What is the Best Pioneer CDJ for You?

With the launch of Rekordbox 3.0, Pioneer will not only further entrench their existing users, but also attract new users; perhaps even those who’ve only worked with software solutions in the past. Many DJs prefer the plug-and-play simplicity of the CDJ ecosystem containing no less than 4 models. For those looking to buy new decks or upgrade their existing kit this begs the question: Which CDJ is the right for you?

We’ll be reviewing the new version of Rekordbox soon, as part of our plans to expand our coverage of the Rekordbox ecosystem, once we’ve had plenty of time to put it through its paces. But one topic which comes up in the DJTT forum quite regularly is ‘which CDJ should I buy?’ So today we’re taking a look at the various options available to buyers. Do you really need the fancy features of a Nexus rig? Or will the budget models do the business for you? We’ll help you decide.

Why no Denon/Numark/Reloop/etc?

There’s no question, that in many parts of the world, the various models of Pioneer CDJs are very much the ‘standard’ when it comes to club and bar installations. If you are a working DJ, it is guaranteed that you will be presented with a pair to use at some point in your career.

That’s not to say that other brands of player don’t have their fans, or indeed advantages. Denon’s spinning platter models are a completely different take on the idea of a media player, for example, and are much loved by many. It will be interesting to see what new directions Denon’s gear takes now their DJ division is owned by inMusic (home of Numark, Akai, and many others).

For this article we’re keeping it simple, and sticking to Pioneer. By no means are we suggesting that you should only look at Pioneer players, far from it, but if you are, this is the kind of information you need to know.

The CDJ-350 – Cheap and cheerful?

Despite its diminutive size, the CDJ-350 has much in common with its larger cousins. The layout feels familiar, with all the buttons in the traditional place. The jog wheels are nicely balanced, and although they don’t have any kind of position indicator, and perfectly competent for scratching. They’ll take data exported from your Rekordbox library onto a USB stick in much the same way as the rest of the range do.

Obviously aimed at beginners, the 350 has a few functions which will aid newbies in getting their beats locked in time. The playback BPM is displayed to one decimal point, just like the top end players, which means you can set the tempo very precisely by eye, especially if using the +/-6% pitch range, which offers a resolution of 0.02%. It’s lacking any wide pitch range, like the +/-100% found on other models, but for day-to-day mixing the maximum 16% should do the trick. There’s a beatgrid display, using Rekordbox grid data, which lets you line up the downbeats of your mix nicely, and a tempo lock, which will playback each loaded track at a precise master BPM which you can set on the fly.

So what’s missing? Well, that beatgrid display is in place of any kind of waveform. A DJ coming to the 350s from the software world might find that a little disconcerting. There’s no link – so you’ll need to use two USB sticks with the players, and there won’t be any kind of shared history, which is always a blessing during long sets. The big feature which is lacking is access to cue points. Pioneer updated the firmware of the 350 to enable the first cue point which has been set in Rekordbox to be loaded automatically, instead of the regular auto cue, but if that’s not the cue point you want, you’re out of luck.

The Pioneer CDJ-350 costs about $599 (Amazon).

CDJ-850 – Middle of the Road?

The CDJ-850 is a definite upgrade (in most respects) from the 350. Featuring a ‘standard’ CDJ size jog wheel, the layout is largely identical to the flagship players. The screen, whilst not approaching the quality of the 2000/900 Nexus, has one extra line of text compared to the 350, and offers a basic, but functional, waveform display. One step back from the 350 is the BPM display, with no decimal points. Some purists might think that a good thing, but it is a little jarring, as every other current player in the range has a single decimal place.

Overall, the 850 has much more to offer the DJ who plays in a more ‘vinyl’ style. As well as the bigger platter, with position indicator, you get adjustable start/stop time (on one knob) too, allowing for gradual wind-downs.

Cueing, is, in many ways, the killer upgrade from the 350. There are no hot cues, but multiple cuepoints and saved loops can be recalled from the player, one at a time. That’s one way to get quantised loops going on the 850; by saving them in the software, then loading them from USB. They aren’t quite as tight as on the 2000/900, but the in and out points should remain in pretty much the right place. Otherwise, the unit features no quantising whatsoever, which makes the onboard autoloop section on the top right rather hit and miss.

