Beer took us to the moon

Never underestimate where simply trying to make others happy can take you.

In the 16th Century, brewing beer in Germany in summer was illegal, due to the method of brewing used…nearly all beer in summer came out so bad they literally outlawed it.

Imagine going to jail for making terrible beer. I like this story already.  Read More

Headphone Jack Snapped In DJ Mixer

This article originally authored by Adam, and published online via his previous business Post-sale Soundpond’s new owners decided to do away with most of the existing online content comprising of near 500 articles, so some has been saved and republished here from historical backups.

Headphone jack snapped off in the mixer? Say the worst has happened, what do you do? Can you get that little bugger out without completely disassembling the mixer? What if it happens at a gig? I’ve got a ghettotech solution that works. Read More

History of the Pioneer CDJ (DJ CD Decks) & “Forgotten Child”, the DMP-555

This article originally authored by Adam, and published online via his previous business Post-sale Soundpond’s new owners decided to do away with most of the existing online content comprising of near 500 articles, so some has been saved and republished here from historical backups.

Love it or hate it, the Pioneer CDJ has become an icon of the modern DJ world.

While there are many (arguably better value) competitors, only one model range has become the “industry standard”.  A Pioneer CDJ is a staple piece of DJ’ing equipment at every nightclub, and you’ll often spot them even at the “vinyl purist” hold-out venues.  Oh they have their quirks, suicidal cue buttons, 2012 models that seem to weigh half as much as 2009’s, and fancy new ports who’s main function seems to be breaking more often.  When Mk2 of your flagship model tries to flog a “more robust LAN port” as a feature, when my 2002 laptop’s ethernet port (and that port has seen some shit) has never missed a beat, then you’ve got to raise a few eyebrows.  Let’s simply not mention the equally robust usb ports.

Quality control is one hotly discussed issue, but what’s not under debate is the CDJ made life easier worldwide for everybody, made mixing more accessible for a whole new generation, and made it easier for drunk chicks to do “that scratchy thing” without ruining a priceless record or expensive needle.  It’s also not argued that Pioneer were the ones who introduced a load of features, like touch sensitive platters, the ability to set dynamic loop points live, and more.  Nowadays a Pioneer CDJ is a bristling piece of high tech eye candy, flashing lights, gorgeous multi-colour displays, accepting not just the venerable (and practically retired) CD, but SD memory cards, USB keys, Ethernet and USB laptop links.  Hell, you can even network 4 of them together without an external computer, to create a borg-like, practically self aware collective of decks that all share information.  It’s now possible to DJ across 4 channels using a single USB key.  Or have music streaming to 4 decks using a single cord from your laptop.   Or go entirely wireless (yes, the latest flagship model let’s you DJ straight from your iPhone).

About this time “purists” start screaming about the death of “skill” needed to dj, but I think it’s a great thing.  Less time learning = more time performing, as a producer/dj…and let’s face it.  The easier CDJ’s (or digital controllers) make it look, the more respected vinyl DJ’s will become.  So, as far as we’re concerned, everyone’s winning.

The more experienced eyes should have noticed the odd one out in the Pioneer lineup, the DMP 555.  I’d heard of this deck in the past…although 95% of my DJ colleagues swore it was a fake…it was only revealed in an obscure “support” section of the Pioneer Japan site as being absolutely legit.  Imagine my shock when, years later, I spotted a real-world example hiding at my local Cash Converters in Adelaide.  This deck was so far ahead of it’s time that I reckon some back-to-the-future shit was going on when they came up with it.  The features it contained weren’t to make a reappearance in the CDJ lineup for another half decade, and some have never been repeated.  It was also the shortest-run DJ product Pioneer ever made, lasting only 1 year, 8 months.

