Pioneer is one of the most popular brands for DJs and music creators in the world. If you’re looking for powerful controller hardware, mixers, and sensational software, Pioneer has you covered. The Pioneer DDJ RZ from Pioneer is a fantastic DJ controller exclusively tuned to work with Pioneer Rekordbox DJ software. Both reliable and fast, the DDJ RZ will deliver amazing sound in any situation.
The Pioneer DDJ RZ features a club-quality crossfader (magnetic), as well as brilliant large jog wheels copied from the CDJ-2000NXS industry-standard machine. The OSC sampler provides DJs with the freedom to manipulate oscillator technology and trigger audio samples fast.
Pioneer DJ has created something truly incredible here. The company is responding to a need for dependable, fast software, combined with robust hardware in a compact package. Combining the DDJ-RZ DJ controller with the market-leading Rekordbox DJ software means that pros no longer need to take all of their equipment to every venue.
Instead, you can prepare your mixes and play them directly from a laptop, or export everything to a USB and use the industry-standard equipment that comes with most venues.
Key Features of the Pioneer DDJ RZ
The Pioneer DDJ RZ is aesthetically similar to the DDJ-SZ, with the bonus of the added Rekordbox DJ software compatibility. The Pioneer DDJ RZ emulates the software layout in the controller formatting, to support better ease of use.
The four-channel controller means you can perform easily with all of the four Rekordbox DJ decks, and each channel has its own trim pots and level meters for enhanced control. Another bonus is that the DDJ RZ comes with two USB sound cards and ports, with an input switcher implemented to smooth out your DJ transitions.
The DDJ-RZ from Pioneer also comes with four inputs, so you can easily connect to any DJ equipment you choose or use the system as a standalone mixer. Features include:
- P-Lock Fader cap and Marvel fader
- Plug-and-play functionality
- Automatic standby
- Compatible DJ software (Rekordbox)
- DVS control (Rekordbox)
- 4 Channels
- Full-sized aluminium jog wheels
- High and low-pass filter
- 8 Hot cues
- 2 USB ports
Pioneer DDJ RZ Set Up
The Pioneer DDJ RZ has everything you need for a fantastic performance. There are 2 improved Mic inputs for reduced distortion, a Rekordbox software pack, and so much more. When Pioneer released the DDJ RZ, it appeared alongside a lot of software-specific controllers. This helped to transform the Rekordbox solution as a fully-integrated platform for digital DJing.
The DDJ RZ is the flagship model from the launch range, so it’s no surprise that you’re getting a robust controller. This device combines a powerful 4-channel mixer with an OSC sampler, a set of 16 performance pads, and amazing track controllers.
From the moment you begin unboxing your new controller, you’ll notice that you’re working with a high-quality piece of equipment. This unit does feel a little more lightweight than you might expect (given its size), but it’s definitely durable enough. The controls are sturdy and rugged.
Most of the elements of the DDJ RZ come directly from the Pioneer’s more expensive Nexus range. This includes the powerful full-sized jogwheels, which are identical to the ones on the CDJ-2000NXS, as we mentioned above. Let’s take a closer look.
As mentioned above, the jog wheels are probably one of the most impressive features of the DDJ RZ, and a good example of how the controller offers a premium experience. These jog wheels are exactly the same size as the wheels on the Pioneer DJ CDJ-2000NXS, which mean they both look and feel the part. You can even adjust the speed to ensure that your jog wheels behave as you like.
Every aspect of the DDJ RZ feels professional, but the jog wheels are an instant delight. They feature rubber and aluminium, with a capacitive touch-top. This means that a simple tap will do the trick in no time. If you’re the kind of DJ that prefers to use more pressure with your machines, then you might find these jog wheels a little overly-responsive.
Effects and navigation
Unsurprisingly, the DDJ-RZ comes with all the knobs and buttons you need to control the included Rekordbox DJ software. There are three knobs that control up to 3 effects at the same time. Plus, the fourth push knob controls the number of bears for the effect, and it activates the Release FX. The effects are wonderfully high-quality and having knobs to turn is a nice extra too.
There’s an FX panel button to switch between the different effect views in Rekordbox DJ. The DDJ RZ also comes with 2 USB inputs and 2 USB interfaces. A big benefit of this is that it makes your changeovers much simpler. Additionally, each deck has a dedicated browser section, which contributes to the enhanced feeling of this deck.
The performance pad section on the DDJ RZ will feel familiar for fans of the Pioneer DDJ range. There are 8 high-quality touchpads included (RGB, of course), per deck. You also get a CDJ-quality set of cue and play buttons, pause buttons, a loop section, and more.
The pads allow you to play with the wide range of performance options in Rekordbox DJ, and there’s a lot of functionality to choose from. You can experiment with everything from Pad FX, to loop roll, slicer, velocity sampler and more. An included onboard sequencer is also fun and intuitive to work with on-the-move. There’s also the option to hang decks together on each side, so you can manipulate them at the same time for scratching purposes.
All of the most common features of high-end controllers are here, including slip modes, reverse and censor options, and full-function looping. That means that you can benefit from one of the most complete and immersive DJing experiences available, with a controller that you love experimenting with. You’ll particularly appreciate the Pad FX functionality, which offers a combination of slip roll options on different beat sizes, activated by the pads.
