When Pioneer DJ announced the DJM-S11, it touted it as the replacement for its much-loved but ageing DJM-S9 scratch mixer. But soon after, Pioneer DJ also launched the DJM-S7, which – while it had a lower model number and a lower price tag than the DJM-S9 – actually seemed more like a natural successor.
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So why did they launch two? Maybe it’s because Rane has the Seventy and the Seventy Two in its model range, or maybe it’s because Pioneer DJ was anxious about changing the rather quirky but now fully accepted layout of the DJM-S9 when it launched the DJM-S11, deciding to hedge its bets.
Whatever’s going on, though, you still have a choice to make if you want to buy a pro Pioneer DJ scratch mixer today. So in this head-to-head, we’ll run through the similarities, and the differences, to help you make your mind up.
DJM-S7 vs DJM-S11: 5 differences
This is simple: The DJM-S11 has a touchscreen, the DJM-S7 doesn’t. This is a big, obvious point of difference, just as it is between Rane’s Seventy and Seventy Two mixers.
As well as showing you your waveforms, the touchscreen is used to control many features, such as grid FX, basic control over decks three and four (more in a second about that), Midi functions and so on. If you want that extra versatility, it has to be the DJM-S11. But if you don’t think you’ll use such features, and prefer to keep things a bit simpler, then the DJM-S7 may in fact be a more appealing choice for you.
The DJM-S7 is exactly the same size as the DJM-S9 previously. The DJM-S11, however, is a little bit wider and a lot deeper. It’s an appreciably bigger mixer, despite still being essentially a two-channel battle mixer (sort of – more on the channels later).
If you’d prefer a bigger mixer over the (in comparison) rather cramped DJM-S9/S7 footprint, you’ll probably love this. However, if you carry your own mixer with you to gigs, the smaller S7 may be better. If you’re upgrading from the DJM-S9, buying the S7 means that any custom case you have for the DJM-S9 can be used equally as easily for the DJM-S7.
The layout of the DJM-S7 maintains the quirkiness of the DJM-S9. Sure, it has bigger pads, a bigger load button, and a few other layout tweaks, but it’s essentially the same, so you’ll find adapting to using it easy enough if you’re coming from the DJM-S9.
The layout of the DJM-S11, on the other hand, is a little more conventional in that the EQs and level controls line up properly as they do on most mixers – but bearing in mind the added complexity too, it certainly wouldn’t be as easy to adapt to as quickly as the DJM-S7, if you’re used to that type of mixer.
4. Number of decks
All battle mixers have a two-channel layout. But the DJM-S11 gives you access to the third and fourth decks in your software – a first for any battle mixer. It happens via some rather clunky touchscreen controls, but it’s there.
If you have always felt as a battle DJ that you’d like to be able to use decks three and four, but never had a mixer that would let you do that, you’ll love this feature of the DJM-S11. On the other hand, if you are happy to play on two decks, it’s a layer (literally) of complication you probably won’t need.
5. Unique features
The DJM-S11 has the edge here, as befits a flagship mixer, with that unique control over decks 3 and 4, and all the other things possible via the touchscreen. It also has “Smooth echo”, a very usable new way of echoing out your routine at its end.
But the DJM-S7 has a couple of unique features, too, that aren’t on the DJM-S11. It has a function called “Midi Loop” which lets you send Midi commands via the paddles, which is actually really good. And it also has Bluetooth, so you can send music to the mixer from a phone, for instance – great for backup, or for running loops from your phone to scratch over.
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Which is best?
Firstly, they’re both a big improvement over the DJM-S9. They’re more up to date, with better FX control, independent pads for each deck with your DJ software (both work with Serato and Rekordbox), and USB hubs – meaning you can plug a pair of Rane Twelves in easily, for example.
Which one you go for really depends on what you value the most. Want something that is clearly a successor to and an improvement on the DJM-S9, but actually at a lower price? Not bothered about extra decks and a screen? The DJM-S7 at $1399 seems like a no brainer.
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But if you like the idea of having a screen to save you looking at your laptop so much, you’re excited at finally having control over decks three and four from a battle mixer, and you don’t mind the extra size, weight and cost (the DJM-S11 is a whopping $1999), then the bigger model might be the one for you.
Neither is really better or worse than the other – so think carefully before spending the extra $600 on the DJM-S11 as to whether you’ll really use everything it has to offer.