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

Korg Triton Studio 88-Key Synthesizer Workstation Keyboard Review

This is going to be a fairly unorthodox review of the Korg Triton Studio keyboard synth workstation (88-key version), because I will admit to you off the top that I am basically a newb.  As such, I can’t say that I know everything about this formidable beast of a workstation / sampler / keyboard, but I do have some experience with using it, as it happens.  In fact, I recently made a full length album with the help of the Korg Triton, as well as several DAW’s like Reason and Ableton Live, with the help of my buddy Curtis Maranda from Tiger Suit (pictured right).  The album we made is called All The Rad Snakes and I will link to it at the bottom of this review, if you’re interested.  For the record, I am Young Coconut, musician and recording artist for Fauxtown Records.

So, rather than pretend to be a tech geek, which I’m not, I will try to keep this review on the level to what I actually know about the Korg Triton Studio.  So let’s get started.

Korg TRITON Studio 88-Key Workstation Keyboard review

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One thing I can tell you about the Korg Triton off the top is that it is heavy and long.  And it takes up a lot of space.  I’m going to guess that it’s about 4 feet long, and frickin’ heavy.  Drop it on your foot and see.  Triton is a fitting name for this thing, because it is sort of all powerful in terms of what it can do.  In fact, I don’t even know all of what it can do – this machine is probably smarter than I am.  My familiarity with it comes from recording my album, and how I used it in particular.  I do know that this is more of a “retro” synth at this point, coming out in the ’90’s sometime, and possessing the ability to sound exactly like Fresh Prince of Bel Air if that’s what you’re after.  Many people use the Triton for beat making in a more serious and contemporary manner, such as this dude, King David of YouTube (BeatClass).

See, now this guy knows what he’s doing.  I couldn’t do that kind of thing by myself.  I still have miles to go when it comes to understanding all the ins and outs of this machine.  Be that as it may, let’s continue!

The Keyboard

Now, the Triton is foremost I would say a keyboard, and authentic one at that.  The one I used has the full 88-keys like a legit piano, and the keys are weighted like any good keyboard should be if you’re going to use it properly.  I’m not even a “real” piano player, but when I’m composing musical parts on a keyboard, I would say that the Triton has got to be one of the best I’ve ever used.  The keys are fully weighted as mentioned and when you bang something out on it, the sensitivity is there which you will need for certain dynamics in your song or playing.

Coupling the Triton with the Reason DAW in this case, I came up with many parts which we were able to make sound great just simply through performance on the Triton, and then in Reason we could make them sound even better by shifting a few notes around and changing the entire instrument sound as we are talking about MIDI notes here.  Here we are working on a new track and doing just that.  Playing stuff on the Triton and then fiddling around with the notes in Reason.  

For the album I did using the Triton, we did a lot of the changing of the sounds in Reason because it has some pretty good VST’s, but Triton also has countless synth samples that can be accessed, and you can refer to those in the guide which comes with it that shows your options for sounds, and there are a vast number.  I actually feel bad I didn’t use more sounds straight from the Triton, as you are definitely spoiled for choice in that department.  If you happen to get the manual along with this thing, it’s basically a monster tome of like 100-200 pages.  It’s not even called a manual, it’s called the “parameters guide” or something.  These guys at Korg back in the 90’s seriously expect you to be living the Triton life by handing you this guide.  You can put down the Bible or War and Peace because you will be too busy reading the guide to the frickin’ Triton and basing your life around that from now on.

Aesthetics and Body

Another thing I can talk about re: the Korg Triton is just the way it’s set up, and the overall look of it.  It looks great, IMO.  I love the silver grey body, and all of the switches and buttons are a uniform colour.  

This is sort of the opposite of a lot of synths and samplers today which light up and kind of look like the county fair.  The Triton is basically black white and grey, and I think it benefits from this utilitarian look.  You just get down to business right away – no distractions.  Even the computer screen it has sort of looks like a Gameboy – grey on grey.

Here’s a little joke video we made giving you a little tour of the Triton.  Sorry about the colour of the video – I accidentally turned the contrast all the way up and hit upload.  I kinda like it, I guess.

If I was shopping for a keyboard and I was a real piano player, I’d do well to have this thing because it can be a keyboard or it can be anything you want it to be.  It is durable as you can ask for in a synth keyboard, and I’ve had a couple others in my time, such as a very hefty Yamaha which was somewhat similar to this, with less functions.  Now, take a look at the back of this thing for a second…

This is where my non-tech background comes into play.  I know it has lots of places to run things in and out, but this isn’t really my area of expertise to be honest.

That said, it’s not too hard to understand.  You’ve got your in’s, your out’s, and they do what they do.  It’s all labelled quite clearly.  We had the Triton routed to some very large speakers – a Yamaha S215IV, as well as a Yamaha MSR800w.  This was for playback.  We also had it routed into the computer where we were using Reason and Ableton Live to put our tracks together.  We definitely weren’t using the full functionality of the Korg Triton.  For instance, we didn’t once use the SCSI port.  On the top side, we often used the toggle dial or the note-bender or whatever it’s called.  The thing on the left – definitely a cool thing.  What we didn’t do is play around with the ability to store samples and actually use this beast as the true workstation that it is.  You don’t *need* to route the Triton into your computer, but most DAW’s people use now are on laptops, so you’re probably going to have to.  That said, the Triton can be self contained.  If you use discs, it allows you to pop those in and save and load things that way, which we never did.  

