• Price: $1399 / £1199 / €1399
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Pioneer DJ PLX-CRSS12 Controller Turntable Review

Phil Morse | Founder & Tutor
Read time: 7 mins
Last updated 20 September, 2023

The Lowdown

If you need the features it has, the Pioneer DJ PLX-CRSS12 is a good scratch DJ turntable – unique, in fact. It has handy performance pad buttons for cues, stems and samples and a cool “step pitch” feature, and the innovative “Magvel Clamp” to control tension on the slipmat. But the big thing for us is its ability to control Serato and Rekordbox in a DVS set-up without using control vinyl or the tonearm. As such, it is a combination of a Technics 1210, a Rane Twelve, and the Phase wireless DVS system. Definitely a dream for the open-format turntablist, likely overkill for others though – and not cheap.

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Video Review

First Impressions / Setting up

I will admit – I was worried I wouldn’t like this unit. The Pioneer DJ PLX-CRSS12 looked like a “Frankenstein” turntable to me in the pictures – everything you might dream of in a turntable, inexpertly bodged together. So I was pleasantly surprised on unboxing it to see that it is, in fact, rather attractive. Completely black (even the feet and tonearm), the extra “bits” are subtly added and don’t take away from its overall impression as, well, a Technics-inspired turntable – as all good DJ turntables have to be.

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It is reassuringly heavy, unlike some who should know better (here’s looking at you, Technics SL-1210 Mk7), and designed from the off to be turned through 90 degrees, scratch style, so the tonearm is at the back – all the decals are printed so it reads correctly from that angle.

Proper, darkened dust covers are included in the box.

The turntable comes complete with audio lead plus earth wire, USB-C to USB-A lead (the turntable has a USB-C socket for computer connection), and all the bits and pieces you need to assemble it, plus a smart smoked plastic dust lid.

Pioneer DJ PLX-CRSS12 – Plugging in

Set up options for mixers with and without a USB hub.

You plug the audio into your mixer (a scratch mixer/controller like the DJM-S7 or DJM-S11 makes sense here), and the USB either into your mixer if it acts as a USB hub to the computer, or directly into the computer, and turn it on with the big on/off switch inset at the back. Funnily, the power socket is inset at the side, not at the back with the RCA sockets and power switch, but as it can all be routed underneath the unit thanks to the jumbo feet, no wires will show once all is done.

Round the back of the turntable you’ll find an on/off switch, USB-C, signal ground, and RCA connections.

I would’ve liked to have seen the choice for not bothering with audio cables at all. Phase (the wireless scratch system for turntables) can work with Serato like that, and I see no reason why this couldn’t either. The control tone would go up the USB from the turntable to the laptop, which would send the audio back down the USB that’s connected to the mixer’s audio interface. Maybe I’m missing something here, but on compatible mixers, that would make setting up even simpler.

Platter and Magvel clamp

A standard, heavy, precision platter, complete with strobe markers, attaches to the motor via six supplied screws for self-assembly, and that’s when you notice it has concentric rings at the centre of the platter base, one connected to the spindle, one not – just like the DDJ-REV7 motorised platters on that particular Serato DJ controller.

Under the hood – if you look very closely – you’ll see there’s two independently spinning sections in the middle, similar to the Pioneer DJ DDJ-REV7.

Pop the supplied slipmat and a piece of vinyl into place and place the puck-like “Magvel Clamp” onto the spindle, and the clamp snaps aggressively into place thanks to the strong magnets built in to it. Turning a small dial on the top of the Magvel Clamp then loosens or tightens the rotation of the slipmat. It’s a cool system, that works really well – I think turntablists will love it. There’s a little spindle to store this on when playing records – no 7″ adaptor anywhere, though.

Performance buttons

Bottom left are four small, click-less, backlit rubber buttons, for controlling cues, stems, and samples/scratch bank. These are not designed to give you exhaustive control over your software, because the idea is that you use a pair of these with a scratch mixer/controller that does that (think library controls, FX, comprehensive pads and so on). Rather, this is to give you a few things you may enjoy having right at your fingertips when performing – we, for instance, particularly loved having the stems controls here.

The bottom left performance area features four non-click rubberised buttons for controlling hot cues, sampler, stems, and scratch bank.

There is a “5-8” button for toggling the pads from 1-4 to 5-8, two buttons to let you select four pad functions in conjunction with Shift, instant doubles, and there are also parameter adjustment functions (the “pad buttons” plus Shift get you these). The backlighting is bright – and adjustable – and these work well for what they do.

