CDJs – Commonly Asked Questions

There’s a moment in your DJ life when you’ll be confronted with CDJs.

These big, futuristic devices can be daunting at first, but getting to understand them will be an important step in your career and will open new opportunities for you.

Let’s jump right in to the CDJs FAQ you always needed!

What are CDJs?

CDJ is the generic name (inherited from the original Pioneer CDJ 500) given to CD and digital media players that are designed to be used in professional situations like DJ sets.

CDJs allow DJs to apply several manipulation techniques directly derived from vinyl, like playing a track slower or faster or navigating the track and a lot of others that are not possible with just a turntable, like looping a section and analyzing the track’s BPM.

Modern CDJs allow digital audio playback from CDs, USB sticks and SD cards.

Why should I use CDJs?

World-wide, CDJs are the standard gear on clubs and serve as a common platform for DJs.

They are reliable, sturdy, professional and in general, serve as a good inversion for a club to make. Since DJs are not expected to bring their CDJs, and you know that you’ll find them almost everywhere, why shouldn’t you get familiar with them?

Also, a good DJ should be able to get through the night with any piece of gear available!

Once you start getting the hang of using them, you’ll see that all the different models are fairly similar, and you’ll know the pleasure of arriving to the venue with just a USB stick and your headphones!

Are CDJs hard to use?

Disclaimer: Most CDJs don’t have sync capabilities, so if you rely too much in it when doing digital DJing, you may miss it at first.

That being said, mixing with CDJs is like a hybrid between laptop and vinyl DJing, since you are beat-matching by ear -turntable style- but with tons of visual feedback and digital mixing capabilities, not unlike you would find on software.

Pioneer CDJs use Rekordbox, a software that analyzes BPM and key of your tracks.

This information will then be displayed on the screen of the CDJs, along with the cue points you decide to set as reminders.

This could be useful since if you know the BPM of the tracks you need to mix, you’ll be a step nearer of beat-matching them successfully.

Another useful facility CDJs have is the possibility of linking them via ethernet cable, which will allow you to navigate the USB stick or SD card you connect on one of units from both of them.

Is buying CDJs worth it?

I know, I know, they are expensive. But if you are considering getting serious on this DJ thing, you should learn how to use CDJs, and the best way of achieving this is having a pair.

Maybe you can look for used CDJs, specially for cheaper models, since lots of the functions on higher tier CDJs are secondary.

A few older models like the Pioneer CDJ 800mk2 have CD-only support, which could be all you need if you are a CD guy.

The Pioneer CDJ 850 are USB compatible and although they feel plastic, remember that you are not expected to bring your CDJs to the venue, so build quality is not as important as in regular gigging gear.

In case you absolutely can’t buy a pair of CDJs, it’s not rare for DJ schools to let DJs practice for a fee.

If you can arrange a few sessions and do your homework (reading manuals, googling, asking questions), maybe this is a decent way to start.

Are CDJs better than controllers?

I don’t know, are hot dogs better than burgers?

CDJs are just another way of mixing music: If you are a wonderful selector on laptop, you can be one on CDJs as well!

The point is that knowing and understanding different techniques and technologies will help you professionalize and will make you more versatile.

Imagine getting offered a gig but there is no room in the cabin for your laptop and giant controller. Would you let the opportunity slip?

What audio formats can CDJs play?

From the very first Pioneer CDJ-500 launched in 1994 to Pioneer’s current flagship model CDJ-2000NXS2, CDJs have come a long way in terms of features, design and digital audio capabilities. In terms of audio formats, older formats are ubiquitous among CDJs.

These boil down to two types of formats: Lossless and compressed. Lossless formats like WAV and AIFF offer “full quality” audio since these are the formats in which music is recorded and worked on.

Generally, lossless audio offer you best audio quality with the trade-off of bigger files. These formats the way to go for clubs with very high-end PAs and all CDJs are compatible with them, so you might want to use them.

Compressed formats like MP3 and AAC offer you best size ‘value’ and are OK most of the times, if you use the higher settings. Most CDJs can read these compressed formats.

