The Pioneer CDJ-2000 is the ultimate technologically advanced multi-format player in the world. Adapting to today’s variety of media formats, the CDJ-2000 enables playback of MP3, AAC, WAV and AIFF audio fi les from CDs and USB memory devices, and from DVDs and SD cards as well on the CDJ-2000. DJ BLAZE takes them into the Lab for a full written review INSIDE!
Setup & First Impressions
Everyone who has been in or around the DJ industry for the past 10 years or so should know that ever since Pioneer produced their first CDJ players, they have been known to the world as the Industry Club Standard. Almost all other DJ equipment manufacturers have tried time and time again to come up with a product that could match the versatility, reliability, and sales numbers of the Pioneer CDJ lineup and to this day; they have been unsuccessful.
I’m not saying that in that ten year time period, there weren’t some very worthy (or even better) CD based decks out there, but none have come to live up to the same expectations as the Pioneer Series. Fast forward to 2010 and Pioneer is still providing DJ’s with club standard CDJ decks that promise to put the competition to shame. The new Pioneer CDJ-2000 is one of their newest decks on the market that is advertised as their flagship deck and greatest CDJ offering to date. For review purposes, the CDJ-2000 shares many of the same attributes and functions of the CDJ-900; therefore the reviews will be almost identical with the CDJ-2000 review having a bit more information pertaining to the additional features that the CDJ-2000 possesses. The CDJ-2000 enables playback of MP3, AAC, WAV and AIFF audio files on CD, DVD-ROM, SD cards, and USB memory devices.
Inside the box
-CDJ-2000 Unit -CDJ-2000 Instruction Manual -Recordbox Software CD -RJ45 Link Cable -3.5mm Mini to Mini cable -AC Power Cable -RCA Cable
Right out of the box, the CDJ-2000 is built with a high quality finish and strong durable casing. Just as with all the other rugged Pioneer CDJ decks, the CDJ-2000 follows suit with a hard plastic/polymer type of surrounding or encasing. The CDJ-2000 has the unique attribute of having a high-gloss black finish to the surrounding jog-wheel area. The jog wheel is made of a plastic polymer material with the outer edge being coated in a rubbery type of material, while the top is made of a harder ribbed plastic. The big display area found on the Pioneer CDJ-2000 is one huge 6.1-inch full color LCD screen which is angled towards the user and is very easy to read and work with. The size of the unit seems to be about the same as previous CDJ decks but slightly bigger than the all-new CDJ-900. There is a USB port mounted to the top of the deck for easy Flash drive/Hard drive playback and an SD card slot below that for SD music file playback. All of the main functional playback buttons are VERY solid and most of them are of metal construction, while the smaller buttons (for loops and cueing) are a hard durable plastic. The Touch Sensitive Jog Wheel is in the center for easy manipulation and the top is ribbed for easy grip and traction. The outer rim of the jog wheel illuminates while in play and also blinks when the audio track is about to finish.
The setup of the Pioneer CDJ-2000 was just as it is with any other tabletop CD type of deck. The only things that will change depend on the type of way you are connecting the CDJ-2000 into your setup. If you are playing regular CD’s and using the CD slot or the USB/SD slots for USB/SD device playback on the CDJ-2000, then the hookup is simply plugging the RCA cable from the deck into the assigned channel line input on the mixer. If we are using the CDJ-2000 for MIDI playback (mapping coming soon for Traktor/Serato/Etc.) then we must still use the RCA cables for mixer hookup, but the library and audio playback will come from the Computer via USB-A to USB-B cable. If we are using time-coded CD’s with an external soundcard for playback, then the CDJ-2000 is connected per the soundcard device specifications (i.e. Audio 4, or SL3) as a CD Deck.
