If you are new in the DJ profession, choosing your first ever professional DJ controller can be quite a difficult task. You would have to browse through various manufacturers, look for the features, find out reviews and ratings of hundreds of options available in the market.
To save you from exhaustion, we have come up with one of the best entry-level DJ controllers. As your first professional DJ Controller, we recommend you the newly improved Pioneer DDJ-SB2 controller. Keep reading to explore its features with the Pioneer DDJ-SB2 Review.
Pioneer DDJ-SB2 is a great option that can assist you to give a kick-start to your new career. Though it lies a little towards the higher end of the price range, this device has all the cool new features you would want in your first professional DJ controller. Unlike its predecessors, it is compatible with all the major DJ apps available in the market today.
Want to know more about it? Let’s look into the detailed Pioneer DDJ-SB2 Review that lies ahead.
Notable Features To Look Out For In Pioneer DDJ-SB2
1. Jog Wheels
A jog dial or a jog wheel is a knob on the DJ controller that allows the users to shuttle or jog through the audio tracks in their library. The jog wheels of the Pioneer DDJ-SB2, are built with a standard aluminum top. The top is also touch-sensitive and its metal-finish gives the wheels a premium feel.
The jog wheels have the ideal weights and tension that enable the smooth performance of the controller such as backspins, cueing, and scratching. The silversides of jog wheels help in regulating the speed of the tracks to match the beats.
2. Trim Pots
The new Pioneer DDJ-SB2 is the first controller that features trim pots. It allows the user to control it manually to adjust the gain levels of both channels of the device.
But why would you need it?
When you sync your controller to apps like Serato DJ, the app can automatically adjust the difference in level between the tracks that you play. But the process is not as smooth as it should be. That is why you need trim pots to compensate for the track level difference.
3. Level Meters
The Pioneer DDJ-SB2 controller sports level meters, which is an improvement of its predecessors, the DDJ-SB. The device has a highly visible five-segment channel level. Each segment of the channel level meters has a pair of eight LEDs, which allows you to see the channels in greater detail.
4. Tactile Performance Pads
The Performance pads of Pioneer DDJ-SB2 are touch-sensitive. It has four rubber pad buttons at the top that help in controlling the Hot Cue, Auto Loop, Manual Loop, and Sampler. It also has four pads at the bottom that helps in immediate access to Play, Cue, Shift, and Sync functions.
5. Effect Section
The Effect Section of the Pioneer DDJ-SB2 is pretty much straight-forward and user-friendly. It features a knob that controls the level of effect applied. When combined with the shift button, the knob can also be used to set the member of beats for the active effects.
6. Mixer Section
The mixer section of the device is quite elaborate than the preceding models. It has channel level meters that allow you to have basic control over the track levels. The device also has a trim knob per channel. Both these features are improvements to the original model.
The Mixer section also features a filter fade button. This button can combine two filters with the crossfader and present a smooth transition of the filters.
7. Transport Section
The Pioneer DDJ-SB2 is slightly different from its predecessor and siblings when the transport section is considered. Instead of the regular 8 pads for hot cues, loops, and samples, the DDJ-SB2 has four pads on the top row for those functions. The rest of the pads are reserved for play, cue, shift, and sync functions.
The transport buttons of the device are not velocity responsive. Also, the buttons are not backlit across the entire surface of the pads. One of the most impressive features of the device, while considering the transport section is the Pad Trans Effect.
This effect allows the user to cut the volume of the playing tracks to match the beats using the pads. This makes the tracks more dynamic and puts a rhythmic effect to the music, which works wonderfully when played in a live set.
However, the device has a small pitch slider with low resolution, which is a drawback. It also features a dedicated button that helps to switch each deck to deck 3 and 4. Although, as there are only two channels on the controller, switching the decks can be a bit difficult.
8. Inputs And Outputs
The Input and Output of the Pioneer DDJ-SB2 are very much basic. It has two headphone input ports: one ¼ inch jack and one mini-jack. It also had a ¼ inch jack for mic input. However, the device only has one output jack. It is a standard RCA stereo output.
What’s Good About The Pioneer DDJ-SB2?
