Cool, compact version of the XDJ-1000. Its main plus points are its compact size and removable stand, offering a lot of flexibility for installation – and the affordable price point for a Pioneer player. It comes with the same large touchscreen as its bigger brothers and familiar ‘CDJ’ layout. It is however noticeably lighter and shallower than the larger players. The jog wheel is also smaller and lighter and doesn’t offer the track position display of the larger 1000. Overall though, a great value choice that retains most of the features of the more expensive Pioneer players.
First Impressions/Setting up
The XDJ-700 is a standalone media player with a USB socket on its face for connecting a thumb drive that has music on it exported from Rekordbox, as well as at the back for hooking up to your laptop running Rekordbox DJ. It also works with the Rekordbox app on your smartphone or tablet for wireless performance.
The unit is made of plastic all around, and is light. It doesn’t feel as sturdy as the flagship CDJs, of course, but it doesn’t feel cheap either. I would definitely store this in a bag or have a Decksaver on when in transport. Nothing to write home about, build-wise.
The rear of the unit only has a pair of RCA outputs, a socket for a power brick (I don’t like power bricks because when they get lost, they’re so tough to replace compared to a standard three-prong lead such as those on a CDJ), an Ethernet Link port for hooking up another XDJ-700, and the aforementioned USB jack.
On the face, it’s got the usual CDJ/XDJ buttons like loop control, track search, search, cue and play/pause, as well as the vinyl mode and tempo / master tempo buttons, but that’s about it. You don’t get the platter start/stop time on the XDJ-1000, or the tension adjust of the CDJ-2000. You also get a smaller jogwheel here, but it is mechanical: that means you’ve got to press down on it to scratch, just like the jogs on a CDJ/XDJ. Pioneer DJ controller users will have to get used to this as the jogs on these media players aren’t “touch activated”.
What’s retained is the large, high-resolution touchscreen. It looks great and is similar to the one found on the XDJ-1000, so that means features like the Qwerty keypad are here, along with Perform functions that include hot cues and beat loops (similar to Loop Rolls in Serato DJ).
To test it, I set it up a pair in my bedroom along with a DJM-250MK2 mixer – the compact size makes it ideal for cramped bedroom desks, and also perfect for areas for entertaining guests when space is at a premium. The XDJ-700 looks impressive without being obtrusive or intimidating, and can easily blend into any contemporary living room set-up.
I also took a pair of XDJ-700s with me to a DJ gig. It’s in this tiny dive bar that gets really rowdy on weekends. I normally take my DDJ-RZ, and that makes switchovers a hassle because the desk in the DJ box can hardly fit it without shuffling other gear around, so the XDJ-700’s smaller form factor was a huge plus. The bar has an older DJM-350 two-channel mixer, so I just hooked up the XDJ-700s to the line inputs and spun from a thumb drive for an hour and a half.
Here are the highlights:
The main reason I switched up to a big controller like the DDJ-RZ is for the large jogwheels that are the same size as a standard CDJ. The jogs on the DDJ-RZ are the best in its class, and so immediately responsive that I haven’t looked back since. However, they are not mechanical jogwheels like what you’d find on a normal CDJ, which has ball bearings to help them glide (and also gives them that distinct “whirring” sound when you spin them). That means the DDJ-RZ still doesn’t feel like an actual CDJ jog, where you have to apply a decent amount of pressure in order to scratch with it.
The XDJ-700’s jogwheel is mechanical, just like a normal CDJ, albeit much smaller. I prefer bigger jogwheels, but the one on the XDJ-700 isn’t bad at all. It works as intended, though I do miss the heft and travel of a full-size platter.
Easily the best thing about the XDJ-700 is its full-colour, high-resolution touchscreen. It’s clear, and crisp, I had no problem using it. Even in a dark, sweaty / humid place like the bar I gigged at, the touchscreen was still responsive. I like the Qwerty keyboard simply because it’s much easier for me to search for songs instead of having to rely solely on the Browse knob.
The XDJ-700 works best with music files on a thumb drive prepared with Pioneer DJ’s own Rekordbox software. You basically export playlists from the Rekordbox app onto a thumb drive, which also transfers stuff like hot cues and track metadata.