If we decide to use the USB or SD card playback option, then it is better to use the Rekordbox software that was included with the CDJ-2000 as a music file management system. This way the files load faster and they can contain tags, waveform track readout, and stored loops in each track being played. The Rekordbox software GUI looks a lot like a CDJ-2000. Within the software the user is able to create playlists, store cue points, and completely analyze tracks so that the CDJ-2000 displays the BPM, track, artist, album, track time, full-color waveform data, and more. The user then transfers the analyzed tracks, playlists, hot cue banks, and cue points all onto a USB device so they can be played on the decks. Also, if we are using USB playback and there are additional CDJ-900’s or CDJ-2000’s that we want to connect as well, then we can use the supplied RJ-45 link cable so that we can playback and browse the music located on a single USB source. When two to four CDJ-900’s or CDJ-2000’s are linked together, not only can they playback files from a single USB device, but the tracks will also begin and finish at the same place on the jog wheel play position indicator, making it very easy to juggle and scratch from one deck to the other. (We can connect up to (4) CDJ’s using a networking (RJ45) HUB that will all be able to independently access the files from one single USB or SD card device.)
Playback Options – The CDJ-2000 has quite a few playback options. They can be used for CD/DVD-ROM playback, USB Flash/Hard drive playback, SD card playback, or even Midi controllers (unconfirmed functionality coming soon to major DJ software releases). As stated previously, two to four CDJ-2000’s can be linked together to play and browse the files of a single USB input, complete with full color waveform data and other track information. The plastic LINK, USB, SD, and DISC buttons are used to select the type of playback option that the DJ is using. As far as the play buttons are concerned, there is a metal Play/Pause button and metal Cue button located in the lower left corner (as expected) along with Separate Search and Track forward and rewind metal buttons as well. The Pitch slider is made of plastic and slides smoothly from one end to the other. There is a Master tempo button which will allow the user to change the speed of the song without changing the key of the music. There is a tempo reset button right next to the pitch slider that resets the pitch back to absolute zero for perfect playback speed. The tempo slider range can be adjusted to 6%, 10%, 16%, and 100% at the push of the tempo button. The display shows the current tempo range that is selected.
Screen – The display area of the CDJ-2000 is the best screen that I have ever used on any CD turntable device. It is one huge 6.1-inch full color LCD panel capable of showing graphics and full album art photos of the track or album selected. The top portion of the screen is dedicated mostly to file navigation and file information. This is a six-line navigation panel which is very easy to see the track being selected and the next tracks within the current list. Also shown in the top panel is the selection art, artist name, album name, BPM, total track time, and many other attributes. All file navigation is done using the big plastic navigation knob which can be pressed to select the highlighted selection. There is also BROWSE, TAG LIST, INFO, and MENU buttons at the top of the screen area that can be used to assist with the navigation through the files. There is also a back button to return to the previous selection/screen. Tracks can be sorted and recalled by Album, Artist, Track number, Track name, and other attributes. The bottom portion of the LCD screen displays the current track information such as, track time (which can show total time or remaining time), BPM, track number, pitch information, and a visual track progress bar and full color waveform display that will blink when a track is coming to an end. This waveform/track progress bar also shows a visual indicator of set cue points and loop points as well. Below this Waveform display or track progress bar is a touch sensitive area called the needle search bar. The DJ can use their finger to simply search or start the track at any given point that corresponds to the track progress bar/waveform area. All the DJ has to do is touch the area on the needle search that corresponds to the waveform area that they wish the track to play at.
Touch Sensitive Jog Wheel (Vinyl Speed Adjustment/Direction/Jog Adjust)- Everyone knows that I am primarily a Hip-Hop and scratch DJ, so I will always try to use an actively spinning platter over the jog wheel type of CDJ’s or controllers. For my testing purposes, the CDJ-2000 was always kept on “vinyl” type so that the jog wheel performed as closely to vinyl as possible. With that being said; the Pioneer CDJ-2000 has the BEST jog wheel touch sensitive platter that I have ever used in my many years in the business. I could literally pull off nearly any scratch that I would be able to complete on an analog turntable or spinning platter type deck. The scratch emulation is very good and the sound remains clear throughout the back and forth action of the track. Even when playing tracks from a single USB or SD source, I was able to juggle music very easily from one CDJ to the other. The top portion of the wheel is nice and ribbed for grip and my fingers never slipped once while scratching. The sides of the jog wheel are a softer (almost rubbery) type material that the DJ can use for speeding up and slowing down the track when mixing and trying to match that perfect tempo. When vinyl mode is turned off, the wheel acts as a search or pitch bend platter making for easier track search and beat matching capabilities.
