DDJ vs CDJ vs XDJ: The Ultimate Guide


DDJ vs CDJ vs XDJ: The Ultimate Guide

With their cutting-edge technology and innovative design, Pioneer DJ equipment is the go-to choice for DJs around the world.

But with so much Pioneer gear on the market, you may have found yourself Googling the differences between the various devices, only to find answers that don’t really make it easy to understand!

At Crossfader, we are all about breaking down the technical stuff and helping DJs get to the top of their game, so we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to take out the guesswork.

Here we will dive deep into the features, functionalities, and strengths of each Pioneer device category, with expert recommendations to help you choose the perfect DJ setup for your needs.

So let’s get started and unravel the world of Pioneer DDJs, CDJs, and XDJs!

Article Guide

  1. DDJ: Equipment to Suit Any DJ
  2. Best DDJ for beginner DJs
  3. Best DDJ for open-format DJs
  4. Best DDJ for pro club DJs
  5. CDJ: Pioneer’s Club Legacy
  6. Best low-cost CDJ
  7. The previous generation flagship CDJ
  8. The current generation flagship CDJ
  9. XDJ: Full DJ rig in a single package
  10. Best low-cost XDJ all-in-one
  11. Best 2-channel XDJ for club DJs
  12. Best flagship XDJ all-in-one
  13. OPUS-QUAD and AlphaTheta all-in-ones
  14. Choosing between DDJ, CDJ, and XDJ

DDJ: Equipment to suit any DJ

First, let’s explore the most popular category of Pioneer DJ devices, known as controllers.

DDJ is the name of Pioneer’s family of controllers

This range is their most popular, with devices for total beginners, right through to professionals. 

Looking at Pioneer’s catalogue of controllers, you’ll find cheaper entry-level choices, plenty of mid-tier stuff, and the market’s most expensive professional club and niche offerings. There’s something for everyone with the DDJ range!

All DDJ controllers plug into a computer running either Rekordbox or Serato DJ performance software, so cannot be used on their own for standalone playback as with CDJs and XDJs.

Feature for feature, though, DDJ equipment is by far the cheapest of all the categories, which explains the range’s popularity.

Which DJs use DDJ controllers?

Controllers are best suited to beginners as they offer a low-cost entry to DJing. 

Professional DJs do use them too, often as a secondary device as they are easy to travel with, offering a level of convenience not possible with other professional kit. 

DDJ controllers can be a great fit for most DJs with a wide range of devices that cater to almost all possible needs.

They’re super convenient as they’re typically very compact and light.

They pack everything you need into a neat, affordable package. Just add speakers, headphones, and a computer full of music!

DDJ key features:

  • Lightweight, easy to travel with.
  • Relatively inexpensive.
  • Features evolve with Rekordbox updates.
  • Custom-built devices are available for open format and club DJs.

What are the best DDJ devices?

There are many DDJ devices available, so we’ve carefully picked three that offer the best overall DDJ experience. The ultra-popular DDJ-FLX4, the mid-tier open-format champ, DDJ-REV5, and the current club flagship, DDJ-FLX10 

Best DDJ for beginner DJs


The insanely popular FLX4 is an incredibly versatile and feature-rich device and is, to date, Pioneer’s best-selling controller ever!

It is a brilliant all-rounder for getting started, costing under £300 and can be used with either Rekordbox or Serato, so there’s no need to commit to one way of working as a beginner. You can try both. 

Check out the FLX4 in action below as Jamie demonstrates its capabilities in our performance video!

If you want to learn to master the awesome FLX4, our industry-certified courses will take you through absolutely everything you need to know, from complete beginner to professional. 

Follow the link here to find out more and get 20% off when purchasing both courses!

Best DDJ for open-format DJs

For those interested in open format mixing with traditional turntables, the REV line of DDJs has been made just for you!

They emulate two decks turned to battle position with a battle-style mixer wedged between them. 


The REV7 is arguably the best open-format controller going. 

It breaks new ground with its motorised jogs, which retain in-jog displays, plus it has a killer DJM-S7-style professional battle mixer in the middle, complete with Pioneer’s awesome built-in effects!

This is a killer piece of kit for top-level professional open-format DJs, or those who want their controller to make a real statement, as it also looks very impressive.


In 2023, Pioneer launched the REV5, a budget-friendly version of REV7.