I mean, for christs sake, waaaay back in 2002 this deck had SD card support,  a digital output, mp3 support, virtual scratch mode, usb laptop link, on-deck EQ’s, and seperate RCA out’s for the CD/SD players, oh, and it’s own DJ software.  All in 2002.  OH, AND it could play off the CD and SD card  at the same time, while automatically syncing the BPM.   Pioneer had working, real time, deck-link software with waveforms barely 2 years after Traktor was released, but why didn’t it take off?  We had to wait till 2009, 7 years for their next attempt with “Rekordbox” software…and frankly, that was shithouse. was the first broadcast station in Adelaide to buy CDJ 2000’s, and trying to convince an early-firmware CDJ2000 and Rekordbox to talk together was like trying to hold one in once the plane’s seatbelt light had come on for landing.  Buckle in and good luck son, we salute you.

Rekordbox, Pioneer’s proprietary music management and DJ software, has come a loooong way and nowadays holds it’s own as a music management suite…and frankly there’s something cute about theoretically being able to smash a festival stage set with zero notice, relying on only the USB on your keychain and the pair of scummy ipod headphones in your coat pocket…providing you find yourself A) Backstage when B) literally everyone other DJ at the event has died.

Well, let’s start at the start.  We look at the history of Pioneer CDJ’s and “First” features they introduced.  

1992 CDJ 300  – This little bastards is so hard to find information on it either doesn’t exist, was a fake, or it’s being given the “Bombs Away treatment (we all know it exists but we try not to talk about it at parties).  There’s no formal mention of it on Pioneer sites, the CDJ 500 I/II/S models getting all the love, but we’ve spotted enough photo’s of these to mention it.  Notably, while it includes a jog wheel and pitch fader, there’s no live cue or loop button.  These buggers were BIG, about the same size as a modern full-size CDJ 2000.  If it’s real it takes the crown as the first Pioneer DJ-orientated CD player, allegedly in production from 1992-4.

Now I don’t want to saaaaay that I’m better at research than 95% of the other Pioneer product history pages out there, but…I am.  I’m pretty confident this existed, it’s real, and it was “the” first.

1994 CDJ 500, 500II, and 500s – Worlds first master tempo, it’s widely claimed…except the 300 had it.  Whatever.  It was the first deck to have a live cue, then the first to have a live loop feature.  These were larger than they look in the photos, realise that the top circle is the CD player, (it lifted up to slot a cd inside) and you get some idea.  Later model’s shrunk the size down, and introduced “Oil-dampened floating suspension).  Shock absorbers for the CD drive that became industry standard in DJ players, as you can see in another of our tech articles here.

1998 CDJ 100s – 1st CDJ with built in FX.  The first truly “iconic” CD Player, hell, one of Adelaide’s top nightclubs rocked these well into the 2005/6 era.  Chances are high that if you’re a ~25 year old dj, you cut your teeth on these.  Vibration-proof, a large jog wheel and pitch fader, and three built in “effects”, it was solid, dependable, reliable, and easy to use.

2001 – CDJ-1000 – 1st touch sensitive platter.  These became an instant “club standard” CDJ mixer, being several times the size of a CDJ 100, looking for more professional, with a true “Vinyl Mode”, 3x hot cues, SD card support (for storing cue points and waveforms only, not music) and more.  It’s a little known fact that the jog wheel wasn’t just an on/off switch, it was (and still is on modern models) touch sensitive, you can “brake” the track by applying steadily more pressure untill it comes to a full stop.  Mk2 and 3 models introduced MP3 support, jog wheel weight adjust.  It also offered a basic waveform/track display, and a center visual jog wheel indication (mimicking a vinyl label/scratch tag).  ALL of these features remain in the current modern-day flagship CDJ, the 2000, 11 years later.

2002 – DMP 555 -FEATURES GALORE.  Now this was an interesting one, the deck that inspired this entire article.  Barely a year after launching the 1000 out comes this beast, able to play music off the SD card at the SAME TIME as the cdj!  It had seperate controls for tempo, volume, and cue for the SD card, and seperate outputs.  This was basically two-decks-in-on.  If that wasn’t good enough, it had mp3 support, a virtual scratch mode, digital outputs, and built in eq FX.  It was also the first deck that could link with computer-based-software to let you load your entire library, build cue’s and waveforms away from the deck, etc.   It could also automatically bpm-match the tracks!

