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Review: Pioneer DDJ-ERGO V

So you want to be a DJ? Well you’ve come to the right place as we’ve been testing out Pioneers’ DDJ-Ergo-V controller this week.

Now in the interest of full disclosure; I am not a DJ. Yes, I have played out on the odd occasion. But I wouldn’t call myself a DJ at all – put me in front of a pair CDJs and train crashes would no doubt ensue.

Learning to DJ obviously costs money; so much so the only first-timers who start off on a pair of CDJs and a club-standard mixer are probably those annoying rich kids on Instagram. If, like me, you live in the real world, buying a USB controller and copy of Traktor is a far more palatable offering. Admittedly you’ll still need a laptop and a copy of Traktor, or Virtual DJ, to get the best out of Pioneer’s portable DDJ-ERGO. But if you think about it; buying a multi-purpose laptop and controller over a single use CDJ and mixer – on the face of it – seems like the a logical solution for a beginner, especially as you can pick up the DDJ-ERGO for less than £300.

Setting up the DDJ-ERGO is as simple as plugging in one USB cable into your laptop or computer. That’s it. No power cables, no external sound cards, nothing.

In fact setup was so easy I was mixing music within 2 minutes of opening the box. Design-wise, the DDJ-ERGO is your standard mixer/jog-wheels setup. This means the controller is really suited to programs like Traktor, Serato and Virtual DJ. You could of course use it with Ableton or any other software that uses midi but you’re likely going to lose some of the controller’s core functionality.

Despite not actually being designed for Traktor you’ll be glad to know there’s a fully working TSI file that sets the controller up for Traktor use. Once that’s setup you have access to Traktor’s remix decks, as well as the navigation control to scroll through your music library and full access to 6 of Traktor’s built-in effects.

DDJ-ERGO V Top Down View

As you’d expect the bulk of the mixing controls are in the centre of the controller; including headphone volume, master volume, EQs, filters – the lot. The only criticism I could lay at it is that some of the knobs and buttons might be a little too close together. But, ultimately, they do the job very well and it’s clear the controller’s layout will stand you in good stead to step up through Pioneers’ range of equipment as their products clearly share the same design-DNA.

Design-wise there’s a lot to like about the controller, the unit we’ve been testing has clearly been through the wars – but every knob, switch and fader works as it should. The controller is housed in a sturdy white plastic case, which also comes with two detachable feet so you can lay the controller over your laptop if space is at a premium. Elsewhere you’ll find the controller has a range of pulse lights to guide you around the controller ranging from buttons lighting up to the jog-wheels pulsing like a cylon’s visor. Even more impressive is it does all this from a single USB cable. So when comes to true DJ portability the DDJ-ERGO really can really tout its take-it-anywhere credentials.

DDJ-ERGO V Rear View

Overall the DDJ-ERGO is a great controller for anyone who wants to learn the basics – and alongside its clever lighting and Traktor’s well-honed UI, mixing tracks together without using the synch buttons becomes relatively straight forward. Especially since both Traktor and the controller give you visual hints for when you need to push a track forwards or backwards to get it properly locked in.

Once you’ve mastered that there’s a wealth of opportunities to add complex effects and samples over the top of your mixes, which then adds a whole new layer of depth to the experience. As a relatively inexpensive controller to learn your stripes on, the DDJ-ERGO offers a first step on the DJ ladder without too many compromises.

HBF Rating 4/5