CDs — are they really dead to DJs?

Are CDs dead to DJs? (5)

This week, 2 separate events opened my eyes a little, both of which made me think about the humble CD and its immediate future. Pundits, myself included, have proclaimed that media is dead. I mean, who the hell would want to lug around crates and cases of vinyl and CD, plus the associated pile of expensive and heavy gear needed to play it, when you can just bung the lot on a USB and chuck it out of a small controller? Well more than you might expect. Allow me to explain.

Event 1 — fresh-faced DJ progeny Hatty brings a friend of hers to the studio who wants to be a DJ. I took him through options — turntables, small and large controllers, but he’s very fixed on using CDs. This is partly because he’s already got a lot of them, but also because he really likes the idea of using physical media. To him, he says it feels like he’s doing something and not just pointing and clicking. If I dare use the term in this context, he wants to feel like a real DJ stood behind recognisable DJ gear, rather than just loading music from a computer with a small controller. And the very idea of having to organise a digital library on his old laptop just doesn’t compute for him either.

Event 2 — Pioneer announce the XDJ-R1, essentially a XDJ-AERO with CDs. Wait… a unit designed to work wirelessly with iPads with rekordbox created USB libraries still has CDs inside? Apparently so. And when we factor in the not entirely dissimilar Gemini GMX Drive that showed its face at Musikmesse, it’s becoming clear that just like vinyl, CD as a format isn’t quite ready to kick the can just yet.

Are CDs dead to DJs? (4)

Some thoughts about this come to mind:

Established — over a decade ago, having already been adopted by Mr and Mrs Public as the medium of choice, CDs were embraced by DJs as their chosen format after Pioneer put out the CDJ-1000 and changed the entire DJ game forever. Yes, there were units before, but the CDJ really shifted the culture. So there are A LOT of CDs out there, still in use and is a readily available and recordable format. When you look at the way some DJs have anally meticulously organised their extensive collection of CD wallets, it’s very easy to see why some are not in a hurry to jump to USB just yet.

Performance — there’s no way getting round this, but leaning across to a laptop to change a track is a much derided and terrible look, and hardly compares with the performance elements that switching media bring to stage presence. Whether it’s holding up a 12″ that you know the crowd will go ape-shit for, or liberally scattering mix CDs into the audience like confetti, media absolutely had digital hunched in the corner whimpering like a frightened puppy.

Tangible — while it’s big and bulky, media is real. You have to pick it up, touch it, load it, unload it… there is a process — a beginning and end to playing a track. It is absolute, and something that makes you feel like (here it comes again) a real DJ. I lean across to my laptop to check mail, to shut down Facebook chat that has once again come on for no reason, and to endlessly check site optimisation. So leaning across feels just like another computer based process, rather than doing what a DJ does.

To clarify this — I’m not in any way whatsoever saying that digital DJs aren’t real. My opinion is well known and is this — if you stand in front of a crowd, play other people’s music one after another and fill the floor, regardless of the technology, then you’re a real DJ. But for many, that’s not enough — they want to be stood behind substantial lumps of gear with actual lumps of music, and pump it into their DJ gear of choice. There is a process with real things going on that digital just doesn’t have. And for this reason alone, and despite the endless benefits of digital, I feel that CD (and vinyl for that matter) isn’t quite ready to retire to that dead medium pile in the sky.

Are CDs dead to DJs? (3)

The Industry’s viewpoint

It’s all well and good me tossing around my own opinion for your perusal, delectation, and dissection. But it seems that the best people ask are the very people who put this gear out into the market. While I suspect that some “game changing” products hit the market after a serious tradeshow bender, the continued supply of CD units into the market is probably more planned, with like a strategy and everything.

So I asked key industry people this question:

“Why do you feel the need to continue to support CDs?”

And back came a variety of responses. While there’s no growth, there’s certainly a lot of legacy with CDs. “From contact with retailers and spending a lot of time with end users in their showrooms as well as attending shows like BPM and the pro mobile conference the anecdotal evidence is clear that some DJ’s still use disc media, if not exclusively at least partially” commented Pioneer’s Martin Dockree. Given the dominance of CD for so long, a large and established user base still thrives and needs CD units for the short term at least.

Surprisingly, CD continues to be the dominant format in some regions. David Morbey from Denon said “to this day, the Denon twin unit, rack-mount CD player continues its global, best seller status, largely due to popularity in Asian markets where Karaoke remains ‘King’. In this up and coming continent, likewise in the South Americas and India, CD remains the market’s primary media format – being cheap, reliable and easy to use.”

But the format claims to have some real technological benefits. David Morbey states that “recent observations in developed markets indicate that today’s national and international touring DJ’s still regard CD media as the best resource to easily burn and playback full resolution (WAV/AIF) audio files”. I’m not so sure myself, and would personally prefer to bung a bunch of music onto a USB device than burn a load of media, and I’m sure I’d still be happy with the quality. But that’s just me.