Motor and platter controls

Apart from the Magvel Clamp for platter feel, you get low/mid/high torque adjustment to set the turntable to your liking (they’re on a Utility menu, adjusted via the OLED screen – more on that in a bit). As well as the start/stop there is a motor stop button – that gives you the classic “turntable slow down” sound, but around the front of the unit there is a three-way “brake” switch, so that when you press start/stop you can have instant stop, short stop, or medium stop.

With the Magvel Clamp, you can adjust how “heavy” or “light” the Pioneer DJ PLX-CRSS12 turntable feels.

As well as the 33/45 switches, there’s a pop-up lighting post, containing both the strobe illumination LED and the record surface light – it pops up without the classic Technics damping feel though, which is a shame.


They’ve made it easy to tweak the tonearm weight precisely to your liking.

The attractive matt black tonearm is probably the most standard thing here, being of the classic S design. It has the usual height adjust, anti-skate and rotating counterweight, with a screw-on extension for the end to tweak the weight, and the supplied headshell also has a cute 4g screw-in weight to mimic sticking a penny to the top of the tonearm, to prevent jumping when scratching enthusiastically. In short, you can set the tonearm up exactly how you like.

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No cartridge or stylus is provided – you’re meant to choose your own, and indeed, I didn’t even use the Pioneer DJ headshells, simply swapping out the whole lot for my 20-year-old Technics headshells and cartridges, for the purpose of the review.

Screen, pitch and controller deck features

There’s a small OLED screen under the tonearm that shows info about the track key, key according to how the pitch is set (which can be set to “step pitch” so as you speed up and slow a track down, the pitch changes a semitone at a time), BPM, and – excitingly – whether the turntable is emitting Serato or Rekordbox control tone when switched out of “Needle mode” (ie normal record deck mode) with the button close by.

The great-feeling, well damped pitch control has a pitch reset button, and a dedicated tempo range button – ideal for those multi-genre, multi-BPM open format sets.

In Use

We set up a pair of these with a DJM-S7 mixer for testing. First we simply played some vinyl – the phono pre-amps sounded sweet through our iLoud Precision 5 monitors, so there’s been no skimping there.

Then, we added some Rekordbox control vinyl and set the software to Relative DVS mode – everything worked as you’d expect from a high-end DVS turntable, with plenty of motor torque. We did really enjoy the Magvel Clamp torque adjustment, favouring a really loose feel for effortless spinbacks – lots of fun, even for the non-scratch fraternity.

In Needle Mode, the display provides useful information like deck assignment, key, BPM, and tempo range.

Next, we tried the controller deck mode, with no timecode vinyl or tonearm. Tapping the “needle mode” button to turn needle mode off kicked this in, and from then on it felt very similar to using a Rane Twelve control deck – perfect for DJs who want to use DVS in Relative mode (ie most DJs).

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This deck is for Serato and Rekordbox, and we tested on both. The performance felt identical, deck-wise; this is, after all, DVS, a universal way of controlling DJ software with turntables, so we expected that to be the case. The performance “pads” work slightly differently on each software out of the box, but as they are easy to Midi map to exactly what you want, this is an area where you can set it up as you wish.

The stepped pitch key shifting is super-niche, but tone play DJs may well like this – we found it a bit fiddly and confusing, struggling to figure out the relevance of the two musical key values being fed back to us from the OLED display.


If you need the features it has, the Pioneer DJ PLX-CRSS12 is a good scratch DJ turntable – unique, in fact. It has handy performance pad buttons for cues, stems and samples and a cool “step pitch” feature, and the innovative “Magvel Clamp” to control tension on the slipmat.

Without the tonearm, the PLX-CRSS12 behaves more like a Rane Twelve controller deck.

But the big thing for us it its unique ability to control Serato and Rekordbox in a DVS set-up without using control vinyl or the tonearm. As such, it is a combination of a Technics 1210, a Rane Twelve, and the Phase wireless DVS system. Definitely a dream for the open-format turntablist, possible overkill for others though – and not cheap.

Ultimately, whether you go for this will depend upon how useful you think you’ll find it’s pretty exhaustive feature set. For one deck (or two decks…) to play records, work with any DVS vinyl, or ditch the DVS vinyl and work as a controller, it’s got the lot – but you could buy two decent turntables and, say, a Phase wireless system (or just use timecode) for less if playing records is important to you, or a pair of Rane Twelves if not.

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For me, I’ve always loved the feel of turntables, and I also play records, but at the same time, have always found the whole idea of timecode vinyl just to control DJ software a bit lame – so actually, I love these. The fact that they pack all this functionality, do it well, and manage to avoid looking gimmicky is admirable, too.

Got $2,800 to blow on a pair of “ultimate” DJ turntables? Then you’ll probably find the Pioneer DJ PLX-CRSS12 to be top of your list.

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