Pioneer CDJ: The Ultimate Guide

CDJ-2000nexus

CDJ-2000nexus

The Pioneer CDJ is a now-iconic lineup of DJ-oriented CD players which have been the nightclub standard for well over a decade. When the CDJ-500 was first introduced way back in 1994, turntables ruled the roost. For DJs who were interested in transitioning into the digital realm, many of the features and design cues sought to emulate the general workings of a vinyl turntable. For instance, the jog wheel was introduced in order to give DJs a way to “nudge” the track back and forth… similar to what you might do when touching a record. Many of these concepts and design features have held up all the way through the current flagship model!

The CDJ-1000 was the model that really established Pioneer as the industry standard in the DJ booth, especially after the MK2 model was introduced in 2003. It was widely accepted as the first player capable of truly emulating the vinyl turntable… all the way down to the ability to scratch. Many of these players can still be found in bars, clubs, and bedrooms all over the world. Nowadays, the CDJ-2000nexus is Pioneer’s attempt to compete with the feature-set provided by laptop-based DJ setups (sync, high-resolution waveform displays, quantized looping, etc.)

The purpose of this guide is to be the most comprehensive, complete, and accurate source of data available for Pioneer CDJs of all models.  This guide is continuously updated (as are all the pages in the Passionate DJ Ultimate Guides section).  If you find an error, want to request an update, have something to add or just want to chat about anything in this guide, you’re always welcome to shoot me an email at david (at) passionatedj (dot) com.

Pioneer CDJ Terminology/Concepts

CDJ – a term derived from Pioneer’s original DJ player, the CDJ-500, a CDJ now refers to a line of media players that allow for control and manipulation of CDs (or other digital audio formats) using an emulated vinyl turntable surface.

Master Tempo – a function which allows for CDJs to change the playback speed of a track without affecting it’s pitch.  Some software packages refer to this as “key lock”.

Jog Wheel/Jog Dial – a quick-response dial making frame-by-frame search and cue point selection easy and accurate while providing a closer-to-vinyl turntable feel.  Though a feature of all Pioneer CDJs, the first jog dial was actually present on the Technics SL-P1200 in 1986.

Slip Mode – a feature on newer models which allows you to manipulate audio in certain ways (scratching or looping, for example) while the song continues to play “underneath”, unaffected.  When you stop manipulating the audio, playback continues from the point it would have if you had not touched it.  Native Instruments refers to this as “Flux Mode” in their Traktor software.

Nexus – a bit of a convoluted concept, “nexus” is an ecosystem provided by Pioneer’s top-tier lineup.  PRO DJ LINK makes connecting DJ mixers, multi players and other audio devices a breeze. Combine this with rekordbox, that allows DJs to work seamlessly on their performances, including preparing for an event at home, DJing at clubs, and applying feedback, and the resulting masterpiece is the “nexus system”.  Currently, the product lineup consists of the DJM-900nexus and the CDJ-2000nexus.

Rekordbox – a free Pioneer application for managing music files which can be played back on a Pioneer DJ Player (i.e. CDJ-2000, CDJ-900).  Rekordbox can be used to classify and search for music files stored on your computer and create playlists used for DJ performance; to detect, measure and adjust the beats, tempos (BPM) and other elements of your music files prior to performance; and to set and store point information (for cueing, looping, hot cueing, etc.) prior to performance.

CDJ Comparison

Model/Release
MP3
USB
MIDI/
HID
Scratch
Status/Price
CDJ-500
October 1994
NoNoNo No Discontinued
CDJ-500II
April 1996
NoNoNo No Discontinued
CDJ-500s/
CDJ-700

December 1997
NoNoNo No Discontinued
CDJ-100s
October 1998
NoNoNo No Discontinued
CDJ-1000
July 2001
NoNoNo YesDiscontinued
CDJ-800
November 2002
NoNoNo YesDiscontinued
CDJ-1000 MK2
July 2003
NoNoNo YesDiscontinued
CDJ-200
March 2005
YesNoNo No Discontinued
CDJ-800 MK2
March 2006
YesNoNo YesDiscontinued
CDJ-1000 MK3
March 2006
YesNoNo YesDiscontinued
CDJ-400
December 2007
YesYesYesYesDiscontinued
CDJ-900
September 2009
YesYesYesYesAvailable!
MSRP: $1600
Street Price
CDJ-2000
September 2009
YesYesYesYesDiscontinued
CDJ-350
March 2010
YesYesMIDI - yes
HID - no
YesAvailable!
MSRP: $800
Street Price
CDJ-850
August 2010
YesYesMIDI - yes
HID - yes for Serato, no for Traktor
YesAvailable!
MSRP: $999
Street Price
CDJ-2000nexus
September 2012
YesYesyesYesAvailable!
MSRP: $2399
Street Price

