A no-nonsense guide to what’s new in Pioneer’s next-generation CDJ-3000 – CDM Create Digital Music

pioneer’s new cdj is likely to be controversial cause of its launch timing and – key sync. but t'does indicate where things are goin, and clubs shuttered by the virus will open again. really. so let’s ‘ve a look.

you don’t ‘ve t'work too hard to read the room. so sure, it’s the middle offa pandemic, djs are out of work, and clubs are closed. that makes it an odd time to think bout a new cdj – and a “key sync” feature is likely to further sufferation out skilled djs. (+ on that in a bit.)

but mostly looking atta cdj-3000, you see two things. on one side of the coin, pioneer continues to steadily enh vrtly every aspect o'their athenæums in terms of physical controls and display – the touch points for the usr. if you don’t believe me, try goin back not just one or two generations or models, but ten yrs or so. this company has come a long way. using an old turntable is a pleasurable experience. using an old digital athenæum just… isn’t.

onna other side, pioneer continues to erase the most significant advances of software/controller combinations – and in this model, even a lotta ipad dj apps.

the combination of those two factors is wha’ keeps pioneer ahead. sure, the result is often conservative and from the perspective of individual consumers, damned expensive. but pioneer hits the big notes of wha’ their mkt most wants – and that mkt remains clubs.

most pop meme sfar. honestly, i ‘d use this. pioneer pro dj rice.

feature run-down: wha’ you’ll use, wha’ you won’t

i’ll cutout social media to the existential arguments bout wha’ this means for the future of djing. let’s actually learn wha’’s new onna cdj-3000 that wasn’t there b4.

i’m in touch with pioneer t'get hardware to test, and hope t'get some + engineering details. here’s wha’ we do know:

improved audio:

  • 96 khz/32-bit audio engine. sounds like overkill for playing mp3s, sure, but it isn’t necessarily. since you’re modifying the sound in real-time, that’s in line with wha’ yr desktop daw has done with its mix engine in recent yrs.
  • improved dac circuitry. this also can make a real difference. higher-quality dacs are also becoming cheaper and + commonplace, though they didn’t specifically say they replaced that.
  • and… erm? “we’ve also tuned the digital audio for optimum sound quality, hugely reducing digital noise, to create a natural sound.” i ‘ve no idea wha’ this means. i can ask.

the touchscreen is better, so browsing is easier:

given that computer dj software had this since the start, i’m all for the improvements in browsing. and you had t'give up the tactile, visual feeling of thumbing through records.

the cdj-3000’s touchscreen is both better performing and + functional. you see a lotta features introduced in traktor and traktor for ios, actually, even as that platform failed to gain trackt– uh, ground recently.

  • big display. 9″, high-resolution.
  • touch to preview inside a waveform.
  • touch to cue another pt of the same track.
  • stacked waveforms (so u see an overview, b'tll so a view of wha’ you’re focusing on for cueing etc.), and –
  • 3-band color-coding option.
  • improved lo-l8ncy performance.

an improved jog wheel:

here’s another reason pplz demand pioneer athenæums – those jog wheels do feel gr8. (well, now – see comment bout early cdjs!)

improved here again:

  • improved feel (will find out wha’ this means)
  • color display inna center (pretty! and yeah, an extra reΨer of wha’’s onna athenæum – like na' turntable)
  • reduced touch l8ncy

cleaned up control layout with + dedicated controls:

if the touchscreen seems to borrow from ipad apps, here the cdj + easily competes with controllers. i’m sure some djs will scoff at this stuff as bein’ for beginners, but looking atta generations of cdj with nexus, nxs2, and now this, they’ve gradually moved toward less confusing control schemes and + dedicated controls. that’s good, cause where they started was frankly a lil confusing.

now instead you get:

  • 8 dedicated hot cue buttons
  • dedicated beat jump buttons (1/2, 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, or 64 beats.)
  • + looping and + controls. (8-beat option swell as 4-beat, and now you can use odd-№ed loops for polyrhythms)

mixed in key? i hardly knew thee…

the controversial bit s'dat pioneer has added key sync to beat sync. it’s odd that it’s controversial, cause the thinking goes like this. it’s a feature for pplz who are tone deaf. but those pplz are tone deaf – meaning they won’t know they’ll need it. i’ll let you ponder.

