Pioneer PLX-CRSS12 Review: Hybrid Turntable for Digital DJs (2024)

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Pioneer PLX-CRSS12 Review: Hybrid Turntable for Digital DJs (1)

Pioneer DJ PLX-CRSS12 Hybrid Direct Drive Turntable

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While digital music giant Pioneer DJ is known for making some stellar DJ gear, I’d argue it’s their scratch turntables that have a habit of being the most impressive and well-known.

Case in point: the Pioneer DJ PLX-CRSS12 not only is great by most turntable standards, but it comes with a ton of unique options that now implement stems as well as the innovative “Magvel Clamp” that is starting to be seen with a lot of newer DJ turntables.

In addition to that, however, the CRSS12 comes with a DVS setup that lets you utilize either Serato DJ Pro or Rekordbox. What’s more, it lets you do that without using the tonearm or control vinyl so you will never have to worry about a needle skipping again.

This essentially makes it a combination of a host of other DVS setups, like the Rane Twelve, or the Technics 1210.

Ultimately, if you’re serious about scratching, want high-quality sound, and really want to step your DJing up to something profoundly professional, this is pretty much the ultimate option.

Is the Pioneer DJ PLX-CRSS12 Any Good?

The Pioneer DJ PLX-CRSS12 is a groundbreaking professional turntable that uniquely blends digital and analog capabilities. It’s the first of its kind to facilitate DVS control of digital tracks via DJ software while also supporting traditional analog vinyl playback. With its DVS mode compatible with Serato DJ Pro or rekordbox, artists can confidently scratch without the typical concerns of needle skips. When craving a conventional vinyl experience, users can easily toggle to Analog mode and utilize the tonearm as usual.

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Pioneer DJ PLX-CRSS12 Hybrid Direct Drive Turntable

Pros:

  • Well Built & Put Together
  • All Cables Can Be Routed Underneath The Turntable
  • The Platter Feels Great
  • Tonearm Is Very Multi-Faceted
  • Works With Serato DJ Pro & Rekordbox
  • Performance Pads Are Very Useful

Cons:

  • Design Aesthetic Is Slightly Too Colorful
  • Lacks Wireless Features
  • Expensive

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Read this next: Best Turntable For Sampling: Record Players for Vinyl Sampling

Initial Impressions

Design

So first up is the turntable’s build. Fresh out of the box, I can say that Pioneer DJ did not disappoint when it came to the overall structure and sound quality.

The turntable has a good amount of heft to it while also feeling sturdy and “real” in your hands. This is important since a lot of turntables end up feeling a bit like flimsy plastic toys that you can’t really let loose on for fear of breaking.

Visually, the turntable does come across as a bit “stuffed” in terms of what it has available. Truth be told, it does take a bit of getting used to when you see just how many buttons and pads are on this thing.

For instance, one half of it is fine enough with the standard inclusions, while the other half clashes with several different-colored buttons. While we’ll certainly go over these buttons in a bit, they just don’t look good on an otherwise sleek and attractive all-black turntable.

Simply put, from a design standpoint, the CRSS12 is great from afar or when you’re holding it. It’s got a heft and body that lets you know the thing is legit and something Pioneer did not skimp out on.

It’s only when you start to take a look at the design do some of the things become a bit less optimal. I wouldn’t ever say the other colors detract from it to the point of making the turntable “ugly” or anything. Just more that it’s not nearly as impressive as it otherwise could be.

That said, I am a sucker for a consistent color scheme so I can just as easily see someone not finding it nearly as annoying.

Build

Touching on the turntable’s build, the CRSS12 is really nice. As mentioned earlier, it has a good amount of weight under it so you won’t have to be afraid of digging in with your scratches.

The tonearm sits at the back rather than on the side while the device itself has been designed to be played at a 90-degree angle, laying it out more like a DJ controller than a standard mixer.

I think it’s pretty cool but I could see others finding it all a bit overwhelming.

The turntable also comes with a plastic dust lid that, while often standard fare, is worth mentioning here.

Connectivity

Talking about the different input and output ports for this thing, the CRSS12 comes with several connection points for plugging into your mixer as well as a USB type-C port for your computer.

If you want you can plug the USB cable from the turntable into the mixer itself, using it as a hub for the computer.

On the side of the turntable is the power socket while the back hosts the RCA sockets as well as the power switch. What’s impressive, is that, because of its “jumbo feet” design, all of the cables can be routed in from underneath the turntable itself.

This means that you won’t have to deal with a bunch of wires and cables that can potentially be pulled on by accident during your performance. Plus, it just makes the space look cleaner and more professional.

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Pioneer DJ PLX-CRSS12 Hybrid Direct Drive Turntable

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Read this next: Toe-to-Toe: Pioneer PLX 1000 vs Technics 1200 Turntables
A Deeper Look

Now that we’ve had a chance to look at some of the more immediate aspects of the turntable, let’s take a deeper look at some of the different features that really make this something special even amongst the otherwise aggressive competition.

Platter

Starting with the turntable platter, the CRSS12 uses a heavy precision platter. This feeds further into the aforementioned heft I was talking about, giving the platter a good amount of weight to play with.

The platter comes with strobe markers and is easily self-assembled while its motor has three adjustable torque speeds ranging from low/mid/ and high.

Next to it is a “motor stop” button that, rather than completely stopping the platter motor, gives it that famous “slow down” effect you always hear from turntables.

There’s also (at the front of the turntable) a three-way brake switch that can instantly stop, cause a shortstop, or cause a medium stop.

