Music Tech & Art

Pioneer RMX-1000 Remixbox

via Pioneer, that best-known brand of DJ hardware, wants you to use hardware alongside software. And they’re uttering the word “remix” rather than “DJ.” And they have something that really doesn’t look like a CDJ, so much as a remote control for a spaceship carrying CDJs.

It seems to be something of a trend. We saw earlier this week Native Instruments emphasize the word “remix” in their DJ product line, as in live-remixing music. And NI, along with offerings from almost every other DJ vendor and quite a few impressive homebrewed solutions, work with hardware/software combinations to build more elaborate live performances.

Now, Pioneer has a new horse in the race. The hardware looks completely different from what we’ve seen elsewhere – and it doubles as standalone hardware for effects and sampling, too. It might lead some to a kneejerk “toy” reaction, just because of this novel design and its preset push-buttons, but Pioneer has some very loyal DJs in their … stable. (Okay, obviously the appearance of sun and spring has me thinking about the Kentucky Derby or something. Moving on…)

Pioneer is taking hardware effects and packing them in a package you can use with software or on its own. Their RMX-1000, they say, is three devices in one. This product has so many ideas going on at once, I lost count as to what those three were, but I would count them as effects, sampling, and dedicated DJ controller.

Here’s where the whole thing gets rather fun. Because the RMX is a stand-alone hardware unit, you can use it as an effects unit and sampler, only returning to software when you’re back in the studio. Pioneer has offered impressive effects before, but the only way to get at them was in high-end mixers. Now, you can buy this unit for a price that starts to make this look like high-end competition for things like a KAOSS Pad. And that could put it on the radar of producers and not just DJs.

Europe: The product is due in May for 599 GBP/699 EUR, including VAT.
USA: June, US$999. (Actually, for once I think Europe gets the more favorable price.)

The whole thing is customizable, says Pioneer, so much so that they’ll also provide for download presets by DJs Chuckie, Kissy Sell Out, Kutski, James Zabiela, Doorly, and Laidback Luke, in a play to some name recognition for DJ youngsters. They emphasize “macro” controls that give you push-button access to more complex effects. On the other hand, it appears for fans of those effects, you could go in and do some customization of your own.

Now, those names aren’t going to make everyone happy, but where the box looks impressive is in the effects macro department. Specs:

  • SD card storage for presets.
  • Scene FX: macros for up to ten effect types. Set a type (Noise, Echo, Spiral Up, Crush Echo, Spiral Down, Reverb Down, or something customized), and use that big knob for wet/dry.
  • Time and Resonance parameters.
  • Isolator FX (think EQ, in the terminology of Pioneer’s DJM-1000 mixer).
  • Cut/Add, Trans/Roll, Gate/Drive dynamic effects.
  • X-Pad sampling with pitch controls, from the DJM-900nexus mixer. Sample right into a drum slot (kick, snare, clap, hat), then roll the samples. Overdub, roll, mute.
  • Quantized sampling.
  • Release FX – basically, you use “spin back,” echo, or break effects to cut out effects temporarily or for good.

And it’s a USB MIDI controller.

And it’s a controller for Pioneer’s own DJ software (VST and AU).

All of this could be a good thing. Or you can subscribe to the thinking of an anonymous commenter (under the alias Massive Double Facepalm) on the NI post from earlier this week, and instead declare:

awesome more tools for tools to totally fuck over a mix by thinking theyre actually creative producers n shit – theres so much good music out there that speaks for itself and only needs a monkey to layer and blend. Seriously, fuck this shit and the never ending legion of DJs. LOL – DJ’s – LOL

Tech specs:

Inputs RCA x 1
6.3 mm jack x 1
Outputs RCA x 1
6.3 mm jack x 1
Other ports USB B port x 1
Sampling rate 48 kHz
A/D and D/A converter 24 bit
Frequency response 20 Hz – 20 kHz
Total harmonic distortion Max. 0.005%
S/N ratio 102 dB
Head room 20 dB
Software remixboxTM, RMX-1000 Plug-in
External dimensions
(W x D x H) 334 x 157 x 57 mm
Mass 1.3 kg

“Spiral up.” I’m telling you: spaceship controls.



Montreal-based DJ and the founder (2007) and 24 Hours of Vinyl (2011).