Pioneer’s aspirations for the DJ booth may be bigger than they first appear. And one clue is hidden in the news of the CDJ-shaped DJS-1000 sampler.

Let me spell it out for you:

“Support for DJS-TSP Project Creator2 – easily create projects and SCENE3 files on a PC/Mac.”

Yeah. That’s a big deal.

(See the full report: Pioneer made a CDJ-shaped sampler – what does that mean for DJs?)

Look, the actual reality of this may not be all that exciting. I’m contacting Pioneer to find out what the DJS-TSP software even looks like; maybe it’s just a simple utility for dumping some samples and being ready to go.

And take this with a grain of salt: I don’t expect the DJS-1000 to radically change how producers make music or how people want to play live, even if it is a big hit. It’s expensive, and it’s not anything like a given that clubs will want to invest in something beyond decks, or that typical DJs want to do much more than mix tracks.

But consider that in a relatively short time, Pioneer have succeeded in making DJs playing off laptops something of the past. Rekordbox has changed the world, and now might well replace Traktor and Serato on computers. You may literally be mocked by a tech for even showing up at a gig with a computer. And many DJs are happy to switch to USB sticks instead, and not have to worry about whether a macOS update will make them flop in front of a crowd.

Two Berlin giants of music software might want to start thinking about what this means. Look, the computer is still invaluable in homes and studios, or for on-the-road production. Laptops are great for making music on trains and in hotel rooms, they’re probably sitting next to modulars and machines for recording, they’re where nearly everyone finishes tracks. They’re unassailable production tools.

But laptops are starting to look really vulnerable in live use. And part of the value equation of Ableton Live or Native Instruments Maschine is what they bring to live sets, not just to production.

What happens if Pioneer starts convincing some DJs to carry USB sticks instead of road cases?

This doesn’t mean a whole lot to, say, Elektron owners. And indeed, Live and Maschine have already lost ground in live sets to musicians choosing an Octatrack instead (among other rigs).

But consider that we are where we are partly because Native Instruments saw into a future where native software was key (alongside Waves, Propellerhead, and some other players). NI also was early to the digital vinyl control revolution (Traktor Scratch). And NI were a leader in developing integrated hardware/software designed in combination (Maschine). Ableton (with partners Akai and Novation) pushed the grid forward, and controllers as hardware accessory, then showed that a full-blown DAW could get such a controller (Push).

It’s peculiar they didn’t make the next leap into working out what that same code would do if it were paired with hardware. Would I buy portable, standalone gear from NI that made it easy to play live with Maschine or Traktor? Would I buy a Push that worked without having to be tethered to a laptop?

Well, obviously, I would – even at a price premium. And because of the loyal user bases here, such a move would be earth-shaking if one of these companies pulled it off (maybe in a way that Akai’s recent MPCs hadn’t yet achieved).

It’s very possible that Ableton, NI, and others can continue to compete in computer-tethered software alone. And maybe you’ll just bounce out loops from their tools to that Pioneer software to play on the DJS-1000. But it’s hard not to see a possible missed opportunity here – and some competitive vulnerability if Pioneer, with their massive resources, double down.

  • Chris Bartholomew

    Yeah as someone who’s been using Traktor’s Remix Decks for a few years (after a deliberate move away from Live for performance) – I’m really excited by the DJ1000s. I’m not sure they tick all my boxes (DVS control of transport anyone?) but it’s interesting seeing something that until recently you could only imagine in the techno scene being marketed by a much more mainstream company…

    • Chris Bartholomew

      ALSO, here’s hoping this leads to NI making a remix deck preparation application it’s so painful doing it in Traktor…

      • Yeah, it feels like we’re missing a lot in terms of where NI are going with Traktor. It’s obviously overdue for a software update. And we haven’t seen new hardware in a while, either.

        • Dubby Labby

          NI fired the iPad dev team but also seemed interesting on bring some new updates back (as new features seem to point). At this moment I don’t know what to expect but ai have clear what it should be.

