Many DJs have been making the switch to all-in-one digital MIDI controllers. In this Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB2 review we will be covering this product in detail, as well as any concerns you may have in making the switch to MIDI products in general.
When we first tried MIDI products, we were surprised by their compatibility and quick-responses when I connected them a computer program. Furthermore, for the first time ever each button on our setup could now do whatever we programmed it to do.
However, there can also be many downsides to using a MIDI controller, which this review will discuss.
Previously, purchasing a Pioneer brand DJ product would involve whipping out a large chunk of change. Although this is clearly not the best Pioneer controller, the Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB2 is an economical alternative to DJs wanting to have the best controller possible.
What Makes the Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB2 Worth Mentioning?
The Pioneer brand is perhaps the most prominent brand of DJ equipment worldwide. Can you name a famous DJ? Odds are that person has used Pioneer equipment, more than once, during their career.
Putting the brand name aside, this product also includes its own soundcard, ensuring that it functions with the included Serato DJ Intro software flawlessly. Of course, this is only the introductory version of the popular DJ software.
This should be no surprise, though, given the low price of the Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB2.
Features that Stand Out
The Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB2 features only two channels, both of which can only be used with a computer program. Its portable, one cord design however proves to be a great feature for DJs who haul loads of equipment back-and-forth every weekend.
The platters, although fairly large, do not spin on a motor and instead sit idle. A DJ who is used to spinning tracks on vinyl would surely have a difficult time transitioning over to a setup like this.
One great thing about MIDI controllers, though, is the ability to use any of the buttons however you wish.
Do you see all of the buttons on the controller in the above pictures? Each of those can be programmed to do whatever you wish. You could even set up the platter to be your play/pause button, if you wanted to do such a thing.
Tempo Control, EQ Control, and FX for Both Channels
If you are considering this controller, you can rest well knowing that you will have all of the standard features of a modern DJ setup. Both channels have two separate gains, EQ control, tempo control, and sound FX, which are a necessity in any modern DJ setup.
However, remember that having only two digital channels means that you will not be able to hook up an iPod, phone, or mp3 device to your Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB2. Ideally, this controller would then be for the DJ who does not have to worry much about taking random requests.
Basic Rundown of the Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB2
- Portable, easy to haul design.
- Compatibility with any popular DJ software.
- Two channels, both require DJ software.
- Only one USB cord required for computer connection.
- Built-in soundcard ensures less latency-related issues.
- Great for a diverse range of users, not necessarily just music professionals.
- All-in-one digital MIDI controller.
- Small and portable. Easy for storage and transport.
- Pioneer brand, with built-in soundcard.
- Tempo control, automatic beat syncing, up to 16 sample buttons.
- Critically-acclaimed with high ratings.
- Reasonably priced.
- All-in-one devices are harder to repair and/or find replacement parts.
- Does not work as a standalone device. You need software.
- The platters work differently than vinyl, and produce lesser-quality scratching.
- Included Serato software is only the introductory version.
- Only two channels.
The Problems With MIDI
As with many new types of technology, MIDI controllers have their fair share of setbacks. The Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB2 is no exception to this rule.
Programming MIDI controllers can be a very difficult task for a beginner, and you should do some research on what this process looks like before purchasing a MIDI controller. Remember that you will also need a reliable computer to use with your MIDI controllers, the worst thing that can happen to a DJ is a system failure during a live set.
Many MIDI controllers we have used throughout the years at one point or another either froze or failed to work altogether during a gig. If you want more reliability, you want to avoid having a digital setup as much as possible.
“I’m sorry, I can’t play music right now because my controller is frozen. I think I need to restart my computer.”
It is never fun trying to explain to an impatient client why your setup isn’t working. With computers and MIDI controllers, you are adding in variables for disaster which in many cases will be entirely out of your control.
What the Reviews Have Said:
The Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB2 has received great feedback from the customers on Amazon. The positive reviews come from both DJs with plenty of experience and those who are beginners. In short, both professionals and beginners alike find this control to be useful.
One professional DJ remarked that since DJ products have a tendency to break, he prefers to use affordable products like this for gigs, and more expensive equipment at home for practice.
Negative reviews tend to complain of the controller freezing and/or not working. Rest assured, with just about any sort of MIDI controller you can expect this to happen every now and then.
The fact remains that most customers find the Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB2 to be a great product.
If you are considering purchasing an all-in-one MIDI controller, know that you have plenty of options. Depending on what features you want, finding the right controller is a relatively easy thing to do.
If you want more channels:
- Check out the Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S4.
If you want a lower price:
- Check out the Numark Mixtrack Pro II.
If you want a standalone device with more features:
- Check out the Denon DJ MCX8000. This controller, although more expensive, comes with the full version of Serato.
If you want a cheaper, older model:
- There are many available. Our favorite is the Stanton SC System 3.
How much does the Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB2 cost?
- The controller price ranges depending on where you purchase it from, but it is a mid-range priced piece of equipment and a must have for all DJs.
Where can I get this controller?
- This controller are currently available online from several merchants like Amazon
Is there any type of warranty for this controller?
- There is a three or four year “protection plan” offered to Amazon customers. Other online merchants also offer something similar.
How long does it take to ship this controller?
- These monitors are included with Amazon Prime’s two-day shipping. If you do not have Amazon Prime, you can expect 5-7 business days for shipping.
Will this make my setup look professional?
- Yes! Remember that most clients you will have during your DJ career won’t be able to tell the difference between new and outdated mixing equipment. The same would apply to most of the rest of your setup.
The Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB2 is an overall solid choice for a DJ looking to use an industry standard brand. Although it is limited to only a couple channels, it doesn’t function as a standalone (it needs a computer), and is only included with the free version of Serato, its price and portability stand out.
The goal of this Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB2 review was to illustrate some of the benefits and drawbacks of MIDI controllers, as well as highlight the key features of this specific model. If you prefer this product over its many alternatives, be sure to check out some more details before you make your decision.