Pioneer’s commitment to providing cheaper, cut down yet high quality versions of its flagship products continues with the DJM-450. It’s taken a few good ideas from its big brother. a Magvel crossfader, on-board effects including Sound Colour FX and Beat FX, which feature parameter controls. The mixer also includes a built-in audio interface, enabling you to connect the DJM-450 to your PC/Mac with a single USB cable and use the bundled Rekordbox DJ and Rekordbox DVS Plus Packs.
First Impressions / Setting up
The DJM-450 is small, but hefty. It has a solid metal construction all around, which is something that I miss with Pioneer DJ’s controller range. I’m very rough with my gear when I DJ – I’ve broken faders, knocked off knobs, and I even broke a DJ stand in half when I stood on it in the middle of a rowdy set – so I appreciate kit that can take heavy handed use.
The rubber knobs are weighted and have a nice grip, the twin Color FX knobs are chunky, and the Beat FX selectors don’t feel like they’re going to snap. Again, they feel solid at first use.
On the face of the unit is a two-channel mixer section with three-band EQs, a microphone level and EQ tone knob, and a master output knob. Like the DJM-900NXS2, the DJM-450 has a Send / Return section (more on this later). The Aux section has a level control, plus a switching matrix that lets you choose where to receive the auxiliary signal from (laptop, RCA Aux in, or Return Aux).
Like the DJM-900NXS2 once again, there are two types of effects onboard: Sound Color FX and Beat FX.
Sound Color FX are effects that can be selected on the left side of the unit, and are tweaked using the Color knob on each channel, such as Filter and Sweep.
Beat FX are effects that are manipulated using the Beat FX controls on the right side of the unit. They are tempo-based, meaning the effect they produced relies on the BPM that you’ve set through the Tap tempo button, which shows up on the Beat FX OLED display.
We’ll go into more detail on both effects sections later in this piece.
Behind the unit, Pioneer DJ has packed in a ton of connectivity: unbalanced RCA master outputs, a pair of balanced XLR master outputs, two phono / line inputs for plugging in turntables and CDJs, a grounding post for your decks, an RCA aux in, a 1/4″ mic input, and a USB socket. Power comes by way of a power adapter which I don’t like, just because losing it or it getting broken means it isn’t as easy to find a replacement compared to the standard three-prong power cable.
The DJM-450 comes with two channels, each with a switching matrix (USB, line, or phono), trim pot, three-band EQ, Color FX knob, channel fader, and headphone cue button. The three-band EQ is switchable between functioning in Isolator mode or standard EQ mode. In Isolator mode, turning an EQ knob fully anti-clockwise means you’re “killing” all the frequencies and will hear nothing for that frequency range. In standard EQ mode, turning an EQ knob fully anti-clockwise will result in a dip in that frequency range, but you’ll still hear something.
I use Isolator more and more these days, especially when I want to blend two tracks together and I want “full kills” in my mids or lows.
The crossfader is a Magvel Fader, Pioneer DJ’s proprietary contactless fader. It’s buttery smooth, feels great and comes with crossfader curve switches that make it ideal for quick cuts in scratching, or smooth blends when mixing two tracks together.
Sound Color FX
Pioneer DJ’s Sound Color FX section is a staple in its flagship mixers and controllers. Four of these effects make their way to the DJM-450: Noise, Filter, Dub Echo, and Sweep. Noise is a white noise generator, Filter is a high / low pass filter, Dub Echo is a nice post-fader echo effect, and Sweep is an EQ bell / notch that you “sweep” around the audio frequency curve using the Color FX knob.
A Sound Color FX Parameter knob is also present on the DJM-450, giving you even more tweakable control over the Sound Color FX, such as shaping the resonance of the Filter effect.
