When buying a new DJ controller, you’re usually stuck with a device locked into one software platform. This has begun to change and Pioneer DJ’s newly launched DDJ-FLX6 is one of the few leading the charge. This model lets you use either Serato DJ Pro or Rekordbox, which is definitely a selling point. In addition, you get a sleek matte black style, a redesigned layout with Nexus system flourishes and two unique effects tools: Jog Cutter and Merge FX. If you’re preparing to plunk down some cash on a new controller in a relatively affordable price range, the $599 DDJ-FLX6 is an attractive and useful option, with a few caveats.
I’ve been using the Serato-enabled DDJ-SR2 lately, which has been a great controller. If you look around, there are lots of options that mix-and-match features and layout styles, so it takes some looking around to find what’s best for you. That’s still true here. First and foremost, you’re getting four channels, but you’re losing any outside inputs beyond a single USB connection (although it does double duty as a power cord). So if you’re using DVS or jumping between vinyl and digital, this is not for you. On a related note, you get two RCA outputs, one for booth and the other for master.
This hybrid style controller frees you up to work with Rekordbox and/or Serato, which alleviates that feeling of being locked into a single platform. This is said to be the third device, but only the second jog-wheel hybrid controller that’s been released, so it’s still a new thing. The XDJ-XZ is the other one, but that’s an all-in-one monster which costs around $2,300. The $599 price tag on the DDJ-FLX6 is in that sweet spot, where you get a solid full-featured product without breaking the bank.
On the outside, this is one sleek looking device. Its matte black exterior and less candy-colored accent lighting, gives it an air of professionalism. The large jog wheels, lower-right pitch controls and FX row that sits just to the right of your channels gives you a whiff of the high-end CDJ jog wheels and DJM mixer in the Nexus system.
If you’re already familiar with Pioneer DJ controllers, there’s not a ton that’s been changed except maybe a few features being moved around to different locations. Instead of FX knobs at the top of many models, the new FX row has a more subtle button system. Loop controls are on the top left of each deck and the top right real estate is now dedicated to the new Merge FX control.
Merge FX is a one-touch transition feature with presets made up of various filters baked together. It appears you can customize your own as well. It’s made to help you when you need a change up rather than a smooth beat match mix. If you’re switching styles or perhaps a new DJ has hopped on, this is a single touch effect to clear the air with big whooping or washing sounds. They can be slowed or sped up for dramatic effect with the twist of the knob depending on your progression.
After initiating this with your first press, the next one will give the effect a tail end so you can cross over smoothly. Usually you could fiddle with effects like echo to do something similar, but as automated features go, this seems effective and useful. And the ability to craft your own can set you apart. Regardless, though, don’t overdo it as this is best used sparingly.
The next feature unique to the DDJ-FLX6 is Jog Cutter. Likely similar to the Pad Scratch feature, it turns your jog wheel into an automated scratch maker, without all that skill and two-handed effort required. Well, that’s what it's billed as, but it can sound messy until you figure out how to properly employ it. I haven’t had much time to dig into this, but my quick testing has left me a little dubious on automated scratch effects. This could be a useful perk (with some practice), but likely not a selling point for most DJs.
If scratching is your thing, there are other features here that don’t fake it for you. Rekordbox users get quick access to sounds with Sample Scratch, while Serato DJ Pro users get Scratch Bank, both letting DJs trigger pre-loaded samples via the performance pads for scratching. When used in tandem with the dual-deck button for tracks three and four, you’ll be able to cut and scratch over your other running tracks easily.
Overall, this is a sexy looking DJ controller and the price is right if you only plan to DJ digitally from your computer instead of DVS discs and turntables. Having the option to use one or both software platforms gives you a bit of freedom, especially if other DJs will be joining you for the night and you’re not all on the same software. Although with only one USB input, your MC will have to cover for you during the switch over.