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Pioneer CDJ 3000 Review: Best CDJ Ever?

By Ferdi Vol
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Ah Pioneer. Perhaps one of the most well known brands in the DJing universe, this company has cemented a solid reputation for solid performance, reliability, and premium feel, making it today's DJ main choice when it comes to gear and equipment.

Perhaps the stalwart of Pioneer's lineup is the acclaimed CDJ series. Short for Compact Disk Jockey, the CDJ line is considered one of the most popular players out there, with it being considered the industry standard found on most high-end clubs around the world.

Pioneer definitely took a step forward with the latest version of this lauded line of players: the CDJ-3000. There are some huge features added that DJs have been asking for a long time, like a more comprehensive waveform graphical interface and a bigger touchscreen.

While I'm disappointed about the lack of connectivity options and the (still) steep price point, you can't argue that the features added definitely make this a must-buy, especially if you are a Pioneer enthusiast and really dig the new features.

In the paragraphs below, I will be providing a more comprehensive account of everything that Pioneer has added to the CDJ-3000. After this, I will compare it to other competing products with similar features or price points. I hope you find this article useful!

Pioneer CDJ-3000: Main Features Revealed

The last time that Pioneer released a CDJ product was in 2016. Four years have gone by, DJs have been asking Pioneer for something new for quite a while, and they definitely delivered. In the following paragraphs, I will be talking about the main features that Pioneer introduced in this new model.

Bigger touchscreen

This is in my opinion the biggest new thing in the new CDJ-3000. Pioneer increased the touch screen size from 7 to 9 inches, which is very significant, but it's still not as big as Denon's sc6000, which has a whopping 10.1 inch screen.

Not only that, but it's also rumored to be much better made. I personally think that the screen's color is much brighter and clearer.

When using the touchscreen, you will appreciate how easier it is to choose tracks, something that was pretty cumbersome in the CDJ 2000 7 inch unit. However, I was pretty disappointed by the fact that Pioneer decided to skip multi-touch, a feature that's become pretty much an industry standard on most other devices out there.

This means that while you can swipe up and down to look for songs or rearrange the interface, you can't manipulate the size and zoom the waveforms playing.

New Processor

Another huge update is the inclusion of a completely new processor for the CDJ 3000, specifically a multi-processor unit. This unit enables for faster manupulation of songs.

Anything that requires the playing of both tracks at the same time like for example track preview will be much faster than in the older units, making this a worthy purchase if this feature is important to you.

Pioneer increased the speed at least 150% compared to the older unit, which is noticeable immediately as you start mixing. This speed applies not only to the sorting of songs, but it applies to the buffering of them too.

The jog wheel is more responsible which seems to be an effect generated by the improved processor, and overall you are going to be pretty satisfied with the speed of the CDJ 3000. The only thing that I was disappointed with was the lack of dual-layer, which is a disappointment because it would have easily been introduced with the new processor.

New Waveform Interface

Another thing that's changed in the new CDJ-3000 is the inclusion of new waveforms, which enhance your ability to understand songs and mixes in real-time so that mixing becomes easier. The first thing that's changed is the way that the waveform looks in the screen.

Obviously, because of the size of the new touchscreen, the waveforms found on the CDJ 3000 will be much bigger and easier to read, addressing some complaints that people had with the CDJ Nexus 2. If you have had trouble understanding the waveforms on Pioneer's older CDJs, then you are going to be really happy with this change.

Another change with the waveforms has to do with the customization options available on this CDJ-3000. One of the things that I loved about the new CDJ-3000 is the fact that you can change the way that they look, including a blue, RGB, and a 3band look similar to what Denon is doing with their players.

Aside from this, you can do most of the other things that were possible with the older CDJs, such as zooming the waveform in and out.

This new waveform layout is perfect because it lets you know more about the song structure if you pay close attention to it. I wouldn't completely depend on it but it is a good complement to any DJ when mixing. After all, clubs are hectic spaces, you need as much information as possible when overwhelmed.

New Layout

This is a change that some people won't like because they are so used to the traditional CDJ format. The change is that Pioneer switched some buttons, changed the layout of a few of them, and added new buttons and knobs.

Now thankfully for many of us, the changes aren't too drastic, but if you are really used to the layout of the old CDJs, these changes might be unwelcome for you.

