A few months ago I purchased the Denon Prime Go. It’s a very small, but powerful and professional standalone Dj console. (at the time of writing this its not possible to use as a controller with a laptop.) You can use it with Engine Prime Software to prepare your music on a computer and sync your music to a USB or SD Card. However you can directly insert a USB with music and Engine OS on the Denon Gear will automatically analyze your tracks on the fly. I fell in love with having the option of not using a laptop all the time. The touchscreen on the unit is very good too. ( I’ll do a complete review of this unit in another post. )
So even though i love the Pioneer DDJ-1000, i decided to go ahead and order the Denon Prime 4. The big top of the line brother of the Prime Go. I also ordered a SSD 1TB Hard Drive to install my core hand picked tracks into the hard drive bay on the bottom part of the Prime 4. I love the idea of just booting up this console hit record and creating a quick mix whenever creativity strikes me. ( can also do this on prime go from anywhere since that unit is also battery powered ) The touchscreen on the Prime 4 is 10.1 inches about the size of an iPad. Gives you full control of everything on the console from settings , to waveforms , and crates/ playlists. In the latest Denon Prime 4 firmware, Engine OS updates they have added a lot of features like Serato Compatibility, horizontal waveforms , loop triggers, streaming from dropbox, beatport , and tidal directly. Denon is listening to its user base via its forums and delivering on the most wanted features.
There are a few things i would like to see added (specifically on Engine OS for the Prime GO ) Like auto gain, the ability to see the levels on the gains per channel and a few others. The one that i really would love to see very soon is the ability to search within a crate. Right now the search is global , so if i know the song im looking for is inside the create im currently in , Engine OS will give me a global search and possibly showing every version of the song i have. I havnt tested sync on the Prime 4 bc i rarely use it other than to do some crazy transitions on Serato. However on the Prime Go it doesnt sync the same way and i can’t really do my technique on that unit. I have to practice it a bit more or find a workaround. I will test it with the Prime 4 soon and give this article an update.
The crossfader on the Denon Prime 4 does feel a bit on the cheap side , but its replaceable so you can buy a better one and install it. I’ve only had about 3 sessions of 25 mins to play around with the Prime 4 but its good enough for me (for now). Everything on this unit seems solid. I’ve played around with the effects and i like all the options and that they are post fader. (means if i add echo and bring the volume down, the echo will stay until it fades away normally or you turn the effect off. This is a big plus.
The Prime 4 has two mic inputs with the option of XLR or 1/4 inch for both mic inputs. All 4 channels can be selected as line in to use with turntables , cdjs, or any other instrument sampler or accessory. All 3 main outputs are all XLR ( Main out, Booth & Zone ) Cool thing is the Zone output can be mapped to the master or channel 4 in which you can load a playlist and play music to a different room. Both Zone & Booth have EQ controls available also.
The prime 4 unit aside from the Hard Drive Bay has 4 additional USB slots and SD card Reader. If connected to WIFI you can stream from TIDAL, Beatsource, Beatport link, & Dropbox. Another recent update has made it compatible with Serato. I literally just tested that feature out before the writing of this article. You need to switch the Prime 4 to controller mode where it basically acts as a midi controller. You can’t use any of the built in effects on the Prime 4 while in controller mode (also works with Virtual DJ) I wish the serato integration was a little better and that it would show the music waveforms on the Denon’s screen. I read in the forums that this is on Serato’s side, they need to update it so that it sends this info to the Prime 4. C’mon Serato ! Do it. I also briefly tested Serato Video works great as the unit is just acting as a Midi Controller for Serato. However switching back to the hard drive or a flash drive from Serato requires a re-start of the unit. Hopefully this transition can be done more seamlessly in the future with an update.
The jogwheels are touch capacity just like the ones on the DDJ-SX & SZ controllers. But they feel more sturdy and with more weight to them. You can also add your logo or custom artwork to the the display on them. The looping section is great. I love having the knob that i can make the loop longer or shorter with just a twist. The Prime 4 also has a built in section to edit the beatgrids and with the latest firmware you can now beatgrid tracks with changing bpms like transitions. I havnt used this section yet but i will test it as soon as i get more familiar with the Prime 4.
Overall i think the Pros outweigh the con’s which for me can be fixed via updates. Looking forward to playing more on this unit as it gives the option to play in several different ways. Oh one more thing i dislike is it doesn’t have a sampler built in, unless you are using Serato then slicer tab reverts to Sampler to activate the hotcues. Im sure Virtual Dj will also support this but i have not used that software. Right now Denon with its current lineup finally has the potential to give Pioneer a run for the top DJ Gear in the market. I’ve always loved Denon DJ Gear since the Denon 2500’s & 2600’s Dual Cd player Deck. It’s comeback time now.
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