Pioneer has dominated the DJ tech world for quite some time now with their highly revered, top tier mixers. The quality of the company’s products has been excellent and inspiring, yet somewhat unattainable for those beginning their DJ journey. Luckily, the Pioneer DJM 450 2 channel DJ mixer is here to change that.
This model bridges a gap that has been lacking for a long time – a truly professional experience at an attainable price of around £550/ €580. The DJM 450 inherited quite a few parts from it’s bigger brother – the DJM 900NXS2, making it an exciting all-round package that packs a punch. In this review, we will take a look at how this mixer performs, and whether it is the right choice for you.
Before Buying the Pioneer DJM 450
It must be said that all entry-level mixers from Pioneer, including the DJM 450, lack an important feature if you are planning to gig in large venues. Each model in the range does not have a booth output. This means that you will not be able to send out a signal to booth monitors and control them separately. This is only a necessary function when playing large venues, and not quite the market that the Pioneer DJM 450 DJ Mixer is aimed at.
Alternatively, one can use in-ear monitors, but if a booth output is important to you, it is best to look at some of the higher tier Pioneer units right off the bat. The Pioneer DJM 450 might not have all the bells and whistles of a top range Pioneer mixer, but price cuts have to be made somewhere. Having said that, there are enough features that put it in fairly close range to the flagship mixer models.
If you can live without a booth output and are looking for a mixer to mainly use at home and the occasional party, you are in for a treat.
What’s in the Box:
- Pioneer DJM 450
- Power Cord
- AC Adaptor
- USB Cable
- Operating Instructions (Quick Start Guide)
- License Key Card (Recordbox DJ, Recordbox DVS)
- Width: 9.06 in
- Height: 4.25 in
- Depth: 12.6 in
- Frequency Range: 20 – 20000 Hz
- Sampling Rate: 48 kHz
- DSP: 64 bit
- A/D Converter: 24 bit
- D/A Converter: 24 bit
- S/N Ratio Line: 94 dB
- Distortion: < 0.005% (LINE)
- EQ: 2 x Channel EQ, 3 band
- Hi: -26 to +6 dB at 20 kHz
- Mid: -26 to +6 dB at 1 kHz
- Low: -26 to +6 dB at 20Hz
- Mic EQ: 1 x channel, 2 band
- Hi: -12 to 0 dB at 10 kHz
- Low: -12 to 0 dB at 100 Hz
- Built-in Effects: Yes
- Audio Inputs:
- 2x Stereo RCA Line Input
- 2x Stereo RCA Phono Input
- 1x Stereo RCA AUX Input
- 1x ¼” TS Mic Input
- Audio Outputs:
- 2x XLR 3-Pin Master Output
- 1x Stereo RCA Unbalanced Master Output
- 1x ¼” TRS Headphone Output
- 1x 3.5 mm TRS headphone Output
- Other I/O:
- 1x Phono Ground Terminal
- 1x USB Type B
- Phono – 80 dB
- Line – 94 dB
- Mic – 77 dB
- Aux – 96 dB
- Dimensions: 9.1 x 12.6 x 4.2” / 230.0 x 319.5 x 107.9 mm
- Weight: 7.1 lb / 3.2 kg
Pioneer DJM 450: Features
Recordbox DJ & Recordbox DVS
When buying this mixer, you will get both a Recordbox DJ and a Recordbox DVS license key to enjoy the unit’s full capabilities when connected to a computer, as well as when paired with CDJs/XDJs/Control Vinyls or Analogue Turntables.
With the XLR terminal and gold-plated RCAs, you will be sure to get excellent sound quality with all your connections.
An independent Send/Return function allows users to use built-in FX, as well as external FX from mobile apps. By connecting a tablet or smartphone via the USB connection you can engage virtual effects and instrument apps that can then be added to your workflow.
USB Direct-to-Flash Recording
The USB recording feature allows you to record WAV files straight from the mixer to a storage unit at a push of a button. Pioneer also released the DJM-REC app that compliments this function very well.
Magvel Fader Crossfader, High-Quality Channel Faders
The mixer features great quality channel faders, and the excellent Magvel crossfader inherited from Pioneer’s professional industry-standard DJM 900NXS2 mixer. It has three adjustable curve settings to suit all needs, from mixing to scratching.
