DJ Controller Review: Pioneer XDJ-R1

Improve your setup with the XDJ-R1!

pioneer XDJ R1 review

The Pioneer Pro DJ XDJ-R1 is being billed as an “all-in-one” wireless DJ controller that, you guessed it, does just about everything except dress you before your gig. It’s big, sleek and kind of beautiful, but is the DJ controller for you?

The XDJ-R1 is supposed to work with everything from CDs to USBs and even flash drives and of course iOS control for you iPad and iPhone DJs out there in the land of electronica. We know its wireless, we know it’s a standalone unit…but do we know if it’s any good?

That’s what we’re here to determine!

Judging By Its Cover…

Straight out of the box you know this DJ controller review is going to be exciting. The unit is bigger than your average controller all round due to the CD players built into the unit. But despite the mostly plastic body the machine feels (and looks) totally solid. With the underlying metal faceplate and the silver trim it looks like it’s more than a big hunk of plastic, so you feel like you’re getting your money’s worth. All the other bells and whistles—faders, knobs and buttons—are high quality so you feel like a real DJ.

The layout is identical with 2 decks with input selectors, transport controls, FX and hot cues. The Pioneer XDJ-R1 has a 2 channel mixer section, EQ controls, channel and input switches plus something called ‘Sound Color FX’ that allow you to control these effects independent of the beat.

Peek around the back end and you’ll get to see all of the little input and output choices for phono/line inputs, mic input, master & booth out plus an auxiliary output. There is no on & off switch but there is a standby indicator on the unit so there’s no issue there.

Finally for you mobile iOS DJs there is a bracket so you can settle your iPhone in for a long gig. It has a non-slip surface, which is great for those without a rubberized cover, but the brackets are nowhere near big enough for those using an iPad rather than an iPhone to DJ.

My first impressions are this is a solid piece of machinery that is easy for newbies to navigate, but let’s dig into this DJ controller review and talk about how it works.

Some Assembly Required

Unlike so many DJ controllers on the market today, the XDJ-R1 is not a plug it and go type of machine. Well it is if you’re only using CDs or your decks, but otherwise you’ve got some work to do before you get to the good stuff.

First on the big ‘to do’ list is updating and installing any new firmware; this helps make the process flow smoothly. Next you have to prepare your music for the Pioneer software, which is a biggie or you’ll end up with a mess on your hands. So you must get the rekordbox software and let it works its Pioneer voodoo on your tracks.

Now that you’ve exported the music—via USB—you can plug it in and start man-handling the features.

Finally you have the remotebox software that lets you control just about every single aspect of the unit…in the palm of your hand. Download this in the App Store and you can feel like an actual mobile DJ.

DJ controller review pioneer

Workin’ It

Overall you’ll find the Pioneer XDJ-R1 does pretty much exactly what it promises. It works like a charm with CDs and USBs, easily identifying cues and samples. The best FX easily calibrated the BMP of the song in just a few seconds.

Using rekordbox really makes this unit work like a dream. Your music gets organized perfectly, allowing you to categorize tracks by key thanks to the intelligent lists. Using the XDJ-R1 without using rekordbox is a lot like a hamburger with no ketchup; it can be done, but it just isn’t the same.

When you factor in the remotebox, you can step away from the DJ booth without interrupting the flow of the party. Pioneer doesn’t skimp on this part either; you can control your library from your iOS device so you’re not just stuck with a few songs. This is a factor I’m sure mobile DJs will love as it allows more freedom of movement.


Honestly I don’t have many gripes about the XDJ-R1 and trust me, throughout this review I looked for things to loathe. My biggest complaint is that there is no stand for the iPad, which is kind of ridiculous given the remote control feature. The iPad screen is bigger and makes better use of this feature.

For $800 I’d like an iPhone stand, but alas, it is not be for now. Overall though, I was extremely impressed by this all-in-one unit. New DJs will feel this is the perfect step up without feeling overwhelmed. It plays CDs so if you’re still using them, there’s that…but hopefully you plan to move away from them soon.

For the most part mobile DJs will flock to this machine because it meets so many requirements in just one box.

I hope I helped you find the right wireless DJ controller. Email in the box below to get access to Free video DJ lessons that will answer all of your questions on how to become a disk jockey!

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