- Over the past few years, one of the most significant advancements in DJ tech has been the emergence of stand-alone DJ controllers.
- The OPUS QUAD is Pioneer’s first true 4-deck standalone all-in-one DJ controller.
- Will the OPUS QUAD revolutionize Digital DJing in the same way the CDJ changed how we DJ?
- If you’re not quite ready to dump that laptop just yet, take a look at our 7 Best USB Controllers for Beginners article here.
While we have been expecting Pioneer to release a 4-deck version of their popular XDJ all-in-one controller, what we didn’t reasonably anticipate was the Opus-Quad. A breakaway in both name and style, the Opus Quad seems to be aimed more at mobile DJs or high-end event DJs.
Pioneer Opus-Quad (Is it Worth it?)
The Pioneer Opus Quad is a beast of a controller, but at over $3000 (USD), does it live up to the hype?
Although a lot of Pioneer’s marketing focuses on the stylish modern appearance of the Quad Opus, it’s a powerful and versatile 4-deck standalone controller which outperforms nearly every other DJ controller on the market.
The Pioneer Opus Quad offers all the features of a standard DJ setup of CDJs and a standalone mixer/FX unit in Pioneer’s most powerful DJ controller ever.
Read on for why you should start saving today.
Pioneer Opus Quad: Review
- Four stand-alone channels for the first time in a Pioneer DJ all-in-one controller.
- New stylish and minimalist design – gone is the industrial feel of club gear!
- Built on a 5-degree slope for ultimate comfort for more extended DJ sets and intuitive use.
- Large 10.1” Central High-resolution Glass Touchscreen includes a Beat FX X-Y control pad.
- Joystick rotary controller for main screen functions and rotary loop controls.
- Playback from USB flash drives, SSD and HDD drives, computers, and smart devices with 4 USB ports (including USB-C) and Bluetooth connectivity.
- Built-in Wi-Fi and Ethernet for streaming from CloudLibrary Sync and other streaming services
- Zone out – the ability to simultaneously send an alternative playlist to another room or zone to master mix.
- High-quality 32-bit D/A converter from ESS Technology for high-resolution sound.
The OPUS-QUAD introduces a completely fresh approach to DJ equipment that harmonizes design and playability.
Design – 9/10
Without a doubt, the thing which makes the Pioneer Opus Quad stand out from the crowd is its revolutionary futuristic but still slightly retro design. It’s been called the marmite of DJ controller design – you will either love it or hate it!
Personally, I love it. The angled shape, built on a slight slope with minimal markings and buttons, makes it apparent this is something special. The brass-effect edging to some of the knobs, plus the switch to orange in line with other recent Pioneer gear, give it an element of class and flair.
That 5-degree slope isn’t just about style. It also makes mixing with the gradient more comfortable, promoting a healthy wrist angle even for prolonged use.
The wedge-shaped design also makes the device look less bulky than it is (at 14kg, it’s pretty hefty!) in the same way Apple iMacs tend to disguise their bulk.
The retro curves with earth-colored panels on the front and side edges of the unit (more plastic-y than the wooden look of the pictures) fondly remind me of my beloved Atari console I used to play on or something from a Bang Olufsen furniture catalog.
Design can be subjective, but overall most people who have seen the Opus Quad find it a thing of beauty that would look fantastic in a lounge bar, at your next wedding or corporate gig, and even at a trendy loft party. The Opus Quad is like a piece of furniture in an IKEA showroom.
Build Quality – 9/10
Coming from Pioneer, there are no issues with build quality either. Pioneer is known to create robust and dependable controllers, which is also evident here – the Opus Quad is undoubtedly no toy but a professional and versatile tool any DJ would be proud to have in his/her arsenal of DJ gear.
The large jog wheels still use the same industry-standard mechanical system of the CDJ3000s but feature a different side and top plate texture. The nudge grooves on the side for your fingers have now gone to be replaced with a striped texture which is excellent to use from experience.
The top plate of the jog wheel is now a flat rubberized coating with slight dimples, which although the “grippiness” is excellent when scratching, I can potentially see getting a bit dirty or scuffed over time.