That said, Martin Dockree does give a compelling use case for CD. “I have spoken to some younger DJ’s simply can’t afford a decent enough laptop to run DJ performance software reliably, so for them a safer option is to download their music and burn it on to disc”, which from my own experience of my daughter’s friend’s need for CD and not having the cash to upgrade his somewhat creaky HP laptop makes perfect sense. You don’t need grunt to burn media, and in the long run can save yourself a heap of cash but not having to get in debt to afford a shiny new laptop.

Are CDs dead to DJs? (2)

Need evidence that CD can hold its own in the market? A clear example comes from Gemini and their recently announced GMX and GMX Drive units. “They are nearly identical products, the only difference being the GMX DRIVE has CD drives adding a level of flexibility that Mobile DJ’s need” says Dave Cabasso, VP of Product Development. He goes on: “As much as we would like to declare the CD dead, the GMX DRIVE has over 60% more page views than the GMX on our website. The proof is in the numbers”. This is also being backed up in sales figures from other manufacturers who despite shifting a large number of controllers are still seeing CD units make up a hefty percentage of their revenue.

But what of the future? For me, Pioneer are still invested in supporting the hordes of CDJ owners with a view to slowly weaning them off the CD habit. Denon are rather more definite about their intentions. “For now and the foreseeable future then, Denon maintains an ongoing commitment to offer CD users built-in redundancy/backup in its media players” says David Morbey. Dave Cabasso however has a more pragmatic approach and states that  “unlike vinyl which continues to stick around, we believe that CD’s as a medium will eventually die. Though we can’t predict how soon it will happen, we do believe users will move on from CD’s”.

The computer industry will play a large part in this as well. Dave Cabasso goes on to say that “more and more computer makers are making new machines that completely lack drives and I believe we will see the same thing happen in our industry”. As a MacBook Air owner, I can’t argue with this. DJs are travelling  lighter these days, and with ultrabooks really picking up steam, and the Cloud moving from buzzword to actual thing that people use, the days of CD are numbered for all but a few people.

Are CDs dead to DJs? (1)

Summing Up

It’s clear that there’s no growth in CD use as such, nor is there ever likely to be a vinyl-style retro renaissance where the next generation of hipsters keep it real with the old school medium of compact discs. What is clear however is that as a format, it’s a long way from dead. Yes, manufacturers could ditch the drives, save some money and shave some bulk from the units, but then they’d alienate a massive user base who are perfectly happy with CDs and for all manner of reasons have no plans to change.

So dear reader — the next time a manufacturer brings out a unit that still has a CD drive in it, you will at least have a little more context as to why.

What do you think?

DJs — do you still use CDs? Do you see them in the DJ’s future? Have you moved from CDs but hanker for them all over again? While there are obvious benefits to digital, do you hate the whole process of maintaining a digital library and doing the laptop lean when you could have real media?

Retailers — are you still seeing demand for CD units? Are your customers reluctant to move to full-on digital? Go.

Manufacturers — does CD figure in your future or past? Is it still enough of an earner to consider new product development or just factory reorders to satisfy current demand?

  • Fredrik Yngström

    I more or less ditched CDs about five years ago, when I sold my Denon S5000s. Ironically, not for “digital” per se, but I was mostly playing vinyl anyways. Since then, I’ve dipped my toes into both Serato and Traktor and I see one of those (or maybe both) as my way forward, if I ever get forward.
    I do, however, occasionally think about getting a couple of CDJs to try to get the feel for them if not for anything else.

  • Ron Maran

    Great thoughts as always Giz.

    Personally prefer USB’s, having just upgraded from 800’s to 850’s for the rekordbox workflow. That said, you will not see me hit up a gig without my wallet of relatively updated CDs just in case something goes wrong. New cdj’s can die, forcing a last minute replacement for old CDJ’s, USB drives can corrupt, and it is much easier for a drunken idiot to pull out your USB mid track than press the comparatively small eject lock/ button.

    I’d say as a medium, CD’s are more robust than vinyl, and the cheapest and most-tested way for carrying lossless quality files. Ultimately, 35GB from a 50 pack of CD’s where you cannot ruin your entire collection in one move can make more sense than trying to find a no-name, slow 32GB usb for $12 or so where a incorrect eject can ruin it. You would be crazy to show up to a gig with just one USB though.

    Hard drives are a different story, since they are much less capable of handling physical handling than the two above. I’d say this also applies to Laptops in a looser sense, as dropping a laptop usually means trouble, much like a hard drive.

