Shortly after releasing their new DJM-A9 mixer, Pioneer DJ has another unit in the pipeline. The Opus Quad is a four-deck standalone mixer with a whole new design.
It is rather bold, and the first sight of the Pioneer DJ Opus-Quad is quite remarkable. The design of the standalone unit differs significantly from standard models and strives for a dignified look.
The sides are trapezoidal, the lower edge is a bit curved, and the wide front panel oozes a retro appeal with its wooden look. There are also golden knobs and a clean, minimalist layout. All in all – everything about this unit screams flagship branding.
Opus Quad is not only a visual treat, but it also scores with sophisticated tech and is targeted toward boutique venues, mobile DJs, and premium at-home use, not club DJs, per se. However, club DJs will still have new alternatives in the future via the XDJ and CDJ lines.
First and foremost, the Opus Quad is Pioneer’s first genuine four-deck standalone controller.
It includes standalone playback from four decks and multiple sound sources, WiFi, Bluetooth, cloud play, a 32-bit D/A converter, numerous Pro-FX, and three large displays.
The two full-size jog wheels have been given a new look, which is a bit hectic on the eye. But that’s personal taste in the end.
However, Pioneer has a built-in color feature so that you can better control the different decks. Each deck can be assigned its own color for the LED lights in the jog wheels.
The mixer section offers the standard Pioneer DJ layout. Four channels with 3-band EQ, color, beat FX, and a 10.1″ touch screen that controls most of the functions.
The arrangement of the performance pads is new, and they are located above the jog wheels and have the “hot cue to temporary cue” feature.
Also new is the smooth echo function and the ability to use the screen as the X/Y axis for the effects.
This is another unique selling point for the Opus Quad, which catches up with the large controllers from Denon DJ.
When it comes to connections, we first find two USB-A ports for the sticks, one USB-C for various devices, and another USB-A port for external SSD drives.
One can access CloudDirectPlay from Rekordbox via WIFI, and tracks can be played directly from the mobile phone via Bluetooth.
Then there are the classic inputs and outputs for line-in, phono-in, and mic, master-out (XLR and RCA), headphones (6.3 and 3.5 mm), and booth-out. A unique feature is the zone-out, with which different music can be played in different rooms.
What I Love About Opus Quad
Four-channel, the all-in-one unit, is something everyone’s been desiring, and now, many people are complaining because of its design.
I think it looks pretty cool. It is missing a few things I’d want but also has some things I’ve been asking for – like the loop encoder and cue override/gate cue. It’s the most premium-looking unit Pioneer has ever made.
I like all of the extra room; nothing is cluttered. X-Y pad is cool.
We also finally got a unit with an electrostatic touch screen! The extra screens not being in the jog is fantastic.
I love that the FX encoder scrolls through the FX options on the screen. It’s easier on the eyes.
Although many people compare it to Prime 4, it is more of a high-end response to the SC Live 4, but with full-size jog wheels. Streaming, four channels, Serato, but with added features like Bluetooth and extra screens.
The most unexpected part of this to me is that, for the first time, a Pioneer controller has in/out buttons and an encoder for looping. Rather than the standard CDJ style In/Out/Reloop/0.5x/2x button setup, they’ve taken Denon’s loop section directly.
This is a shockingly significant deviation from how conservative Pioneer has been over the past 15 years in keeping that section the same. Just last week on r/DJs, someone was arguing that this same function was one of the causes that Denon will never be a proper alternative to Pioneer.
This is the first time in a while that Pioneer’s been forced to enforce some bolder designs across its consumer-end range, thanks to the competitors.
Five Disadvantages of Quad Opus
- No support at the beginning for Beatport, Beatsource, or Tidal streaming, even though it has a Wi-Fi card.
Pioneer DJ plans to add this “later this year,” although that could be a marketing lingo for them working on a licensing agreement.
- It doesn’t have Serato support until later in the year.
This is typical for Pioneer DJ equipment, but also, this also didn’t stop them from putting the Serato logo on the Opus Quad for release day!
- Loss of performance pads to only being hot cues
This doesn’t seem very smart. How will Stems integrate if we haven’t got the buttons to use them?
- No SPDIF output
The D/A converters in standalone CPU-powered units are not very sharp. If we’re playing digital files, we need a digital output.
Some people will indeed stick with the laptop/controller combo until they build an all-in-one unit with SPDIF output. Major oversight! Fine DAC, particularly the power delivery circuit, is so crucial and often overlooked. It can be a world of difference.
- No slip mode
No small cut scratches in the fill. You need to use the effects strip to slip roll, thus no slip roll plus FX.
Design (Personal Opinion)
Design is familiar enough and intuitive, yet updated to make people shut up about the lack of updates for the following ten years. Opus Quad is a preview/beta test prior to rolling out a fresh product line.
It’s a beautiful design for a high-end cocktail lounge and listening room-style wine bars or restaurant/club combo venues. I would never expect to see this at a festival or banging nightclub, but that’s not what it’s for.
Club/festival DJs with multiple residencies at the locales above will love this for the residency side of their DJ life.