Conclusion

Sure, I know there’s a ton more that can be said about the Korg Triton Studio.  But at this point I’m too ignorant to be the one to say much more.  I would say if you have access to this studio workstation, do use it.  I can’t see how you’d regret it.  If you get the chance to buy one, I’d recommend that also if you have a music production studio with all the trimmings.  This thing calls itself a “studio” and it is not kidding. 

If you have any comments about your experiences with the Korg Triton, please let us know in the comments below.  We love to hear from people!  Also, here’s my album that I made with the help of the Triton.  I can answer more specific questions if anyone has any.  Thanks for reading!

AKAI Pro MPC2000XL Review

The AKAI Pro MPC2000XL was a sampler that could really hold its own.

Sure, it was limited to 32mb of sample time which equated to about 40sec mono or 21.9sec stereo, it was big $$ to expand the RAM, get the 8 output board and the fx module, or to add a snazzy ZIP drive, let alone a compact flash drive.

You knew you were ballin’ when you had it tricked out with all the options. Still some magic lay in the limitations and the flexibility of working so closely with one device.

You would often happen upon a slice of audio when chopping things down to 16ths, like a snare roll, a dead bit of air or a reverb tail.

These little things which seemed like nothing at the time often made the song tick, bang or swing.

Feature Pick

Akai Professional Mpc2000Xl Midi Production Center Sampler Sequencer Drum Machine, Blue

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I remember having an Akai S2000 (rack mount version without the sequencer) and dreaming of slapping away on those pads.

Little did I know that once I bought the MPC2K I would spend the next 5-7 years crafting every beat I made on it, running my live show from it and knowing it like the back of my hand, so much so I now have a custom painted black one with no decals or annotations for the button functions.

Some might say the 16-bit sound contributed to a grainy sound but I never noticed it, in fact for the time it sounded quite good, if you drive the inputs with signal you could get quite a punchy sound with this unit and there was no shortage of bass.

The filter is a dynamic resonant 12db/octave low-pass that is surprisingly useful; in fact I believe a lot of the filtered bass loop production that featured on J Dilla beats (MPC3000) included this.

You could assign a slider to the cut-off frequency and use midi recording to automate your filter movements, pretty cool for a unit in those days.

As I said, there is only 21.9 seconds of full stereo recording time via the 32mb (yes mb) 72pin simms when its expanded from the internal 2mb (Yikes!) but when sampling in mono you essentially double the sample time.

Using this and a few other tricks like sampling a bass tone or a sample and chromatically assigning it across all 4 banks of 16 pads, you could have a playable tone that could be pitched, filtered and edited for some variation using the ADSR envelope.

The original unit was white and consisted of a floppy drive but later versions included a 250mb zip or an MCD card reader capable of SD, compact flash etc, and there are some third party applications for making programs on your PC like the http://www.mpc2000xlapp.com/

The Akai editors were pretty clunky and not much use. But I found in using the menu system in the MPC2KXL was perhaps one of its best advantages, you could easily sample something from a source, jump to the edit page, chop and assign it in the programs page then hit home and you were ready to record a sequence.

Using the slice function you could easily chop up a break into 16 slices and automatically assign them to the 16 pads, this would give you a nice range of kicks, snares, ghost notes, hi-hats and so on that would be really conducive to creativity.

Some of the best MPC beats I’ve made have included little snippets that at the time meant nothing but took on a whole new vibe when assigned and ready to roll.

Sometimes I’d even find a little guitar chk or a bass or horn stab that I would then pluck out and assign chromatically to use as a melodic part across the 4 banks.

In performance you could do some cool tricks with changing assigned pad/programs to different sequences so your pads would change as your songs do, this combined with some NOTE REPEAT and live overdubs made the unit a great production centre of your live show.

I remember my first live rig consisted of the MPC2KXL running individual outs (8) with 4 stereo banks, the elements I wanted to effect like pads, synths, samples etc, went out into a crossover and then the rest of the mix went straight out to the PA.

After the cross over (which basically did a broad high pass filter when engaged) I had a Boss DE-200 delay feeding back to create tension and builds. This system worked great and was really fun to perform with.

Thinking back now It was an easy way to make a simple but effective device run the whole live show and sound really punchy and solid.

You can pick these units up now pretty cheap and If you are after something that will inspire you but also make you work for it then I’d take a look at the MPC2K, it’s a beast that needs some love but it’s great to get off the laptop sometimes for inspiration.

Akai Professional MPC X MIDI Controller Review

Today we review the Akai Professional MPC X MIDI controller.  The MPC range has gone through many changes over the years, but Akai’s decision to keep the fundamental workflow within the MPC X as familiar as possible, is a testament of loyalty to their core users. Dispensing with the notion of radical overhauls to suit an increasingly cloud based user set, Akai have taken the hardware bull by the horns and have produced, arguably their finest flagship digital music workstation. The MPC X does away with the need for any computer interaction whatsoever, but that being said, it also seamlessly multitasks as a USB controller and audio interface for the MPC2.0 native software, or controller for most 3rd party plug-ins within your DAW, all with the flexibility to move projects back and forth on the fly.