In terms of the strobe markers, the CRSS12 has a ton of switches for different strobe speeds and directions. There’s also a pop-up lighting post that contains the strobe lights as well as the record surface light.

Tonearm

The tonearm is one of the parts of the turntable that I really find myself going back to. I want to be clear and say that I love just about all of the CRSS12.

That said, the tonearm spoke to me here. Not only does its matte black color blend perfectly with the turntable itself, but it comes in the classic “S” design style.

The tonearm also comes with many of the expected features like an adjustable height, an anti-skate, and a rotating counterweight feature to keep it exactly where it should be while you’re performing. It also has an extension you can screw on that helps adjust and better tweak the tonearm’s weight

Under the tonearm is a small OLED display screen that displays various track information. This often can include things like the BPM, track key, and sound pitches, as well as whether you’re using Serato DJ Pro or Rekordbox software while in normal mode and not using “Needle mode”.

So when the DJ wants to play analog records the traditional way, they can simply switch the deck to Analog mode and use the tonearm as normal.

Pioneer PLX-CRSS12 Review: Hybrid Turntable for Digital DJs (6)

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Pioneer PLX-CRSS12 Review: Hybrid Turntable for Digital DJs (7)

Pioneer DJ PLX-CRSS12 Hybrid Direct Drive Turntable

Pros:

  • Well Built & Put Together
  • All Cables Can Be Routed Underneath The Turntable
  • The Platter Feels Great
  • Tonearm Is Very Multi-Faceted
  • Works With Serato DJ Pro & Rekordbox
  • Performance Pads Are Very Useful

Cons:

  • Design Aesthetic Is Slightly Too Colorful
  • Lacks Wireless Features
  • Expensive

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Read this next: Direct Drive vs Belt Drive Turntables (What’s Your Favourite?)

Performance Pads

Touching onto the performance pads now, I’ll be the first to remind you that, at least from a visual standpoint, I was and am not a fan. Their colors really clash with the black aesthetic otherwise set and take away from the overall good look.

That said, from a practical standpoint, I do understand their inclusion. As with most controllers and mixers that you’d normally see them on, the performance pads here are rubber buttons that each have their own features.

Here, we see that they control the various cues, stems, sample banks, and scratch banks. While you shouldn’t expect the same level of control as you would on a controller or mixer, these performance pads do let you handle any potentially pressing matter immediately rather than reverting to your mixer, controller, or computer to handle it.

Simply Connect it to a PC or a Mac with DJ software installed and a mixer that supports the DVS function of the respective software to play in Digital Vinyl Mode and then the DJ can make use of the performance pads

It’s not much but that split second or two of handling it right as you’re scratching instead of diverting your attention away can potentially make all the difference in the world.

The pads function similarly to how they normally do, with each pad having access to two of the eight different features, a separate button used for toggling between them.

Magvel Clamp

Lastly, the included Magvel Clamp is a cool feature that I’m hearing is making its rounds to a lot of different DJ turntables. The way it works is that, once you’ve put the slipmat and vinyl in place, you can set the Magvel Clamp on the spindle where it will “clamp down” and be held together via the built-in magnets.

Then, you can turn the small dial on top of it to tighten or loosen the slipmat’s rotation.

This is a pretty fun feature and something that, as you play with it more and more you’ll definitely start to appreciate having vs. not. Simply put, it makes scratching really fun and also really accessible.

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Pioneer PLX-CRSS12 Review: Hybrid Turntable for Digital DJs (9)

Pioneer DJ PLX-CRSS12 Hybrid Direct Drive Turntable

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Read this next: The Complete History of the Technics 1200 DJ Turntable

Overall Performance

What We Like:

  • Well Built & Put Together
  • All Cables and wires Can Be Routed Directly Underneath The Turntable
  • The Platter Feels Great
  • Tonearm Is Very Multi-Faceted
  • Works With Serato DJ Pro & Rekordbox DJ Software
  • Performance Pads Are Very Useful

What We Do Not Like:

  • Design Aesthetic Is Slightly Too Colorful
  • Lacks Wireless Features That Other Turntables Have
  • Price Is Definitely On The High End
Pioneer PLX-CRSS12 Review: Hybrid Turntable for Digital DJs (10)

Hybrid Tech

Pioneer PLX-CRSS12 Review: Hybrid Turntable for Digital DJs (11)

Pioneer DJ PLX-CRSS12 Hybrid Direct Drive Turntable

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Read this next: Best DJ Turntables: Our Top Picks

Pioneer DJ PLX-CRSS12L: The Verdict

So, as you can see, the Pioneer DJ PLX-CRSS12 controller turntable comes with a lot of features and is a game-changing deck. We like the fact that the PLX CRSS12 offers both DVS control of digital music via rekordbox or Serato DJ Pro and even analog playback of vinyl.

Not just as it relates to turntables in general, but also when compared to some of the cheaper and smaller controllers out there (which is kind of crazy!)

Ultimately, it’s going to be this issue that determines whether or not it’s for you. Since it’s not a controller itself, but a turntable, you’re going to need at least two, and while this is great for professional scratch DJs who want to have everything available, it’s certainly going to be a bit too much for those just starting out.

Overall, I love everything going on here with the Pioneer DJ deck CRSS12. In fact, if you can afford it and eventually plan on really focusing on being a scratch DJ, this is something I really think you should consider investing in.

Not only will it have a very long life (plenty of time for you to get the hang of things) but I suspect it’ll be a viable option even five or more years from now.

If, on the other hand, you’re someone with absolutely no interest in scratching with vinyl records, or simply want to DJ in a less specialized manner, you’re probably better off looking for a pair of turntables that aren’t quite as extensive or pricey.

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