In a pre-NAMM announcement, Pioneer has officially entered the Traktor controller arena and controllerism in general, with its DDJ-T1 4-deck Traktor DJ Controller, as leaked yesterday on Digital DJ Tips.
"The DDJ-T1 controller is designed for the next generation of home and casual DJs who leverage digital music files everywhere they go," says Pioneer.
"We wanted to create a solution for DJs who love the look and feel of our professional rig but who need a 'plug-and-play' solution for their electronic beats."
"The DDJ-T1 controller and Traktor software have an integrated, sleek design and several unique features that allow DJs to create top-notch performances while connected to a computer." added David Arevalo, senior marketing manager at Pioneer USA.
Here are the key features you need to know about:
- It's large - this is a substantial controller, which therefore sacrifices ultra-portability for "looking the part"
- It is raised, to allow a laptop to slide underneath it - this brings the screen closer to the DJ and is a unique design feature among current controllers
- It includes a 4-deck version of Traktor - the hardware comes with a DDJ-T1 version of Traktor, which has 4-deck control out of the box. This 4-deck functionality is a first among software bundled with Traktor controllers. Also, it seems it is not a cut-down LE version requiring an upgrade to unlock further features; indeed, the software has at least one extra feature: Channel fader start
It has balanced and unbalanced outputs, but no XLRs - without booth monitor control or balanced XLRs, such a controller is unlikely to appeal for smaller all-digital installations, but is professional enough for a visiting DJ to plug his or her DDJ-T1 into pro systems via a house mixer
- It has needle search strips to allow quick previewing of tracks - however, these lack the LEDs to show you visually how much of the track has played, as included on the new Pioneer Serato ITCH controller, the DDJ-S1
- It has pro audio - bank on the sound quality being top notch
Where it fits in
People buy Pioneer as much as anything because they've heard of them. They're a big boy, and when the big boys move in to a market, that market grows up. Controllerism has come of age without a doubt and this unit is going to do well simply because of who is behind it.
OK, having said that, it lacks a booth out, it lacks VU meters (but you get them on-screen of course), the laptop-underneath-the-unit design looks nice in the pictures but would be impractical (how do you search for tunes deep in your database if you can't access your keyboard?) and the single microphone input with no EQ means that the unit will not appeal especially to mobile DJs.
No, this is fair and square a home / hobbyist / mobile controllerist's unit. It's built to the highest of standards, and will be a joy to use. It is genuinely innovative in coming with an adapted apparently full-strength version of Traktor to suit its design. The needle search strips are great, auto channel start is potentially a neat DJ trick to have across 4 decks, and overall - while different from it - it compares well with the Kontrol S4, its closest competitor.
One question is: Now that it's entered the controller arena, how long before Pioneer develops it Rekordbox software (currently pedalled with its CDJs) as a fully fledged DJ solution for all its equipment?
Price and availability
The unit will be on sale as of February 2011, with a suggested retail price of US$1,299.
How significant do you think Pioneer finally entering the controllerism market is? Have they just thrown down the gauntlet for other manufacturers, or is it "too little, too late"? And are YOU tempted to buy one?