The guys at Pioneer figured out the trend of taking hardware back to the stage. After a period of laptop+controller domination, sync DJing and a lot of talk about how "fake" it all is, more and more artists tend to incorporate some real hardware in to their performance. Toraiz SP-16 is kinda aiming exactly at those guys, that want to get into a live act territory, but not to far, so that they don't get lost in all the technical details, sound synthesis and all that.
Pioneer Toraiz SP-16 isa sampler with a built in 16 step sequencer. It has 16 velocity sensitive pads that can trigger samples or loops, you can program it in a step sequencer style, it can be synced to the clock of the Pioneer CDJs via Pro DJ Link, or with other equipment's MIDI clock, touch screen control, and as a cherry on top, it has analog filters by famous Dave Smith AKA "The Father Of MIDI". A lot of features to consider indeed.
We are not going to question the quality of manufacturing, cause Pioneer is already well known for its top quality DJ gear that is long lasting and was good enough to become the overall industry standard. We will focus on features, and the usability of them.
First of all, it is pretty convenient to have 16 samples (or loops) displayed simultaneously on a large screen, so that you can see with what you are working with. Every sample can be manipulated using time stretch, pitch bend and app envelope, it can be routed on 8 different line outputs (there is also a headphone out for monitoring). The device itself can hold 8 GBs of samples in its internal memory, that would be enough for most users, but it also has a USB port, so that you can load samples from the external media as well.
Now we come to the "cherry on the top" that are the Dave Smith's analog filters. Dave, who is a big part of the promotion of this unit, said that those are the same filters that are in his famous Prophet-06 synthesizer, and that they will give the sound an overall analog warmth. There is a low-pass and a high-pass filter on the device. First one has standard frequency and resonance knobs, but also has a drive know, that adds some overdrive distortion to the sound, giving it a bit more power and character. Obviously, Dave is brought on board on this one for the quality of the sound, and as a guy that will get some sound purist, gear head crowd interested in this one as well.
The sequencer is a basic 16 step one, if you used any one before, you will be at home here.
To sum it up, this piece of machinery has a lot of potential, maybe not for some serious studio work, as it looks like that wasn't the intention in the first place, but in the live setup or combined with some decks, it can do a lot of interesting things. Sad thing is that it will be mostly used by EDM morons, that will trigger a lot of cheesy samples and instant loops to create an illusion that they "are doing it live", it will be a lot of same pattern - different shitty sample button pounding (m-m-m-make some noise and stuff), but they are already doing it with their colorful controllers. On the other hand if you know how to use this kind of gear, and have good music taste, you will appreciate the simple layout and usability of this one. When we add Pioneer's known reliability and the fact that their gear is always keeping the price for a long time, I would give this one a try. You will probably be able to sell it on after a while and get most of your money back.
On the other hand, its too much money for bedroom DJs and beginner producers, most of the Pioneer's pro products are, maybe its a better idea for them to get a cheap MIDI drum pad, that will do the trick for now.