Pioneer is a reputed and reliable brand name when it comes to DJ controllers and other related devices. While chalking-out the Pioneer DDJ-SB2 Review, we found some great features, that make it all the more appealing. Let’s see what are the merits of owning the Pioneer DDJ SB2 controller.
1. Size And Portability
The Pioneer DDJ SB2 controller has a compact design that fits in smaller spaces. So if you get minimal space to set your gears at a gig, you would have nothing to worry about. It will still leave enough space for your laptop and other equipment. It has a plastic body with few metal parts which makes it lighter in weight and easier to carry around.
This device is somewhat more expensive than the other entry-level DJ Controllers but will give you a professional feel with improved features and functions. The Pioneer DDJ SB3 is also compatible with all major DJ software. The device is reliable and quite durable to endure a lot of gigs. It also allows up-gradation as your experience increases. Considering all the other factors, the Pioneer DDJ SB2 is quite an affordable choice as your first professional controller.
The Pioneer DDJ SB2 gives unmatched performance than any other contemporary DJ controller. It’s Filter Fade button helps in adding two high pass filters to the crossfader seamlessly. You can manipulate the volume and bass filters with one hand.
4. Digital Pads
The controller has a tactile-sensitive and digital performance pad that enables you to trigger the function.
5. MIDI Controller
It is fully MIDI compatible. The Pioneer DDJ SB2 had fully assignable MIDI functionality that can be accessed via USB to control information to external devices.
6. Built-in Sound Card
It also has two built-in sound cards. Sound cards are devices, or rather internal expansion cards that generate input and output audio signals from your computer. These cards are also applied to external audio interfaces in DJ controllers. The Pioneer DDJ SB2 have integrated sound cards that spares you the need to search for compatible sound cards.
7. Excellent Jog Wheels
Another mention-worthy feature in the Pioneer DDJ-SB2 Review is its jog wheels. The jog wheels are quite large and are made up of aluminum. They provide dynamic performance with excellent scratch response and accuracy.
8. High-Quality Audio
The device offers robust and high-quality audio which is great for any gig in an enclosed space or even an open area.
What Can Be Improved In The Device?
While putting together the Pioneer DDJ-SB2 Review, we found certain drawbacks in the model. Though these factors do not make the controller less desirable, however, there’s certainly some room for improvement. Let’s look into the limitations of Pioneer DDJ SB2.
1. Small Pitch Fader
The device has a small pitch fader which has a lower resolution. Its smaller size has some impact on beat matching which is certainly not at par with the beat matching capacity of a full-sized Pitch fader.
2. No Aux Input
Another drawback of the model is the absence of AUX input. You cannot connect any other audio device to it.
3. Cheap Looking Material
The Pioneer DDJ SB2 has a plastic body. Though it makes it light-weight and easily portable, the plastic body gives it a cheap look. According to some professionals, the plastic build of this device makes it look like a toy.
4. Hard To Replace Parts
The Pioneer DDJ SB2 has various small and big parts that can be difficult to search for in case something gets damaged and needs replacement. While some parts are not easily available in the market, some might be irreplaceable altogether.
5. Cannot Work as a Stand-alone Device
The Pioneer DDJ SB2 cannot work as a stand-alone device. It does not have any integrated software. You need to connect with your laptop or computer to access any DJ software to mix the tracks.
6. Only Two Channels
Channels are the number of routes you can play the music tracks on. The device has only two channels rather than the four channels found in some controllers. More number of channels offer more flexibility and allows smoother switch over than devices with two channels. So, if you have a gig at any club or open bar, four channels can be better for track mixing.
How To Set Up The Pioneer DDJ-SB2 Controller?
The Pioneer DDJ-SB2 controller is pretty easy to set up. It has only one USB cable which is beneficial as it eliminates the need for a power brick. There is also a single USB port at the rear side of the device along with an RCA jack for the Master output, a ¼ inch mic-in-jack, and ¼ inch and ⅛ inch jacks for inserting the headphones.
The device also comes with added Serato DJ Intro software with the box which can be upgraded with some extra charge. The Intro pack provides a free trial period valid for two weeks for you to assess its usability and features. It is also compatible with the Rekordbox DJ software.