Details: Discontinued Models

CDJ-500

The model that started it all!  The Pioneer CDJ-500 was the first CDJ player, and boasted a number of industry firsts in the CD player realm.  The top-loading, flat-top design was well-suited to DJs transitioning from the world of vinyl.  It was designed for immediate playback without latency (to allow for cue accuracy), and was the first Pioneer CD player to feature a jog dial.  These early players even featured fader start (a feature which allowed you to start music playback using the crossfader or a channel fader on a compatible DJM-model mixer), looping, and “Master Tempo” (key lock).  Pioneer truly lived up to their name by conceptualizing this piece of history.

Pioneer CDJ-500

CDJ-500

Specifications:

  • Media format: CD, CD-R
  • Tempo control: +/- 10%
  • Frequency Response: 4Hz – 20kHz
  • Total Harmonic Distortion: 0.004 % or less (EIAJ)
  • Signal to Noise Ratio: 106 dB or more
  • Dynamic Range: 96 dB or more
  • Channel Separation: 98 dB or more
  • Power Supply: AC 220-240V, 50/60Hz
  • Power Consumption: 21 W
  • Dimensions: 320 x 362.1 x 98.5 mm
  • Net Weight: 4 kg

CDJ-500II

Effectively the “mark 2″ model of the original release, the CDJ-500II (and the similar CDJ-500ii Limited) featured minor improvements.  It’s performance was slightly faster, it had an adjustable “loop out” point (an industry first), and the maximum loop length was increased to ten minutes.

CDJ-500II Limited

CDJ-500II Limited

Specifications:

  • Media format: CD, CD-R
  • Tempo control: +/- 10%
  • Frequency Response: 4Hz – 20kHz
  • Total Harmonic Distortion: 0.004 % or less (EIAJ)
  • Signal to Noise Ratio: 106 dB or more
  • Dynamic Range: 96 dB or more
  • Channel Separation: 98 dB or more
  • Power Supply: AC 220-240V, 50/60Hz
  • Power Consumption: 17 W
  • Dimensions: 320 x 362.1 x 98.5 mm
  • Net Weight: 4 kg

CDJ-500S/CDJ-700S

If you’re confused as to why these two are listed together, don’t worry… they are actually the same player!  The CDJ-500S was released as the CDJ-700S in the United States.

The “S” in 500S stands for “small”.  Pioneer had learned a few things since introducing the CDJ in 1994… not the least of which was the fact that space was often limited in DJ booths!  These players also had a ready-made installation bracket which allowed them to be installed above traditional turntables… and two side-by-side players could be mounted in a standard 19″ rack.

Size wasn’t the only change introduced by the 500S/700S.  Pioneer also made improvements to reliability, and introduced the oil-damped shock absorption system which is still in use by modern CDJs.

Pioneer CDJ-700S

CDJ-700S

Specifications:

  • Media format: CD, CD-R
  • Tempo control: +/- 10%
  • Pitch Resolution: .10%
  • Frequency Response: 4Hz – 20kHz
  • Total Harmonic Distortion: 0.004 % or less (EIAJ)
  • Signal to Noise Ratio: 106 dB or more
  • Power Supply: AC 220-240V, 50/60Hz
  • Power Consumption: 21 W
  • Dimensions: 320 x 98.5 x 362.1 mm
  • Net Weight: 4 kg

CDJ-100S

In 1998, Pioneer introduced the first “bedroom model” of the CDJ lineup.  The 100S (this time, the “S” stands for “Silver”) ditched the top-loading CD tray for a front-loading slot… a design which has continued to this day.

The 100S introduced three on-board sound effects (Jet, Zip, and Wah).  Outside of this, the 100S was a very basic and cheap model intended for home use (notice the lack of loop controls, for example).

This model was superseded by the CDJ-200, and then the CDJ-350, as the lower-end model.

