rear of the unit. It’s worth noting there is 3 link ports within the unit, meaning you can connect 2 CDJ’s straight to the unit with no external hub needed. This link functionality allows the onboard touch screen to browse the libraries and load tracks of connected USB’s. You can even sync the external decks with the internal ones via the pro link connection.
This is a fantastic solution that allows users who might have slightly older CDJ’s to utilise them rather than letting them collect dust. You can also use the XDJ-XZ as a 4 channel controller for Rekordbox performance mode and soon in Serato DJ when compatibility is released in early 2020. Even though there are no dedicated buttons to switch between decks 1 and 3, 2 and 4, you can access the other channels by tapping the shortcut button and using the on screen deck switch options. In a firmware update coming early 2020 you’ll be able to double tap the shift button to switch between decks also.
The two decks on the XDJ-XZ are a real joy to use. Borrowing the full sized mechanical jog wheels complete with internal LCD screen from the much loved DDJ-1000 series of controllers, the jog wheels feel identical to those found on flagship CDJ units. The tension can be adjusted on the fly and the screens and LED lights can be adjusted in the settings. The overall size of the deck sections is large and a joy to navigate with dedicated loop and memory cue buttons also lifted straight from the CDJ players.
The only missing feature from the much more expensive stand alone units seems to the slip reverse paddle, with a straight forward reverse button taking its place. At the bottom of the decks are eight large RBG pads, these are near identical to those found on the XDJ-RX2 and feel superb under finger. You can use them to control hot cues, beat loop, slip loop and beat jumps on the units internal USB connection. Secondary pad functions are available by pressing shift when using the unit with a laptop but these haven’t been written down, probably due to Serato and Rekordbox supporting different modes.
In what does feel like a missed opportunity, it’s worth discussing the on air display of the inbuilt decks. Unlike the CDJ units that changed from white LED’s on the jog wheel to red when that channel is in use, the XDJ-XZ instead flashes a tiny red icon around the deck number on screen when that channel is on air.
The DDJ-1000 also stopped using the red LED’s which at the time of release seemed strange but at least the internal screens displayed the change with a white glow at either side. The XDJ-XZ skipping both these solutions and using the same tiny icons as the RX units which were forced to do this due to hardware limitations (No jog wheel display or LED’s) just feels rushed, not a major flaw but something that’s made glaringly obvious when you connect other CDJ’s to the unit.
The stand out feature of this new unit has to be the full sized, 4 channel DJM style mixer complete with stand alone effects and X pad. Feeling identical to the class leading DJM 900 Nexus 2, the XDJ-XZ adds two microphone channels complete with dedicated 3 band EQ, dedicated clip light and all new anti-feedback controls.
This is a brilliant move from Pioneer DJ who have been criticised before for poor sounding microphone inputs and really lends the unit to more professional settings. Another brilliant move designed with professionals in mind is the 3 band EQ found on the master channel, allowing control of the overall sound of the unit, DJ’s can now set the EQ to suit the sound system and mix away care free about run away frequencies.
The mixer features 5 line inputs, 2 phono and one USB B for DJ software. All four channels can be used with line level inputs but turntables can only be used on channels 3 and 4. The unit will allow DVS control through these channels should you wish to use it with Serato and Rekordbox but separate licences may be required. The internal player can only play through 2 channels sadly which means channel 3 and 4 are left free unless you plug external devices in.
Finally there is an AUX input on line level for external devices such as iPods but this only features a level control so no dedicated EQ’s, to be honest you’d only use this if all four other channels were in use. The effects unit features 14 professional Beat FX and 6 colour FX taken straight from the flagship DJM900 nexus 2 mixer. Anyone who’s used these before will know how great they sound, this quality is boosted by the addition of a three band EQ and BPM quantisation when used with either the internal channels or linked CDJ’s. The X pad is a great addition and adds to that premium professional feeling, combined with it’s bulky chassis the XDJ-XZ feel more at home with the nexus 2 range than it does with the DDJ controllers and older XDJ units.
The XDJ-XZ is taking aim at bars, clubs and more professional settings and as such the connectivity is up there with the best. Featuring a vast array of options for almost every DJ. Rekordbox users will be pleased to learn that they can use the 2 USB inputs for use with the internal decks or either the USB B port found on the rear or the extension LAN port for connecting a laptop. Rekordbox video users will be pleased to know that by pressing menu whilst in the browse window opens the video control mode. Which allows on the fly shortcuts and control to the majority of essential video settings.
The USB B port can soon be used by Serato DJ users who wish to use the device as a 4 channel controller, with support being announced for an early 2020 release. The XDJ-XZ will also unlock Serato DJ, meaning no licence purchase is necessary, a neat saving of around £200. Connecting CDJ’s is a breeze with 2 dedicated link ports to avoid an external hub having to be used and the XDJ-XZ will automatically update the player numbers so everything syncs perfectly.
The XDJ-XZ also features a pair of unbalanced TRS send outputs, we were initially confused by this as there is no return for the use of external effects processing. However these outputs are actually for connecting the DJS1000 sampler with the output of the player advised to be plugged into the AUX input. Another great nod to the professionals this unit is aiming at.
The only connectivity the XDJ-XZ is missing is a REC out. However this really shouldn’t be a surprise though as the unit can record direct to USB on the second USB A input and even features a dedicated track marker button which is a nice touch when recording with external devices.
The XDJ-XZ is a fantastic, well thought out product that hits the target market head on. However with a minor leak coming out a week ahead of the units release we saw first hand the amount of DJ’s sharing the limited information, praying that this would be a true 4 channel all in one player.
A true rival to the Denon Prime 4? A four channel XDJ-RX2?A glimpse at the next CDJ units? Sadly this is none of those.
Think of the XDJ-ZX more of a solution to the bars and clubs out there that can’t afford to install a full Nexus 2 set up but also want more than the bedroom focused XDJ-RX2. We’ve seen the RX2 being used in more and more professional settings recently but for the demanding professional DJ’s it simply was never good enough. The inclusion of mechanical jog wheels, a full 4 channel mixer and standalone effects are a must for most professional DJ’s.
The XDJ-XZ provides an affordable, professional package to venues that can expand the set up to include 3 or 4 decks at a later date should they need. It doesn’t matter if a DJ uses Serato, Rekordbox or USB’s to perform, the XDJ-XZ is ready and capable for all occasions. Don’t get us wrong, we would have liked to have seen more new technology in the unit. There simply isn’t anything new in the XDJ-XZ, the player is essentially a RX2 with DDJ 1000 jog wheels and a 900 nexus 2 mixer wedged into the middle of it. Denon DJ showed us almost two years ago whats now possible but Pioneer DJ are yet to directly retaliate.
Safe in the knowledge that DJ’s usually stick with what they know and trust, Pioneer DJ continue to dominate the professional market with vastly less powerful hardware. Regardless, no matter how disappointed the home users might be, the professional market has been crying out for a solution just like this.
With pricing starting at £1899 it’s also somewhat of a bargain. Especially when you consider the price of an equivalent DJM 900 Nexus 2 and two XDJ1000 players. In summary, it’s not quite the product we were hoping for but it’s a fantastic product that will be undoubtedly successful. Expect to see one in a DJ booth near you some time soon!