Having started to mix in the late 90s, and being so happy with the 1200s, when the digital music revolution forced most of us to make a move, I opted for Serato – pretty early – after maybe one year from the release of the original SL1 interface, which I later upgraded to the SL3. SL1 was tragic audio performance in my opinion compared to modern CDJs. SL3 was much more decent.
I used to be a long time Serato Scratch Live user and supporter. Using it with my macbook pro, mainly as a music library, proved to be a good tool, but honestly I never loved the wiring involved in DVS solutions.
I’ve also always hated storing music on CDs – they can get stolen or scratched far too easily. They were a nightmare to me. You never find the right one despite label printing, etc. once you grow a big collection. A big loss of time and wasted plastic and silver 🙂
When Pioneer came out with players that could read USB sticks, it looked like something everybody already wanted: a convenient way to store music in a cheap, solid are more eco-friendly way than burning tons of cds and printing labels.
Three years ago, I bought a couple of CDJ 900s and finally after some weeks of thought, I’ve happily sold the Serato SL3 interface. I thought I would not need Serato any more. I used to love it, but the new Pioneer wave of products kills it, in my opinion, if you don’t care about effects, sampling, etc. Some house djs do not care about that. I’d rather enjoy an isolator or some kind of hardware box. Still feels better to me. Maybe I’m an old school kind of guy, but I don’t care for Tracktor and Serato anymore. I just think organizing songs on your computer is great, don’t like to bring a laptop with me.
I ‘ve continued to use iTunes as usual for song management, like I was before, (I used Serato only to browse my iTunes Playlists basically), in conjunction with RekordBox, which exports playlists and songs to a usb stick. Very easy, very practical. Rekordbox is not the greatest software, absolutely. But it basically does the job I need in a rather simple way. It imports playlists from iTunes, analyzes the tracks so track loading will be faster, and lets you export playlists to your usb stick. USB3 sticks are recommended if you don’t want spend half an hour each time loading a new playlist.
Test well your usb sticks as there are some rare incompatible ones.
For me, to be able to rely on organizing tracks in playlists that you can listen everywhere on your phone, and find them again on the cdjs, is really great. You get to know your music, again.
A couple years ago I upgraded to CDJ2000. They are much more precise than 900s, I assumed their jog and feeling would be pretty similar but that’s not the case imho. I kept a 900 as a third player.
They are faster and feel different in many aspects.
After some software updates, CDJ2000s have become really solid performers, even when used in conjunction with large usb sticks. I’m fully satisfied with them. Price is high but they keep their value. Buy second hand, and you won’t lose anything if you change your mind 🙂
A note about sticks. I thought usb sticks would be more reliable than CDs. This might be true, but I had two usb sticks failing in one year of use. So bring at least two usb sticks and remember the ethernet cable to link the players. Having a backup of your library on an additional usb stick is cheap and easy today.
To make a long story short, I am truly amazed in how much simpler my setup went. Sometimes if feels got to go back to basics and eliminate something from our setups. I am an Apple lover and have great ability with Macs & stuff, but mixing without a laptop is more fun IMHO.
DACs. To improve sound quality I’ve been finding out that using the digital output of the CDJS and hooking up an external DAC like my PS audio digital link III you can definitely improve the player’s sound, despite all what Pioneer marketing says about their built-in DAC. It may be an unfair comparison of course.
The internal DAC is still a good performer and the difference might not worth the fuss unless you are really an audiophile freak, but midrange clarity especially on the voices was quite apparent in my test.