Do I need Rekordbox to play music on CDJs?

Technically speaking, you don’t have to use Rekordbox to use USB drives on a CDJ, however … I wouldn’t rely on it to work.
You might run into some unexpected problems!

You see, CDJs are basically glorified “MP3” players that support a variety of file formats.
The CDJ analyzes the music file, but this slow and often not correct.

Also, don’t expect any DJ specific features to work, like:

  • Accurate tempo information
    And thus Master Tempo and Beat Sync won’t work properly
  • Accurate Beat grid
    And thus don’t expect a bar to start on the first beat
    And don’t expect Quantize to work
  • Accurate song key information
    Detection is often wrong/non-existent and not in Camelot notation
  • Fast loading of songs
    Analyzing can take a couple of seconds.
    Loaded the wrong track? loading in another one takes also a couple of seconds
  • Lack of artwork and other tag information
    Extra information like artist info, album info, album art, key, MyTags etc that you can register in Rekordbox lacks
  • Lack of Track Matching and Related Tracks
  • Lack of Hot Cues
    Unless you program them in during your gig
  • Lack of Cue Points
    Unless you program them in during your gig
  • Extensive support for file formats
    Rekordbox checks and converts files into a format that CDJs can use
  • No list of specs (like tempo and key info)
    Analyzing is done by track, not for a series of tracks.
    It’s not possible to see the tempo information or key for multiple tracks at the same time.
  • No organizing tracks in playlists
Unexpected problems that could have been prevented by preparing music with Rekordbox.
In this case: the CDJ refuses to play a standard .WAV file.

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