If you’re a fan of Pioneer technology, then you’ve probably heard or read about the Pioneer XDJ-XZ. This new flagship XDJ solution from Pioneer sits alongside the RR and XDJ-R2. Powerful and professional, this incredible machine features everything a true DJ expert needs.
From full-sized jog wheels to help you scratch and mix your tracks, to a powerful set of tools, performance pads, and a consolidated screen, the Pioneer XDJ XZ is an amazing device.
Crucially, we wouldn’t recommend comparing this unit to the all-in-one Prime 4 from Denon DJ, although a lot of experts have made that comparison. Ultimately, there are quite different styles of music creation going on between the two devices.
To help you grasp the potential of the Pioneer XDJ-XZ, let’s dive into our review.
Key Features of the Pioneer XDJ-XZ
The Pioneer XDJ-XZ is a state-of-art professional controller with a DJM style effects environment, and four-channel system. Some of the features that come with this kit include:
- 2 professional microphone channels
- 3-band EQ and anti-feedback
- Four-channel mixer and DJM effects unit
- 7 inch touchscreen to control and display information
- Professional sound quality
- Three-band EQ and master control
- Full-sized mechanical jog wheels
- 16 RGB performance pads
- Rekordbox performance mode, Rekordbox link export, and Serato DJ
Pioneer DJ XDJ-XZ Set Up
When Pioneer released the original XDJ-RX in 2015, the community of music creators and DJs began demanding a four-channel version almost immediately. This demand only grew more intense as people like Denon DJ and others released their own solutions.
The XDJ-XZ might not answer everyone’s prayers for the ultimate four-deck mixer. One slight issue is that the third and fourth channels here are only for external devices. You can plug CDJs, turntables, and computers into these inputs, but you won’t be able to use the internal hardware to mix layers.
Although this choice will disappoint some users, it’s important to remember that this product isn’t intended for use at home, or in your personal studio. This is an all-in-one system that’s aimed at taking stage in your DJ booth in a professional environment.
The good news for today’s DJ’s is that although the Pioneer XDJ-XZ may not be ideal in some cases, you can connect CDJs via the link ports at the back of the unit. There are three link ports here, which means you can connect two products into the controller without having to attach an external hub.
You can also sync the external decks with internal ones via the pro link connectivity option. This is a fantastic solution for functionality that allows users with older products to utilize the right technology without letting them collect dust.
Using the Pioneer XDJ-XZ
The Pioneer XDJ-XZ is a hybrid standalone/laptop DJ controller that comes with a host of brilliant features to explore. The decks are compatible with the RekordBoxDJ and Serato DJ software – which both come included as part of your purchase.
The two decks included on the XDJ-XZ are a true joy to use. The system takes the mechanical jog wheels, complete with internal LCD screen from the DDJ-1000 controller series. The jog wheels feel similar to the ones that you’ll find on flagship CDJ units. You’ll also have the freedom to adjust the tension on the fly, change your screens, and adjust LED lights in the settings.
Another great feature here is how large the deck sections are. There’s plenty of space to navigate through dedicated memory and loop buttons that you can lift direct from the CDJ players. The only missing feature in this controller compared to more expensive standalone units is the slip reverse paddle. Instead, you just get a simple button.
At the bottom of your decks, you’ll find a set of eight large RBG pads, nearly identical to the ones you’ll find on the Pioneer DJ XDJ-RX2 – which is great, because these feel incredible. You can use this technology to control all kinds of tools, including hot cues, slip loops, and beat loops. Your secondary pad functions are available when you press shift on your unit through a laptop.
The On-Air Displays
Let’s take a look at the on-air displays of the built-in decks. Far from the CDJ units that change from white LEDs on the jog wheel, to red for each channel in use, the XDJ-XZ flashes a small icon around the deck number when that channel is open.
The Pioneer XDJ-XZ feels a little rushed and limited because of this approach to on-air displays. Although this flaw isn’t too huge, it’s something that clearly stands out as a flaw when you connect other CDJs to your unit.
Perhaps the most significant stand-out feature of this new unit is the four-channel and full-sized DJM mixer. This comes complete with standalone effects and an X pad. Feeling similar to the class-leading options elsewhere on the market, the Pioneer DJ XDJ-XZ comes with two microphone channels and a 3-band EQ to explore. There’s a dedicated clip light and anti-feedback controls too.
This unique design is an interesting move from the Pioneer DJ team. The company has received criticism in the past for having relatively weak microphone inputs. However, it’s clear that this device has professionals in mind. DJs now have the freedom to set their EQ to suit the sound system that’s right for them.
The mixer features five line inputs, one USB B, and two phono solutions for DJ software. All of the four channels available can access line level inputs. However, you’ll only be able to use turntables on channels 3 and 4. The unit allows DVS control through those channels. The internal player will only play through 2 channels, however.
