Pioneer Corporation is a MNC headquartered in Tokyo, Japan. Pioneer is a leading name in the digital products market. The company had started in 1938 as a radio repair shop. The founder of Pioneer was Nozumo Matsumoto.
Over the years Pioneer has diversified into multiple products and markets. They were the first to bring a DVD CD player for easy use at home. They have electronic GPS products for cars and cycles too. Pioneer Elite is a subdivision of the company that provides very high-end products for those who never want to compromise on luxury.
In the musical space, Pioneer has a few ventures. They have a satellite channel called the ‘Pioneer Karaoke Channel’. This channel plays karaoke and Asian music all day long!
They also have Pioneer Premium Audio which makes high-quality sound systems. Pioneer also has ‘Technical Audio Devices’ or TADs. These are complete sound systems that can be used for commercial and music recording purposes. They had a subdivision for DJ equipment and accessories as well.
In 2015, Pioneer sold its DJ products subdivision to KKR and Co. They established a new business called ‘Pioneer DJ’. It is a separate business entity. It has gained a name for itself in the market ever since.
Pioneer DJ is arguably the best DJ equipment company in the market right now. They have an extensive product range which includes DJ mixers, DJ controllers, decks, headphones, all-in-one consoles, speakers, and other accessories.
Pioneer DJ’s controllers are very high quality. They have collaborated with multiple DJ software companies and have launched exclusive DJ controllers. Rekordbox, Serato DJ Lite, and Serato DJ Pro are three of the most prominent DJ software brands Pioneer has collaborated with.
They have exclusive ranges with all three DJ software companies. This provides an immense amount of options to the customers when they are considering buying a controller.
This review is specifically for one of their DJ controllers, DDJ-SB3. The Pioneer DDJ SB3 is the product’s third version in an exclusive series of Serato DJ controllers. This controller is definitely an upgrade from DDJ SB2.
The DDJ SB3 has been made for the Serato DJ Lite software. The most exciting part about this DJ controller is that it was built in collaboration with DJ Jazzy Jeff. DJ Jazzy Jeff is famous for his music and especially for his work in the Fresh Prince.
The DDJ SB3 comes with specifically allocated cue and play buttons for each deck on the controller. This is unlike the last version, DDJ SB2, where there was only a play/pause button for each deck. The cue button for this controller was built into the pad section.
It is a great controller for entry-level DJs and amateurs who want to play around. This controller is more portable than its predecessor. It is an excellent, comprehensive yet portable option.
Features To Look Out For
1. Serato DJ Lite
Most DJ controllers are built in conjunction with DJ software. In simpler terms, DJ software helps in mixing music and analyzing the BPM, key, waveform, etc.. It also helps store and organizes the music.
Pioneer DDJ SB3 is compatible with Serato DJ Lite. The ‘S’ in its name stands for Serato. Serato DJ Lite is a great option for beginners. If you want to upgrade to Serato DJ Pro, you will have to buy it.
It is possible to use this controller with a few other software, but you will have to map the buttons and functions yourself.
2. Jog Wheels
Jog wheels, also known as jog dials, are knobs that help the DJ customize the music. By touching the top of the jog wheel, you will be able to pause the music. By moving it back and forth, you can scratch and cue the music.
The jog wheels on the DDJ SB3 are large enough for beginners. The tension in the wheels while scratching is just perfect! They are made of really high-quality aluminum.
These jog wheels’ responsiveness is great as well! This is definitely a feature you should look into. The jog wheels of this controller are really well made.
3. Selection Options
There are many buttons and knobs to choose from around the jog wheels. Sync button, deck switch button, and the vinyl/slip button are a few of them. The slip mode will move the jog wheel and keep the track playing in real-time.
The vinyl mode will allow you to switch between CDJ and vinyl options. The vinyl option will let you perform all the functions than a vinyl player can. According to your style and preferences, you can decide between them.
This controller has a lot of different options to choose from. They all change the music accordingly. The variety of options gives the beginners space to find their style.
4. Pad Scratch Mode
This is the newest feature Pioneer has added to the DDJ SB3. The Pad Scratch has been co-developed with DJ Jazzy Jeff. This is a great feature for beginners because it will give you a good introduction to the world of scratching.
This new mode creates different scratching sounds for your cues. You will be able to see these scratches in your software. This is a great learning tool for amateurs.
The scratch sounds have been pre-recorded by DJ Jazzy Jeff himself. It will be like playing with him! You will surely have a lot of fun playing around with the different sounds and layering them with other tracks.
The mixer of this controller is another highlight. It is a very comprehensive mixer with most features a beginner would require.
It features a crossfader, full 3 band EQ, master Cue button, VU meter, and a lot more. The crossfader is not heavy at all and cutting tracks will become very simple. The full 3 bands EQ will allow you to control the high, medium, and low frequencies. Your transitions will likely become smoother with this.
The mixer provides you with two channels. It also has separate gain knobs that let you control the volume of each channel. Each channel also comes with a separate high/low pass knob.
All these features in the mixer really make the Pioneer DDJ SB3 stand out from other entry-level controllers.
What Is Good About Pioneer DDJ SB3?
1. Layout And Design
Just like every other Pioneer product, this one is great in quality too. The layout has been laid very thoughtfully. The controller will be able to take consistent use and scratching.
The buttons and knobs for each channel are clearly separated. The cue and play/pause buttons are placed seamlessly near the jog wheels. The placement of each feature ensures smooth performance.
The SB3 follows an established design from the first version. The top part of the controller has the effects, the middle has the jog wheels, and the lower part has features to enhance performance.
This basic design is implemented in the SB3 as well with changes for a more effortless experience.
The controller’s ability to enhance and smoothen transitions will amaze you! For an entry-level controller, the transitions it provides between sounds, scratches, and tracks are excellent.
