Up there with the best

Future Music - - REVIEWS -

Pi­o­neer DJ’s DDJ-SX line de­buted back in 2012, and has ar­guably re­tained the crown of be­ing the high­est-qual­ity, and most pow­er­ful Ser­ato DJ con­troller avail­able for un­der a grand. Ver­sion 3 ar­rived ear­lier this year, fur­ther refin­ing the al­ready win­ning for­mula.

The DDJ-SX3 looks very sim­i­lar to its pre­de­ces­sors. Again, the con­troller is small enough to trans­port pretty eas­ily, but with its sturdy chas­sis and alu­minium top it’s also rugged feel­ing, and you’d ex­pect it to tol­er­ate reg­u­lar club use with­out is­sue. The jog­wheels are small, but re­spon­sive and sturdy, with a feel not dis­sim­i­lar to those on Pi­o­neer’s CDJ line. Each has a cen­tral dis­play with cue point info and count­down timer, a nice touch for a rel­a­tively com­pact con­troller.

The DDJ-SX3 is four-chan­nel. Each chan­nel of its cen­tral mixer can be switched be­tween dig­i­tal in­puts from Ser­ato DJ or ana­logue RCA, and the con­trol decks can be flipped to con­trol up to four Ser­ato decks si­mul­ta­ne­ously. As a re­sult, the SX3 can act as a hub/mixer for four dig­i­tal decks, four ex­ter­nal play­ers or any com­bi­na­tion of the above. The SX3 comes with vouch­ers to un­lock Ser­ato’s Flip and Pitch N’ Time add-ons. The for­mer al­lows users to make on-the-fly ed­its us­ing se­quenced cue points, while the lat­ter lets users ad­just the pitch of a track in­de­pen­dently of its play­back speed, and lets hot cues be trig­gered at a va­ri­ety of pitches. All of this can be con­trolled from the SX3’s front panel, with the bright, re­spon­sive per­for­mance pads be­low each jog wheel han­dling trig­ger­ing and per­for­mance du­ties.

Per­for­mances can be fur­ther spiced up with con­trol over two lev­els of ef­fects, from Ser­ato’s built in ef­fects sec­tion and the SX3’s own on­board Color FX. The lat­ter of these are four quick punch-in ef­fects, of­fer­ing var­i­ous forms of dance mu­sic-friendly builds or sweeps: Echo, Jet, Noise and Fil­ter. While these could get old pretty quickly if overused, they do add a nice, quick way to add in­ter­est. For slightly deeper ef­fect use, Ser­ato’s dig­i­tal pro­ces­sors can be con­trolled via a trio of ro­taries above each jog wheel.

The main up­grades for ver­sion 3 come on the con­nec­tiv­ity front. Here we get three mic in­puts – two on the rear, as with the SX2, plus a new front panel mic in with its own ded­i­cated level con­trols. The mic in­puts get their own ef­fects too, with re­verb, com­pres­sion, EQ and a low-cut fil­ter avail­able. The SX3 also adds a sec­ond USB in­put, which al­lows for mul­ti­ple Ser­ato DJs to tran­si­tion be­tween sets with­out the need to stop and re­con­nect lap­tops.

These up­dates aren’t mas­sive, but they do re­fine what was al­ready one of the smartest DJ con­trollers in the sub-£1,000 bracket. The ex­tra con­nec­tiv­ity is use­ful for small clubs, bars and reg­u­lar par­ties/ events. Def­i­nitely up there with the best dig­i­tal DJ so­lu­tions on the mar­ket right now.

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