        • Chris Bartholomew

          Yes, it is, but I’m (selfishly…) worried that they’re going to “refocus” Traktor in a way *I* don’t like. I’m genuinely scared for Remix Decks, especially as I have a fairly major rig which relies on them. I suspect even if/when 3 comes out, I may not be upgrading…

    • Dubby Labby

      Here one of those anyone… in the past. Nowadays my remix deck is called Launchpad app and the preparation tool is called Blocswave (Groovebox seems going in the same wave for midi lovers…)

      Time where transport control was needed has gone… but I still dream about the perfect turntable groovebox (standalone) which is more or less this Pioneer unit with DVS control (and under 800€ of course 😆 )

  • Robert Dorschel

    Still need a modern hardware sampler for *keyboard players* (with ADSR, polyphony, velocity layering, crossfade looping, and the works). With modern storage and RAM. I’ll keep posting this until one of the big boys catches on. Maybe a Roland S-50 Boutique? That would be nice.

    • Dubby Labby

      Check Beatmaker3.

  • In a way it’s strange that Apple or any other computer company are not aware that making a road proof computer makes as much sense as developing a Home Pod or a Watch.

    • Well, the new generation Surface Book Pro ought to count here, if you figure that a big part of the problem is really form factor. (And full-sized USB ports… which given that USB-C is turning into a debacle looks smart.)

      Actually curious on the Linux side if anyone yet got the touch drivers working.

      • How is USB-C turning into a debacle?

        • Check reviews for hubs and power, etc. … and issues with nonstandard implementations.

          I’d say a standard where you don’t know when you plug something in if it’ll work … or where accessories regularly overheat and malfunction almost as a rule … counts as debacle, at least for now. 🙂

          I do hope the accessory industry matures… and Intel and partners need to do something about making it clearer to consumers which USB-C stuff work with which.

          • Uhm, that’s interesting to read. I have never experienced any problems with any devices so far. But then again, I really only have a few basic use cases for it. Apart from the issues you mention, my personal impression is that USB-C is probably the most friendly to use USB standard ever. Having to fiddle with those damned micro-USB ports is even worse than the 50% chance you’ll try to plug in a USB A cable the wrong way…

      • It is so strange since the Atari 1040ST was meant for stuff like music. It even had a music port. Weird how things changed. No music specific computers anymore. Laptops are office machines.

    • Peter Principle

      there are industrial computers out there at expected prices. the market just isnt there for consumers to get the big players to bother

  • Well, for example: where have NI’s stems gone in this context? Does anyone know any numbers about how this concept was accepted by users/customers/consumers?

    • NI don’t release those numbers, I don’t think. Beatport are selling enough that they keep Stems on the main page – but remember, Stems are also more expensive than albums.

      Anecdotal evidence I have is pretty clear, though. Stems haven’t been a huge hit. The problem is that you take a subset of the Traktor audience, and that in turn is a subset of DJing in general – and that’s before you even work out whether this particular format is how people want to play.

      There may be a larger strategy at NI where Stems fit in the future… uh, maybe. I’ll at least comment on that strategy shift in a new story this week.

      • Stems is on the main page, you just need to scroll down. I think the biggest thing holding Stems back is that no other developers have adopted it. If CDJs could play them they would definitely gather more steam.

        • But that’s exactly the problem: If the technology/product does not appeal to users or if its value is not easily understandable or if it is not easy to use, people will not adopt it. So, basically, it was a technical exercise with a good idea to start with, but apparently nobody feels a need for this product.

          • PaulDavisTheFirst

            Actually, the real issue with Stems is that it was a deliberate over-simplification of something that, had it been done with more attention to the full possible scope suggested by the name (“stems”), might actually have been interesting. But the low track count limit pretty much shrank its potential audience by several orders of magnitude.

          • Hold on… no. 🙂

            The thing is, 4 tracks makes sense for limiting file size and making this a format for distribution. 4 tracks also makes sense because the point was to DJ with the result … and “four” is often a good number for live mixing. (It’s not enough for distributing to remix artists for studio production, etc. … not for every project, anyway. But that’s a different use case.)

            I think we have ample evidence for why STEMS didn’t fail, for other reasons:

            1. NI never got other major DJ product vendors onboard – I actually don’t have any evidence they really tried to do so. That limited appeal to Traktor users, which in turn limits the market for tracks.

