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[SOLVED] CDJ 850 wave display. Major issues when playing CDs

On the CDJ-850, there are a number of problems with the waveform display when playing CDs:

1) When you play a CD track, the waveform rarely builds. When it does attempt to build, the following problems also occur

2) Sometimes it just builds a solid bar (as if the track is peaking the whole time). This renders the waveform display as useful as the progress bar underneath.

3) It often only builds in real time (this is ENTIRELY USELESS, as I can HEAR what has happened in the past in the past, the waveform is to give an idea of what will happen in the FUTURE)

4) On occasions when it does scan ahead, it stops halfway through, and then does not proceed

Before you tell me, I know that if I analyse the tracks first using the Recordbox software the wave display is more reliable (usually, not always). However, for the working DJ this is not always practical. If I'm given a new track on CD, I don't always have the time/will to copy it onto my computer and pump it through Recordbox. If I want to use software, I can use Traktor. Sometimes you just want to turn up to the venue with your latest racks and play them. When you see CDJ-850s at the venue it makes you shudder.

This is an issue that needs resolving immediately. The bulk of DJs/clubs/bars who buy this product will do so with a view to playing CDs, if not all of the time, at least some of the time. Otherwise they would purchase Traktor/Serato + controllers. The wave display is one of the key features for this purpose, and one of the reasons why upgraded from my CDJ-800 Mk2s (a decision I will regret if this issue is not resolved).

I am using the latest version of the firmware (1.06).

Simon Collie

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@Simon > What audio format are you using? Is it a compressed or uncompressed format?

Compressed formats (e.g. MP3) need to be 'uncompressed' (such as WAV) by the player. This can take time and is why we advocate the use of Rekordbox or, in your case, burning in an uncompressed format. The CDJ1000MK3 worked in the same way as your 850.

If it builds as just a solid bar I wonder about the quality of the track and the burning method you are using.

In your burning program of choice, ensure you choose the CD-Audio selection over the Data CD or MP3 CD option. 

Gavin 0 votos
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@Simon > The CDJ850 will ALWAYS build a waveform ... if you let it play.  If you scan forward in the track, it will stop building the waveform because the player is only capable of building the waveforms in realtime.

If the waveform looks like a solid bar either the track has poor dynamics or has been horribly mastered (no discernible changes in audio levels throughout the track), or the audio levels are simply too high / too low for there to be measurable differences.

A waveform stopping the build will likely be as a result of you touching the player to move the playback forward; moving backward will always result in the continuation of the waveform build (in all of my testing here it did).

One of the tricks you can do is to pop in your USB drive then let the CDJ build the waveform by putting the pitch to 100% and disabling the autocue.  It will read each track and save the waveform, which you can then use in a CDJ850, 900 or 2000 without needing to re-build the waveform (although the 2000 will rebuild it to an "advanced view").  After you've played the track ONCE, it's stored to that USB drive.  If you're lucky enough to play on a 900 or 2000, that info is shared across the link - otherwise what you could do is run all your analysis on one CDJ850 to one USB drive and duplicate it so it doesn't matter which CDJ you pop your CDs into.

You can't analyse tracks in Rekordbox from CD so the pre-analysis isn't an option there, but if you're given a new track on CD --- play only that track from CD and rip it before you're out at the gig next time.  This is 2011, we live in the digital era where our music collections are no longer on cassette or vinyl, we use CDs, flash drives, SD cards and hard drives, and even the CD is on its way out.  I'm not saying this to insult you but even I have found myself not playing CDs all that often, partly out of convenience of not carrying them, partly because I like being able to have all my music in my pocket ... and I still get 7 CDs a month worth of music that I have to rip, tag, import, export and sync.

Rekordbox is free; any DJ can download it and manage their music even if they don't own CDJs, so at least if they work in a venue that has them, they have the convenience and benefit of the features offered by the software (sort, search, waveforms, etc).

Pulse 0 votos
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Thanks for the prompt responses folks. I really appreciate your help on this matter--so please don't take the following as a rant against you; I am simply keen on straightening out the facts.