Eight Built-In Beat Effects, Four Sound Colour Effects, Level Depth Control
Beat FX: Delay, Echo, Spiral, Reverb, Transform, Flanger, Pitch, Roll (In sync with BPM)
Sound Colour FX:
- Filter – Removes high or low-frequency content
- Dub Echo – Adds sound reverberations of your audio
- Sweep – EQ notch that sweeps through the frequency spectrum
- Noise – Adds white noise to your mix
3-Band Isolation Band EQ
The Pioneer DJM 450 DJ Mixer has a three-band equalizer to regulate each channel, allowing it to cut or boost low, mid, and high frequencies from –inf. To +9dB.
MIC and AUX channels
On the rear of the unit, you will find a MIC, as well as an AUX channel that expands the unit’s capabilities and allows you to get creative with additional input sources such as drum machines, phones, samplers, and more.
Two Peak Level Meters
On the face of the mixer, two peak level meters provide precise visual dB feedback for each channel so you can have a reference when mixing in tracks.
The DJM 450 features Pioneer’s premium 64-bit digital signal processor that uses dithering technology to achieve high-quality sound for both the master and headphone output.
Setting Up the Pioneer DJM 450
The Pioneer DJM 450comes in a fairly small package, but looks precious and feels very robust. The all-metal construction makes it a pretty heavy unit, but that makes it sure to withstand wear and tear of all kinds. If you are heavy-handed when performing, you won’t have to fear breaking any parts on this tank-like machine or having it skate around out of place. The layout is reminiscent of the DJM 900NXS2, and therefore very intuitive from the get-go.
All rubber knobs are weighted and have an excellent feel to them, somewhat on the tight side, but very robust and with a nice grip that exerts a quality feel. On the front panel you will find the two-channel mixing section, a master output knob, a Send/Return section, the effects panel, and the MIC and AUX section controls. Everything looks and performs neatly, and there is more than enough stuff to play around with
When performing, we did not feel that any functions are missing in action. The small footprint is good when it comes to saving space, and we can’t say that the unit feels too crowded. Everything is well proportioned in terms of layout.
Using the Pioneer DJM-450
The faders on the Pioneer DJM 450 unit are top class – as mentioned previously, the Pioneer DJM 450 features the superb Magvel fader which uses contactless, magnetic slide technology to withstand millions of swipes and last a long time.
Its weight and feel are unprecedented, and it has earned its title for being the best in the industry for good reason. When your musical tool has qualitative sensual feedback, mixing becomes a joy, just like it is meant to be. The goal is to forget that there are sliders between you and the music – the Magvel sure comes close in achieving that. The same goes for the channel faders, they feel solid and smooth in use – very reactive to picking up subtle increments of adjustment.
When we reviewed the DJM 350, we noticed that the layout around the crossfader felt a little crowded for intense scratching purposes, as one could accidentally hit knobs and change settings while playing. On the Pioneer DJM-450 things are better in that regard. There is a little more leeway to knock around if you are into heavy scratching.
Scratching enthusiasts should be more than happy with the unit’s capabilities. There is a curve selection matrix that allows users to choose the crossfade sensitivity, making it great for both comfortable mixing and drastic cuts.
The mixing section is right at the center of the faceplate. It has two channels, both of which feature a three-band EQ, a headphone cue button, a channel fader, a trim pot, and a Colour FX knob. There are two EQ modes that one can avail of, Standard EQ and Isolator EQ. The former will kill the frequency band you are turning, whereas the latter will work to make a dip in the frequency range only, while still allowing sound information to come through.
For our purposes, Isolator EQ worked best and allows us to create butter-smooth transitions with mainly EQ’ing only. The EQ knobs have a very satisfying tactile feedback, which lets you achieve subtle changes in a precise manner. After getting used to the feel of the DJM 450 knobs, they work like precision tools – no meddling is needed after the initial setting is dialed in.
The DJM 450 AUX channel is located at the back of the unit and has a dedicated, switchable matrix to control the flow of the signal. There are three functions: USB will have the input come from a laptop, Line will use the signal from the RCA AUX which can act as a third channel (for things like a phone, drum machine, sampler, etc.), and Return AUX will have the input come from the Send / Return channel.