Feature Pick

Akai Professional Mpc X – Fully Standalone

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Moving on from the MPC Live, we find a lot of commonality here with the MPC Touch. The main focus of which, being the beautifully responsive 10′ AMOLED touch screen in the centre of the console. The screen has an adjustable viewing angle, and can comfortably maintain its position upright thanks to a sturdy metal bracket, or it can just as easily be laid flat into the recess of the console. This makes it perfect for live use when you’re standing up, and the screen’s brightness and accuracy won’t let you lose sight of what’s happening, even for the more physically enthusiastic.

One of the main things I found striking while test driving the MPC X, was how much less I was distracted by what was going on in my computer. After years of editing samples within my DAW, I had become fully accustomed to the less ‘hands-on’ approach, since the last iteration of the MPC range I actually owned was the MPC200XL, and comparatively, working within my DAW was considerably faster. The sample editing within the MPC X is an absolute boon. The UI doubles down on the standalone aspect of the MPC range’s lineage, and the 16 perfectly weighted Q-Link controls in conjunction with the razor sharp interface within the touch screen, allows for immediate and hyper-detailed snapshots of your sample data to be summoned on the fly, speeding up the workflow no end.

One of the best things about the MPC X is how many devices you can connect to it. As well as the standard USB-B port for computer connection, the MPCX has two USB-A ports for peripherals going into the unit, and the USB ports can connect to standard CC MIDI keyboards, pads, and controllers.

Not stopping for a breath, the addition of eight CV outputs represents a real breakaway for modular synth enthusiasts The MPC X, using a CV Program, lets you feed any two of the eight CV output to notes and gates, transforming it into a MIDI-to-CV converter that you can utilize on any track. You can sequence four synths simultaneously, and you can also convert velocity/mod wheel data to CV outputs. Controlling the CV outputs directly from the Q-Links, comes with voltage display on the OLEDs, allowing you to modulate CV and automation in a intuitive fashion. Patching audio back in from your synth to the MPCX is a nice touch, providing simple and straightforward routing, allowing you to sandpit everything back into the core effects, record and sample functions.

The MPC X has two XLR/TRS mic/line inputs on the back panel with another two TRS line inputs and additional phono inputs for hooking up a record deck. For MIDI connectivity, there are four MIDI outputs and two MIDI inputs, and the audio output section boasts a handsome eight TRS outputs – 6 were all that available on the MPC Live. The front panel has two jack inputs for use with guitar or bass and features a very solid mic pre. The myriad of connections all route into to four input channels. The main M/L inputs share pathways with the instrument inputs, and the selections are made through the mixer section on the front hub, where you can also find parameters for gain controls, phantom power switch, master level and a mix control for combining dry input signals with the MPC’s output.

Also on the connection front, we have the ‘long time coming’ addictions of both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity. The Bluetooth can pair the MPC X with wireless MIDI controllers, and in true Ableton fashion, you can even connect with your QWERTY keyboard. The Wi-Fi aspect gives us Ableton Link, which is the simple-yet-affective tempo-locking system that’s being rolled out at a fast pace across many different platforms.

Despite all the new bravado, I still had a few minor quibbles with some elements of the MPC X. The new style of hard plastic pads are obviously in place to lend a feel of Native Instrument’s ‘Maschine’ to them, but in this regard, they don’t lend themselves as easily to expressive playing as the classic rubber pads – this may well be an issue of taste, but I don’t think I’m gonna be entirely alone in this regard . . . Also, the 16GB internal SSD drive seems somewhat tight-fisted given the price tag on this unit, and considering that it comes pre-loaded with 10GB of that taken up by factory sounds, even more so! The option to install a SATA drive in an internal bay is a comfort, but I still can’t help but feel that this should have come pre-loaded with at least as much internal storage as you would get on a high-end smart phone – say roughly 120GB.

Within the MPC2.0 software, you can custom assign your project controls over the Q-Links for master control over any parameter within your project. This is amazing for live use, and the wealth of controls at your disposal are deep. You can switch between controls for the current program, or you also have a page entirely for the currently selected pad. These overviews are only stored within the project or programs, so you need to get busy making templates to recall your settings.

If you’re an old school MPC user and have felt slightly sidelined by the current rash of alternatives, I’m telling you, you are gonna fall in love with this machine! It is simultaneously the classic MPC we all know and love, designed to keep you tethered while it makes an enormous leap forward into the new school pond. Try it, and you won’t regret it.

We Review The Best DJ Controllers for Clubs and Weddings

New DJs as well as professionals can use controllers to mix music that will give them a name in the club world as an amazing talented creative. If you imagine club promoters and owners fighting over you, you’ll need one of the best controllers for working in the clubs. It’ll help build your skills as well as get your name out there as a major player in the music world.

Pioneer DDJ-SB Controller

This controller is an impressive one for the features available. Usually, you’d see this kind of construction and effects on high-priced controllers. The buttons can be used to trigger cues you’ve already set up, and it can trigger loops and FX plus samples with ease.