CDJ-100S

CDJ-100S

Specifications:

  • Media format: CD, CD-R/RW
  • Tempo control: +10%/-16%
  • Pitch Resolution: .10%
  • Frequency Response: 4Hz – 20kHz
  • Signal to Noise Ratio: 96 dB or more
  • Power Supply: AC 220-240V, 50/60Hz
  • Dimensions: 217 x 91 x 297 mm
  • Net Weight: 2.2 kg

CDJ-1000

Here’s where Pioneer starts to get serious.  The iconic CDJ-1000 is widely-regarded as the first practical DJ CD player which was capable of emulating the tried-and-true vinyl turntable.  Amongst these features were the ability, for the first time, to scratch in the same way you could scratch a record… using the nice, new, 7″ jog wheel design that would become the basis of all top-end Pioneer CDJs to follow it.

Pioneer added a number of improvements on top of this to make DJs feel more at home.  A display was introduced in the middle of the jog wheel which relayed positioning information… a handy tool for accurate cueing.  A (very basic) waveform display was introduced for the first time, and you could even reverse playback or simulate a turntable start/stop.  You could store up to 3 cue points per CD and store them on an MMC card.  The unit had its own beat counter, and it had tempo control ranges of +/-6%, +/-10%, +/-16% and +/-24% with a reset button.

The CDJ-1000 was popular because of its reliability and feature-set, but it’s also worth mentioning the timing here.  Just after the turn of the millennium, the idea of downloading music and burning your own CDs was becoming a known, feasible idea.  No longer did DJs have to cut acetate “dubplates” to play exclusive/rare tracks (which wore out after several plays)… now they could put it on a CD.  Not only that, but they could manipulate the tracks in the same way that they could with a real turntable.

CDJ-1000

CDJ-1000

Specifications:

  • Media format: CD, CD-R/RW
  • Tempo control: +/-24%
  • Pitch Resolution: .02%
  • Frequency Response: 4Hz – 20kHz
  • Signal to Noise Ratio: 115 dB or more
  • Total Harmonic Distortion: 0.006%
  • Power Supply: AC 220-240V, 50/60Hz
  • Dimensions: 320 x 370 x 105mm
  • Net Weight: 4.2 kg

CDJ-800

The general idea behind the creation of the 800 was to provide similar functionality to the now club-standard CDJ-1000, with a few less features, for a more reasonable price.  This was a sort of bridge between the “pro” club player and the bedroom’s CDJ-100S.  Though it was laid out in a similar manner to the 1000 and operated much the same way, the form factor was slightly different and it came in a silver finish.  Unlike it’s big brother, it could only store a single cue point and loop at a time.

Other differences include a center detent for pitch control at absolute zero (as opposed to the override button on the 1000), an auto-beat function (create a perfect 1/2, 1/4, 1/8 or full bar (1/1) beat loop instantly, just by touching the right button), and slightly different jog wheel function.  The 800 featured “quick return”, which (when enabled) would cause playback to stop and return to the cue point when pressing the jog wheel’s top surface.

This player allowed DJs to experience a fairly standard club setup, at a much more reasonable price point.

CDJ-800

CDJ-800

Specifications:

  • Media format: CD, CD-R/RW
  • Tempo control: +/-100%
  • Pitch Resolution: .05%
  • Frequency Response: 4Hz – 20kHz
  • Signal to Noise Ratio: 115 dB or more
  • Total Harmonic Distortion: 0.006%
  • Power Supply: AC 220-240V, 50/60Hz
  • Power Consumption: 21W
  • Dimensions: 305 x 109 x 344 mm
  • Net Weight: 3.9 kg

CDJ-1000 MK2

The “mark two” model of the club standard CDJ was the go-to player between 2003 – 2006, until the final revision was released later down the line.

This version of the 1000 wasn’t drastically different than the original, but it did have a few tweaks that made it more desirable.  Notably, an improved jog wheel and faster response time.  The mk2 also had a silver trim ring around the jog wheel… a subtle, but classy design change.  The pitch could also go +/- 100% now, just like the 800.

One more thing mentioning is that, with this model, you could now use the digital output for actual DJing.  In the original model, you could only use it for standard playback (it wouldn’t output, for instance, pitch changes).