At this level, you’re still missing the link function, and the display just doesn’t compare to the more expensive models, but as you can score a pair of 850s for not much more than a single 2000 Nexus, they do sit in a fairly sweet spot in the range.

A Pioneer CDJ-850 will run about $699 (Amazon)

CDJ-900 Nexus – The 2K Killer?

The original CDJ-900 was a step up from the 850 in many ways, but ultimately pretty similar in terms of overall feel. The 900 Nexus is a different proposition altogether.

Like its forebear, it’s the cheapest model to feature the link feature, meaning you can chain up to four mixed & matched units (plus 2 laptops, and a DJM-900 Nexus mixer) together, and have them all share music, and beatgrid information.

That’s a big deal, but the most noticeable improvement over the 850 is the simply gorgeous high-resolution screen. Offering both an overview waveform, for the entire track, and a larger zoomable waveform display, it will feel much more comfortable for users of Dj software, who are used to having detailed displays of this type for their music. The BPM display to one decimal point makes a return, after being missing from the 850 and the original 900, and Pioneer’s sync feature makes an appearance, for better or worse. For the record, it works very well, as long as your grids are set correctly in Rekordbox, and integrates seamlessly with the on-deck quantizing on the 900 Nexus.

Looping is pretty intuitive, with both manual and auto looping covered. It’s not quite as accessible as on the 2000 Nexus but plenty usable. In many respects the 900 Nexus is more about ‘trick mixing’ than the other models – the beat divide buttons and slip mode allow for some pretty interesting creative effects.

The CDJ-900 Nexus is available in the DJTT store for $1399.

CDJ-2000 Nexus – The Big Dawg

With the 900 Nexus being such an impressive player, many could look at the extra money a pair of CDJ-2000 Nexus demands as being a waste of money. In some respects, they might be right – truly, the improvements are kind of subtle, but for some DJs, they will be all-important.


Hot cues is the largest omission from the 900 Nexus, and they’re present on the 2000 Nexus. They’re much improved over the original 2000, too, as now you can set a preference in Rekordbox to load them automatically for each track. On the original, they were ‘there’, but you had to recall them to each button individually, which was a bit of a faff. You can also assign loops to the hot cue buttons too, which opens up some great creative possibilities.

All of the large CDJs have a level of tension on the jog wheel which doesn’t feel wildly dissimilar, but on the 2000 Nexus you do have the ability to tweak that to your own liking. Likewise, for vinyl-style DJs, the separate dials for adjusting start and stop times are a nice touch.

The first is the SD card slot. It can be a little disconcerting to see a larger USB drive, like a Sandisk Cruzer Extreme, sticking out of the top of a CDJ – what happens if a requester leans across it? So having your media safely tucked away in the player is reassuring. It also means that even with only two players, you can have four sources (2 USB, 2 SD) connected at once, allowing you to carry more music without dealing with an external hard drive.

The last is the touch strip – whilst Needle Search is rarely essential, it means you can enter loop mode and simply touch your desired auto loop length, and it also makes for much faster track searching. Touching one letter after another is a lot faster than ‘dialling in’ each letter as you have to with the other models.

If you want to score a CDJ-2000 Nexus, their street price is $1999 each (DJTT store).

Notes on HID

For this article we’ve looked primarily at using the CDJs with Rekordbox analysed files via USB or SD cards. Obviously all the models still work fine with CDs, too, although the majority of the features you’re paying for go unused. If all you want to do is play CDs, then frankly, a cheap pair of used CDJ-1000s will do the job just fine. Many of them out there have had a hard life, but they do tend to last, as evidenced by the numbers still found in DJ booths today.

If you still want to use your existing DJ software with CDJs, without needing timecode CDs, then you’ll need to pay careful attention to how compatible your software is with each model.

Mixvibes and VirtualDJ will play nicely with the whole range, as will Serato DJ, which includes compatibility with the 900 Nexus in the latest version. Native Instruments recently added support for the CDJ 900 Nexus and the new XDJ-1000 in Traktor Pro 2.8.

The 350 and 850 only feature ‘regular’ rather than ‘advanced’ HID, but in practice that really only means a lack of waveform display sent to the players from the software. You can use any of the range to control pretty much anything via midi, instead of HID, but we wouldn’t recommend it.

