A DJ’s gearbox is never really complete without an effect unit. Remix stations, Drum units, and Loop Stations are the best way to upgrade your mixing techniques. Sure, you might have an excellent mixing console, your own beat plugins, and sequencers, state-of-the-art headphones, and you might think you’re done.
If you’ve been wondering how to spice up your mixes and live performances lately, you might want to stick with us a bit longer as we review some of the best DJ Effect Units available on the market.
Even though most high-quality mixing consoles and controllers do feature some sort of built-in FX panels, you won’t be able to have sufficient control and versatility unless you get yourself a standalone effects unit.
We’ve scrounged the market for the best-performing, best-rounded, and most valuable effect boards until we’ve stumbled across Pioneer DJ’s RMX 1000, Boss’s RC 505 Loop Station, and Korg’s KAOSS KP3 Performance pad.
Of course, all of these names are all too familiar to veteran DJs, and the main reason these three models have made it onto our review is the fact that they’re at the very top of the line as far as bleeding-edge technology is concerned. Without any further ado, let’s dive straight into the reviews.
Top 3 DJ Effect Units – Reviews
1. Pioneer RMX 1000 Remix Station – Review
RMX 1000 First Look:
The RMX 1000 is labeled as a ‘3-in-1’ station, and by the looks of it, most people could tell it’s a quality one even at a glance. This is a compact DJ feature-packed tool that boasts an exceptional versatility level, although you’ll need some time, skill, and patience if you wish to master its relatively steep learning curve.
Basically, the RMX 1000 is comprised of an FX wheel, a simple mix console, a small drum & sequencing station. The features almost seem as if they’re crammed together in a relatively small spot, but all significant features are big enough to be able to be used quickly and precisely.
Pioneer RMX 1000 Features:
The first notable feature of the Pioneer RMX 1000 is the FX wheel. It’s basically comprised of Break Down and Build Up effects sections, where the breakdown effects are backed by blue LCD lighting, and built-in effects are supported by red for increased visibility.
Although there’s no display, the central knob shines in a color corresponding to the currently active effect.
The Break Down effects are HPF echo, LPF echo, Crush Echo, Spiral Down, and Reverb Down. These are all ‘pre-tweaked’ effects with set parameters that can be used to achieve instant ‘drops’; alternatively, you can use them to accentuate certain parts in various ways.
The Build Up section is analog to the Break-Down section, and it features BPF echo, echo, noise, spiral up, and reverb up effects.
All of these effects are customizable, and you can shift between default and user settings by flipping the switch at the top right-side right above the wheel.
The input/output control booth is incredibly straightforward, featuring nudge, quantize, and input/output level knobs, as well as a tiny tap tempo button and display.
The last feature of RMX 1000 is the drum sequencing station. It rocks a 5-button X Pad FX section, an overdub button, pitch control, and five selectable drum parts, including roll, kicks, snare, clap, and hi-hat.
If you need help with connection check how to connect your RMX1000 to your DJ setup.
RMX 1000 In Use:
The ridiculous versatility of RMX 1000 allows it to be used in virtually every possible situation. Since it comes supplied with a plethora of features while also boasting a simple design goes to show that it’s ideal for composing, mixing, and performing live.
One of the best things about it is that it offers both the benefits of easy sound customization and instant tone-altering effects. You can dial into your tracks and fine-tune the parameters in harmony with your main mixing console, or you can simply spice up the beats with wild effects. Furthermore, you can build upon your tracks as you go with the drum sequencer, although your options are fairly limited due to the fact that the X Pad FX station only sports five performance pads.
Additionally, RMX 1000 is well-rounded straight out of the gate. You can use it, and its features as-is and be able to do pretty much anything you imagine, or you can spend some time tinkering with it at home and create custom user banks and voices.
Although it seems like there’s much going on with RMX 1000, it’s pretty easy to use once you’ve managed to check out all individual features. The only problem is that there are tons of them, and you might need a couple of days to check them all out properly. Check out Pioneer’s official overview for more features!
Carl Cox, James Zabiela, Laidback Luke, Sasha, Amelie Lens, are just a few of the many professional DJs out there who use the RMX1000.
If you already own Pioneer DJ equipment or trust what famous DJs use, then the RMX 1000 is the choice for you.
Video Overview: Pioneer DJ RMX-1000
Check out the official overview of the RMX1000 by Pioneer DJ, featuring James Zabiela, Chuckie, and more.
Our list could simply end here, as the RMX1000 is the best DJ effect unit in the market. However, there are a couple more products with some interesting features and a sweet price that is worth your attention.
2. Boss RC 505 Loop Station Review
Boss RC505 First Look:
The Boss’s RC 505 is one of the most straightforward DJ Loop Stations available on the market. It is not an effect unit like the above, but it packs a petite, highly intuitive design, and it’s simple enough to be used by beginners and versatile enough to cater to the needs of more experienced DJs.
The 505 Loop station rocks five FX channels followed by brightly lit LCD buttons, all of which boast independent controls.
It rocks external MIDI connectors as well as ports for footswitch/remote control, which means that it’s not a DJ-exclusive tool; Boss’s RC 505 Loop Station is frequently used by guitar players as well. Its tabletop form of design is pretty convenient, as it is both compact and incredibly easy to use.
RC 505 Features:
Judging by its aesthetics alone, most people would assume that Boss’s RC 505 Loop Station isn’t really packed with too many features. Even though it’s not laden with a plethora of settings and functionalities, it’s pretty well-rounded and supplied with a ton of highly customizable features.
