In the DJing world, one of the most common dilemmas is what gear to start using. While this sometimes isn’t either a choice and many of us have to settle for the bottom of the litter, there are some very fortunate DJs that have the money to actually purchase a more advanced and cutting edge DJing system. And when it comes to cutting edge DJ controllers and players, one of the most popular models out there is Pioneer’s XDJ and CDJ line.
These 2 product likes are among the most commonly seen in the professional circuit, with CDJs, in particular, is regarded as the professional DJ player of choice. Both of these are great choices if you are serious about becoming an exceptional DJ. The main factor is money. If you have plenty of headroom go with the CDJ if not, Go with the XDJ.
But have you ever wondered which one is the better choice? These 2 model lines have their obvious similarities and differences, and the one that you choose will depend on the features that you are willing to compromise and which ones you can’t live without. Below I talk a little bit more about CDJs and XDJs and which one is best for you. I hope you find this article useful!
CDJs and XDJs are DJ players from the DJ equipment brand Pioneer, and they have some key differences. Some of these differences include:
One of the main selling points of the XDJ line is that it’s said to take advantage of a touch screen to move some functionalities from the actual unit and make it more touch screen reliant. There are some obvious pros to doing this. If you prefer touchscreens to physical buttons, you are going to love using it more often for obvious reasons. Using a touch screen will also declutter the board drastically, which might be a welcome addition if you do not like the busy look of the average DJ player. CDJs also feature a touchscreen but it’s not as compelling as the one found on the XDJ line.
There are some cons to depending so much on touch screens though. Some people find using touch screens more cumbersome, especially when doing last-minute changes. If this is the case with you and you tend to make more complicated mixes, relying so much on touch screens might not be such a great idea. Many people also have concerns about the long term reliability of the touch screens. If it gets damaged in any way you are going to lose a significant amount of functionality. Repairing these screens is very costly too.
In the DJing world, Pioneer’s CDJ line is often considered to be among the most expensive gear out there. It’s very common for an A-list DJ to use 4 decks of these expensive players. And as you probably guessed, The clout that CDJs have really raises up their prices. It’s not uncommon to spend over 5 grand for these famous players, and many consider them indispensable for anybody that is serious about making it big, which is a big exaggeration in my opinion.
There’s also another reason why CDJs are more expensive is that they are thought to provide a higher quality sound. Also, the model line is considered to be more reliable and to provide superior residual values. The Pioneer’s CDJ-2000NXS2 is often considered one of the most popular and best-selling players, and it’s often considered the DJ player of choice for most professional DJs in the world.
Because of the things that I talked about above, all-in-one XDJs are a better bang for your buck than CDJs. This holds true even for standalone players. And this is for obvious reasons: aside from the fact that they are cheaper, some XDJ models have a built-in mixer which means you don’t need to buy that. Some XDJ models even come with full versions of DJ software that might not be included with CDJs.
Also, it’s often said that XDJs have a steeper depreciation curve when compared to CDJs because of the aforementioned difference in build quality. This means that getting a second-hand XDJ is a great idea for the DJ on a budget that still wants cutting edge equipment. Just make sure that you know that the XDJ that you are buying is in top condition before you commit to purchasing it.
CDJs do have more physical buttons unlike the more digital setup of the XDJ, something that I personally prefer. Modern CDJs give you the ability to DJ with either the digital screen or the physical buttons, something that can’t be said with XDJs. That’s why they are the more complete or versatile choice. There’s also another reason why this is the case, and that is the fact that you can use CDs and SD cards to play music on a CDJ, while that is not the case with XDJs.
While this isn’t that big of a deal since CDs and SD cards are falling out of favor when compared to USBs and cloud storage, there are still many DJs that have their music in those storage methods. Whether this is important to you will depend a lot on where you store your music on, but even if you do not use CDs anymore, if you get a CD with music from another DJ, you might find that feature useful.
So after reading the material above, most of you will have arrived at a conclusion, but to summarize, the truth is that CDJs are the better choice for the serious DJ. They are super expensive but they are considered the standard for a reason. You shouldn’t be looking for a CDJ if you do not have much money to spend though. You are going to have to buy at least 2 of these and a mixer, which can be really expensive.
If money is a consideration, XDJs are the better choice. Not only do some of the models come with a built-in mixer, but they also can be found at a much cheaper price, both new and used. But if you don’t care so much about money and just want the best gear available period, getting a pair of CDJ-2000NXS2 and a mixer to go with it is your best choice.
You probably know that Pioneer also offers a lower-priced alternative to CDJs and XDJs called DDJs. These are a more beginner-friendly controller that has a mixer built-in, and they are definitely a great option for the beginner on a tight budget that can’t afford the cheaper XDJ models. While they do not have as many features as the 2 model lines featured above, they have all the essential features that aspirings DJs will need, and this is more than enough for anybody that is just starting out.
Another big pro of this model line is the fact that Pioneer managed to maintain the same or a similar build quality compared to their more expensive products. DDJs do not feel plasticky unlike the entry-level Numark products and they last longer when compared to them too. So DDJs are a great alternative to both XDJs and CDJs if your budget is more limited. Just keep in mind that you are going to be losing a few features that are standard in those model lines though.