With the DDJ-FLX6, Pioneer has a DJ controller in its product portfolio that seems made for the streaming and home DJ scene enthusiastic about EDM and dance music, but could also appeal to hip-hop and cross-genre DJs.
The newcomer to the Pioneer universe is interesting in several ways: For example, the device has been equipped with huge CDJ-like jog wheels – including auto-scratch zones. Brand-new macro-effects routines called Merge-FX are also integrated.
According to the manufacturer, you can put together thousands of effect combinations from a partially predefined pool. On top of that, the FLX6 has industry-typical features for live remixing interludes, including performance pads, autoloops, channel filters and the like.
If you as a beginner are still undecided whether you prefer to use Serato or Rekordbox, you can use both programs here. Not to be forgotten is the DDJ-FLX6, the manufacturer’s only 4-channel Rekordbox controller for less than $1000 (the next cheapest Pioneer DJ controller with four channels is the DDJ-1000 with an $1100 price tag). Good deal?
I take the following components from the colorfully printed Pioneer DJ box: a DDJ-FLX6, a quick start guide with a warranty sheet, a USB cable and an advertising slip from Beatport and Beatsource Link for a 30-day trial.
There is also a serial number for Serato PNT DJ and for the Serato FX plug-in. Serials are not supplied for the two DJ programs Serato DJ Pro and Rekordbox DJ, because the DDJ-FLX6 acts as an “activation dongle” for the respective software as soon as it is connected.
DJ controllers, advertisements and leaflets, harness – the contents of the package
You can rightly use the term “bolide” when you hold the DDJ-FLX6 in your hand for the first time. With 68 x 35 x 6.9 cm and 3.8 kg, the weight is quite low considering the size of the device, which is primarily due to the partial absence of metal components, for example, the case cover or the front or rear connection side should be owed.
The same picture emerges with the potentiometer pins: plastic. I just remember an old DJ controller in a full metal dress called Numark Omni Control with dimensions of just 32 x 26 cm, which weighed only 300 g less with almost a third of the surface. To be honest, I would rather not know what the FLX6 would bring in an all-metal chassis …
The fresh, predominantly matt gray design with its partial high-gloss elements is a real eye-catcher in my eyes, spoiled by the imposing large jog wheels and no less huge merge FX buttons, which are extremely prominent and surrounded by a light ring.
The basic operating layout is otherwise largely known from Pioneer’s most recent controller releases: Deck mixer deck based on the CDJ and DJM series. The player units are arranged identically and are not mirror-symmetrical. Stringent structure meets generous space to work.
With the DDJ-FLX6, a stringent structure meets generous space for working
Front and back side
A little bit of disillusionment when looking at the back panel. From right to left: Kensington lock, USB socket, microphone jack with attenuator and two stereo cinch outputs for master and booth.
Personally, balanced outputs and an aux input would have been welcome here, because that would be an advantage for the FLX6 from a pro point of view.
On the other hand, it has to be mentioned that very few DJ beginners who sometimes want to connect their desktop boxes and a recording device or streaming device will have professional PA equipment in their room or hobby room, so the target group has probably been analyzed and in favor of Dual -Cinch decided, especially since the FLX6 is also USB powered.
After a 180 degree turn, the front receives you with two headphone connections along with a cue mix and volume control as well as a microphone volume button. I wouldn’t have objected to a power-on / mute button for the microphone.
Pioneer DDJ-FLX6: back panel closeup
Mixers and decks
The layout of the mixer is classic with gain, three bands, color FX controls, channel cue and fader battalion. Channel 4 can be switched to the sampler using a dedicated switch so that a reasonable tone and level control can be initiated for it
The Beat FX bar is modeled on the DJM mixing consoles, and I will go into its functions later in the text. If you also find one way or another on the manufacturer’s newer controller series, as a pioneer user you can get along fairly quickly across devices.
This basically also applies to the CDJ-style deck sections, transport elements and the loop department, which allow manual and automatic repeat loops to be set, but also allow memory loops, etc.
Other ingredients are autosync, master tempo, deck switch for decks 3 and 4, a dual-mode, pitch fader for manual tempo adjustment, the jog cutter/vinyl buttons, navigation encoder and load buttons and the performance pads described below. I couldn’t see the page/sample bank switch, slip, slip reverse, reverse on the console, and neither did key sync for harmonic mixing or track search / fast search buttons.