Rubberized knobs on the Opus Quad are the first for a Pioneer controller and add to the overall premium feel of the product. A rotary joystick selector for many of the onscreen FX and looping features feels solid and sturdy.
As you would expect with a premium controller, the Pioneer Opus Quad features long-throw faders with convenient reset buttons. The crossfader isn’t a Magvell designed for scratch DJs but feels great and loose enough.
Underneath the bonnet, there is also some pretty beefy hardware, including a high-quality 32-bit D/A converter from ESS technology usually only found in high-end mixers like the DJM V10 and the DJM A9.
And at the heart of it all is a next-generation CPU or computer, just like the Engine DJ-powered units of the Denon DJ Prime 4, Prime 2, SC6000, and the Numark Mixstreams. Although these manufacturers have been using next-gen CPUs for the last few years, this is a big leap forward for Pioneer.
Pioneer say their gear surpasses their competitors with the most powerful CPU ever built into a standalone unit. Having used the Opus Quad for a period, I’m tempted to believe them.
The Screens – 9/10
We can’t talk about the build quality and design without mentioning the screens on the Opus Quad. A 10.1” glass-topped touchscreen, similar to an iPad screen, dominates the unit and is where most of the magic happens, including that new Beat FX control X/Y pad (more on that later).
For many years Pioneer has told us their screens were best for DJing, but that hasn’t always been the case, with cheap plastic low-res screens being the norm on most of their gear. Finally, they have gone with an ultra-responsive and high-resolution glass screen which is a joy to use.
The screen carries a whole wealth of information and is smooth scrolling, especially compared to some of the jerkiness of the screens on previous standalone controllers. They have finally reached the quality of the Denon Prime DJ 4.
It’s not just about the one screen, though. In total, the Opus Quad has five screens! Above each jog wheel is a smaller screen which is slightly less high res and features the more usual Pioneer DJ plastic topping.
They’re not a touchscreen, but they still look pretty good, displaying things like the time elapsed/remaining, the BPM, album artwork, key info, and loop info – all the things you would normally find on the jog wheel display on some DJ gear.
The in-jog display info seems much better suited to a rectangular display, leaving the jog wheel’s center free for more traditional transport info and giving the unit a less cluttered and more elegant design.
Connectivity – 9/10
As you would expect from a controller aimed primarily at mobile DJs, there are plenty of options regarding inputs and outputs.
Pioneer seem to have every base covered with two mic channels (both have a three-band EQ, feedback cancellation, and full routing options), line/phono inputs (on channel 3 & 4 only, though), XLR and RCA master outs, a TRS booth out, and a Zone Output (Balanced XLR) for those occasions when you want to play completely different music thru channel 3 or 4 in a different room to the main dancefloor.
The Bluetooth connectivity offered by the Opus Quad is particularly useful for last-minute requests or as a backup option for that different zone. There are also multiple inputs for USB and music storage with three USB-As (one uses USB-3, particularly well suited to an SSD) and a USB-C for plugging in a computer.
Wi-Fi connectivity and a LAN port if you want to play tracks from Dropbox using RekordBox CloudDirectPlay (premium subscribers only) or wirelessly from a phone using RekordBox in an update coming in Spring 2023.
There’s no shortage of options when importing music to the Opus Quad.
Software Compatability – 7/10
At the time of launch, the Pioneer Opus Quad could only use RekordBox performance mode with plug-and-play compatibility. Many features, like wireless playback of a Rekordbox library from your mobile device or onboard track analyzing, are still to be launched in an updated version of RekordBox software later in the year (hopefully by Spring or April 2023).
Serato fans must wait for summer 2023 before they can plug their library or laptop into the Opus Quad. Although both Serato and RekordBox have their own extensive list of features, it will be interesting to see how well Serato is integrated and if there is any loss of functionality of the controller.
Streaming services are not supported either at launch. Still, Pioneer does intend to add these later, and the launch of Serato on the Opus Quad will mean you can use services such as TIDAL, Beatsource, Beatport, and Soundcloud in standalone mode.
