Rane’s first foray into the controller arena is an unqualified success: The Rane One is superbly built, a blast to DJ on, and strikes the right balance between decent features and simplicity. It’s Rane quality, but in a controller. From this Rane One review it’ll become clear that we love it, as we think most Serato scratch DJs will.
First Impressions / Setting up
As you’ll see in this Rane One review, it’s very much, “Honey, I shrunk the Rane set-up!” The look and feel of this mid-sized DJ controller is pure Rane: The same all-metal construction, the same type of buttons, faders and knobs, the same colour scheme and decal. It’s just… smaller.
That’s not to say it isn’t a substantial device: The sharp edges and four jumbo deck-style feet give it an imposing feel, even though it is not by any means the largest DJ controller out there. It is pretty heavy too, of course, and that is mainly due to…
The motorised decks
Really, any Rane One review would have to start at the decks. The two 7″ motorised platters, are – just like those of the Rane Twelve – styled with stroboscopic dots and topped with mock vinyl, the latter separated from the all-metal platters with a slipmat. They are of course driven by direct drive motors, which give a lot of the weight to the unit.
Each piece of “vinyl” topping the decks is constructed with a built-in spring-loaded button to hold it tightly to the spindle, which is a better solution than the small screws used by similar systems in the past.
Really, the decks are practically identical to those on the Rane Twelves, which themselves are practically identical to those on the Technics 1200s – but this time, they are 7″. In this respect they are similar to those on the Numark NS7III controller, which had similar tech. The deck controls also feature touch strips for searching/needle drop, and a rotary encoder/button combo for track selection.
The pitch controls are long and smooth, with a centre click and light, and lights top and bottom, too. There is a pitch range button, that doubles as a keylock button with Shift.
The Start/stop button is large and square, with a pleasing damped feel, and just above it are much smaller cue/back-to-start and sync on/off buttons. There are also individual deck stop controls, censor/reverse buttons, and – rejoice! – “slip” buttons (too often left off of modern controllers).
Important to point out that there is a motor stop option too, so you could, if you wanted to, DJ with this as if it were a static-platter controller – as most of course are.
Learn to scratch with Digital DJ Tips: Scratching For Controller DJs
Likewise, the mixer section feels similar to a “grown up” Rane mixer: There is a lovely, buttery Mag Four XF crossfader, plus two 45mm upfaders, with just the right amount of resistance.
There are per-channel omni filters, three-band EQs with gain and input selectors for each channel (two digital inputs plus line/phono inputs), and volume controls for master and booth.
Central to the mixer is the FX section: There are two paddles for momentary/locked effects, and buttons to select six Serato effects (more on this later) along with a Tap button, and rotaries for beat length and wet/dry (“depth”).
The performance pads & loop controls
Below each deck, in true controller fashion, are performance pads. Unlike on, say, the Denon DJ SC5000M/6000M Prime controllers, these are laid out in the more common four-by-two pattern. Unlike all the other buttons on the controller these (and the pad selector buttons above them) are rubber. We’ll go through what’s available here in the In Use section.
Just to the right of each performance pads section are the three loop control buttons, which are simple enough and control both auto and manual loops – although we have to say that we do slightly prefer the endless-encoder-plus-buttons implementation chosen by some, to the three-button version Rane has gone for here.
On the front edge of the controller are quite a lot of extra controls. Here is where you’ll find the extra inputs: you get two mics with volume and two-band EQ, the second of which is switchable to an Aux input.
There are mixer adjuster controls for the target market of scratch DJs: Not only crossfader contour and a reverse or “hamster” switch, but also upfader contour (“deck contour”) and reverse, too.
The front of the unit is also where you’ll find the headphones controls, which include a Cue Mix as well as a Cue Level, and – unlike the mighty Pioneer DJ DJM-S11 – a Split Cue button. There are both 1/4″ and 1/8″ headphone sockets.
Rear inputs and outputs
Around the back of the unit are the master on/off, the IEC input socket (no need for a standalone transformer for this unit), dual USB inputs for easy laptop switchovers or back-to-back DJing, and a high/low motor toque switch.
Here is also where you’ll find XLR main and booth outputs (there are also unbalanced RCA main outputs), two omni-jacks for mics, an RCA aux in, the Deck 1 and 2 inputs (switchable line/phono), plus a ground pin for turntable ground wires.
