- Things to Consider Before Buying a DJ Controller
- A Quick Run-down
- Features & Benefits
- Build & Design
- Alternatives to the Denon Prime 4
- Pioneer XDJ-RR
- Pioneer DDJ-1000SRT
- Denon DJ Prime 2
- Final Thoughts on the Denon Prime 4
The Denon Prime 4 is so innovative that it nearly births a new category of DJing gear. Denon designed the Prime 4 DJ controller as a stand-alone processing unit & storage device. It’s the only thing a DJ needs to mix professional music with industry-elite creativity.
We honestly struggled during this review to find flaws with the Denon Prime 4. It’s got 4 digital decks to juggle, an astounding amount of FX & other creative tools to mix with, connectivity up the wazoo, a display that Steve Jobs would rise from the grave to grovel at – and on, and on.
The Denon Prime 4 isn’t cheap by any means, but it might hold up until the year 3000, so you’ll get your money’s worth out of it by then.
Things to Consider Before Buying a DJ Controller
A DJ controller combines all the equipment DJs need into one single unit. Rather than buying a mixer and two players separately, all the gear combines into one sleek device.
Plus, a DJ controller typically comes bundled with a copy of DJing software to mix off a computer. Instead of buying everything separately, which can get pricey, DJs get an all-in-one system cheap.
DJ controllers are useful for DJs mixing strictly digitally, as most support USB computer connectivity. They are lightweight and portable, which is great for DJs regularly on the go. I’ve been that guy lugging around several pieces of gear from show to show, and it gets exhausting.
For vinyl or scratch DJs, a DJ controller might not be the best option. Higher-end DJ controllers support multiple inputs from several players to integrate additional vinyl players and other devices. If you have the extra cash to shell out, then vinyl players & DJ controllers can work together. The budget limits most DJS, which leads them to a simpler 2-channel model.
While shopping for your ideal DJ controller, it’s essential to define your level of DJing proficiency. Lower-end models are barebones with limited creative tools. Entry-level DJ controllers have 2-channels with few or none effects, loops, hot cues, and sampling. Determine what elements you need for mixing, and that will guide you into the right DJ controller.
The Denon DJ Prime 4: A Quick Run-down
The Denon Prime 4 is a stand-alone professional DJ controller with a built-in processing unit, AKA the ENGINE PRIME. With an intuitive multi-gesture 10-inch touch screen & Serato DJ Pro included, the Prime 4 equips a DJ to handle rigorous mixing sessions.
The Denon Prime 4 has impressive creative features. Two distinct types of FX sections, 8 performance pads on each deck, and Key Shifting & Matching have us completely satiated while mixing on the Prime 4.
Prepare all your music libraries, export them to a USB drive, and easily sync to the Prime 4 with abundant connectivity options. Play different music in two separate rooms with the controller’s XLR Zone output.
The Denon Prime 4 has two separate mic inputs with a dedicated EQ & FX section. The Prime 4’s mic section is a nice reprieve from minimal microphone features on most professional DJ controllers.
When we say that the Denon DJ Prime 4 can do it all, we don’t think that’s exaggerating. The controller even has a “Censor” mode that will edit out any profanity in songs. We’re just scratching the surface of all the controls on the Denon Prime 4.
Features & Benefits
Without a complete breakdown of the controller’s features, DJs wouldn’t know how the controller will benefit them. Let’s take a closer look at what the Denon Prime 4 has to offer.
Denon Prime 4: Build & Design
Denon didn’t cut any corners designing the Denon Prime 4. All the components are top-notch, with the controller’s main body made from metal. That means it’s solid but hefty. If you gig in different venues and won’t have the controller stationary, make sure you feel comfortable picking it up, packing it, and moving it around before you purchase it.
The Denon Prime 4’s buttons are made from high-quality rubber, the channel faders are smooth & sturdy (with a replaceable crossfader), and all the knobs are nimble & tight. This 4-channel all-in-one Denon DJ controller has oodles of features, but the layout doesn’t make a DJ feel stressed or overloaded.
All the DJing functions have an intelligent design with adequate spacing, allocated appropriately to digest & efficiently utilize during mixing.
Denon Prime 4: Connectivity
The Denon Prime 4 doesn’t lack in ways of connecting or syncing devices or files. All four channels can be assigned to digital tracks or routed to external vinyl or CDJ. The color-coded deck buttons and vinyl lights are the perfect ascetics on the controller.