Features

  • Performance pads
  • Level meters
  • Pad trans beat effect
  • Four-deck control
  • Compact
  • USB powered

This controller is considered an entry level one that can be used with the Serato DJ software. While it’s considered entry level in price, it has some great features that make it a good option for the new DJ who wants to become a professional.


Numark Mixtrack Pro 3 Controller

This is a beginner controller that is fantastic for those first learning to mix their own music. As a beginning device for learning, you really can’t go wrong with this Pro 3. It has plenty of lights for working in the club, so you can see exactly where your hands are.

Features

  • Pads for loops and samples
  • Plug and play
  • Built-in soundcard
  • Beat matching
  • Touch Sensitive

There are plenty of selections to be used with the software. There’s actually a selection button that allows you to choose between effects like reverb, flanger, delay, and no effect. With 16 backlit trigger pads, you’ll be able to learn quickly while dealing with a dark environment like you’ll have in the clubs.

Check our review of the Numark Mixtrack Pro 3


Reloop Beatpad 2

This is an affordable unit that’s a step up from the beginner units used by amateurs just getting started. The Beatpad has established itself as a professional system at an affordable price.

Features

  • Two-channel design
  • Responsive pads
  • LED rings for scratching
  • Harmonic mix option
  • Access to Spotify

This last feature is one of the best for professionals. You’ll need access to a huge music library to get your samples and you don’t have to worry about having the memory to store every song on your memory card. It will recommend music that matches what you’re currently playing, too. This gives you a huge amount of variation for your mixes and freestyle scratching.

Check out our full review of the Reloop Beatpad 2


Denon DJ MCX8000

denon-dj-mcx8000-standalone-dj-player-and-serato-4-channel-dj-controller-review

This professional controller is a full-size heavy controller that might not necessarily lend itself to being mobile-ready. It would be more suited for a full-time gig at a club where you don’t have to carry the controller around with you.

Features

  • Built-in engine software
  • No computer needed
  • Room for 2 DJs on the controller
  • USB ports for flash drives
  • Serato DJ software
  • Four channel mixer

When you’re learning, this might not be the right controller for you, but for those who know the world of DJing inside and out, this is a solid unit. It’s perfect for performing with another DJ, too.

Check out our full review of the Denon DJ MCX8000


Native Instruments Traktor Kontrol S4 MK2 DJ Controller

This controller can be used with the iPad or iPhone with the flagship Traktor software. You’ll need to download this free of charge from the site after purchasing and receiving the controller. This is a controller that isn’t for the beginner, but once past the beginning stages, it’s a fantastic controller for the amateur on the way to being a professional DJ.

Features

  • Traktor pro 2 software
  • Direct and USB control
  • Flux mode button
  • Preview button overhaul
  • Four stereo channels
  • Equalizer and filter knobs

The spinner jog wheels use aluminum, aircraft-grade materials, so you know they’ll last for a very long time. The layout is comfortable and the knobs, faders, and buttons are in a place that makes sense intuitively. The buttons light up beautifully, so you can see them easily in the dark of the club.

Check out our full review of the Tracktor Kontrol S4 MK2


Conclusion

These are 5 of the best controllers for the clubs. DJs who want to learn the controller can start with some of the ones at the top of the list before graduating to more advanced versions of the controller at the bottom of this list. They’re all fantastic for the DJ who wants to advance from beginner to professional pretty swiftly. We would recommend any of these, so head over and read the full reviews to ensure you’re doing full research on each one.

Pioneer DDJ-RZX Professional 4-Channel DJ Audio and Video Controller Review

pioneer-ddj-rzx-quick-review

Introduced in June 2016, the state-of-the-art DDJ-RZX DJ Controller is among the newest additions of its kind on the market, with noteworthy improvements brought to the table in contrast with previous models from other manufacturers.

Feature Pick

Pioneer Dj Ddj-Rzx – 4 Channel Professional

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This new bit of DJ gear is specially crafted to work alongside a Rekordbox DJ video pack which allows mixing of videos in the DJ software.

Check out the official demo video from Pioneer on the DDJ-RZX DJ Controller.

Before delving into the key features of this little device, we must make it clear that, unlike the XDJ-RK, the DDJ-RZX comes packed with two USB ports for DJ switchovers and does NOT work without connecting it to a laptop running Rekordbox DJ software.

It is important to keep this aspect in mind before further exploring this impressive device. Although this device cannot really compete with its standalone XDJ-RX predecessor, we believe that it still comes at par with all of the stringent requirements that professional DJs have.

Without further ado, let’s see what makes the brand-new DDJ-RZX a worthy controller for the Rekordbox DJ software.

Enhanced Visual Control

While this controller’s design is not the most minimalistic one we’ve ever seen, its controls are not the most difficult ones to approach either.

ddj-rzx-closeup1

It boasts three 7-inch built-in touch screens which allow you to close your laptop and get intuitive control over audio and video features of the Rekordbox software directly from the hardware. Additionally, the same 7-inch touch screens allow you to:

  • Preview and monitor video and image files
  • Trigger beat/release FX
  • Touch FX that allow use of X/Y controls to change level/depth of the effect
  • Access track info such as titles, BPM and key using deck display mode
  • And many more!

Furthermore, this little fancy device is a direct heir of some of the CDJ-2000NXS2 and DJM mixer’s such traits as larger jog wheels, eye-catchy multi-colored Performance Pads and, obviously, high-quality sound for an enhanced DJ-ing experience.

