Search ‘Pioneer DJ DDJ-400’ on YouTube, and you’ll not struggle to find highly-polished, great-sounding routines, including inspirational performance mixes from us. And for great reason: the DDJ-400 is formidable. It lays a blueprint for DJs wanting to feel comfortable on top-tier, club-standard CDJ multi-players and DJM Mixers. But DJs may choose to ignore some of its killer features because accessing them in the heat of the mix is too complicated. Or is it?
Here we break down 5 DDJ-400 hacks to help you quickly and easily get the most out of Rekordbox’s all-powerful features on the controller.
1. Changing the Sound Colour FX
If you don’t rely heavily on the filter for your transitions, consider changing the filter knob’s function. You can choose from a range of alternative DJM-style sound colour effects, giving you quick access to a fresh way of affecting your audio. Get crushing, dub-echoing or sweeping, to name a few alternatives. How? Launch rekordbox and open the FX panel. If you’re not seeing the Sound Colour FX (CFX), go to Settings, select View, scroll down to Effect Panel and make sure BEAT FX + SOUND COLOUR FX is selected.
Once done, navigate back to the Sound Colour FX (CFX) panel and click USER; then, click your desired sound colour effect on the FX drop-down list. To finish, be sure to activate your chosen effect by clicking it on (the effect name will illuminate within the Sound Colour FX (CFX) panel when active). To revert the filter knob’s function to the classic high-pass/ low-pass combination filter, click on DEFAULT in the Sound Colour FX (CFX) panel and then be sure to click the FILTER button, so it illuminates to indicate that it is active.
2. Parameter Buttons
Pads and their modes are incredible tools on DJ controllers; whether you use them to activate multiple FX or conveniently jump through your tracks’ cue points, you will want to get your fingers busy taking advantage of them. High-tier DJ controllers also have dedicated buttons, not found on the DDJ-400, for changing the parameters of the various pad modes, giving DJs fluid access to deep control over the pad modes’ functions. The DDJ-400 does, however, have a hack for quickly accessing these parameter controls: hold the SHIFT key. In doing so, you gain access to pad mode parameter controls on pads 7 and 8 (the last two pads on the bottom row).
You can now access all sorts of pad mode parameters such as higher or lower pitch in Keyboard mode, through to jumping up or down various beat lengths in Beat Jump mode. And all without stabbing at your trackpad whilst leaning into your screen to ensure that you’re accurately clicking on the software parameter control buttons.
3. Hold Pad FX
A DJ’s hands are an essential tool that will remain, no matter where DJ technology may take us. The Pad FX are great, but they require your fingers to be held in place to keep the FX engaged. Liberation is at hand with this hack! Lock the Pad FX in place and allow your fingers to get groovy on other tasks. How? Activate one of the Pad FX modes and get some FX going; then, whilst keeping your fingers pressed on the affecting pads, switch pad modes.
The Pad FX will now be locked-on, freeing your fingers to act at will. You may even decide to throw some Beat FX onto the opposite channel. Hey, it’s your canvas to play with. Note, to disengage the locked-on Pad FX, just go back to the original Pad FX mode, and you’ll find the engaged FX pads illuminated; press these pads again to toggle them off.
4. Active loops
Have you ever come across a great track that doesn’t have an extended outro? You either mix it early or allow it to play right through, ala the 90s DJ ‘breaking it down’. To avoid this, simply create and save a loop in Rekordbox, or on the fly, and set it as an Active Loop. The track will automatically put itself into a loop once the play head reaches the saved loop cue point, giving you peace of mind that it will not end abruptly before your command. How to do it? Simply hold SHIFT and press the RELOOP/ EXIT button on the track’s corresponding deck before the play head reaches the saved loop (but after any other, earlier, saved loops on the track). Note, this must be done before the play head reaches the saved loop cue point, or the track will not put itself into a loop. You’ll know you’ve successfully created an Active Loop if an ‘A’ appears at the saved loop cue point on the waveform.
5. Release FX
As wonderful as FX are, sometimes we just want a quick return to normality, but that’s not to say we can’t do it in style! Pioneer DJ have added three excellent Release FX to the DDJ-400’s capabilities allowing for some creative flair when exiting the Beat FX. Trusty Vinyl Break never fails to deliver a satisfying conclusion to an effect, stopping the entire audio dead with the effect of pressing the stop button on a turntable. Using the Echo creates an impactful echo-out which dissipates nicely, and if you want something a bit more dramatic, you can finish with Spin Back (which does what it says on the tin). But how do you access these Release FX quickly and cleanly? First, set your desired release effect in Rekordbox (the fourth drop-down box in the FX panel); then, when a beat effect is active, hold the SHIFT button and press the Beat FX ON/OFF button to activate the release effect. Nice work!
Video Tutorial Explaining These Tips
Ready To Learn More?
Master these tips to get the most out of this impressive little controller, take your sound to high levels of professional polish or simply enjoy Rekordbox’s rich feature set with ease. This was a little taster of what you could learn on our DDJ-400 course, which will get you mixing your favourite music confidently and creatively.