Maybe it was just too much.  Too many features.  Too advanced.  Nobody picked it up, and it didn’t last even 2 years.  That said, Pioneers “small format” cdj lineup has retained the on-board effects, and basic linking capability, but dropped the “two decks in one” format.  Vinyl mode didn’t reappear in smaller players until 5 years later.   Now you can find it on the shelf at Cash Convertors for $150.  Most people don’t know it ever existed.


2002 – CDJ 800mk1  Launched as the “Budget” version of a CDJ 1000, the mk1 edition shared the loop, large jog (though a cheaper bearing), vinyl mode, and sensitivity adjustments, but lacked hot cues (instead gaining a loop section).  It also had a nifty “scratch return” feature that would automatically re-cue the deck every time you touched the jog in vinyl mode, allowing you to scratch that “YEAH” sample 4000x without the bother of knowing where the fuck the track actually was.  It also featured a 100% range pitch and a digital output.  Mk2 added mp3 support some time later.

2004 DVJ-x1 DVD player – First DVD video deck.  It had the ability to read video DVD’s, and output that video synced to the deck.  This meant that you could scratch video clips, and the video would remain “in time”.   It was supposed to lead a revolution in DJ’ing but it’s only now in 2012 that VDJ’s are starting to be considered vaguely more legitimate, as opposed to being nerds with way too much time on their hands.  After all, youtube didn’t exist yet, and video sharing wasn’t exactly widespread at this point.   Not many kids were buying 55″ flat screens on projectors for their gigs in 2004.  It’s newer brother, the DVJ-1000, launched in 2006 with hot cues, jog adjust, more video options and a better display.  It was essentially a MK2.

2005 – CDJ 200 – Full MP3 playback (including VBR).  Pretty straightforward, CD + MP3, built in fx, loop, pitch, etc etc.  No scratch mode, SD, or USB, but it looked pretty.  Great starter deck replacing the 100., oh and it glowed blue.  Extra “zomg dj” points.

2007 – CDJ 400 – First small touch sensitive wheel, first small-format vinyl mode.  Also had full MIDI support for controller mapping in 3rd party software, 3 scratch fx, and a loop halver.  At this point it was feeling like Pioneer were pretty much cruising on their market share and had taken their “imagination” department out back, shot them, and buried the bodies.  That said, they were keeping busy with the DJ mixer series, but thats coming in another article.  It should be noted that between the last few decks, various revisions had been released (like the CDJ 800 Mk2, 1000mk3, etc)…so gaps between “releases” aren’t quite as big as it may appear here.

2009 – CDJ 900 and 2000 Just when we were thinking Pioneer was getting “boring”, and as digital controllers were starting to ravenously crawl from the pit of “cheap plastic junkyard crap” from which they spawned, Pioneer hit us with a complete refresh of their large format CDJ line.  Adding huge, gorgeous displays, USB support, and on a new “link” port/feature, SD card support,  full midi mapping and more.  Shortly thereafter the 2000 “nexus” was released in 2012, adding an even higher resolution screen, sync buttons, etc.  Pretty much the only difference between a 900 and 2000 was a pretty screen and hot cues.  The 900 had a “slip” mode in vinyl which was handy.

2010 – CDJ 350 Not sitting on their asses, Pioneer kicked back into high gear with a refresh of the small format lineup.  The CDJ 350 was part of a matched system with the DJM 350, and added USB/Rekordbox linking, it retained vinyl and master tempo, with a loop cutter, but dropped onboard FX.  That said, it was also at a very good price point.

2010 CDJ – 850 – A refresh to the middle-child, the 850 pretty much added USB support and a nicer screen to the old CDJ 800.  Serves it’s purpose but wasn’t surprising.  Great entry-level option to a larger format if you didn’t need the link of the 900/2000.

That brings us up to modern times, with the CDJ2000. Format and functions have been much-of-a-muchness since this flagship, and as this is a “historical” article, we’ll leave it there.

This article originally authored by Adam, and published online via his previous business Post-sale Soundpond’s new owners decided to do away with most of the existing online content comprising of near 500 articles, so some has been saved and republished here from historical backups.