Pioneer has just announced the XDJ-AERO, an audacious new DJ controller that combines the company’s pro DJ booth aesthetic with a killer twist: The XDJ-AERO is WiFi enabled and can take its music wirelessly from your iPhone, iPad, Android device, laptop or other sources. Yup, that’s right: No connections required. (Update: Here’s our full Pioneer XDJ-Aero review & video).
As well as a wireless mixstation for up to four such sources, the $1399/£869/€999 XDJ-AERO is also a Midi DJ controller for Traktor and Virtual DJ (the latter also with HID support), and a standalone mixer for analogue sources. We’ve got all the info including a full photo gallery, the official press release and a launch video. Read on…
Why it’s different
While the look will be familiar to both Pioneer pro gear and DJ controller users, the radical new workflow borrows elements of Denon’s wireless Engine approach, Numark’s iDJ Pro, and the Stanton’s SCS.4DJ laptop-free solution (the latter of which can also play from your multiple sources, but not wirelessly).
However, unlike Denon’s gear, this has the router built in; unlike the Numark iDJ Pro which is designed for the iPad, this can play music from anything else that can get on its own private network; and unlike the Stanton SCS.4DJ, you don’t need to physically connect your music source at all. As long as you are using rekordbox – Pioneer’s own DJ library software – and its variations for tablets, smartphones and so on, this unit can play from pretty much anything.
This is the first native controller for Pioneer’s rekordbox music management software, allowing DJs to create and edit playlists on the fly; view beatgrids; analyse BPM; and load waveforms during their sets. To coincide with its launch, Pioneer will make available a new mobile application for smartphones and tablets, allowing DJs to manage their music on the road and then wirelessly load tracks and playlists to the XDJ-AERO.
One immediate concern is that the music is not “pushed” to the player from the source device, rather it is streamed to it, meaning that once a song is loaded into the system, it relies on the host device continuing to be available, defaulting to an emergency loop should this situation change. Rather worryingly for DJ/artist types, Pioneer suggests that “the audience can even get involved by sending tracks from their own smartphones or tablets to the XDJ-AERO for a more interactive experience”. Hmmmm…
More promisingly, it is possible to use your iPad (for instance) as a remote control for the device, in the same way as you can with Denon’s Engine iPad app for that company’s networked SC2900/3900 players. This means you can take advantage of the superior screen real estate of such gear to browse, prepare and then load tracks on the XDJ-AERO.
Other headline features
As well as the definitely revolutionary WiFi headline feature, the XDJ-AERO DJs can switch to standard USB inputs at the touch of a button to work as a controller for the more traditional rekordbox workflow.
The XDJ-AERO also functions as a 24-bit audio interface, Midi controller for Traktor and HID controller for Virtual DJ, and it can be used as a standalone mixer when connected to CDJs and turntables. Thus it has been designed as a truly universal workstation whatever the input source.
Build quality and spec
On first glance the controller looks better built than the company’s ERGO controllers and the DDJ-T1/S1, being a pleasing thin design but with plenty of metal involved.
Feature-wise, the unit has a cut-down implementation of Pioneer’s post-fader beat effects, offering trans, flangers, roll and echo, as well as filters. There’s a sample bank for up to four samples, which has some innovative features including “Jog Drum” allowing the jogwheel to be “drummed” to trigger samples the controller also has looping and quantise/sync. It has a mic input and balanced TRS master outputs, but no booth control. There are external inputs for two CD or phono decks, plus 1/4″ and 1/8″ headphone sockets.
The XDJ-AERO will be available from August 2012 at an SRP of US$1399/£869/€999.
Will the XDJ-AERO help make non-laptop digital DJing a serious alternative? Would you turn up to DJ with just your music on an iPhone, and a controller? Can you see this kind of technology eventually being included in all DJ gear? Please share your thoughts in the comments.