The DJM-450’s Beat FX are tempo-based effects, meaning the way they interact with your sound has the element of time added to it. These effects are also found on the flagship DJM-900NXS2, though only eight of them are found here: Delay, Echo, Spiral, Reverb, Transformer, Flanger, Pitch, and Roll. The effects can be assigned to any of the two-channels, mic input, aux input, the crossfader, or the entire master output using the Channel Selector switch.
You are able to specify the tempo by pressing on the Tap button or you can fine tune it by using the Time knob, which then show up on the OLED display at the top of the Beat FX section. You can also select from among different parameters using the left and right Beat arrows – for example, you can select the note value of the delay here (eg 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, and so on).
Finally, the Beat FX section has a Level / Depth knob for controlling the intensity of the Beat FX, as well as an on/off button.
Send / Return
There is a Send / Return section that lets you “send” audio to a smartphone or tablet running an effects app, which then “returns” that signal to the mixer. This lets you use an app like the RMX-1000 for additional effecting while you DJ.
You can select where the effected sound returns to: Set to Aux, it goes straight to the Aux channel where you can adjust the volume level of the “wet” sound. Set to Insert, it goes back to the channel that you’ve chosen with the channel selector knob in the Beat FX section.
The aux section has a switchable matrix, which lets you choose where you want the Aux input to come from: USB means the input will come from your laptop, Line means the input will come from the RCA Aux jacks in the rear of the unit (useful for plugging in a drum machine /sampler, iPhone or other playback device), and Return Aux means that the input will come from the Send / Return channel.
The DJM-450 has both 1/4″ and 1/8″ jacks for your headphones. It has the mono split and stereo feature for headphone monitoring, along with the requisite cue / master blend and headphone level knobs. You can select which channel you’re hearing in your cans with the standard headphone Cue buttons.
Rekordbox DJ / Rekordbox DVS
Last but not the least, the DJM-450 is also compatible with Pioneer DJ’s Rekordbox DJ software, and is Rekordbox DVS-enabled, letting you spin and scratch with timecode vinyl or CDs. The unit ships with licences for Rekordbox DJ and Rekordbox DVS, though you’ll have to purchase the Rekordbox timecode vinyl / CDs separately.
The DJM-450 is a compact powerhouse: paired with CDJ/XDJ media players or turntables, you get functionality that’s close to what you’d find in a club standard CDJ/DJM set-up. Whereas the similarly sized DJM-250MK2 is spartan, the DJM-450 crams almost all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a Pioneer DJ club mixer. It is full-featured, well-spec’d, and built like a tank.
I especially like the Beat FX because having this section onboard allows aspiring club DJs to familiarise themselves with the most commonly used effects on a DJM-900NXS / NXS2 mixer at home instead of “practising” during a gig, which we all have had to do at one point simply because a DJM-900NXS is way out of reach for someone just starting out.
My only qualm is that it doesn’t have a booth output, which is a shame because this would make an excellent DJ mixer for professional and mobile DJs who want something compact and don’t want to spend for a full-on DJM-900NXS2.
Speaking of spending, the DJM-450 will set you back around US$700. Pricey, but not that bad considering this is a Pioneer DJ mixer that comes with flagship features for CDJ / turntable mixing, along with the capability to use it for digital DJing thanks to its Rekordbox DJ compatibility.
It’s also Rekordbox DVS-enabled, so if spinning with timecode vinyl or CDs is your thing, you can do that too. It really does feel like a shrunken DJM-900NXS2, which means it’s the perfect home use mixer for those who don’t need four channels but want a layout that approximates what can be found in venues the world over.
DJs who are happy with their DJ controllers will probably want to skip on this, unless they want to transition to using a CDJ / DJM club set-up, or a turntable / DJM scratch rig. If so, I can’t think of a better specified small footprint mixer to pick up for use with CDJs / XDJs / PLX turntables.
If you’re looking for a serious intermediate mixer with a workflow and feature set that will translate from the bedroom to the biggest of clubs, look no further – this is the mixer for the next wave of pro and club DJs.