It also works with a laptop running Rekordbox DJ, in which case the XDJ-700 works as a really expensive controller and sound card. The benefit of using it this way is you get to use your laptop for track browsing and for viewing waveforms as you mix, but I think this is superfluous – if you plan on using a laptop and Rekordbox DJ, get a controller like the DDJ-RX instead, which comes out much cheaper than a pair of XDJ-700s.
Using thumb drives with Rekordbox-prepared music is the way to go if you’re using an XDJ-700 set-up: the higher cost of an XDJ-700, compared to a DJ controller, comes from the fact that it works standalone without a computer. Again, if you really want to use a laptop running Rekordbox DJ when you gig out, go get a DJ controller that you can use at home like the DDJ-RX or DDJ-RB. You can then just plug in your laptop to the club’s CDJ/DJM kit when you’re at the gig, or you can take along your controller too if the venue doesn’t have a set-up.
A pair of XDJ-700s on Amazon come at just under US$1300, and that’s without a DJ mixer (the obvious companion would be the DJM-450 or DJM-250MK2), so why spend close to US$2000 when you can get a full-featured Pioneer DJ controller like the DDJ-RZ, DDJ-SZ2, or DDJ-SX2? The answer has to do with wanting to transition to a club set-up taking nothing but a pair of thumb drives.
No matter how much you mix on a DJ controller with your laptop, there is going to be some physical and mental disconnect between that and mixing on a CDJ/DJM combo with USB sticks. For one, there are no waveforms to ride when you’re mixing off of CDJs, so if you’re used to staring at your screen while you mix to make sure the beats line up, you may suddenly feel a bit nervous because you can’t lean on that crutch to help you blend tunes.
Second, if you like to use your controller’s pads for hot cues, you’ll obviously miss those thick chunky pads when using a CDJ – even the most recent CDJ-2000NXS2 has tiny hot cues compared to what you’d find on an entry-level Rekordbox DJ controller like the DDJ-RB.
Who’s it for?
That said, there is a very real opportunity here for the controller DJ who wants to jump to using CDJs at clubs and bars as opposed to taking along a controller and laptop wherever. I’m more of a mobile DJ than a club DJ, so I tend to take my controller along with me because the venue I play at doesn’t have CDJs. As such, I’m perfectly happy with my DDJ-RZ controller.
However, if I were to switch career paths and focus on spinning at clubs and festivals, I’d sell my DDJ-RZ in an instant and get an XDJ-700/DJM-450 set-up. I’d then focus all my time on creating playlists in Rekordbox and transferring them to a USB stick, and getting used to mixing again without a laptop on hand, just like the old days.
The jogwheels may be smaller, but at least I’m re-familiarising myself with the workflow, controls, navigation, and music library needed when spinning on a pair of CDJs, which are going to be very similar. Despite its smaller size, it still looks quite impressive.
Of course, if you’re a club or pro DJ who spins on CDJs regularly, and you’d want some kit that you can use at home while retaining the Rekordbox workflow, the XDJ-700 are a cost-effective option, as far as Pioneer DJ gear goes.
Is DJing without a laptop a step back? Maybe, but it’s a step that you must be willing to take if you want to spin with nothing but thumb drives. I would say it’s a different experience, not necessarily worse or better.
I don’t see the XDJ-700 around much in small venues and bars but I do have some friends who use it as a “third deck” for their CDJ/DJM set-up. It’s more of an “extra” bit of gear, a nice to have but hardly a necessity – it’s positioned quite oddly in the Pioneer DJ lineup of multi players, especially since it isn’t cheap.
As such, the XDJ-700 is a niche product. However, there is a small audience of controller DJs there who would like to try spinning without a laptop present. They are looking for hardware that would let them cut their teeth on and, at the same time, retain essential functionality, library management, and controls found on DJ booths the world over without spending the equivalent price of a used car (or dipping into their kid’s college fund). For these folk, the XDJ-700 should be on their shortlist, along with the XDJ-1000MK2.