Eventually, I got so good at DJing that I outgrew my equipment. The novice DJ controller models weren’t cutting it anymore. I needed some new gear that was going to push my limits. That’s when I found the Pioneer DDJ 800 to level up my mixing technique. It’s a mid-to-professional level DJ controller with a solid build, incredible sound, and amplified performance features. The DDJ-800 is an ideal DJ controller for those ready to break beyond beginner barriers.
Things to Consider Before Buying a DJ Controller
A DJ controller combines all the equipment DJs need into one single unit. Rather than buying a mixer and two players separately, all the gear combines into one sleek device.
Plus, a DJ controller typically comes bundled with a copy of a DJing software to mix off a computer. Instead of buying everything separately, which can get pricey, DJs get an all-in-one system cheap.
DJ controllers are useful for DJs mixing strictly digital, as most support USB connectivity. They are lightweight and portable, which is great for DJs regularly on the go. I’ve been that guy lugging around several pieces of gear from show to show, and it gets exhausting.
For vinyl or scratch DJs, a DJ controller might not be the best option. Higher-end DJ controllers support multiple inputs from several players to integrate additional vinyl players and other devices. If you have the extra cash to shell out, then vinyl players & DJ controllers can work together. Budget limits most DJS, which leads them to a simpler 2-channel model.
While shopping for your ideal DJ controller, it’s essential to define your level of DJing proficiency. Lower-end models are barebones with limited creative tools. Entry-level DJ controllers have 2-channels with few or no effects, loops, hot cues, and sampling.
Advanced models include 4-channels or more and come with all the bells and whistles proficient DJs want to make their mix masterful. Determine what elements you need for mixing, and that will guide you into the right DJ controller.
Features & Benefits of the Pioneer DDJ 800
Without a complete breakdown of the controller’s features, DJs wouldn’t know how the controller might benefit them. Let’s take a closer look at what the DDJ 800 has to offer.
Build & Connectivity
First off, the DDJ 800 is a gorgeous piece of DJ gear. The dual-tone finish is pleasing to the eye. It’s got a solid build but doesn’t quite meet the same grade as Pioneer’s top-tier controllers. Weighing in at 4.7kg, it doesn’t take much muscle to carry the DJ controller around with you from venue to venue.
The DDJ-800 has applaudable connectivity options. The DJ controller can function as a stand-alone mixer, operating two external phono/line inputs. Each deck switches from a virtual deck to the hardware device input. As previously mentioned, you can only select two tracks for mixing at a given time. It’s best to go with a DJ controller like the DDJ 1000 if you need four channels.
If you decide to connect Vinyl into the DDJ 800, the bundled Rekordbox DJ software has digital vinyl control functionality for about $100 more.
There are two mic inputs on the DDJ 800, which is somewhat uncommon for most DJ controllers. You can have an MC and a vocalist join in on your mix at the same time. An AUX input puts a little bit of a consumer zeal into the DJ controller if you want to play off a phone or other device. A separate booth output allows a DJ to tapper the mix playback’s amplitude compared to the audience mix.
Mixer Section & Beat FX
The mixing section on the DDJ 800 is almost identical to the beloved DJM-450, with a few more controls for mic/aux inputs. The mixer has plenty of room for your hands to navigate the controls, with sturdy knobs and smooth faders. Channels can easily switch in between the digital deck and phono/line input with a switch at the top of each channel.
There are 4 selectable colour FX: Dub Echo, Pitch, Noise, & Filter – applied independently on each channel with a ‘Color’ knob. The Beat FX section is what shines on the DDJ-800 mixer. A total of 14 Beat FX are available from an adjustable knob with each FX highlighted. You can apply FX to individual channels, samples, or the complete master.
The Beat FX LED screen displays the effect, the channel selected, depth, and BPM, so a DJ doesn’t have to guess their FX selections in the dark during performances.
For any MC that’s worked enough gigs, you’ve encountered that bone-shattering high-pitched shrill sound when a microphone encounters feedback. It can ruin the mood and deflate the energy of the crowd. Paired with the DDJ 800 microphones, the Rekordbox DJ software will immediately detect and reduce feedback from entering into the sound.
The DDJ-800 jog wheels are smaller than those on the CDJ-1000 but have the same superb technology and features. The LCD on-jog display located in the center of the jog wheels is the main feature. They’re very eye-catching, so a DJ’s gaze doesn’t wander up to the computer to discover performance metrics.
Displaying waveforms, needle position, a cue scope for oncoming hot cues, key and BPM data, and even album art, a DJ can maintain his focus on the decks most the time. You’ll only have to use the software to select new tracks and beatmatch.
One feature I’ve loved on the decks is the jog adjust knob to fine-tune resistance level on the jog wheel. I set it to light for nudging tracks, medium for beat matching, and heavy for scratching. If I switched to a DJ controller without this function, I would desperately miss it.
Pioneer has standardized its looping section across most models, minus a few entry-level models. If you master the looping on the DDJ 800, found at the top of each deck, you’ll be able to rock your loops on any pioneer model.