  • Wojciech Hejnik

    That’s it. Controllers are treated like toys. you can do EVERYTHING on Numark NS6. You can make fully profesionnal mix and even scratches on NS6. And, guess what – you can sratch on it. But many people think, that gear makes them Dj’s – not skills or music selection. THINK DIFFERENT. i know dj’s witho Reloop digital jockey that make great mixes, and i know people that sukcs on pair of technics and serato. it’s only in your mind. Someone tells me few yeras ago, that Serato is for turntablism and Traktor for mixing. WHAT? And the worst thing is, that many people think that way. The same thing with gear like Numark CDX/HDX – they are great machines, you can scratch on it like a pro (and you don’t need needles etc) but guess what? “pro” turntablist says, that you can scratch ONLY on turntables. LOL.

  • dj mark

    I firmly believe CDs are DEAD. i have recently sold my pioneers cdjs and wish never to go back. I am completely digital now using the pioneer ddj sx. I cant stomach burning cds to play a weekly gig and have to carry a bulky cd case. the computer companies have already ditched the cd drives and now that the cloud is here, yes cds for me is way past dead. I have not touched a cd in 8 years or since when serato 1.0 came out.

  • Daniel ‘DanJam’ Bird

    This topic is really close to home for me, what annoys me is that pioneer bring out a bunch of cdjs with USB and cd, however a waveform only loads as quick as the tracks play when using CDs, thus leaving a DJ with no choice but to use USB to to allow you to see the full wave display. Surely the technology involved in allowing such features is mere child’s play considering what they do, even if it means being able to burn tracks that’s have been analysed in rekordbox to disc. It’s a shame that you’re left with no choice because I too love digging through and selecting cd’s when playing just as much as i do vinyl. nice post

  • Jared Helfer

    Great read.

    Personally, I think that the kid who wants to “look like a DJ” misses a really important piece of being a DJ. It is only EXTREMELY recent that DJs were seen at all, let alone looked a part. DJs were never in the lime light, we were never performers. We were playing other people’s music and making people dance. Back then, obviously, the ONLY way to DJ was on vinyl. If switching records/cds makes someone feel more like a DJ then I think they really need to reevaluate why they are DJing. Yes, I get that I have to “perform” now, but whether I’m on a laptop or CDs or vinyl, it’s the same performance, just with different flourishes.

    That being said, CDs are not dead. I think the concept of an album (a single piece of cohesive music made up of smaller parts) is almost completely going away to be replaced by individual tracks surrounded by filler. I completely understand why manufacturers are supporting CDs, but I still have to constantly argue about the state of digital DJing with those who haven’t transitioned yet.

    I say yet because at this point ALMOST every DJ who is currently working or wants to work will eventually switch. The demands are going to get too high. All but the most successful clubs are not upgrading gear like they used to, and theme nights are not as common as they once were. DJs these days are expected to play across more genres, keep up with more tunes and be more organized and professional than ever before. We need to be graphic designers, promoters, DJs, and everything in between.

    And a backpack is a LOT easier to carry than books and books of CDs. And organizing a virtual library is a lot easier to add to than a physical one of prepared mix CDs. And you can perform just as much if you learn to use your controllers and applications correctly. A well mapped 2 deck controller is a LOT more powerful and a LOT more performance ready than CD decks.

    I’ve given up spinning on CDs, and have a few for backups, but the small clubs I’ve spun at sometimes don’t even have working equipment and leave it entirely to the DJs to provide. So yeah, times they are a changing.

  • DJ Nick

    CD is a dead media, However as far as DJ’ing is concerned I believe it will remain for a number of years as a ‘backup’. I know many DJ’s who are 100% digital but take a few CD’s to play in case of emergency.
    I started out with Vinyl in the early 90’s progressed to CDJ500’s around 1998 and onto CDJ1000’s in 2001 then moved to DVS and back to Vinyl in 2008. However my laptop bag has a couple of emergency CD’s and a couple of USB sticks incase anything goes wrong.

  • I switched to Traktor about 2 year ago (but still play with timecode CDs on CDJs), after playing CDs for about 5 years, after 8 years of vinyl before that, but at my parties people play CDs almost exclusively. We have different guests all the time and, without doing the math, I would say over 90% still play just CDs. We do all house/techno.

    Aside from me one other person has played on a timecode DVS (Serato on CDJs) and one on a DDJ-T1 with Traktor. The scores of other deejays that have played our party in the last year all played CDs (one of them played 2 or 3 of vinyl records during his set too).

    If you go to the open format/top 40/hip hop clubs it is almost universal what is used. Serato Scratch Live on a MBP, 1200’s, and Novation Dicers. Its almost like a uniform! They ALL have to wear it.

    Its funny how one group has all conformed to one way of doing thing and another, the people that play at my parties, for the most part do things a totally different way.