            2. NI’s own hardware and software lagged in providing compelling ways of working with the material. Even many Traktor users were left either needing to buy new hardware or do some custom setup … and then I think it’s questionable whether the results were of interest.

            3. The most likely use case for STEMS in the mass market – something that might drive download sales – would tend to be tracks *with vocals*. (Think pop, pop remixes.) But… I don’t think I saw any content that looked remotely like that. Instead, STEMS pushed existing DJ tracks, and DJs already know how to mix those in stereo, without breaking down components.

            Basically, NI tried to reverse decades of DJ technique using filters and the like with a new format before anyone was sure whether it was something anyone wanted … and then declared a standard without anyone major apart from NI actually supporting it.

            Yes, I would put that explanation up against the 4 track problem. 🙂 It wasn’t a DAW distribution format, it was a DJ distribution format.

      • That’s exactly what I thought it would look like…

  • squirrel squirrel squirrel

    I think “embedded” DAW-like software is inevitable at this point. Looks how good ARM processors are now (the iPhone 8/X has faster benchmarks than some current MacBooks). I don’t know if it will be Ableton, NI, or someone else, but a standalone Push-like device with full Live-like capabilities is inevitable. The Octatrack is quite nice but it’s still so bloody awkward. It’s great for jamming but not for writing. I think we’ll see much more advanced hardware/software integration in the next generation or two.

    The biggest factor holding it back is that our market is very small so big investments in such dreamy theoretical devices is extremely hard for manufacturers to pursue. Compared to universally desired products like the iPhone, when there’s so much market segmentation and the unit runs are so comparably low, that the investment and payoff potential is limited. I have no idea how many units of Maschine/Push/MPC/etc are sold but I can’t imagine it’s massive.

    • Peter Principle

      how easily can traktor or ableton be ported to ARM-based environments? Unless Ableton Live is already going through a massive rewrite, it might be difficult for them to transition to stand-alone hardware. This is where bitwig might make a surprise move, although their much smaller staff is probably already stretched with the desktop version. Novation could be a good partner or perhaps develops their own and I could imagine inmusic pumped money into akai if they thought they could enter this race

      • I don’t know the specifics with Ableton, but the key parts of music software – the parts you’d want to port to new devices – are generally written in platform-independent C. Where frameworks are in use, they typically are related to graphics and/or are already available on ARM.

        Processor architectures probably aren’t the obstacle. Now, marketing, design, business case, other engineering issues … those are. I think the biggest obstacle is just deciding what such a product should look like.

        And let me be clear – I don’t mean to armchair quarterback here. I’m just describing the user perspective, and commenting on the significance of Pioneer being able to make USB sticks popular as mobile DJ devices.

        It’s certainly possible for these companies to make products that are standalone, and possible for them to reuse code in doing so. It’s down to what product they would make in that instance.

        • Peter Principle

          yea, what would a competing product even look like? Pioneer really has the upper hand in that their cd players are already in every booth. Like the technics turntables before, it will have to take a wildly different product to change the market

          • Oh, not competing with the CDJ.

            There are *plenty* of ways to do standalone live hardware. Elektron has demonstrated that for years. Akai has of course re-entered this market.

            Tethering products to the computer may not be the only way to do this. 😉

          • Peter Principle

            I mean more that integration and fighting for space in a booth is already in Pioneer’s hands. NI is definitely competing with the CDJ and I think any other players in the game will have to as well. I know ,there were at times superior cd players from technics or denon or whoever which did not win out, but it will be more difficult to get a customer to consider some other sampler when the have already invested in CDJs. Some totally new interface option might be better suited for playing back long samples. There was an initial reluctance to manipulate platters smaller than 12″ and here we are. Will be interesting to see how this all develops.

        • Dubby Labby

          The middle-stone could be iPads and even more if you can edit your library on-the-go (traktor dj app remember?) and also fills the “novation” checkbox. The fact I can do more with Novation apps and hardware than this (32 second sample limit wtf?) unit for less price and still play with Ableton or NI… but then reality strikes back when djs who didn’t can afford Pioneer gear try to compite in that league instead looking into market shift.
          I expected new maschine mk3 being full class compliant and new iMaschine app… but ATM just the audio interface like Z1. Maybe there is hope? Anyways NI has to move forward and fast because Pioneer is doing its homework step by step.