To top off the already-abundant features, the comprehensive FX enables you to trigger Mic FX, Combo FX, Sampler Repeat and Release FX for an even more vivid experience.

Impressive Sound

You just cannot say “DDJ-RZX” without instantly thinking of its invaluable sound. Owing to AC inlets for significantly reduced cable contact resistance and a high-performance 96 KHz/32-bit D/A/ converter made by Asahi Kasei, you can clearly distinguish every nuance of your tracks without any kind of effort on your end.

Mix Videos On-The-Go

The all-new Rekordbox DJ Plus Pack adds the unprecedented ability to mix videos to the software, which takes serious aim at Serato and Virtual DJ. According to their own press release, the feature set includes but is not limited to:

  • Native control of videos – add FX to videos as if they were audio tracks
  • Transition FX – use the crossfaded to mix two video sources
  • Touch FX – trace on the x and y axes to adjust parameters and add FX
  • Slideshow – create on-the-go slideshows of still images
  • Camera output – show live feed from a live camera directly connected to your computer

Unfortunately, this is not an out-of-the-box benefit. You’ll have to buy a license for only $149 or get instant access instantly if you currently have a license to the software. Either way, you’re going to have to pay for access to the Rekordbox DJ Plus Pack software.

ddj-rzx-video-prev

Other Interesting Features

  • Active Censor – Apply Reverse Roll, Trans, Echo or Vinyl Brake FX to censor explicit words in certain tracks. The FX will be heard every time the track is played from Rekordbox DJ
  • Three Bundled License Keys for Rekordbox DJ, Rekordbox DVS and Rekordbox Video
  • OSC Sampler – four oscillator sounds
  • Dual USB port – for the smoothest transition between DJs
  • P-Lock fader cap – this has been introduced to prevent fader knobs from dropping
  • Fader-Start
  • Crossfader Curve Adjust

Minimum system requirements

For the software to decently work, you must have the following computer specifications (and better):

• CPU: 2.5GHz dual-core Intel Core’ i5 or higher

• Memory: 8GB or more of RAM

• Hard Drive: 250MB or more of free space (not including space for storing music files, etc.)

• Display resolution: Resolution of 1280768 or greater

Recommended system requirements

For the software to work at the highest level possible for an unprecedented DJ-ing experience, we recommend your computer has the following specs (and better)

• CPU: 2.2GHz quad-core Intel Core’ i7 or higher

• Memory: 16GB or more of RAM

• Hard Drive: 250MB or more of free space (not including space for storing music files, etc.)

• Display resolution: Resolution of 1280 x 768 or greater

DDJ-RZX Specifications

• Width: 945 mm

• Height: 119.7 mm

• Depth: 547 mm

• Weight: 15.9 kg

• Soundcard: 24 bit/96 kHz

• Frequency Range: 20 – 20,000 Hz

• Signal-to-Noise Ratio: 116 dB

• Distortion: < 0.002 % (USB), < 0.003 % (CD/LINE)

• Power Consumption: 48 W

• Power Consumption (Standby): < 0.4 W

Summary

Although this device might disappoint some people out there with its lack of standalone-ness, we believe that it is still a very decent device that works well with the Rekordbox DJ software and comes to par with other devices in the same price range.

The features are also abundant compared to the price you pay, so don’t miss out on the offer while it still lasts!

Denon DJ MCX8000 Review

serato-4-channel-dj-controller-review

The state-of-the-art MCX8000 manufactured by the one and only Denon DJ is among the latest standalone DJ players and DJ controllers on the market, and stands firm when it comes to its unprecedented high quality.

Aside from the countless out-of-the-box features that are bound to blow your mind right off the bat, you’ll be impressed by the rather simplistic – but not simple – aspect of the controller, which intuitively combines pragmatism with pleasant aesthetics for a never-seen disc jockeying experience.

denon-dj-mcx8000-standalone-dj-player-and-serato-4-channel-dj-controller-review

The Denon DJ MCX8000 is on our review list of 5 best DJ controllers

What makes this controller so special in the first place?

It doesn’t take much to realize that disc jockeying is pretty strenuous an activity. The MCX8000 controller makes it very easy for each and every DJ out there to undertake his or her job without undermining the mixing complexity which the respective DJ must approach.

How specifically? Let’s pore over the key features for a thorough analysis.

Key Features of the Denon DJ MCX8000

#1 – No Computer Needed to Operate

Take over the DJ booth like never before with the all-new standalone MCX8000 controller and transform a monotonous set into a full concert experience that everyone actively participates in.

Two hi-definition display screens control Denon DJ’s Engine 1.5 software and Serato DJ operation, while a 4-channel digital mixer comes with three built-in instant effects for Engine software and line inputs.

Velocity-sensitive performance pads for cues, rolls, slicer and samples are also present on the sturdy-metal construction for enhanced control.

#2 – Built-in Engine Software

Engine is the revolutionary software which enables you to operate the controller without using a laptop. This obviously allows you to play your sets using media from your USB stick.

On the other hand, if you install Engine 1.5 on your PC/Mac, you can create your own playlists, set cue points and analyze your entire library, though this is optional.