  • DJ STU-C

    my first gig in 5 years last week, took my macbook and my brand new reloop terminal mix 2 and rocked along for the night. spent the week before all nervous about the night, not because it had been so long and i needed to know if i still ‘had it’. what was making me so shaky was whether the controller/laptop were going to actually hold out for the night, and after serato dj had shut down on me 3 times during that week whilst trying to load big files onto the decks i was at the point of distraction. it all went well but my point is i used to take cd’s out and even though the equipment we used was in terrible condition i still never had that worry anything would fail. so whilst software is great and convenient it still has that little background worry about working properly

    • DJ Rob Ticho,Club mU

      I’ve seen Pioneer CDJs fail on stage a few times. Just my experience.

  • I haven’t bought a CD for absolutely ages. So long I can’t remember when or what it was. Once it was possible to play files from a hard drive, that was it – I was converted.

    No more big heavy cases, no more turning your back on people to look for that track you need in 20 seconds, but you can’t find it anywhere. No more being unable to play two tracks back to back because they’re on the same CD. Now I have many more tracks than I was able to carry in CD boxes, all instantly available. They don’t jump because of a springy dance floor or clumsy punter. They don’t get scratched or cracked. They don’t get put back in the wrong case. I can sort them any way I want, instantly. I can add notes to the ID3 tags to remind me of something when I’m browsing. I don’t have to go to a shop/store any more (Have they got what I want in stock? Is there a queue for the CD player?) or wait for something to arrive in the post/mail.
    So many benefits, so few (if any) reasons I’d want to go back to CD. I still have all my CDs and CD players – but I don’t use them. If I get a CD out now, it’s only to rip it.
    However, I don’t play from a computer any more. I did when PCDJ Red first came out. I met Jorgen at PLASA, saw the demo and was hooked. But once it was possible to DJ from hard drive using proper physical DJ kit, I switched. The laptop now only gets used for library browsing (and can be roped in as a backup should the hardware fail – which hasn’t happened yet).

    • DJ STU-C

      im using software but ive bought 2 in the last few days, the girlfriend isnt too impressed with yet more music in the house but i got some good dj friendly masters at work tracks for the grand total of 9 quid

    • Josh McDermott

      I recently bought Felix da Housecat “Excursions”. Could only find this in CD. Man, am I glad I did!

      • Allan Humphreys

        A classic, no doubt, but you’ve got to admit that the mixing on that CD is horrendous! Lucky he has a pair of X1’s & Traktor to keep everything in sync & on time for him these days!

    • djmikefunkdoctor

      Totally agreed. You should always have two systems but for me that just means two separate bits of hardware and two hard drives. As for CD? Forget it. I haven’t touched one since 2004.

  • tony corless

    I think alot of people have kind of been forced to go the software route,imagine this a few years back you used cdjs they were about £800 each,the venues you play either have cdjs or twin denons so its cds,pioneer bring out the 2000 and software starts to go big,you think you’re missing out,but wait! look at the price of the 2000s and not everywhere has them, add to this that because lots of djs bring their own laptop systems the club gear gets neglected.

    So you have 2 choices to avoid using cds you buy a pair of 2000s (not likely at that price) or you get traktor or serato in some cases as kind of a meet in the middle solution and/or hope that at your gigs from time to time you come across the cdj2000.However you now end up carrying a laptop and controller a few cds and a few memory sticks.My udg dj bag weighs nearly as much now as when I used to stick two cdj 1000s in it,Evolution eh

  • Last Resort

    Retail CDs are great for ripping: you can ensure you get bit-perfect, lossless audio (using EAC, dBpoweramp, or CDex); they often cost less (used on amazon, discogs, and eBay); you get a backup copy which you can store in a box.

    Burned CDs are utterly useless to me: their quality is much inferior to pressed disks; and I don’t see why I’d need them (every playback device I have is networked or has at least an USB port or audio input to hook up a portable player).

    And for DJing, CDs are just a PITA. (1.) Much worse performance that audio that’s available on hard disk or flash storage. (2.) Waaaay lower mean time between failures: CDs (this is especially true for burned CDs) are just not robust enough for rough DJ use. (3.) They’re indivisible unless you rip them. An FLAC or MP3 can be on all my computers and portable players. It even resides on my NAS so I can grab it over the internet in case I forgot to sync it to my gig laptop. (4.) It’s less work to organize CDs as they’re physical. But they’re bulky. Plus, if you put in the work for tagging and (smart) playlist creation, you can organize MP3s much better.

  • DJ STU-C

    anyone else in the situation of having to worry about pissed people around your expensive laptop?? thats the major advantage of cds in that respect (unless you take your own cdj’s to the gig with you)

    • Cutselekta

      CDs are so 80s and 90s…a thing of the past..mp3 and vinyl is the future

    • Jared Helfer

      Yeah, but I’d be just as concerned about those drunk asses around turntables. One wrong fall and everything goes to hell.

