The Pioneer XDJ-AERO is a new DJ mixstation that can be used in many different ways and in different combinations all on the fly. The Pioneer XDJ-AERO is a two-deck digital DJ MIDI/HID controller that can work with almost any DJ software of your choice, it can also function as a true standalone two channel DJ mixer, it can playback audio files directly from on-board USB flash/hard drives, and it can even transfer audio files wirelessly between up to four different Wi-Fi enabled devices that are running the Rekordbox Pioneer DJ library software. Check out the full HD-Video review inside.
Review Video & Demo
Setup & First Impressions
The Pioneer XDJ-AERO is a new DJ mixstation that can be used in many different ways and in different combinations all on the fly. The Pioneer XDJ-AERO is a two-deck digital DJ MIDI/HID controller that can work with almost any DJ software of your choice, it can also function as a true standalone two channel DJ mixer, it can playback audio files directly from on-board USB flash/hard drives, and it can even transfer audio files wirelessly between up to four different Wi-Fi enabled devices that are running the Rekordbox Pioneer DJ library software. All of these functions can be performed on each deck individually meaning the DJ has to choice of using the XDJ-AERO in hybrid mode to mix between different tracks in different modes.
The overall impressions of the Pioneer XDJ-AERO build quality is very satisfactory. I personally feel that the Pioneer XDJ-AERO has a nice and sturdy feel to it and it even feels better than the older DDJ-S1 and DDJ-T1 models that came out a couple of years ago. The silver and black styling scheme will please most DJ’s as everything really feels and looks like other Pioneer CDJ and DJM model gear. It’s a bit thinner than the DDJ-S1 and DDJ-T1 and fits a bit better on a desk too. Most of the LED’s around the jog wheel and on the big LCD info-screens above each deck are blue to give off a nice futuristic effect while still providing very bright and clear indicators for DJ-ing in low light conditions. The unit is made up of mostly plastic but the top faceplate of the mixer portion is actually black brushed metal. The unit as a whole is rather big and it won’t fit inside of any laptop bags, but the plastic weight does end up saving a few pounds when moving it from place to place.
The Pioneer XDJ-AERO's Four Different Play Modes
The First Playback mode of the Pioneer XDJ-AERO is the Rekordbox. The XDJ-AERO comes bundled with the newest edition of the Rekordbox song library software that can turn the XDJ-AERO into a wireless network device that other WIFI devices can send songs to. When the XDJ-AERO is in Rekordbox mode, then up to four different wireless devices (that are setup on the same network and with your permission) can build a playlist and send songs directly to the XDJ-AERO for next mixing.
We tested this feature out on a laptop, an iPhone and an iPad all with great success. Simply load the Rekordbox software onto the device, setup the network parameters and you’re ready to roll. The Rekordbox App for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch enables users to prepare and manage music stored on their portable devices as well as the ability to create playlists, cue/loop point and beat location settings, waveform analysis and more. The organized music in the device can also be wirelessly synced with a computer utilizing the Pioneer rekordbox music management PC software, providing additional convenience of preparing music for playback on a Pioneer DJ system. We never had any instances during our tests where the sound dropped out or popped, but Pioneer assures us that the track will keep playing on an “on-beat” loop if the connection is broken.
The second playback mode of the Pioneer XDJ-AERO is the MIDI Mode. Pioneer provides users of the XDJ-AERO a free Traktor Pro 2 mapping file on their website for download for those who want to use the XDJ-AERO as a MIDI controller. I think the controller has so much more going for it when its away from a MIDI software, but at least Pioneer makes it easy to transition into and out of MIDI mode for those who want that extra functionality. The XDJ-AERO can also be used with any other software if you are willing to program the MIDI buttons and jog wheel into the software of your choice (more advanced controller users will work this out) simply by connecting it to the computer and loading the supplied soundcard drivers from the supplied software disk.
