Pioneer is one of the better-known, and most popular DJ controllers in the world for a reason. The company produces devices to suit every need from standalone controllers, to mixers and beyond. Today, we’re looking at the DDJ XP1, a lightweight and convenient controller ideal for busy DJ booths and at-home mixing.
Despite a mostly plastic construction, the Pioneer DDJ XP1 is durable and well-made, it doesn’t feel flimsy or cheap, and it’s sure to stand the test of time. The face of the unit supports 32 pads, 16 for each of your two decks. You also get deck load, loop, and browse buttons, Sampler Bank select buttons, and slide FX components too.
At the back of the unit, there’s a Kensington lock, and USB jack. The Pioneer DJ DDJ XP1 takes its power from a USB-bus, so you don’t need to plug in your own power lead. This handy feature means that you don’t need to carry as much equipment with you on the move. The Pioneer DDJ XP1 also ships with crucial software like Rekordbox DVS and Rekordbox DJ.
Let’s take a closer look at what you can do with the DDJ XP1.
Key Features of the Pioneer DDJ XP1
The Pioneer DDJ XP1 is a powerful all-pad controller that works alongside the Rekordbox DJ/DVS software beloved by musicians and creators worldwide. With the Pioneer DJ DDJ XP1, you can control all the features in the DVS and DJ Rekordbox packs, including silent cues, pad editors, keyboard, and key-shift.
Another bonus is that the Pioneer DDJ XP1 pads are multi-colored, so you can be more creative with color-coded performance elements. The Pioneer DDJ XP1 supports musical experts in crafting powerful sets and getting the most out of all the features that the Rekordbox software offers. The Pioneer DDJ XP1 also supports the latest version of Rekordbox.
- 32 RGB performance pads for tactile music control
- Touch strip for slide FX performance
- Melodic shifting and key sync with keyboard mode
- DJ and DVS licensing with Rekordbox
- Use pad editor mode to change any of the pad modes
- Silent cue to avoid music speeding up
- Browse library and load tracks
- Set trigger samples and auto loops
Pioneer DDJ-XP1 Set Up
The Pioneer DDJ XP1 is a controller that plugs into your laptop and enhances your Rekordbox performance when you’re at home, and at the club. If you’re using Rekordbox in performance mode with a DVS or controller set-up, this will bring a lot more creativity to the table.
The Pioneer DDJ XP1 is not a standalone DJ controller, unfortunately, but it’s an excellent add-on. You shouldn’t expect any tempo adjustment controls or jog wheels here. Instead, you have more control with your RGB pads.
The upgraded software features an improved design, more intuitive UI, and fantastic performance applications. The DJ software also comes with new Key Shift and keyboard modes. For professionals and creators, adding the DDJ XP1 to your collection delivers a host of new opportunities for your performances, regardless of how you usually control your music and mixes.
To help you make the most of the features in the Rekordbox DJ and Rekordbox DVS features, the design and layout of the knobs and buttons are refreshed for the latest software update. You can also choose to adjust the font size on the track browsing screen to help with searching.
The next generation KORETECH engine features significantly upgraded graphics, audio, and video signal processing, making the experience more responsive and stable. Let’s take a closer look at the features.
The DDJ-XP1 comes with 32 backlit performance pads, featuring RGB functionality, and velocity sensitive performance. These pads are larger than the ones you would typically find on the DJM-29 mixer, but not as large as what you might find on controllers like the DDJ-RX.
The Pioneer DDJ XP1 mixer pads are some of the best-feeling options produced by Pioneer. Not only are they chunky and tactile, but they’re stiff enough that they feel reliable too – even if you’re juggling rapidly between cues. The Pioneer DDJ-XP1 pads are sensitive and responsive, but not massively so.
You can change the colors of the pads in your Rekordbox DJ software, allowing you to color-code each section according to your needs during a performance. There are four pad mode buttons available with shift layers to let you select from modes like Pad FX 1, Hot Cue, Sampler, Beat Jump, Beat Loop, and Key Shift.
The Hoe Cue function allows you to add and access your hot cues. Pressing shift while you select a pad will delete the cue so you can reassign. Beat Jump allows users to move along a track with specific increments, while the Sampler function lays the sampler banks from Rekordbox DJ onto the pads.
Keyboard functionality supports hot cue key shifting mode for Rekordbox DJ 5. Alternatively, Beat Loop means that you can set loops in varying lengths, while Key Shift makes it easy to shift the musical key of a song you’re currently playing.
Browse / load buttons and controls
The Pioneer DDJ XP1 has a browsing knob included for scanning through your library, as well as deck load buttons. While you might not be able to find much use for these functions if you already have a DJ controller, DVS users are definitely going to appreciate this element.
The two Semitone buttons mean that you can shift the musical key of your track up and down by a half step – which is great for accuracy. There’s also the option to use the Slip Reverse function to play the track backwards when you’re holding the button down. The music will snap back to the ongoing track when you let go.
For looping, controls consist of a 4-beat loop, an on/off button, manual Loop In and Loop Out. Silent Cue is a feature that makes the track instantly play back at normal speed, allowing users to avoid things like starting up platter when spinning with DVS.
