VIDEO: The Evolution of the Pioneer CDJ

We’ve been covering DJ gear longer than most, but even we weren’t around for the birth of the ubiquitous Pioneer CDJ. I remember being sent a link by my brother-in-law to a video showing the first CDJ-1000 being scratched and having my mind blown. And in this video created by Pioneer to celebrate their 20 years in the DJ game, you can hear such legends as Roger Sanchez and Carl Cox expand on how the CDJ line impacted their DJ lives.

Two things interest me about this clip:

  • Jazzy Jeff is interviewed, but I can’t find a single picture or video of him with a CD, let alone a Pioneer CDJ-1000.
  • No mention of the near mythical CDJ-300. Allegedly coming out in 1992, it is mentioned here and there online, but seems to be official disavowed by Pioneer. I found a service manual on eBay, but if anyone would care to provide more info, I’d be most grateful.

Totally unrelated sidenote — in my research, I can across a CDJ300, which is a dovetail jig and precisely what I’ve been looking for to make a bookcase. Anyway…

pioneer cdj history timeline

Pioneer CDJ – the real game changer

The term game changer is routinely thrown about by over enthusiastic PR people to describe even the most infinitesimal of differences. But the CDJ truly was a true game changer. Nothing has been the same since the CDJ-1000 came out as the first true DJ capable unit. And even subsequent iterations have failed to have quite the same impact as the original. Given the very nature of being a game changer, that was always going to be a hard act to follow.

Pioneer CDJ Prototype

If this is part one then more are coming. DJM for definite… possibly DVJ even though video still isn’t really taking off. HDJ-1000 is worthy by virtue of just how many DJs used them and how many were faked too. I definitely enjoyed this one though. Who do I call about getting a CDJ blueprint framed for the Worxlab wall?

Finally, for an added hysterical dimension, you have to watch the video with Youtube auto captions on.

  • happydan

    I imagine the music is messing with the voice capture. Haha.

  • dj_eddie_gr

    I think that there was no CDJ-300. It was the original CDJ-500 (without loop function) and ,after a while the CDJ-500 Limited (with looping capabilities) came out. But I don’t know for sure…

  • Scott Frost

    Funny. I would have thought the denon 2000f was the game changer in the cd industry. Or even the 1000f

    • Professorbx

      Different animals. The 2000 was rackmount-if you worked with turntables and wanted tabletop it required a total workflow switch. The 2000 were game changers for mobiles and clubs that had limited booth space/not a whole lot of marquee DJ’s visiting, where they wanted a bomb proof solution that would require little in the way of maintenance and could be operated by bar staff or club DJ’s. The CDJ’s were the first turntable replacement that clubs really could offer, and fit very nicely in the same place as their existing installed turntables.

  • DJ Hombre

    Paul Oakenfold seems to have discovered the elixir of youth…looking like a schoolboy in his tracksuit top.

    In my dreams, Pioneer would release an updated equivalent version of the Technics SL DZ1200 with USB, DVS and iOS compatibility. I’ll keep wishing for that unlikely time though.

  • Dancin’ Mark

    Cool video. Very fascinating.

  • Yeah the captions are funny. “facial porn” indeed.

    I agree with the earlier comment by Scott Frost though about the “first DJ capable unit” not being the CDJ-1000. I think Numark got there first, followed by Denon. Even Pioneer had units out before the 1000 that were aimed at DJs.

    I also recall Paul Dakeyne demonstrating the Technics SL-P1200 at an early DMC Convention. OK quite laughable now, but at the time it was unique.

  • Jerr1233

    This whole video is bolloks…As others have stated, there were plenty of DJ oriented CD players on the market for years before the CDJ-500. This whole they weren’t user friendly is rubish. I never met anybody that couldn’t operate a Denon 2000. Now the CDJ-500 was a popular unit but it was in no way a game changer and they completely forgot to mention players like the CDJ-700. Now the CDJ-1000 was indeed a game changer due to the fact that you could scratch on it. That was the amazing part about it. Up to that point, nobody had come up with a great solution to scratching with CDs. Everything else the CDJ-1000 could do was already being done by other companies already. The same holds true with the CDJ-2000. The only thing new the CDJ-2000 brought to the market was the big screen. Everything else other companies had been doing for years. A always laughed at the “new species” tag line…Oh well this is just wat Pioneer does well…marketing and hype for overpriced mediocre products…

    • still have, and use an old CDJ-700s. F’in tank that thing is…

  • DeejayBishop

    I Agree with mark on jazzy jeff. i have yet to see him touch a cdj or numark ns7 lol.

  • mastahanksta

    Mark my words the CDs are going to be gone in the next 5 years.
    Thats why Apple doesn’t even put them in the new laptops.
    CDs SUCK!
    Laptops will be gone in the DJ industry as well.
    I have a iPad 128gig and it holds my entire library.
    djay by algoriddim has the best App/Software that integrates with certain controllers.
    And more and more controller companies are supporting the App.
    trust me iPads will dominate the future of the DJ industry.
    Masta Hanksta