The Direction toggle switch is used to play the track as normal or in reverse. The switch from forward to reverse is instantaneous and will work as fast as your fingers will allow. The CDJ-2000 has a small metal “jog adjust” knob which controls the tension of the jog wheel. When the jog adjust setting is all the way to the left, then the platter is very light/loose and responds very quickly to back and forth jog wheel manipulation (nearly no resistance at its sharpest setting). When the jog adjust setting is all the way to the right, then the platter is very heavy and tight and takes more energy to move the jog wheel back and forth.
The jog adjust feature is definitely a welcomed addition to the CDJ lineup and I found that I really liked changing the settings in real time depending on whether I was scratching more or mixing more. The CDJ-2000 also includes a two separate vinyl speed adjustment knobs which control the start-up time and the brake/stop time of the track. It is great to have the flexibility of separately adjusting the start time and stop time, as the CDJ-900 has a shared knob to control both at the same time. Personally, I like to set the startup time very quickly for scratching, but I like to have the brake time set to about the half position for the cool-sounding brake transitions that I have grown accustomed to. These adjustments take their effect when the Play/Pause button is used to start or stop the playback of a track. The knobs can be rotated all the way to the left for extremely fast start and stops, while rotating the knobs to the right will make the track start up very slow or stop very slowly. As with every CDJ, the jog wheel contains an LED display in the center to show many jog/platter attributes. It will display “VINYL” if the deck is in vinyl mode; it shows the current play position; cue or loop start points; and jog touch detection which lights up if the wheel is pressed.
Loop & Hot Cue Buttons – The CDJ-2000 has a cool loop section that is easy to use and straight to the point. The loop section on the CDJ-900 seems to have more on-board options, but at the same time Pioneer thought it would be more important to include the three Hot Cue bank buttons directly on the face of the unit. I must also agree with them here, as hot cue buttons make it easy to get right to where you need to be on a track at the push of a button. The Loop section contains the traditional Loop IN and Loop OUT buttons along with a loop exit button. The In and Out buttons can be used to trim the loop as needed. There is a 4-beat Loop/Loop Cutter button that can be used to cut the loop according to the beat lengths or loop length (i.e. ½, ¼, 1/8, 1/16, etc).
There are CUE/LOOP CALL left and right arrow buttons that allow users to access multiple loop points that are set per track. These set cues and loop points can be removed using the MEMORY and DELETE buttons. Another welcomed addition to the CDJ-2000 is the inclusion of three Hot Cue buttons that are made of a metal material and are labeled A, B, and C. Each hot cue can be set within the Rekordbox software to each corresponding button. That way, you can use the A, B, and C buttons to recall the stored cue/sample that was assigned within the Rekordbox software. Underneath the hot cue buttons there is a record/call button so that these hot cues can be set on the fly right on the unit as well.
Within the Rekordbox software and on the LCD CDJ-2000 screen display, there is a new Quantizing feature where cue points and loops can be set perfectly on-beat by automatically correcting and synching the beat during manual looping.
