"At first glance the CDJ-350 is not quite as good looking as its big brothers: the CDJ-850, 900 and 2000. Make no mistake though, build quality is excellent and itís a solid enough unit, itís just that first impressions of the square(ish) recessed buttons and the slightly odd looking jog wheel are not immediately endearing. But donít be put off by the lack of flashy looks. Under the belly lies a little beast of a machine that functions very well in its simplicity and after an hour of taking the 350 through its paces even the aesthetics started to grow on me.
Currently it is the cheapest Multi player in the Pioneer range to offer full USB connectivity, plays all media formats, has a built in sound card and significantly, it works with Rekordbox, their excellent music management software. There are 3 different ways one can mix off a CDJ-350. ĎOld-skoolí audio CD format will display your track names if they are embedded on the disc, but you can also play MP3 discs although I have always found browsing through folders and folders of MP3ís on a disc a little clumsy on these small screen displays and this is no different on the 350. A smarter way of playing MP3ís (or Wavís digitally if youíre not an MP3 fan) is to use the USB Flash drive option ..." - Dave Mac
Despite it's updated appearance, the button function and layout is very similar to Pioneer's other models. If you've used a Pioneer CDJ before you'll feel right at home with this model. The play/pause, cue, and search controls are all there and serve the same function as they did in previous models. The biggest addition to this model, is the inclusion of a pitch selector with a 6% pitch range. This option that was missing on the CDJ-800 is not available to the 850, a much needed improvement.
Comparing the 850 to similar models, you'll see that the 850 is quite a step above the 800. Over the 800, the 850 features IN adjustments as well as OUT for creating loops. This is a major upgrade over the 800. Overall, the sound quality is much better as well. It has a warmer tone, and feels less digital than its predecessor. Compared to the 900, the next system up in line, I couldn't tell the difference in sound quality. I can't see anyone being disappointed with the sound coming from this unit.
Pro-series Design & Exacting Features – Inheriting the club standard layout and precise control features of its professional CDJ series, the CDJ-850As mentioned before, the layout is very similar to the past series. This is great if you've used a CDJ before, and if not, the controls are very easy to pick up 206mm Jog Dial - integrates a large 206mm jog dial for continuous free and easy control along with a rotary selector and browse buttons integrated within the display I really liked the dial on this unit. Compared the 800, hand movments give a much more natural sound, adding to the overall sound quality of your performance.
Compatible Media and Formats – Users can mix a variety of music formats and media, as the CDJ-850 is compatible with MP3, AAC, WAV and AIFF digital audio formats recorded on USB storage devices or CD-R/RW discs. Pretty Standard, I would be worried if this feature wasn't included.
Included rekordbox™ Software – Pioneer’s new exclusive DJ music management software makes it easy for home DJs to effortlessly organize their entire music library as it analyzes files (settings, creating playlists, saving histories) to their custom specifications. As used by professionals to optimize DJ play, the software enables users to:
1. Analyze data such as the Wave, Beat Grid, BPM, and ID3 Tag1 of music files
2. Create cues2 and loops settings
3. Create and edits playlists
4. Save history of music files played on the CDJ-850
The rekordbox software is actually pretty great. Integration with this unit is a breeze, and will surely be of use to most DJs.
USB Export Capability – DJs using the rekordbox software can easily export their music files and custom managed data onto a USB device and quickly plug in directly to the CDJ-850 and access tracks without the need to be linked to a PC. Play histories on the CDJ-850 are automatically recorded onto rekordbox via connected USB device for the DJ’s next session which makes the cycle of music file management, DJ play and preparation for future sessions very simple.
This feature is pretty nifty. Integration with Rekordbox lets you easily management your music and makes prep for shows very simple.
User Interface – The display and user interface of the player is designed for quick and fluid music selection. Combined with its rotary selector, navigation through music lists (title, artist, BPM, etc.) is extremely fast and easy. The WAVE display enables smooth DJ play because the user can visually analyze the flow and dynamics of the entire song.
Read above, the interface is intuitive and easy to use. I found it hard to find fault with it.
DJ Software Control and Audio Interface – The CDJ-850 multi-media player features MIDI, enabling control of various DJ softwares running on a laptop. With the use of the built-in USB HID interface, the CDJ-850 can also control more complex operations of DJ software without the need for a control disc. For additional versatility, the player can also be used as a PC audio interface.
The 850 is compatible with various DJ software. If you have a particular piece of software you're comfortable with, odds are you can use the CDJ-850 with it.
This list is fairly impressive; it adds a lot of upgrades over the CDJ-800. If your sitting with the 800 and looking to upgrade you won't be disappointed. However, the higher models including the CDJ-1000 have a lot of features missing on this list. The added convenience these higher end models add is going to be enticing to the professional DJ. If you have the money to go up a level then by all means take a look at the 1000 or 2000, but if you don't the features the CDJ-850 has is probably going to be more than sufficient, albeit the lack of some may be irritating.
The Bottom Line