Pioneers latest controller is the first to offer true wireless playback of music and we feel is only the start of Wifi being incorporated into DJ equipment. The Aero is not aimed at the beginner DJ but the club DJ or house party DJ who knows exactly what they are doing but wants to show off at the same time.
This thing is covered in lights, from the platters lighting up to all sorts of buttons flashing away. The top of the unit has a glass look to it, its actually plastic but it looks great and shows you what wireless connections are happening with your Aero. The rest of the controller is the typical solid plastic Pioneer use for all their products but the controller has a nice weight to it. Not too light as to feel cheap but not too heavy to damage your back as you carry it around. This is also the worlds thinnest all in one controller as well.
The buttons have the typical Pioneer clickyness you’ve come to expect and everything is laid out much like other Pioneer Controllers. The platters have a smooth feel to them and are all new touch sensitive ones. We’ve got no complaints with the jog wheels, whilst not full sized like CDJs they are still of a large enough size to not be a problem. The screens are rather basic compared to what we’ve gotten used to from Pioneer lately. Featuring a monocrome display with blue lights, they only show you the most basic of information and allow you to select certain effects. The glossy surface of the Aero is a finger print magnet but the black colour and blue lights make this look amazing.
Pioneer have given us dedicated access to Rekordbox with this controller along with a dedicated mixer unit. So if you want to plug in a pair of CDJs or turntables you can. Pioneer are definitely keeping their trademark feel elsewhere on this unit with a light crossfader and heavy channel faders. The crossfaders feel okay, they are smooth in action but are a bit basic compared to the CDJ 2000s.
A nice touch last seen on the DJM 350 is the ability to record your mixes to a USB stick for playback later. No more clumsily connecting computers and various leads to try and record your mixes, you can do it all straight from the Aero with a single button press.
Theres four basic effects on the unit, flanger, roll, echo and transform that give you a bit of control over your mixes.
The jog wheel also features two unique functions, jog drum and sample launch. Jog drum is an easier way to engage samples. You select your sample and can then scratch or drum your samples directly onto the jog wheel. The sample launch allows you to control 4 samples preloaded onto each deck. This is great for DJs who want to show off and make a show of their mixes and works extreamly well.
This unit comes with a Sync button for each deck which has its fans and also its haters. Essentially it automatically syncs all tracks to the beat using rekordboxes music information. Now those who learned to beat match see it as DJs cheating, not learning the basics. But newer DJs see it as a way to make their lives easier, instead of wasting time beat matching they can spend more time mixing and showing off. We think its there if you want to use it, if you don’t then it won’t matter.
To upset DJs even more theres also an auto mix button. The unit will mix in tracks automatically, great if you have stand away from the decks for a moment but is it a step too far?
Now the main USP of this device is its wireless functions. The Aero allows you to connect up to four devices wirelessly from laptops to smart phones. Theres a few different functions. The first is using the Rekordbox app to control your deck wirelessly. You can queue up tracks and mix between them all from the comfort of your smart phone. A nice feature if you have to step away from the decks for a bit or we’ve even heard bar managers who know their DJing taking control of the decks from inexperienced DJs to make sure the right stuff gets played.
Its a nice idea but who really wants to DJ from a smart phone? Its a great way to show off but how often are you really going to need to use it? You want to be behind the decks being seen doing your thing, not playing with your phone.
The other thing you can do is have clubbers in the crowd send you their song requests and play music wirelessly from their device. All wireless inputs have to be pre approved so there is no worry someone will hijack your set but do you really want to get multiple requests for ‘Call me baby’?. Great idea for parties but in a club or pub environment maybe not such a good idea, whilst you can pre approve tracks you don’t know what you’re exactly getting till you play it.
Bars may find this a great idea, being able to send promos and offers straight to the DJ to play but this really is more a feature for house parties. The song is never stored on your controller but is streamed from the device. If the device goes out of range or the connection is interrupted an emergency loop of the song will play allowing you time to recover your set before anyone knows whats going on.
So is wireless a gimmick? We think it is a gimmick but can see its uses and think it can be a fun idea in the right environment. The build quality is top notch as you come to expect and this has some amazing features. The Ergo is Pioneers other new controller aimed at the beginner market so if you want something a bit more grown up then check out the Aero. The WeGo has just been announced and we’ll get a review of it up soon, so check back if you’re still unsure.