Now discontinued, the former entry level of Pioneer’s “pro” CDJs, the CDJ-850 has the build quality of the more expensive CDJ-900 and CDJ-2000 models, but fewer features. It’s maybe worth a look if you want a full-size media player at a budget price.
First Impressions / Setting up
The Pioneer CDJ-850 is a media player and Midi controller in the long list of CDJs that can play CDs and USB sticks.
Rekordbox integration, a jog dial and several browse buttons and selectors make up the features of the CDJ-850 which have been the standard in its product line.
The display isn’t a full-colour screen like what you’d find on most CDJs today. It shows details tags, BPM counter, and track folder/location. A source selector is seen on the left side of the device which sets it up to be used with either a USB, CD or computer.
The CDJ-850 has stereo RCA output and USB connectivity if you want to use it with your preferred DJ program of choice. As with other CDJs, the jogwheel is pressure sensitive and has a vinyl mode for scratching.
The CDJ-850 does not stray far from the usual CDJ design: the jogwheel is solid and has a nice resistance to it which is expected from Pioneer DJ. The buttons have a nice feedback to them when pressed.
There is an auto beat loop option but if you want to, there is an option to loop from 1/16 to 1/2 readily available. The Tag List function is great if you want to mark certain tracks to make playlists with.
If there is something to nitpick about the 850 is that it does not really have any extra features that would convince someone to upgrade if they’re coming from the 800.
A Guitar Center reviewer noted how great the CDJ-850 works with Serato and how fast it reads tracks from a USB. The reviewer compared the CDJ-850 to the CDJ-900 and said that he prefers the CDJ-850 because of its lower price, even though it doesn’t have a full-colour LCD display.
Overall, the Pioneer CDJ-850 is a decent media player for cash-strapped DJs. Having the standard features of a basic DJ means you can use it for home practice or even gigs, just don’t expect any current generation bits like a spiffy touch screen.