It’s basically the same but without motorised platters or built-in hardware effects. And costs nearly half the price at around £980! 

REV5 is a fantastic mid-tier controller custom-built for turntablists and scratch DJs.

Despite its lack of high torque motors and built-in Pioneer effects, it is perfectly balanced for scratching and open-format mixing with its super-capable battle mixer and static jogs, which are the best in the business!

If you’ve got a REV controller or want to level up your skills as a scratch DJ, check out our fully comprehensive Open Format Course. 

Curated and broken down step-by-step by DMC champion DJ Blakey, you can learn the skills he used to put together his award-winning routines and get yourself fully battle DJ-ready! 

The course is suitable for both beginners and professionals, and as with all Crossfader courses, DJs can learn in their own time and at their own pace.

Best DDJ for pro club DJs


The club-style FLX10 is Pioneer’s current flagship controller.

For under £1,500, this device can do it all! 

It supports Rekordbox and Serato, has fantastic control of new stems technology, and emulates the layout of Pioneer’s CDJs and DJM mixer, so users can easily switch to a club-standard rig.

It works incredibly well with Serato, which is great news as the previous flagship model, the DDJ-1000, had a separate SRT version launched exclusively for Serato.

CDJ: Pioneer’s Club Legacy

CDJs made Pioneer famous! These devices have dominated club booths since the early 00s and show no signs of leaving anytime soon.

They are standalone media players that originally played music from CDs and later went on to play music from USB sticks and SD cards. 

Now they can also stream directly from Beatport, Beatsource and Dropbox, with more partners potentially on the horizon.

The CDJ has set the precedent for how all digital standalone club decks look and work to this day. 

With their iconic jog wheels, PLAY and CUE buttons, plus all the looping, tempo, sync, and track browsing controls, they are a modern design classic! 

CDJ key features:

  • Plugs into virtually any modular DJ equipment set up with ease. 
  • Club standard design. 
  • A comfortable and familiar choice for all professional DJs. 
  • Provide the highest sound quality of all Pioneer kit.
  • Built to last!

Which DJs use CDJs?

CDJs are tailor-made for professional DJs and are mainly used by professionals. 

They are found in virtually every club booth, late-night bar, festival stage and professional music venue in the world and are what most beginners aspire to DJ with. 

They have stood the test of time as reliable equipment that can survive in even the most unforgiving of environments. 

Plus, they integrate well into virtually any setup and are supported by every mainstream DJ application, providing a welcome level of familiarity for DJs working in multiple venues all over the world.

As Pioneer’s flagship players, CDJs are some of their most expensive kit, with the current top-dog, CDJ-3000 coming in north of £2,000 for a single deck.

What are the best CDJs? 

Officially, CDJ-3000 is the only player available but plenty of retailers still have backstock of two other key members of the CDJ family: The previous flagship, CDJ-2000 NXS2, and the most budget-friendly option, CDJ-850.

Best low-cost CDJ


The 850 is the most basic CDJ model available today, designed by Pioneer to give home DJs a full club feel without the need to shell out on flagship gear. 

However, the 850 is missing some of the luxury features found on the top-tier CDJs, such as a colour touch screen and tension adjustment for the jog wheels. 

At under £900 per deck, they are the cheapest CDJs to play music from a USB stick whilst retaining a full-sized jog wheel and tempo adjustment slider.

These decks are often used as cost-effective third and fourth decks by DJs using two flagship players as their main decks.

The concept of cheaper standalone players has disappeared in recent years, however, with the introduction of the XDJ all-in-one units.

The 850 is, therefore likely to be the last ever budget-friendly CDJ from Pioneer.

The previous generation flagship CDJ 

CDJ-2000 NXS2

For DJs not wanting to drop multiple thousands per deck on a more advanced unit, the previous flagship is still widely available.

However, it does have some drawbacks compared to the next-generation flagship.

The screen is smaller at 7”, so is more cramped with information, plus it doesn’t display waveform data from a synced deck to visually help with cueing up tracks. 

The UI is a little more clunky, and the track loading time is noticeably longer. 

It is, however, the last flagship CDJ to actually play CDs for any DJs who are interested in doing so.

The current generation flagship CDJ 


The CDJ-3000 is the current gold standard in the DJ world. 

