Now that the new Pioneer has officially come out with its latest CDJ — it’s time to see what it’s all about, and how big of an improvement it is on previous iterations. The CDJ-3000 has been announced after four years of waiting on a replacement for the CDJ-2000NXS2. This is a media player that plenty of DJs has been waiting for — so we’ll take a short look at its predecessor, and then tackle the brand new device.
Obviously, the launch of this digital deck is somewhat controversial in terms of timing; the coronavirus pandemic has shuttered plenty of clubs, at least temporarily. DJs are working less than anyone can remember in the past three decades — so it’s not an ideal time to launch a new product in the CDJ line. Still, the market is bound to pick up again; which is why taking a look at the Pioneer CDJ-3000 is important.
Brighter and bigger display
The Nexus 2 series introduced a lot of nifty changes that only made the lives of digital DJs easier. For one, the new screen was noticeably bigger; it had seven inches compared to the previous six. And it wasn’t just the size that changed regarding the screen; the UX design was drastically altered too. The screen is now touch-controlled; something we expected in the newer digital board.
Also, there are brand new track filters and shortcut buttons that you can use on its rotary wheel, making the navigation process even more streamlined. This is pretty much it when it comes to aesthetic alterations — and the 3000 series we’ll review soon isn’t a revolutionary leap either. Instead, it’s more of an evolution — which is how it should be when it comes to this type of hardware.
Remember, being intimately familiar with your hardware is extremely important when you’re working as a DJ. Often enough, you have to rely more on muscle memory than on sights and sounds. The clubs that you’ll be working in can often be unpredictable and hazy. And if you’re going to be able to rely on your instincts, you will need to be utterly comfortable and familiar with the hardware that’s sitting in front of you. That’s why having controls that aren’t entirely new is important when you’re using DJ gear. Being familiar means that you can completely shift your focus to art. Still, the subtlety of the CDJ changes doesn’t mean that they’re not important.
Pioneer CDJ-3000 Review
As with the previous CDJ models, we have to note that this one brings plenty of quality of life changes that any DJ worth their salt will appreciate. There are no two ways about this — Pioneer has managed to perform a more than valuable upgrade to their lineup of DJ media players for sure.
And if you’re just starting out as a DJ and you’re buying your first piece of equipment, it’s worth noting that you won’t have much of a choice. Most places don’t stock the previous 2000 Nexus 2 model due to problems with supply. So, this is a matter of choice for those who are thinking about upgrading; if you’re buying your first model, this may be your only option.
At first glance, the CDJ-3000 isn’t that different in terms of looks from its previous iteration. However, if you take a few minutes to try them out, you’ll see that the newer one has a host of features that makes it a radically different experience.
First of all, the placement and quality of the buttons have been vastly improved. Anyone who’s been in the game long enough has seen that a lot of CDJ buttons have been easily wrecked after overuse in dusty clubs. The engineers behind the newer version have taken the time to reinforce these, making the entire composition of the device feel sturdier.
The new switches don’t have loud clacks when you use them — unlike the NXS2 ones. While using any buttons thousands of times are bound to leave it weathered, but we’re convinced that this new button design makes the CDJ-3000 much less prone to breakage.
Key syncing is also far better than it was before; the entire process of syncing the beat and tempo to a specific key has become far simpler. You just load the track that you want and use the magical sync button. In a single moment, the track syncs to the right key! Seeing as the feature sounds great in practice, you’ll find more and more open-format mixes making use of this device.
On the other hand, you can also adjust the track according to pitch manually; there’s a simple on-screen paradigm that allows you to go by each semitone. If you want to perform a gimmick mix in a split second, this is definitely a worthy feature to have.
This time around, finding tracks is more akin to handling an actual spreadsheet; you can sort all of your tracks according to columns. Obviously, this is something that everyone has wanted out of the previous CDJ models, so it’s more than welcome now. And seeing as you’ve got a nifty touchscreen for this, all you need to do is to tap the appropriate column header to rearrange the tracklist. Sure, if you’re not used to this you may need some time to adjust. But after a short while, you’ll be amazed by how much this improves your work; particularly if you’re someone who keeps a huge track collection on portable thumb drives.
9″ Full-Color HD LCD Touch Screen
The touch screen display includes more track information such as waveform-preview. The display can also be up to 150% brighter than previous CDJ models for better visibility.