Software, utilities and drivers
This may be a Rane One review, but of course this is a software controller, and specifically a Serato DJ Pro unit. So to use it, you download Serato DJ Pro for your Mac or Windows computer, and plug in – the software recognises the unit and you’re good to go. Serato set-up is legendarily simple, and so it proves with the Rane One. Note that if you want to add turntables too and use Serato DVS, that part of the software is a paid upgrade.
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One thing that is provided in addition is a small crossfader calibration utility. I am not sure why this is important, but it is simple enough: You download and install it, then run it with the unit plugged in, and are asked to move the crossfader left to right a couple of times. That’s it – you get the “OK” and can proceed.
As always, it is worth pointing out that as with any new gear of this type, it is important to check for any firmware updates, and you do that by registering at the Rane site and heading to the Rane One support page.
Setting up the decks
As the main difference between this unit and most DJ controllers is that this has “real” decks, there is a little set-up required. To start with, the platters, slipmats and control disc are packed separately, so you need to insert the platters into their enclosures on the unit, aligning them correctly, then pop the slipmats on, and finally, clip the vinyl/central mount parts to the spindles.
To lock the control disc to the spindle, you pinch the top of the spindle while slowly rotating the disc until you hear it click. It locks when the groove in the spindle lines up directly opposite to the button on the side of the Quick Release Adapter.
All in all it’s a simple job, no more than a few minutes.
Before moving to this Rane One review, we’d been DJing with DVS and the Rane Twelves. So to begin with we were just using the platters in the same way we’d use 12″ platters. That meant it took a few minutes of adjustment to get used to the smaller size. It didn’t take much longer than that, though, and after that they felt brilliant.
If you’ve never used “digital motorised decks” before and you’re coming from a vinyl background, frankly you’re in for a treat here. Because the decks have high torque motors (there’s a switch to adjust the amount or torque around the back) and “real” slipmats and vinyl, they feel utterly authentic.
Read this next: Traktor Kontrol S4 Mk3 Motorised DJ Controller Review
When you reach the end of a track, the deck stops. When you press “reverse”, they physically move backwards (although not with Censor, in case you were wondering).
However, as mentioned earlier it is possible to switch the deck motors off entirely, which gives you a more classic controller feel – useful when DJing with controller DJs who maybe have never even used turntables before. Note that you can’t scratch at all with the motors off – the platters are always in “nudge” mode.
Scratch demo video
In this scratch demo video, our Scratching For Controller DJs tutor Steve Canueto puts the Rane One through its paces, showing off just how tactile and intuitive the decks are for scratching with.
As of course with this type of set-up there is no tonearm to pick up and move to different parts of the track, instead Rane has implemented the touchstrip solution, where you can run your finger along a recessed strip to jump to a given point in a track. The LEDs above the strip indicate the approximate location of the playhead in the track.
It works well, and the recess helps to prevent you accidentally touching it.
When it comes to loading your tracks, each deck has its own rotary top right scroll through your playlists, and pressing it down loads the selected track. Pressing this knob twice quickly loads the same track to both decks (“instant doubles”).
There is also a single button next to the rotary: pressing it moves you to the previous screen, or pressing it when “shift” is held adds the selected track to your Prepare crate. It’s all simple and intuitive.
One thing we noticed that we liked was that the Start/Stop button flashes when the track is nearing the end. It’s a nice touch!
Learn to scratch with us: Scratching For Controller DJs
Obviously it’s a two-channel mixer, and there is no facility at all to control decks three and four in Serato – this is designed from the ground up as a two-deck experience.
The EQs are full kill – you don’t get a choice – which I think is fine. (That means that if you turn the low, mid and high EQs all the way down for a channel, the sound disappears entirely.)
The manual says that it is possible to send both decks to your headphones at once if you like with the deck cue buttons switching on/off independently of each other, but we found it instead to be an either/or. This is fine by us, but we’d like to see the ability to choose whether this is the case, which would likely be something Serato would have to implement in its software. No big deal.
The pads let you control all the standard Serato stuff: hot cues, saved loops, loop roll, sampler and slicer, with their variants. Above the pads themselves are the five selector buttons: Pressing a selector switches to that pad mode (labelled on the controller), and pressing it again switches to the secondary mode (not labelled).