CDJ-1000mk2

CDJ-1000mk2

Specifications:

  • Media format: CD, CD-R/RW
  • Tempo control: +/-100%
  • Pitch Resolution: .02%
  • Frequency Response: 4Hz – 20kHz
  • Signal to Noise Ratio: 115 dB or more
  • Total Harmonic Distortion: 0.006%
  • Power Supply: AC 220-240V, 50/60Hz
  • Power Consumption: 31W
  • Dimensions: 320 x 105 x 370 mm
  • Net Weight: 4.2 kg

CDJ-200

Around 2005, Pioneer probably started to realize that while they had established themselves in the club market, they hadn’t released a true budget home-use CDJ since ’98.  Thus was born the trusty CDJ-200.

This replaced the old CDJ-100s and was very similar in many ways.  It still had three built-in sound effects: jet, wah, and zip, though the sound quality of these were improved.  And, like its predecessor, the 200 did not support vinyl emulation.  This is the first time Pioneer produced a CDJ that you couldn’t scratch on since 1998.  Because of this, the CDJ-200 became very popular amongst dance/electronic DJs who were more interested in smooth blending of tracks.  This was aided by the fact that it now had the same 0.02% pitch resolution available on the high end of the market.

The CDJ-200 was also the first to support mp3 playback, which definitely caught the interest of many, and it also included looping functionality.  It was also the unit with the least power consumption… perhaps a sign of the times as people (companies) were catching on to greener living?

CDJ-200

CDJ-200

Specifications:

  • Media format: CD, CD-R/RW, MP3 on CD
  • Tempo control: +/-16%
  • Pitch Resolution: .02%
  • Frequency Response: 4Hz – 20kHz
  • Signal to Noise Ratio: 110 dB or more
  • Total Harmonic Distortion: 0.006%
  • Power Supply: AC 220-240V, 50/60Hz
  • Power Consumption: 16W
  • Dimensions: 216 x 292 x 99.5 mm
  • Net Weight: 3.2 kg

CDJ-800 MK2

Released at the same time as the MK3 version of the CDJ-1000, this model was a small update to bring things in line with the times.  Most notably, mp3 playback was now possible on the CDJ-800 (just like the 200).  The design was also changed, but only slightly.

The MK2 model contained an improved jog wheel (the same that was on the CDJ-1000 MK2), had a slightly improved display (both in the center jog wheel and on the main screen, which now used dots instead of the digital number display), added support for CD text, a slightly bigger buffer, and (of course) mp3 playback.

This also differed from the original in that, when cueing a record back and forth, you have to hit the play button to continue playback and not go back to the cue point.  For this reason, a few people actually prefer the MK1, which required you to simply release the jog wheel to continue playback (which felt more like turntable behavior).

CDJ-800mk2

CDJ-800mk2

Specifications:

  • Media format: CD, CD-R/RW, MP3 on CD
  • Tempo control: +/-100%
  • Pitch Resolution: .05%
  • Frequency Response: 4Hz – 20kHz
  • Signal to Noise Ratio: 115 dB or more
  • Total Harmonic Distortion: 0.006%
  • Power Supply: AC 220-240V, 50/60Hz
  • Power Consumption: 24W
  • Dimensions: 305 x 109 x 344 mm
  • Net Weight: 4 kg

CDJ-1000 MK3

And here we are, the illustrious mk3 model of the iconic CDJ-1000.  For its time, this was the end-all be-all CDJ unit.  Though discontinued in 2010 with the introduction of the 900 and 2000, these units are still very much in use by DJs and clubs all over the world.

This revision included the mp3 playback that was now becoming common on the rest of their lineup.  Other improvements included bigger/lighter displays, a 100 dots waveform display (instead of the earlier 50 dots waveform), and the ability to record loops into Hot Cue slots instead of just cue points. The mechanical resistance of the jog wheel is also adjustable to suit different styles of handling by the DJ.  Also, the unit was changed to handle SD card media (for storing cues and loops) as opposed to the earlier MMC format.

