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The Definitive Answer to the Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB3 vs DDJ-400

By Ferdi Vol
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Choosing the right DJ controller can be hard in itself but choosing between 2 of the best beginner DJ controllers from Pioneer can especially be very hard.

There are tons of features that make up a controller and it's hard to know who it is exactly for at first glance. I have stacked up these controllers to each other to

So, which is better, the DDJ-SB3 or the DDJ-400? It depends, you should go for the DDJ-400 if you want to play with Rekordbox DJ and have the best overall experience with the same layout most club gear has. Go for the DDJ-SB3 If you're a scratch-nerd and want to play with Serato DJ.

If you want to have a general overview of the Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB3 vs the Pioneer DJ DDJ-400 you can watch the video below.

If you want to read some more in-depth information about both you can read on where we discuss all the differences, the software they use, and who it's for.

Should You Even Pick the Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB3 or the DDJ-400?

Yes, you definitely should. Both controllers are of exceptional quality, sound great and come from a reputable brand. They are both great entry-level controllers great for DJs starting out.

Something to note is that Pioneer DJ gear also offers great sound quality which is something to value highly.

If however you want to go with something a little bit cheaper or you want to go with a Traktor DJ controller I have made an article with the best DJ controllers which you can read.

Differences

Jog wheels

One of the first things that catches the eye is the jog wheels. The ones on the Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB3 are Gray and on the DDJ-400 they are black. I personally like to look of the DDJ-400 better than the DDJ-SB3.

The DDJ-400 jog wheels also offer a rubberized ring on the edge of the jog wheels which lets you comfortably grip the sides when you're beatmatching your songs.

Apart from these subtle differences, the jog wheels are almost exactly the same. They are both very nicely made and offer enough weight and resistance for you to scratch or scroll through songs with.

Effects

A strong point for the Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB3 because they have the effects section in the upper left corner per deck. This is a very standardized layout and has proven to be easy to use. You can just preset 3 effects per deck and you're ready to go. Great for a beginner DJ.

The Pioneer DJ DDJ-400 make it look like 2 decks and a mixer because the effects within the mixer section. I personally dislike this because I think it looks more ugly but that's something that is totally different for everyone.

What isn't is the use of the effects. The DDJ-400 makes is harder to use due to the extra step needed to look at the screen which effect you have selected and the extra step of selecting the right deck.

The blue buttons though, is bigger and easier to spot on the DDJ-400 than the smaller black and red buttons of the DDJ-SB3.

Tempo faders

The tempo fader of the Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB3 is located in the top right corner per deck which is a more unusual place and also a bit out of reach for ultra-precise operation.

Combined with a very small tempo fader to top it up with it's simply way worse than the layout of the Pioneer DJ DDJ-400 which have the tempo faders located in the lower right corner per deck which is the standard club layout.

They are also 1,5 - 2x as big as on the DDJ-SB3 which means you can have more precise operation of the tempo faders.

This is something that is important for beginner DJs because little differences in the BPM means that you have to mix quicker or constantly adjust the beat match of the song with the jog wheels.

Something you don't want to focus on all the time as a beginner DJ.

Performance pads

The performance pads of both the Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB3 and the DDJ-400 are very good and offer a range of features.

The cue and play buttons are the same or nearly the same as the real Pioneer CDJs. The other buttons in the performance pads section also feel very solid.

There are, however, a few differences which are the features itself associated with the performance pads because they both use different software.

For the Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB3, the basic functions are hot cue, sampler, beat jump, roll, slicer, and trans.

There are also 2 other functions that are unique for this controller. These are the fx fade and pad scratch. The pad scratch feature is something that really makes the DDJ-SB3 a different controller.

Because it lets you do some pre-recorded scratches from DJ Jazzy Jeff, you will read more about DJ Jazzy Jeff and his collaboration at the Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB3 section

Looping section

The looping section of the Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB3 is a fairly basic one but with enough features. It has a convenient auto-loop button and 2 smaller buttons which will half or double the loop length.

By pressing shift you can also use the manual in and out loop function if you want to have a loop of a certain length.

The Pioneer DJ DDJ-400 takes is to another level with its looping section. It is just like the one of the club DJ gear like Pioneers CDJs. The yellow buttons can be pressed for instant manual in and out loops and can be adjusted with the shift button as well.

