Pioneer seems to have something for everyone in its collection of powerful controllers and add-on tools. For those who want to transform their Serato DJ Pro experience, one particularly compelling product is the Pioneer DDJ-SP1. This midi controller is perfectly tuned to work with Serato software; however, you can also remap the 16 included pads to work with other software too.
The Pioneer DDJ-SP1 works alongside the rest of your musical setup, rather than being a standalone controller or mixer. You’ll include this tool alongside a CDJ, turntable, or laptop and use the buttons pre-mapped onto the system to trigger samples, hot cues, and FX too. A single fader in the central part of the controller handles the volume, while knobs on both sides control FX parameters.
Aimed specifically at users of Serato controllers and DJ mixers, the Pioneer DDJ-SP1 combines all of the performance pad sections and effects from the popular DDJ-SX tool and delivers an expert level controller. Let’s take a closer look.
Key Features of the Pioneer DDJ-SP1
As mentioned above, the Pioneer DDJ-SP1 from Pioneer isn’t a standalone controller, but it can add a lot of value to your existing setup. This compact Serato solution is ideal for a professional DJ looking to add creativity into their music and live performances. Designed for instant integration with Serato DJ software, the DDJ-SP1 offers intuitive and highly ergonomic support for your Serato software.
With access to everything from slip mode solutions to loop, scratch, and reverse elements, the DDJ-SP1 is a brilliant addition to your current digital environment. With this powerful tool, you get to add pre-mapped dials and buttons to the software samples, including eight hot cues and more than 30 FX options powered by iZotope. Features of this product include:
- Pre-mapped dials and buttons for Serato DJ performance
- Slip mode
- Four deck control
- Six slot sample bank
- More than 30 high-quality sound FX options
- 16 performance pads (tactile rubber)
- Eight cue points for each deck
- Serato Video and Serato DJ access
- USB input/output
Pioneer DDJ-SP1 DJ Controller Set Up
Reasonably lightweight and portable, Pioneer designed the DDJ-SP1 to be compact. However, that doesn’t mean it compromises on quality. All the knobs and buttons feel reliable and durable. You’ll feel comfortable giving this controller everything you’ve got.
Although the Pioneer DDJ-SP1 specifically supports Serato software, there’s a template available if you decide to use the device with other software. Notably, there aren’t a lot of options available for effect manipulation here. The device assumes that you’re already using a DJ mixer with the right EQ and FX options on-board.
The DDJ-SP1 adds more physical dimensions to its performance thanks to things like Performance Pads. The rubber LED pads give you access to seven modes, including Slicer, Hot Cue, Hot Loop, Roll, Auto Loop, Manual Loop, and more. Velocity mode also allows you to control the volume of your samples according to how hard you hit your pads.
On top of all that, the Pioneer DDJ-SP1 also comes with access to scratches, precision loops, and more, with extra control through Slip mode, which continues the playback and ensures that you restart the music at the right point.
Like the forerunner that came before it, the DDJ-SP1 withstands the unpredictable environment of the DJ booth, with a stylish yet durable aluminium faceplate. The slim build and instantaneous setup experience makes this compact controller a great addition to any kit.
6 buttons and a push button encoder create a powerful track browsing section on this device. The encoder easily scrolls through your folder tree on the main track browser, or on the left. Pushing the back button beneath the encoder will toggle between two areas. There are also two load buttons and deck selection buttons to help activate deck 3 and 4.
The button for Load Preparing sends tracks instantly to the Prepare folder of the browser, complete with a holding area for dragging tracks into crates. Pressing Load Prepare and Shift at the same time will scroll through specific areas of the browser, such as history, prepare, browse, and files. Shift and back scrolls through the different layout views, including horizontal, vertical, library, and extended.
The DDJ SP1 also combines Deck and Shift select buttons to show the FX, SP-6, and Record parts of your Serato DJ software.
The FX Assign buttons on the DDJ SP1 ensure that you can assign the FX1 and FX2 units to up to four active decks. FX and Shift mode toggles from multi-effect to single effect modes. In the multi-effect mode, the 1-3 encounters and buttons work to turn effects on and off. You can select your effect from a list and adjust the amount of effect you use.
In a single effect mode, the same kind of buttons and knobs control the effect to switch it on and off. You can also adjust the parameters of the effect according to your musical needs.
In either mode on the DDJ SP1, the encoder included in the tech will adjust the timing of the beat syncing function from 30 values. There’s a tempo tap button that you can play with too.
Aside from the transport and mixer controls you can handle with your Serato DJ unit, the Pioneer DDJ-SP1 deck sections also include a host of other brilliant performance controls too. This means that you can do a lot of the work for your DJing with just this add-on controller.
The two decks included with the DDJ SP1 each come with sync on and off buttons, and an auto loop push encoder for setting loop length and turning the loop off or on. You also get access to slip and censor buttons. Although it would be useful to have some transport controls in this section too – that’s not available with the DDJ SP1.
Backlit Performance Pads
Probably the most important feature on the DDJ-SP1 are the 8 backlit rubber pads included per deck. These make the most of function buttons for accessing around 8 modes of pad performance. The pads deliver a very similar drumming quality to the DDJ-SX. You get an excellent level of stability and firmness here, and you can play on the pads rapidly without worrying about damage.