CDJ-1000mk3

CDJ-1000mk3

Specifications:

  • Media format: CD, CD-R/RW, MP3 on CD
  • Tempo control: +/-100%
  • Pitch Resolution: .02%
  • Frequency Response: 4Hz – 20kHz
  • Signal to Noise Ratio: 115 dB or more
  • Total Harmonic Distortion: 0.006%
  • Power Supply: AC 220-240V, 50/60Hz
  • Power Consumption: 27W
  • Dimensions: 320 x 105 x 370 mm
  • Net Weight: 4.2 kg

CDJ-400

The CDJ-400 is a bit of a strange beast.  This short-lived player seems to have been more of a technological experiment by Pioneer than anything.  But, that’s not to say it’s a bad device.  The 400 is packed full of nice, modern features… causing it to be quite desirable in the second-hand market.

This was the first model introduced by Pioneer that could be used as either a MIDI or native (HID) controller for DJ software such as Traktor or Serato, without the need for timecode.  Even now, you have to step all the way up to a CDJ-900 to get this much functionality (the 850 supports MIDI but only native control in Serato, and the 350 supports MIDI).  You could also switch from controller to CDJ mode without interrupting the music… something the current CDJ-350 cannot do.

It seems that this was, perhaps, intended to replace the CDJ-200 with a scratch-friendly unit (note that it still included three effects… jet, roll, and wah) and modernize it a bit, but Pioneer had different plans for its lineup… things like Rekordbox support, and reserving native/HID software control for its pricier equipment.

The 400 introduced a number of features to the lineup.  It was the first to enable playback from a USB stick, the first to provide native software control without timecode, and the first to contain a built-in sound card.  It was also the first to show a rotary cue indicator without using the center jog display (opting instead for an outer jog ring).  I happen to think that this was an excellent unit that was discontinued well before its time in 2010, simply because it didn’t fit into the way Pioneer wanted to market their products.  In other words, it provided too much value for the price.  Just my opinion, though!

Side note: there was also a special limited-edition model released, which replaced the orange illumination with cobalt blue.

CDJ-400

CDJ-400

Specifications:

  • Media format: CD, CD-R/RW, MP3 on CD/USB
  • Controller function: MIDI and Native/HID (and built-in sound card)
  • Tempo control: +/-16%
  • Pitch Resolution: .02%
  • Frequency Response: 4Hz – 20kHz
  • Signal to Noise Ratio: 115 dB or more
  • Total Harmonic Distortion: 0.006%
  • Power Supply: AC 220-240V, 50/60Hz
  • Power Consumption: 19W
  • Dimensions: 217.9 x 107.5 x 296.3 mm
  • Net Weight: 2.7 kg

CDJ-2000

The CDJ-1000 had a great run, but Pioneer needed to keep up with the Joneses… specifically, to keep up with all of the functionality that was becoming more and more accessible via laptops, controllers, and other function-specific devices.  Pioneer announced the discontinuation of the CDJ-1000:

“It is with mixed feelings that today we announce to the channel the discontinuation of the CDJ 1000MK3…….thanks to the hard work of our then newly appointed direct retailers, installers and established distribution, as well as the DJs who instantly recognised it as the first real practical DJ CD player, it very quickly became an industry standard fixture in the DJ booth.”

-Martin Docktree, Pioneer UK Sales Manager

Thus was born the new top-tier nightclub standard… the CDJ-2000, announced alongside the CDJ-900 released at the same time.  Touted as a “Professional Multi Player”, the 2000 can be used to play CDs, CD-Rs, DVD-Rs, MP3/AAC/WAV/AIFF on CD/DVD, USB stick or SD card; and also supports native (and MIDI) software control of standard DJ software without the use of timecode.  Each unit has its own built-in sound card.  It features a large WQVGA 6.1-inch full-color 480 x 234 LCD panel for displaying song titles/jacket art, as well as detailed track information so DJs can select songs at a glance. The wave data of each song is also illustrated on screen, showing high and low amplitude.

The 2000s also include a feature called “Needle Search”.  Found directly below the LCD panel, the touchpad lets the DJ “place the needle” and jump quickly to a specific part of a music track.  They also have a built-in quantize feature, which ensures cue points are set accurately and automatically.  This helps with correcting and synching beats during manual looping or a real-time cueing, preventing off beat mistakes.  And, finally, the 2000 supports Rekordbox (Pioneer’s proprietary music management software that organizes and catalogs a DJ’s entire music library.)

The original CDJ-2000 was discontinued and replaced with an updated model full of more laptop-negating features: the CDJ-2000nexus.

