Thursday, February 23, 2012

Pioneer DJM-850 Pro DJ 4 channels mixer [ First look -- April / May 2012 ]

Pioneer DJM-850 Pro DJ 4 channels mixer [ First look -- April / May 2012 ]

Pioneer announced its latest DJ mixer this morning, and in a matter of hours we had our hands on it. Hailed as the successor to the extremely popular DJM-800, the mixer that seems to dominate clubland, the DJM-850 has lost some features seen on the 800 and gained others.

One feature that it’s gained is the same four stereo in and four stereo out audio interface as the DJM-900, and the good news is that it’s Traktor certified. At least, it will be come April, according to Pioneer. It also gets some of the DJM-900’s effects, as well as an additional Pitch Echo effect and a beat button for every colour effect that gates the colour effect according to the beat of the track playing through it. What it loses is the DJM-800’s digital inputs.

The DJM-850’s control surface is much the same as the DJM-850 that it replaces, which is no bad thing because it means fans of the original can quickly get to grips with the mixer and concentrate on the new features straight away.

It has beautifully smooth faders, a tough, heavy build and high quality selectors – everything you expect from a club-level Pioneer mixer. Even the FX controls look and feel the same, although the way you control the level of the effects has changed. When the Level/Depth dial is at the 12 O’clock position, the level of the effect is at 100%. From there, you can twist it further to the right to add an extra element to the effect, with that element being dependent on the effect you’re using.

An extra feature is the ability to tap in a decimal figure for the BPM. This is handy if you have Rekordbox-analysed files playing on a CDJ-2000, giving you a specific BPM for that track. You can then tap that BPM into the DJM-850 to increase the timing accuracy of the DJM-850’s beat effects. We’ve seen it done with our own eyes and it looks straightforward, but we’ll be trying it for ourselves in our review.

Much has been said about the DJM-850’s place in the Pioneer line-up, but it’s simply an update of the DJM-800 that gives it the latest features that modern DJs want. It isn’t meant to be a revolutionary new mixer with heaps of new features. Pioneer still intends the DJM-900 to be the club mixer and sees the DJM-850 as a personal and mobile mixer. Considering its price, however, we can definitely see many smaller bars replacing their battered DJM-800s with this updated model, especially given its Traktor-certified audio interface.

Unfortunately, the DJM-850 is not compatible with Rekordbox, which means the DJM-900 and DJM-2000 are still the mixers you should choose if you own CDJ-900s or CDJ-2000s and want to make best use of Rekordbox-analysed tracks.


1.) Built-in four-stereo-channel sound card

- The DJM-850 boasts an integrated high-performance sound card, enabling simultaneous input and output with 24-bit/96 kHz processing, so there is no deterioration of sound quality as it passes through the mixer.

- With three sampling rates (96 kHz/48 kHz/44.1 kHz), the DJM-850 can be used for music recording and production as well as expert DJing.

- Connection to PCs or laptops requires just one USB cable, so DJs can start mixing their stored music immediately. And software devotees can make the most of scratch control thanks to the mixer’s compatibility with the timecode feature on Digital Vinyl Systems, such as Traktor.

- Pioneer’s handy utility tool launches as soon as the DJM-850 is connected to a computer, allowing DJs to configure the mixer, sound card and audio routing according to their personal preferences.

2.) Beat Colour Effect – INDUSTRY FIRST

- The DJM-850 harnesses the power of the highly popular studio technique of sidechaining to add a new element to Pioneer’s wonderfully simple Colour Effects without making them any more complicated to use.

- By engaging the Beat button, another dimension of control is automatically added when you apply the Colour Effects. 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.

- This extra layer of control has become a staple of dance music production because of the way it blends new sounds and effects perfectly into the mix.

3.) Improved Beat Effects with new ‘FX Boost’

- The mixer offers DJs 13 enhanced Beat Effects. Along with old favourites, the DJM-850 inherits the incredibly high-quality Reverb and tripped out sound of the tape echo-inspired Spiral Effect from the DJM-900nexus. And, exclusive to the DJM-850, Pioneer introduces Up Echo, which produces a more reserved and controllable mix.

- Replicating the sound effects achieved by the DJM-900nexus’s touch-sensitive X-Pad, the ‘FX Boost’ function allows the Level/Depth knob to work more proactively than a standard Wet/Dry Control. Turn the dial to the 12 o’clock mark for a fully wet effect and turn it further to add Pitch Up to Up Echo and a High-Pass Filter to the Reverb.

4.) EQ isolator on each channel

- Each channel is home to a three-band equalizer (+6 dB to -26 dB) or three-band isolator (+6 dB to -∞dB).

- Emulating the isolator on Pioneer’s installation-grade DJM-1000, the DJM-850’s equalizer straddles the range from -26 kill to complete kill.

5.) High-quality sound and familiar, industry-standard layout

- Pristine sound reproduction with reduced noise interference is guaranteed thanks to the DJM-850’s top-of-the-range components: a 32-bit output D/A convertor; a 32-bit digital signal processor; the separation of analogue and digital circuitry; and the shortest possible transmission path.

- The DJM-850’s interface mirrors the user-friendly layout of Pioneer’s club-standard mixers for ultimate familiarity, wherever DJs perform.

6.) Durable build for DJs who love to play

- The internal parts of the DJM-850’s high-performance faders are nestled well out of harm’s way, so drink spillages aren’t the disaster they are with other mixers.

- Pioneer’s P-Lock Fader Caps prevent the faders from slipping off accidentally during rough use.

7.) Other features

- Fully MIDI assignable, the DJM-850 also serves as a MIDI controller.

- The USB port is conveniently located on top of the mixer so DJs can easily switch between connectable devices.

- The mixer automatically reverts to standby mode if it is not used for a set period of time


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