To be completely honest, if your sole intention is to use HID mode to control your software, then buying any of the CDJs is a rather large investment for what is, basically, a pair of big midi controllers, and you might want to think seriously about whether it’s worth it. It works well (Carl Cox uses four 2000 Nexus players linked to Traktor at all his gigs now), but it’s a huge, and probably unnecessary outlay for most DJs. Learn more about using CDJs in HID mode with Traktor or Serato.

Wrap Up

The current CDJ range features some wonderful kit, although none of the models are ‘perfect’, for sure. The 2000 Nexus comes close, but with 2 of them running the price of a decent used car, they really ought to. If you can live without hot cues, then the 900 Nexus is a fine investment, offering an experience very close to the 2000 Nexus with a pretty substantial cost saving.

The 350s will make for a good starter setup, offering enough functions to get anyone mixing on a basic level, and allowing beginners to join the Rekordbox ecosystem at a (relatively) bargain price.

Of the current range, the one that sticks out most in 2014 is the CDJ-850. The lack of quantizing for loops, and the basic screen, make it feel like a big step down from the 900 Nexus, even if you can live without the link feature. This is pure speculation, but it would not be surprising to see a ‘Nexus’ update to the 850 soon enough, so if you’re shopping at that mid-range pricepoint, you might want to wait until at least the holiday season to see if Pioneer drops something new.

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    […] for a start.  No, instead, the XDJ-1000 is a replacement for the CDJ-850. In my round-up of the CDJ range for DJ TechTools earlier in 2014, I identified the 850 as a model which was overdue for a refresh, as compared to the Nexus players […]

  • beatlogik

    Can anyone comment on the sound quality between the 900 Nexus and 2000 Nexus? Do they use different converters

  • Sean Perignon

    I am a music artist and want to get into Dj ing…which is the best unit to purchase? The pioneer cdj 2000 or the Numark Ns7 3

  • Jay

    Proud owner of a 900-nexus ????

  • pedro

    i got 2 Pioneer CDJ-2000 nexus for sell for 1500 but no AC cord email me for more info.

  • Sleez

    This was super helpful. Thanks, guys. I did my homework and pulled the trigger on a set of 850s on clearance at Sam Ash ($500 apiece brand new) a while back. It’s been a great decision. Since I learned how to spin on vinyl and have always used Traktor in a very basic DVS kinda way (no beatgrids, sync, remix decks, hotcues etc), the limited feature set is fine with me. The 850s are solid and they do the job, and (very importantly) although they’re not exactly cheap, I feel comfortable taking these to a bar gig or a sloppy warehouse party. My laptop+controller setup cost the same amount as my current setup (2 850s+ecler nuo 2) and being able to leave my laptop at home is SUPER RAD.

  • paolosimo

    I use my S4 with my two MK 3 1210’s. I find I only really use my S4 these days. My fear and question I have is, I want to start playing out at local clubs bars (I feel I’m ready) but I have gone from using vinyl to DVS straight to the S4. I have never used a CDJ. I am aware it may not be that necessary now, but I want to buy at least one to get me used to it and not look a plum or sound a plum……..bit scared and help/advice would be appreciated.

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  • Kataroshkin

    This is my opinion, with cdjs and a mixer I tend to have more fun nowadays. I have been trough it all from controllers to dvs to ableton live. etc. The thing is with computers that I tend to concentrate more on the way of doing things, while with cdjs I tend to concentrate more about the music. Now that rekordbox 3.0 has come out, It has become one of the best ways to prepare sets. Im 100% aware that you can do it all with your controller setup, and much more. Its hard to explain but i feel that the more “unplugged” it gets, (love playing vinyl also) the more i enjoy it. But thats just my opinion. Would LOVE to see a cdm without the cd mechanism though. I am waiting for a aero xdj-2 with larger screens or cdjs without cd drive.

  • Paul van Groove

    If you want to play from USB or SD, you should be aware that non of the CDJs supports FLAC as a file format (open-standard, compressable, but non-destructive format as offered by cdbaby, bandcamp, junodownloads, HDTracks and others).
    I assume if you spin Traktor and use the CDJs just as controllers that should work.


  • dj jsn

    you gotta have at least $4000 to spin these days lol

  • shuji

    after 2000models are too decorative.

  • efrazable

    PLEASE do a Pioneer CDJ alternatives comparison (denon, gemini, numark, etc)

  • DJ Kleb

    I’d just say get the DDJ SZ… you can add CDJ’s/iPods and its almost as full fledged as the 2000nxs but with beat pads. I think its just the better choice out of everything.

