Roland is one of the industry leaders in the field of electronics, and many musicians and performers had turned to them when they needed premium-quality gear.
Apart from pioneering dozens of technologies in piano and synth voicing, they’ve also graced the market with a myriad of ultra high-spec drum machines, and mixing consoles. Today we’re going to review their DJ 505, 707M, and 808 controllers, but before we begin, let’s take a step back and state some of the advantages you could hope of attaining.
Roland’s DJ controllers are, without fail, built to offer a very intuitive feature layout, which means that they’re perfect for beginner DJs, intermediate-level performers, and veteran professionals. These three, in particular, have a very user-friendly design, and on top of the fact that they’re built like a tank, they also come laden with top-shelf, bleeding-edge technologies and features.
Even though they’re much different from one another, there are also a lot of similarities shared between them, and we’re here to showcase what DJ 505, DJ 707M, and DJ 808 controllers can and can’t do for you as a live-performing, gigging DJ.
Roland DJ 505 Review
DJ 505 First look – Design:
Let’s start with Roland DJ 505. Essentially, this controller is slightly bigger than DJ 707M and marginally smaller than DJ 808. Its dimensions measure 20,87 inches in width by 15,87 inches in depth by 2,8 inches in height. It weighs approximately 7 pounds and 12 ounces, which means that it’s not one of the heaviest DJ controllers on the market.
It packs cue, loop, quantize & sync effects onboard, ultra-strong and reliable app compatibility, a variety of performance pads, and 64-bit support.
What immediately comes to mind is the pair of scratch-resistant platters, both of which offer a highly responsive, lag-free, and low-latency performance. They are made of exceptionally sturdy brushed aluminum and offer much in terms of durability
There are two mirrored channels for you to use, equipped with identical pads, buttons, sliders, and control knobs. Overall, it looks very modern and sleek, and its robustness allows it to be used for decades given proper maintenance.
DJ 505 Features:
Being the ‘oldest’ among the three DJ controllers, the 505 is outfitted with a bit simpler features. Nevertheless, this is a highly capable, reliable console packed with bleeding-edge technologies that had laid the foundation stones of its successors.
Starting from the very top, we see the general controls – the display, ‘start/stop button, mute, pattern, shuffle, and similar settings that affect the entire mix. On the top right side, four knobs control the tune, level, and decay.
The ‘mixer’ booth is right in the middle of the console; it basically ‘splits’ it in two, or better said, ‘mirrors’ it. The centerpiece of the mixer section is the 4-band EQ comprising low, mid, high, and filter control knobs.
Below the mixer section is the master ‘indicator’ panel; the indicators shine in correspondence to active effects and performance pads, giving you a clear overview even in pitch-black environments.
Last but not least, one of the essential features is the legendary sounds and sequencing of Roland’s TR drum machines ( TR-909, TR-808, TR-707, and TR-606). In short, this technology gives a unique opportunity to integrate kicks, snares, claps, and hi-hats into your mixing for an amazing end result.
DJ 505 In use:
Essentially, Roland’s DJ 505 is one of the most affordable DJ controllers the brand has to offer, but it’s still a professional model that boasts exceptional performance and value for the cash.
It’s packed with all of the features that 707m and 808 have, and even though they’re slightly less versatile and arguably ‘inferior’ in a way, they could still be utilized by a pair of capable hands to produce top-notch mixes. With this in mind, it’s pretty safe to say that Roland’s DJ 505 is pretty great for live performances and studio engineering.
However, since it doesn’t cost as much as its ‘improved’ counterparts, the DJ 505 is one of the best tools an intermediate-level DJ can use to bridge the gap between starting out and professionalism.
The performance pads and platters are incredibly easy to use, and their durability is what makes them so great for day-to-day practice sessions.
Again, DJ 505 is a professional controller that will serve you well on one-off birthday parties, occasional local gigs, and pre-planned multi-month touring cycles.
Roland DJ 707m Review
DJ-707M First look – Design
The Roland 707M is the smallest DJ controller out of the three in our review (505 & 808). It sports onboard scene presets and a corresponding display that shows active modes and operational mode, convenient loudspeaker management booths on the fly, two USB ports, and a compact, rugged chassis.
Its dimensions measure 18.5 inches in width, 13 inches in depth, and 2,87 inches in height, and as much as Roland DJ 505 – 7 pounds and 12 ounces.
Like Roland DJ 505, the shell of 707M is built from durable aluminum and offers roughly the same amount of sturdiness.
Its compact, lightweight frame makes it much easier to store in a car/van while affording more space for your other DJ accessories and gear.
This DJ controller offers a myriad of connectors (including a variety of guest connectors), a 2-line fully backlit LCD display, two channels each equipped with a scratch-resistant platter, and two rows of five performance pads, 4-band EQs, and highly responsive sliders.
In terms of features, there are not an awful lot of differences between 505 and 707m. Basically, both of these DJ controllers feature two aluminum platters, 4×2 colored performance pads, hot-cue buttons, and an easy-to-read display.
However, the 707m does bring quite a bit of new additions to the table. Instead of the basic 2-channel mixer, we are upgrading to a full 4-channel DJ mixer. Furthermore, a rather simplistic loop station, and generally better connectivity.
The platters are made from the same material, but LCD lights no longer backlight them. The display that used to be on the top-right side now sits on top of the left-side platter, and the Master indicator panel is completely removed.
Although its size is not a feature in itself, we should note that 707m is significantly lighter and smaller than DJ 505 and 808 models.