Ease of Use – 9/10
Anybody who has used RekordBox will find the way playlists and folders or files work very familiar. It looks exactly the same, too (although I didn’t notice any Track Filter, I may have missed it while hurriedly running through all the new features!) The rotary joystick under the screen makes moving between playlists and finding tracks a breeze.
With it being a four-channel system, there are buttons enabling you to layer the decks so you can choose which two decks are on either side of the controller. The decks also change color when selected to show exactly which deck each jog wheel controls. Out-of-the-box, the decks are either orange or white, but you can easily change this in Settings via the main screen.
DJing on the Opus Quad is quite simply a joy. The big, mechanical jog wheels feel exactly like a CDJ3000. There are eight brightly-lit hot cues, a modern rotary rather than button style loop control with other features such as beat jump, key sync, and beat sync/quantize available with sturdy click buttons on each deck. You can even change the key of a track with the on-screen display similar to the CDJ3000.
The mixer section has a three-band EQ with isolation EQs as an option, and it features the same Color FX as top-end Pioneer mixers, even if they have moved the location slightly.
Features – 9/10
With the large touchscreen interface, the Pioneer Quad Opus certainly take a different direction from many of their most recent offerings. The powerful CPU I mentioned earlier allows a whole host of new and improved features to be activated from the ultra-responsive touchscreen.
Additional screen controls include:
- An Input Matrix allows you to select the inputs for decks 3 and 4 from line/phono to Bluetooth or Internal.
- A Crossfader Assign for all four channels
- Key Shift is now found on the touchscreen, similar to a CDJ-3000. Key Sync is still hardware activated.
- Fader Controls such as the Crossfader or Upfader curves can now be set on the screen rather than hardware-based.
- Outputs can be assigned straight from the User interface, such as booth, zone assign, attenuation, and even Mic routing.
- Unit appearance allows you to set the deck colors, waveform displays (only 2 level waveforms at time of launch), etc.
- A Utility Menu allows you to tweak all the primary settings of the controller.
In addition, the CPU has the power for significant new features like those listed below.
Beat FX with X/Y Pad Control
While the Color FX on the left-hand side of the mixer doesn’t hold too many surprises with the usual FX, Parameter setting knob, and Rotary depth controls, the Beat FX has had a major refurb.
The most significant change to how you use the Opus Quad comes with the Beat FX and a giant X/Y Pad on the central screen for adjusting the frequency and intensity of an FX with a one-finger swipe.
Although you can still change the time-frequency and depth of a Beat FX on the mixer itself with the standard controls, pressing the Beat FX dial automatically brings up that X/Y pad on the large responsive touchscreen.
The Beat FX selector dial is also quite stiff to turn to prevent accidentally choosing the wrong FX, which comes up on a list on the screen and suggests more Beat FX may be added in future software updates.
A straight borrow from the iPad version of Alogorridim’s DJ Pro software, the X/Y Pad is a great way to be even more expressive when using Beat FX and perhaps the feature I love most on this impressive standalone controller.
Echo out is an extremely useful and popular DJ tool for mobile DJs or open format DJs who want to drop out of one track and into the next. Smooth Echo was a feature previously found on the DJM-S11 mixer, and it returns to the Opus Quad.
The Smooth Echo allows a DJ to set a convenient trigger for an automated high-pass echo to be activated over a track. Using the touchscreen, you can choose how you trigger the echo, whether it’s from the crossfader, a channel fader, the hot cue or cue button, or the Play/Pause button.
It’s particularly easy to use, and onscreen controls allow you to alter the Beats of the echo and the number of beats to trigger by the crossfader.
Another major change for the Pioneer Opus Quad is that the previous controllers’ performance pads have gone. Instead, you get eight brightly colored mini hot cue buttons above each deck.
Just like the CDJ-3000, these buttons are not multi-functional and just perform HOT CUES and saved loops.
A cool new feature is the ability to move a HOT CUE to the temporary CUE button, the big one found by the Play/Pause button at the base of each deck. You can set the option to automatically overwrite the current temporary cue point with recalled HOT CUES. If you don’t use the Temporary Cue button, it may start you using it more.
