Way back in 2013, the original DDJ-SX from Pioneer was one of the biggest innovators in the musical world. The first controller created for Serato DJ Scratch Live, this machine, became a must-have item on many DJ wish lists. Around a year later, the DDJ-SX2 arrived, bringing RGB pads and DVS functionality along with it.
Now, we’re onto the third part of the DDJ SX3 trilogy – the latest in Pioneer DJ’s sensational four-channel controller for the Serato DJ Pro solution. This exceptional evolution of the DJ controller system packs more power into the DDJ-SX design, with extra features to spare.
Here, you’ll find everything from dual USB ports, to three microphone inputs, and a brilliant standalone color FX experience. Let’s take a closer look.
Key Features of the Pioneer DDJ SX3
The Pioneer DJ DDJ-SX3 is a delightful product from Pioneer, intended as a powerful workhorse for the mobile DJ. According to Pioneer, the team upgraded one of its most popular DJ controllers to create something that’s well-suited to the Serato DJ Pro experience.
The Pioneer DDJ SX3 comes with support for excellent smooth transitions between DJs, guest speakers, and so much more. There’s also a familiar layout, so you’ll find it easier to jump from one device to another. The intuitive interface and professional features of the controller mean that you’ll have plenty of room to let your creative side shine through.
Some of the key features of the Pioneer DJ DDJ SX3 include:
- 3 microphone inputs
- Microphone FX
- Dedicated Dual USB ports
- Sound color FX
- Visual design support
- Serato DJ Pro functionality
- Multi-color performance pads
- Clear and familiar design
- Standalone mixer with multiple outputs/inputs
- Needle scratch pad
- Portable design
Pioneer DDJ SX3 Set Up
The DDJ SX3 benefits from a highly intuitive interface and an excellent selection of professional features to explore. You even get better connectivity so you can enjoy more flexibility during your gigs. Thanks to the dedicated Mic terminal at the front of the machine, you can even talk to your crowd without taking up any mixer channels.
It’s been a long time since the DDJ-SX controller transformed the digital DJ game. The device was a true innovator in its time, offering supreme performance and portability. The DDJ-DX changed the marketplace as a big, fully-featured, and professional controller, great for club and pro DJs alike.
Today, DJ controllers are much more advanced than ever before. Most of the equipment on the market is also a lot larger. The DDJ SX3 is the third iteration of the DDJ-SX and holds onto most of what DJs already know and love about the existing portfolio, with a few extra features too.
There are now three microphone inputs included in the device, along with a sound color FX. The mixer section has a new finish, and the control knob for sampler volume is no longer a fader. Around the rear of the device, you’ll find a host of RCA and XLR outputs, four RCA line outputs, and a ¼ inch booth solution too. There’s also a combo TRS mic input, dual USB jacks, and an XLR mic input.
As you may expect, the Pioneer DJ DDJ SX3 also comes with the Serato DJ Pro software, as well as various expansions, like Serato Flip and Pitch n’ Time too. Let’s look at the features in more detail.
Three Microphone Inputs
One of the biggest lures of the DDJ SX3 is it’s selection of microphone inputs. Pioneer have simplified the flexible performance by giving you access to 3 microphone jacks, which includes an XLR input and a combo TRS input. There’s also a quarter inch jack for the front too.
The first two inputs for your microphone are also suitable to route into the channels 3 and 4 on your mixer, which means that you can apply sound color FX and adjust EQ elements. It’s unlikely that you’ll need to use all of the inputs available here at the same time – but it’s nice to have the option, particularly as a mobile DJ.
Sound Color FX
The Sound Color FX solution baked into the unit is more commonly found on devices like the Pioneer DJ DJM mixers. Four of these elements make with the new Pioneer DDJ SX3, including Echo, Noise, Filter, and Jet. All of these components work exactly as you would expect, with the added bonus of being able to use them standalone too.
You can impact any sound signal moving through your four channels. What’s more, a bonus of the effects here is that they feel surprisingly familiar to any previous Pioneer DJ controller. If you’re looking for a device that allows you to upgrade your functionality while minimizing discomfort, this could be it.
On the recent Pioneer DJ DDJ controller, the Pioneer team decided to move the effect sections on the decks to the mixer to align the design to the more professional DJ controller collection. However, this hasn’t occurred on the Serato DJ portfolio yet.
Jog wheels and controls
The jog wheels on the Pioneer DDJ SX3 are as beautifully designed as ever. You don’t get any massive solutions for tension control here. The jog wheels are quite stiff, which is a bit of a problem for some DJs that may feel at home with looser hardware. Doing backspins on the DDJ-SX3 is a little more challenging and may require additional practice.
Another possible issue for some professionals is how busy the controllers are. Your jog wheels are surrounded by a lot of elements, which can cause them to feel cluttered at times. There are a lot of features to play around with, though, which is great news if you’re looking to expand your music or skill-set.
You even get a touch strip that makes it easier to navigate your tracks. There are controls here that allow you to lock your key and switch the key up and down according to your needs. There’s also a censor/reverse button, slip buttons, deck switching buttons, and a massive pitch fader too.
The Pioneer DDJ SX3 comes with a standalone four-channel mixer too, which means you can use it to route audio without connecting a laptop into the setup. The Sound Color FX is also particularly appealing here because they work on a standalone basis.