Some modern CDJs can read FLAC and ALAC, which are compressed lossless audio formats that offer a little reduction of file sizes without compromising audio quality.

Take a look at this chart for more info.

Model Plays Sources
CDJ-2000NXS2 MP3, WAV, AIFF, AAC, FLAC, ALAC USB, CD, SD, Mac, Win, iOS, Android
CDJ-2000NXS MP3, WAV, AIFF, AAC USB, CD, SD, Mac, Win, iOS, Android
CDJ-2000 MP3, WAV, AIFF, AAC USB, CD, SD, Mac, Win
XDJ-1000MK2 MP3, WAV, AIFF, AAC, FLAC, ALAC USB, Mac, Win, iOS, Android
XDJ-1000 MP3, WAV, AIFF, AAC USB, Mac, Win, iOS, Android
CDJ-1000MK3 MP3, CDA CD
CDJ-1000MK2 CDA CD
CDJ-1000 CDA CD
CDJ-900NXS MP3, WAV, AIFF, AAC USB, CD, Mac, Win, iOS, Android
CDJ-900 MP3, WAV, AIFF, AAC CD
CDJ-850 MP3, WAV, AIFF, AAC USB, CD
CDJ-800MK2 MP3, CDA CD
CDJ-800 CDA CD
XDJ-700 MP3, WAV, AIFF, AAC USB, Mac, Win, iOS, Android
CDJ-400 MP3, CDA USB, CD
CDJ-350 MP3, WAV, AIFF, AAC USB, CD
CDJ-100S CDA CD

The Sea Organ of Zadar – Unique Musical Instruments

There are several recreational activities that one can get involved with. The simple act of watching the sea has always been, and always will be, a popular pastime.    There is a peace and joy that comes with sitting by the sea.  This alone takes away all your sorrows and worries away.  Did you know…

History and Application of the Theremin

When it comes to the imagination, the human mind has no limit. The magic of the vision of man can be seen in the invention of musical instruments. The purpose of the musical instrument is rhetorical.  What you may think is impossible is made possible by instruments. It is not just about the theory behind…

The Didgeridoo – History and Information

What is a Didgeridoo? A didgeridoo is a type of native Australian wooden horn / pipe that makes deep, resonant sounds, and is considered as an aerophone (wind instrument) by many musicologists. This instrument is also sometimes referred to as didge or didjeridu, as well as names like yiraka, djibouti, and paampu. Here is a…

Say Hello To Hello Hopeless – Interview November 2018

Hello Hopeless is a 3-piece rock band from Waterloo region, in Ontario, Canada.  Their music is fairly eclectic, absorbing a number of influences from different styles of music, but I think it is fair to call it energetic, to say the least.   With a band name like Hello Hopeless, you might not expect that much…

The Pyrophone – Weird and Unusual Musical Instruments Series

 At some point in your life, you have probably heard or listened to notes that sounded like an explosion or something close to rapid combustion or rapid heating, made by some synthesizer perhaps. As we all know, a musician that performs with talent or fervour have always been described with words such as burning it…

Triangle Instrument History – The Grimley Memoirs

The triangle is one of the instruments that has gained a bit of a bad reputation over the years.  In fact, some people don't even think it IS a musical instrument...the nerve! Admittedly, it doesn't look like much or seem to do a whole heck of a lot.  So, what is a triangle instrument, then,…

The History of the Saxophone

Reading through the history books, the saxophone remains one of the most remarkable instrument ever to appear on the music scene. It has been many decades since its invention, but the sax still stands out. The relaxing, sophisticated, romantic, and sensual sound the sax produces strokes your nervous system in an exciting way that you…

The History Of The Clarinet

Instruments have always played an essential role in music since their advent, tens of thousands of years ago. As much as music can be done with simply the human voice, there is just a magic about instruments accompanying the human voice that only your heart can understand.  Much of the knowledge behind older instruments is…

How To Get More DJ Gigs

Every DJ knows how important it is to be constantly playing gigs. Nowadays you can find a huge amount of people claiming to be DJs with very little skill to show for, and that might get in your way if you’re starting out. If you already have your thing going, you will still find obstacles…