The presentation can matter greatly when landing new high-end restaurant/rooftop bar gigs in a large city. This ticks that box in more ways than one.
I think it looks stunning, and I like the bold design choices. My guess is that in 4 years, standalone controllers will be the norm, and the future look of the entire Pioneer professional line-up will be based on this design.
I only wish they’d keep the same hot cue layout and maybe move other features into the screen as CDJ does. A small screen on top of the deck is also great, the black/gold accent is excellent, but maybe if they added less gold accent, it might look even better.
I’m also not a fan of the extra space on the sides and the way the button looks to the left of the main screen.
That being said, I don’t get all the fuss about the looks. Since when has DJ equipment been looking great? Since when has DJing been about displaying great-looking hardware? DDJs and CDJs never looked great. We’re just used to them.
I’ve tested some pretty good higher-end mixers in the last couple of years. I’d really like to talk more about the audio quality on this one as well.
But until I do more testing (Opus Quad just came out), I’ll just say that I found the sound to be of excellent quality.
The Opus Quad is equipped with a high-quality 32-bit D/A converter for high-resolution sound from ESS Technology. This company specializes in the highest-performance 32-bit audio DACs and ADCs, as well as complimentary products for state-of-the-art audio systems.
For the perfect sound on the dance floor, the Opus Quad uses the same 32-bit technology that is used in their professional mixers – the DJM V10 and the DJM A9.
The fact they’re using a “32-bit” sound card instead of a 16-bit or 24-bit indicates that they’re going out of their way to make it “sound” great.
Bluetooth capabilities are massive. Just think about gigs when you get a request, and you can run BT Spotify on one track and then mix in a downloaded song. This unit is like if the DDJ1000, RX3, and XZ had a baby.
The Opus Quad offers numerous connection options:
- You can connect Rekordbox USB sticks via the two USB A ports on the front.
- It has a fast USB 3.2 port on the rear, which you can use for rapid and large SSD data carriers.
- And USB C port which allows the Opus Quad to be used with Rekordbox in performance mode or with Serato from summer 2023.
All channels, including the mic, are also output via the USB sound card. So, for example, you can use these in streaming software.
The LAN port is also located on the rear. You can operate Rekordbox in link mode or connect the Opus Quad to the Internet.
The Opus Quad can also be connected to the Internet via the integrated WiFi interface, for example, to utilize the Cloud Direct Player feature.
This lets you access your whole music library from the cloud, provided you have a complimentary subscription. Except for Cloud Direct Play, the WiFi interface is perfect for wireless connection to computers, smartphones, or tablets to use Rekordbox in link mode.
The integrated Bluetooth feature also allows a wireless connection with a smartphone or tablet, for instance, to play music from streaming software.
New Database Format & Library
The Opus Quad operates with a different device library than CDJ and XDJ. As a result, the new format is particularly suitable for large libraries.
The Opus Quad uses a new SQLite Database format.
Both databases can exist in the same drive. Your USB will also work on all older pioneer gear. However, you won’t see any playlists if you don’t have the new database (Opus Quad) – just folders by artists.
The contents and the .DAT file containing your waveforms, cue points, etc., are shared between the two databases.
Also, you can choose to export to both formats simultaneously, so it doesn’t add any extra time to your export either.
Bouncing between equipment would be easy as long as the database file is on the drive. Basically, you can choose to export to one or both, and if you do both, you can jump from one to the other.
Essentially the two libraries exist side by side, and if we play on one and then bring our drive back to Rekordbox software, the history and modifications update based on the last one played.
To export your playlists in the new format, you just activate Device Library plus Export in the current Rekordbox version under Settings, DJ System Device Library.
You can deactivate the standard Device Library if you work exclusively on the Opus Quad.
Remember that the Opus Quad library cannot be used with other devices. Two library folders now appear in the Rekordbox device manager on your USB disk.
When exporting playlists manually, they’ll be exported to both libraries.
Suppose you don’t have a laptop to convert the library. In that case, the library can be restored on any computer with the current Rekordbox version and active Device Library plus support.
The original files don’t have to be on the laptop. Instead, you connect the USB disk to a PC or Mac on which Device Library Plus is enabled in Rekordbox preferences, and your disk will be displayed under Devices in Rekordbox.
There are two fundamental changes from previous units; effect selection and channel selection.
The beat FX is now selected via the endless encoder.
As soon as it is turned on, the list of available effects appears on the right side of the display. Also, the Channel FX Select is now integrated into the display.
On display, you can directly set on which channel the Beat FX should be used.
You can also choose whether the Beat FX should be applied to one microphone only or to both.
The Beat FX touch display is a new way to use beat effects. From left to right, the timing changes. If you want to go up, a high-pass filter is also applied. And down, a low-pass filter. The effect is held at the last position if you have activated Hold.
That gives you new effect possibilities. You can apply these intuitively if triggered and quantized.
You can store your four favorite effects in the FX bank for quick access – a pretty awesome thing to be creative with effects.
You can trigger Smooth Echo simply by pressing the On button. If you press and hold the button, the Smooth Echo settings appear.