The FLX6 mixer is classically equipped and clearly structured
The pad section below the jog wheels offers the following modes:
- Hot Cue: 8 jump marks per deck
- Pad FX: 8 effects
- Beat Jump: Jump back and forth in time, various sizes
- Sampler: 8 sample slots
- Keyboard: pitch up / down for selected cue point
- Key Shift: Pitch track up / down
- Beat Loop: Repeat loops of a preset size
- Sample Scratch: 8 “Scratch Sample Slots” with loading function in the corresponding deck
- Performance pads for hot cues, loops, effects, scratch samples and various key manipulations
Next action: browse directly to the manufacturer’s website, download and install the current program versions. Rekordbox DJ version 6.4 throws 3030 MB into the scales, MacOS 11 is not yet to be read under the “hardware requirements”, here it says 10.3 – 10. 5. PCs need a 64-bit version of Windows 7, 8.1, or 10.
Serato DJ Pro 2.4.3 has a download size of about 127 MB and requires a 64-bit version of macOS Catalina, Mojave or High Sierra or Windows 10 as well as an i3 to i9 CPU with at least 1.07 GHz clock speed and 4 GB of RAM. There is currently no trace of Big Sur and M1 chips.
The software is installed and the first round goes to Rekordbox DJ. The controller is recognized automatically. The integrated 0-in / 4-out audio interface works with 16 or 24 bit and 44.1 kHz.
When starting for the first time, Rekordbox asks for an online connection and selection of the Rekordbox DJ subscription plan. These cost depending on the expansion stage. But when the controller is plugged in, the software is activated, as already mentioned, so that you can work without a subscription.
Pioneer DDJ-FLX6 Rekordbox Screenshot 1
Access to the software’s music database is via a dedicated navigation area above the 4-channel mixer. A separate load button is available for each software deck, arranged right above the channel strips.
Browsing is done using a push encoder, the integrated button function of which lets you delve deeper into folder hierarchies or you can go back using the back button.
Individual shortcuts can be selected using Shift, and a title for the temporary playlist can be tagged in the browser section and the view can be switched, which is practical. Instant doubles are also possible, i.e. the duplication of tracks in the same position in another deck
Two tracks land promptly in the decks to start a first test run and to feel the sound on the tooth. Master and booth are clear in the sound and without background noise and the headphone output is loud and transparent in sound.
I like that, no complaints at this point, I would only have liked a talkover or mute button for the microphone channel. Also that you can enrich the signal with effects.
Pioneer DDJ-FLX6 Rekordbox Screenshot 2
Jog wheels and jog cutters
Imposing handwheels with a diameter of 206 mm: The side grooved jog wheels take up almost half of the deck and they have a position indicator or a needle indicator. These plates are a real asset to the DDJ-FLX6 and it is a lot of fun to work with because they respond very well and the feel is reminiscent of the great CDJ-3000.
You can’t adjust the haptic resistance, but that’s well chosen for my terms and that’s always a matter of taste.
We come next to the jog cutter function, with which you can fire automatic scratch salvos, simply by moving the handwheel back and forth without using the crossfader.
This works with the current track (on the respective activated deck, the feature is then deactivated on the second) and also with your own samples, which the DJ can load directly onto the deck using “sample scratch” pads.
There are a total of six scratch areas on the jog wheel or the scratches are triggered by different zones of the jog wheel, recorded below as an audio file. At more than 150 BPM, the scratch tempo can be automatically halved if desired.
For the jog cutter, you can also specify whether the scratch should start on the last hotcue played, otherwise the standard cue point is used.
Auto-scratches are triggered by different zones of the jog wheel.
At 40 mm, the line faders are a little shorter than on the DJM mixer or some other controller, but they run without dragging and the crossfader is also smooth, but lacks haptic settings for the fader curve.
But you can adjust it in the software. Fader start is also possible by holding down the Shift key. In addition to cross and line fader curves, the equalizer settings can be adjusted in the preferences and the combination filter can be assigned a different function (crush, noise, dub echo and many more).
For the Color-FX, however, neither parameter controls nor on/off switches are available on the DJ console, so you need to dig into the software. Also for changing an FX!