You also have a shortcut for a 4 beat loop because 1 button is fully dedicated to that. Lastly, you can also half and double the loop length with the use of 2 buttons and you have the option to let the DJ controller remember the loop.

Mixer

Both DJ controllers have features like the filter, headphone cue buttons, load buttons, browse, EQ section, channel level headphone level and master level.

The Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB3 has the more traditional looking mixer that has all the features that you need. The layout looks like a lot of Pioneer DJ gear which is a great thing. In my opinion, it also looks better.

The Pioneer DJ DDJ-400 has a more standalone mixer like layout. Apart from the effects section that is has there it also have things in another layout like the headphone control section.

Finally, it has 1 more feature which is the headphone mixing knob. You can use this to gradually mix the song playing through the deck with the song playing on your headphones to check if your transition will be the way you want tit to be.

Software

The Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB3 comes with Serato Lite and the DDJ-400 comes with a full license of Rekordbox DJ. Both are great software and are among the top of the DJ software.

Both versions have all the features the controllers need but if you want to go with other controllers the Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB3 might hold you back.

The full license of the Rekordbox DJ software means that you can easily upgrade your gear and still have all the features supported. Something else that is better is the synchronization with the software clubs use which is also Rekordbox DJ.

If you want to know how Serato DJ vs Rekordbox DJ stack up to each other I have made an article for you to read.

4 deck support

Only the Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB3 offers 4 deck support and even with a simple push of a button. This will let you create advanced mixes on an entry-level DJ controller.

Though, 4 deck support isn't necessary for beginner DJs out there. 95% of your mixes can be done on 2 decks. If you ever feel like a more professional DJ chances are high that you will buy a more capable controller anyway.

Separate Reviews

Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB3

If you want a separate review of the DDJ-SB3 in video form you can watch the following video below. Under the video, I will go into more depth for who the DDJ-SB3 is for and why you should go for it.

The Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB3 is an amazing entry-level controller from Pioneer for the real scratch-nerds. This is because DDJ-SB3 is made in close collaboration with DJ Jazzy Jeff.

A great DJ which really knows his stuff. This collaboration really shines with the features this controller has over other controllers.

Scratch feature

In line with DJ Jazzy Jeff comes the pad scratch feature. This is something that is great for beginner DJs to know what great scratches sound like and are great because you can easily fiddle around with them and implement them into your sets.

Serato DJ Lite

The DDJ-SB3 comes with Serato Lite which is some rock-solid DJ software. It has all the features you need for the controller and offers some more in-depth scratching with the performance pads which is something really nice for those scratch-nerds.

Pioneer DJ DDJ-400

If you want to watch a separate review and lookback of the DDJ-400 where you will see if it's still the best beginner controller for DJs. Under the video, I will go into more detail about who the DJ controller is and why you should get it.

Algoriddim DJ

The DDJ-400 has become an official partner for Algoriddim DJ. So if you want to start out djing on an iPad and then step your way up to a laptop but still struggle with the best Apple iPad DJ apps I have made an article for you to read.

If you want to play on an Android tablet however, I have made an article for that as well about the best Android tablet DJ apps for you to check out.

Layout

The Pioneer DJ DDJ-400 offers a natural-looking layout that is used in most clubs as the club-standard layout. This is something really nice if you plan to upgrade with other controllers or if you regularly play on club or club-like DJ controllers.

Rekordbox DJ Full License

The Pioneer DJ DDJ-400 comes with the full Rekordbox DJ license. It is also a rock-solid djing software which became more and more stable over the years and is used as the club standard.

It has all the features that the controller has and more if you plan to upgrade later on.

So it's your choice to go with the Pioneer DDJ-400 or the DDJ-SB3. If you want to go with the Pioneer DJ DDJ-400 you can click on this link to get it online.

If you want to go with the Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB3 you can click on this link to get it.

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About DJ Pro Tips
DJ Pro Tips is a website that has the goal to make you a better DJ by providing useful and accurate information.
About the Author
Ferdi Vol is a DJ for several years and is here to share his passion with you.
About Ferdi Vol
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