Great-feeling vinyl jog wheel includes response controls and 3-way direction control
When it comes to features that you’ll appreciate on the CDJ-3000, we’ll single out the brand new and improved jog-wheel. We have no problem clearly stating that this is the best of its kind available on the market today; at least among non-motorized ones. Its movement is incredibly smooth, and you won’t find it making a lot of platter noise if you use it a lot; backspinning tracks will be far easier with this new model.
Also, the on-jog display is something we’ve been waiting for since the first CDJ model was released by Pioneer; finally, the wishes of the community have been heeded. If you’ve got a visual display of what you’re doing on your DJ platter, controlling the plentiful functions comes much more naturally. Also, you can see album art while you’re playing any specific track; this makes it far easier for DJs to visualize their work. Sure, it’s not absolutely crucial — but as we’ve said, it’s one of those quality-of-life changes that we feel are welcome.
The new CDJ-3000 offers eight Hot Cue buttons for on-the-fly triggering. The linear positioning makes it more natural to select cue points in the track, while hardware buttons for Beat Jump and Key Sync functions give you even more creative performance potential.
Pioneer CDJ-3000 Specifications:
- Pro DJ Lighting Link, Compatible with Rekordbox Software
- Playable Media Terminal (USB Devices, SD Card, Mac/Windows PC, iPhone)
- USB Input: One
- Master Tempo: Yes
- HID Capable: Yes
- LAN Connection: Yes
- Looper Functions: Yes
- Reverse Function: Yes
- MP3 Compatible: Yes
- Digital Output: Yes
- MIDI compatible: Yes
- Integrated Audio Interface: Yes
- SD Slot: Yes
- Beat-Sync: Yes
- Jog Wheel Size (cm): 20.6
- Width: 329 mm
- Height: 118 mm
- Depth: 453 mm
- Weight: 5.5 kg
High-quality analog and digital S/PDIF audio output onboard offering 4-40000 Hz frequency range, and under 0.0018 % of distortion.
It’s not just the design and aesthetic that Pioneer has improved while manufacturing the CDJ-3000. Apart from that, they’ve also been hard at work to see what they can change regarding the internal audio circuitry; with a great end result. They’ve managed to redesign each of the electronic components to make incredible sound improvements. You’ll find that the brand new DAC found within brings the audio processing to a higher level of quality. All audio files that you load here will be upscaled.
Additionally, the new processor found within the CDJ-3000 definitely makes the audio processing better than ever. And the key shift and key sync features rely on this powerful piece of tech heavily.
All of the features that we’ve mentioned up until now represent an excellent host of reasons to purchase the Pioneer CDJ-3000 as your digital DJ station. This is especially true if you’re someone who’s looking to buy their first hardware of this sort. But even if you’re just due for an upgrade, the internal circuitry upgrades, better design solutions, and durability improvements are sure to be a pleasant addition.
There are several things that the CDJ-3000 doesn’t have, but that we’d expect from something in its price range. For one, the hardware that’s found in this device would allow for onboard track analysis; but the CDJ-3000 simply doesn’t have that option.
Additionally, having vocal visual indications are always a good thing; something many new players have but this one misses. And lastly but perhaps most importantly — there is only one slot for USB connections and one for SD cards. This is not a good thing in 2020.
Pioneer CDJ-3000 vs. CDJ2000NXS2
Before we get into the details of the new Pioneer CDJ-3000, we’re going to check out some of the features of its flagship predecessors — ending with the CDJ2000NXS2. This is important because the previous CDJ-2000 series pretty much represented an entirely new age for anyone dabbling in digital DJing.
If you combined the 2000 and its Rekordbox software, you could have pretty much everything that you needed for this line of work. And the Nexus model introduced other fancy features, such as quantize, waveform views, and excellent sync.
Indeed, plenty of laptop DJs enjoyed the features that the CDJ-2000 model introduced; from expansive track collections and in-depth cueing to complex playlisting options. If you only wanted to do basic effects and mixing, there would be no need to lug around your fragile laptop around crowded clubs.
After the release of the six-channel Pioneer DJM-V10 DJ mixer, we were patiently waiting for the new digital player to replace the CDJ2000. As you can see, the Pioneer CDJ-3000 is not a perfect device. But while it has its missteps, they are few and far in between its many positive traits. That’s why we can still happily recommend this device to any digital DJ out there!
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