    • Oddie O'Phyle

      i’ll stick with my cdj’s and my Z2… if i run into problems with my laptop, i can just run the cdj’s through the analog part of my mixer. it makes it easy to share a show with friends. recordbox prepped usb key, traktor or serato (without routing through the through channel in software).

    • Darken

      At the cost of sound quality. Sorry, but the controllers just don’t offer sq compared to a component setup with a dedicated mixer, dedicated cdj.

  • Joseph Wilk

    I’d be really interested in a massive chart-based feature comparison that also includes the original 900 and 2000.

  • The Great DJ Swindle

    “The 2000 Nexus comes close, but with 2 of them running the price of a decent used car, they really ought to”

    This summarizes my thoughts: the only Pioneer CDJ worth buying is the 2000 but still is obscenely overpriced for what it is and for it’s built quality.

  • tony corless

    >>(Carl Cox uses four 2000 Nexus players linked to Traktor at all his gigs now)

    you sure about that!!! I thought he gave up using traktor a couple of years ago.anyway if I’m wrong please could you post the evidence.

      • tony corless

        I stand corrected,spotted the x1s in both videos thanks

    • b

      he did…but he’s back at it for quite some time now..check all of his 2014 videos on youtube for example.

      by the way : i love my 900nxs players…bought them to move away from traktor, best choice ever, to me, it brought the fun back in djing.

      • Gavin Varitech

        So long as everywhere you play has 900nxs’ or better that is a great plan. If you are not Carl Cox you may not be able to demand such a thing though. Traktor makes it so you can plan on pretty much any decks with timecode and don’t have to worry about what they’ll have at a gig.

        • b

          it does not matter so much..when there is a gig that does that have nxs players i can still use traktor.
          but as far as i know, the 850 / 900/2000 and both nxs players all support rekordbox and play from usb, so i should be allright unless there are cdj 1000’s or others.
          anyway i bought those nxs players for my own pleasure, as somebody said above:
          with traktor / controllers i am constantly focussing on what i am doing, wich button to press, wich effects to use? scrolling thru playlists etc..as with the cdjs i just go and mix and have a bit of that old vinyl feeling..simply put : for me its just more fun..i get more satisfaction out of it.

  • QAMRONparq

    I’m still wondering why they haven’t added dual deck output and control – like on controllers with four faders and only two platters. For $2000 I want two stereo outs and an A/B button/switch. Make the pitch a touch strip with LED feedback and you’re golden. Seriously… Two. Thousand. Dollars. For ONE track. I’ll stick with my DVS.

  • Aaron Davidson

    Love my CDJ 850s. I picked them up pretty cheap – I think they were open box at Guitar Center for something like $450 or 500 each. Great features, very flexible, works great with Rekordbox. Just DJed a few gigs on CDJ 900s and 2000’s and was very well prepared for them. If you want to prep for club gis, they’re great equipment.

  • Thilo Be Cker

    Important for the CDJ850:
    The autoloop function is completely useless! It only runs at 1/75 frames per second, and you can therefore not get accurate loops! I had a pair myself and sold them because of that!
    Talked to the pioneer tech support, and they said it was a known error that can’t be fixed.
    It has a decimal point in the BPM counter with the latest firmware and rekordbox though!

  • Oddie O'Phyle

    *edit*- The BPM display to one decimal point makes a return, after being missing from the 850 and the original 900.

    tracks prepared through recordbox show BPM on the orginal 900’s 3 line screen. BPM box is on lower right of the screen framed in red. the orginal 900’s also have twice the frame rate compared to the 850 model. tempo adjustment on the 900 is 0.05% with the tempo adjust on the 850 being at 0.1%.

    • Mojaxx

      Actually both the 900 and the 850 share the same pitch resolutions:

      0.02% at +/-6%, 0.05% at +/- 10% & 16%, 0.5% at WIDE

      • Oddie O'Phyle

        i was under the impression that cdj 850 adjusts at 1/75 frames per second, where as the 900 works with .5 frames . figured that the pitch fade would also have tighter rez too. i personally haven’t used the 850’s as i found a pair of 900’s for $800cdn a side a year ago.

  • deejae snafu

    Hey ean, I know I can easily dig up prices on these but having the price points broken down within the article would be a nice feature when comparing the units.