*Watch this video review by DJ Tekneek of the Denon DJ MCX8000 to get a closer look.

Features Continued…

#3 – Quality Sound and Effects for the Best DJ Experience

The MCX8000 delivers a high-quality controller with XLR outputs for both the DJ booth and the PA system. To top off the already-amazing 24-bit sound, there are a total of three sound effects, namely delay, echo and noise for the outset of a vivid atmosphere.

#4 – Let’s Alternate!

If you feel that the atmosphere is too intense for a one-man job, don’t worry, as the MCX8000 enables two DJs at a time to smoothly hand off duty from one to another.

There are no interruptions between sets, as the Engine software allows the DJ to either plug into the MCX8000 visa USB or Serato DJ while in sync with the vibe.

There are two USB ports for flash drives in front of the MCX8000, while around the back there is a powered USB port for external hard drive.

denon-dj-mcx8000-review

#5 – Unprecedentedly-High Performance Media Player/Controller

There is no other DJ controller in this price range which offers its own built-in software, all the while interfacing seamlessly with Serato DJ.

You will be immersed into an impressively-performant standalone technology with high-definition screens, concomitantly-run Serato DJ and a 24-bit 4-channel mixer which essentially means that the atmosphere will reach unconceivable peaks of hotness.

So, to recap, the MCX8000 includes:

  • revolutionary Denon DJ Engine standalone technology
  • 2 USB inputs for Engine playback in standalone mode
  • 4-deck Serato DJ software
  • 2 high-definition displays show Engine and Serato DJ operation
  • Professional 4-channel digital mixer with 2 microphone inputs
  • 3 built-in instant effects for Engine playback and line inputs
  • Velocity-sensitive performance pads for cues, rolls, slicer and samples
  • Ethernet connection to control lighting and video
  • Serato DVS Upgrade ready
  • Metal construction

serato-4-channel-dj-controller-review

Product Specs:

Dimensions & Weight:

  • Unit:
    • 2.39 (W) x 1.42 (D) x 0.23 (H) in feet
    • 28.68 (W) x 17.04 (D) x 2.76 (H) in inches
    • 728.47 (W) x 432.82 (D) x 70.10 (H) in mm
    • 8.34 kg
    • 18.39 lbs.
  • Giftbox & Unit:
    • 2.84 (W) x 1.76 (D) x 0.43 (H) in feet
    • 34.08 (W) x 21.12 (D) x 5.16 (H) in inches
    • 865.63 (W) x 536.45 (D) x 131.06 (H) in mm
    • 10.71 kg
    • 23.61 lbs.

Package Contents

  • 1 X MCX8000
  • 1 X Power Adapter
  • 1 X USB Cable
  • 1 X Quickstart Guide
  • 1 X Software Download Card
  • 1 X Safety & Warranty Manual

Summary

It goes without saying that Denon DJ’s MCX8000 excels in most aspects, the most notable one being that you don’t have to worry about computer-related problems and limitations, which is a huge advantage considering most DJ controllers out there are exclusively reliant on Windows and Mac OS-based computers.

MCX8000, along with the revolutionary Engine software are a completely fulfilling match in this price range: the 4-deck Serato control and Engine-provided freedom from computers, plus the ability to switch to local USB drives when using either Serato or Engine.

There are no obvious disadvantages to using this DJ controller, but it is highly advisable to bear in mind the fact that it is not the most expensive market entry either. Still, the controller is made of great material, looks moderately fancy and gives the best bang for your buck in this price range. Good luck!

Feature Pick

Denon Dj Mcx8000 | Standalone

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Pioneer DDJ-SR Performance DJ Controller Review

pioneer-ddjsr-pro-dj-controller-review

You’ve gained a significant amount of experience, and now you wish to upgrade to a higher-class performance kit that signifies you’re a pro.

If that’s so, then Pioneer’s DDJ-SR must be somewhere on top of your list because it’s a solid device that will improve your performance.

DDJ-SR is a compact and portable controller, which is in the middle of the table of the DDJ catalogs.

Here’s the demo video of the DDJ-SR straight from Pioneer themselves.


Our Pioneer DDJ-SR Performance DJ Controller Review

Unpacking the large device of ten pounds will reveal two silver jog wheels and two rows of performance pads. The crossfader is smooth, while the upfaders feel durable and quite reliable.

On the rear side of the controller, you will find dual jacks for your master output, a pair for your booth output, USB port, a pair of RCA jacks and auxiliary input.

djj-sr2-review

The front side features a 1/8 headphone jack for phones, 1/4 headphone jack, and a microphone jack if you wish to talk with your audience.

front-of-pioneer-sr2

The device is pretty solid as the facade is metal. Every single button and function on the device is carefully labeled, and from what we see, this is a controller that’s going to endure.

Unfortunately, other parts of the unit are plastic. However, this makes the controller lighter even though it still weighs a lot. Nonetheless, it is worth the increase of durability.

The smaller knobs of the EQ section are made of rubber, while the larger ones are from plastic, which is good because you can accurately distinguish them.

From what we experience, the design of the deck is user-friendly. To access the third and fourth decks you will have to enable them.

On this controller, there aren’t touch strips and a LED ring within the jog wheels due to the fact that this controller is smaller than the DDJ-SX.


