Review: Pioneer DJ DDJ-FLX4 2-Channel DJ Controller

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Review: Pioneer DJ DDJ-FLX4 2-Channel DJ Controller

Words by Rob Gee

Jands | RRP: $669

Summer is a time for entertaining and for anyone looking to dip a toe into the tactile world of DJ’ing, the various social engagements surrounding the silly season can serve as the perfect low risk setting to work on your DJ fundamentals, while also adding an entirely new dimension to the listening experience for the casual music fan. 

Perhaps there is no better entry point into the world of DJ’ing than something like the new DDJ-FLX4 2-Channel DJ Controller by industry stalwarts, Pioneer DJ.

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Serving as the perfect gateway drug into the world of mixing and beatmatching, the DDJ-FLX4 has all the familiarity and the  standardised layout you’ve come to expect across Pioneer DJ’s ubiquitous range of mixers and DJ products, but with an added sense of functional scalability that is sure to entice both beginner and intermediate/advanced users in equal measure.

With instant plug and play functionality courtesy of its class-compliant architecture, the DDJ-FLX4 is designed with convenience front of mind, ideal for anyone looking to get into mixing with a minimum of fuss. 

Connecting to a laptop via USB, the bus-powered DDJ-FLX4 interfaces with its associated software in a way which can really help fill in the blanks, in turn giving a leg up to beginners by visualising basic DJ concepts like cue functionality, crossfading, beatmatching, and transitions in a clear and concise way. With access to both Rekordbox and Serato DJ Lite software for Mac and PC as a download, the DDJ-FLX4 has everything you need to hit the ground running, with industry-standard folder navigation and plenty of handy little tricks up its sleeve.

For the more advanced user base, there is also plenty of flexibility in regards to feature sets and functionality, which makes it perfectly scalable regardless of your skill level. The minimal physical footprint is perfect for chucking in a backpack, for simple popup gigs and the like. An upgraded licence for Serato DJ Pro can also be purchased to unlock even more in the way of creative mix tools and handy tracking and syncing options.

Whether you want to connect to a PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, or an Android phone or tablet, the DDJ-FLX4 is compatible with all of the above, with Bluetooth functionality on its way with the next update for an even broader array of options at the input level. 

Along with the Hot Cue, Pad FX, and Sampler functions that make use of the eight touchpads beneath each deck, there are some cool additions in the mixer section that make it easier for the beginner DJ to pull a mix together faster than ever. The new Smart CFX knob, found just below the EQ controls in the central mixing panel, applies a combination of effects that can be dialled in and out to your liking. It kind of reminds me of the Effects button that was introduced on the early DJM mixer models in the back in the ‘90s. Great fun, with sometimes unexpected effects and no need to worry about adjusting features, just wind it up and let it whirl. 

For beginners, the ability to scroll through and cue potential tracks by order of BPM will definitely go a long way to help ward off those awkward silences, at the very least. With a host of streaming services working in conjunction with Pioneer DJ, you can have seamless library integration and access to Beatport, Tidal, Soundcloud, and more. Literally millions of tracks can be streamed directly to your laptop, so you shouldn’t have any issue filling the space.

But the real highlight with the DDJ-FLX4 has got to be the Smart Fader feature. Over the years we’ve seen the development of BPM matching and other functions to help create a seamless mix, but this has just taken it to a whole new level. Engaging the Smart Fader button allows you to use the crossfader as a ‘do it all’ mix feature. It adjusts the BPM of the outgoing channel to match up to the incoming channel, as well as adjusting bass volume and level of the two channels as you slide the fader across. This is applied to both the crossfader and the channel faders, depending on which method of mixing you prefer to use. It’s that simple.

For those new to DJ’ing, the smart fader is an excellent way to introduce mix ideas like cutting the lows/mids, FX builds, and other crossfading techniques into your repertoire or as a means to avoid potentially awkward segues from track to track under the pressure of public performance. As your confidence grows, a simple push of a button and the smart fader is now disengaged and the training wheels are officially off, much in the same way that intermediate DJs would disengage autosync on controllers past. 

DJ’ing has never been bigger than it is currently and with so much fresh blood entering the culture, it makes sense to provide a hardware option that offers a gradual, natural learning curve while maintaining the same sense of fun that drew us to DJ’ing in the first place. 

Almost like the DJ equivalent of bumper bowling, the DDJ-FLX4 is simple to get started with, but with an obvious and apparent means of growth as your skills progress and your outcomes change. As a vehicle for fast tracking this kind of progression, the DDJ-FLX4 is nothing short of ideal and its extensive library access and ease of compatibility offer plenty of selection options at the track level.

If this one isn’t on your Chrissy list already, there’s still time to drop a subtle hint or two. The box is even compact enough to be wrapped with a standard roll of Christmas wrapping paper. Pioneer DJ has optimised everything on this one.

Head to Pioneer DJ for more information. For local enquiries, reach out to Jands.