Mixing is a skill that takes time, dedication and practice to master, with the process being quicker for some than it is for others. For users of Pioneer DJ’s new DDJ-FLX4 controller, the timeframe should be somewhere between 25 and 30 seconds!
With simple-to-use powerhouse abilities, this fresh offering from the industry giant gifts users the ability to mix and apply complex combinations of effects completely automatically and with minimal effort thanks to a couple of world-exclusive features!
Making a sequel to the best-selling controller on the market was never going to be an easy task, but Pioneer DJ has responded to the challenge with open arms… The FLX4 has all the ingredients needed to become the ultimate entry-level device!
As a replacement for the massively popular DDJ-400, this device has some big boots to fill. Fortunately, it has all the same functions with some insane new capabilities thrown in!
Pioneer DDJ-FLX4 Review
Who’s it for?
It’s safe to say that the beginner market is locked-on to here. A serious play for curious and casual DJs is made, too! Anyone wanting to try DJing can now find something to suit their needs from Pioneer DJ’s lineup.
The promo’s bubble graffiti, colourful graphics and comic-esque imagery all illustrate that this kit makes DJing both fun and accessible.
The DDJ-FLX4 is a good choice for DJs who are looking for a controller that is easy to learn and use, but also offers enough features to allow them to be creative. It is also a good choice for DJs who are on a budget, as it is one of the more affordable controllers on the market.
The DDJ-FLX4 is a good choice for a variety of DJs, including:
- Beginner DJs who are just starting out and need a controller that is easy to learn and use.
- Intermediate DJs who are looking for a controller that offers more features than a beginner controller, but is still affordable.
- Mobile DJs who need a controller that is portable and easy to set up.
- DJs who want a backup controller for their main setup.
Its power teamed with its ease of use means every type of entry-level DJ is catered for.
With a streamlined and lightweight design heavily resembling its predecessor, the new controller has struck a fine balance between retaining features which make the current best seller so popular and introducing modern conveniences which are sure to satisfy beginners starting their DJ journey in late 2022.
The below are inherited directly from its predecessor the DDJ-400:
- Club standard layout which emulates 2 flagship CDJ multi-players sandwiched between a DJM mixer.
- High-quality beat effects.
- Access to Performance Mode in rekordbox for plenty of creative mixing tools.
- An affordable RRP of £279 / $299
These features made the DDJ-400 a success! It is now regarded as a trusty controller which offers far more than is needed for a newcomer. Its winning streamlined design is the reason it has found its way into many DJ equipment riders as a practice session or backup device.
The new stuff!
The DDJ FLX4 takes the DDJ-400’s proven formula and enhances it! Users of this next-generation controller get the following upgrades:
- Smart Fader function – automatically takes care of making a seamless blend between any 2 tracks with the simple slide of an upfader or crossfader! Perfect for mixing between large BPM gaps and genres.
- Smart CFX function – automatically adds dynamic combinations of complimentary complex effects to your tracks or mixes with the twist of a single knob!
- USB connection carries microphone audio – voice is now recorded with your set so there’s no need for an external sound card or additional laptop for live streams.
- A major update to the rekordbox mobile app – allows the controller to perform with a smartphone or tablet. (Coming Early 2023)
- Bluetooth connectivity – perfect for users who want to connect wirelessly to their smart devices!
- Alongside the all-new rekordbox app, the controller is also compatible with Serato DJ – lots of options to try wether it’s stems technology in Serato or cloud sycing in Rekordbox!
- The unit is powered by modern USB-C and includes a power throughput. This takes the convenience factor up a few notches as most smartphones and tablets can now charge when physically connected to the controller.
A simple way to mix
Absolute beginners who may have reservations about starting their DJ journey have had a friendly nudge forward. With this device, they won’t need to worry about the technicalities of mixing to get a decent-sounding set to play through their speakers. All thanks to the world debut of it’s automatic mixing features:
The DDJ-FLX4’s Smart Fader and Smart CFX features are two of its most innovative and useful features. The Smart Fader allows you to mix two tracks with different BPMs seamlessly, even if they are drastically different. It does this by automatically adjusting the tempo and pitch of the two tracks as you move the fader. This makes it easy to create smooth and professional-sounding mixes.
Newbies can have fun combining the music they love straight out of the box! Simply activate the feature, then slide either the crossfader or an upfader as slowly or quickly as desired to allow rekordbox’s A.I to take care of making a blend.
The incoming track will start with perfect, on-beat precision and both tracks’ volumes and bass levels will blend to make a smooth transition, every time. Even if the DJ is hopping from one genre to another!
In the Crossfader studio, we’ve found that moving between very different BPMs works incredibly well when done in rekordbox. The BPM slowly shifts from the first track to that of the incoming track with every nudge of the fader and has a little echo-out once the fader has fully opened or reached the opposite side.