The device is quite compact and fits in comparatively smaller spaces than other similar controllers. It is also lightweight, and as it is made out of plastic, carrying it around for gigs gets super easy. Nevertheless, all the features are quite standardized to meet all the needs of any professional DJ.
Pioneer DDJ-SB2 Review – The Bottom Line
If you want an entry-level DJ controller but with a “pro” touch to it, this Pioneer DDJ SB2 can be the ultimate choice. It has switchable four-deck controls, level meters, and a handy trim pot. It is compatible with all major DJ software and also comes with a free Serato DJ Intro pack. Though it’s a little high on the budget, you will not regret buying it for yourself.
We hope this explicative Pioneer DDJ-SB2 Review would help you to have a better idea about the device. With unique features and great durability, this controller is an excellent buy.
FAQs on Pioneer DDJ-SB2
Q1. Does Pioneer DDJ SB2 Come With Serato?
Yes, the Pioneer DDJ SB2 comes along with Serato DJ. It has plug-and-play control of Serato DJ Intro without any extra charge. The device also has a dedicated control for all Serato DJ Intro’s features which includes four Hot Cues and four samples.
The user can also get a paid upgrade to Serato DJ. This software will offer features such as iZotope FX for adding effects to the tracks played and Slip Modes. The upgraded Serato DJ also enables intuitive control for more cue points, samples, and loops.
Q2. Can You Use Pioneer DDJ SB2 With Rekordbox?
Yes, you can use Rekordbox with DDJ SB2 to get seamless track mixing but the functions will be limited. The full pad option is also disabled.
Q3. Which Is Better: Pioneer And Numark?
If you are searching for a premium quality DJ controller for DJ newbies, both Pioneer and Numark are reliable. Both offer great features for new as well as experienced DJs. However, the Pioneer Controllers are pricier than the Numark ones. Also, the Numark models are more appealing and better looking. They are flashier than Pioneer. The Pioneer models are not as durable as Numark.
Q4. Which Pioneer DJ Controller Is The Best?
According to the professionals, the Pioneer DDJ-SB3 is one of the best entry-level controllers for any DJ who has just stepped into their career. It is compatible with Serato DJ software. It has great Jog wheels and has user-friendly FX fade features with predesigned effects.
The device also had four-channel options that can be accessed by the deck buttons. The Pioneer DDJ- SB3 controllers also offer new DJs a great range of future controller options.
Q5. Which Is Better Serato Or Rekordbox?
Though both Rekordbox and Serato DJ are popular software that is compatible with Pioneer DJ controller devices, there are some factors that would distinguish them. The Rekordbox is much cheaper compared to the Serato DJ, unless you are only using the Intro version of the Serato software. It actually comes free of cost with many DJ controllers. Whereas, the Serato upgrade can be a bit pricey.
The Rekordbox is a much sleeker model and has a more appealing design. It also has a modern state-of-the-art user interface, while the Serato user interface is quite basic and primitive. However, the Serato software is more reliable as per experienced users.
Q6. Which Is The Best DJ Controller For Beginners?
There are a lot of options available for newbie DJs in the market. You have the flexibility to choose according to your budget, feature preferences, and convenience.
The Numark DJ2GO2 is one of the best controllers at an affordable price.
The Pioneer DJ DDJ WeGO4-K can be the most convenient one considering usability.
The Numark Mixtrack Pro 3 is another quite user-friendly option.
If you want a complete package with all the necessary features and software, the Pioneer DDJ-SR2 can be your best pick.
However, the Native Instrument Traktor Kontrol S2 MK2 is one with the highest quality and durability.
If you want more channels in your controller, you can opt for the Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S4.
If you are looking for a stand-alone device with more features, Denon DJ MCX8000 is a good option for you.
For a cheaper option, you can take a look at Stanton SC System 3. Though it is an older model, it can be a good choice for beginners.
Q7. Where Can I Get the Pioneer DDJ SB2 Controller?
The Pioneer DDJ SB2 controller is sold by various sellers and is available on Amazon or other such online portals. You can get this device at any reputed offline store or purchase it directly from the official website of Pioneer.