Effect processors today are part of the standard tools DJs use. Many DJ mixers have them build in and DJ software features effects as well. Overall the available choice is overwhelming. Yet as DJ hardware effect processors Pioneer is the market leader. Build in to the DJM900 and DJM2000, which are also the default standards in most clubs. Also the standalone RMX-1000 effect processor is well known amongst DJs and even producers. So Pioneer came with the RMX-500 its little brother. Because we like the RMX-1000 very much we were keen to check out the RMX-500 and put the results in this review.
The futuristic looks immediately stand out. Two big fat turning knobs surrounded by pushing knobs lights and switches. It is basically inviting you to play it and that is of course what we did. Isn’t that the best way to find out what this effect processor can do?
The RMX-500 just like its big brother the RMX-1000 has a metal bottom plate and a sturdy plastic case keeping it relatively light. The turning knobs which also can be pushed for its secondary function feel pretty solid and the outside is made of soft rubber. Able to withstand the DJ climax. Build for heavy usage. The buttons have a tactile click feedback so you can feel you pressed them even when you are not looking.
The sound for an effect processor stays very clean and no noticeable noise whatsoever because of the 24 bit AD/DA conversion. The build in effects sound very good and a big advantage is that you adjust the levels for both the effects as well as the samples. For both types you can adjust the level in steps so you can avoid too high levels. Both input and output have a multi color led indicator that turns red when overloading.
The RMX-500 has two RCA type inputs and outputs which are of course unbalanced. Having 1/4″ balance jacks would be preferable though. The inputs and outputs are adjustable to three levels: -10dB, 0dB, 4dB so depending on the type of hardware you hook it up to you can adjust the sound and keep the noise floor down as much as possible. There is also a headset output (1/4″) which is more of an extra if you use it in the studio. Also the power input for the adapter and an USB B connector as usage for a midi controller.
On the left side is the Rhythm FX section. There on the top are the five audio effects. These five audio effects are the well know default Pioneer DJ effects used in many house tracks. On the bottom are the five instrument samples which are selectable variations for each button. The level is adjustable by the center turning knob so you can make a small mix of the five piece kit. This enables you to add rhythm based drum sounds to your track giving it that little bit extra.
In overdub mode you have a 4 bar loop you can record and play and even add the top effects to it. In combination with the center turning knob you can get all creative and in just a few steps create a fresh new effect from scratch. Create the perfect buildup that is different every time you want to.
On the right side is the Scene FX section. Also with a top and bottom section. The top Build Up section has five effects like Echo, Spiral, Spiral Up, Reverb Up and also the popular noise effect. In addition you can add the semi-sixth Echo+ effect. The bottom Break Down section has a HPF, LPF, Zip, Spiral Down and Reverb down effects. The center turning knob allows adjusting the steps and when pushed adjusts the second parameter of the selected effect.
In the middle is the BPM display. By default turned on auto but you also can adjust the BPM manually by tapping or adjust the BMP manually with the nudge buttons. The latter functions are not needed for 4/4 dance music when we tested. Not even when changing the pitch. Since all effects and rhythm are linked to this BPM it becomes a joy to use it without having to worry about drifting.
The global shift button is used for altering variations of effects and samples. Unlike the RMX-1000 you cannot replace the samples though. The signal flow button allows you to determine the order of the effects. Results if you switch this will differ a lot. Be aware this can have drastic results which may not be suitable before a big audience.
Just like the RMX-1000 you have three different tempo based release effects. Vinyl Break, Echo and Backspin. Allowing you to insert a break or even the end of a set.
The RMX-500 comes with VST plug-in software. You can control it with your hardware using it as a controller and even record and play back the automations recorded in your DAW. You might expect you could use the USB to route the audio in and out of your DAW but that is not possible. Probably because of the total (5-15ms) latency most USB audio interfaces have.
+Effects with each their separate settings
+Stable Auto BPM
-No High,Mid,Low filters
-No ability to change samples
-RCA in and outputs
-Very basic level metering
Pioneer with the RMX-500 has yet another winner on its hands. No matter how you use it, subtle or not this effect processor is a useful tool. You simply start to love it when you are using it because it sounds great and is so easy to use. The ideal setup would be to have this effect for every deck so you can have these effects available for every track. High recommended for every DJ and producer whether you use it just a little or very much. It will give you that little bit extra when you need it.
Pioneer RMX-500, MSRP 399 euro