The MIC input is pretty straight forward, you can plug in a microphone and regulate the signal level with the dedicated knob.
The Pioneer DJM-450 features a straight to the USB recording function. This enables you to record a mix effortlessly to your computer or selected hard drive. It is an excellent function to create your mixes without the hassle of having to set up inputs. Pioneer released an app called DJM-REC which takes the USB recording function to another level. It takes care of the peak limiter so you don’t have to worry about the main issue when recording a mix – clipping.
The app also lets you record mixes directly to your iPhone, iPad, stream it to YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Periscope, Instagram, and Snapchat. On top of that, you can record lossless .WAV files and have them go straight to Mixcloud, Soundcloud, and Dropbox. The future is now!
Sound Colour FX
On the right side of the DJM 450 DJ mixer panel, you will find the effects section. Here you can control the Sound Colour FX, and the Beat FX to spice up your mix. The Sound Colour FX include Noise (white noise generator), Filter (low and high pass), Echo (sound reverberations), and Sweep (EQ bell that sweeps through).
The mixer features a dedicated Sound Colour FX parameter knob which allows you to take effect shaping to another level. You can use it to shape the resonance of the Filter, for example. The four Sound Colour FX are inherited from the DJM 900NXS2, albeit only a part of them. However, they are great fun to tweak around and open up the doors to becoming more creative with your mixes. It is a great toolkit to have.
Beat Colour FX
Other than the other budget variants of the Pioneer mixer series, the Pioneer DJM 450 also has a Beat FX section. This is quite an upgrade, and well worth the extra money. The Beat FX panel consists of a Reverb, Flanger, Pitch, Spiral, Echo, Delay, Transformer, and Roll.
They are all tempo-based and will react to sound in sync with the BPM, or alternatively, you can tap in your own BPM that can then be used to apply syncopated FX. You can also fine-tune the BPM with a dedicated Time knob. Values such as 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, and 1/16 can be selected via the left and right arrow buttons in the beat section to shape how the Beat FX apply to your mix time-signature wise.
All effects can be assigned to apply to any channel you wish – the crossfader, master output, MIC, AUX, or either of the two-track channels. On top of that, you can select the Level / Depth to control the intensity of a given effect with the dedicated knob. This allows for a lot of creative freedom where songs can really be made your own through remixing the beats. The Beat FX section is an excellent way to take mixing to another level, as you can pretty much go buck wild with the possible choices.
A good idea for getting used to them is to load in some drum rhythms without much else going on and then see how they can be mended and shaped into new rhythmic territories. Such simple drum tracks are also quite excellent to have in a DJ set, as you can always fall back on them if you have to stall for time or have to make a transition between melodically incompatible songs.
If you have three input sources going, the Beat FX can really get fun, almost reaching DAW capabilities on the fly.
On the DJM 450 headphone section, you will find two inputs, which is quite handy. A 1/4” and a 1/8” will make sure that all types of monitoring headphones will work with your setup and you won’t have to keep losing that adapter.
A dedicated switch regulates whether you want to engage the mono split, or the stereo feature when you are listening to the mix. Along with that, you have the standard cue and master blend to dial in how much of each you want to have playing in your headphones.
The dedicated rubber cue buttons allow you to choose which channel you are listening to. The sound quality of the headphone output is great and something we love on Pioneer mixers. It is clear, has drive galore, and just sounds pleasantly Hi-Fi.
Pros and Cons of the Pioneer DJM 450
Final thoughts on the Pioneer DJM 450
If you have been considering a budget-friendly professional mixer, the Pioneer DJM 450 is way ahead of the previous DJM 250 and DJM 350 due to it’s added features. It has the essential functionality of the flagship DJM 900NXS2 model packed into a 2 channel mixer, making it an excellent choice for anyone who wants to save space and money without compromising on functions and playability.
The Pioneer DJM 450 is our top pick in this price category, it is leaps and bounds beyond the competition. Getting familiar with this unit’s workflow will have you easily translate your skill to the gear found in all top clubs. At its price, you simply can’t go wrong. The DJM 450 DJ mixer is the perfect choice for the intermediate, aspiring DJ looking to advance his skill set.