      Granted, it’s not AS big of a deal, it’s still a big deal.

  • The_KLH

    No matter the repercussions, I’ll say it: Media is a dying format. The growth is negative; more and more DJs ditch it every day. The present content king is the hard drive and/or flash drive… and it will thrive for the next 5 years until the internet connection becomes as ubiquitous and trustworthy as electricity.

    Once the “Internet of Things” occurs (in 5y or less), everyone’s library will just be in the cloud and accessible to/from anywhere. Computers are already being embedded within everything so loading tracks via internet connection isn’t that far off. As a bonus, companies will love to mine realtime data on what’s being played where… and will make music available for (nearly) free to get it.

    Notice that I didn’t say streaming. Streaming won’t be trusted as a mixing source for at least 10 more years. What I’m referring to is loading from the internet, which simply displaces the need for local media storage (i.e. hard drive or flash drive).

    Of course, we all assume that no one will create a DJing program to do what we normally do (phrase-match and sequence)… which I find hard to believe won’t be done. What’s stopping MixMeister? … But that’s another topic altogether…

  • schottky

    I left the power supply for my traktor audio 10 at a gig 2 weeks ago. As a result I’ve been mixing with cds again and I must say I’m really enjoying it. I find I’m being more spontaneous with my mixes and trying different things instead of staring at a waveform and looking for the correct moment to drop in a track. It just seems more fun at the moment, it’s refreshing to be free of my laptop.


    Unity fall apart the day a DJ played a CD for the first time in front of a crowd. At that moment, like opening Pandora’s box the Puppet Master took the mic and said “DJ’s have underestimated the consequences of computerization” :-). Digital music came out of its original design body and took new forms, going through the net and moving in the Cloud, a dark cloud that prevents anyone to take clear, simple long-term decision concerning the hardware and media to use. Later in a Guetta-open-air-kind-of-thing, the Puppet Master stopped the only CD on stage and said to the crowd “I am the business. You simple human beings will get lost, ruined or both if you try to take control over my physical form. You are giving me power and an interface because you need me”. I feel inspired today. So possibly CD will remain as a symbol of the primary popular form of digital music but might disappear with less grace and resistance than vinyl, as we can sometimes figure out today. I mostly play vinyls, sometimes CD. The Puppet master remains in a few brainless hard drives and BD-R until a proper interface and funds are found(…). As far as DJs can keep good hands on this thing, music, they will survive and will save others’ life 🙂 To be continued…

  • Jonathan

    When I DJ a special event like a wedding, I always burn 2 copies of the formality songs (grand entrance, first dance etc) I don’t want to fumble with the laptop trying to find the father/daughter dance in ableton/traktor/serato/itunes when I can have a fool-proof device independent of the computer – with fast response time. I use hard drives for most everything else, but I also keep a track at the ready on the cdj’s just in case the computer takes a crap – usually “livin’ on a prayer.” Mobile DJ’s need backup plans and parallel plans, because we can’t afford to fail on someone’s big day.

  • DJ Rob Ticho,Club mU

    To me, burning CDs before a gig was the biggest drag. I always needed two copies (two cds) of any new music and I found all my time was spent burning CDs rather than preparing my set. There was a lot I liked about having the physical media to DJ with but burning CDs is just too painful for the amount of new music I go through.

  • Art C

    I have been a Mobile DJ for over 20 years and started off with Vinyl, then to CD and now to Digital. I like the convenience to have my Mac on hand but I also like to use CD’s. It all depends on the venue and I primarily gig for weddings, I have to always be prepared. You don’t want to be caught in a situation where you have to depend 100% on a computer or digital media because accidents do happen and having your entire media on an external drive or computer can easily be affected by the elements. I have read articles where DJ’s like Skrillex accidentally spilled a drink on his Mac or when Tiesto was at a club and something went wrong with his controller. Go to YouTube and type DJ Fail and you will find times where Popular DJ’s run into situations that their software or controller went on the fritz. I don’t think CD’s will ever go away and just having the piece of mind that something will play if you don’t have your laptop. Just my two cents.

    • djflavor

      @ times i think of selling my pioneer MEP 7000 but when i think how versatile this player is,i’m holding on to it.I presently use it to control traktor (top only) then i also use it with thumb drives,cd’s & dvd music media.That said,i don’t think i could ever give up cds bc my software failed on me before while i had a pack floor & my cds save me along with my media drives plus it more work using cds,but its also more fun.Just my opinion.

