Tech Preview: Pioneer DJM-850

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Tech Preview: Pioneer DJM-850

Pioneer is set to release the DJM-850, the latest addition to the DJM series sometime this month. It features a conventional 4 channel DJ mixer layout similiar to DJM-800 or DJM-900 so owners of the previous DJM series will feel at home with this new mixer. Just like its big brothers, it sports roughly the same build and core features: 3 band EQ on each channel, various built-in effects effects and also MIDI connectivity features.

The DJM-850 comes with a built-in 4 channel soundcard and is Traktor Scratch Certified, which means that Traktor Scratch users can hook their Traktor rig and the system should be up and running.

Compared to it’s big brother the DJM-900, you’ll find a few things missing though: Rekordbox integration, the touchstrip controller as well as a few effects such as the space, dub echo, melody and so on which is to be expected as I think this model is intended to sit just below the DJM-900 model. But, Pioneer made it up with two features unique to the DJM-850: a beat effect called the up-echo, and, what we find most interesting: the beat color effect.

The beat color effect influences the interaction between active effects and the playing audio on a channel.

The beat color effect, which is present on each audio channel, takes the audio input in the channel it resides and treats the audio as a sidechain information and feed it into the currently active sound color effects. Interestingly, each type of the sound color effect would respond differently to it as explained by Pioneer:

“ The Beat Colour Effect ‘listens’ to the audio input of each channel and directly connects the rhythmical changes in volume to another parameter: resonance for Filter and Crush, beat repeat for Cutter and ducking volume for the Noise Effect.”

Sadly though, as this unit does feature Rekordbox integration, access to song’s information such as the BPM would be impossible even though it would’ve been very useful for such effect.

Of course things can always be more interesting than turning the beat color effect on a running track; We can already imagine some interesting possibilities such as scratching on an audio with the beat color on. Or better yet, prepare a collections of pre-made audio dedicated for controlling the effect and cue them for some rhythmical effect craze on the decks.

Somehow I find rotary effect selector too fiddly… And all manufacturers should remove the damn flanger from all their products. Please?

Now to be honest, I don’t know if I should get excited about yet another Pioneer mixer sporting a few new features that charges same old $2000ish out of my pocket. I mean, seriously? These are all good features indeed, but building on their very much battle-proven design and adding a new effects and circuitry (OK probably that undermines their efforts a little bit too much but you get the idea), I would say we still deserve a cheaper price.


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