DJ-707M In use
As you could probably guess, Roland’s DJ 707M is a compact DJ controller console that best suits DJs who are always on the move. Its lightweight construction and a sturdy frame will help you move it out, and from your car to the venue, you are gigging at, which means that it’s pretty convenient for both standalone shows and more extended tours.
Even though it’s quite small, it is substantially more versatile than DJ 505 and stands on even ground with 808 in terms of well-roundedness. You could achieve quite a bit in a studio while preparing new mixes, and you could definitely have a ton of fun toying around with the brand-new loop stations and performance pads.
The only things that most people didn’t like so much about this model are that there’s almost no LCD backlighting. It’s a bit difficult to use in pitch-black conditions and in poorly-lit ambient. Even so, it’s pretty awesome in general and is worth every single cent.
Roland DJ 808 Review
DJ-808 First look – Design:
Even at first glance, you’ll be able to tell that Roland’s DJ 808 DJ controller is a professional model meant for experienced disc jockeys. Although it’s the most massive and largest console Roland has released up to date; it’s still very ‘traversable’ in the sense that its features are neatly organized in a very logical fashion.
A good chunk of the features that its predecessors are supplied with have made a comeback. You’ll be able to see the 3-band EQs, responsive sliders & faders, aluminum scratch-resistant platters, 16×2 performance pads, and as many ports as you could possibly want.
The 808 DJ controller model is not just a bigger variation of either 505 or 707M – it rocks improved features, new settings, and even though it will inevitably take up a bit bigger portion of your vehicle’s storage space, it’s not that it’s huge per se.
Roland’s DJ 808 is the most significant, most advanced, and best-performing DJ controller they currently have in store. It’s supplied with pretty much every feature the original is outfitted with, but it also rocks a huge number of improvements and additions.
As far as the similarities go, this model features two 4-band EQs per channel (just like DJ 707M) and two aluminum scratch-resistant platters (like both 505 and 707M), 2×4 performance pads per channel, two faders per channel, a hot-cue and play/stop, sync, and shift buttons (per channel).
The top-most control settings and functionalities are left untouched and follow the same design as the original Roland DJ 505.
In regards to features, the brand-new ones are the loop stations and key-sync sections. The design of the performance pads, the platters, and pretty much all of the knobs are only aesthetically different – the functionalities remain the same.
DJ-808 In use:
The gap between Roland’s DJ 808 and 707m is not a massive one. Performance-wise, both of these professional-level DJ controllers are absolutely astounding. Still, it should be noted that 808 is not that much superior to its predecessors in terms of raw ‘strength’.
What makes this model different and well worth the extra money is the fact that it sports a revamped layout of the features. The 505 and 707m are both very ‘intuitive’ controllers, but the 808 takes it to a totally different level.
This DJ console is much brighter and features LED-lit features that provide a drastic boost to visibility in poorly-lit environments. With that being said, it’s only obvious that this controller was meant for live performances at nightclubs. It offers the same amount of versatility, reliability, and durability as its predecessors. The vastly improved interface will definitely come in handy in terms of a more comfortable use of the many features it comes outfitted with.
Roland DJ Controller SPECS COMPARISON
|ROLAND DJ-505||ROLAND DJ-707M||ROLAND DJ-808|
|Intermediate DJs||Mobile DJs||Professional DJs|
|2 CHANNELS||4 CHANNELS||4 CHANNELS|
|Built-in drum kits from TR-808, TR-909, and TR-606||128 built-in preset drum patterns||Built-in drum kits from TR-808, TR-909, and TR-606|
|16-STEP SEQUENCER||16-STEP SEQUENCER|
|Gate, hi-pass, reverb, and echo FX||Reverb, echos, delays, pitch and formant tools, vocoder effect, double, harmony and more||VT Voice Transformer with Pitch, Formant, Ducking and Serato key matching|
|INCLUDED: Serato DJ Pro and Serato Tool Kit license||INCLUDED: Serato DJ Pro + 90-Day BPM Supreme Premium||INCLUDED: Serato DJ Pro + Serato Pitch 'n Time DJ license|
Roland DJ 505 vs. 707m vs. 808
Roland’s DJ 505, 707M, and 808 perform differently in various fields, but they’re all generally pretty similar.
In terms of cost, DJ 505 is obviously the least expensive one, followed by 707M, while DJ 808 is in the last place. This is all too obvious, of course, since this is the natural progression of the advancement in Roland technology.
Features-wise, Roland’s 707m, and 808 controllers are pretty much even while the DJ 505 is trying its best to keep up. Namely, 707m and 808 feature two decks and 4 channels, loop stations, and additional faders, while DJ 505 only sports half of these features.
Live-performing DJs seem to prefer Roland DJ-707m due to the fact that it’s much more compact than 505 and 808. The latter two are roughly the same size and weight.
If you are an intermediate-level DJ who is looking for a major upgrade, you could do well with either of the three. Each of these DJ controllers features full Serato-Pro integration and Roland’s patented drum machine & sequencer technology, which basically means that they’re all performing astoundingly well for the buck.
Roland’s DJ controllers are some of the best models on the market for a perfect reason. On top of having a very intuitive interface, these DJ controller consoles are also exceptionally versatile, and most importantly, they don’t cost an arm and a leg.
Serato-Pro compatibility and the drum sequencer are some of the most important features these controllers come outfitted with that distinguish them from similarly priced models, and suffices to say. If you are someone that is looking for quality and who will not settle for anything less, we strongly recommend that you check out each of these three before making your final decision.
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