    • Ean Golden

      Good point! We can update the article

    • Dan White

      Updated with prices and links for your convenience 🙂

  • James 'Pioneer' Burkill

    with the recent introduction of the numark NV, think that pioneer should put the functions of the nexus-900 & combine this DDJ-SZ that should be the new standard, no more ridiculouslly overpriced, (Crap platinum) setups. just 1 controll interface all can use in 1 unit.

  • KoenraadVDS

    The CDJ 900 NEXUS is not HID compatible with Traktor, Serato,.. as far as I know.

    • Mojaxx

      It is with Serato DJ now, still not with Traktor though.

  • RareItchProject

    The one you can afford.

  • SoyOllin

    The CDJ900 works perfectly with traktor with advanced HID enabled. All you do is plug em into your computer and you are good to go!

    • Mojaxx

      The original 900, does indeed work great with Traktor over HID. Unfortunately, the 900 Nexus doesn’t at this time.

    • Oddie O'Phyle

      it’s nice when you can plug them into the usb hub of a Z2 and only have 1 usb cable running to your lappy too. 😉

      • Will

        That’s my setup!

        • Oddie O'Phyle

          mine too, with a pair of F1’s

      • Mark Smith

        That’s my setup however I’m using CDJ-400’s running HID. They were the first decks to be able to do this and I picked up a pair used for a little less than the cost of one CDJ-350. They work great!

  • chris

    with nice connector, sophisticated knobs, and a carrier for a can play for 7 days?

  • on HID mode. I recommend all the opener DJ’s who come through the club I work for that use Traktor to try it out. If you are showing up to a club with CDJ2000’s & a 900nexus, all you need to bring is your laptop & 2 USB cables. If you want to control effects separately in Traktor as well then bring a Kontrol X1, otherwise just use the FX on the 900nexus. I try to explain that even tho they don’t have that setup at home to practice on, it does “look” more professional playing on a full setup than a S4 or S2 or whatever controller. I’m not knocking controllers, there are DJ’s who can do amazing things with them, but if you’re just using it for simple mixing, nothing too advanced, and you show up to a professional club with the industry standard equipment installed, try and make yourself look as versatile & professional as possible. don’t be afraid to try out the HID mode if you’ve never used it. it’s not much different from mixing on your S4, might even like it more!

    • Mojaxx

      Good shout.

      Personally when I’ve used that kind of setup with Traktor, I’ve used the soundcard in the mixer, giving me four channels with 2 CDJs and 2 X1s, using the second X1 for decks C&D.

      Lots of options!

    • Ean Golden

      this is a really good idea for anyone that is using the standard mappings for X1 or S4. for me my mapping is so customized (the play button has 12 functions alone) that the CDJ’s would be a step back. If people are not using mappings to their full potential – there is really no reason to be on controllers in general…

      • SJ

        Disagree with your final statement. Surely cost is a good enough reason for someone to choose a controller over other options?

        • Martin Wilson

          If a pair of XDJs cost the same as an S8, I’d undoubtedly go that route. But the PIO gear is sooooo expensive.

          • Peter Lindqvist

            It’s always been expensive to DJ on a pro level and still is. The difference now is that you can start with cheap gear that has all the blingbling of a pro setup and the some. What you don’t get is the reliability and durability that pro gear gives you.

            Trust me, when you’re doing several gigs/week and use your own gear most of the time, you want stuff that works. Every time, the whole gig, for years. If you get a rep of someone who brings gear that quit working, no matter how short break or how fast you get going, you’re out. I have 0 errors on my gear during playtime since 1995, that’s the level of reliability I’m talking about.

            If you go pro as a laptop DJ, check the latest prices on a Mac Book Pro/1-2TB SSD and you realize it’s not because it’s cheap. Note, pro’s brings 2 of those laptops just to be sure. I stick to the NXS2’s because I cant afford a Mac Book Pro, definitely not 2, every 4th year and a Pro level controller on top of that.

            I do love playing around with Dj software at home with my existing laptop when it doesn’t matter. Another story.

      • Gavin Varitech

        No reason to be on controllers in general if you;re not using them to their full potential (I assume that means having the play button having 12 functions)?

        That is nonsense. How about if they enjoy using them and they fit well into their workflow.

