The Pioneer CDJ-900’s new multi-format digital turntables allow the DJ’s to access, search and control their content directly from the player itself. The CDJ-900 provides the same legendary quality standards and playability of the CDJ-800 with the added convenience of native playback of key DJ digital media files formats accessed via a multitude of compatible medium — CD, Portable hard drive/flash media devices. DJ BLAZE takes them into the Lab for a full written review INSIDE!
Playback Options (Link/USB-Rekordbox/CD) – The CDJ-900 has quite a few playback options. They can be used for CD playback, USB Flash/Hard drive playback, or even Midi controllers (unconfirmed functionality coming soon to Traktor and Serato). As stated previously, two CDJ-900’s can be linked together to play and browse the files of a single USB input, complete with waveform data and other track information. The plastic LINK, USB, and DISC buttons are used to select the type of playback option that the DJ is using. As far as the playback buttons are concerned, there is a metal Play/Pause button and metal Cue button located in the lower left corner (as expected) along with Separate Search and Track forward and rewind metal buttons as well.
The Pitch slider is made of plastic and slides smoothly from one end to the other. There is a Master tempo button which will allow the user to change the speed of the song without changing the key of the music. There is a center click within the pitch slider that also has an LED indicator to let the user know that the pitch is back to absolute zero for perfect playback speed. The tempo slider range can be adjusted to 6%, 10%, 16%, and 100% at the push of the tempo button. The display shows the current tempo range that is selected.
Screen – The display area actually houses two separate LED screens even though it looks like one. The top screen is dedicated to file navigation and file information. This is a four-line navigation panel which is very easy to see the track being selected and the next tracks within the list. The bottom line of the top screen will also show the waveform during playback. All file navigation is done using the big plastic navigation knob which can be pressed to select the highlighted selection. There is also BROWSE, TAG LIST, INFO, and MENU buttons at the top of the screen area that can be used to assist with the navigation through the files.
There is also a back button to return to the previous selection/screen. Tracks can be sorted and recalled by Album, Artist, Track number, Track name, and other attributes. The bottom screen displays the current track information such as, track time (which can show total time or remaining time), BPM, track number, pitch information, and a visual track progress bar or waveform display that will blink in red when a track is coming to an end. This waveform/track progress bar also shows a visual indicator of set cue points and loop points as well.
Touch Sensitive Jog Wheel (Slip/Vinyl Speed Adjustment/Direction)- Everyone knows that I am primarily a Hip-Hop and scratch DJ, so I will always try to use an actively spinning platter over the jog wheel type of CDJ’s or controllers. For my testing purposes, the CDJ-900 was always kept on “vinyl” type so that the jog wheel performed as closely to vinyl as possible. With that being said; the Pioneer CDJ-900 has the BEST jog wheel touch sensitive platter that I have ever used (minus the CDJ-2000 model with other jog wheel adjustment options). I could literally pull off nearly any scratch that I would be able to complete on an analog turntable or spinning platter type deck. The scratch emulation is very good and the sound remains clear throughout the back and forth action of the track. Even when playing tracks from a single USB source, I was able to juggle music very easily from one CDJ to the other. The top portion of the wheel is nice and ribbed for grip and my fingers never slipped once while scratching. The sides of the jog wheel are a softer (almost rubbery) type material that the DJ can use for speeding up and slowing down the track when mixing. When vinyl mode is turned off, the wheel acts as a search or pitch bend platter making for easier track search and beat matching capabilities. The Direction button is used to play the track as normal or in reverse.
The CDJ-900 has a “slip” button which when pressed the slip Mode silently continues song playback during a loop, reverse, or scratch and continues audible playback at the exact time when the loop, reverse or scratch has finished. The CDJ-900 also includes a vinyl speed adjustment knob which controls both the start-up time and brake time of the track. These adjustments take their effect when the Play/Pause button is used to start or stop the playback of a track. The knob can be rotated all the way to the left for extremely fast start and stops, while rotating the knob to the right, will make the track start up very slow or stop very slowly. As with every CDJ, the jog wheel contains an LED display in the center to show many jog/platter attributes. It will display “VINYL” if the deck is in vinyl mode; it shows the current play position; cue or loop start points; and jog touch detection which lights up if the wheel is pressed.
Loop Section – The CDJ-900 has a really nice loop section that I actually liked better than the loop function in the CDJ-2000. The Loop section contains the traditional Loop IN and Loop OUT buttons along with a loop exit button. There are four additional buttons that can be used to cut and grow the loop per BPM or per length of the loop. Each of these four buttons is assigned two different loop cut/grow lengths. In order to select between one of the two options, the beat select button acts as a “shift” key for the added function. It may sound confusing on paper, but it is actually really intuitive and very easy to cut and grow loops on the fly (see the upper left section of the Pioneer CDJ-900 for loop buttons for further understanding).
This is easily one of the best Loop sections on any deck to date. This setup makes it very easy to change between loop sizes at the push of a button. There are also CUE/LOOP CALL left and right arrow buttons that allow users to access multiple loop points that are set per track. These set cues and loop points can be removed using the MEMORY and DELETE buttons. Within the Rekordbox software, there is a new Quantizing feature where cue points and loops can be set perfectly on-beat by automatically correcting and synching the beat during manual looping.