It will load tracks at lightning speed compared to older CDJ models, show a giant waveform as a visual aid for mixing and even display the waveform of other nearby 3000 decks to help with cueing and mixing multiple decks together, so you can DJ without needing to glance at several screens!

CDJ-3000 is also the first to natively support streaming music directly into the deck from specialist online music vendors, Beatport and Beatsource.

Plus, it has the best sound quality of all Pioneer equipment to date!

The advantage CDJ decks have over XDJ all-in-ones is that they can integrate effortlessly into any DJ set-up. 

Watch Danny blend the finest minimal techno using the CDJ-3000s teamed with the DJ-900NXS2!

CDJs will play an important part in the DJ landscape for many years to come, having been a staple of the club booth for decades. That’s why we’ve dedicated an entire masterclass to them! 

Learn your way around this essential club kit and gain the confidence you need to deliver killer sets in any professional DJ booth. 

XDJ: Full DJ rig in a single package

XDJ is Pioneer’s newest range and has become increasingly popular in recent years. They are all-in-one DJ devices.

All-in-one units comprise two deck units with a club-style mixer in the middle

Very similar to DDJ controllers but with a killer difference: No computer is required to play music, they can play directly from a USB stick, and display audio waveforms and playlists on a large built-in central screen

They offer DJs a comprehensive rig in one package, making them great for home studios or for gigging mobile DJs.

XDJ all-in-one key features

  • Everything you need to get in the mix is in one unit, just add music and speakers.
  • No need for a laptop means less gear to carry in your DJ rider.
  • Most XDJs accommodate external decks, so you can use their mixers standalone should you need to.

Which DJs use XDJs?

XDJ all-in-ones, are great for budget-conscious or space-restricted intermediate and professional DJs who want to take advantage of Pioneer’s rich feature set without needing to buy loads of kit. 

Everything needed is in one convenient package. 

The all-in-ones represent what is arguably the best value for money in the Pioneer DJ ecosystem.

In a lot of smaller venues, they have now proven their worth as a decent alternative to costly CDJ rigs, including CDJs, and continue to be the preference of professional mobile DJs who find them easy to transport and set up.

What are the best XDJ devices?

There are three standout devices in the XDJ range, all holding down a different part of the DJ market. 

The basic low-cost XDJ-RR, the insanely popular all-rounder XDJ-RX3, and the formidable flagship XDJ-XZ.

Best low-cost XDJ all-in-one


The RR is the cheapest all-in-one, coming in at around the £1,000 mark. It has everything needed to get in the mix but not much more. 

Great for beginners or DJs who just want to put together decent mixes with little in the way of extras such as effects.

The 7” central HD screen is big enough to display track waveforms and music libraries but  is smaller than those found on newer models. 

The decks feature capable jog wheels, and though the adjustment sliders are not full-size as on all of the other XDJs, they are enough for manual beat matching.

They also feature basic transport and looping controls with only 4 performance pads per deck

This all-in-one gives DJs all they need to create killer sets with nice transitions. But some DJs may find its scarce number of beat effects a little limiting

The mixer in the middle is also limited, having several drawbacks over the RX3 and XZ.

Whilst it does include a full-kill three-band EQ, it has a limited number of effects and lacks parameter controls.

Surprisingly, the beat effects are toggled with a non-traditional switch rather than a rotary encoder pot as on every other piece of Pioneer DJ kit

This means the workflow for applying effects is not consistent with all other Pioneer gear.

This XDJ is best suited to either beginner DJs wanting an all-in-one unit without the need for a laptop and those who are happy with a few simple effects and features.

Best 2-channel XDJ for club DJs


For an extra £650, you can get a much more enhanced version of the RR.

The club standard RX3 is chock-a-bloc with features and has rich capabilities and an amazing screen! 

This is a great device for club DJs who want the convenience of a portable all-in-one.

The 10.1” central touch screen looks great and handles a lot of additional functions, such as tuning into an X-Y pad for the beat effects, of which there are plenty!

The jog wheels have tension adjustment to suit any style, and their central screens are used for displaying crucial track data such as key and BPM, as well as the playing track’s playhead position

All of which are absent on the RR due to its lack of jog wheel screens.

As far as two-channel all-in-ones go, there’s not much that can rival the RX3!

Best flagship XDJ all-in-one


For professionals wanting a monster all-in-one with a full-sized four-channel club mixer replicating the awesome DJM-900NSX2, XZ is Pioneer’s top dog XDJ!