          About software companion for this gear… it doesn’t seems a full DAW or even being integrated with Rekordbox at release time (a sign of new Pioneer era those delays and unfinished products) but maybe they update here and there to fill all those gaps. Maybe is Pioneer cooking a mobile app? Could make sense…

          Meanwhile I will keep myself with Launchpad (hard&app), Blocswave and Groovebox (the last evolving quite well and fast) and buy more hardware to complete my set x86computerlessss. It’s not perfect, it’s not for everyone but gives me the 90% of what I need from computer setup and 100% of anywhere-finding needs.

          Good article!

      • PaulDavisTheFirst

        Ironically the best first step in any such effort is to get your software running on Linux, which runs better, cheaper, faster on embedded systems that almost any other candidate for this purpose.

        But of course, all the fans have been insisting for the last 15 years that Linux wasn’t a thing. Oh well.

        Bitwig, at least, already runs on desktop Linux.

        And for the record, one of the founders of Waves told me back in 2002 that one of the most important things for the audio tech industry to do was to get out from under the yoke of Microsoft and Apple. Unfortunately, almost nobody has had the guts to make the move.

        • Peter Principle

          I switched to linux a number of years ago and where I can understand that the audio software industry hasn’t is that even something like ubuntu will sometimes require some really nerdy skills to function. DJs and musicians do not want to use the command line when something stops working or to set it up in the first place. It is getting there, but taking time.

          • PaulDavisTheFirst

            You misunderstood me. I was not suggesting that people should be using desktop Linux.

          • I believe this is the year of … a decent embedded linux box for music 😀

            Anyway, Akai Pro obviously got the memo. (Confirmed: after all the hoopla, it isn’t Windows.)

          • seriously, though, unlike the desktop Linux thing, I think this one is inevitable…

            A lot more makers already moving to ARM, so the convergence will just happen. Plus some plug-in devs are going to work out, rather than be dependent on someone else’s platform and share those revenue and deal with piracy and have to make a value proposition for a thing with no physical form…

            Wellllll….

  • Craig Stainton

    I’m quite excited by this as it is a step towards solving some real problems for people who play live in clubs.

    The problem with a computer is that there are multiple possible points of failure: the OS, the hardware, the DAW, the plugins, the soundcard (and maybe soundcard driver) and the MIDI controller (and maybe a driver for this). For a lot of people many of these items are made by different companies, and aren’t guaranteed to work well together. That is a lot of moving parts and a single software update might bring the whole things crashing to a halt.

    Aside from that a person doing a live set typically has to bring most of their equipment themselves. There are a few ‘standards’ that can be sourced by the promoter (classic drum machines, a mixer) but generally there is no such thing as a standard set up, so you have to bring your own, risking theft or damage to the equipment.

    Contrast that with a DJ’s experience. The decks, CDJs and mixer are all the responsibility of the promoter or club, so they have no responsibility to fix anything that goes wrong. They may decide to bring records or they might just turn up with a USB hard drive. This is currently only a dream to those folks dragging half their studio through airports and then having to wire it all up again before the gig.

    This new device levels the playing field a bit as you can just bring your sample based sets on a USB stick. You know the hardware is someone else’s responsibility to maintain, and all the parts listed above are made by the same company – a company that has a reputation to protect and can’t get away with shrugging its shoulders and pointing at someone else. At most you might decide to bring a couple of other synth modules to plug into the MIDI out and add something extra while the DJS does the heavy lifting.

    Of course all this only works if these things actually take off. But they do solve some very real problems.

    • Elekb

      You bring up VERY relevant issues, but I think your comment is valid mostly for DJ’s. However, when it comes to musicians, keyboardists / other instrumentalists who add electronics (synths. samplers, laptop) to their setup: modularity is key, there will probably never be a “standard” type of gear for these performers because of the very nature of their work (i.e. each musician ends up developing their own controllerist workflow)… But maybe there is some sort of solution for that issue right in front of my nose and I’m just not seeing it!