        I personally use timecode or HID in Traktor and for the most part still play/mix everything by hand/ear like I did before I went digital. But I have an X1 MK2 that I use with the default mapping for transport, looping, and effects. I have no interest in custom mapping of any kind, they serve no purpose for me. And trust me when I tell you I don’t just play tunes and blend them every few minutes. I put in work.


        “If people are not using mappings to their full potential – there is really no reason to be on controllers in general”

        Wut? I guess that’s a matter of preference and habits.
        For me It’s amazing to plug in 2 usb cables into the CDJ 2000 nexus of a venue, add the X1 Mk2 (standard mapping) and rock a set with Traktor.

        Traktor gives me way better access to my collection than the screens on the CDJs or a connected Rekordbox*. The X1 naturally extends Traktor for browsing, looping and effects while the CDJs are the perfect control surface for pitching, pitch bending and a little scratch here and there. Tho I must say I’m on the more boring side of playing one record after another 😉

        With an added Rekordbox USB key (synced via Rekord Buddy) I always have a backup plan if for whatever reason my laptop goes awry – a rare occurence but it can happen…

        *= Usually I never find network switch available at a venue to connect a laptop to the CDJs. Additionally the new Rekordbox is far better, but still not suitable compared to Traktor for me.

        • FUNK SINATRA

          Does the rekord buddy support the latest trakotrrekordbox versions?

  • seb nz

    Good article. But reading it gives me this feeling that each model is artificially separated. Or put another way it doesn’t seem like there are any good reasons why the 350 couldn’t have some of the features of the 2000 like multiple cue points, and which Traktor/Serato uses take for granted. So basically Pioneer have purposefully retarded the hardware to force users to upgrade.

    • Steve Francesco

      $599 vs $2000, any company in their right mind would make sure there was a logical reason to choose the higher priced one.

      No company in their right mind is going to cannibalize sales by throwing bells and whistles seen as “essential” by many users into the cheaper package. If there is a chance they can make a larger profit by forcing the upgrade. Thats just good business.

      • seb nz

        I think good business is about being honest with your customers about what your products can and can’t do.

        • Steve Francesco

          Does the manual for the 350 mention cue points ? .. nope.

          Could Cuepoints have been included ? Perhaps with an increase in components, design and software costs which would result in a higher retail price.

          If you are jumping between cue points you would need to Buffer each cue point in memory so it makes sense that additional memory, buttons, software and potentially more processing power in order to perform jumps in short succession would be needed

          Would it have made a big difference to their thousands of sales of 350’s ? It would Probably increase sales marginally on the 350, with other low end users already opting for similar priced units e.g. denon/numark,

          Would it have made an impact on their higher end gear ? Most certainly as most people will only spend what they need to.

          Ultimately Its up to them what they decide will be in their best interest. Its up to the buyer to decide what are their requirements and which model fits their needs best based on the specifications supplied on each unit.

          I understand that without decisions like that being made by the upper management bigwigs, Pioneer as DJ brand would probably not be nearly as big as it is right now and probably would not have the financial backup that enables it to bring new products to the market at the scale it does.

          Bottom line though, they never mis-represented their products. All it takes is comparing the documentation between their various models and you can see clearly what is, or is not a feature prior to purchase. So why bitch and moan about something that was never promised in the first place though? Artificially crippled or not. its their decision to not include certain features to certain models and your decision to make if it will impact you buying from them or go elsewhere.


          • seb nz

            Steve it sounds like you have a real axe to grind when it comes to other user’s views of Pioneer.

            My last reply to you was a point about business ethics. I posted that reply because I’m tired of hearing that businesses can do whatever they want to do in the name of profit. I think that point applies especially when one player has market dominance (like Pioneer does in DJing equipment).

            I think your reply about whether the 350 can do cue points is simply speculative. The bottom line is – you don’t know.

            You obviously have a different view from me on this so let’s just leave it at that 🙂

          • Steve Francesco

            Not just Pioneer, but thats besides the point – one of those night where I needed a good ‘ol opinionated rant hehe. 😉

      • CUSP

        The best companies will offer a product or service that does all of the basics for you (at a price you can afford), but will offer shiny, new, hotness for “a nominal increase in price.”

        I look at this product line and I do not think “natural progression from basic to advanced”, I think “someone started with all the bells and whistles and cut down functionality based on price.” When customers see this, they hate it enough to go someplace else, simply because the customer is not at the heart of the company’s focus.