Running the Controller

Well, the good thing is that this is extremely easy due to the fact that all you have to do is plug the USB cable into it. From there, you must install the supplied software Serato DJ, which is a seamless task.

The greatest advantage is that this professional kit start work instantaneously even if you have bought it ten minutes before your performance in front of an audience.

Feature Pick

Pioneer Ddjsr Pro Dj Controller

Buy On Amazon

Jog Wheels

The jog wheels are crucial for every controller, and this one features six inches in diameter, which are highly durable. For many people the absence of LED rings is very dramatic, but not everyone uses them anyway.

With this controllers, the jogs are incredibly useful and they’ll provide an incredible scratching experience, which means more fun.

EQ Section

This model features a pair of EQs, which includes trim, filter knob and low, mid and high. Nothing that can surprise you! Between the two knob columns you will find the master level knob, headphones mix knob and the sampler volume one.

Faders & Metering

The crossfader is smooth, but it’s nonuser-replaceable. The deck also features a fader reverse switch and crossfader curve knob. In the center of the unit, you will find a meter, from which you can watch the levels of the master output or those in both channels.

Browser Section

You can quickly search your library with the browser knob on the top of the device. There are two buttons underneath the browser knob. The right one loads a track, while the left one serves as a back button.

On both sides of the browser button, you will find load buttons which are used to start the highlighted song in your library.

Effects Section

There are two sets of four rubber knobs per set and four other buttons below them. The first two control particular parameters. The fourth one serves as tap tempo button and note length selector.

However, this depends on the way you set the software. You can scroll through the effects settings by using the shift layers for the knobs. To change the FX modes, just press the fourth button.

Performance Pad

This wonderful deck features eight performance pads, which can be adjusted through the rows above. There are four functions – Roll, Sampler, Slicer and Hot Cue.

The developers from Pioneer have added an extra shift layer for the function buttons of the Performance Pad, called Pad Plus mode.

Summary

This controller is perfect for DJs who want a durable device that doesn’t miss any features and works seamlessly without much preparation.

It’s a good deck for those who wish to upgrade from a beginner controller to a mid-tier professional kit.

Check out DJ TLM ‘s review of the Pioneer DDJ-SR for more information

Pioneer DDJ-SB2 DJ Controller Review

pioneer-dj-ddj-sb2-portable-2-channel-controller-for-serato-dj-review

Pioneer’s DDJ-SB2 is an entry-level controller for Serato DJ. The controller has all features of the original DDJ-SB including the Performance Pads, Filter Fade, Level Meters, Pad Trans Beat Effect, Trim Pots and 4-Deck Control.

pioneer-dj-ddj-sb2-portable-2-channel-controller-for-serato-dj-review

The Pioneer DDJ-SB2 is featured on our review of the 5 best DJ controllers

The DDJ-SB became extremely popular due to its intuitive plug-and-play control of Serato DJ, as well as the numerous features it offers such as the slip mode, record, and host of expansion packs.

DJs can now mix seamlessly with the innovative Filter Fade. Moreover, the volume can be adjusted singlehandedly. The Performance Pads and buttons can trigger FX, loops, cues and samples, which means that you can use your creativity to the max

Trim pots and level meters are included in DDJ-SB2, which is usually common for top-flight controllers only. An impressive feature, which can’t be found for this price, is the four-deck control, as well as the quantized Pad Trans Pad, beat effect.

Moreover, this controller is USB-powered, compact and portable. At the same time, it provides customers with a user-friendly interface, high-quality construction, and numerous professional features.

Watch this video review for the Pioneer DDJ-SB by DJbooth DJ’s.

Key Features

1. Controls provide a better experience

The buttons and dials of the controller are similar to Serato DJ and Serato DJ Interface

  • Trim Pots & Level Meters: There’s no other controller sold at this price that features trim pots and level meters. The volume of each track can be easily controlled by the DJ through them.
  • Manual Filters For Every Channel: Alike the premium DDJ-SX2, DDJ-SB2 also features low/high pass filter dials for each channel.
  • Performance Pads: Trigger Auto Loop, Manual Loop, Hot Cue and Sampler with 4 rubber pads.

2. Trans Effect and Filter Fade for a better mixing

Beginners can now take their mixing to a whole new level with these two new features.

  • Filter Fade: Two high pass filters to the crossfader make mixing easier because DJs can manipulate the bass filter and the volume with only one hand.
  • Trans Beat Effect: The volume can be cut in time with the beat using the Trans effect which is triggered by the Performance Pads

3. Works Seamlessly with Serato DJ Intro & Includes 4-Deck Control

This is the first entry-level controller sold at this price that provides the opportunity to use all four Serato DJ Intro’s decks. You can switch effortlessly with the separated buttons for Deck 3 and 4.

Moreover, the controller has two FX units per channel, and there are many dedicated controls including four Hot Cues and four samples. Performers can use the central level/depth dial to manipulate parameters.

For more cue points, samples, loops, slip mode, record, and FX – DJs can upgrade to Serato DJ.

4. Design and Quality of Construction – Pioneer’s DDJ-SB2 is made from high-quality materials and audio circuitry. The design is stylish and the device is very durable, which is important due to the fact that it’s a portable controller and it must withstand travels.

