Pioneer is a company that has been around for ages, literally. Their name is reflective of their company goals as they keep improving and revolutionizing the music industry. There are countless product lines ranging from car audio systems, through speakers, all the way to DJ equipment and headphones. In other words, if you hear a good sounding music system, it’s most likely Pioneer. Mixers and Controllers have been their main focus throughout their existence and the number of DJs using their products is a reflection of the quality they provide. The DDJ-SZ2 is their newest controller which is potent enough to be the heart of a party. If you feel like DJ scratching you will be surprised at how good this is for that, as it was designed by and for professionals.
Our Verdict: This is a pro-quality DJ controller by Pioneer that’s the upgraded version of the DDJ SZ. This controller is specifically designed to work with the included Serato software, and offers a solid performance, plenty of unique sounds, and intuitive controls that make it very beginner-friendly. It doesn’t have a dedicated display and is not compatible with a wide variety of DAWs, an issue that you’ll want to look into before you buy. Despite its few flaw,s we would recommend this controller to both the pro and aspiring DJ who are in search of an intuitive controller that’s fun to experiment with.
Now let’s talk a little more about its unique features and see what makes it stand out from its competition.
Product Overview And Features
For everyone who wants to be a DJ even on a smaller scale, there are three things he has to keep in mind:
- Sound quality
- Overall functionality
In terms of design, the SZ2 absolute nails it. It looks like a professional controller and it behaves like one. It’s safe to say that having it will surely take your DJ game to the next level in terms of visuals. The layout is mirrored which means that it is a duo classical CDJ style set up just like the Numark NS7II. It actually feels like a full CDJ along with the DJM (DJM is a model line in Pioneer) set up. It is a full of features 4-deck controller which has two built-in audio interfaces and is fully compatible with Serato DJ Pro.
In fact, one of the great benefits of this model is that it comes with a free Serato DJ Pro app which opens the doors for countless of other possibilities for you. With the level of control you have plus the software you get you can even use it in your home studio to either mix, create samples, or simply practice.
It doesn’t have its own display but everything is laid out so well that visually-wise you won’t need an external display. Still, using Serato will require a laptop powerful enough to process everything.
Now let’s talk about the most important part of this controller – the jog wheels:
Jog Wheels And Pads
There are two aluminum 206mm CDJ-styled jog wheels which have adjustable jog wheel feeling (by having changeable resistance and backspin time) allowing you to enjoy the perfect scratching experience. There is an on-jog display which is bright enough and helps you by providing information about the current playback status and the position of the wheel.
There is a dedicated “Slip Mode” for both jog wheels which keeps the track going while you do your jog wheel tricks so no matter what you do you will always land on the beat.
Beneath every jog wheel there are 8 colored performance pads. They are dynamic and let you control various functions. In fact, you can assign pretty much anything you want to each one of them.
The Sound And Everything Behind It
In terms of sound it is safe to say that it doesn’t get any better than this. The circuits are straight from the most expensive Pioneer gear. There is little to no contact resistance due to the AC inlet and the D/A converter. There is a built-in low jitter oscillator which will give you a clear and powerful sound.
Another thing that helps the sound is the software part of this model. As we already mentioned it comes with a free copy of the DJ program “Serato Pro”. Pioneer has partnered nicely with Serato for this product and that is obvious in the dedicated controls present on top of the controller.
Inside Serato Pro you get DJ decks which give you all the information you need such as track progress bar, pitch information, BPM, playlists, and more. There are jog wheel animations which help you by giving you reference points for beat juggling.
There can be 8 cue points displayed simultaneously in Serato. If you can’t handle manual beat matching, there is a function for that as well called Serato’s Sync.
Perhaps the best feature is that you can power up this whole thing on one of your iOs devices, be it an iPad, MacBook, or even an iPhone.
Want to check out other mixers and controllers before making your final choice? Head over to our full Buyer’s Guide where you will find tons of useful information as well as some professional tips.
Some Other Features
Since there is a Serato software coming with this controller you can plug-and-play anytime just by connecting the controller to your laptop. Everything on this turntable from the buttons and controls to the built-in sound cards is Serato-ready.
The top panels, as well as the jog wheels are aluminum which creates a very premium feeling and makes the product quite more durable.
There is a pad which has a “needle search” function. That allows you to jump to a specific part of the track just by pressing the pad.
Some other features are the peak limiter and p-lock fader cap. The first controls the clipping of the main output while the second locks your fader knobs. That prevents knobs dropping which will pretty much ruin whatever you were playing.
The Serato DJ functions will allow you to adjust the pitch and keys when you’re mixing, while the Pitch Play feature provides the type of versatility many pros are looking for. This feature allows users assign a wide variety of keys for cues, providing the type of creative freedom that many DJs are looking for in a top of the line controller.
With the use of three buttons you can repeat or skip loops, make cuts, and play back a mix.
The larger than average jog wheels are highly adjustable, allowing each user to obtain the perfect amount of resistance for scratching, based on preference. Each of the jog wheels also feature illuminated cue point markers that can be used for improved precision.
The pads are backlit with the use of multi-colored LED lights. This design keeps the DJ aware of the modes in use and will even display preset cue points.
A couple of USB ports and sound cards allows you to hook up a couple of laptops or PCs, a huge selling point for the buyer with an extensive setup that needs a controller that allows you to use two simultaneously.
The patented Sound Color Filter gives DJs another reason to buy. This filter is loaded in every channel, allowing you to add sounds effects to sound regions.
Many DJs will find themselves relying on the Slip Mode feature often. This feature is perfect for live events. Slip Mode will continue to play a track muted in the background when you’re making a live edit. Once the jog wheel is released the track seamlessly slides back in at the right place.
Compared to the original SZ controller, this model’s upgrades aren’t major enough to cause the owner’s of the original SZ to run out and buy it, but those searching for a reliable controller will appreciate the many minor upgrades and important new features. This bigger and better model mainly focuses on adding controls that work specifically with the included Serato software, allowing you to get the most out of this software.
- Gorgeous design
- Tons of functionality
- Comes with free Serato DJ Pro software
- Aluminum construction and jog wheels
- Integrated Serato controls
- 16 touch pads with multiple functions
- Impeccable sound quality
- The price
- Doesn’t have a built-in display
- Isn’t as nicely compatible with other DAWs and DJ programs as it is with Serato DJ pro