What you get here is a full implementation of Serato’s available pad functions, so to spell out in full what you’ll find here:
- Selector 1: Hot Cue/Pitch Play – Set hot cues (delete them by holding “shift”), or, use Pitch Play to play from a cue point altering the playback pitch. The latter requires Serato Pitch n’ Time Expansion Pack, not included with the unit
- Selector 2: Saved Loop – Where you can set and play back saved loops (no secondary function)
- Selector 3: Roll / Auto Loop – Trigger beat-linked loop rolls, or trigger auto loops (the latter function can also be used via the dedicated loop buttons)
- Selector 4: Sampler / Scratch Bank – Play back samples, or access the new Scratch Bank feature, where you can quickly load tracks at a specific cue point to the deck for instant access to favourite scratch sounds
- Selector 5: Slicer/Slicer Loop – “Chop up” a section of your track, and play each individual part via a pad. It can be rolling (Slicer) or a fixed looping section (Slicer Loop)
We did find the pads to be a bit small. They are the same size as those on Rane’s mixers, but somehow on a controller they feel smaller. Basically, something had to give in order to have nice platters without the whole thing becoming unwieldy. To be clear, they weren’t so small that they were problematic to perform with, they just took a little more care than with larger pads.
Note that the “parameter” buttons give you further control over the pad functions, depending on the function selected. Again, standard Serato stuff.
In the review video that accompanies this written review, we have demoed some of the pad functions, and one we particularly enjoyed was the Scratch Bank feature. This is something that Serato first made available on the Pioneer DJ DJM-S11, but which is now rolling out more widely.
Everyone, it seems, is trying to simplify the way software effects are controlled from hardware nowadays, and gone from most new controllers are the twin full-on effects sections above the platters/jogwheels.
In the case of the Rane One, the effects are pure software, and the implementation strikes just the right balance in our opinion.
So obviously you get the two paddles, which you engage downwards for switching the effect on momentarily (they flick back to centre when you remove your hand from them) and upwards to lock the effect on.
You also get six buttons. Each of these switches on one of Serato’s effects. To simplify things for the sake of this explanation, the effects in Serato are laid across two effects engines, with three effects on each, but the Rane One is set up so that they are treated simply as six effects.
You choose the six in the software that you want to be able to use, press buttons to turn your chosen effect/s on or off, and use the Depth and Beats controls to alter how they sound.
Whatever you choose is then available across both channels, so effectively you’re playing with one effect or combination of effects, and single wet/dry and Beat settings. (To build combos, you hold down more than one button at the same time.)
As we say, it strikes the right balance for us between flexibility and ease of use on a unit like this, and coupled with the independent per-channel filters, this should be more than enough for the majority of DJs.
So, to conclude our Rane One review: Overall, the Rane One is a blast to use. For scratch DJs, the platter integration is spot on and you can 100% rely on them – even after four or five spins, you can spin back to a scratch point with complete assurance that there will have been no “drift”.
That’s really the whole point of it: You’re getting that feel, but in a controller. That’s what makes it different to other controllers: it is designed to replicate faithfully the full motorised-turntable-and-mixer type of set-up, but in an all-in-one unit that is more convenient, more portable, and cheaper.
It has the things pro performing DJs need (dual USBs, decent fully-featured pads, pro ins/outs) without things that aren’t so important, and we think Rane has got the balance just right. It feels like it is built for battle, and could put be through punishment. The kind of controller that will travel well and not let you down.
As far as competitors go, there really aren’t any as far as motorised controllers go. The Numark NS7III is great, but much bigger and heavier (and older). The Traktor Kontrol S4 Mk3 has motorised platters, but is not really a battle controller. As such, the Rane One stands on its own in the market.
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Among non-motorised controllers, the Pioneer DJ DDJ-1000SRT is the strongest competitor here. It costs a couple of hundred less, has four channels, also has a great crossfader, and has better effects, which are hardware (so they work with external sources, too). If you want a great Serato controller at this price point, and don’t care for motorised jogs, the DDJ-1000SRT is it.
But for scratch DJs, who want that vinyl feel, the Rane One nails it. It is also surprisingly good value. Sure, at US$1,499 (€1,499/£1,299) it isn’t exactly an impulse purchase, but compare it to the separates and to other high-end gear and you’ll soon see that it’s reasonable – and it’s also Rane, which counts for a lot.
We love it, as we think most Serato scratch DJs will.