Another welcome breakaway from tradition for Pioneer controllers is the inclusion of a rotary encoder for looping on the Opus Quad. Although this feature has been on several Traktor controllers and, more recently, the Denon DJ Engine Prime controllers, it’s the first time featured on Pioneer gear.
A stylish copper accented rotary dial allows you to quickly set and release loops on the fly and rapidly select the length of the loop too. It’s a feature that has been missing for sorely too long in the Pioneer Eco-system, and I am glad to see they have finally introduced it on the Opus Quad, as I’m sure many other DJs will be too.
If you have never used a loop encoder before, you are in for a treat, as it’s a game changer to how you mix and loop. For traditionalists who prefer the functionality found on the Pioneer DJ club gear, there are still the In and Out buttons – so everybody’s a winner!
Final Thoughts – Should You Buy a Pioneer DJ Opus Quad?
The Pioneer Opus Quad is a well-constructed controller which offers a full four-channel standalone capability with extensive FX features and a superb five-screen setup.
The Pioneer Opus Quad is currently the most powerful DJ controller on the market and the most stylish.
The Opus Quad is an easy recommendation if you want a new standalone controller with 4-deck capability.
The OPUS-QUAD introduces a completely fresh approach to DJ equipment that harmonizes design and playability.
What’s the difference between the Pioneer XDJ-XZ and the Pioneer Opus Quad?
Although the XDJ-XZ was advertised as a 4-channel all-in-one controller, it is not a true 4-deck controller in the same way as the Opus Quad. With the XDJ-XZ, you can only use the extra two channels on channels 3 and 4 using a phono or line input to an external device.
What Software does the Pioneer Opus Quad Support?
At launch, the Pioneer Opus Quad only supported Pioneer’s RekordBox software in Performance mode. A redesigned app for RekordBox was due to be launched a month later, which would allow the syncing of RekordBox libraries from smart devices such as iPhone or Android devices.
Serato DJ will be supported by Summer 2023, Pioneer tells us, although there are no official plans for Virtual DJ yet. Watch for potential mappings if Virtual DJ is your weapon of choice.
Does the Pioneer Opus Quad Support Streaming Services?
Again at the time of launch, streaming services are another feature missing. Pioneer assures us that streaming services are coming to the unit, though, and we would guess they will include Beatport, Beatsource, Tidal, and Soundcloud.
Of course, you could always use a laptop for streaming services, with RekordBox working out of the box and Serato DJ following later in the summer of 2023.
Is the Pioneer Opus Quad suitable for a club installation?
The industry consensus is that Pioneer is marketing the Opus Quad as more suitable for the mobile DJ or the hobbyist DJ (albeit quite a wealthy hobby DJ at over 3k for the Quad!)
This is a breakaway from the more traditional club offerings from Pioneer DJ, which have more of an industrial feel, with sturdy metal construction suitable for the constant wear and tear of a DJ booth in a busy club or bar. However, don’t underestimate the Pioneer Opus Quad. It has a very sturdy construction, and all the features plus more a club DJ could ever want.
Is the Pioneer Opus Quad a Denon DJ Prime 4 Beater?
The Opus Quad isn’t the first 4-deck standalone controller on the market; the Denon Prime 4 holds that title and has redefined the DJ controller since its launch.
True 4-channel (deck) laptop-free DJing, built-in Wi-Fi for streaming, onboard track analysis, beat syncing, and beat gridding with a large touchscreen and a zone output were all found on the Denon Prime 4 at launch.
But guess what, the Pioneer Opus Quad can do all of that, and in my personal opinion, better. However, the added functionality does come at a cost with the Opus Quad being roughly $1000 more expensive than the Prime 4.
The Opus Quad feels fundamentally different from the Prime 4 with CD Jog wheels rather than controller wheels, more screen space, an X/Y Pad Beat FX control, Smooth Echo, and Smart Cue not found on the Prime 4.
So yes, the Pioneer Opus Quad is more stylish than the Denon Prime 4 and more feature-rich and a joy to use.