controller review

Before you read this post I should probably say if you’re not a DJ or interested in DJ equipment, this blog about the Pioneer XDJ-XZ review probably won’t be the most interesting read for you! If you wish to see some more insights to me as a DJ, it may be worth checking out my blog post of my most common Q & A’s.

Providing my disco at 3 or 4 events per week certainly does take it’s toll on the one piece of equipment I use every time without fail – my controller! It’s used the whole time I DJ, whether it’s a wedding, school disco or bar. For the whole time I’m DJing. As my previous controller was starting to look and feel a tad worn I thought I would start looking at a new controller. There was a new DJ system launched by Pioneer at the end of last year – the Pioneer XDJ-XZ. It looked beautiful. I have always been a big Pioneer fan having used the CDJ-2000NXS/DJM900 set up before (and loving it), as well as owning the Pioneer DDJ-SX2 controller for the past 5-6 years, along with some other items such as headphones and speakers.

In my quest to research a new controller I was speaking to other fellow DJ’s regularly, and the Pioneer XDJ-XZ looked to be the ideal standalone DJ system. It could play from USB’s, be linked to a laptop to run software I was already using, and have so many more options with regard to playout and sound levels. I looked at reviews on Google, especially liking the review on DJHookup.

With 2020 looking to be a very busy year with some amazing weddings to be part of I took the plunge and ordered the Pioneer XDJ-XZ from It was delivered at the start of the Covid-19 isolation period which was great as it meant I had lots of time to play around with it! After a few weeks of messing around on the XZ I recorded a live mix which you can take a listen to here

My very first thoughts on the controller were – WOW! It was a big unit, and it was solid. It felt very well put together, sturdy and heavy. The weight of this when it’s in a flightcase is going to be quite something! The weight of the XZ is 13kgs, once you’ve put it in a flight case the weight is going to be approximately 25kg – heavier than one of my speakers. It was very obvious it has been based on the 2000NXS/900DJM set up. The jog wheels are the same mechanical beauties and the FX are the same as the 900DJM FX (or at least super similar, it’s been a while since I last played on the Nexus set up).

As the XZ is standalone it means you can get it out of the box and play with it straight away (providing you have exported the tunes you wish to play through Rekordbox onto USB’s). As a controller you just need to ensure your have your music in either Rekordbox or Serato. However, I did need to add a firmware update to the XZ as it wouldn’t connect to my MacBook/Rekordbox to be used as a controller. It was easily fixed, but it was annoying as the XZ is literally brand new and you would think the firmware would be up to date from the factory! This really is being super picky.

Having now played around with it for quite a few hours I can report that the DJ system is as good as it looks. The sound quality is great, much better than the Pioneer DDJ-SX2 I was using until I received the Pioneer XDJ-XZ. The ability to go without my MacBook is great. Obviously, the less equipment you have, the less chance of things not going as they should. The features which really did appeal to me were the 2 microphone inputs, which both have their own dedicated mic channels, including their own EQ’s. The fact you can have 2 USB’s as well as connect a laptop to search for music is great. With these features it makes for a professional finish to working alongside singers and other DJ’s which I have done on numerous occasions! For example, at a wedding I have worked with a guest singer who provided me with their backing track and needed to run through my equipment to be heard singing. Having 2 separate, dedicated microphone channels means I can introduce the singer with one microphone, and then control the singers volume and EQ on their own channel, whilst playing their backing track through the Pioneer XDJ-XZ. The microphone inputs also have a feedback reducer. I haven’t had a chance to try this out as yet as we’re still. very much stuck in quarantine due to the Covid-19 outbreak. However, this can only be a positive addition.

Having used my Pioneer DDJ-SX2 for hundreds of events, and knowing exactly how it all works and what will happen when I press any of the buttons, there are a couple of features I miss. The first is the auto-loop function. There are a couple of ways to use the loop function on the XZ, but I was used to a dedicated auto loop function on the SX2. The other feature I didn’t realise I would miss is the strip search bar from the SX2. This made searching on the track super easy – especially good for jumping half way through a track if you didn’t have a hot cue set up for the particular part you may want. The XZ does have a track search as part of the deck though. Again, this is mostly down to my DJ habits and I’m being super picky!

It is really easy to swap between the USB’s and laptop. It’s good to know you can indeed swap between the sources, especially if you’re going back to back with another DJ, or swapping DJ’s mid way through the night as it makes for a seamless blend.

The screen is really clear, the user interface is extremely easy to use and understand, and is on the whole intuitive. You can decide through the unit how you want your tracks displayed – for example by alphabetical order/bpm/track number etc.

The hot cue pads are much more ‘pro looking’ than the SX2 as they have a black block to them with a border of the cue when it is activated.

The positioning of everything on the DJ system makes complete sense, for example the microphone inputs are directly below where the EQ/controls are for them. The master EQ’s are all in one place which includes the booth volume – much better than the positioning on the SX2. The XZ does allow for much more control with the playout too. There are a world of FX at your fingertips, you can control the EQ per channel, and then again as a master output too. You can adjust the loop length to your exact requirements, rather than the standard 1/4, 1/2, 1, 2 beats etc.

Overall I’m massively impressed with the Pioneer XDJ-XZ and I’m super pleased with my purchase. Now I just need to be able to get out there and put it all to use rather than being a kitchen DJ!

Thank you for reading my Pioneer XDJ-XZ review, if there are any questions you have, please feel free to ask and I’ll research it and let you know the answer.

Find another of my product reviews here – this is the Humpter Pro DJ booth

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