Friends of electronically rooted dance music would certainly have had no objection to loop encoders, with which one sets an autoloop and also enlarges or reduces it by turning it to the right or left, but with the Pioneer concept a 4-beat- Loop created and especially for capturing longer (not pre-defined) loops, off-beat loops or vocal passages, key combinations are not bad, especially because the start and end points of the repeat loops can be adjusted with the jog wheel.
A Reloop / Exit / Active function key and the already mentioned cue/memory loop keys complete the offer.
Loops on the Pioneer DDJ-FLX6
Here you can find various presets for Build-Up / Breakdown-FX, which represent a combination of several effects, for example, four predefined “Risers” and four “Drops”. The best thing about it: You can vary these yourself.
Then simply press the button, turn the controller, the surrounding LED ring shows the intensity. Press the button again. Drop. There is something. So you can easily transition to the next track. Even if two tracks come from different genres or cannot be beatmixed well, you can define exciting transitions with them.
Define your own effect combinations
According to the manufacturer, thousands of your own effect combinations can be defined for the Merge FX, which consists of the individual subgroups: Build FX (10 different FX), Build Sample (12 pieces) and Release FX (14 pieces). Last but not least, you can also specify an additional drop sample.
Specifications such as Horn, Scratch and Rewind are included, but you can also add your own material or store samples from the sample player (4 x 8). In addition, a photo series and some audios.
To be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if we got to see a new effects device from Pioneer DJ with these Merge FX features, maybe an RMX-2000?
Merge FX for build-ups, breakdowns, risers, drops and on top of that self-configurable
The Pad FX mode. These can be freely assigned. The keys can be triggered well, they are not velocity-sensitive and the eight modes printed on them cannot yet be varied via the Rekordbox DJ pad editor.
The buttons on the DDJ-FLX6 are a bit small. On top of that, they are only illuminated in blue instead of RGB, that was no different with the DDJ-SX (1) or the XDJ-RX (1) and the DDJ-SP (1), maybe a FLX6-MK2 will come with RGB LEDs.
The “Sample Scratch” feature has been added to the DDJ-FLX6. This allows predefined samples or sounds from the sampler to be loaded directly into the decks and scratched, whereby the jog cutter can also be used here.
With the dual-mode function, you can scratch two decks or samples (or control decks). Sample loading deactivates the jog cutter function.
Performance pads: illuminated blue instead of RGB
The Beat-FX department offers access to six effects preset by the user in the software (almost two times three Channel-FX), which can be switched through with a button and affect the desired channel or the master.
The effect timing can also be specified using two buttons, the tempo can be read out or tapped automatically.
The large FX on button typical of Pioneer activates the beat effects. A handy controller controls the amount of mix between the effect signal and the original. The release FX (echo, vinyl break and backspin) can also be fired using Shift-On.
Very varied FX combinations between Beat and Channel FX are possible. I think the LED status lighting for the Beat-FX is quite successful.
As far as Rekordbox DJ is concerned, the FLX6 is a worthy command center.
Beat-FX: Memories of the DJM series are awakened
Basically, the control options within Serato DJs are designed in a similar way but are not mapped completely identically and I have to say in advance: At the time of writing these lines, I would personally use the FLX6 with Rekordbox and use a different controller for Serato.
For one thing, the pad assignments do not match the prints. In my opinion, the jog cutter can’t really keep up either. The “Serato-Merge-FX” lag far behind Pioneer.
At this point I don’t want to ignore the given effect combinations for Serato DJ:
Preset 1: Time Freeze + Auto Loop Roll + Tempo Increase / Decrease – Braker, Tape Echo on release
Preset 2: Noise Sweep, Epic Reverb, Looper, Epic Verb Drop + Auto Loop Roll – Echo Out on release
Preset 3: Noise Sweep, Flanger, HPF, Side Delay – Echo Out on release
Preset 4: Combo Filter, Space Verb – Echo Out on release
Pioneer DJ-FLX6 is a DJ controller with a lot of work space and a cool look, which has a lot to offer especially effect-loving users.
Four decks to hang up, a mixer in DJM design with beat and color FX and the combination options of Merge FX and self-definable drop samples are really fun. There are also jog wheels based on the CDJ-3000, also a pro argument. The Serato integration could be better and it is a shame that the controller has neither jack outputs nor an aux input.
The price is also not bad, but the bottom line is that the controller offers the most cost-effective solution for playing on four decks with Rekordbox DJ – and if you feel addressed here, you should have a lot of fun with the Pioneer DDJ-FLX6.