Review: Pioneer XDJ-R1
A new all in one DJ unit with wireless technology – we put it though its paces in our Pioneer XDJ-R1 Review
In the past ten years, the DJ world has been rapidly transformed by digital technology. It could be argued that this technological revolution was started in earnest by Japanese tech giants, Pioneer. It was this brand that introduced CD decks with truly tactile feel and performance at a time when vinyl was the medium of choice.
The CDJ rapidly established itself as a de-facto standard, by offering DJs a combination of excellent feel and sound, with robust build quality, and performance features that vinyl couldn’t compete with.
In the past twelve months, Pioneer has been busy working on its next big DJ revolution- wireless technology. Its new range of players and controllers provide the user with the ability to stream songs wirelessly from computers, phones or tablet, or even edit them via mobile devices.
Now, a new piece of Pioneer Wireless DJ gear provides an all-in-one solution, packed to the hilt with this new technology. We take a look at whether this heralds the beginning of a new DJ era in our Pioneer XDJ-R1 review.
Control every aspect of the XDJ-R1 wirelessly with Remotebox
The XDJ-R1 sits alongside the XDJ-AERO in Pioneer’s range, with both units providing all-in-one DJ solutions with wireless technology. There are several major differences between the two, however.
Firstly, the XDJ-R1 has two CD decks built-in. So, it will play audio tracks from USB storage devices, and can be used to control DJ software as a MIDI controller, but also play audio or data CDs (all major file formats supported).
The other major difference between the two is the introduction of Remotebox technology. Whereas Rekordbox allows remote, wireless management of song libraries, and streaming of audio to compatible devices, Remotebox takes this further, allowing control of, well, just about everything.
Build and Design
The XDJ-R1 immediately feels quite familiar. The twin platter design, with central mixer is, of course, fairly standard these days. However, here, the platters bear resemblance to those of the CDJ-350- no bad thing at all. There are a few extras added, such as hot-cue/sample buttons, plus effects control, too.
The mixer section is a two-channel affair that, again, will be familiar to anyone who has used a Pioneer mixer. The faders are nice and smooth, and feel like they’re well up to a life of frequent use. The unusual features here are a USB socket (for connecting USB storage devices), and a WLAN wireless button (for connecting to an iOS device wirelessly- more of this later on…
Around the back, there’s a pair of XLR master outputs (mirrored on a pair of RCA outs), and a pair of control room outputs via RCA. The XDJ-R1 is well equipped to become a ‘hub’ of a far bigger system, however, with two stereo RCA line/ phono inputs, a mic input, plus a USB connection for when the unit is used to control software. CDs are slot-loading and situated at the front of the device.
As mentioned previously, one of the main differences between the R1 and its sibling, the AERO, is that the R1 features two CD players, making it a truly all-in-one solution. The other key difference is the manner in which it operates with an iOS device. Rather than use the Rekordbox app, the R1 uses Remotebox.
This means that tracks cannot be streamed wirelessly in the way that they can with the AERO or Nexus series. However, Remotebox allows a whole new level of wireless control…
Put simply, Remotebox is an app for iPad, iPhone or iPod touch that mirrors every function of the R1 via touchscreen. It allows the user to control any aspect of its operation within wireless range, from browsing song libraries on media connected to the unit itself, to controlling FX, EQ and anything else via the wireless device. It even allows the R1’s mixer to be controlled. Nice!
The unit has many of the features normally seen on high-end CDJs, such as Color FX, Beat FX from the DJM-900nexus, and beat-sync, auto-loop and hotcues/ sampler from the CDJ-2000.
In use, the XDJ-R1 is unlike anything else available. Of course, it can be used in a more conventional way, but using Remotebox with an iPad opens up all sorts of possibilities for performance.
The build is solid and reliable, and everything is exactly where you would expect it to be. The addition of balanced XLR outputs will no doubt appeal to many gigging DJs.
The XDJ-R1’s greatest strength, however, is its sheer versatility. Able to play tracks from CDs (either data or audio), USB storage devices (when catalogued with Rekordbox), used as a software controller and audio interface via USB, and even allowing external decks to be routed through its mixer (not to mention wireless operation), this all-in-one unit has all bases covered.
There really is nothing available to compare with the R1- an impressive feat in itself- but taken on its own merits, it is a powerful, flexible and innovative DJ solution with very broad appeal.