@ Gavin: The CDs I’m using are audio CDs, I don't use MP3 CDs. The quality of the recordings is not issue (I've been doing this a long time and stick to high quality source). Some are authored from iTunes (as an audio CD), but the original files are a minimum of 320kbps. Others are tracks given to me, which I assume are burned straight from the Master, invariably the quality is excellent. Some are my own tracks, which have been bounced straight from Logic to WAV. This also happens with commercially bought CDs. To cut a long story short, all are CD DA files, not MP3s. Where the original files were MP3 (before the conversion/burning process), the maximum compression was 320kpbs, which, in my experience, although not perfect, is adequate. In sum, quality of source material is DEFINITELY not the issue, the CDJ-1000s that I play on display the waves of the same CDs perfectly.

@ Pulse: I agree that some tracks nowadays are mastered horribly (loudness over quality/dynamics--sometimes to the point of being almost a square wave!). But I'm pretty certain that something else is at play here: If I interrupt the process and play the track again, It picks up where it left off and then I get a proper wave (sadly, only in areal time). 

The 100% trick sounds like a (semi) useful workaround. It is still disappointing that it is necessary to 'trick' the player into doing something it should do anyway (and something the old range dis so effortlessly). What's more, +100% is only x2 speed, which means that a 6 minute track will take 3 minutes to analyse, too long for many DJs to wait whilst in the mix. The alternative, as I think you are suggesting, is to perform this at home first--which means waiting 40 minutes approx. for a player to analyse a full audio CD. Forgive me, but I'd rather resort to Recordbox (which I think is Pioneer's intention--more on this later).

The wave display should read ahead, plain and simple. A quote from you on another site:

"CD audio will read-ahead and build a waveform for you" ( http://www.skratchworx.com/newspage.php4?fn_mode=comments&fn_id=1511#ixzz1Vw0IwbfP) is this not true anymore? 

On rare occasions, my player does do this; so to say now that it only does so in real time is a bit misleading. This is a bug, make no mistake.

I'm aware that existing CDs can't be analyzed directly in Recordbox and need to be ripped first. This is one of my major gripes. Who wants to HAVE to do this, just to get a workable waveform? This feature is a ‘nice to have’--if I choose to use it. The CDJ-1000 did this effortlessly and in a way that was useful to DJs. Pioneer have access to this (old and inexpensive) technology.

I'm also aware that this is the digital era and I embrace technology that makes DJing easier and enhances creativity. (I have been a Traktor user for 5+ years, and before that moved from Vinyl to CD as soon as the technology was good enough [thanks to Pioneer].) What I don't embrace is technology that makes DJing more difficult and stifles creativity. Let us remember that the CDJ-850 is a CD player after all, it should fulfil this role properly

I'm also aware that Recordbox is free, and I’m sure that many will find it useful; it's just totally unnecessary (or at least should be) for many DJ's style of workflow. It's ludicrous that DJs should HAVE to go via their computers to do something that the last generation of players did so well (displaying waveforms). 

It is clear what Pioneer are trying to do. They are trying to encourage (force?) users of their hardware to use their software (to simply access mundane features like waveform displays) as a response to the threat posed by Traktor and Serato. I can see the strategic sense from a business perspective, but for the user it’s an unfortunate development. A choice would be nice.

A final but important point: I am not alone in experiencing this issue. See the discussion here, which Pulse has also contributed to:

http://www.skratchworx.com/newspage.php4?fn_mode=comments&fn_id=1511

And the video here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fwWLLPRa6gE

… And the 1 person who has already found my first post helpful, after just 24 hours. Expect this number to rise, as this is not an isolated problem. There are many other instances on the web where this problem is being reported.

To summarise, it is clear that this is not a user issue, and to continue the debate along such lines would be of dubious value (and integrity). What would be more useful is an open discussion of the issues/problems, so that these can be brought to the attention of other users and of Pioneer, if they are not already aware. In this way Pioneer can attempt to address the problem, hopefully via a firmware update; if not via a product recall (as per DJM-900). Failing that, at least they can do something about it in the mk2 version…

 

Simon Collie 0 votos
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@Simon > Not taking it as ranting, no worries.  ;)

I'm not sure why it would sometimes create a brick and others build a proper wave.  It could be a glitch, but it could simply be how the process works of analysis of the overall audio of the track.  As you note, if you interrupt it, sometimes it works properly after that -- do the tracks where that occurs exhibit a similar property in their audio -- like a slow build at the start of the track?  As I said, it could simply be how the analysis looks at the track and if that's the case, the quiet intro could be throwing off the low / high ratioing.

