Pioneer XDJ XZ – Serato DJ Pro Review & Guide
It’s been five long months since Pioneer dropped the brilliant XDJ XZ upon us and even though it shipped with both the Serato DJ and Rekordbox logos printed upon its chassis, it sadly only worked with the manufacturers own software until now. Fortunately, that’s all changed with the release of Serato DJ Pro version 2.3.3, an update that turns the XDJ XZ into possibly one of the best Pioneer DJ products to use Serato DJ with.
The XDJ XZ unlocks the Serato DJ Pro software for free and boasts four-deck control on superb full-sized CDJ mechanical jog wheels. Routing the audio through its DJM style mixer, you have access to the legendary Pioneer effects units with six colour and fourteen beat effects onboard. Serato DJ also takes full control of the three onboard LCD screens, displaying essential track information inside the jog wheel displays much like the DDJ 1000 SRT controller.
The seven-inch main display browses your Serato DJ library and now even displays full-colour waveforms directly from Serato DJ.
How to connect the XDJ XZ to Serato DJ
The XDJ XZ has a USB B connection on the back just like other Serato DJ controllers. After connecting this to your computer and launching Serato DJ, you will need to press the LINK button on the XDJ XZ and then hit load deck one & two. Once completed, you are now fully connected, ready to perform!
What can the XDJ XZ control in Serato DJ?
Acting just like Pioneer CDJ 2000’s in HID mode, the XDJ XZ fully maps to a range of Serato performance features. Every button acts almost identically to how it would naturally with just a USB plugged in with dedicated loop controls, slip control, track search and transport controls. The beat-sync buttons also work, however, the buttons act slightly differently. Beat sync turns sync on and master sync turns the feature off.
The onboard screen has four levels of zoom on the full-colour waveforms. It also has dedicated browse controls which navigate through your Serato DJ library alongside load buttons for each deck. This is as close as you can probably get to full hands-off laptop control in a Serato DJ controller, with only the search functionality missing. You can use the tag shortcut control to load tracks from your crates into the Serato prepare window. Sadly the taglist shortcut button doesn’t take you to the prepare window. This would be an excellent feature for Pioneer and Serato to add in a future firmware update!
The XZ’s shortcut window shows the ability to change the hot cue and quantize options; however, these only change the device settings and not the settings within Serato DJ. The only Serato DJ settings you can change in this window is the active deck, with the choice between deck 1/3 on the left and 2/4 on the right. However, a much easier way of switching between the decks is by double-tapping the shift button on the left or right decks.
The Serato XDJ XZ Performance Pad Modes
While almost every button on the XZ controls Serato as labelled, the performance pads, unfortunately, do not. To take full advantage of the software’s features, Serato has decided to map the mode buttons to perform different tasks.
The performance pad layout is similar to Pioneer’s dedicated Serato controllers, such as the SX or DDJ1000SRT models. With sampler replacing the beat jump function, and slicer modes hidden as secondary functions. Beat jump instead appears on the bottom layer of the beat loop or slip loop modes if it’s activated in the Serato DJ software. It’s also worth noting that the XZ doesn’t have parameter controls making it hard to adjust the roll length or pitch play options in the performance pad modes.
The XZ is midi mappable with Serato DJ, meaning you can customize the layout of your device. This is an ideal solution to the lack of parameter controls and only takes a few minutes to implement. You can learn how to MIDI map in our video guide here.
The Pioneer DJ XDJ-XZ is probably the best Serato DJ accessory we have ever used, with the colour waveforms even lifting it above the flagship CDJ 2000 Nexus 2 player.
We haven’t seen Serato DJ support on a Pioneer XDJ all in one player before which has been a shame. The runaway success of the XDJ-RX2 has left a lot of Serato users looking on enviously in the past. The rival Prime 4 player from Denon DJ does support Serato DJ; however, the unit must be booted into a special controller mode, meaning a full reset of the device is required when switching between laptop and USB DJs. The XDJ-XZ, however, can happily switch between Serato DJ users and USB users. You can even play one track from each source if required, a significant advantage when used in a club with back to back DJs.
If you’re a Serato DJ user looking for a capable controller with a club feel, we think you should also consider the DDJ 1000SRT. This shares the same layout and jog wheels while remaining more portable and cheaper. That said, the XDJ XZ is the closest anyone will get to the flagship CDJ line up for less than $3000, and this update only adds to the products unique versatility!
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