DJ

CDJ3000 released as Pioneer bring their flagship player into the 2020s


When it comes to pro-DJ gear, and indeed bedroom DJ gear, one company rules the roost as an industry standard – Pioneer. Just as Technics are the only vinyl turntable you’ll find in a booth, from the early days of the rave scene right up to the present day, go to any club or festival in the world, and you’ll find the trusty Pioneer CDJ taking centre stage. Now there’s a new version, the CDJ3000, which replaces the CDJ200NXS2, nearly five years since it was released as the flagship DJ player on the market.

Before we get into what’s new, it’s probably worth mentioning what’s the same. Any long-term user of the 2000NXS2 will have zero issue getting used to the 3000. The units are pretty much exactly the same size, there’s that standard nice big jogwheel, the “basic” buttons such as play/pause, cue, pitch fader, USB and SD card slots, and plenty more are exactly where you’d expect to find them. A few things have moved slightly, or are in a subtly different layout, such as the loop buttons, sync buttons, and some of the Rekordbox buttons around the touch screen, but there’s very good and rather exciting reasons for all of these minor changes.

So what’s new? Well for a kick off the CDJ name is now a bit odd, because this is the first flagship unit not to include a CD drive. Of course, given no one has really DJ’d using actual CDs for at least a decade now, no one will miss that functionality, but it does raise the question as to what the future of the XDJ range is and whether they’ll continue as “baby brothers” to the CDJ range, or will simply be dissolved with “mid-range” CDJ replacements for the 900NXS2 or 850 combining and simplifying the CDJ range. There’s also a big advance in the construction too – while the durability of CDJ units was never a major issue, they were of all-plastic construction. It’s much the same story for the 3000, but the faceplate is now aluminium, which not only increases the durability, but also gives the unit a sleek and solid look.

The main changes however are “up top” as it were, as well as inside – the touch screen is bigger at nine inches, and has new features such as Touch Preview and Touch Cue whereby you can listen to parts of incoming tracks “on the fly” simply by pressing any part of the on-screen waveform. If, as most DJs do, you’re using Pro DJ Link via an ethernet cable, you can even preview parts of tracks from the “live” CDJ on your non-live one so as not to interrupt the flow. Very handy. A major change in terms of buttons is the brand new Hot Cue layout, with the previous four buttons to the left of the screen now replaced with a full eight directly underneath it, bringing the units inline with the likes of Denon, Native Instruments Traktor controllers, and indeed Pioneer’s own DDJ controllers. This means there’s more room for the Loop buttons on the left of the player, with extra and more intuitive functionality for those who like to get creative with loops and beatmashing.

On the software front, the CDJ3000 is now 96khz/32bit, audio quality that’s normally considered studio-quality, but is making it’s way into the DJ world with the likes of the Allen & Heath Xone 96. The processing unit is beefed up, meaning the jog wheel has half the latency of the NXS2, the screen is brighter, and there’s now Key Sync and Key Shift buttons which puts the CDJ3000 a little closer to the capability of Traktor for those who like to mix in key, or shift loops and samples around to get creative with their sets. You can also link a total of six units together using Pro DJ Link, handy if you’re using the DJM V10 and for some reason want to get six units on the go!

So who is this aimed at, and what’s the cost? Well crucially, it’s worth noting that the CDJ3000 is likely to be a total replacement for the 2000NXS2, with the latter likely to go out of production, much like models before it. Obviously the main market is the professional scene with gear hire companies, clubs, and festival backline suppliers presumably looking at shifting all their NXS2 stock in favour of these guys in the coming months. It’s perhaps an odd time given the scene is basically shut down for the foreseeable future, but it at least gives these companies time to prepare. In terms of the home market, Pioneer probably aren’t looking to make waves here, as the price for a single unit is sitting at $2,300 or £2,170. That said, it’s not like Pioneer don’t get plenty of sales among bedroom and semi-pro DJs looking to get the best of the best, and brand loyalty is huge when it comes to the Pioneer name. In terms of competition, it’s clear the CDJ3000 aims to match the functionality of the Denon SC5000/SC6000, but at nearly £1000 more expensive, it remains to be seen whether brand loyalty alone will stop the rise of Denon in the home market. We’re hoping to get our hands on a pair to give you the full low-down on what they’re like to use and whether you should invest in a pair, so keep your eyes peeled for more information.

Image Credit: Pioneer DJ