With Serato DJ, on the other hand, the BPMs did not sync well, the Smart Fader feature simply applied an effect to make the transition. This is hopefully something that will change with a little development time.
When using Smart Fader, users are still free to play around with and learn how to manipulate the EQ and filter settings manually without fear of sounding unskilled.
To use the Smart Fader to mix two tracks with different BPMs, simply load the two tracks into the controller and press the Smart Fader button. Then, start moving the fader towards the track that you want to mix in. The Smart Fader will automatically adjust the tempo and pitch of the two tracks so that they match. As you move the fader further towards the incoming track, the first track will fade out and the incoming track will fade in.
This feature can be used to add flavour to a mix. Now the turn of a knob will introduce combinations of effects which can be used to build tension or layer the sound in interesting and unique ways- an exciting new way for DJs to put their own stamp on tunes!
In rekordbox, there are 8 combinations of effects to choose from with only 2 being available in Serato DJ at this time.
Using combinations of effects seems to be what the FLX series of controllers are all about as the FLX6 also has an exclusive feature for combining effects. This is typically for aiding with transitioning from one genre to another with the FLX6, but on the FLX4 it is more of a standalone feature.
Use it with your smartphone or tablet
For those who don’t want the commitment of needing to fire up a computer to start DJing, this controller supports mobile use for instant easy access to DJing!
With a new update to the rekordbox app for iOS/ iPadOS and Android dropping in 2023, users will get full functionality of rekordbox via their smart device. This ability is absolutely essential for Pioneer DJ in their cornering of the casual market. No longer is Algoriddim Djay the only fully-featured smart device DJ platform!
Pioneer DJ’s mobile platform, WeDJ, may close down following the introduction of this rekordbox update. If so, they will likely offer anyone using mobile controllers, such as the DDJ-200, a reasonable time frame to migrate over from the simplified platform and onto their fully-featured, all-new rekordbox mobile app.
A sound card that records it all!
This is the feature that has true mass appeal! The ability to record a microphone feed gives content creators a compact and capable device they can live stream from without needing additional gear like an external soundcard.
This is a great selling point for those who have space constraints or want to travel light when on the road!
Recording microphone audio is only possible if Bluetooth is not being used to connect the controller to a smart device as it is done through the USB-C connection.
With a striking new orange-on-black finish, this colour scheme is in line with Pioneer DJ’s entry-level Serato DJ controller, the DDJ-REV1, which dropped earlier in the year. This cool new design seems to be what Pioneer DJ are now going for across their entry-level gear.
This now also comes with a slick new matte jog wheel plate design and the main faceplate has a revised matt finish.
The device retains the same bare essentials for hookups as the DDJ-400 but replaces USB-B for USB-C. The change is monumental as controllers have been shipping with USB-B since their dawn!
There is also an additional power throughput socket to allow the unit to deliver power to connected devices rather than draw from them. Essential for DJs using a tablet or smartphone which would not be enough to power the controller.
With a single RCA MASTER port, the FLX4 is clearly designed for non-professional use, but that’s not to say it can’t hook into a club mixer to feed through to professional speakers in a DJ booth if needs be!
Headphones are plugged in via 3.5-mm stereo mini jack, with no port for professional ¼ inch jacks.
The microphone port is an unbalanced TS jack with a dedicated attenuation dial next to it. The mixer retains the dedicated volume pot for the microphone feed.
There is also an Android MONO/STEREO switch which toggles the signal coming from an Android device into Mono if its stereo signal comes through distorted.
So, what do we think?…
This device definitely delivers as a follow-up to a hugely successful controller and executes impressive new features brilliantly in rekordbox.
However, Serato DJ implementation seems like an afterthought at present with issues affecting a range of functions like the use of Smart Fader, the lack of Smart CFX effect options and an inability to set certain loop lengths.
It is safe to say the FLX4 will change the DJ landscape. Until now, Pioneer DJ have played a relatively minor role on the casual DJ scene with most people simply trying a DJ app like the free version of Algoriddim Djay and potentially progressing from there.
With an RRP of £279, this is by no means in direct competition with these apps. However, it promises beginners that they will sound good. Straight away! And that proposition may have opened up it’s own new category of budding DJs.
Watch The Complete Review & Walkthrough
Crossfader’s Pioneer DDJ-FLX4 Performance Mix
Do you want to see the DDJ-FLX4 in action, showcasing all it’s new features live in the mix. Well look no further, here is our performance, putting the controller through it’s paces and focusing heavily on the smart features.
Do you already own a DDJ-FLX4?
If you already own this controller and want to learn about setting it up, check out our Getting Started With article. Need to learn how to mix, EQ, use effects and mix your favourite music? Why not try a free lesson from inside our Beginner Rekordbox Course here. This tutorial demonstrates how to effectively use the smart fader to mix seamlessly between genres.
Check out our dedicated courses compatible with this controller below: