Pioneer CDJ-2000 Turntable Review
Thanks for reading our Pioneer CDJ 2000 Review.
Back in 2001, Pioneer launched what would eventually become the benchmark for tabletop CD players. This was when they launched the CDJ-1000 which became the standard for DJ booths around the world.
There have been updates and improvements to the CDJ-1000 with the MKI and MKII versions. “CDJ” is used as a prefix before adding a model number to identify the Pioneer model and to some extent even being used to identify DJs known to use them. With time, laptops became more popular, and Pioneer had to upgrade their models to keep up with the new trend. After several updates, the CDJ 2000 Nexus came to be the perfect response to this growing trend.
Design and Build
The first thing that will strike you when you remove the CDJ-2000 from its packaging box is its massive size. The size of the unit is comparable to other larger Pioneer DVJ devices. This can be attributed to the WQVGA LCD screen which measures 6.1 inches (480×234 pixels). Borrowing from other conventional DJ software, the screen displays various waveforms which are color-coded.
There are five levels of zoom on the screens. This means users can browse tracks and view much more details and information about the track. On top of all this, one can see the full-color album artwork on the large panel. The screen is surrounded by backlit buttons whose functions are to select the media type which is being used, navigate between the different menus and to get track information. There is a large rotary selector located on the right side and a back button used to browse menus and select tracks. The size of the screen has been added without compromising the standard size of the buttons or even the size of the platter.
When you switch on the unit, the backlit buttons come to life, and you have the added advantage of a backlit jogwheel and the huge glowing screen – meaning you will not have a problem when you want to navigate your way around the unit even in dark clubs. If anything, you can adjust the brightness of the screens or the jogwheel in the settings page quite quickly.
When Pioneer designed the CDJ-2000 the primary focus is on helping the DJ manage their digital music library as well as integrate seamlessly with MIDI, laptops and other new technologies which are emerging in the DJ booth.
At the core of the new features is the Rekordbox which is a software developed in collaboration between Pioneer and MixVibes. This is a kind of iTunes used by DJs. Once you install the software on your PC or Mac, you will be able to import your MP3 collection, set cue and loop points, tag it, arrange and prepare your music in a manner that is same as when you import tracks into Traktor or any other DJ software. MP3 Collections can be imported manually or from existing iTunes Libraries and playlists.
This is quite a breeze. You can just drag tracks into Rekordbox, and it will automatically begin to analyze, work out the BPM and allow you to tag tracks and rate the music collection for recall on the CDJ-2000 later. Remembering the tracks is made easier by the fact that you can code your music in different colors and you can add all the ID3 information that may make it simpler to remember. You can view the analyzed waveform at the top of the software and you can click to set loop points and cue. These can all be saved on SD Card or USB key and can be recalled by CDJ-2000 or CDJ-900.
This is a unique feature as it can work in reverse where when you are playing live, Rekordbox can recall all the cue points made when playing. Rekordbox has made it such that when one exports tracks using SD card or USB key they can load much faster on the CDJ-2000 than when you have to drag and drop tracks from a key loaded with MP3s. For instance, you can load a 120 GB hard drive full of MP3s, and they will work perfectly even if they had not been through Rekordbox before. One thing that needs to be mentioned is you cannot create a hybrid key – that means, once a drive has been passed through Rekordbox, you cannot access other folders that had been dragged and dropped onto the same key.
A simple rotary key makes it easy to find tracks from SD card or USB. You will only need to press the rotary button to navigate between tracks and folders.
Other new Features
The Needle Search is a simple but fantastic useful feature. This is a strip running below the screen that is sensitive to touch. Touching it will allow you to immediately drop on different parts of a loaded track, all this time with time feedback on the screen. As such, it is easy and quick to find cue points. A smart needle lock feature ensures there are no mishaps during playback.
Another new performance feature is the one button four-beat loop. This is the same as the one on the CDJ-400. The first tap begins by setting up a four-beat loop, and another tap shortens the loop by half and half again.
An Ethernet port and Pioneer’s Pro DJ Link technology have been added which means that up to four CDJ-2000s can be connected. These four can share the same hard drive, USB key or SD card. Hence, one large USB key can serve all the four decks allowing you to turn up to a gig with nothing other than headphones and a keyring. It would have been better if this connectivity could be added to sync other software like Traktor and Ableton Live manually.
The CDJ-2000 seems to have been designed by DJs and for DJs, and there is little that can be faulted for it. The price is quite high (about $2000) and thus will probably be more prevalent in huge clubs than in smaller venues. However, the future of DJing lies in devices such as the CDJ-2000, and if you can part with the high price, then it is a machine worth the money.