DJ Ethics: The Pioneer CDJ

Chris Macom —  April 20, 2011 — 1 Comment

Last night when I was about to go to bed I had a horrible scenario pop into my head.  What the hell would I do if one of my Technic 1200’s broke or got stolen?  What would I replace it with?  With Techs being discontinued and increasingly getting harder to find, what do I do?  Vestax and Numark tables are available but are more like space ships to me than turntables, and I don’t like the feel of the platters at all.  Stanton ST150’s and STR8150’s seem to be one of the only options.  I had a pair of these actually that were stolen when I lived in Pontiac a few years back(See why I’m worried?).  They were good and functioned much like a Technic with some added features, but I couldn’t help but feel that I was using a Technic clone that was still not completely there.  So this brings me back to my question.  What do I get if my equipment is no longer?  I know other DJ’s have to have this on their mind also.  All major clubs that used to have Technics now have Pioneer CDJs.  Older DJ’s from Detroit that have been strictly vinyl in the past are being spotted all over rocking CDJ’s now instead of using a vinyl system like Serato or Traktor.  Most big name guys are switching to a 4 CDJ setup.  Why?

Reason #1- Reliability

When you use a computer, there is always the fear of a crash.  Before I got a Macbook a couple years ago, every vinyl system that I had on a PC crashed.  To DJ regularly you need a good computer system, that you are constantly tweaking to keep your program running solid.  If the sound shuts off when your spinning then your screwed.  With vinyl you could throw on another record and at least not have silence.  When DJing with a computer, you need a backup.  CDJ’s are expensive but are rock solid and have been tested by the times.  They don’t skip, shut down, or jitter.  Also, the sound quality on the CDJ-2000’s are next level incorporating an industry admired Wolfson DAC processor.

Reason #2- Versatility

You can also use Serato or Traktor with them, use CD’s, thumb drives, or hard drives.  If your computer crashes, you essentially have backups with you.  Or just ditch the computer.  You can hook up one hard drive or thumb drive and access the data from up to 4 CDJ’s at a time.  If your only playing an hour or two then you can just show up with one thumb drive with your set on it, and go to town.  Amazing.

Reason #2- Availability

Every major club in the world will have a pair of CDJ’s.  Some of those might have turntables.  My good friend Walter Glasshouse played at a Movement party last year that only had CDJ’s and no room to setup anything else.  He was forced to conform.  You can also buy these things anywhere DJ stuff is sold.  If it breaks then you can get it fixed quickly and find parts.

Reason #3- Useability

Transitioning from using vinyl to CDJ’s is quite easy as Pioneer originally designed their units to emulate vinyl control.  My friend Mr. Glasshouse had no problem “winging” it at his gig with the CDJs.  It also has cue points, loops, and browsing functions similar to DJing programs and everything is laid out nicely.  So it is kind of like using a hybrid turntable/computer.  If you know how to DJ with anything, then you should be able to rock face on the CDJ’s without an issue.

My Two Cents

So as you can see, there are definitely benefits to using a CDJ.  That’s why most professional DJ’s use them.  They are not as cool as vinyl turntables, depending on what circle jerk your in, and are not as good in the scratching department as well.  I do have to say that I am getting sick of seeing computers in the DJ booth.  Looks like DJ’s are checking email and reminds me of the stress of everyday life, which this music should be taking us away from.  Personally, I would rather see a DJ with CDJ’s and no laptop then with turntables and a laptop.  It seems that the older kats are embracing the CDJ verses controllers also, which have yet to gain a foothold in the Detroit techno scene.  I will leave you with a tutorial from Joachim Garraud explaining his CDJ setup using Video SL, which can now be controlled without using timecode.  His music isn’t my cup of tea, but seems like a nice guy.  He does though seem to have this working great but others online have had problems doing this.  Just proves my point that DVS needs the best technology has to offer and can be a pain if you don’t have the time or will power to tweak and maintain it.

Chris Macom

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Chris Macom is a DJ, producer, and writer in the Detroit Metro area. Growing up in the 90's, Chris grew fond of electronic music and started collecting vinyl and DJing. Now, as a founder of both Detroit Techno House and Lost Science, Chris hopes to share with the world his experiences through music and writing.
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One response to DJ Ethics: The Pioneer CDJ

  1. I have to say that CDJ’s are definitely something every true DJ should learn. If you walk into a club expecting turntables, you must be living in the 90’s … It has been my experience that most new clubs strictly have CDJ’s and rarely anything else. I do like the layout and design, and it certainly isn’t too hard to adjust, but the platters are still a bit small for my liking… none-the-less Mr. Macom makes an excellent case why a CDJ whould be in your DJ lexicon.

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