The beginning. Now... what's next? Photo courtesy Pioneer.

The beginning. Now… what’s next? Photo courtesy Pioneer.

Pioneer DJ is celebrating its 20th anniversary with some looks back, starting with a celebrity-packed video that recalls the evolution – and impact – of the CDJ. The material is basic (yes, we kind of know what a CDJ is and how vinyl works), but it’s charming to see this star-studded roster take us back through time.

And it’s tough to overstate the CDJ’s role in modern DJ culture. I can’t count the number of CDJ sets I see, even in the age of laptops. (I can count the number of iPad sets I’ve seen – that’d be on one hand, and never in a big venue.)

That makes it odder to remember, in a way, the days when the CDJ was as foreign to some fans as laptops are today. It seems something has happened in the acceptance of technology. First, no tech is going away – even with those heavy crates of vinyl that cost you extra in luggage and get stolen, people still love DJing with vinyl. CDJ’s digital file capabilities haven’t stopped DJs from burning CDs. Laptops haven’t stopped DJs from playing CDJs.

Second, eventually, crowds start dancing and stop judging. Even the laptop, with its detractors, can find its way comfortably into a DJ booth.

That is, if anyone is needling you about what you use to DJ, just … well, be patient. I haven’t recently seen anyone booed off a stage for using a CDJ, to say the least; Traktor and its ilk are already nearly at 100% acceptance.

But there’s another likely subplot to this video.

Pioneer seems to be building up to something. With the emphasis on evolution, it seems unlikely that the turntable we saw at Musikmesse is the whole story. It might be part of some new digital control system. Or, like Moog’s Emerson modular and Korg’s MS-20, it might be a historical piece that comes alongside new tech. (Maybe a Technics-style re-release announced together with a new digital system? That is, I agree with DJ Tech Tools’ Dan White that something’s coming. But I don’t see any clues in this video as to what it could be – and I don’t think a turntable is the announcement they’re teasing.)

The rumor mill is relatively quiet, but I think something’s coming after the nexus. And regardless of what’s coming from Pioneer, you can bet this sort of tech evolution will continue, from someone.