DJ. The term and meaning behind this two letter word has changed throughout the years, since it was first coined in 1935 by Walter Winchell. There are so many “types” of DJs out here; from the ones that spin music in their bedroom studios, to the ones you see performing (or headlining) at EDC or Burning Man. Being a DJ is more than being a ‘human jukebox’ machine, there is an art to it in terms of the connection you have to the dancefloor; and the people on it. For some people; a DJ is only as good as the equipment that they use (yeah, they do that sometimes), for others, its about the journey you want to take the crowd on through the music that you play. With that said, there is one brand that has solidified itself as the “industry club standard” when it comes to DJing; and can be found in 90% of nightclubs and lounges all around the world. That brand is Pioneer, and this review is on its flagship standalone system; the Pioneer XDJ-XZ.
So during the height of the pandemic, every place I wanted to go for entertainment was shut down. No nightclubs, no events, no anime conventions (which are my primary venues I go to), nada. It was the first time the world has ever experienced something like this in the last century; of course with no events open anywhere around town, this mean no DJs either. So what did they do if they couldn’t spin at their local club or lounge? They pretty much bought the party to them through Twitch, Mixcloud livestreams, and even Zoom Raves. I’ve been producing music for about 10+ years, so I thought it was time to take the next step and become a DJ. With all the overtime money I had from my job at Office Depot, I made a trip to Guitar Center and bought myself the Pioneer XDJ-XZ.
From first glance; its basically what happens if you took two CDJ 2000 Nexus 2’s, a DJM 900 mixer, and smashed them together. Its a standalone unit that pretty much gives you the “club standard” look you’d find at your local nightclub; with all the bells and whistles to boot. (Along with other extra features too.) I’m not ashamed to say that this is the first piece of pioneer gear I’ve ever owned, and if I’m being honest, I’d say that this is the best investment I’ve ever made. So why? Why do I think you should check this baby out? For one thing its standalone; meaning that you don’t have to hide your face behind a laptop, and if you wanna use all four channels, just grab yourself some CDJ 2000’s or XDJ 1000’s and go!
Okay, I’ll admit. I haven’t used every single feature on this unit, but the ones I have used would be the 16 touch-sensitive pads with the RGB lighting that looks cool when you boot it up. I’ve played around with the Color FX quite a bit, and the two that I use the most of when doing DJ transitions are “Sweep” and “Filter”. If you’ve seen or used a DJM 900 before, then this is pretty much identical to that. You’ve got two USB slots; so if you’re doing a B2B with another DJ, they can plug their USB into the other slot that’s vacant, that way you can handoff between songs and not have to worry about cutting the music off to do so. The jogwheels are CDJ-sized and look the part, so you will have a lot of fun spinnin’ those bad boys around. This system can operate on Serato or Rekordbox, so its good that it has support for both Serato and Rekordbox DJs (with me being the latter). Its even got Pro DJ Link, so you can link up those two CDJ’s and XDJ’s I’ve talked about earlier.
The XDJ-XZ gives you everything you’d expect to see in “club standard” gear, not to mention you can get this behemoth for the price of one CDJ 2000 Nexus (about $2500.00). I wouldn’t be surprised if I saw more nightclubs adapting the XZ-CDJ combo, since that would save them thousands more dollars than just a DJM 900 mixer and four CDJ’s. Sure, some DJ’s only issue with this beast is the fact that its too heavy, or that you can only use two tracks in standalone mode. For me, its perfect for what I want to do.
Do I think that they’re going to make a Mach 2 version of this bad boy, since the XDJ-RX3 came out? Probably. However I think that the XDJ-XZ is great for those who want to go to the next level of DJing, by having that “club standard” feel of real club gear. In terms of its firmware however, I’d stay on Version 1.22, because it has worked out for me for the last two years. If you got the money or have saved up enough, get the Pioneer XDJ-XZ and try it out for yourself! They got them in three different colors; original (black), gold (with gold jogwheels), and white (all white including the jogwheels).
Until next time, keep spinnin’! 😉