Best new DJ turntable 2023: Pioneer PLX-CRSS12 | Juno Daily

As 2022 draws to a close and we look ahead to 2023, we’re bringing you our picks of the best new gear this year, from drum machines to turntables.

Best new DJ turntable 2023: Pioneer PLX-CRSS12

Most new DJ turntables follow a fairly well-established formula at this point. The standard formula of a loosely Technics-inspired layout and S-shaped tonearm works so well that it dominates the market now, with minor changes for scratch decks here and there. The new Pioneer PLX-CRSS12 is something unlike any turntable you’ve seen before. The easiest way to describe it might be as a cross between Pioneer’s own PLX-1000 and a vinyl-style controller such as Rane’s Twelve MKII, a hybrid setup which allows you to play vinyl records or ‘tonearm-free’ digital controller for Serato or Rekordbox.

The main selling point of the CRSS12 is that it gives you the best of both worlds. It might be the first hybrid controller to hit the market, but it makes you wonder why no one has tried this approach before. Whether you’re a DJ who wants to mix back and forth between vinyl and digital, or you’re putting together a club installation which works for as many DJs as possible, it keeps your options open. On a basic level, the CRSS12 feels very similar to the PLX-1000, with excellent build quality and great sound (Pioneer actually claim that the CRSS12 outperforms the PLX-1000 in terms of vinyl playback). But it’s the digital side which really makes it unique.

It’s important to reiterate here that this isn’t just a standard way of playing Serato timecode vinyl. The CRSS12’s unique spindle effectively analyses the movement and rotation of the record separately to the movement of the platter, then generates a digital timecode signal from this movement. When using it as a digital controller, you don’t place the stylus on the record at all; the tonearm stays locked away from the record, meaning there’s zero chance of the needle skipping. What’s most impressive is the way the CRSS12 feels almost exactly like playing vinyl. That might sound obvious – after all, you can literally use any vinyl record as the control vinyl here, so you’re literally playing vinyl – but the way that features like the adjustable torque settings, Motor Off button and performance pads blur the boundaries between analogue and digital is truly impressive. The unique Magvel Clamp also allows you to adjust the perceived feel of the vinyl, similar to how you might change slip mats to adjust the level of grip between record and platter.

The PLX-CRSS12 is a pricey option at just under £1,200, but the only real alternative is something like a combination of a PLX-1000 and a Rane Twelve, which would be more expensive, less convenient and take up more space in your DJ booth. The convenience of the CRSS12 really does make it a unique option for anyone who needs the versatility of digital and vinyl.

Read our full review here.

Greg Scarth

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