        Link and cues should be available on all CDJ players. Features like waveforms and build quality/feel, should get progressively better as you move up the scale. If you don’t get all the deluxe features when you buy something, you should be able to buy a “bridge”, later that has the features you want, feels good to use, and costs a bit more than buying the integrated system up-front. Did the guys at Pioneer not take this Marketing/Product Development course?

        Sometimes I feel like Pioneer has a (team of) tortured genius artist designing everything to the best of their abilities, but they’re only allowed to release what the conniving, lout, penny-pinching jerks in charge of their line-up allow them to.

        I wish the people in charge of marketing understood that buying DJ gear is not a one-time thing, people will evolve their gear as they see fit, which means if they like a product, they’ll very likely “come back to the same well” for the next round (Product loyalty). Who would want to buy a CDJ-350 and be proud to say they have it, noting that some core elements of good DJing are missing? This kind of mid-step actually hurts companies because people feel cheated.

        • Steve Francesco

          The lowest end player, the CDJ 350, while it doesn’t have the features you want, does not make it a “bad” player, and it has all the core elements “Good DJ’ing” needs, pitch, cue, Rekordbox, Midi and more.

          The 90+% of the 350’s do their job to a very satisfactory level in smaller bars, lounges, mobile DJ setups and Hire companies.

          Hot Cues, link or waveforms do not make “Good Djing”, and in the circumstances where the majority of 350’s are deployed they simply are not needed – if they were, they would not sell, right ?

          I agree, and have no doubt there is more than a few tortured designers that have some amazing prototypes in the Pioneer bunker that wont see the light of day for years yet. But why would they bother releasing gear with a ton of potentially “controversial” and perhaps expensive features when half the DJ community are still arguing over Sync !

          Personally I think Pioneer Aced their marketing class – giving people only what they need regardless of whats been invented already. It has been a classic marketing strategy for years, and it works – sure it’d be nice to get more bang for buck, but simplicity and slow development cycle is also the key to reliability.

          Loyalty is not only bought with features, but as much with reliability and an easy upgrade path – which they do provide in the form of Reckordbox and their many other CDJ (and now XDJ) units.

    • Mojaxx

      Part of the reason for me writing this article, was that I have spent many weeks researching this topic, as I was looking to buy a pair of CDJs myself.

      The reason given by Pioneer on their forums for why the low end models can’t do certain things is ‘processing power’. How accurate that is, I don’t know. It makes sense for things like quantizing, but seems a little unrealistic for things like accessing cue points.

      However, I guess we have to remember that Pioneer are a business; it’s their job to make people want to buy the more expensive models… 😉

      • seb nz

        I understand Pioneer is a business, but I’m against the idea that this gives them a right to misrepresent their products (again assuming that’s the case).

      • William

        It’s nonsense. If a Radius 3000 can have hot cues then a CDJ 350 can have them too.

    • Peter Lindqvist

      I really don’t get the whining here. Pioneer are the leading manufacturer of DJ equipment and the Club standard for a reason, and it’s never been about the number of knobs ‘n’ leds. It’s all about basics, reliability and durability that Pro DJ’s not only want but demand. If you could build those machines cheap(er) with a reasonable profit, someone would. But they don’t, guess why?

      About their Pro gear, NXS2. If you think to buy them as an investment, go ahead. If you think of it as a cost, there’s better options for you. Here it is, Pioneer DJ offers a whole line up of gear that can do amazing stuff, with Serato and Rekordbox Dj. Somewhat also Traktor. For as little as $250 you get the DDJ-RB, with a full licens for RB DJ. All the bells n’ whistles… What’s there to complain about? When I started, I had to choose between the Technics 1200’s and… yeah, nothing.

      Now with Denon coming forward with their new gear, people immediately start complaining about the price given, even before the release. Understand what kind of risk economically is involved here. A flop here and people will lose their jobs and who knows if Denon can survive at all. Let’s hope that Denon fans after all the whining about expensive Pioneer gear, know support the competition Denon gives, so we have have a healthy market for the future.

  • penguinsdoom

    This articular is very informative about CDJs and i will be bookmarking this for the next time a club forces me to use them. Other the that, is it just me or are CDJs outdated.

