Review: Pioneer DDJ-WeGO DJ Controller
The Pioneer DDJ-WeGO is a small, entry-level DJ controller, aimed squarely at consumers and those who are wanting to learn to DJ. It comes in a number of colours, and you can even adjust the colours of the software skin and the jogwheels on the controller too! But this isn’t all style, no substance; the Pioneer DDJ-WeGO is, as it turns out, a serious contender at its market price point. It has everything you need to learn to DJ, in small, affordable and stylish package. Let’s review it in depth…
First impressions & setting up
It’s small, but chunky and nicely made, with a decent amount of weight to it. The black model I had appeared pretty sober before being plugged in, but of course with a number of bright coloured cases available, the choice is yours. Once plugged in, there’s a colour show from the jogwheels for you anyway. The DDJ-WeGo has an all-plastic casing, which is rounded on the front two corners, and it is “wedge” shaped, rising quite a lot at the back to angle the controls towards the user.
Unusually, there are no sockets, switches or anything else on either the front or the back – the USB, on/off switch and headphones sockets (1/8″ and 1/4″ TRS) are on the left-hand side of the unit, and the master out (2 x RCAs), Mic (1/4″ TRS) and Kensington lock hole are on the right-hand side. The decently sized (relatively) jogwheels are polished brushed metal with plastic rims, and are surrounded in a circular design by the transport controls, cue buttons and effects/sampler buttons – more on these later.
All the faders are small, with the tempo faders being the longest, and the short crossfader slightly looser than the two upfaders. There are hi, mid and lo EQs (but no gain controls), a push encoder for library browsing, and buttons for loading (on up to four software decks) and headphone cueing.
Across the top are controls for auto-looping, headphones (cue/master and volume), microphone volume and master volume. Of corse there are sync buttons, but note that there’s also a shift button to double up functions – good as of course the overall number of controls is limited, it being such a small device.
To set it up, you install what’s needed from the Pioneer CD provided – there’s a driver needed for PC, but not needed for Mac. The Virtual DJ LE software is installed next, and the serial number for the software is on a sticker on the bottom of the unit. All the audio settings are done for you, so it’s plug and play. A good start.
The unit is fun to DJ on. It’s got responsive jogwheels, a pretty generous four cue points across the bottom per deck (and actually as mentioned, it’s got four software decks too, although controlling them with such few controls is a bit tricky – I predict most people will stick to two).
The FX section has three effects chosen by you from the rather limited variety in Virtual DJ LE, and you can control the parameter or parameters of your chosen effect using the jogwheel. You can have more than one effect going at once, and there’s a key change and a filter that are both controlled in the same manner as well. Using the jogwheel for these things is a neat idea given the size of the controller.
There’s a sampler, which you turn on by pressing the small “sample” button next to the four cue buttons; you then have control over some of Virtual DJ’s sample slots, and it comes with a few beats and a siren (good old Virtual DJ siren!) ready loaded, although of course you can add your own. The EQs kill properly (ie turn all the EQs down and the music disappears), but on the downside while we’re talking about the mixer, there are no gain controls. Virtual DJ has auto gain so it’s not the end of the world. The VU meters are split, one for each side, so you can check you’re not driving too hard despite auto gain hopefully negating the need to.
Of course you’re not going to want to perform scratch moves on such a device and the crossfader isn’t really up to that, but it’s reasonably loose nonetheless, and indeed all controls feel solid enough. I especially liked the rubberised knobs – something Pioneer doesn’t even sometimes do on more expensive gear.
There’s rudimentary looping including auto loop, and the usual controls for headphone volume and mix, and master volume, and of course there is the obligatory browse knob for selecting tunes form your library (and the even more obligatory “sync” buttons!), but really, that’s about it. It doesn’t boast professional sound spec but for the target market is sounds fine, and wouldn’t be out of place at the kind of house parties and small venues where you’d be most likely to see a DJ with one of these rolling up.
This isn’t the cheapest DJ controller that can do this beginner / consumer stuff, but it’s one of the best. It’s designed well, there’s plenty of thought that’s gone into making it fun and useful at the same times, and the way the effects, cue and sampler controls have been skewed towards being easy to perform on will make it appealing to beginners wanting to add a bit of sparkle to their sets using some of these functions.
I liked the layout, and actually found the fact that you can colour coordinate the lights in the unit itself with a corresponding skin on the software to be pleasing. And why not? We all choose our smartphone wallpaper, why not do the same with your DJ controller?
The software may be LE (“light edition”), but it does the job, and crucially it lets you record your set, which much LE software doesn’t. If you’re looking for great sounding effects and lots of bells and whistles then it isn’t for you and you’ll be looking at a software upgrade for sure, but for basic DJing – even across four decks – it’s fine.
At the price, there isn’t much to fault this. You can’t see what your second FX parameter is doing (if anything) when you alter it using a combination of the shift key and jogwheel, as there isn’t any visual display of this in the software, and I’d have liked to have seen gain controls – but these are niggles.
Overall, if you’re in the market for a beginner controller, and you can afford to pay just a little more than rock bottom, the Pioneer should be on your list. It’s one of the best beginner controllers we’ve tested to date.
Are you looking to buy your first DJ controller, and is this on your list? What else are you considering? Do you have one and if so, how are you finding it? Please share your thoughts in the comments.