5. Additional Features

  • MIC Input
  • MIDI Compatible
  • Powered with USB
  • Built-in Sound Card

System Requirements

To run the controller, you will need a computer with a 2.0GHZ dual core or higher, as well as a minimum of 1 GB RAM. Macbook users need Mac OSX v10.8 or later. The resolution of the display must be 1,024×768 or higher.

pioneer-dj-ddj-sb2-portable-2-channel-controller-for-serato-dj-review

Summary

Pioneers DDJ-SB2 focuses on the design, its user-friendly design, and some amazing new features. The controller is lightweight and easily portable, which makes it a perfect choice for traveling DJs. All you need to do to start it is to download the Serato DJ Intro, plug and play.

The quantized trans beat effect is something that hasn’t been featured in the entry-level controller market until now and it’s something new and fascinating. We found that the jog wheels are large and very responsive, which makes the switching of songs a seamless experience.

The biggest downside of this controller is that it comes only with the free version and you have to spend an extra $200 for the full version of the software.

Overall, this is one good looking controller that works flawlessly while providing an exceptional experience for beginners. What makes it so good is that it makes mixing easy and exciting.

Feature Pick

Pioneer Dj Ddj-Sb2 Portable 2-Channel Controller For Serato

Buy On Amazon

Numark Mixtrack Pro 3 Controller Review

numark-dj-controller-review

Numark’s latest controller, the Mixtrack Pro 3, smashed the competition as sales skyrocketed and they sold twice as much as their main rivals.

Mixtrack Pro II was released some time ago, but it didn’t spark much of a reaction from its audience. In this article, we are going to unbox and review the all new Mixtrack Pro 3, for which the followers have high expectations.

The Numark Mixtrack Pro 3 is an entry-level controller that delivers reliable performance. It offers everything required for a beginner to start his career.

numark-mixtrack-pro-3-usb-dj-controller-with-trigger-pads-review

The Numark Mixtrack Pro 3 is on our review list of 5 Best DJ Controllers


First-Hand Experience

Numark’s brand provides brilliant experience right from the packaging to the first contents and the experience with the hardware itself.

The design is similar to the one of Numark NV, and it is shallow but wide in shape, which provides a considerable amount of space around the controls.

Here’s a quick demo of this controller in action, featuring DJ BUTUNG.

The device is stable even thought that it’s not metal, but plastic doesn’t mean that it’s not durable – on the contrary.  

The light is also quite bright, and it’s enough for dark environments too. Also, the layout is pretty nice, and it’s hard to get confused.

I would say that Mixtrack Pro 3 is a controller with excellent design and it is totally worth its money for the features it provides. Now let’s look at the details.


Mixer Section

Something quite rare with this section is that with Mixtrack Pro III, you get two channels with three band EQ with dual pass filter. However, there isn’t a gain control, which is something the experienced DJ needs.

mixtrack-pro-3-usb-dj-controller

You can easily navigate through your library with the browse and shift controls. The faders are 45 mm, and there’s a software crossfader curve in the preferences.

It also features three greens, an amber and one LED red light. You will master the DJ-ing skill throughout the time as you move to a better controller.


Decks

The Jog wheel is similar to the one provided by the NV, and it offers a sensitive touch and a shift-track scrubber. Given the price, the scratch is really amazing.

However, decent tricks will come only if you spend a considerable amount of time staring at the screen due to the fact that there’s no visual feedback on the device itself.

The unit features 100 mm pitch faders, which are ideal for beginners. However, there’s no zero-point LED and detent, which is sad.


Effects

You can assign three Serato DJ Intro effects per deck and manage them through a touch strip.

However, it’s really unpleasant to control three different effects because there are no individual knobs and you have to reach out to the laptop every time.

Check out this video tutorial on the Numark Mixtrack Pro to get more info.


Pads

Mixtrack Pro gives you two rows of four pads, which are a lot smaller than they used to be, but they do pop quickly. The top row is used for loops and samples, while the bottom row is for cues.

The auto-loop functionality feels a bit limited for me and even though that the manual looping seems better, you will experience unpleasant frustrations.

16-multi-function-backlit-performance-pads


Ins & Outs

You will receive a mic in, minijack headphones and RCA outputs, which isn’t much but it is enough for beginners.


Usage

All you have to do is to put your tracks into Intro, and you can start. Syncing is simplified, and you can quickly match your beats. It works fine, and young DJs will have a pleasant time exploring its capabilities.


Should You Upgrade To Serato DJ

The better thing is that it has expansion packs and there is an application for remote access for iOS devices.

Even thought that MixTrack Pro 3 doesn’t offer many features, maybe it’s worth to put the money into a better controller than on a Serato upgrade.

You will need to find an external hardware to record and listen to your music.


Conclusion

Mixtrack Pro 3 is a perfect device for mastering the tough DJ-ing skills. It’s 100% plug & play, and it offers enough features for beginners to play.

This means that every beginner can learn the basics and a lot of professional tricks as well.

According to professionals in the area, Mixtrack Pro 3 is a perfect choice for starters.

Feature Pick

Numark Mixtrack Pro 3 | Usb Dj Controller With Trigger Pads & Serato

Buy On Amazon