  • Tommy

    From the perspective of carrying bags of cds and burning them each week before the gig and then regularly re-burning the stuff you really use and disregarding the stuff you never played – it’s quite obvious that cd’s take way to much effort to be used as a main dj medium for playing music. In a digital age, it’s quite easy to have your entire library of music with you and not have to worry about finding the track at the right moment. Instead you can really focus on selection and mixing, instead of not finding the right cd or even worse – having the cd skip adventure or cd not playing at all (happend to me many times). I find that digital dj-ing makes things easier, more comfortable and it’s also way more practical. Sure, computers can freeze or even die during the gig, but a mid-range consumer computer is quite enough for all the dj software out there. I don’t imagine carrying an extra cd player even for a backup, since i can have a ipod or even a phone hooked up to the mixer and use ut as a backup player. Just got a headache btw. when i realized how much money i spent for thousands of cd’s i bought during my cdj years:)

  • The Man

    CDs suck for DJs. I would much rather use digital files. I have gone through my share of CD DJ players, Denon, Numark, Gemini. They all break in a relatively short time. It’s just too much wear and tear on the lasers and moving parts with all the cueing and searching. Digital files are far more reliable and HQ MP3s at 320 sound just fine. Sure vinyl is the original way, but lugging records around is no fun. I will never go back to those old formats.

    • effim

      oke few points:
      1) you never tried a pioneer cdj, those are the ones with the quality – sadly also with it’s price.
      2) on a big PA you hear a difference between 320mp3 and WAV because a mp3 is still a massively compressed format.

      i don’t think it sucks to play with cd’s it’s actually quite fun and compared with most “sync”-pressers more “real”

    • Clay Ford

      I agree with you, but I HATE it when people complain about carrying ‘heavy’ vinyl. I can’t believe how lazy people are nowadays. Really, what does a full flightcase weigh? 40lbs maybe? God, people need to hit the gym if they have trouble carrying that.

      • DJ Shiva

        Some people actually have physical problems that prevent them from carrying a full case of wax.

        I have been DJing for 18 years, with vinyl for over half of that. I have a serious lower back condition that was more than likely made worse by years of carrying a flightcase. So I quite literally CANNOT carry a (by the way, more like 50-60lb) flightcase anymore, and I certainly cannot travel with one.

        • Clay Ford

          Well okay, that makes sense then. But there’s a lot of people that just complain out of laziness.

          • DJ Shiva

            LOL or maybe they see old f*cks like me hobbling around and think “DO NOT WANT.” 😉

  • Kevin Jones

    In my opinion Cd’s are Dead for Dj’s & these days “you dont need a laptop” to play your files, a 16gb stick is about £6-£8 & most CDJ’s play them, either Wav files or MP3. Thats a much cheaper,easier & faster way to transfer music from your PC/Mac. its Also alot lighter, I carry two with me just in case I lose it or the data goes corrupt, CD’s scratch, just like Vinyl. so its easier to carry a spare usb stick in your pocket. Job Done..

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  • Simon Kennedy

    I always take cd’s to a club as you never know what kind of cdj’s they have.

  • Its true. I tried to give my cd to a DJ to play at a club and he told me he uses Serato. He said email track to him to play for a later date.

  • Tim Bennett

    Haven’t used a CD in 7 years, but I never had the time invested in creating a large library. Soon after I started spinning I found VDJ and started using mp3’s on my HDD exclusively. But I did enjoy mixing with CD’s on my boss’s Denons.

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  • b

    I actually dont get the phrase : a lot of youngsters cant afford a shiny new laptop? But these days all the youngsters want pioneer players, do you really think they can afford that?
    Also for the price of two cdj 900’s or 2 2000’s you can buy a really hefty software set up with wich you can do the same or even more.
    They only benfit for me is, that i can leave my laptop at home..
    I am thinking real hard to buy cdj’s, but the price makes me crazy..i was hoping by now that one of the manufacturers (pioneer most, because those are standard and have rekordbox) had made a cdj player that only uses flashdrives of harddrives by now to lower the here is my problem : buy cdjs now for that hefty price or wait another year or so untill those players come…hmm i dunno

    • Clay Ford

      That’s the first thing I thought too. For the price of one CDJ, you could get a nice laptop and a controller. How is the cd medium more cost effective???

      • b

        @clay : i think you misunderstood me.. i came from vinyl then time code and am now controller based.
        However lately i am kinda missing the fun i had with vinyl and pulling wheels and pitchcontrols.
        And the ease of only bringing headphones and a usb stick is appealing.
        Hence thinking about cdjs.
        But i have never used cds and never will..
        So i dont really want to so much for a player that still has redundant functions that i aint gonna use. So i am hoping that pioneer will bring out a player that ditches its cd functions.
        But i am worried that this aint gonna happen soon.