The first and most notable features are the stereo-phrase tracks that boast separate controls. It also offers up to 3 hours of recording time and a variety of onboard effects that you can use to enhance your tracks’ quality (and direction) drastically.
What separates Boss’s RC 505 Loop Station from similar Effect units is that it rocks 99 fully customizable phrase memories and 85 built-in rhythms that can double as (customizable) backing tracks.
Connectivity-wise, the RC 505 Loop station boasts a USB MIDI interface connection (required for any major DAW integration), as well as XLR microphone input, mono & stereo inputs, and auxiliary inputs.
There’s also a smallish display at the very center of the loop station that shows dynamic effects and operational mode. It’s petite in size, so you shouldn’t rely on it too much during a live performance. The LCD lights really come in handy on such occasions, though, but most of the features supplied to this effects unit require manual operation.
RC 505 In Use:
DJ setups may vary, but the RC 505 will be a great addition to most. Not many effect units can boast about being both versatile and simple design-wise, but Boss’s RC 505 Loop station can. This is a mid-priced, well-rounded model that is favored by gigging musicians and DJs alike. Due to its innate customizability, it could also come in handy for pretty much any form of studio work (mixing, mastering, and such).
Musicians tend to like its straightforward design. It offers on-the-fly looping channels with separate controls, which allows performers and bands to achieve bigger sounds than they’re actually capable of reproducing. DJs can use the loop station in synergy with a console to drastically enrich their tracks.
It’s pretty handy for home practicing, band practices, and generally toying around with various sounds and sound effects. It has a small footprint, is easy to use, and its customization potential is impeccable.
Obviously, it’s absolutely phenomenal for live performances, although you will need to map the buttons and create custom presets. Luckily, you’ll have hundreds of slots to assign your newly created effects to.
Overall, the Boss RC 505 Loop Station might not be the best-rounded effect unit on the entire market, but it certainly does the job.
3. Korg KP3 KAOSS Dynamic Effects Sampler Review
KORG KP3 KAOSS First Look:
The Kaoss Pad is a combo of a sampler and an effect unit that looks (and performs) pretty unique. It sports a meager selection of features, but its versatility is top-notch.
It features a smallish frame and boasts a highly durable construction; then again, nothing less should be expected from a Korg product.
This effect unit features just a couple of control knobs, a single slider (FX Release), eight memory program banks, and four sample banks. Suffices to say, the Kaoss Pad is one of the most straightforward, easy-to-use effect units out there that most beginners would appreciate. It also offers a myriad of exquisite features that veterans tend to like it just as much.
KORG KP3 KAOSS Features:
The highlight feature of Korg’s Kaoss Pad is the LED block ‘display’. Intermediate-level DJs might confuse it for a performance pad, where it’s actually a section of indicator lights that shine as you turn up any active features.
The LED indicator pad provides a more intuitive approach to using the Kaoss Pad, as it gives you a quick and accurate overview of what settings are currently being used.
This effect unit rocks 128 onboard programs, most of which are based around tempo and rhythm. Of course, you’ll also be able to use modulation effects, delays, echoes, and reverbs, as well as make your very own custom effects.
EQ effects are probably among the most important features of Korg’s Kaoss Pad 3, as they feature drastically improved parameters and accuracy.
You will be able to simultaneously use eight effects, all of which you will be able to ‘draw’ from the four-loop sample banks. Modeling is also one of the key features of the Kaoss Pad; it provides the user with the ability to alter preset effects and create entirely new ones.
KP3 KAOSS In Use:
The Kaoss KP3 pad is very sought-after for a multitude of reasons. First and foremost, it’s favored by touring musicians and gigging DJs due to its small footprint; its simplistic design is geared towards helping new DJs learn the ropes, and storing hundreds of effects (and modifying them) is what makes it great for professional sessions workers.
Let’s start at the very top. This effect unit features a straightforward design that helps DJs of all skill levels navigate its multitude of features. The LED mentioned above block panel shines brightly and offers superb visibility, even in extremely poor-lit environments, making it an obvious choice for DJs who frequently perform in dark venues.
It is pretty versatile even straight out of the box, sporting 128 programs that can be accessed (and created, modified, and heavily customized) via four sample banks. Since it sports modeling capability, it’s perfect for studio engineers and producers on the lookout for new, fresh tones, sounds, and timbres.
Last but not least, it doesn’t really even cost that much, so even though it might not be your go-to DJ tool, it will undoubtedly be more than able to become a helping gadget that will easily complement any mixing rig.
The KP3 KAOSS is definitely the budget-friendly option that you should give a chance.
Finding a good DJ effect unit shouldn’t be too hard – the market is literally brimming with excellent models scattered throughout all the price point categories. Furthermore, industry leaders and underdog brands alike are putting out new products with each passing day.
However, finding the ‘best’ of the best might not be as easy as you think. Due to the fact that there are so many products (and so much diversity), people often second-guess which model they like the most. That’s one of the main reasons why we’ve decided to do the heavy lifting for you and scrounge the market for the best-performing, most versatile, most valuable DJ effect units.
In the market, there aren’t hundreds and hundreds of exceptional models, but we’ve picked Pioneer’s RMX 1000, Boss’s RC 505 Loop Station, and Korg’s Kaoss KP3 Pad simply because they are more versatile than most. These effect units are more than capable of catering to the needs of DJs of all skill levels, and they are available at an attractive price, so whichever you opt for, you can rest assured that you’re not making a mistake.
Check out more ways to improve your skills and become a professional DJ.
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