Now as I mentioned, the changes aren't too drastic, so you probably won't have a problem getting used to them. Below is a little bit more information about the specifics of the changes done.

When it comes to the specifics, the buttons added include eight new hotkeys, no CD eject button for obvious reasons. Other buttons added include a new 8 beat loop to complement the 4 beat loop button, a redesigned fwd/rev/slip rev direction rocker, beat jump button, new Quantize button, new key shift, and key sync buttons, among other changes.

Improved Jogwheel

All of the DJs that I know are going to love the changes that Pioneer has made to this unit's jog wheel. Compared to the old model, there are several changes that we need to mention, including a smoother-feeling jog wheel, a new bearing system, reduced latency for more optimal scratching, and last but not least, a center LCD display that shows you important information of the music being played, the bpm, etc..

The jog wheel is still mechanical as most of us expected, and when it comes to the changes to the bearings, it has definitely improved the feel of the jog wheel.

It strangely feels more smooth when spinning it, but when you let it go it seems to have more resistance, which in my opinion is ideal.

No built in connectivity, WIFI, etc...

Another thing that everybody was expecting with the new CDJ was improved connectivity options, and sadly Pioneer disappointed with this too.

The new CDJ doesn't give you the opportunity to use wifi to find your music on the cloud, no streaming, or anything of the sort. This is pretty disappointing, to say the least, and while you still get to use your USB/sd for the music playing, it definitely makes the Pioneer CDJ a less versatile player, especially when compared to players that do provide this feature.

Compared to other players and controllers on the market, the connectivity features found on the CDJ 3000 are seriously lacking.

For example compared to Pioneer's products, Denon's SC6000 features wired and wireless connectivity to the internet, which in turn enables you to use music from music platforms such as Soundcloud and Beatport, which means that you don't even need a USB or an SD card to play music.

This feature is not available on the CDJ-3000 or any other Pioneer offering, which is a bummer given how demanded this feature is.

I think Pioneer decided not to offer it because they know that many people that are going to be buying the CDJ 3000 are people that play in clubs and so they need to dependability of a USB or an SD card and won't depend that much on streaming services.

I understand that part, but I honestly don't think it's a good excuse given how many other manufacturers are adding this feature to their players.

If you are looking for a player that features extended connectivity to apps like tidal, sound cloud, and beatport, you might want to choose a player other than the CDJ-3000, like for the example the Denon SC6000 and SC5000.

It's still not known if Pioneer is going to add these features to the CDJ-3000, but many people will be delighted if they would.

No CD Slot

Pioneer also made a new change to the CDJ line: they removed the CD slot, and while I have seen some people complaining about this change, I honestly like it because let's be honest: CD technology is becoming obsolete as time goes by, and so I think it makes sense for cost-cutting and it also makes the CDJ less bulky and less heavy. Overall I like this change.

The downside is that obviously, you have one less way to play music. If you go to a venue that has music on a CD, you won't be able to use this at all, which is a bummer.

Also, Pioneer didn't include any other new connectivity solutions as I explained above, so then removing the CD slot might not be a very popular change among some DJs. whether that applies to you depends on whether you use CDs in the first place.

There are some people that are saying that Pioneer will also remove SD card functionality in the future, something that I think it's nonsense. While not as popular as USB, SD cards remain very popular worldwide and used in a myriad of devices, so I honestly don't think It will happen, at least for the following few years at least.

New software features

Another big addition is the inclusion of several new software features. This is the reason why most of you are reading this article probably: Pioneer introduced features such as touch preview, touch cue, an improved mixing in a key system, six-player link, among other things.

I'd say that the addition of these features justifies the steep price of entry, especially if you are going to be using these features often.

The first one that we are going to be talking about is touch preview. Touch preview is a feature that was previously not found on any Pioneer player and it consists of giving you the ability to touch any part of the waveform of a track playing in order to play that specific part.

This is very useful for finding the exact part of the song that you want to play more quickly. This feature will make it much easier to DJ, especially for me!

The next feature is called Touch Cue, which has certain similarities to the feature above. This function lets you cue a particular part of a wong by touching the waveform, letting you listen to a specific part of a song while the public is listening to the original mix.