Differences between CDJ-2000 and CDJ-900:
-CDJ-2000 jog wheel is black on top; while the CDJ-900 jog wheel is dark grey -CDJ-2000 has a glossy black finish in the jog wheel area, while the CDJ-900 has a dull black finish in the jog wheel area -CDJ-2000 jog wheel has a lighted ring around the edge that illuminates when the jog wheel is pressed for scratching and also blinks when the track is coming to an end; CDJ-900 does not -CDJ-2000 Play/Pause and CUE buttons illuminate around the outside of the button while the Play/Pause and CUE symbols illuminate inside the buttons of the CDJ-900 -CDJ-2000 Search and Track Search buttons illuminate and they do not on the CDJ-900 -CDJ-2000 big track navigation knob is illuminated, while on the CDJ-900 it is not -CDJ-2000 CD slot is illuminated, while the CDJ-900 is not -CDJ-2000 LCD Screen is the best I've ever seen on any player complete with graphics, album cover art and FULL color (real-deal) waveform display; CDJ-900 double-LED screens are still nice but more reminiscent of the CDJ-1000 series with more lines for on-screen file navigation -CDJ-2000 has an SD Card slot; CDJ-900 does not -CDJ-2000 has (3) Hot-Cue/Sample buttons; CDJ-900 does not -CDJ-2000 has a play direction toggle switch; CDJ-900 has a play direction button [forward and reverse playback] -CDJ-2000 has a Loop Cutter button while the CDJ-900 has (4) dedicated Loop "specific cut" buttons -CDJ-2000 has a needle search (touch sensitive track search strip); CDJ-900 does not -CDJ-2000 has a pitch tempo reset button (with no pitch slider center-click) while the CDJ-900's pitch slider has a center click for absolute zero -CDJ-2000 has a Jog Wheel Adjust knob which changes the tension of the jog wheel from heavy to light; the CDJ-900 jog wheel tension is not adjustable -CDJ-2000 has two separate knobs for track startup time adjustment and track brake/stop time adjustment, while the CDJ-900 has a single knob that will adjust and share both track startup and track stop times. -CDJ-2000 supports DVD-ROM disc playback while the CDJ-900 does not -CDJ-2000 is a bit longer, wider, heavier, and has bigger rubber feet at the bottom of the base when compared to the CDJ-900 -CDJ-2000 Does Not have Slip Mode... CDJ-900 Does
Conclusion / Recommended For
I was only given a short window of time to review the CDJ-900 and CDJ-2000; therefore, I know I haven’t covered everything as these decks are capable of so much more than I can write about in a few pages. Overall, I am very impressed with both decks and the more time I spend with them, the more I wish I had them for a longer period of time.
In a nutshell, I would recommend the CDJ-2000 to absolutely ANY type of DJ who can afford the $1900 retail price tag PER UNIT. The CDJ-2000 is the most powerful Pioneer CD turntable to date with multiple file playback capabilities and so many extra bells and whistles that virtually accommodates any DJ style out there. The only feature found on the CDJ-900 that isn't on the CDJ-2000 is the Slip-Mode. Slip Mode allows the user to manipulate, scratch and loop the track while the needle will continue to keep its place and play the song from the spot the track would have been if no manipulation by the user ever occurred. The Pioneer CDJ-2000 is a very high quality deck and is definitely one of the best players on the market today and one of the best I have ever used. The CDJ-2000 does absolutely everything well. It is extremely difficult to find any faults or shortcomings with this unit.
The Pioneer CDJ-2000 would be perfectly “at-home” in the Club/Bar environment (obviously), the bedroom DJ, the beginner, the expert, and just about anyone in between. There is no moving platter here, but as crazy as it sounds, even scratch DJ’s will have a lot of fun juggling, scratching, and beat making on the 2000’s. The added versatility found with the jog adjust wheel make it easy for scratch DJ’s to set the jog wheel to the light setting for quick and non-resistant scratching capabilities. The construction is sturdy and the Pioneer CDJ track record for reliability is second to none.
- 6.1” LCD Full Color Display (Best I have ever seen on a player)
- Excellent Jog-Wheel Platter system with custom tension adjustment (By Far BEST in Class)
- Rekordbox software is very good (Interface looks like a Pioneer CDJ)
- Multiple Media Playback Options (USB, SD, CD, DVD-ROM, MIDI)
- Pioneer brand familiarity/reliability
- Very Expensive
- No Slip Mode
- Personal gripe – I still like actively spinning platters better than Jog Wheels as this is more familiar