First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
Pioneer CDJ-900 DJ player
A high-end Pioneer CD player for DJs with plenty of nifty features for enthusiasts and even pro DJs
- Slip mode for scratching, USB support mass storage support, multiformat support
- Noticeable lag between song selections, jog-wheel is too sensitive and doesn't feel sturdy enough
Whether you're an enthusiast DJ or a professional, you'll love the Pioneer CDJ-900 for its great features and ease of use. It doesn't feel as sturdy as some of the premium players in Pioneer's line-up, and its wheel is a little too sensitive, but the more you use it, the more you get the hang of it. Its sound quality is great, scratching sounds authentic for the most part and we love its bright and detailed LCD screen.
Price$ 1,999.00 (AUD)
Pioneer CDJ-900: Functions, features and specs
Exclusive to the CDJ-900 is a 'slip mode' function, which is a treat for scratch enthusiasts. It allows users to interrupt songs (by scratching) without messing up the progress of the song. We would have loved to have seen this feature on the CDJ-2000. Like other Pioneer DJ players, the unit has a vinyl/CD toggle mode for the jog-wheel, which changes the behaviour of the wheel to suit turntablists or CD users. A vinyl speed adjust button gives the DJ player the characteristics of a belt-drive turntable, allowing for songs to wind up and down like a record. If you're familiar with Pioneer CDJ products, the auto beats per minute (BPM) counter on the screen, the reverse button and the in/out looping buttons aren't much of a surprise.
The slip mode button allows for a track to be scratched even while the progress of the track continues.
The wealth of information that's displayed on the large LCD screen is pretty neat if you want to know everything about your MP3s, including BPM, length, artist and even genre. The 'taglist' and 'info' buttons above the screen assist in keeping your music organised and easy to access.
Pioneer CDJ-900: Usability and performance
At first glance, the number of buttons can be a little intimidating, especially if you're new to the CDJ range or to DJing in general. However, compared to other DJ CD players on the market, the CDJ-900 is probably the easiest to get to grips with — after a few hours of messing around, of course. All the buttons are clearly labelled and easy to digest. The unit is easy to use overall, but there are still a few features that require additional farming of YouTube videos to figure out what they do. For example, autocue, looping and cueing tricks that aren't present in the manual can be learned from YouTube.
As is the case with all Pioneer 'industry standard' CDJ players, the sound processing is nothing short of outstanding, offering a frequency range of 4Hz-20kHz. Also, while the unit is operating, it is virtually silent. One thing to keep an eye on however, is the unit's tendency to heat up during use. Unlike the CDJ-1000MK3, the CDJ-900 does not have a rear heat sink.
In our field tests, we discovered that the CDJ-900 struggled to read scratched and aged CDs as well as the CDJ-1000MK3, which could read the same CDs with ease. One qualm we have with the player is the delay that's present between songs — it takes an unpleasantly long time to switch between music on the same CD because of the initial track analysis that's undertaken by the player. The unit provides optimal audio playback when music is properly tagged in the bundled Rekordbox software.
The CDJ-900 demonstrated immediate reaction time when we fiddled with the jog-wheel and looping buttons. The visual timeline on the screen was also precise and kept up with the song's position. We were also pleased with the unit's consistency in accurately reading a song's BPM. We witnessed a longer BPM calculation on songs not configured with Rekordbox — and even longer on MP3 CDs. Rekordbox adds the BPM to a track and displays it as it plays; tracks that haven't been configured with Rekordbox won't display the BPM until about one minute in.
In our storage device tests, the unit worked well with our 4GB Kingston DataTraveler, but we couldn't get the DJ player to read files off our 1TB Western Digital MyBook, despite it using the FAT32 file system. The CDJ-900 impressed us with its MIDI controller capabilities when combined with audio production software such as Ableton Live 8; if you're tired of the traditional 'keyboard' styled MIDI controllers, the CDJ-900 player spices things up a little.
While the CDJ-900 doesn't have the jaw-dropping, wow factor of the CDJ1000MK3 and CDJ-2000 models, it still turns heads with its bright lights and great features. The unit is an ideal solution for DJs caught in between the CD and USB eras, but is likely to go out of fashion as new technology, such as USB 3.0 and Wi-Fi, works its way into the market. That said, the Pioneer CDJ-900 is a great CD player for serious DJs who can afford a pair of them.
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