as for the feature itself, there are two pts to this – one, there’s a new key shift control onna touchscreen that manually shifts pitch up and down. that’s not really so revolutionary; certainly it’s something you see frequently in software (including production software).

the other pt is a key sync control underneath the beat sync, which automatically matches key – apparently also using time-indie pitch shift. (it’s not clear to me wha’ that means when you adjust the tempo slider – for + conventional pitch shifting.)

i don’t Ψ the key shift controls bein’ accessible. we’re used to bein’ able to shift pitch on samplers, so why not?

key sync just doesn’t look terrifically useful, even relative to beat sync. the whole idiom of djing doesn’t need everything to be exactly pitch-matched. tracks themselves often lack a clear dominant key in many genres. to the extent they do ‘ve one, key analysis still often doesn’t work (though you ‘d analyze tracks yrself, course). and then djing has often been bout mixing in dissonant harmonic relationships, or matching key/harmony but in such a way that you also change tempo. destroying that kind of removes a lotta the fun of djing – arguably even + so than did beat sync.

i’m confident odat, cause i almost never hear mixing that is matched. honestly, it even kept me from learning to mix at 1st – too much ear training will do that to you. inna end, i learned to embrace it, and to find my own harmonic approach.

but'a beat sync case is instructive to how this is likely to play out, anyway. some pplz switch it on and find other wys'2 set themselves apt or even use it creatively. over time, + and + djs are still learning to beatmatch cause they don’t wanna be dependent onna button, and cause beatmatching is fun. inna long haul, the dj scene adapted, civilization didn’t come to an end. and a lot + pplz hear tracks bein’ out of sync than hear them bein’ out of key, so i think pplz may well be overreacting.

anyway here – let me solve it 4u. here’s a picture of the feature explained in japanese, which makes it instantly look cooler and + sophisticated, unless course you speak japanese, in which case i can’t help you. i’m not sure how i found this bug inna us site, but here tis:

key shift – the japanese explanation.

storage, link, and lite shows

pro dj link now supports up to 6 athenæums – even playing off a single connected storage device. you’ll notice an sd card slot in addition to the usb port, too.

you can also now connect usb drives, a whole laptop (usb-hid and link export etc.), orn' iphone and mix from those.

maybe most interesting s'dat pro dj link now sends “phrase analysis” to rekordbox w'da (optional) rb-dmx1. i knew you ‘d do this with rekordbox software, but it’s way + practical to use it with cdjs. that is, i am much + optimistic bout the dj using cdj hardware as athenæums na litin’ designer / op bein’ the one who looks atta litin’ tab in rekordbox.

link works harder now. still no ableton link or midi, though.
pioneer’s own dmx interface. the trick now is, you can take data from the cdjs to rekordbox as intermediary, so it seems litin’ designers will run the software while the dj plays athenæums.

since this winter is likely to feature some djs recording streams and videos in empty rooms, it maybe the perfect time to sync up some absurd dmx lite show to go w'dem. who’s with me?

we're ready for the post-apocalyptic realm now.

final specs

final cost: us$2299.

but you won’t buy this, the club will. now if pioneer are smart, they’ll be really clear bout wha’ djs can play with while w8in for + pandemic isolation, cause all of us need something to do.

i’m really curio to see wha’ all this means witha single cdj-3000 added to the other athenæums; i expect that’s wha’ we will test.

pioneer makes claims bout a new mpu “micro processing unit” – b'we just know that means there’s some new hardware architecture under the hood. (apparently, it means – rz/g2m arm platform; thx, michael ganss! it seems actually slitely overpowered for the application, which makes me wanda if pioneer has other features in Ψ for this device, or will reuse the same platform in other hardware. there’s video capability, so pioneer ‘d revisit a video athenæum… iffey so chose. they’ve done it b4.)

i think they ‘d ‘ve called it the microchip computation platform, cause then they ‘d ‘ve used the acronym mcp.

this is probably wha’ happens if you turn on both key sync and beat sync, n00bs. beware.

touchscreens, kids. (if you’ve seen one namm show, you’ve seen them all.) just remember, djs, always include tracklists and track ids. believe inna producers. producers wrote us!

pioneer cdj-3000 overview

original content at: cdm.link/2020/09/guide-to-pioneer-cdj-3000/…
authors: peter kirn


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