On the Opus Quad, the triggers have been extended to include Hot Key and Cue Pause. The length of the echo can also be changed at this point.
A total of six sound color effects are available, which can be changed with the Color Effect parameter.
Jog wheels are where the best settings-first philosophy of the Pioneer comes into play.
They are mechanical jogs that function exactly like those found on the CDJ-3000. Scratching, pitch bending, and queuing are all pretty good.
And I really like the look, as the top surfaces are completely smooth with none of the texture found on CDJs.
And whilst I get the idea of making them super clean looking, that actually compromises to feel the tops are made with a slightly sticky feeling, almost rubbery finished to guarantee they’re still grippy.
That being said, I don’t enjoy the feel of that as much as I do the CDJ 3000 jog wheels.
So whilst I’m pleased with how they perform, there’s a bit of form-over-function present.
Overall, the jog situation feels just enough premium as it should on a $3,000 unit.
Multitouch and Deck Display
Let’s look closer at the different views on the multitouch and deck displays.
The default view is the waveform view. The active decks are always displayed with a large waveform. Here you can also turn the encoder to enlarge or reduce the waveform.
The whole waveform of the track is shown on the client previews and the separate deck display.
Shortcut – Here are decks, display, mixer, and recording functions. For example, you can activate the AutoQ function here.
Utility – Here, you can find all the essential device settings during the video.
Source – Here, you can see the available media. You can see available Rekordbox Link, Cloud, and Direct Play connections, or you can connect to performance mode.
Browse – You can navigate through the active media and browse the Rekordbox-defined categories and playlists. With the filter, you can search for similar tracks or filter tracks with MyTech information.
The search button is integrated into the display.
As with the professional unit CDJ-3000, Opus Quad has a second column and all sorting functions. With the info symbol, you open the further information window and the menu button, with which you can adjust the play status of the track. You can also modify the font size.
You can display up to 13 tracks simultaneously on the Opus Quad. You can navigate better with the new browser joystick and scroll with the endless encoder. By pressing up or down, you can navigate in playlists page by page. Pressing left plays the preview of the currently chosen track at the start. Pressing right starts the preview in the middle of the track.
Of course, you can also use the touch display to listen to your tracks. Just swipe your finger over the waveform of the track you want to hear.
Playlist – This will always take you to the last active playlist. You can also link up to four temporary playlist banks here. Just select a playlist and press an empty bank icon to delete banks. You can also press the trash can and then delete the bank.
You can tag a track at any time with the Tag Track button below. By pressing the button again, the tag is removed. All tagged tracks are then visible in the tag list.
Using the menu selection in the display, you can remove all tracks from the tag list or create a playlist. This will save it in the playlist directory of your active USB stick.
In principle, it’s a great idea and has received much praise as it’s something that the competition doesn’t have.
What concerns me is that you can choose which deck goes to zone three or four and load a track to it from within a playlist great, but it doesn’t switch into like a dedicated zone mode.
That deck still maintains all the general settings of the Opus Quad. So if you have a single-play mode set, it’ll stop at the end of each track.
Okay, so changing to continuous play mode is not my cup of tea, but I could live with it. But because if you have autocue enabled, and I’ve never met a DJ who doesn’t, then the track will still pause on load anyway.
Zone output is virtually worthless for feeding music to another area unless you’re only playing long-form pre-recorded mixes or are ready to compromise on performance elsewhere.
For me, this feature will only be helpful once Pioneer DJ develops a customized zone output playback mode for it, which I’m confident they must be planning as they have to know that this ++ setup just isn’t enough.
Zone out is the only new feature on the Opus Quad, which isn’t a success for me as much as I am thrown by the looks and tied to the traditional CDJ and DJM way of mixing.
Price & Conclusion
$3000 is a lot of money. But the first ones are always the most expensive. But $3000 is still less than a standard CDJ setup, so people will definitely buy this.
For full 4-channel USB standalone + Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity + being able to play different tunes to different zones justify that price difference in my books.
A 2-deck version will eventually come out, and maybe competitors will lower prices to $2000-$2500.
The price is perfect for those who like the look of Opus Quad and whose setup at home is, for example, just a DDJ-1000 on a console table.
Their only fear, though, should be this thing going to retail for like $6000 and therefore be way out of the realm of affordability for them.
People hate change. Workflow from CDJ/XDJ to the Opus has altered, but is it worse because of that? Likely not.
The colors and shape aren’t my favorites, and I prefer the “industrial” Pioneer design. Does that make it worse? No, it’s just preference.
The Opus is powerful, and I know we’d handle it well if we all played on one for a decent amount of time.
The Opus Quad development obviously came after the XZs & the CDJ 3000s. This is probably the design of the following CDJ series. We don’t have to “get it” now, but ultimately, we will.
I’m excited to see how Pioneer tackles the next CDJ cycles. It looks like, for the first time since, the CDJ-1000 Pioneer might be genuinely looking at putting a fork in the road and shaking up some of the conservative design philosophies they’ve kept for 20-odd years.
Especially given that Opus Quad has launched a new Rekordbox database system that will presumably start end-of-living some of the old CDJ hardware once it turns up on the next generation of CDJs.