Pioneer DJ DJM-S7 Battle Mixer Review
Pioneer DJ today announced the release of the new S7 battle mixer for use Serato and Rekordbox. Designed to sit underneath the flagship DJM-S11, the new S7 sits alongside the Rane Seventy as a midrange battle mixer. But whereas the Seventy had very little competition from older Rane Mixers, the S7 at first glance looks almost identical to Pioneer’s 2015 S9. So who is the DJM-S7 aimed at and who should be considering this new mixer? In this review, we take a closer look to find out!
It looks familiar doesn’t it! The new S7 heavily shares many aspects of its layout and construction with the older Pioneer DJM-S9 battle mixer. Look closer though, and there are some welcome upgrades. The source selector is now a slide switch rather than the older knob, perfect for not accidentally mistaking the EQ control source. Most notably, though, the performance pads are now larger and feature full independent mode control.
Although the pads may have righted some of the S9’s wrongs, sadly the cramped layout remains. The pad mode buttons’ addition has left even less space for the EQ, loop controls, and browse sections. Strangely, Pioneer DJ didn’t decide to make the mixer slightly longer than make various compromises around the mixer’s design. Especially given that the S7 isn’t marketed as a replacement for DJM-S9 users who might want to reuse their old flight cases.
DJM-S7 Performance Pads
The performance pads on the DJM-S7 match those found on the flagship S11 model. Larger in size with a new rectangular shape, these pads are superb for finger drumming. The pads now also feature independent pad modes and full access to the latest Serato features such as gate cue, scratch bank and combo mode.
Gate Cue silences the playing deck. Press a hot cue, and the track jumps to the hot cue and un-silences whilst the pads depressed. This trick can create some exciting stab effects from a playing track.
Accessed by Shift and Sampler, this new feature enables DJs to load and play a track directly by hitting a pad. Like the regular sample bank in Serato, the play point on the scratch bank can be set to play a track from a hot cue or enable a loop. However, the difference with Scratch Bank is that instead of playing within the sampler, the track is loaded and plays inside either Deck One or Two. This allows DJ’s to load scratch samples and get creative, cutting them rapidly.
Alternatively, DJ’s can use the Scratch Bank instead of creating long custom tracks with different samples and instrumentals for their routines. Initially only available on the DJM-S11 this is one feature we hope makes it’s way to other Serato devices as its extremely impressive.
Combo Pad Mode
Finally, the S7 has full access to Serato’s combo pad mode. The user can access combo pad mode by holding down one mode and then pressing another. This allows the first pad mode on the top four pads with the second on the row below. Great for DJ’s who need quick access to different pad modes.
As with most battle mixers, the DJM-S7 features two paddles to apply effects. With a dedicated display to show the applied effect and it’s parameter, the paddles and buttons change colour to indicate which effect mode is active. The DJ can switch between beat effects, software effects, loop MIDI and, finally, combining these effects with two user banks.
Inside the S7 mixer are 22 beat effects, lifted straight from the flagship DJM-S11. The beat effects are applied to either line, phono or software sources and they sound fantastic. Six effects are easily accessible via the dedicated buttons, and any effect can be easily changed by holding down the effect button and twisting the browse knob.
Software effects are accessed by pressing shift and flanger. The three buttons either side of the paddles correspond to the two banks of three effects inside Serato DJ and Rekordbox. Pressing numerous effects together allows for up to three effects to be used at once. Again the user can change the effects by holding down an effect and using the browse control to scroll through.
Finally, we can’t speak about the S7’s effects without mentioning Loop MIDI. Loop MIDI is a brand new feature exclusive to the S7, and it combines the mixers BPM detection with the ability to send MIDI messages to the software. In Loop MIDI, the DJ can trigger an action inside the software by activating a paddle.
Alternatively, the DJ can lock the paddle on and use the BPM detection to send the message on any given beat division. Pioneer DJ has enabled two Loop MIDI banks with the default mappings triggering hot cues, samplers, and key changes. The ability to pitch a track up or play a sample every half-beat is fantastic and helps free up the DJ’s hands to perform other actions.
For the first time, Pioneer DJ has included a Bluetooth module on a DJ mixer. With a dedicated pairing button and trim control on the front panel, the DJ can route Bluetooth to either channel or master. Routing the Bluetooth to either channel allows for effects, eq and fader, to control the sound. Interestingly Bluetooth only layers on top of the channel, allowing Serato/Rekordbox to play simultaneously. This is great for DJ’s looking to mix out a request played through a phone.
Sadly even though the mixer supports aptX HD (Android only), the lag is still too large to use for DJing. This limits the connection to just playing requests, loops to scratch over or even a playlist for when the DJ isn’t active. A feature more appealing to bar owners than serious DJ’s.
Our Thoughts On The New DJM-S7
It’s important to remember that although this mixer looks like the DJM-S9, it does not aim to be a replacement. The S9 was the flagship battle mixer of its time, with the S11 now taking that place. The S7 is a cheaper mixer than the S9, and aims to sit in the middle of the battle mixer market. The build quality of the S7 does feel notably cheaper as a result of this choice. Especially the up faders, switches and chassis which feel lightweight and cheap.
That said Pioneer DJ have included the superb MagVel Pro crossfader, metal faceplate and performance pads from the DJM-S11. Meaning the majority of controls used heavily by a scratch DJ are still made of the best quality. We welcome well thought out compromises like this. However, it’s worth remembering the similar priced Rane Seventy does feature three high-quality faders and an all-metal build. Read our full review of the Seventy here.
Overall, The S7 is a great battle mixer that is a welcome addition to the range. We envisage the S7 as the battle mixer of choice for small venues and DJs wanting a battle mixer at home. At $500 cheaper than the flagship mixer whilst retaining most of the best components, the S7 is a a great choice for those looking for a battle mixer without a screen!