With the four buttons included above the pads and the Shift key, you’ll have access to various modes. Hot Cue and Hot Loop options are available, with support for up to 8 locations per track to set cue points and saved loops. The Auto Loop feature on the pads works similarly to the Auto Loop with the push encoder. You’ll have 8 different loop values at your fingertips here, and parameter arrows to cycle through loop lengths.
The Pioneer DDJ-SP1 slicer mode cuts a section of your playing track into a variety of parts, so you can assign them to your eight pads. When you press the pads, you’ll play the music sections in a loop until you let go of the pad. There are 2 slicer modes here. In the first mode, track playback continues, and there’s a new sliced section created when your playback goes past the old one.
The secondary mode lets you loop the sliced section until you exit the function. While these elements are fun to play with, they do require a little time to master. You may find that you perform better in the second slicer mode if you still don’t have much experience.
There’s a manual loop mode on the DDJ-SP1, where you can just have your pads function exactly as the printed text over them suggests. The 2 pad sampler modes also work in conjunction with your Serato DJ 6 sampler. One slight difference here is that your machine will alter the volume of your samples according to the strength of your tap in velocity mode. Regular sampler mode automatically plays at full volume.
The Pioneer DDJ-SP1 is completely MIDI assignable through the USB port included as part of the hardware. The MIDI assigning functions means that you can send controlling information to external devices and access your DDJ-SP1as a controller. Unfortunately, there is only 1 USB B port available. That means that you don’t have any other terminals to extend functionality with.
Pioneer DDJ SP-1 Controller for Serato software
While you can potentially use the Pioneer DDJ-SP1with virtually any software, as long as you know how to map things out according to the templates provided, Pioneer created this machine for Serato. The Pioneer DDJ-SP1 comes with access to Serato Pro, so you can easily unlock features like Beat Jump, Quantize, and Slip mode. All you need to do is connect a PC or Mac.
Another added bonus is that the Pioneer DDJ-SP1 can work with the Melodics app, which is helpful for DJs that want to learn a little more about pad drumming techniques and building muscle memory. If you’re more of a fan of the Rekordbox software offered by Pioneer, you’re not limited to Serato either. The DDJ-SP1 also supports Rekordbox access.
One particularly impressive bonus feature of the Pioneer DDJ-SP1 is that it comes with a license for Serato Video. You don’t need to buy this technology separately, just download and use it. After enabling Serato Video in your Expansion Packs tab, you can load videos, and switch a deck to Serato Video control whenever you choose. The FX section here takes control of Serato video effects, so you can’t use it for audio effects at this point.
With DDJ-SP1’s Serato Video enabled, you get to manipulate videos with transitions, visual FX, and various other functions, such as your own images, text, and graphics. The Pioneer DDJ-SP1 also supports iZotope karaoke and audio FX files.
You can exit the video control mode for Serato by pressing the Auto Loop and Shift buttons. Though the service will continue to operate, you’ll have control of the audio effects too. Pioneer provides access to Serato DJ Pro for free if you already have Serato Scratch Live.
Pioneer DDJ-SP1 Pros and Cons
Pioneer is one of the biggest market leaders in the digital world for a reason. While you might pay a premium for a solution like this, you also get a well-constructed and comprehensive way to update and improve your mixing experience. While the Pioneer DDJ-SP1 price isn’t as huge as it could be, compared to other Pioneer products, it doesn’t come with Serato DJ as standard.
Of course, the lack of access to Serato out of the box doesn’t make the DDJ-SP1 a total write-off. The unit is a compact add-on version of the effects deck, performance pad, and browsing sections of the DDJ-SR or DDJ-SX. You get lots of amazing functionality in a compact device, and there’s even support for Serato video too.
If you’re a Serato DJ user who doesn’t think their controller provides adequate access to certain performance modes and effects, then the Pioneer DDJ-SP1 could be perfect for you. The loop samples, slicer, roll, and performance modes are well-worth the investment.
Finishing Thoughts on the Pioneer DDJ-SP1 DJ Controller
After Pioneer debuted the sensational DDJ-SX Serato DJ controller a little while ago, the company has been delivering new technology to suit every use case. Whether you opt for the iPad-centric DDJ-WeGo2, or an accessory controller like the DDJ-SP1, there’s something for everyone.
The DDJ-SP1 is specifically suited to Serato – but it doesn’t lock you into a specific software choice. There’s no license for Serato DJ included, although you can upgrade if you have Serato Scratch Live. There’s also access to Serato Video technology included for free.
The DDJ SP1 wonderfully complements tools like the DJM-900SRT, but it could also perform wonderfully with a wide selection of alternative Serato DJ controllers. The DDJ SP1 comprises some of the most important effects deck and performance pad controls available from sections on the DDJ-SX. There’s also track browsing and volume fader support too.
With an excellent layout supported by a shift layer, the DDJ SP1 provides a handy way to upgrade the control and pad sections of your SX mixer. The biggest downside for most people will be that the DDJ-SP1 comes with a hefty price tag when you consider that you don’t get Serato DJ software included. The good news is that there is a license for the Serato Video add-on.
Pioneer’s DDJ-SP1 also maintains the same strong and reliable build as the larger Pioneer products on the market. The aluminium top panel and robust chassis makes this product an excellent choice for travelling.