The aux input offers access to external devices like iPods. This only features level-based controls, with no dedicated EQs.
There’s a lot to love in this Pioneer XDJ-XZ mixer. The effects unit comes with 6 color FX options, and a full 14 professional Beat FX options. Clearly, the designers are pulling this functionality straight from the full DJM900 Nexus 2 controller. If you’ve used tech like this before, you’ll know how amazing they can sound.
The sensational quality of the Pioneer XDJ-XZ gets an extra boost with a three-band EQ and a BPM functionality when you use it alongside linked CDJs and internal channels. The X pad is another great addition to the mix, that provides a more professional feeling overall. These powerful features, combined with a sturdy build, make the XDJ-XZ feel like it belongs to the Nexus range.
It’s clear that the Pioneer DJ XDJ-XZ keeps the needs of professional DJs performing in bars and clubs in mind. Because of this, you can expect a pretty solid level of connectivity. With a vast selection of options for practically every DJ, the Pioneer DJ XDJ-XZ also comes with 2 USB inputs that you can use with your internal decks. There’s also a USB B port on the rear or extension LAN port for laptop connections.
Video users with Rekordbox technology have access to a video control mode. You can access this functionality by clicking on menu when you’re in your browser window. This handy shortcut offers quick and easy access to a wide majority of video settings. What’s more, connecting CDJs couldn’t be easier with two dedicated link ports intended to avoid the need for an external hub.
To make things even easier, the Pioneer XDJ-XZ can automatically update player numbers to ensure that everything syncs properly. The Pioneer XDJ XZ also features a set of unbalanced TRS send outputs. Oddly, there’s no return for the use of external processing for effects. However, this connects to the DJS1000 sampler. You can plug the output player into the Aux input.
The only obvious connectivity solution missing from the Pioneer XDJ-XZ is a REC out option. This really shouldn’t be too much of a surprise because the unit can directly record to USB on the second USB A input. This controller even ensures that you can access a dedicated track marker button. That’s a fantastic extra touch if you’re looking to record with external devices.
As mentioned above, the Pioneer XDJ-XZ comes with access to the software from Serato DJ. You get that license for free, so you don’t have to worry about yet another investment when you’re building your DJ kit. Four deck control is available on brilliant full-sized CDJ mechanical jog wheels. When routing audio through the DJM style mixer, you have access to brilliant Pioneer effects.
The Serato DJ technology also takes absolute control over 3 of the onboard LCD screens, displaying amazing track information inside the jog wheel displays similar to a DDJ 1000 SRT controller. On top of all that, the seven-inch main display browses through your Serato DJ library and displays full-color waveforms directly through the software.
Ultimately, it’s an excellent peace of software for DJ professionals and beginners from all backgrounds. The fact that you get this software included as part of your setup is a really impressive finishing touch for Pioneer XDJ XZ.
Pioneer XDJ-XZ Pros and Cons
The Pioneer XDJ-XZ is a fantastic and intelligent piece of technology that helps you to transform that you perform in local clubs and other professional environments. There are tons of high-level features, and you get excellent software already built in to help you take your DJ sets to the next level.
This might not be the strongest option on the market from a hardware perspective – but it’s definitely a move in the right direction for Pioneer.
Finishing Thoughts on the Pioneer DJ XDJ-XZ
So, how does the Pioneer XDJ-XZ controller really measure up compared to some of the other market leaders? It’s difficult to really compare the Pioneer XDJ-XZ to other products like the Denon Prime 4, because they’re both intended for different kinds of music creation and mixing. The Pioneer XDJ-XZ is really more of a solution for people playing at bars and clubs.
If you can’t afford a full Nexus 2 set up, but you want a lot more than just the basic bedroom-based model of the XDJ-RX2, this could be the perfect middle-ground for your needs. The Pioneer XDJ-XZ is an amazing tool for professional settings and DJs that have a lot of demands to consider.
The addition of various essential features, including mechanical jog wheels, standalone effects and a 4 channel mixer are essential for professional DJs. The Pioneer XDJ-XZ also provides a professional and affordable package to venues that can expand their existing environment. You can always implement more decks whenever you like.
The biggest downside of the Pioneer XDJ-XZ is that there isn’t really anything new to it. The player is really just an RX2 with DDJ-1000 jog wheels and a 900 mixer from the Nexus 2 lineup included. Denon-DJ showed us what was possible with technology like this a while ago, but the Pioneer DJ team are gradually beginning to catch up.
Ultimately, if you’re a fan of the Pioneer technology and you don’t want to change things up too much, then you can’t go too wrong here. This Pioneer XDJ-XZ solution will continue to dominate the market for those in search of an affordable and powerful solution. The professional market has been waiting for a system just like this.