The Third mode that the XDJ-AERO can play in is the USB mode. The USB mode allows into a two-deck DJ controller when connected to a computer. The setup of the system is rather easy when using it for stand-alone playback without a computer since all you have to do is plug in the power cord, speakers, and insert the USB hard or flash drive into the USB slot and you’re ready to mix, scratch, and play. The tracks on USB drives should be analyzed through Rekordbox before their first use to take advantage of the instant waveforms, cue points, loops, and BPM detection that makes for an easier and pleasant DJ experience.
The fourth and final mode of playback for the XDJ-AERO is the standalone mixer mode. The XDJ-AERO is a full out two channel mixer that can be used to connect CDJ’s or vinyl record decks for mixing and playback without the use of any computer or software. DJ's can also use this fourth mixer mode in conjunction with a Digital Vinyl Soundcard and timecode vinyl or CD decks for another playback option. This way a DJ can use the buttons and functions in the MIDI mode of the XDJ-AERO while also taking advantage of the mixer inputs for DVS mixer playback.
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The Pioneer XDJ-AERO has two separate decks built right into the unit that are located on the left and right sides of the mixing portion of the device. Each of these full-featured decks has the ability to playback music from a USB device, through MIDI DJ software (Traktor Pro 2 for this test), or through the wireless Rekordbox music preparation program. Each Deck has three different mode buttons to select which style of deck you would like for it to represent. There is Rekdordbox (wireless music file streaming), MIDI (computer software controller mode), and USB (for USB Hard/Flash drive playback). The only thing left off the radar is the inclusion of a CD slot, but I guess that’s to probably save on some cash and to cut the fat where most DJ’s are probably trying to get away from at this point. Each deck has an easy-to-read LED screen with the track information, Loop, Samples, effects, and the navigation options all clearly visible. The default color scheme is BLUE but there are other color options to satisfy everyone’s needs. These screens also show track playback information when in MIDI mode using the Traktor 2 software. The screens also have a bar at the bottom that indicates track position for quick cues and juggling. There is a small Track navigation knob and back button for file navigation just to the right of each screen.
On the top right corner of the first deck is the USB port, USB STOP button to end the USB playback, and a MASTER REC button that allows DJ’s to record their current live mix directly to the inserted USB device. Both Decks share and access the same USB drive music for simultaneous playback and manipulation. I did not have any slowdown or issues when accessing the songs from the same or different folders on a single device.
The jog wheels are totally different than anything I’ve seen on a Pioneer DJ controller before and I honestly have to say that I like these better as well. The older style of Pioneer controller jog wheels had a push-top style for vinyl emulation, while these are new jogs are completely touch sensitive and they feel very high in resolution. The jog wheels overall have a little give to them but nothing that would hinder the overall experience or make them feel cheap. The jog wheels have a metal top to them and a plastic ring around the outer edge that was very easy to use for nudging and speeding up the track while mixing. They were really a joy to scratch and back-cue with and juggling some new hip-hop tracks was pure fun all over again. The resolution was very high and the latency when using the jog wheels via Rekordbox and USB mode was flawless. The resolution of the jog wheels was also really high for Traktor Pro 2 as Pioneer provides a pretty good map file on the website to get you started.
The Play/Pause Cue and Shift buttons are all normal pioneer expectations and there’s even a sync and master button for those who want to mix a bit easier. Each deck has its own set of four different effects that can be used independently or in combination with one another. There are Trans, Flanger, Echo, and Roll. There is a beat knob to the right and a Level Depth knob to the left to set the parameters of each effect to the desired need.
Each deck has an AUTO BEAT LOOP knob that automatically sets loops when pressed and can be grown or shrunk depending on the twist of the knob. In USB and Rekordbox Mode, there is a group of four sample banks that can be used at any time which sends the particular deck into sample mode. When you engage sample mode, the current track on that deck will stop playing, so make sure the Samples are only used on a deck that’s not playing. Samples can be scratched, tweaked, effected, and changed any way a track is changed. When using the XDJ-AERO deck in MIDI mode with traktor, then the effect buttons become Traktor controlled effects and the Sample Launch banks become four hot cue buttons instead. (Note: There is no way to set hotcues when using the XDJ-AERO in USB or Rekordbox mode) The Pitch sliders are pretty short but the resolution was really tight for my own personal mixing and the ranges can be switched between 6, 10, 16, and 100% for your personal needs. The Pioneer XDJ-AERO is truly a versatile machine with versatile decks. Each deck can be in either mode at any given time allowing users to mix between wireless tracks, onboard USB tracks and a MIDI controller all on-the-fly and seamlessly. This is one of the first controllers to actually offer this much flexibility all working in harmony together.