        • Clay Ford

          Sorry if you thought that was based directly at you, but I have heard that comment SO many times from so many people it’s starting to drive me nuts lol. I get a little snappy when I hear it 🙁

          • b

            No offence taken..misread your post a little..had just woken up..but lets hope those players come soon

  • DJ_ForcedHand

    I’m totally not interested in CDs anymore. When I had a massive collection, the CDs got scratched, stolen, and put back in the wrong jackets. I think a lot of people today would rather buy the tracks they like versus a whole album for one or two songs. I feel that the next wave in audio purchases will come as multi-track recordings that won’t be mixed down to a master (stereo track), but instead will have all of the musical (by default) played back as the original artist intended, but still have all of the parts able to be manipulated by a DJ/Producer so they are able to do real-time manipulations including 3D sound movement. Whatever argument this article makes for CDs was probably in the same tone as the people fighting to keep cassette players the standard. The majority of youth and middle-aged use digital players… at least in their phones and on their computers. Let’s face facts, the CD is a dead medium.

  • Lee Shaw

    surely these days people would rather take a usb stick or use laptops/drives etc with digital files then have to burn sets to cd ? also looking through a cd wallet for the right cd then right track just doesn’t seem worth doing when you can search straight from a folder etc dont get me wrong id always consider having my set on cd and usb if i was going to a gig with cdj’s but i agree cd’s are generally on the way out.

  • William Gardner

    CDs are dead to me because they’re mostly redundant….either I’m going to have a mountain of music all meticulously sorted into folders on a tiny usb, hard drive or laptop, or if I want physical media with a more performance element I’m willing to lug wax. I think CD’s are sort of in the middle of two formats that already cater to each need successfully. I wouldn’t want to maintain a CD collection if its ultimately exactly the same thing as a USB – mp3s, wavs, or aiff, with much less convenience and usability.

    That being said I recently watched an interview with Seth Troxler, he was saying he has to learn CDs because it became to hard touring with vinyl…playing a set full of old acid house at Truow, then only having those records when he plays in the states to a crowd of teenagers wanting some tech house. I suppose CDs would be the best move here – all clubs around the world still have a pair of 2000s or similar, and having some CDs with you vinyl crates beats carrying around a controller to use a USB with.

  • Mike Graham

    CD’s sadly are dead to me. I don’t even use the CD slots on my players anymore. Either thumb drive them or midi them with Traktor. Digital format has taken over in my opinion

  • El Jefe

    i started DJing with a laptop and a controller. After two years i just switched to CDs. My simple argument was that at every gig, i need to carry my controller and a big heavy laptop (was preety got at his time) and I dont have a car or something to transport them. I saw that wherever i go they have CDJs, and i thought that its more confortable comming with some cd’s that the whole setup. I just swap my controller with two old CDJs (Gemini CDJ 203) and a cheap mixer (Behringer DJX 750). All these was second hand. I want them only to practice and lern mixing without a software at home and manage the CDs. It’s nice that you feel attached to your CD map, like a graffiti artist to his blackbook and a virgin girl to his diary. (Sorry for my english)

  • Ken white

    I do a whole party with. 4. DVDs full of music

  • sammy

    i Started djing off of an ipod moved on to cds, and usb drives. As a mobile dj its just easy to have a controller with all your music on your computer however if im mixing it up at home you better belive that im on those old cd players playing off of cds and thumb drives

  • MouseAT

    I like CDs as a medium for obtaining music. They’re often cheap, they’re lossless and they don’t take too long to rip. These are all good things.

    I hate them for playback though, whether casually at home or when I’m DJing. I’m interested in what artist and track I want to play next, not which disc it happens to be on. They’re a pain in the ass.

    Unfortunately, they’re still a necessity for some people, as digital gear still hasn’t fully standardized. For someone who predominantly plays at home or does mobile gigs and therefore has full control over their gear, there’s no problem – go digital all the way. For someone who has to work with whatever gear venues provide, it’s not that simple.

    One of the clubs I like to visit is still using rack mount Denon CD players. There’s no chance of hooking up a laptop and controller in their booth either, as the back of the mixer is enclosed in the rack. Their sister club just replaced their existing rack mount mixer with a Denon MC-6000 and a PC running Virtual DJ whilst keeping their existing Denon dual CD players. That’s great for those who only play in one of the club, but the DJs who swap between the two still need CDs. A friend of mine runs an occasional club night in Manchester, and what’s the spec for the venue he plays at? Two CDJ 1000s and a DJM-600. For DJs who need to accommodate the lowest possible common denominator, that (unfortunately) still means CDs.

    Even as CDs get phased out, there are still going to be issues. Every software package has their own track database. Pioneer’s Rekordbox is incompatible with Denon’s Engine. To fully displace CDs, we need to reach the point where Prepare and Play works for everyone, everywhere. We’re not at that point. Quite frankly, with the way manufacturers seem determined to segment the market, I’m not sure we’re ever going to reach that point. (Pioneer, I’m looking at you with your insistence on making Rekordbox Link a differentiating feature reserved for high end players).

