I’m excited I got to review the Roland DJ-202. It is a great beginner DJ controller with tons of little features that all add value. The controller has two channels and four decks, large plates optimized for scratching, is compatible with iTunes, and has some classic Roland drum kits included. Basically, this is the perfect controller for a beginning DJ.
It’s time to take a closer look if you want to master this craft. The Roland DJ-202 was designed for use with Serato DJ software and comes with Serato DJ lite. However you can use it with any DJing software. This software is great for beginners but has functionality missing. Anyone truly interested in getting the most out of the device will have to look into a full Serato (or other DJ software) purchase.
This controller contains all the features you would expect on a controller. You can load tracks quickly into either channel by selecting them onscreen using a knob and loading via the load button for each channel. Each channel has EQ for adjusting high, low, and mid frequencies, as well as a basic filter and volume control. There is a crossfader for controlling the mix of the two channels, as well as volume controls for master volume and headphone volume. But the cream of the crop is the fact that it’s a 4 deck controller allowing you to mix 4 songs at once. This feature gives this controller great value. Usually quad decks start emerging around the $350 price point.
One of the best features of this controller in my opinion are the spin plates. The plates are highly responsive to touch and sturdily built. It’s easy to generate a number of highly impressive scratching effects with a light touch of the plates. Although the controller itself is very lightweight and portable, the plates are solid and perfect for scratching.
Each channel has a bank of effects. You can assign these in the Serato software. Common audio effects such as flange, echo, chorus, phaser, etc. can be easily loaded to buttons above the spin plates. A total of three effects can be loaded at a time and these effects can be easily changed onscreen via the software. Basically this means you can create tons of original effects. You can toggle effects with these buttons and change the level of effects with a potentiometer knob. The tempo of each channel can also be adjusted using a slider in the upper right hand corner. Temp control can be a bit tricky especially for beginners, however there is also an option to sync the two channels, which will automatically calculate and match the BPMs of the two channels.
Each channel has a set of eight pads at the bottom. You can use these pads to store loops and samples for easy use. The pads can be loaded with looping portions of the track or one shot samples. These can be fired at will and the program handles the timing. This controller has several classic electronic drum kits included. With this you get even more value. You can assign these kit samples to the performance pads. The control scheme of this feature is a little difficult to get the hang of. But once you figure it out, it’s very easy to create original drum patterns to play over your mix. You can load and assign your own additional sample banks. You can insert drums live with the pads while a sequence is playing and the software will play them in time. This is perfect for learning controllerist DJing.
Although it is not required, additional features of the controller can be accessed by upgrading to the Pro version of the Serato software. Among these features are the option for you to record live DJ performances and to cue loops and effects in advance. You need to upgrade to get usage access to the two additional decks within Serato. However, even the basic features of the lite version are more than enough for a beginner to create professional sounding mixes with only a small amount of practice.
The Final Word
All in all, this is a fantastic entry-level controller for anyone who wanted to get into DJing. This is a great all around controller for multiple different styles.
The Roland DJ-202 DJ Controller is a great piece of DJing equipment. It is perfect for a beginning DJ looking to learn the craft. The controller is portable and packed with enough features for professionals looking for a mobile set up. Probably the best overall feature of this controller is the spin plates; these plates are very sturdy and well built with the perfect touch response. If you’re looking to get into scratching, this is a great controller to get started on.
The four decks for the price point are amazing as well. Mashups and party mixes take on a whole new magnitude of possibilities when you can use four samples at once. With on the fly customization the drum pads are great if you’re looking for a more controllerist path. The lite Serato version included with the controller has everything you need. But additional features are only available when you upgrade to the Pro version.