Pioneer XDJ-R1 DJ Controller – Gearjunkies Review

Only about a month ago, ‘out of the blue’, Pioneer came with a sibbling to their XDJ-Aero controller. They introduced us to the new XDJ-R1. One of the very first interesting features we noticed were the physical CD drives! Another feature that caught our eye is the combination of ‘controller and iPad‘, as the controller has a built-on stand for it. Together with the iPad running the remotebox app. This gave us the first idea that Pioneer didn’t just released yet another controller.


The XDJ-R1 utilizes a traditional layout. It has two decks with a two-channel mixer in between. The decks are set up like a CDJ (350) with extras like effects and hotcue/sample buttons. The mixer has a traditional (Pioneer)  layout as well. It has an extra USB slot for flashdrives with your (rekordbox analysed) tracks and a WLAN button for iOS device connectivity.

Build Quality

As you might (and should) expect from Pioneer, the XDJ-R1 is heavy but a very solid built controller. It has a metal top plate on a thick plastic housing. The knobs, buttons and faders feel very robust. The buttons have a rubber coating for a nice grip. They feel like they can handle some thorough handling by ‘enthusiastic‘ users…


On the front of the XDJ-R1 you’ll have two headphone INs, one big, one small jack. At the back you’ll have all the INs and OUTs you will ever need. There is a master XLR OUT which shows that this is a professional controller in my opinion. Then there is also a second master OUT, a booth OUT (RCA). With the aux IN and two line INs you can use the controller as a stand-alone mixer with your CDJs or turntables. Finally an USB connection so you can use the device as a MIDI controller.

Modes of operation

Thanks to its multiformat possibilities you can use the XDJ-R1 in several ways:
– CD
With the builtin CD slots you can use the R1 as traditional CDJs with a mixer. As this works just like any CDJ, included the CD and Vinyl mode, I think this will appeal to most DJs.
You can use rekordbox analysed tracks directly from USB drives, just as you do with the new generation CDJs. You will have to specify you are using the R1 in rekordbox however, as the controller needs an extra file to work with them.
Well the word speaks for itself of course. The controller is fully MIDI mappable, so the R1 can be used with any DJ software. We assume mappings for Traktor and Serato will become available soon. Standard with the R1 is the Virtual DJ software.
– Wireless
This might the most interesting feature of the new R1. You are able to access your software on your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch via the built-in wirless wifi reciever/transmitter, so there’s little chance of losing your music when if a connection would be lost (when using your personal or the club’s wifi connection).

Remotebox Software

The XDJ-R1 works with the free downloadable Remotebox app. This app is an extension of the hardware and a tool with which you can access the music collection on your (rekordbox)  USB flashdrive. When you open the app you’ll get an overview of the controller with above it, a collection of tabs. The tabs give you acces to the following sections:
– USB Browse
Like the name implies, you can browse the collection on your USB drive by category or playlist, get track info and load a track to a deck of your choice.
– Mixer
A software version of the mixer with which you can controle your audio via the iPad. Just think of the possiblities. You could just walk in to the room control the music without standing behind the decks/controller. The decks are traditionally placed left and right and take over all the functions. There’s also a better view on the loop function. Thanks to the Beatslicer you can alter loop lenghts to create a rhythmic effect, fast.
– FX
These are divided in FX1 and FX2. They also take over the hardware function and even more. thanks to the X/Y pad for more exact and precise control of the chosen effects and the level/depth setting. It is easy to combine different effects. Users that prefer to work with a lot of effects will have a ball with this app! I have to admit, it does give a very good hands-on control.


What else to say than: just great. They resemble the jogs of the CDJ-350. Good quality, switchable between CD and Vinyl mode, and touch sensitive.

Other Functions

The built-in effects are Trans, Flanger, Echo and Roll which can be set with the level/depth button. The length of your loops can be set with the Audioloop button. Below the decks you’ll find the traditionally located buttons for the Hotcues (set and play). Here you can also play the samples. Everything is, off course, in sync as long as you play tracks that have been analyzed in rekordbox.

In Use

Pretty soon after I started to use this controller I came to the awareness that this is indeed a very nice controller. The XDJ-R1 can be used by pretty much any DJ, beginner or advanced (pro). The switch between all the possible sources for audio works flawless. The quality of the effects are excellent and the presence of the Hot Cues makes this controller a great looking, good working, very complete controller.


With this new XDJ-R1, Pioneer, again, seem to take that step to stay in front of the competition. Because of the possiblity to use a wide range of audio sources, the effects, and the advanced Remotebox software, I can only take my hat off and salut Pioneer. Like we should expect from Pioneer the quality of all features is very good. And it feels like that too. Count in the ease-of-use and the integration of rekordbox and there’s nothing else to say than: this is a very good controller!

– Built-in effects
– Loop function
– Hot Cues and Sampler
– Advanced (remotebox) software

– No waveform display (that would make this controller totaly complete)
– No direct search buttons (now just with shift-button and jogwheel)

Dave van Gorp







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