The first impression when taking the player out of the box was “wow that’s a sleek looking little player”. It is a nice compact size, and does not weigh too much (only about 7lb), but at the same time it doesn’t feel cheap or flimsy. Most of the chassis is a solid plastic, which has a nice feel.
Once you power the player up, one of the first things you will notice is the in-slot lights up in a bright blue. This is a useful feature which obviously is there to make the slot easy to find while in a dark room, but it also gives off enough light to read what is written on your cd as you hold it near the slot.
Once you load the cd, the player will come to life, the loop buttons illuminating in orange and a ring around the jog wheel in blue. The light in the slot goes out at the same time.
The cue and play buttons are nice and large, which makes them easy to use. They seem to be fairly solid as well, as I hit mine pretty hard and they have not broken yet. However, I think the LEDs on the buttons (orange for cue, green for play) could have been larger/brighter. It would have been nice if Pioneer had illuminated the edge of the button, as with the CDJ1000.
Unlike some CD Players I have come across, the buttons are all nice and ‘hard’ and do not require great force to operate. A nice gentle tap with the finger will engage each function, where I have found some other players with softer rubber like buttons do not have as nice a feel.
The Pitch Slider
Probably one of the best things about this unit. Although you have the option of 6%, 10%, 16%, I tend to only make use of the 6% function and take advantage of the unit’s 0.02% pitch resolution. The pitch slider itself responds very well to movements, although sometimes (it seems to depend on the track), it can take some teasing to achieve and increase or decrease of 0.02%. This is the only issue I have had the the pitch slider, and it is not one that hinders the general performance of the unit. Overall, the slider is very reliable.
Due to the compact size of the unit, the display is not very big. It can show time elapsed, time remaining and CD Text for the media you are playing. Due to its size, the display can only show eight characters at once, so most track/artist names scroll from left to right. There is also a LED meter that goes from empty to full to indicate time remaining, which flashes brightly when a track enters its last 30 seconds.
As with everything on this unit, the display is simple and easy to understand.
The Jog Wheel
This seems to be the most ‘controversial’ aspect of this unit. It does seem odd, that Pioneer, who have had good jogs wheels on the CDJ100, CDJ800 and CDJ1000 could not achieve a similar result with the CDJ200. However, the jog wheel does have a slightly loose feel at times. I find that I have to push the side of the wheel rather than the top, as the top of the jog wheel has a rather odd almost slippery feel to it.
Having said this, the jog wheel has not affected my ability to mix despite all of this. Although the jog wheel is not perfect, I have found it to do its job adequately.
The jog wheel can also be used to search frame by frame when cueing (when you have paused the player) which is a very good feature.
I do not make much use of the effects myself. The “Jet” effect is probably my favourite of them, but can seem a bit sharp on the music if used at the wrong time. The “Zip” is a cool effect too, but I am yet to find a use for it in my mixing (perhaps I will try harder). I do not like the “Wah” at all, as it is a very harsh sounding effect, however this probably has a lot to do with the tracks I play and how it works with them.
All in all, I think the effects are a minor aspect of this unit, and it would probably not be any worse off without them.
The Back Panel
A cool thing about this player is that it has a headphone output on the back panel, which means you can use the unit simply as a CD player without a mixer as well. The headphone output has it’s own volume control.
The player also has a digital output for those of you who have the hardware to utilize it.
- Plays MP3’s from audio disks – CD text and MP3 data display
- Master Tempo +/- 16%
- 3 built in jog wheel controlled effects; Jet-Zip-Wah
- Auto Beat Loop, also know as emergency loop – hot looping and loop cutting capability
- Equipped with a Head Phone Jack w/volume control for private listening