Other controls available include the “Int” buttons for switching to Internal Mode. If you’re using DVS, Beat Sync, Master Tempo, and Sampler Bank, this is a great function. You can also access deck select buttons for Decks 3 and 4 too.
The DDJ-XP1 from Pioneer also comes with an exclusive new effects feature called Slide FX. You have 3 Slide FX buttons here that you can assign new effects to. There’s the option to choose from around 17 effects here, and you can turn them on by pressing any of the buttons here.
When you slide your finger over the FX Level touch strip, this will result in some cool filtering effects that are useful for creating artificial track buildups and routines. Slide FX is a huge bonus of the Pioneer DDJ XP1. You can’t activate effects like these without plugging in the controller, and they’re quite often “throwaway” options.
While the layout of the Pioneer DDJ XP1 is intuitive, you’ll need to customise it according to your personal preferences if you want to do any real pad play routines. If you want to do pitch play routines, with various cue points, you don’t want to switch suddenly from hot cue mode to keyboard mode.
The pad editor for Rekordbox DJ 5.0 comes only when the Pioneer DDJ XP1 is available and connected. This is where you’ll have the opportunity to get to the bottom of how the grid pad performs. You can change the arrangement of the pad buttons themselves and assign specific functions to the pads too. In one of the user-defined modes, you might set the bottom half of the pads with Sampler buttons, and the top half with hot cues.
Arranging pads according to your specific play style means that you can assign commands in a layout that’s suitable and convenient for you.
Key Shift Modes and Keyboard
One of the most exciting features of the Pioneer DDJ XP1 is that the Rekordbox DJ function lets you pitch your music up or down with Keyboard mode. The keyboard mode gives you access to various degrees of melodic pitch play and cue juggling. When you enter keyboard mode, the 16 pads divide into 2 sections, a top half for pitching a hot cue up , and a bottom half for down-pitching.
With the virtual deck dropdown for Rekordbox DJ, you can assign a specific pitch value and hot cue using the Pad Editor function. Key Shift allows you to change the musical key of an entire song, using harmonic mixing for when you’re looking to blend two sounds with different keys. If you just want to change the key of the song as you play, then you can hit the Key Sync button. This syncs the key of a track with whatever you’re currently playing.
Pioneer DDJ-XP1 Pros and Cons
The DDJ XP1 is a lightweight device that doesn’t qualify as a standalone controller for today’s DJs. There are definitely more comprehensive products out there. However, what the DDJ XP1 does, it does exceptionally well. Surrounded by a non-slip rubber surface and a robust structure, the DDJ XP1 allows today’s users to maximize the use of their features in updated versions of the Rekordbox DVS and DJ software options.
You can use the upper sections of the Pioneer DDJ XP1 to control the beat sync and key status of your music and select various tracks. At the same time, the lower section triggers the amazing 32 tactile performance pads, with 16 buttons dedicated to each of your software decks. This controller also boasts some of the least latency on any controller.
Holding up well to regular use, the Pioneer DDJ XP1 continues to perform exceptionally well. You can dynamically control your chosen FX combination in a way that’s unique and engaging.
Finishing Thoughts on the Pioneer DDJ XP1
The Pioneer DDJ XP1 is a brilliant accessory for scratch/battle DJs and controller users who want to take their performance with the Rekordbox software to the next level. The pads feel great and work as they should in most cases. The layout is thoughtful, and the slide FX is useful too.
Of course, like most add-on solutions, the Pioneer DDJ XP1 might not be a necessary product for everyone. Some casual DJs might find the number of controls they need to keep track of a little overwhelming. Professional and mobile DJs that scratch with Rekordbox DVS will definitely love the functionality too.
It’s worth noting that the DVS set-up usually has a few less controllers than a fully-spec’d DJ controller. Because of this scratch DJs and club DJs spinning with Rekordbox DJ and a laptop will have the most benefits from the wide selection of touch strips, pads, and buttons available. The Pioneer DDJ XP1 also works best when connected to a laptop with Rekordbox DJ 5.0.
Similar to the DDJ-SP1, you can use the Pioneer DDJ-XP1 with a new networked set of CDJ-2000NXS2s if you like, which makes DJing with a thumb drive much easier. Although the feature options are limited, you can also manage as many as 8 hot cues, build loops, and access beat jumps too. Unfortunately, that’s about all you can do. You can imagine DJs would love to have an expansive set of hot cues in this DJ DDJ-XP1 with larger devices like the DDJ-RZ.
The Pioneer DJ DDJ-XP1 is likely to be more necessary for you if you’re the kind of artist that prefers to focus on creating and managing pitch play routines, cue juggling, and so on. If you’re keen to have the Slide FX in your DJ arsenal, then this is a great choice for you too.
The DDJ-XP1 is also a high-quality, but somewhat niche product for battle and performance DJs who don’t want any restrictions to hold them back. If you’re this kind of DJ, then you should definitely think about expanding your opportunities with the DDJ-XP1.