Right, we're sticking our neck out here. Vinyl is dead. Even if you're a DJ, those glorious analogue discs are starting to pale in comparison to CDs and other digital music. There will be people reading this who will tell you we're wrong, ignorant and just plain stupid. But hear us out: there are compelling reasons why we think 12-inch format music has had its day. The Pioneer CDJ-400 is just one of them.
There used to be a time when CD just didn't cut the mustard for DJs. If you were lucky, a CD deck would allow you to seek through the track and adjust the pitch to beat-match, but having the tactile response of vinyl just wasn't possible. That meant vinyl remained the preferred medium for club DJs the world over.
But vinyl is heavy and bulky, very fragile and easy to ruin if you have a little Red Bull accident. CDs, on the other hand, are resilient to energy drinks, much lighter and compact and can store a more diverse range of digital music, including MP3s. This makes them easily replaceable, too. So what are you waiting for? Throw the Technics SL1200s in the bin -- or post them to Ian Morris, 5-11 Lavington Street -- and grab yourself some CDJ-400s.
The CDJ-400 strengthens its case by almost totally removing the final advantages of vinyl, with its cunningly named 'vinyl mode'. This feature allows you to interact with the CD in exactly the same way as you would with a record. Touching the 'platter' will stop the disc. Moving it backwards and forwards will allow you to scratch, and queue the next track ready for that epic mix. There's even an outer ring, which allows you to push and pull the CD and decrease and increase the speed the track plays at.
But it doesn't just end there. The CDJ-400 will happily chew through your MP3 collection -- you can either dump a USB stick into the USB socket, or as an MP3 CD. But that's not all, you can even connect the 400 to a computer, via USB. This, in turn, allows you to control a MIDI-compliant piece of software, for example Traktor DJ studio. From there, you can access your entire MP3 library, and because all of the controls on the CDJ-400 are assignable, you can create a custom control file that suits your needs.
The CDJ-400 costs around £450, but let's be honest, you'll need two of them, plus a mixer. Pioneer sent us the DJM-400 to go with our pair, which is a very useful, simple mixer which should allow you to do the whole DJ thing pretty well. Even so, you're looking at more than £1,000 in total, but if you're desperate to DJ, this is a great setup. -Ian Morris