Pioneer’s mid market offering for Rekordbox based controllers, with most of the features of its more expensive sibling, the DDJ-RX. Features touch strips for needle search of tracks directly from the controller, and the Rekordbox DVS support is a welcome upgrade if you want to hook up CDJ’s or turntables for time code control. The DDJ-RR can also function as a standalone two-channel mixer with hardware EQ’s and filters. A solid option for Rekordbox DJs.
First Impressions / Setting up
The Pioneer DJ DDJ-RR feels slightly lighter than the DDJ-SR, though both have metal faceplates. It’s got a new black colour scheme that’s consistent with other DDJ-R series controllers. The rest of the enclosure is hard plastic, as is the case with most Pioneer DJ gear.
It ships with a power brick which increases the brightness of the lights, but you can power it with just a USB cable. You can also use it as a standalone mixer for connecting line / phono level devices to it like CDJs and turntables if you want to spin with actual CDs and vinyl.
There are two Needle Search touchstrips here and controls for Rekordbox DJ’s sequencer, which we’ll get to in a minute. The pads are also backlit RGB now, as is the case with more recent controllers.
Round the back you’ve got some new options: a pair of balanced XLR master outputs and 1/4″ booth outs for flexibility in just about any live gig situation (there’s also a pair of RCA master outputs here). Plus, the DDJ-RR now has two pairs of line/phono inputs for hooking up CDJs and turntables – buying the Rekordbox DVS add-on pack lets you use timecode CDs and vinyl to control your Rekordbox DJ decks.
Apart from these features and cosmetic updates / silkscreen markings on the facade, not much has changed.
The most notable change in the DDJ-RR are the jogwheels: they’re slightly larger than the ones on the DDJ-SR, and have a spiffy (if muted) black colour. I’m digging the look, especially when you plug it in and the formerly red lights are now a mix of blue and yellow.
The centre ring has an LED that lights up in different colours depending on what you’ve got it set to, for example when you’re controlling deck one or two the ring’s blue, and when you’re controlling decks three or four it turns light blue.
I love the jogwheels on the DDJ-RR, I think these are close to perfect as far as controller jogs go, plus they integrate so tightly with Rekordbox DJ (version 4.12 at the time of this writing) that you won’t skip a beat. Kudos to Pioneer DJ for versioning Rekordbox DJ quickly too as a lot of the bugs that plagued earlier versions of the software have been squashed.
The DDJ-RR comes with a touchstrip for Needle Search, which lets you jump around a track directly from the controller itself: in the past you had to hold the Shift button and spin the jog to quickly move around a track, or you could bring your mouse pointer to the point that you want to jump to. It’s a minor tweak, but a welcome one especially for those who would prefer to keep their hands on the controller.
Just like the rest of Pioneer DJ’s DDJ-R series, the DDJ-RR works specifically with Rekordbox DJ. While mappings for Traktor and Virtual DJ 8 will probably crop up, the DDJ-RR is meant to work tightly with Rekordbox DJ, and the good news is that it works well with it. I’m particularly impressed with the Pad Effects that let you do momentary FX by using the performance pads in the Pad FX 1 setting. Rekordbox DJ has got much more stable since its first outing, and I’ve done a few gigs with it without issue.
There are also controls here for the Rekordbox DJ Sequencer, which let you record, save, and playback audio patterns that you perform via the Sampler. Once stored, you can trigger these Sampler patterns using the Sequence Call feature of the performance pads.
Another big addition that isn’t readily apparent here is Rekordbox DVS: both channels can be switched to control any of Rekordbox DJ’s four decks or two line/phono sources, meaning you can hook up a pair of CDJs or turntables for timecode control.
This is an important consideration for many who want to take the DVS route but found the DDJ-RX too big (let’s not even talk about the DDJ-RZ). With the DDJ-RR, you’ve got a considerably smaller, decently specified controller that you can spin timecode on at home. You can even take it to the gig and plug the venue’s CDJs / turntables if that’s what you want to do. Again, flexibility is a core strength of the DDJ-RR, and probably its biggest advantage in the market right now.
The DDJ-RR can also function as a standalone two-channel mixer with hardware EQs and filters, useful for DJing with actual CDs and vinyl without the need for a computer.
The crossfader is loose and capable of quick cuts but it doesn’t feel as sturdy as the DDJ-SR, and this is probably my only gripe with this unit. The same goes for the channel faders – there’s just something that feels “cheap” about them, but they’re still quite good. Pioneer DJ has also removed the crossfader curve knob and reverse switch from the front of the unit, so if you want to make those adjustments you’ll have to go to the settings menu.
So is the Pioneer DJ DDJ-RR worth it? That depends: if you’re looking for a controller that you can take with you to gigs, the DDJ-RR is solid and quite capable while looking the part. Of course, this means you’ll have to dive into the entire Rekordbox ethos of Pioneer DJ, so some Serato DJ / Traktor / Virtual DJ users need to look elsewhere, however switching to Rekordbox DJ isn’t such a bad idea, especially if you’re aspiring to perform at clubs. You can basically DJ with the same music library that you use with the DDJ-RR as when you’re spinning with a CDJ/DJM set, just don’t forget to export your tracks to a USB stick using Rekordbox.
If you’re set on using Serato DJ, you’ll want to skip this as it isn’t compatible (go for the DDJ-SR then), but again Rekordbox keeps growing to become a compelling all-in digital DJ solution. With the recent addition of Rekordbox DVS and even Pulselocker streaming, it can do just about anything Serato DJ can, including video.
If you’re looking for a portable controller for use with Rekordbox DJ, this is the unit to go for: in terms of size and weight, this is a happy medium in the DDJ-R series, and it’s got most of the key features of more expensive controllers like the DDJ-RX. DVS capabilities and a good choice of output options put this controller in the big leagues. I say go for it.