XDJ-RX2 vs CDJ-2000 NXS 2 review – XDJ good alternative?

In this article I’ll dive into the differences between the CDJ2000-NXS2 with DJM-900-NXS2 mixer and the standalone XDJ-RX2 dj controller.
Would something like the XDJ-RX2 be a great alternative to the CDJ 2000 practice at home?
Is a setup that “only” costs less than one CDJ 2000-NXS2 unit be worse, as good or maybe even better than a professional setup?
I have written this article from the perspective of a CDJ 2000-NXS 2 user that never used a standalone DJ controller before.

CDJ 2000 players have been the club standard for at least two decades.
Although there are competitors on the market like the Denon SC5000, they couldn’t beat Pioneers market leader position just yet.
But the CDJ 2000 players are pretty expensive machine to buy for a couple of practice sessions.

In order to DJ you need 2 players and a mixer, for example 2x CDJ 2000 NXS 2 and a DJM 900 NXS 2 mixer.
The XDJ-RX2 is a combination of two players and a 2 channel mixer in one device.
You can connect an external line or phono device via a analog cinch (red and white plugs) to use as an input for the mixer.
The XDJ still is a 2 channel mixer, so you need to “give up” one deck for the sake of your Vinyl record player or other line device.

My first impressions of the XDJ-RX2 are good.
I can find every major feature, although some of the positions of buttons have changed compared to the CDJ 2000 NXS 2, the hot cues are on the bottom of the machine instead of on the left side.
The menu feels familiar and also track loading from a USB device works like expected.
One of my biggest complaints with cheap controllers like the DDJ-RB and DDJ-SR is that loading tracks works quite opposite from the CDJ paradigm, you can’t press the scroll button to load.

Most cheap controllers/players hide a lot of functionality in computer software or the (touch screen) display.
The lack of fysical buttons makes these solutions not easy to DJ.
The XDJ luckily has fysical buttons for the all the important features, similar to the CDJ and DJM mixer.

The Beat Sync on the XDJ RX 2 works according to the same paradigm as the CDJ 2000 NXS 2.
You assign a master player so you can press “sync” on the slave player.
The XDJ RX has also a touch screen on which you can needle search in a track.

XDJ-RX2 display

You have only one display on the XDJ, compared to separate displays on each CDJ 2000 player.
Both tracks are displayed on the same screen.
A zoomed in version of the waveform on the top (horizontal).
A zoomed out version of the waveform and some details like BPM on the bottom (vertical).

I have two complaints.
The Jog wheels feel a little bit cheap for a machine that costs 1600 dollars.
Also the mini-jack connection to connect you headphone moves a little bit, which is prone to break in the future.
I have experience with the mini-jack connection on my DJM-900 NXS 2 was also the-same-kind-of-lose and broken within two months after purchase.
I imagine that this can be only worse on a cheaper machine.
In other words, don’t use the mini-jack connection, but the regular jack connection.
The rest of the machine feels solid and would be a good match for the CDJ twins with a mixer.

XDJ-RX2 Jog Wheel

You can connect the mixer or the XDJ directly to active speakers.
But I do “miss” the Vinyl speed ajust for startup (only break speed is implemented), I can’t say it’s a big feature to miss out on.

Missing CD player

There is one major downside if you still spin with those old school (prone to CD rot) shiny discs.
The XDJ does not have a CD player.
It only works with USB 2 drives and a poor imitation of Pro DJ Link (over USB).
More on that later.

Pro DJ link & Rekordbox

You are in bad luck if you want to connect lighting or pyrotechnics via Pro DJ link.
The XDJ RX 2 has no support for Pro DJ link.
There is however a feature to connect the controller to Rekordbox via USB 2.
Just like the CDJ 2000 NXS 2 via Pro DJ Link, you can drag and drop songs to user player decks on the XDJ RX 2.
The cue function to preview songs on your mixer is not present however on the XDJ.

Pro DJ link? not quite.

Hot cues, Beat jump, Slip loop, Beat loop

The CDJ 2000 NXS 2 has 4 hot cues (technically 8 but the implementation is so poorly that you only can use 4), the XDJ RX has 8 hotcues directly available.
That is two thumbs up!

Beat jump is implemented via the touch screen on the CDJ 2000 NXS 2.
Beat jump on the XDJ RX 2 is implemented with fysical buttons, which is much more convenient.

Hot cues, beat loop, slip loop and beat jump on the XDJ-RX2

Making 1 or 2 beat loops is done via loop shortener buttons on the CDJ, but you have fysical buttons on the XDJ, AMAZING!
Although I’m not a fan of switching between these “tab sheets” (hot cue – beat loop – slip loop – beat jump).
When you are in the beat loop section (the same goes for slip loop) you can freely choose between quarter, whole (2 or 4 beat) loops by pressing the designated button.
The CDJ does the same, but it works in a different way.

Recording your mixes

One super handy feature the DJM 900 NXS has not is recording capabilities.
You can record your mixes directly to a USB drive on the XDJ.
This makes sharing your mixes on mixcloud a whole lot easier.
Otherwise you need an external recording device, phone or laptop for that.

Effects

When I compare the effects between the DJM900 NXS 2 and the XDJ-RX2 I miss some effects on the XDJ, but nothing major.

Color effects on XDJ-RX2

The color FX

XDJ-RX2DJM-900 NXS 2
Dub EchoDub Echo
SweepSweep
NoiseNoise
FilterFilter
Crush
Space

The Beat FX:

XDJ-RX2DJM-900 NXS 2
DelayDelay
EchoEcho
SpiralSpiral
ReverbReverb
TransTrans
FlangerFlanger
PitchPitch
RollRoll
Ping Pong
Phaser
Slip roll
Vinyl brake
Helix

Conclusion

Almost feature you need on the CDJ 2000 NXS 2 is also present on the XDJ-RX2.
The only thing I really miss is the track preview feature when connecting to Rekordbox.

The XDJ-RX2 has slightly more functionality than the CDJ 2000 NXS 2 with a DJM 900 NXS 2 mixer in some regards.
Therefore I say, yes the XDJ is a viable alternative and maybe even better than the CDJ 2000 NXS 2 and mixer.
The price difference between the XDJ controller and a CDJ 2000 NXS 2 set is big with roughly the same functionality.
You will get little to no extra by paying three times as much.

If you want to know all the ins and outs of the CDJ 2000 NXS 2, you can download my CDJ 2000 NXS 2 video course.