CDJ-2000

CDJ-2000

Specifications:

  • Media format: CD Audio, MP3/WAV/AAC/AIFF via CD, CD-R/W, DVD+/-R,USB stick or SD card
  • Controller function: MIDI and Native/HID (and built-in sound card)
  • Display: 6.1″ color LCD
  • Tempo control: +/-100%
  • Pitch Resolution: .02%
  • Frequency Response: 4Hz – 20kHz
  • Signal to Noise Ratio: 117 dB or more
  • Total Harmonic Distortion: 0.0018%
  • Power Supply: AC 220-240V, 50/60Hz
  • Power Consumption: 28W
  • Dimensions: 320 x 106.4 x 405.7  mm
  • Net Weight: 4.6 kg

Details: Current Lineup

CDJ-900

The 900 is a fantastic player which, while officially introduced as a successor to the 800 series, is more like a moderately more affordable and spec’d-down CDJ-2000.  (Funny enough, the CDJ 850 came out in 2010 which is much more like a successor to the 800!)

(See Reviews)

The 900 ditches some of the 2000′s fringe features: DVD+/-R playback, SD card playback, the fancy LCD screen (instead showing 4 lines of text), hot cue, needle drop/search, loop cutting, jog wheel tension adjustment, deck locking, illuminated cue and play buttons, and the illuminated jog wheel ring.  The 900 also ditches the hot loop buttons in favor of an auto-beat function, though this functionality was added to the 2000 as a later firmware update.

The CDJ 900 was the first to introduce Pioneer users to “Slip Mode”… a function where using the player to loop, scratch or reverse will maintain the realtime play position of the audio as if you had never entered those modes.  The original 2000 doesn’t have this, so the 900 actually one-ups it in this area.

CDJ-900

CDJ-900

Specifications:

  • Media format: CD Audio, MP3/WAV/AAC/AIFF via CD, CD-R/W,USB stick
  • Controller function: MIDI and Native/HID (and built-in sound card)
  • Display: 4-line
  • Tempo control: +/-100%
  • Pitch Resolution: .02%
  • Frequency Response: 4Hz – 20kHz
  • Signal to Noise Ratio: 115 dB or more
  • Total Harmonic Distortion: 0.003%
  • Power Supply: AC 220-240V, 50/60Hz
  • Power Consumption: 26W
  • Dimensions: 305 x 115.6 x 385  mm
  • Net Weight: 3.9 kg

CDJ-350

The 350 is Pioneer’s current bedroom model, but don’t let that fool you… it actually packs quite a punch with its set of features for the price.  This is the cheapest CDJ that you can get which supports Pioneer’s Rekordbox software, can act as a MIDI (not HID) controller, and can play media from USB sticks.

(See Reviews)

The purpose of this particular entry is quite obvious: to provide entry level gear on a standardized setup, with some pro features included, for a price you can wrap your head around.  It’s a sturdy, but no frills player… a CDJ-200 brought into modern times.  One interesting feature is BPM Lock: hold the button down and you can select a master tempo for your mix.  Every track that is loaded (from any media) will be auto-pitched to that tempo.  Not the same as sync, just a time-saving feature.

Though the CDJ-400 could very well have been the staple for this price point, there is one big advantage to the 350 (for some people): Rekordbox compatibility.  This means that if and when you are ready to upgrade your gear, you will already be familiar with this way of working.

Pioneer has made these available in black, silver, and white models.

CDJ-350

CDJ-350

Specifications:

  • Media format: CD Audio, MP3/WAV/AAC/AIFF via CD, CD-R/W,USB stick
  • Controller function: MIDI and Native/HID (and built-in sound card)
  • Tempo control: +/-16%
  • Pitch Resolution: .02%
  • Frequency Response: 4Hz – 20kHz
  • Signal to Noise Ratio: 115 dB or more
  • Total Harmonic Distortion: 0.006%
  • Power Supply: AC 220-240V, 50/60Hz
  • Power Consumption: 16W
  • Dimensions: 220 mm × 107 mm × 288.5 mm
  • Net Weight: 2.3 kg

CDJ-850

The 850 is an interesting mid-range entry in the Pioneer lineup, and a comparison to both the old 800mk2 and the current 900 are both merited.  It’s a great choice for more pro-level players using them just like CD (or USB) players, or DVS users, but not a DVS replacement like the 900 or 2000.  (The units do contain sound cards, but native HID control is spotty… none for Traktor, for example, and who wants to pay four digits for MIDI-only control?)