Tap the in-loop button to start a loop or to create an automatic 4-beat. I usually go with the standard 4-beat looping and then use the cue/loop call buttons to shift the loop length as I see fit. You can use the same cue/loop call buttons to select pre-set loops in the Rekordbox DJ software. If you are a little OCD when it comes to mixing, then pre-set the loops beforehand.
In the center of the looping section is a crucial advantage you’ll want to use: the ‘Quantize’ button. If engaged, Rekordbox will time-adjust loops to fit with the tempo and proper beat placement. I’d recommend keeping the quantize button on while making your loops.
The 16 performance pads on the DDJ-800 can only be described as ‘rubberlicious.’ Made of an excellent rubber, they respond brilliantly to finger taps and feel spectacular. They’re backlit with retro colors for brilliance in the dark.
The pads trigger hot cues, pad FX, Beat Jump, Sampler, Keyboard Mode, Beat Loop, and Key shift. A personal performance mode favorite of mine is the Key Shift. I load a sample on one deck, cut it into the mix, and then press the key shift mode for added effect, then I cut the sample out quickly. It works wonders on build-ups and drops.
That’s just one example of the vast creativity that you can experience with the DDJ-800 performance pads. I’m sure you can find your unique style with an array of performance modes.
The Pioneer DDJ 800: A Quick Run-down
The Pioneer DDJ-800 DJ controller is the kid brother of the famous 4-channel flagship DDJ-1000. It’s got the same awe-inspiring club-layout and features but in a slimmer, cheaper version.
The DDJ-800 can support 4-decks, with each deck assigned to either a virtual deck or an additional phono/line input from the rear. Granted, you can only cue 2 channels at once, unlike the DDJ-1000.
The DDJ-800 has enhanced design and performance features compared to entry-level models – such as jog wheels with built-in displays, 8 performance pads with 8 different performance features, and 4 sound colour effects & 14 beat effects. The only downside, you can’t engage effects without connecting to the Rekordbox DJ software.
If the DDJ-800 perks your interest but doesn’t exactly have what you want in a DJ controller, check out these other similar options with a little bit of a different spin.
1. Pioneer XDJ-RR
If the LCD jog wheel screen doesn’t quite meet your visual needs, the XDJ-RR has more digital display that your eyes may crave. It sports a large 7-inch colour screen that shows even more performance data than the DDJ 800. Scroll and select tracks on screen to focus on the DJ controller for mixing and not the software.
For DJs looking to untether themselves entirely from a computer, the XDJ-RR supports USB drive playback or solely access your Rekordbox library with Link Export mode. Two USB ports allow back-to-back DJs to perform seamlessly without interchanging any gear.
- An all-in-one advanced DJ controller inherited from the NXS2 controller series
- 7-inch Colour Screen to view and control more performance data
- Mix-entirely on-board with USB drive playback or Rekordbox Link Export Mode
2. Traktor Kontrol S3
Some DJs need 4 channels to build their mix. Check out the Traktor Kontrol S3 as a 4-channel DJ controller option comparable to the DDJ-800. Mix tracks, acapella vocals, loops, and samples together with this amount of decks.
The S3 has stellar touch-sensitive jog wheels with ample surface area for scratching and spinbacks. The RGB light rings indicate which track your working with and when the track is almost finished. With the S3’s FX suite, DJs get to choose from a monstrous effects collection. Select from over 40-beat synced FX that can be applied individually or stacked.
- 4-channel pro DJ controller with proprietary Traktor features
- Super Smooth Jog wheels with RGB light indicators
- FX suite of over 40 beat-synced effects
- Effects can be applied individually or stacked
3. Numark Mixtrack Platinum
There’s plenty of room to breath and tons of great features for mixing on the Numark Mixtrack Platinum. It’s a 4-deck DJ controller with large 6-inch capacitive touch jog wheels, 8 performance pads, 6 quick launch effects, and Serato Scratch lite DJ software. You’ll even get a 3-month subscription to TIDAL Premium to stream any song for mixing you don’t have in your library.
The jog wheels have high-resolution color displays and exemplify great traction and tension for scratching. The performance pads can access cues, loops, fader cuts, and samples. Large, low latency jog wheels for incredible scratch response
- Spacious mid-level DJ controller supporting up to 4 decks
- Large 6-inch capacitive touch jog wheels with high-resolution color displays
- Jog wheels have optimal traction and tension for scratching
- Serato Scratch Lite DJ software with a 3-month free subscription to TIDAL Premium streaming service
Final Thoughts on the Pioneer DDJ 800
For any DJ that puts enough man-hours into mixing and honing their style, there comes the point when gear gets outgrown. It’s time to step up to a different DJ controller that’ll pave the way to greater heights. The DDJ 800 is a mighty DJ Controller that can elevate your craft from beginner to advanced.
The four decks on the DDJ 800 capture more mixing elements than the entry-level. The 14 Beat FX and the performance pads with 8 separate modes open gateways to new creative possibilities. The LCD screens in the center of the Jog-wheels display crucial performance data for DJs to reference quickly. The Jog tension adjustment knob, from light to heavy, is a personal favorite feature of mine!
The DDJ- 800 is ready for all intermediate to advanced DJs that need a robust DJ controller to push their mixing pace. Click here to get the full scoop on the Pioneer DDJ 800 and to make a purchase!