Pioneer CDJ-200 Review
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Pioneer CDJ-200 Staff Review
Review by: DJ Eru
Okay, let me start this by saying that I have never played on a CDJ-100, so I can’t directly compare the two. I can, however, compare the CDJ-200 to most other decks on the market. And as an entry level professional CD deck, it does a good job. The price point is about where it should be and it fills out the bottom of Pioneer’s line nicely. It has some flaws, but you get what you pay for. Unfortunately with most companies, getting what you pay for and not being able to pay a lot means getting something that doesn’t work well or that is unreliable. Instead, Pioneer decided to limit the scope of their entry level CD deck by keeping the lack of scratch emulation that the CDJ-100 had and adding features to make it blow most other budget CD decks out of the water for DJs not wanting to scratch.
The well-built casing inspires confidence in the player as does the skip resistance. You can literally bang the player on your table and you basically won’t hear it skip until you break it. Pioneer accomplishes this near miracle with a combination of a skip-proof buffer and a CD drive that sits in an oil-dampened suspension. No other deck in the price range that I’m aware of has this functionality.
No other deck in the price range has pitch increments of .02% either. Though many will argue about whether or not it matters, few decks have this feature at all. And to see it on a deck that costs about $400 is impressive. The pitch slider itself, however, is a bit loose for my taste and because of that, the numerical purists out there might complain that the pitch reading jumps sporadically in increments of .04 or.06 percent. Again, that has nothing to do with the deck but rather with getting used to its controls.
The deck comes with three built-in pre-mixer effects: Jet, Zip, and Wah. Jet is a Phaser effect, similar to a very strong Flanger. Zip is a pitch-shifting effect. I don’t believe it adjusts in increments smaller than a semitone, and don’t expect to be able to mix harmonically with it. It causes audible distortion almost as soon as you start using it that works for the effect, but not for trying to bring an off-key song in tune. Wah is a hybrid filter. The jog wheel, and its hold/reset button, is the only control for these effects and they cannot be used on top of one another. For the Jet effect, the jog adjusts the speed, for the zip effect it adjusts the pitch shift up or down, and for the Wah effect it alters the cutoff frequency of a filter. They all sound pretty good, but they don’t give the functionality you’d need to get really creative with them.
The CDJ-200 takes looping almost straight off the CDJ-800. It has an automatic 4-beat loop, a beat cutter, and no limit to the length of the track that can be looped. It also has a loop-out point adjust (accomplished with the jog wheel) but no loop-in adjust. The beat-cutter only has 1 button to cut a loop in half which will also double the length of a loop if you press it while holding one of the folder search buttons. It’s a very nice and simple implementation once you figure out how to create longer loops.
I honestly believe that mp3 functionality is a joke, but since I know others have other opinions, I did test them and other than longer loading times everything works the same with mp3 audio or CD audio. The folder searching was nice and it read id3 tags encoded with Winamp or iTunes without a problem.
I’ve seen huge complaints with other budget decks with regards to rejecting some burned CDs, and these things haven’t spit up a single thing yet. They play CDs scratched so badly that my Sony Walkman won’t even play them. They skip doing it, but they still do it better. I buy the cheapest media I can find, because I honestly don’t think it makes a difference, an these decks seem to support my theory. As I said, my 2 decks haven’t had a single CD they just wouldn’t read.
The unit’s biggest downfall, however, is it’s jog wheel. Never mind that it has 3 functions (pitch bending, effects control, and loop out adjust) depending on exactly what you’re doing, and it just doesn’t feel right. Because of the brushed metal finish, it’s not the easiest thing in the world to move and it feels a bit tight to my hands. I actually put a piece of tape on each of mine similar to a turntablist marking samples to give me a bit more grip and to provide a visual reference for how far I was turning the wheel each time I use it. For a deck so focused on mixing performance, they really should have tried a bit harder to get a jog wheel that performed as expected, as I’m not the only person who doesn’t like it. Some people I’ve talked to prefer the older, rubber jog wheel of the CDJ-100. While I haven’t used it, if it was like the jog wheel on the EFX-1000, I’d agree. Pitch bending, especially, feels weird on these decks even after owning at least one for the better part of 7 months.
Other decks in the price range that I’ve used are the Denon DN-S1000, Stanton M.303 and M.304, and the Vestax CD-x05. Of these, the CDJ-200 is by far the best for strictly mixing. If you can’t afford a CDJ-1000mk3, don’t want to scratch, and can deal with weird pitch bending (I’m sure you can), then it’s a great deck for the price. Pioneer, in my opinion, made the right sacrifices to make this a $400 deck, as it does what it does very well, it just doesn’t do everything.
I’m glad I got them, but I won’t keep them after I can afford something better.
Pioneer CDJ-200 Features
CDJ-200 Tabletop CD/MP3 Player: Packed With Excitement
The Pioneer CDJ-200 is an entry-level CD turntable, combining the key elements of Pioneer’s professional digital CD decks with a host of innovative features including full-function MP3 playback, hot loop, beat loop and the unique one button loop cutter, for creating loops within loops until the beat has been cut to infinity. This technical excellence is complemented by a design that’s both visually stunning and supremely practical. The unit is robust, compact and portable, not to mention truly affordable, making it the ideal choice for serious home DJs, bars and other installations where space (and budget) is limited.
Since the CDJ-200 is MP3 compatible, aspiring DJs can now include the very latest downloaded tracks in their sets, without having to convert the audio from other formats. The MP3 functionality also allows DJs to locate tracks more quickly (via folder search) and to see the name of the disc, artist and song on the unit’s bright dot-matrix display window. This screen also has a bar graph showing the elapsed and remaining playing time of a track, plus an Auto BPM Counter, giving DJs the real-time information they need to create better mixes more quickly. The unit has a tempo read-out as well as a separate Master Tempo button with three settings for locking the pitch of a track as it’s sped up or slowed down.
The unit uses an electric-blue light at strategic locations to give the DJ constant feedback about the status of the CD and the effects in use. The light above the CD-slot, for example, shows that there’s no disc onboard and also guides the DJ to the user-friendly quick-load slot. With the disc inserted, that light goes off and a blue illuminated ring appears around the edge of the jog wheel - indicating that a CD is loaded and ready for playback.
An established highlight of Pioneer’s Pro DJ CDJ players, the jog wheel can be used to speed up or slow down the music; to fine-tune cue points manually; or to control the mix with the help of another proven feature, the digital jog break. This has three effect buttons (jet, zip, wah) for creating original sounds as the DJ manipulates the jog wheel. When the digital jog break is on, the blue ring flashes quickly. Once the HOLD/RESET button is used, the flashing slows down. With the effects off, the continuous blue light returns.
The CDJ-200 also has a unique “resume” function that takes effect if a CD is ejected accidentally. Once the DJ re-inserts the disc, it automatically starts playing from exactly the point where it stopped. The unit has a digital out socket so that all of the digital features available in DJ Mode can be carried over to a connected digital environment. The headphone jack with volume control allows the DJ to monitor a CD without connecting the CDJ-200 to a mixer or external amplifier.
* Plays CDs and virtually all MP3 formats
* Large jog wheel
* Cool blue light illuminates CD slot (when empty); blue light illuminates around jog wheel (when loaded)
* Built-in effects
* Auto BPM counter
* Unique “resume” function automatically picks up where “accidentally ejected” discs left off
* Headphone output with dedicated volume control for cueing (no mixer required)
* Cue/loop memory
* Realtime seamless loop
* Realtime cue
* Auto & manual cue
* Pitch bend
* Size: 8.5´´w x 3-15/16´´h x 11-1/2´´d. Wt. 7 lbs.
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