(See Reviews)

Still, these are very solid players that make excellent spiritual successors to the CDJ-800mk2, with many features borrowed from the 900.  The top portion is laid out just like a 900, except the screen is flat instead of angled.  It has full Rekordbox support, the excellent .02% pitch resolution of the 900 (unlike the lamented .05% on the 800), and support for USB playback.  It’s worth noting, however, that it does not support Pro DJ Link.  That means that, unlike the big brother 900 and 2000 units, you have to have separate USB sticks for each player. Also, interestingly, there’s no digital output.

The unit also does not contain the on-deck quantization available in the upper models, which means that looping works much like you’d expect from the old 800s unless you call on the aid of Rekordbox analyzation beforehand.  The CDJ850 also misses out on the ‘half-frames’ of the CDJs 900 and 2000, further denting the accuracy of the looping system.

Other than these omissions, the CDJ-850 gets along much like the 900 does, and at a more affordable price.  Great for CD/USB or DVS users wanting a better value than the 350.  Available in black, silver, and white.

CDJ-850

CDJ-850

Specifications:

  • Media format: CD Audio, MP3/WAV/AAC/AIFF via CD, CD-R/W,USB stick
  • Controller function: MIDI, limited Native/HID (no Traktor!)
  • Tempo control: +/-100%
  • Pitch Resolution: .02%
  • Frequency Response: 4Hz – 20kHz
  • Signal to Noise Ratio: 115 dB or more
  • Total Harmonic Distortion: 0.003%
  • Power Supply: AC 220-240V, 50/60Hz
  • Power Consumption: 21W
  • Dimensions: 305 mm x 364.4 mm x 105.5 mm
  • Net Weight: 3.3 kg

CDJ-2000nexus

And, it all comes down to this: the big daddy in the Pioneer CDJ lineup.  The “nexus” version of the CDJ-2000 replaced the original in 2012, and added quite a few features.  It seems to be another step in Pioneer’s attempt to keep their gear in DJ booths without the need for laptops (though, you can use those too if you wish).

The Nexus version of the top-of-the-line player makes some enhancements to its music analysis functions, such as WAVE ZOOM (which allows you to expand/contract the waveform display to five different levels, and even color-codes them to bandwidth).  You’ll be able to see it on the enhanced 6.1″ full-color LCD display which gives the kind of GUI functions previously reserved for laptop DJs.  Now you are able to see not only your waveform and list of tracks, but you can zoom the waveform, see a beat count, a Traktor-esque phase meter, etc.  Also, the display will light up tracks that are in a compatible key.

In a move which produced unsurprisingly mixed reactions, Pioneer decided to add the ever-controversial “sync button” (gasp) to the players, which I believe makes this the first all-hardware DJ unit to provide such functionality.  This lets you to sync up to 3 other devices to your “master” deck, which allows you to focus on tricks and effects, indulge in multi-deck mixing, or make use of the new Slip Mode function (previously only available on the 900).

The enhanced Master Tempo function is also said to deliver more accurate and faithful sound to the original… even when drastic shifts in tempo happen.  (Here’s a video where the two are directly compared.)  The Nexus also supports enhanced “My Settings” functions so that the functions of the device can be saved to USB/SD/smartphones/tablets, and applied to the device as necessary.  You can fire your settings straight from Rekordbox when alternating DJs.

Finally, the Nexus provides another industry first: the ability to play music stored inside tablets, smartphones, and laptops using Wi-Fi (or USB).

 

CDJ-2000nexus

CDJ-2000nexus

Specifications:

  • Media format: CD Audio, MP3/WAV/AAC/AIFF via CD, CD-R/W, DVD+/-R,USB stick or SD card
  • Controller function: MIDI and Native/HID (and built-in sound card)
  • Display: 6.1″ color LCD (enhanced)
  • Tempo control: +/-100%
  • Pitch Resolution: .02%
  • Frequency Response: 4Hz – 20kHz
  • Signal to Noise Ratio: 115 dB or more
  • Total Harmonic Distortion: 0.0018%
  • Power Supply: AC 220-240V, 50/60Hz
  • Power Consumption: 37W
  • Dimensions: 320 x 405.7 x 106.5 mm
  • Net Weight: 4.7 kg

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