    • drhiggens

      its just you

    • Andrew Peek

      not to be rude but it is you, and many like you. There is a sense of professionalism when you’re playing a 10K 4 deck rig as opposed to even a great DDJ-SZ controller. These things test the sands of time, they are on every headliners rider, they don’t require a laptop, yet some prefer it. they look great they, they work great and they can be tweaked to each players preference when you stick in that USB. I am curious to see what is next, I think we deserve Beat slice FX like on the 900 NXS, and HOT CUES on the same player but then you’ll change the shape and overall size. but oh well.

      • lokey

        still though. not exactly pushing the envelope.

        • Gavin Varitech

          And thank god for that! They do everything working deejays want them to do. Pushing the envelope for the sake of pushing the envelope is lame.

          Besides, since when has “not pushing the envelope” equaled “outdated”?

          • lokey

            well, if your goal is to be ‘a working dj’, then this will do you fine. personally, there are so many more interesting approaches to live electronic performances, ‘djing’ is pretty low down the list of exciting activities. ‘outdated’ in the sense of ‘why arent you trying to do more with your performance’. but hey! if you’re happy with the orthodox approach, then pioneer and inmusic will be more than happy to sell you a device thats tailored to that skillset. not something im prepared to keep pursuing though, there’s a broader realm of electronic performance beyond djing.

          • Gavin Varitech

            Why are you trying to do more with your performance? What is the goal? I used to be all about that. I used to be as cutting edge and pushing the envelope as one can be when it came to this stuff. Then I got over myself and the “look at me” part of the game.

            Its all about the experience of the people that paid money to come out that night. Except for a few nerdy chinscratchers holding up the wall and trainspotting pushing the envelope rarely enhances any of the paying customers experience. More often than not in fact it takes away from it.

            Don’t take any of that to mean that just “pushing play” is OK just because someone at the party enjoys themselves. It isn’t.

          • lokey

            well, im obviously not going to change your mind here, but are you really equating live musical performance with a ‘look at me’ ego worship? i think thats hopelessly dismissive.

          • Gavin Varitech

            You didn’t answer my question. What is your goal of pushing the envelope gear-wise?

          • lokey

            well, its to move us past the ‘play one song/play another song’ approach of the dj which has prevailed. To allow more originality and spontaneity to live performance of electronic music, and give artists more direct control in a smaller and more playable package. If thats not your cup of tea, well and good, but i think there’s a real desire to see more than mixing when it comes to live performance.

          • Gavin Varitech

            So when you say your answer is about watching and seeing what the “DJ” is doing you are saying exactly what I said about the “look at me” thing when it comes to playing. You didn’t mention ANYTHING that would enhance a paying customer’s night out.

            Besides all that, we’ve been able to do way more than just “play one song/play another song” for decades. If that is all someone is doing with a $6,000 Pioneer set up that is their fault, not the gear’s.

          • lokey

            are you replying to someone else dude? Nowhere do i speak about ‘watching what the dj is doing’. I gave you some concrete and practical improvements i personally want to see in a turntable that would make it practical for the kind of music i perform. This isnt about ‘enhancing a paying customers night out’, this is about -making music- and the tools which would enhance that process.

          • Gavin Varitech

            “i think there’s a real desire to see more than mixing when it comes to live performance”

          • lokey

            thats a colloquial expression, it doesnt have to refer to actual vision. Dont be so pedantic.

          • Andrew Peek

            why come here and complain that a cdj isn’t a live pa piece of gear??? they aren’t trying to sell it as anything but. you wanna add a maschine and/or F1 into your live rig go ahead!!! your comment isn’t valid to be honest. It’s like saying my BMW M5 can’t fly, but in case you’re JUST trying to drive on the road then by all means a dealership will sell you one.

          • Oddie O'Phyle

            just my opinion, but my F1’s look pretty sweet beside my 900’s. the fact that i can create a few stems in maschine and collect them into a remix set just means that when i get bored with a track (as it always happens when they get played out), i can do a live dub giving people a fresh taste on an old flavor.

          • lokey

            well and good. But its not going to get my monies. If you want a simple cdj, there you go, throw your money at it and do something good with it. But it doesnt offer much to me, and i think that opinion worth sharing around. Not everyone is content to play dj.

          • teknik1200

            that’s the fault of a lazy dj, not the gear they use.

            I can rock two turntables and a mixer with a house set with as many cuts and fades as a scratch dj.

      • Dillinger23

        stand the test of time i think you mean!