      • Dubby Labby

        Simplification and self-honesty. I don’t need a Tyros or Pioneer due I’m a hobbist and iPad suits better my needs… there are dedicated solutions like ketron or Aleph pseudo computer but the multipurpose balanced machine still is the MacBook. The issue become when Apple started to left musicians aside and intel stagnation. We are in some kind of omega point where the scar between PRO market and bedroom is getting so and so huge… and some people will start to change priorities. Almost my gut say so.

        • Elekb

          Agree.

          “the multipurpose balanced machine still is the MacBook.” I would have phrased this differently: the multipurpose balanced machine is the laptop / computer. Surface and Asus ZenBook and similar non-Mac setups are just as effective (when configured correctly)

          • Dubby Labby

            Could be but the macbook seems the standard defacto due to macOS. I don’t see to many djs with any other computer (surface or any) as alternative. These as platform were usually the “professional choice” being easy to debug without too much fragmentation (almost in the past). Not being fanboy (I have sold my mac mini because it wasn’t worthing the cost vs revenue anymore) but I will not risk a dj gig using a windows machine. Before that I will go for standalone route sacrifiying “features” going more simplified setup (and taking note about my own advices lol)
            That’s why used deliberately the “macbook” word instead “ultraportable” or “ultralaptop”. MacOS still makes a difference.

    • NoNoy

      It brings up other issues though. While it will remove some of those points of failure, it’s still a computer so many will remain. But, since it’s tied directly to the hardware, you’re going to have obsolescence issues and more problems if/when it goes sideways. The software on it is going to be the software on it forever. They might be able to do some small updates, but that’s it.

  • wndfrm

    ..perhaps one shouldn’t be updating their OS on the road.. 😉

    • Actually, there were specific DJ software issues with a whole string of Mac updates for, like, years, if you want to get into it. 😉

      • Elekb

        No, let’s NOT get into it… 😉

  • heinrich zwahlen

    The cost point for this kind of hardware is going to be an issue for many people and that includes paying top dollars to go to mega clubs or festivals. I think smaller undergound venues that allow for experimentation are the future for electronic performance as big room edm gets duller and mot fotmulaic by the year…and in these places laptops are here to stay.

  • kobamoto rin

    too little credit given to akai and pioneer, they are both making moves and akai which has been written about the least has been making the biggest moves of all… I predict a more streamlined stand alone mpc, something more flatter and sexy but just as powerful as the mpc live, something that is much lighter since computer parts are so cheap and feather weight laptops are the norm these days… I predict a stand alone mpc that will be super light that peeps will want to keep on their person in their bag with them everywhere they go. they will be able to do quite serious production and use the same instrument for their live sets…. and pioneer will either follow with something similar or beat akai to it. It’s simply astonishing the bang for buck you get for $950 today in the mpc live… it’s a no brainer! and that’s even in spite of it’s shortcomings.

    • Dubby Labby

      Hi Kobamoto!
      You have described an iPad. :trollface:

      Glad to see you here giving your POV, mate.

      • kobamoto

        lol, whats up Dubby. the iPad is a little too thin, but I mean something like the akai mpx16 it’s already have way there in the form factor department… they could put a better screen on it, a better pad arrangement etc… I mean just look at the I/o on it already…. if akai is smart they will make the next mpc looking like this. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_VBP8m6KiTY

        • Dubby Labby

          I got it from the first and I agree but thanks a lot for put more light on it. This is a great “topic” and I hope some innovation should emerge in some moment. The mpc live took too much time to came alive and there is still room for improvement in standalone market. The same is applicable to Rc505 and 64grid based instruments.
          ATM the only thing makes me believe we are in the 21th century is Roli Seaboard…

          Cheers mate!

  • mikefunk

    I fucking hate Traktor now. It’s utterly unreliable piece of crap. I invested hundreds hours in this software and all I dream now is to dich my laptop. But pionner gear is outdated. DENON showed how new era player should look like but it’s not a standard. Pioneer is doung other gear now. So really currently there is nowhere to go.

    • Dubby Labby

      The last sentence makes a huge point and also answer why S8 hasn’t jogs (for better or wrong)

  • not a random user

    You can download and check Pioneer Project Creator here:
    https://www.pioneerdj.com/en-us/support/software/djs-1000/

    It allows you to organize your samples and share session or project data between SP-16 and DJS-1000