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Pioneer CDJ-400 Digital Deck - Pioneer CDJ-400
The main display, although relatively small in size, is clear and bright making all the essential data easily readable. Needless to say, the CDJ-400 will display CD TEXT or any ID3 tags that are present, as well any playlists you may have stored on your iPod. Navigation through files and folders couldn't be simpler using the clickable rotary dial, and the Back button returns you to the next higher level in the folder hierarchy. Pressing the Text Mode button toggles between album, artist and track name, along with bit rate for MP3s. As well as the standard BPM counter, a horizontal bar graph provides a visual indication of the playback position within the current track, which also flashes when the track is about to finish.
Sitting prominently below the display is the effects unit, which includes JET, WAH and ROLL effects in CDJ Mode, as well as BUBBLE, TRANS and WAH scratch effects in VINYL mode. Rather than describe what these effects actually sound like, check out the CDJ-400 demo by Pioneer's Rik Parkinson. However, my personal view on these effects is to use them extremely sparingly in a live situation; otherwise they can quickly become tiresome and irritating.
The Pioneer CDJ-400 is an easy-to-use DJ CD player, providing comprehensive support for MP3 playback via both USB media and CD-ROM. There are cheaper MP3 CD decks out there, but none at this price range currently offer MIDI support. It might be too plasticky for some and it's a shame a free copy (or a ‘Lite' version) of Pioneer's DJS mixing software isn't included in the price, but the added bonus of vinyl emulation and the built-in effects unit help make the CDJ-400 a great mid-range buy.