In this Gear Prophecy piece, we envisage what a flagship CDJ-3000NXS DJ media player might be like. Denon DJ’s SC5000 Prime is a beast of a media player, and it’s unlikely that Pioneer DJ will leave such a bold challenge unanswered. The latest CDJ-2000NXS2 was released almost two years ago, and we think that a big update would be timely, if not necessary for Pioneer DJ to retain dominance in club and festival DJ booths around the world.
Here are the features that we think a CDJ-3000NXS might have onboard…
Eight performance buttons
The biggest change that we think the CDJ-3000NXS might have will be eight hot cue buttons. The CDJ-2000NXS2 improved on the original CDJ-2000NXS by having four colour-coded buttons (the CDJ-2000NXS only had three) and two switchable banks, but this is still far from the eight hot cues that controller DJs have been using for some time now. Having a full complement of eight buttons not only avoids having to switch banks, but it also opens the CDJ-3000NXS up to “advanced” performance features, as you’ll see below…
Expanded performance button features
The eight buttons will be instrumental in making our theoretical CDJ-3000NXS a “next-gen” DJ media player because they will allow it to have tactile controls for improvisation modes like Slip Loop and Beat Loop. While Beat Jump is already available in the current CDJ-2000NXS2, it exists as a touchscreen command, and that can be a bit tricky sometimes, especially if you have to page through screen menus to get to it. Moving some performance features from the touchscreen over onto physical buttons just makes things easier to do on the fly.
We’d also like to see Rekordbox DJ-specific performance features make their debut on a flagship CDJ-3000NXS: Keyboard and Key Shift modes would be fine additions, especially if the eight performance buttons become a reality.
Another thing that we’d like to see on the CDJ-3000NXS is the ability to assign playlists to the performance buttons. As long as Pioneer DJ can find a way to make it clear that you’re in playlist selection mode instead of performance mode that is!
Two-deck / dual layer control
It’s no secret that Denon DJ’s SC5000 Prime wants to unseat the CDJ-2000NXS2 as the “king of media players” as far as clubs and festivals go. As part of its strategy, Denon DJ emulated a number of features and characteristics of the CDJ-2000 (eg form factor, jogwheel and screen, file format support). This isn’t because Denon DJ was lazy – it’s to make the DJ’s transfer from using CDJs to the SC5000 Prime frictionless (to “change your rider”, as Denon DJ calls it). It’s all fair game.
Pioneer DJ can take a page from Denon DJ’s flagship player, too, and it should: a single SC5000 Prime can play two tracks at the same time via its “Layers” feature, and we think that a CDJ-3000NXS would benefit greatly from it by having a Deck Select button onboard. Such dual layer control is an old hat feature for software / controller DJs, yet crazily had never been available to CDJ users (the first media player to have dual layer control is the Denon DN-S5000, introduced over 10 years ago).
Hi-res centre display
The CDJ-2000NXS2’s centre ring display has been around for ages – it’s hardly a necessity anymore, and we think it’ll see even less use as onboard displays become more powerful. Instead of leaving it as is or chucking it, the CDJ-3000NXS could have a full-colour LED display that would show album art as well as track position. Again, this is taking a page from the Denon DJ SC5000 Prime’s playbook, but it would be heaps better as a track art display window instead of being a basic playhead / cue point indicator.
Updated multi-touch display
The CDJ-2000NXS2 brought a bigger 7″ touchscreen display onboard, but it’s still quite primitive as far as today’s touchscreen smart devices go. For instance, it doesn’t allow for multi-touch, and while the resolution improved on its predecessor, it’s still relatively low-res.
The CDJ-3000NXS could have the same size touchscreen, but it’ll look a lot better: the current CDJ-2000NXS2 has a screen refresh rate of 15 frames per second, making the waveform scroll a bit choppy. If you compare it to your smartphone, the CDJ-2000NXS2 shows its age. Denon DJ claims the SC5000 Prime has a 50 frames per second refresh rate, making it look closer to a modern smartphone, with a higher resolution to boot. Pioneer DJ would do well to improve on the screen of a CDJ-3000NXS, especially since DJing on a CDJ is all about spinning without a laptop. That means the onboard screens have to be top notch.
We also think a CDJ-3000NXS will have an updated operating system: multi-touch will be a key component of the touchscreen, and it will allow for gestures for modern touch commands such as sliding a finger left or right to add a track to a playlist or to trash it. Again, the SC5000 Prime is already ahead in this aspect.
One more tweak we’d like to see on a CDJ-3000NXS is a beefed up Qwerty keyboard. Predictive input would be great, for instance, along with the ability to search for playlists instead of just tracks.
The DDJ-SP1 controller works with CDJs in a networked NXS set-up, and we think a CDJ-3000NXS could have compatibility with the new DDJ-XP1. The DDJ-XP1 comes with 32 performance pads onboard, and this would blur the line between laptop DJing and “CDJ DJing” as far as controllerism goes. It’s a big ask, but if you could take along a DDJ-XP1, plug it into a compatible DJM mixer at the club, and get full control over all your hot cues and expanded performance features, then that would save controllerists from having to lug around a laptop to a club gig.
Our Gear Prophecy series is pure conjecture, and as such none of this may actually come to pass, but it’s just fun for us here at DDJT HQ to come up with these ideas for kit that we’d like to see. Our first Gear Prophecy instalment that featured the XDJ-RX2 predicted a couple of things correctly (eight performance pads, touchscreen display) months before the XDJ-RX2 leaked.
Of course, we’re not psychic – we just love gear and talking about gear as much as the next DJ. How many of these features will come out in an actual CDJ-3000NXS, should Pioneer DJ put one out? Your guess is as good as ours…
Do you think Pioneer DJ’s next move will be evolution as previous updates have been, or a bigger leap into the future as we’re predicting? Share your thoughts below.