Bax Music have been given the chance to take a little peak at the super-fresh Pioneer CDJ 3000. This shiny new, top-of-the-range Pioneer multiplayer is definitely going to be the next big thing, whether on a festival stage, in the club, or in the living rooms of Djs the world over. In this blog, we take a long look at the features that define this next-generation tabletop mediaplayer.

Pioneer CDJ-3000 first look

On the Shoulders of Giants

Back in 2009, Pioneer sparked a revolution with the release of the CDJ-2000 mediaplayer. This chunk of sophisticated gear looked nothing like anything that had ever existed and was like a glimpse into the future of DJ-based tech. Since the player that came before it was a bit like a glorified CD deck (since the CDJ-1000 MKIII was able to read MP3s from CDs!), the CDJ-2000 really felt like it could do anything and everything besides make the tea.

Generation ‘Next’

So here we are, in 2020 and on the brink of the next generation. We’re fully prepared for what this fresh era will bring to the DJ booth and we’re ready to encounter the stuff of our wildest dreams. Now, although Pioneer usually treat us to a new top-shelf player every couple of years (whether it’s a completely new model or the next generation packed with upgrades to elevate it above the ones that came before), it’s actually been a while since we’ve seen something entirely new. The last time was back in the cold February of 2016, when we were spoilt by the CDJ-2000NXS2. No wonder so many Djs are desperate to get their hands on something they’ve never seen before.

So Long, CD!

With the introduction of the CDJ-2000 and the generations that followed, a disputable point was raised: who still Djs with CDs? Is a CD drive even relevant any more? Until the CDJ-2000NXS2, the CD slot was still a dominant feature on the front of any Pioneer player. And, following experiments like the XDJ-1000 and XDJ-700, as well as the standalone XDJ-RX(2), it was already pretty clear that this previously important tech was no longer used by current Djs and was already considered ‘old-school’. As a natural result, you won’t find a CD slot on the face of the CDJ-3000. Digital media dominates now and there’s no reason to believe that it won’t continue to dominate in the future. So, if you’re armed with a few USB sticks, a fistful of SD cards, and you’ve got a player that’ll happily connect to your laptop and speak to a copy of Rekordbox, then you’re future proof.

Pioneer CDJ-3000 first look

Then Why Call It a ‘CD’J?

Then why bother keeping the ‘CD’ bit of CDJ-3000? The ‘3000’ bit makes perfect sense since this is truly the next generation, but ‘CD’? Maybe you could forgive it and say that the meaning of ‘CDJ’ has since evolved from Compact Disc Jockey to something like … Computerised Digital Jockey … Maybe. It would fit, not only because sophisticated bits of kit like the CDJ-3000 are largely used for digital audio playback, but are actually incredibly advanced and fairly independent units complete with their own ‘brain’.

Multi-Dimensional Connectivity

It’s safe to say that generation 2020 can depend on Pioneer for extensive, multisided connectivity. They already made this pretty clear with the DJM-V10 by giving it the ability to control multiple decks. Until the V10 came out, the DJM-900NXS2 was the standard, leaving many to wonder about the cool stuff that Pioneer would do with a 6-channel mixer – until now, that is. And while the CDJ-2000NXS2 could link up to four players in a single network, it wasn’t exactly clear what this could actually do for you, since many Djs didn’t have a DJS-1000 sampler with an extra input and some had no external hardware at all.

Pioneer CDJ-3000 first look

Three-Deck Djaying

In any case, the DJM-V10 opened up the potential for B2B sessions and offered DJ-Duos a more streamlined setup to battle each other with during the show. What the release of the DJM-V10 and the CDJ-3000 also does, is give Djs the potential to build a solid three-deck-based workflow where the first deck plays the current track, the second deck is used to cue up the next track, and the third deck is used to browse through your library for the perfect track to follow it all up. If you go for this kind of ultimate setup, then you can really pull the best out of your players, and inviting another DJs with their own hardware to join you in the booth is made much easier since you don’t have to mess around with any cabling. You could even set up a V10 with a pair of players and keep the remaining channels free for other outboard gear, like actual turntables. Or, if you’re hosting a DJ with a particularly extensive rider, you can easily connect up another set of CDJ-3000s as needed. In short, contemporary Djing doesn’t just make it all possible, but actually manages to make it look easy.