  • Corey

    My humble opinion – you can’t beat a cd. Several reasons but i will
    start with the obvious. im one of the dj’s who “anally” organises
    their cd wallet, carefully labelling everything and keeping double copies. And when
    I’m in the mix, i know where my music is! Physically, i don’t need to know the
    track name, i don’t need to know who its by, because i know what cd it’s on. Of
    course most of the time i do know what track im looking for by name, but if you
    haven’t got that memory in your head you aint playing that tune. And standing
    there thinking wtf is that tune called and trying to look it up on serato is
    not fun nor does it look good.

    As mentioned in this article, i don’t want to be a laptop dj, looks terrible
    and does not show off your skills. And god forbid using a controller with a
    sync button.

    To be frank, all the big companies are out there to make a buck, so if they
    can convince some kid at home that loading mp3’s and hitting sync button on a
    controller is “djing” then they will both make and sell such
    products. No matter how detrimental that may be to the skill of actually
    mixings WITH YOUR EARS.

    I use record box and have cdj900s so i can use sticks, and i do, but only at
    home and those sticks have an exact copy of my cd wallet on them. But that’s
    still not the same as lap top djing. Call me a luddite if you like but i will
    always hold more respect for those who mix real media over laptops. I mean would you really show up to a gig if
    there was just some dude at the front sitting on his ass at a lappy with a lil
    wee girly controller? I think not.

    Final note – you can fuck right off with djing on an ipad or iphone.

    • Jav

      I like how you think. And how lazy have people become? Is it too much to carry a book of cds?

  • Drz Incorparated

    I went straight from vinyl to files on a computer and a controller, I have never used a cd player to dj on. and I am not a young kid I am over 50.

  • DJ Shiva

    CDs are a fantastic backup for when your digital setup goes all wibbly at a gig. I now carry several flash drives as well as several burned CDs of new tunes as backup. You can never have too many backups. I have learned this the hard way.

    • Traktor Tips

      I agree with you! CD’s are an amazing back up option and packing in a few cd’s in a wallet is the best form of back up you can get when playing at a club with CDJ’s. If you are gonna play somewhere that’s not too computer friendly, or there just isnt the right conditions for dicking around with setting up a computer set up – then being able to DJ using CD’s is a necessary way to go. It’s also a great format to use to teach people how to DJ from ear without looking at waves.

  • Eduardo Castillo

    My 2 cents….I, like Drz Incorparated, haver never used cds…I used to dj with vinyls back in the day, and now I use a controller…even with my IPAD!!…and cannot get over how easy is to search for tracks, match beats, effects on the fly, ….so for me it seems kind od dumb to not get with technology. Cds are nothing but digital music data, folks….so if you are not using real vinils (not seratto or time coded records)…then you are not “old school” mkay?
    to keep using cds just because is “old school” would be like saying…im gonna make my own sound effects hitting pot and pans, screaming and unzipping my coat real fast

  • Tony Mitchell

    CD’s shouldn’t go anywhere. Physical backups are always good. But lets be honest, they simply don’t hold enough music to back up a decent collection. 1000’s of CD’s can become cumbersome in my opinion. I’d use dual-sided DVD-R that holds about 10 times the data.

    And yes looking over at a laptop to select music is aesthetically the worst thing that has ever happened to Djaying. That’s why I’m looking into a XDJ-1000 like solution.

  • Tomas Noche

    I find it easier to pick out 3 or 4 cds in-between a mix, and have them lined up to play as oppose to searching for tracks on usb in-between each song. Your set will have a much better flow when you do so.

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  • Scoox

    CDs are bullshit. Sorry. Get over it.
    1) Storing data on a USB drive is much more eco-friendly than burning a truckload of CDs.
    2) CDs get dirty, scratched, stolen, misplaced, lost.
    3) CD players have moving parts, we all now solid-state media offer superior reliability.
    4) CDs require more planning and hinder experimentation.
    5) You still need a computer to burn CDs anyway.
    6) CDs are slow: read, write and seek times are a huge downside compared with thumb drives.
    7) CDs are heavy and bulky.
    8) Bringing CDs “as backup” is stupid: just bring an extra thumb drive.
    9) Google “CD sales by year” and you’ll know CDs are dead. The fact that Pioneer include a CD slot in their over-priced and over-glorified gear doesn’t mean DJs use CD. Once they decide to drop the CD slot their gear will suddenly become slimmer and cheaper, and DJs will get on with their lives as if nothing had happened.

    Vinyl should stay, being an analogue medium and for its tactility, but CDs should go, because all they do is hold 1s and 0s, and now we have much better ways of doing that, certainly better than a spinning piece of plastic…

    • Garrett Cox

      still bring the backup CDs for venues that only have CDJ1000s, but USB all the way.