The quote from Skratchworx is unfortunately inaccurate; that was made before I had a CDJ-850 here for testing and based on what information I had available at the time, which was next to none.  If you've had read-ahead happen, I'd be surprised and curious as to how as I'm 99.99% certain there is no read-ahead in the 850 due to the limitations in the memory / DSPs and unfortunately, no firmware updates will be able to change that function. As this is within the design, it's not a fault and would not be the subject of a recall either.  Future models may certainly have an improvement in this department as the speed and cost of memory / DSPs has changed drastically.

You note that the previous generation of players did this just fine ... well, to be honest, the previous generation of this player never had a waveform, so it's a new trick for this dog.  The 2000 and the 900 do indeed feature read-ahead, so it's not like Pioneer left it out on purpose, it is very likely that it operates the way it does because the decision was made to pass cost savings along to the consumer by reducing the function of the waveform.  It still HAS a waveform, it just doesn't have the same waveform performance of a 900 or 2000.

Pioneer's not trying to "push" anyone into using Rekordbox, but the truth is that there are so many more features made available to the DJ when using USB devices that have been prepared with the software that it would be more of the user making the decision not to use it because they prefer the simplicity of fewer steps in using a CD.  The "have to rip" gripe is a bit counter-progress as there are millions of DJs globally who are either obtaining their content directly in a digital file format or ripping CDs.  I can't say I know too many DJs out there who haven't migrated their collections to a digital format, even if they still use CDs.  You yourself say you've been using Traktor for a long time - how do you get your content into your software? It is more of an "encouragement" because you get many benefits from using the Rekordbox workflow.  The benefits far outweigh the convenience of just popping in a disc.

No, you're not the first to voice your displeasure with the method of operation of the waveform, but as I've outlined above, it's not a fault (with the possible exception of that flat waveform); it's by design that it works this way.

Pulse 0 votos
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Wait, if I understand what "read ahead" means, why even have a waveform? I mean, who needs to see the waveform of what already passed in the track? It's worthless.

Gavintech 0 votos
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@Gavintech > By 'read ahead' they mean analysing the waveform of the track in an advanced section of the track.

Gavin 0 votos
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Then I do understand that and my question stands. What is the point of having a waveform at all if it doesn't read ahead?

Gavintech 0 votos
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@Gavintech > If you play that track again, you'll have the waveform.

Pulse 0 votos
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If that is the case that's cool. Especially for those that bring their own gear when they play.

Gavintech 0 votos
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I just have a quick question regarding this subject.. If you scan your wav / mp3 files in recordbox, and after that burn them to an audio cd.. Will the waveform appear straight away then??

Morten Madsen 0 votos
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@Morten > Unfortunately no; there is no Rekordbox database stored with CD-audio.

Pulse 0 votos
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Alright.. But if i put a USB stick in the 850, and play audio cd's, the wave data will automaticly be stored on the USB?? And when i play the same cd afterwards, the wave data will be appear right away, if the USB stick is connected right??

Morten Madsen 0 votos
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Perfect!! And thanks for the fast respons, i'll go buy a couple of those decks then:)

Morten Madsen 0 votos
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Hi.

I've a question regarding this procedure of analyzing all the CDs with a USB device plugged in the CDJ-850 to store the waveforms:

 

(how) can this analysis be made in parallel? I mean, with two usb harddiscs connected respectively to two CDJ-850s, then merging the database stored on the two harddiscs (and finally copy the merged database on both the harddiscs).

 

Thanks a lot

  • Ale
Alessandro Andreani Deejay 0 votos
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@Ale > You can't merge the database, but you could clone one to another drive, having both your Rekordbox analysed AND folder-organized songs on the same drive.

Pulse 0 votos
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@Pulse > Are you aware if any Firmware will be released that will allow the 850's to load a Waveform fully (around the speed of the 1000MK3's) when an Audio CD containing a WAV is inserted wether it has been inserted before or not. I understand the 850's are below the 1000's, however if i am correct the 850's are newer, which makes me wonder why the same technology that was used in the 1000MK3's was not incorporated in the 850's.

Thanks a lot!

Matt

Matthew Hart 0 votos
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@Matthew > No - the CDJ850 loads the waveform slower than a MK3.

Pulse 0 votos
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