The DDJ-RZ also has controls to capture loops in the sequencer and access clips. Unfortunately, these buttons might seem a little “stuffed” into the button of each jog wheel for some DJs.
Following the brilliant full-sized jog wheels, the mixer is likely to be one of your favorite features of the Pioneer DDJ RZ controller. The mixing functionality is brilliant, with a well-built and spacious interface that feels as professional as it sounds. This is a full hardware mixer supporting Rekordbox DVS.
It’s worth noting that adding other turntables and media players into the already rather large system might be a challenge if you’re in a small or normal-sized DJ booth. However, if you know that you’re going to have the room (and the money), you can expand as much as you like.
The DDJ-RZ mixer comes with four different color effects, including Filter, Pitch, Jet, and Space. The Pitch effect is kind of a miss here, and now that Rekordbox offers access to advanced bending functionality for pitch through your performance pads, the color effect seems a little unnecessary. You can always change this functionality and map the sound color effects elsewhere, however.
Keep in mind that remapping your controls will only work when you’re using Rekordbox DJ. When you plug in turntables or media players, the DDJ-RZ will just go back to the defaults.
As mentioned above, you also get the OSC sampler, which comes with four oscillator sounds, including horns, sirens, noise, and sine. You can customize these sounds and add your own samples to each of the buttons if you prefer.
As a comprehensive hardware mixer, the DDJ-RZ has everything you would expect from a top-quality solution from Pioneer. You get high-quality crossfader and fader technology, a full 3-band EQ on each channel, large VU meters and a separate master VU. There’s also USB controls on the top allowing you to assign channel pairs to USB B or A.
Outputs and Inputs
Finally, the DDJ-RZ comes with a generous number of outputs and inputs. There are two microphone inputs, and the microphone controls are on the mixer, including a 2-band EQ system. On the back of the machine, the RZ has RCA and XLR master outputs, TRS Booth outputs, and RCA inputs for each channel, with grounding for channel 3 and 4 in your turntables.
As mentioned above, dual USB sound cards and ports means that you can connect 2 laptops or computers at the same time and use top-loaded A/B switches for seamless transitioning. The 6 inputs for ultimate flexibility mean that you can connect to CDJs or analogue turntable devices with ease. You can also connect your product straight to the professional PA equipment wherever you’re playing.
Everything about the Pioneer DDJ RZ is built to deliver amazing performance. The Wolfson high-performance D/A converter and low-jitter oscillator ensure a faithful reproduction of any sound sources that you’re working with. At the same time, you get all the benefits of Rekordbox DJ for excellent sound management.
Seamlessly create complex FX patterns by selecting different echo, back spin, and brake options, or jump into slip mode and keep tracks playing muted during life edits. Pioneer also includes access to the Melodics app as part of the Pioneer DDJ RZ. The app helps you to learn about cue-point drumming techniques so you can build muscle memory for your next performance.
Pioneer DDJ RZ Pros and Cons
Overall, if you’re a fan of Rekordbox DJ and you want a professional quality controller, then the DDJ-RZ is a great investment. It’s the best product out there for Rekordbox lovers, unless you’re willing to upgrade to something much more expensive. While the price of the Pioneer DDJ RZ isn’t small, it’s a lot less than you would pay for a full Pioneer system in the Nexus line. If you’re a mobile DJ that already makes money from your passion, this is a great choice.
As the central hub of your DJ setup, the Pioneer DDJ RZ is big and expensive, but it’s also extremely effective. It’s essentially the same as the DDJ-SZ, just with a different software focus. If you’re really invested in getting next-gen technology, then you may need to go the extra mile and consider the RZX. However, don’t underestimate the power of the DDJ RZ.
Finishing Thoughts on the Pioneer DDJ-RZ
When Pioneer built the Pioneer DDJ RZ, they designed a top-of-the-line, next-generation controller for professional DJs. Dedicated to helping you get the most out of your Rekordbox DJ software, there’s no arguing with the fact that this is a beautiful controller. It sounds amazing, and it comes with all the functionality you could need to create beautiful audio.
Of course, as a comprehensive controller capable of standalone performance, the DDJ RZ isn’t cheap – and it’s probably not the controller that most beginners will go for. Unless you’re already paying professionally, you’re going to struggle to justify the cost here.
However, if you do have the cash, then this is one of the most impressive tools on the market, similar in design to the DDJ SZ for Serato. The unique design of the Pioneer DDJ RZ provides access to plug-and-play functionality for the DJ in a hurry, with a format that mirrors your software layout perfectly. This ensures that you can create more intuitive performance experiences.
The Pioneer DDJ-RZ even competes reasonably well with some of the more expensive full Pioneer systems you would find in leading clubs. The learning curve between playing on something like the DDJ RZ and a high-performance club system isn’t very big at all. This is particularly true because you can do most of the work of preparing your music on your computer, then throw your library onto a USB stick when you’re ready to perform.
The Pioneer DDJ RZ provides all the tools you need for an amazing club-level performance, with a high-quality crossfader, a new oscillator sampler, and a set of two USB sound cards.