Pioneer DJ is shaking things up, with today's announcement of their new piece of live performance gear. The TORAIZ SP-16 is a new sampler and step-sequencer, with Pro DJ Link support for perfectly timed/quantized one-shots and loops in conjunction with a Pioneer CDJ setup.

This standalone unit requires no laptop, in typical Pioneer form. It includes a 7″ high-res touch screen, 16 powerful sampler engines, velocity-sensitive beat pads (as seen on higher-end DDJ units), and 16-voice polyphony. As the icing on the cake, the SP-16 features analog filters by Dave Smith, borrowed from the iconic Prophet-6 synthesizer.

An exciting announcement, for sure. This is Pioneer's first foray into “production” gear, though it is designed to be easily integrated into a Pioneer CDJ workflow for DJs.


Initial Thoughts

I've gotta say, this one grabs my attention.

As someone who is fully invested in NI gear, both from a DJ and production standpoint, this unit represents a level of simple integration of the two workflows that many of us have longed for with, say, MASCHINE and Traktor Pro. This is the first time in a while that I've given some thought to migrating to the “Pioneer way”.

The unit will be released this Summer for $1499… a price point which I've seen a lot of people complaining about already, but I find completely acceptable. When I look at something like my Maschine Studio (about 1100 bucks) and my Kontrol S8 ($1199), I can't say the price seems unreasonable. We're not exactly comparing apples and oranges, there (and you're still likely to pair this with costly CDJs), but we're also talking about complete standalone operation. Leave the laptop at home.

The unit also offers a much better filter system than your typical DJM (for example), having taken the analog low/high pass straight from the Prophet-6 thanks to a collaboration with Dave Smith.

The 16-step sequencer allows us DJ/producer types to easily drop sounds into 16-step loops, and modify/modulate those sounds via the knobs below the touch screen. The screen itself allows the browsing and loading of samples, live waveforms, and details of the samples being played.

You can also load up to 16 samples/loops on to the velocity-sensitive drum pads (which change colors to indicate the sample being referenced). Imagine, having the traditional sequencer running along the bottom, while simultaneously “live” drumming on the pads. No need for double duty.

If you have a CDJ (or XDJ) setup, the SP-16 will snap to the beat of your master deck. Now, you'll be able to layer multiple sounds and/or loops over your running decks and everything will stay in perfect sync. Pioneer has even said that they will add connectivity options for DAWs and synths in the future.

SP-16 top view

The unit also comes with 2GB of Loopmasters content, onboard. Jump in and start creating right away.

In an extended interview video released by Pioneer, Dave Smith explains why the analog filters are so special, the character and personality that it adds, and what he thinks the Sp-16 will mean for the future of DJing.

Dave is no joke… he is an engineer who has pioneered (ha) many different music-related technologies, and is largely credited for his role as the “Father of MIDI”.

Check out the interview here:

Press Release

We’ve poured more than 20 years of electronic music industry experience into our first sampler to create a versatile sound machine. Load samples via USB or from the internal memory; then use the 16-step sequencer to create patterns, or playback loops or trigger one-shots with the multicoloured Performance Pads. And if you’re connected to CDJs via Pro DJ Link, everything is synced to the beat of the master deck, so you can get creative with confidence.

We’ve partnered with the legendary synth creator Dave Smith to add his Prophet-6 analogue filters to the sampler, so you can give your creations a rich, analogue warmth and presence. Plus a touch strip gives you instinctive control of various parameters including pitch bending. The real-time processing engine means you can reliably manipulate the sound using time stretch, pitch bend and amp envelope.

The 7-inch full-colour touch screen puts you in complete control. Pick the Track Menu to see the full information about your sounds and their parameters – which you can manipulate using the six rotary dials just below the screen. The sampler comes with 2GB of samples already on board, courtesy of Loopmasters, so you can start creating bass lines and loops right out of the box.

Update: The TORAIZ is now available! (See Current Price)

Key Features

  1. Create up to 256 patterns using the 16-step sequencer
    Drop sounds into the sequencer to create your own 16-step loops and use the six dials to modulate the sounds. The multicoloured buttons reflect the colours you’ve assigned each sound: for example, kick drums in red. You can save your patterns then play them back instantly in the booth or on stage.
  2. 7-inch full-colour touch screen with detailed sample information
    The large touch screen puts all the information you need in your line of sight. Quickly browse and load samples, and allocate colours to them for a visual guide. Or see real-time waveforms and full details of the sample’s characteristics, and use the dials underneath to manipulate a variety of parameters.
  3. Multicoloured Performance Pads with Velocity Mode
    The Performance Pads are taken from our DJ controllers to give you a truly tactile experience. Load up to 16 samples to the pads, then finger drum freely to layer sounds on-the-fly. The lights reflect the colours you’ve assigned to each sound, while Velocity Mode lets you control the volume of the sample with how hard you hit the pad.
  4. 8GB of flash memory and real-time processing for non-stop music production
    The TORAIZ SP-16 delivers 16-voice polyphony so you can play all 16 samples at once – even when you’re using time stretch or editing the sound using the touch screen amp envelope. The 8GB of flash memory means you’ve got plenty of space – and you can use it as a stand-alone unit, with no need for a laptop.
  5. Analogue filters from Dave Smith Instruments' Prophet-6 synthesiser
    We've collaborated with Dave Smith to add the analogue filters from his iconic Prophet-6 synthesiser to the TORAIZ SP-16. Use the dials to sculpt your sound – manipulating Drive, Cut Off and Resonance – and add true analogue warmth and presence.
  6. Pro DJ Link and MIDI clock mean you’ll never miss a beat
    Add the TORAIZ SP-16 to your CDJ or XDJ set-up using Pro DJ Link and the sampler will snap your one-shots and loops to the beat of the master deck. So you can layer multiple sounds over your tracks and they’ll always be in sync. It also has a MIDI clock so you can connect other devices via USB and stay in sync, and we’ll be adding connectivity with DAWs and synths at a later date.
  7. Other features:
    • Use the touch strip to control various parameters
    • Comes with Loopmasters samples already on board


Main Specifications

Input ports: Phone x 2
Output ports: Phone x 8, Headphones
Other ports: USB, LAN, MIDI
Max external dimension: 436.5 x 261.2 x 74.3 mm (W x D x H)
Weight: 3.2 kg

Summing Up…

… in more ways than one. As you can see, the unit has a whole pile of outputs, giving you plenty of options for routing.

So, what do you think? Does this revolutionize your DJ setup? Or is it just another tack-on device, cluttering our modern booths?

Personally, it's something I'll be keeping an eye on. I don't know if I'm ready to abandon my NI gear yet, but this is the first time in a while that Pioneer has given me a twinge of anxiety about it.

For those wanting to move their DJ and production tendencies a little bit closer together, and would rather do it all on hardware, the TORAIZ SP-16 might just be your savior!