It boasts more functionality than a pair of CDJ-2000 NXS2s teamed with a DJM-900 NXS2 mixer at only a third of the price tag! 

That means all of the technology of the previous generation flagship club gear, at a fraction of the cost! 

It includes two fully playable decks and has two spare channels for external devices or decks to plug in, so its flexibility is second to none!

It also has the best sound quality of the XDJs. 

Including all the same audio components as found in the DJM-900 NXS2, this is a pro device, often found in late-night bars and at outdoor music venues.

However, it is large and relatively heavy, so is not the easiest to travel with for mobile DJs. This makes it a great choice for touring with bands or musicians rather than for mobile DJs who need a more lightweight option to travel with. 

XZ is also the only XDJ to offer Pro DJ Link, an awesome feature allowing Pioneer equipment to share media, so the XZ and connected CDJs can all share music from one USB drive!

OPUS-QUAD and AlphaTheta all-in-ones

Alongside XDJs are a range of super premium all-in-ones from Pioneer’s parent company, AlphaTheta

These devices are a continuation of the XDJ family, as they operate in exactly the same way. 


2023 is the year AlphaTheta changed the all-in-one game and launched the super luxury OPUS-QUAD, a four-channel unit, capable of playing four decks in standalone mode. Pioneer’s first and, currently, only device to do so! 

OPUS has a sleek, unique aesthetic. Despite its minimal design, it packs a real punch when it comes to features! This is all thanks to its generous 10” display, which performs multiple functions, including becoming a full-screen XY pad for use with the beat effects!


AlphaTheta then went on to launch OMNIS-DUO, a two-channel, battery-powered all-in-one boasting world-exclusive connectivity features, alongside its launch partner, the groundbreaking WAVE-EIGHT low-latency wireless speaker.

OMNIS is another slick unit with some exciting experimental features, such as full deck control over Bluetooth-streamed music.

The AlphaTheta range of products are considered luxury devices and use premium materials throughout, costing the most of any DJ equipment on the market

Watch DJ Lawrence put OPUS-QUAD through its paces in our performance video below:

Our dedicated beginner and intermediate XDJ courses will get you DJing confidently on any Pioneer all-in-one, including the OPUS-QUAD and OMNIS-DUO. You’ll learn how to master CDJ/DJM mixers, ready to DJ in any professional enviroment. 

Much like the CDJ Masterclass, this is a fantastic course for those wanting to get club-ready or professionals wanting to level up their skills and improve their creativity.

Choosing between DDJ, CDJ, and XDJ

When choosing the right device for your needs, it’s important to consider where you are on your DJ journey and how much equipment you want in your setup. Ultimately, though, each category has a pretty clear main target audience.


If you enjoy DJing from your laptop, the DDJ line is the choice for you.

These controllers are made for club and open-format styles of mixing with something for all skill levels and budgets.

They are also the lightest, most portable equipment, so are perfect for mobile DJs and for for DJing in any location. 


If you like DDJ controllers but prefer to DJ without a laptop, an XDJ all-in-one is a better choice. 

They’re very similar to DDJs in terms of size and form but are all geared towards club-style DJing with no options for open-format style mixing. 

Overall, DDJs are a better choice for complete beginners as XDJs are generally all targeted at club DJs, with a starting cost of over £1,000.

XDJs do offer the highest level of convenience of all Pioneer kit,  so are great for intermediate and professionals who want a minimal set-up.


For DJs who want to tailor their rig exactly the way that they like, CDJs are the right choice as they integrate into virtually any setup. 

Whether you want two, three, four or even six decks, your setup can expand or shrink over time.

Many professional DJs work with CDJs in this way, with some even adding turntables and samplers for even more ways to play their music! 

CDJs are the go-to deck for professional venues worldwide. So it’s important for DJs aspiring to work professionally to get to grips with them.

DJ on any Pioneer gear with confidence!

If you’re a beginner DJ wanting to go pro or are looking to elevate your DJ career, our Complete DJ Package can help you achieve your goals with rapid results!

This includes access to all our industry-certified courses and content with no costly subscription and the flexibility to learn at your own pace, with direct support from the Crossfader team.

The package also comes with a full money-back guarantee so you can work towards your DJ dreams with complete confidence!


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