While Pioneer DJ may have their iron grip on the DJ market, it's no secret that their current line of products has become a bit dated. The latest version of the CDJ2000 NXS2 and DJM-900 Nexus 2 has been around for quite some time now, and, while still great products, are starting to show their age in comparison to their competitors. For the DJM line specifically, the Xone 96 and Model 1 mixer brought some rather revolutionary concepts and features to the game with Pioneer "seemingly" left in the dust.
Especially with more and more artists breaking out of the traditional setup and into the live and hybrid performance world. I use the word seemingly because, while on the outside it might appear that Pioneer wasn't paying attention, behind closed doors, they were clearly doing their homework. Earlier at this year's NAMM, Pioneer shocked the world with a day-of-event announcement on the new DJM-V10 mixer, arguably their most advanced product ever. In this review, we'll be taking a look at the new unit, highlighting its plethora of new features, as well as how it actually stacks up to its competitors.
What Is It?
The DJM-V10 is a 6-channel digital DJ mixer that takes the best of the 900 and 2000 lines and adds a whole host of new features that are aimed at the DJ and live performing artist. Build from the ground up, Pioneer spared no expense in the creation of this mixer, and it shows. With various internal and external routing options, new effects, and more channels, this mixer bridges the gap between the DJ booth and the studio.
As mentioned, the mixer is filled to the brim with features, some of which carried over from the DJM-900 lines. The most obvious is both the size of the mixer and the additional two channels, as well as the 4-band EQ. Second would be the three large Isolator knobs on the righthand side. What's less obvious upon first glance, but clearly present when in use is the overall sound of the mixer. Many people found the 900 lines to be a bit harsh and too digital when compared to other options, but the V10's circuitry and build have placed warm and rich sound at the forefront of importance. As more DJs are moving into hybrid and live performances, Pioneer added a compressor to each channel to aid in adding body to the outgoing signal, so that external hardware or older vinyl records are able to sonically match the rest of the performance.
The new effects section includes a shimmer reverb, a new adjustable filter, internal send effects like Dub Echo, Short Delay, Long Delay, and Reverb, which are all adjustable via the controls below. There are also two stereo inputs to allow you to connect your own effects or more external gear.
For a full list of features, click here.
I had a very brief moment to play with the just-announced V10 mixer at NAMM earlier this year, but as always, it was so loud in there that it's hard to really get an idea as to how things actually sound. Even still, I was able to make out that, overall, the mixer had a nice punch to it. I was also extremely surprised by the sheer size of the mixer. When it finally arrived at my studio, I had to do some rearranging just to fit in my little booth. As someone who uses Xone mixers, the 4-band EQ was instantly comfortable, although I admittedly forgot there were more than three bands during the first couple sessions.
My ears were correct in believing that the mixer was much warmer and punchier than the 900, as the sound was excellent in my studio. The mids were rich and defined, the bass full, and the highs were clear and smooth. The one thing I do love about Pioneer mixers is the FX section. Not that I use them all that much, but it's much easier than setting up external effects on a Xone, although much less flexible. The new shimmer reverb is, as far as I am concerned, studio-quality. I feel that digital reverbs can sound very thin and shrill, but Pioneer did an excellent job on this. I found that when used in combination with the send fx, you could create some seriously lush and wide soundscapes when using synths through the mixer.
The compressors on each channel are clearly inspired by Model 1, and I have to say that they do make a great addition. I often play demos in my sets and adding just a touch of the compressor really brought my music up a notch and made it less noticeable I was playing a demo and not a professionally mastered track. This is one of those things where a little bit can go a long way, as too much compression will make your audio sound flat.
Perhaps my favorite part of the entire mixer though was the Isolators. If you have no idea what these are, they are basically very large EQ knobs that can be used in a creative manner as opposed to helping you mix records together. I strongly suggest you watch the legendary video below of master Derrick May using the Isolators on an older Pioneer mixer.
The additional two channels are definitely something I'm glad Pioneer did. Being able to create almost whatever kind of setup you can think of, especially as the lines of DJ and producer continue to blur, is actually very inspiring. Being able to run a full four-deck DJ setup, and include a drum machine and/or whatever else you can think of will surely spark many "what ifs" Also, big shout to the dual monitoring system, which will allow DJs to transition and perform b2b with ease.
I have to hand it to Pioneer. They really nailed this one. The term "blurring the lines of the studio and booth" has been tossed around for a few years now, but only rarely does that actually happen, the DJM-V10 being one of them. It's awesome as a DJ mixer, but I think its real power lies in the hybrid and line mixer abilities. Not having an FX section on a mixer is fine if you're just mixing records, but it can be a bit of headache when using other hardware that also lacks effects. Obviously you can use the sends to hook up external pedals and such, but when traveling with loads of gear, less is more.
The analog vs digital debate would definitely be a tough call when comparing the V10 to its competitors. Having used Pioneer mixers countless times, the layout is mostly familiar, but the increased size does take some getting used to. Overall, I have to say that I'm extremely impressed with the mixer. Unfortunately, this isn't something you'll be seeing in too many clubs, as this is more of a niche mixer than a mass-market product, but that being said you can bet Pioneer will definitely be taking many cues from the V10 in their forthcoming DJM line. What will carry over is hard to say, but in terms of visual styling, I'd say it's a safe bet to assume the new mixers will match the V10 aesthetically, which I think looks excellent.