New Pioneer CDJ-900NXS: Essential Upgrade or Unnecessary Cash-Grab?

Last year, Pioneer decided to replace their original CDJ-2000 model with a “nexus” version; currently, the flagship model that operates as close to a “club standard” as anything does these days.  Today, Pioneer announced that they have similar plans to update their 900 model… just in time for the Christmas season.

The unit adds a lot of the features that the CDJ-2000nexus boasts (with one notable exception – hot cues) at a more reachable (but still high) price.  For some, this will make the decision between buying  2000 model vs. a 900 model more difficult.  Others will be wondering why there are even two separate models offered at this point.  That’s for you to decide, but either way, let’s dive in to the details and see what Pioneer’s latest beast has in store for us.

Key Features of the CDJ-900nexus

Full-Color LCD Screen With Improved Browsing/Track Info

  • Improved browsing: DJs can choose how they view tracks – list, artwork or custom view – and scroll through using the large rotary dial.
  • Wave Zoom: in addition to Wave Display, Wave Zoom enables even more precision on loops and cues.
  • Beat Countdown: DJs can use rekordbox to mark key points on a track, and the CDJ-900NXS counts down to them from up to 64 bars away.
  • Phase Meter: shows the position of the beat in the bar, enabling DJs to compare the phase of each player with the master deck at a glance.
  • Key Analysis Indicator: a traffic light system in the browser shows which rekordbox tracks are in a compatible musical key with the master deck for harmonised mixes every time.

Enhanced Features From The CDJ-2000

  • Beat Divide: instantly slices up each beat to a pre-set timing and loops it in a staccato effect until the DJ stops toggling – all while playing the track in real time.
  • Slip Mode: silently continues track playback during a loop, reverse or scratch and brings the music back at the right point when the DJ exits the performance.
  • Improved Quantize: a dedicated ON/OFF button puts Quantized loops and cues at DJs’ fingertips.
  • Beat Sync: looks at the rekordbox beatgrids of music, on up to four connected players, and snaps them to the beat of the master deck.
  • Active Loop: DJs can use rekordbox to set an Active Loop at the end of tracks to ensure they’re never caught unprepared again.

Wi-Fi Capability and Further Rekordbox Integration.

According to Pioneer: “The CDJ-900NXS comes with rekordbox music management software in the box, with its indispensible features such as BPM, Harmonic Key and beatgrid analysis, Hot Cues, loops and Quantize. DJs can also download the rekordbox app, for free, to access all the software’s features and store essential playlists on their smartphones and tablets. The player is Wi-Fi compatible, so – in addition to USB – DJs can connect wirelessly from their laptop, PC, smartphones and tablets when the player is hard wired to a wireless router.”

“In addition to smartphones, tablets, laptops and PCs, music files can be played from USB storage devices, audio CDs and CD-R/RW. The CDJ-900NXS supports MP3, AAC, WAV and AIFF file formats.”

“DJs can access their personal preferences on any CDJ-900NXS thanks to My Settings. The player automatically detects 17 predefined rekordbox settings that are saved with your USB, PC or Smartphone Library – including Quantize, Vinyl Mode and Sync ON/OFF – for a customised DJ booth in seconds.”

CDJ-900nexus and DJM-900nexus

CDJ-900NXS vs. CDJ-2000NXS

So, the 900 is nudging closer towards the feature-set offered by the 2000nexus.  It’s hard to even see the differences at first.  So, here is a list of things that are “missing” from the new 900 when compared to Pioneer’s flagship:

  • Hot cues
  • SD card playback
  • Needle search
  • Loop mode
  • Separate brake and start adjustment
  • Illuminated rim, which glows red when the player is live
  • Reverse toggle switch (the 900 has a button)
  • Jog wheel tension adjustment

That first one might be the biggest problem for some users (basically, those Rekordbox users with no desire to have a MIDI controller around).  Of course, if you’re using the player as a (very expensive) controller, you could easily map the 5 beat-divide buttons to use as hot cues.  Personally, I’m not a “finger-drumming” sort of DJ anyway (and many who are probably aren’t scared of MIDI controllers), but I could see it being a deal-breaker for a select few.

Pricing

Pioneer has announced that the player will debut at a price point of £1150/€1399, and have not given us a US price yet.  Assuming the price converted over directly, it would be roughly $1850 USD.

It’s quite an expensive little player, and it begs the question: “Is there any point in having two separate models anymore?”  Pioneer seems to think so.  To me, at this point, it would make more sense if this were labeled a CDJ-2000, reserving the “nexus” for the similar premium player with a handful of enhancements.  But, hey, they know more about marketing than I do!

All that being the case, the 900nexus is a hot little piece of gear.  If you’re looking to spend quite a bit of coin on some gear, but want to at least shave off a few hundred bucks, the 900NXS might be just what the doctor ordered.

Summing Up

The 900NXS boasts an impressive feature-set, but is only mildly more affordable than it’s big brother.  Still, when thought of as part of a bigger picture, it does make sense to some people.  Choosing a pair of these and a DJM-750 can easily save a user between one and two grand when all is said and done (as opposed to, say, a pair of 2000nexus and a DJM 900).

For me as a Traktor user, though, I’m excited for this for a different reason: maybe this will make the original 900 model drop to a more justifiable price.  I’ve thought about snagging some up, but couldn’t go through with it since I’d essentially be using them as glorified controllers.  I’ll be keeping an eye out for those ready to upgrade to the latest-and-greatest!

So what do you think?  Is the latest CDJ model a sensible alternative to the 2000nexus bad-boy?  Or does this bring the two models so close together that there’s no point?  I’d love to hear your thoughts below!

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