The mixing portion of the Pioneer XDJ-AERO feels a lot like a Pioneer DJM-250 mixer with a nice crisp crossfader which is suitable for scratching (when set to the scratch mode via the crossfader curve switch) and the linefaders are a bit stiffer for accurate line level mixing. Above the faders is the High/Low filter knob for each channel and the three-band full -kill EQ with Gain knobs which are all reinforced with metal posts underneath the plastic black caps for even extra support and durability. In the Middle of the mixer area is an Auto Mix button that will actually mix to the next track in a playlist if you forget to mix the next track in before the end of the last track. There’s a nice LED Line volume level indicator strip that lets you see either the Master or channel levels with the push of the MASTER button.
Each channel has a Deck1/Line/PHONO switch so the user can switch between the standalone mixer external decks or the jog wheel decks already on-board. To the left is the headphones section with a Master/CUE mix knob and a volume knob to control what is being monitored. There are also LED buttons below the knobs for CH1 and CH2 Cueing. To the right, there is a MIC volume level knob and a Low/High EQ knob with ON/OFF switch to round out the microphone controls. The front of the mixer has the two headphone outputs (quarter-inch and eighth-inch) to choose from and there is one quarter-inch microphone input around the back
The Pioneer XDJ-AERO is a true two-channel mixer with 3-band full-kill EQ’s and High Low Pass filters for each channel. On the back of the XDJ-AERO is the Master TRS Balanced outputs and the RCA unbalanced outputs. There is also a LINE or PHONO level input for each channel along with a ground post for you vinyl deck grounding wires where applicable. There’s also a Microphone quarter inch input on the back as well. I wish there were dedicated Booth Outputs for the DJ’s who really need monitoring while playing out on the road, but there’s ways around it if you know what you’re doing.
Conclusion / Recommended For
In Conclusion, I had so much fun using the Pioneer XDJ-AERO that it seriously inspired me create a few new sets and mix a few new tunes that I haven’t quite got around to lately. The Pioneer XDJ-AERO was extremely versatile and allowed me to mix tracks found directly on the inserted USB device, tracks in my Traktor Library and even more tracks within the Rekordbox software from my mobile phone directly to the deck of choice. I can even plug in my vinyl decks and a DVS soundcard and use the MIDI functions for a totally different DJ setup. The XDJ-AERO is also a stand-alone mixer as well. The new jog wheels have very high latency no matter which playback mode you use and the crossfader is well suited for scratching and juggling. There’s a full feature set with on-board effects, sample banks, Auto Loop controls, filters, and full-kill EQ’s and one-touch Master output USB record.
There were only two minor gripes that I could find with the XDJ-AERO with the first being that there were no savable cue points when in pure USB mode and the lack of booth output and control knob for those who need it when monitoring conditions call for it. Other than these minor issues, the XDJ-AERO is a solid all-in-one mixstation that gives DJ’s so many playback options that it can be used in many different setups in many different ways. I recommend the Pioneer XDJ-AERO to DJ’s who need this level of versatility and don’t want to be boxed into one way of applying his or her trade.
- Versatile Playback Options! (Wireless Rekordbox, Stand-alone Mixer, USB Drives, MIDI)
- High Resolution-Low Latency Jog Wheels w/Rekordbox, USB, & MIDI TP2 Playback
- Nice standard Pioneeer DJM crossfader suitable for Scratching & Mixing
- Full Feature-Set: On-Board Effects, Samples, Loop controls, Filters, Full-Kill EQ
- Easily record your mix onto On-Board USB File
- No Hot Cue Points when in USB Playback Mode
- No Booth Output or control knob