The full 3 band EQ in the mixer will make sure that the frequencies are balanced out. The sound won’t be at a very high or low frequency and will transition. The EQ band and high/low pass filter will provide you a lot of control on your transitions.
The FX Fade function will also help smoothen your transitions. It has a variety of fade-out effects that can be added to your mixes for a better transition.
Since the controller’s layout and design have been upgraded, it has become more compact. This controller is very portable because of the same reason.
The dimensions are 19” x 10.7” x 2.3”. It only weighs 2 kgs. You will be able to find space for it at your house and take it with you to gigs or house parties.
This controller is a prime example of comprehensive yet compact. It has every feature an entry-level controller needs while being portable. It provides the best of both worlds.
4. Ease Of Use
The Pioneer DDJ SB3 is very easy to use as a DJ controller. All the buttons, knobs, and other features are labeled clearly. There is enough space between different features to let you switch effortlessly.
It is very easy to connect your SB3 to the software. The software itself is an integral part of the controller. It is easy to use as well since it was made keeping in mind the target audience – beginners.
The jog wheels are very good quality and will allow you to scratch very easily. Overall, the ease of use of this controller is very high.
The controller is very affordable for the quality and features it offers. This is an excellent beginner DJ controller for under $250.
There are other entry-level controllers in the same price range. It would be a good idea to do thorough research about each one’s merits before buying.
The practicality of the design of this controller is great as well. Every little button is deliberately placed to provide the highest utility.
This controller will provide you with higher practicality compared to the other models. All functions have been specifically thought out to enhance your music.
What Can Be Improved?
The pitch faders on the Pioneer DDJ SB3 are undersized. If you want to learn how to properly beatmatch, you will need long pitch faders. This controller does not provide that.
It is something that can be worked with during your beginner stage. However, as you get better and want to advance your techniques the pitch faders might cause problems.
Since it is an entry-level controller, it is compact. In order to save some space, the company has reduced the size of the pitch faders. This could very well be improved.
2. Unbalanced Outputs
Unbalanced outputs create disturbances in the audio signal they give out. This happens when the controller is connected with sound systems like speakers over a long distance.
This could cause discrepancies in your music during gigs or house parties. The sound systems are usually pretty far away from controllers in environments like these.
This factor is an important one to consider while buying. You would not want your music to sound unbalanced after putting in hard work!
3. Jack Ports
The options for added connections are very basic in this controller. They have provided two RCA master ports in the back of SB3. It does not come with RCA cables so that will be an added expense.
The microphone input port will fit a ¼ inch jack. There is also a ⅛ inch headphone port. If your headphones do not have a jack this size, you will have to buy a converter.
It would have been great if more ports with varied thicknesses were provided. Because of the rigidity of port options, you will probably have to make additional purchases to make your add-on devices compatible.
The controller comes with Serato DJ Lite. This is a very entry-level and basic software. As soon as you will start to get better, this software won’t serve you.
You will have to additionally buy Serato DJ Pro to match your performance. Since this an add-on cost, you will most probably have to bear, it is good to consider this while purchasing.
The different features like the jog wheels are made for the pro software. If you do decide to upgrade the software, you will get more utility from the controller.
Pioneer DDJ-SB3 DJ Controller Review – Conclusion
For a controller that is made for beginners, SB3 has more positives than negatives. A lot of new and exciting features make the case for the controller.
The Pad Scratch mode in collaboration with DJ Jazzy Jeff, good jog wheels, and the performance pads make this purchase worth it. The build and quality of the controller are great as well. It will stay intact with consistent usage. Not to mention it looks very stylish, just like any expensive controller.
The downsides, according to us, would be the small pitch faders and the software. Although this version is already an upgrade from the older ones, it still lacks a few things. It would be great for the company to add longer pitch faders.
There are many other entry-level controllers in the same price range. Some of them have worked on the negatives this one has. However, the Pioneer DDJ SB3 still has a few features to give it a competitive edge.
Overall, this is an excellent and affordable option for amateurs. You have plenty of functions to practice and enhance your skills. It comes with a lot of pre-recorded material which you can use as a base. The software will emulate them in a waveform which you can use to try and play them.
We will give this DJ controller a 4 out of 5. This mostly because the features that can be improved do not make the controller completely useless. They just require a little extra adjusting to. The positives really outshine the negatives in this one!
This is a great place to start learning DJing and improving. It is a comprehensive controller and will be very useful. It is just what you need to have everyone take you and your craft seriously! We hope this review helped you!
FAQs on Pioneer DDJ-SB3 DJ Controller Review
Q1. Does This DJ Controller Come With Software?
Yes, the Pioneer DDJ SB3 does come with software. It is built for the Serato DJ Lite software. This software is made for people new to DJing. It is very simple to understand and use.
Once you get better and want to upgrade the software, you will have to buy Serato DJ Pro. This software comes at an additional cost. So, do consider this before making your decision.
Q2. How Does This Controller Compare With Others?
Like we said before, there are many similar products in the market. All of them focus on different functions and make them the best. They want to be known by those functions. For example, production-based controllers.
This DJ controller takes a more rounded approach. It will give you most of the functions you will need starting out. You should consider what kind of music you want to make and mix.
While comparing this controller with others, keep in mind the points we highlighted in the review. The Pioneer DDJ SB3 does have a few stand out features compared to other controllers.
Q3. Does It Come Close To Professional Controllers?
Because of the quality of this DJ controller, it feels just like an expensive professional one. The body is made out of high-grade plastic and jog wheels are made out of great quality aluminum.
The hardware is worth every penny of yours! The buttons and knobs have been improved from the previous versions. The look and working of this controller will feel simply excellent! Pair it with pro software and the results will be amazing!