What Pioneer's New Controller Could Mean For CDJs

You will have seen all across the web that there is a new controller from Pioneer: DDJ-RZX. This is a Rekordbox flagship controller designed with updated features including hi-res touch screens and Rekordbox video control. With many other articles detailing the features, most of which are derived from the introduction video I decided to go a different route and talk about what I hope this means for future Pioneer kit, namely CDJs.

There is no doubt the past few years have brought controllers closer to the CDJ level, the addition of screens was a huge development, most notably by Numark with their NV controller and Dashboard add-on. This brings us many steps closer to laptop-less performances where it is at worst hidden from view and at best obsoleted.

Pioneer for a while now have been making larger controllers, each more resembling their flagship CDJ/Mixer setup than the last. It truly looks like we are nearing the peak of controller vs CDJ wars.

These wars are sadly still a thing, CDJs do get the preferential treatment, even though at this stage, controllers offer so much more control and manipulation of music - just look at any controller with pads and realise the advantages. Just the other week I heard a DJ get criticised for using a Traktor controller, I was mad because his sets were fantastic.

The issue had been for a while, that CDJs were more professionally built, and sounded a lot better. Now however, controllers are up there. They have reached that level.

One is undoubtedly more badass looking and it's not the 
Nexus Setup

The reason that CDJs have been the preferential gear of clubs is their versatility, it is a simple case of showing up with a case of CDs or a couple of USB sticks and you are playing immediately. Certainly easier than setting up a controller and laptop.

With the current trend of controllers now however, especially ones like the RZX everything would already be set up, all you'd need is to bring your laptop and plug in. Considering how it includes two USB jacks so the DJs can switch over, still in the mix, you can begin to see why CDJs are probably not going to last much longer.

What must be said however is that this is NOT the controller that will be the switch. The RZX is not standalone, it does still require a laptop, much unlike the XDJ-RX, which is standalone but the design of which is just not good enough to facilitate the seismic switch either.

The combination of only having one screen, few controls and not being 
CDJ-like enough meant that the RX was never going to trigger the switch.

If Pioneer DJ can release a standalone version of the DDJ-RZX, there would no doubt be that switch, it would have everything needed to replace CDJs:
  • USB stick compatibility 
  • Screens that match the latest CDJ/XDJ 
  • High res audio with many I/O options
  • It will look as pro, if not more than the CDJ Nexus setups
  • It will be a fraction of the cost 
  • It will have performance pads 
  • Ease of use for DJs who just show up and play
Unless CDJs are going to start bringing out performance pads (which would be cool), there is very little reason to continue with them. Consider a relatively cheap controller, the Mixtrack Pro 2 - undoubtedly the best low budget controller ever made, it manages to pack more control than many CDJs do simply because it includes pads.

Scale that up to a pro level controller/CDJ that will be standard in a club and you have the device to rule them all. The only "downside" I can see is that CDs will be obsoleted. That isn't even a downside. They have been obsolete for the past few years. 

Ever since a USB stick became lighter than a CD case and Rekordbox provided massively optimised track management, the CD died for DJs. The only time I ever use CDs is if I need to use timecode (rarely because HID is better).