Jogwheel Tweaks

Since the CD drive has been completely removed, some space has been made to do other stuff. With units like the DDJ-1000, Pioneer have already experimented with integrated jogwheel displays, so it’s about time that one of their their top-shelf players are fitted with the same tech. It could be that this addition is down to simple logic. Since the new generation of CDJs make it possible to link up to six decks together, knowing exactly which track is loaded up on which deck becomes even more crucial, and the more visual album-artwork preview is actually even better.

Pioneer CDJ-3000 first look


When you compare the revolutionary leap taken between the CDJ-1000 MK3 and the CDJ-2000, the steps taken to reach the design of the CDJ-3000 are not actually all that big. Most Djs will immediately notice that the layout is familiar but that the look has been freshened up. Due to a much bigger display screen, a few compromises have been made. So, the navigation controls have been shifted over to the right, and the player is a little deeper overall. But this makes way for no less than eight Hot Cue buttons, in colour, and all dutifully lined up below the display! With the CDJ-2000NXS2, these were divided into four buttons over two banks. Here, things make much more sense, since the new eight-button setup follows the logic of your track timeline – provided you’re the kind of DJ who sets the cues and arranges them in a nice, neat order. The loop-section and hot cues have switched places a little to accommodate the expansion of the display, while the Play and Cue buttons, track search, the pitch fader and tempo reset have… actually not moved at all. So basically, not that much has changed, which is a good thing since it flattens the learning curve while you get used to the new gear.

Pioneer CDJ-3000 first look

Around the Screen

One of the first things scrapped to make way for the bigger screen is the source button. Since it’s not actually used that much these days, this is understandable (if most Djs are only playing sets with one kind of media then … why would you need to select a source?). You will find a few basic buttons fitted above the screen though, and one of them is actually marked ‘Source’. This opens a menu on the display where you can then select a source – if needed. You’ll also find standards like the Browse, Tag List, Play List, Search, and a Menu/Utility button so you can quickly switch between the most essential display functions that aren’t immediately shown on the screen. Above, you’ll find a lit indicator which helpfully lights up according to the colour of the selected media source. These RGB colours can even be assigned to specific media sources, and using the ProDJLink, you can even control the media sources of other linked players. So, if you pull up the info about player 2 on player 4, and the USB stick indicator is lit green on player 2 – then the indicator on player 4 will also turn green, making your media source as clear as it gets.


The visual reproduction of waveforms has also got a little more interesting. The CDJ-2000NXS2 already offers a full RGB image, but it still can’t quite handle the frequency data when it came to judging whether something is a vocal, beat, kick, or something else. This is where it becomes pretty clear why the display display of the CDJ-3000 has been boosted. With this super slick screen, the definition of waveforms is far more detailed and the player itself is even able to construct a kind of ‘flame’-style mapping of the waveform, that sorts the frequencies into three parts, each usefully represented by stacked colours. This makes the variations of a specific waveform a much more significant source of information, meaning you can easily browse through your track and quickly spot the perfect cue point on eye alone. Previously, you got a separate touch-strip to do this (remember the CDJ-2000 and the Nexus?), but since we now live in a future populated by incredibly advanced touchscreen tech, why would you need a separate strip, right?

Pioneer CDJ-3000 first look

See Also…

» Pioneer CDJ-3000

» Poke Your Head Into the Future with the New Pioneer CDJ-3000
» The Pioneer CDJ-3000 vs. The Denon SC6000: A Battle to the Death-ish
» 7 Tips for Preparing Your DJ Set
» What’s the Best USB Stick for Djs? And is it an SD Card?

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