This is really useful if you aren't sure what your next transition is going to be and you want to listen to the breakdown or another part of the song being placed.

The next feature isn't something new per se, but it's so substantial that I wanted to add it here. Pioneer improved the mixing in key feature that Is found on CDJs. Not only is it more accurate, but Pioneer added 2 new things: key sync and key shift.

The first one, key sync, is a feature that allows you to automatically change the key of the next song so that it's the same as the music playing in the main channel. This allows you to forget about tinkering with a song's key and worrying about it so that you can focus on what matters the most: the actual mixing.

Key shift allows you to do what the name suggest: change the key of the songs to something different, something that more experienced DJs and producers will find really interesting. I recommend that you try these features out!

Another feature that's added to the CDJ 3000 is the ability to connect up to 6 CDJs to a single mixer using a high-speed gigabit ethernet connection, allowing for more intricate and faster mixing with multiple devices. This is a feature that many DJs have been asking for quite a long time now.

No dual layer

A big disappointment of the CDJ 3000 is the lack of dual-layer, which means that you cannot have more than 1 deck on one player. This was one of the most demanded features among DJs around the world and Pioneer disappointed by not including it on their new CDJ-3000.

If you are on the lookout for a player with a feature like this, it might be wise to skip the CDJ-3000 for obvious reasons.

Unlike the CDJ 3000, the Denon sc6000, which is one of the Pioneer main competitors and it's compared often does include dual-layer at about half the price. It's kind of funny that a much more affordable player includes several features not found on this CDJ.

Not saying that this gear is a bad buy, you do get several features not found on anything else, but I think at this price point pioneer should have given us several things that DJs have been asking for years.

The dual-layer isn't going to be super important for most of us though. Many DJs like to keep things simple when it comes to using lots of features, and so if that's your case then the lack of dual-layer might not be a big deal for you.

However, if you are looking for a player with this feature, then I'd recommend that you check out Denon's SC6000. It has a lot of features that the CDJ 3000 doesn't have and it's more affordable too.

How does it compare to the Denon SC 6000 and SC 5000?

In the future I will be talking more about the Denon Prime series and how does it compare with Pioneer products, but in the following paragraphs I provided a small summary of the main differences between the CDJ-3000 and the SC 6000 so that you don't need to wait.

The main differences between the SC 6000 and the Pioneer CDJ-3000 have to do with features, dimensions, weight, and layout, among other things. First of all, the CDJ-3000 is much more expensive than the SC-6000, which is in my opinion Pioneer's main competitor right now.

In fact, the CDJ-3000 can be more than 800 dollars more expensive, a significant amount of money for 99% of us.

Most of us are well aware of how steep Pioneer's gear prices can be, and this is apparent in the pricing of the CDJ line. The CDJ-3000 is currently priced at 2300 dollars, compared to Denon's SC 6000 which is only 1500 dollars currently.

So that means that if you aren't rich or are on a tight budget the Denon might be the better choice. Keep in mind however that Pioneer products tend hold their value really well, so that's why people tend to purchase them even though they are more expensive at first.

Denon products tend to depreciate much more quickly in comparison. This might be very important if you aren't thinking of staying with it long term.

Conclude

I hope you enjoyed this article about the CDJ 3000 and found it useful. This is one of the first Pioneer releases in a long time, at least when it comes to the CDJ line, and many people are happy.

Pioneer fans are going to love the improved jog wheel, the new and improved waveform interface and the new software features added like the key sync and shift features, the six link capacity, among other things.

Now, there are some criticisms aimed at the CDJ 3000, and some of them include the fact that some feel like Pioneer didn't really do that much of an update when you consider how much time has passed since the last CDJ update, something that I think it's true.

Another criticism has to do with the price point. Some argue that Pioneer is severely overpricing this model, especially considering that Denon's SC6000 is almost a grand more affordable. I think all of these criticisms are valid.

But overall, I think the CDJ 3000 is a great product. In my opinion, the only reason not to purchase it is if it's over your budget or you aren't too interested in the new features.

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About DJ Pro Tips
DJ Pro Tips is a website that has the goal to make you a better DJ by providing useful and accurate information.
About the Author
Ferdi Vol is a DJ for several years and is here to share his passion with you.
About Ferdi Vol
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