Each of the four mixer channels has an input switching matrix, which makes it easier to access the two USB ports on your device too. There’s also support for accessing the various microphone inputs for channels three and four, and the line or phono outputs for lines 1 and 2. For a DJ controller that’s still relatively compact, this is about as complex as your system can get.
The browsing section on your device comes with two buttons that allow you to switch your library between your two USBs. Having those two USB inputs is extremely useful for mobile DJs. If you’re on the move, you need to be prepared for anything. Having access to two laptop connections ensures greater flexibility when browsing and finding tracks. If your main laptop fails for any reason, the backup will already be ready to go.
Other layout options
The DDJ SX3 seems very similar in style to the DDJ-SX2 in many ways. However, there are some major differences to consider. For instance, as we mentioned above, some of the faders, like the sampler volume fader, are switched to knob format. There’s also a headphone mix knob on the front of the unit now too.
One major update is the key-shifting controls that replace the slide and grid adjust buttons on the decks. This ensures that Pioneer DJ can place a more significant emphasis on harmonic mixing rather than just grid management. Of course, you can still play with your grids using the keyboard and mouse of your computer.
The performance section will be a familiar space for today’s DJs, with 8 beautifully designed performance pads that can support a selection of Serato Pro DJ features. You’ll have access to the hot cues, rolls, samplers, and slicers, as you might expect. With the SHIFT button, you can also activate pitch plays, slicer loops, saved loops, and more.
To the left of your performance pads, you’ll see a selection of looping tools, which is great for DJs that want to engage loops quickly and concisely in small increments. You can also design your loop sizes too.
Inputs and Outputs
Overall, the DDJ SX3 from Pioneer is everything you could want from a professional DJ controller. There’s a straightforward visual design that maximizes the features of the Serato DJ Pro software. Plus, the multi-colored performance pads are a delight to use.
Scratching feels natural on the reduced-latency jog wheels, and it’s easy to gather instant information about the position and playback status of your device. The DDJ-SX3 comes with access to four external input terminals for multiple devices, including DJ controllers, turntables, and more. You can connect multiple speakers to the RCA and XLR terminals too, or the TRS jack booth terminal.
The Pioneer DDJ SX3 even performs as a standalone mixer when necessary, which means that you don’t have to worry about carrying an extra laptop or computer around with you. The front of the mixer is also much less cluttered, with fewer channel switchers to worry about.
Pioneer’s DDJ SX3 is perfect for performance with the Serato DJ Pro software, which you can access by plugging your device into a computer. You don’t need a license key or subscription to get started. What’s more, Pioneer includes a selection of bonus “add-ons” for DJs too.
Among the advanced key-level features is the Pitch n’ Time DJ license. There’s a voucher included with your device, so you can use things like Key Sync, Key Shift, and Pitch Play to transform your tracks harmonically and smoothly. The semitone track adjustments available through Key Shift are excellent, as are the options to sync keys with Key Sync.
With Pitch play, you can trigger hot cues in a selection of ways using different keys and assign elements to your controller performance pad too. Pioneer also includes a voucher for Serato Flip too. This means that you can create and preserve hot cue sequences to design unique edits of your favorite tracks at the touch of a button.
Pioneer DDJ SX3 Pros and Cons
Ultimately, the DDJ SX3 is a brilliant controller for anyone in search of a high-quality device to use with Serato DJ Pro. This device makes the most of the software available, and Pioneer definitely isn’t stingy with the number of advanced capabilities you can access.
If you’re a fan of the Serato DJ Pro software, this is a controller worth considering. However, if you’re thinking of exploring other software platforms, there are other products out there that could offer similar functionality for a better price.
If you’re not sure whether the Pioneer DJ DDJ SX3 is the right choice for you, it might be time to sit down and think about how you plan on using your DJ controllers. If you’re determined to have a sensational set of full-sized jog wheels on your device, then this product isn’t going to be the right pick for you. On the other hand, if you need something agile and versatile for your multi-person DJ sets, then you’re on the right track.
Finishing Thoughts on the Pioneer DDJ SX3
The DDJ SX3 is more than just an upgrade of the previous DDJ solutions from Pioneer. The company is going above and beyond with this third version of the controller. You get all the incredible features that you would expect from the DDJ SX line, but there are some extra tricks up Pioneer’s sleeve here too.
Vouchers for Pitch n’ Time and Serato Flip are a fantastic extra touch if you’re a DJ looking to expand your portfolio. At the same time, you can explore all the input and output connectivity that you need to make the most demanding performances and gigs.
If you already have the DDJ-SX2, you might not instantly want to update to this new controller, as there are only a few bonuses to consider. However, if you’re currently using one of the not as powerful Pioneer DJ controllers on the market, then the DDJ SX3 is an excellent upgrade option.
For years, people were pining for a Pro version of the DDJ-1000 controller for Serato DJ. The Pioneer DDJ SX3 doesn’t have all the functionality you might want, such as screens on-board and full-sized double jog wheels. However, that doesn’t make it any less appealing.
Although there are some elements here that Pioneer could easily update to make the controller more advanced, it’s important to remember the budget you’re working with and the kind of controller that Pioneer is trying to create. This is a portable, and compact controller with a set of grab handles on both sides. That means the company wanted to make it as easy as possible to transport and set up.
Despite its simplicity in some areas, the Pioneer DDJ-SX3 stands out as a high-quality controller that’s more than enough to entice anyone with a love of the Serato DJ Pro software. While the innovation in this device isn’t exactly world-changing, the product is good enough to really grab attention and help you accomplish your music goals.