The Denon Prime 4 recognizes & analyzes music libraries from Itunes, Serato, Traktor Pro, and Rekordbox. with 4 USB inputs, an SD card slot, and an installable SATA drive; you’ll have no problem loading & locating terabytes of songs.
The ENGINE PRIME system automatically recognizes playlists, crates, & hot cues prepared from most major DJing software. It internally registers every song’s BPM, key, beat grid, and metadata … so you are getting part cyborg/part musical instrument with the Denon Prime 4.
A DJ can even plug in a USB keyboard for optimized music search, although the display has a decent on-screen pop-up keyboard that works just fine.
Denon Prime 4: 10 Inch Touch Screen
The Denon Prime 4’s magnificent display combined with the Denon ENGINE PRIME keeps the DJ mixing solely on the controller. It may seem trivial, but the screen’s adjustable notches are handy for adjusting for various lighting environments.
The screen shows various viewing modes – including the full 4-channel waveform display. Monitor all the tracks simultaneously and choose from a horizontal or vertical waveform display.
The wave form’s RGB color format shows a DJ the frequencies of a track. Lows, mids, and high frequencies easily match tracks with a meshing frequency response.
The multi-gesture functionality becomes second nature, as a DJ swipes right on any track to route to any of the 4 channels or slide left or right on the waveform to scrub through a song.
The other viewing modes give a DJ full control over every bit of mixing operation. DJs will access the record viewing mode quite a bit to upload their mix for their fans to enjoy online.
The utility viewing mode gives a DJ loads of settings to adjust, like changing quantize note length, to tweak and tune their mixing style.
Denon Prime 4: Dual Microphone Control
The main-mixing section remains uninhibited by the two TRS mic channels. We can’t express enough how much we appreciate the microphone controls on the Denon DJ Prime 4.
DJs have a dedicated mic section with level, EQ, and echo effect controls at the controller’s top left. The punch in on/off and talk over option comes in handy for DJs that double as an MC during their shows.
Denon Prime 4: Sweep FX & Mainstage Quality Post-Fader FX
The controller has 4 sweep effects like filter, echo, noise, and wash. Each channel has a sweep knob to apply the effect as much as you’d like.
The Denon Prime 4 inherits 14 class-leading FX sourced from the X1800 club mixer. These studio-quality built-in effects have dedicated selector and parameter controls on the Denon DJ Prime 4 that are fluid to operate.
Finding exciting combinations of the Sweep & Post-Fader FX occupies hours of fun-filled DJing time!
Denon Prime 4: Key Shift & Match
Mixing songs with matching keys and manually switching a song’s key has become an artistic focus in the DJing world. The Prime 4 can chromatically change a song’s key quickly with on-display controls.
Sliding the pitch fader on the Denon Prime 4 does the same thing as key shifting and utilizes Denon’s DAW-quality Time Stretch Algorithm. No matter how much you pitch bend the track using the fader, the music’s fidelity stays the same.
A simple press of a button will match the song’s key to the master. Utilizing the Prime’s musical key features will ramp up and refine your mixing style.
Denon Prime 4: XLR Zone Output
The separate zone playback option might be a major selling point of the Denon DJ Prime 4. With dedicated controls on the controller’s top right-hand side, a DJ can assign a separate audio signal to a different room.
A DJ chooses between channel 4 or the main mix to send to the second zone. The zone playback comes in handy while DJing fancy, elegant parties with multiple areas.
Alternatives to the Denon Prime 4
If the DDJ-400 perks your interest but doesn’t exactly have what you want in a DJ controller, check out these other similar options with a little bit of a different spin.
If the Denon Prime 4 is way over budget, way above what you need, or way out of your mixing league, check out the XDJ-RR as a more novice option. We are all at where we are at in DJing. There’s no shame in training upon a more straightforward model.
It’s an all-in-one two-channel DJing system with Pioneer’s excellent club layout and design. Although the XDJ-RR is far from flawless, it will get you going in the right direction with about the same components and some useful creative features.
- Stand-alone functionality with a fantastic range of features
- A cheaper model with a compact, portable design
- Iconic Pioneer club-layout with easy-to-use controls, display, & mixer
The DDJ-1000SRT is Pioneer’s controller comparable to the Prime 4 in features and functionality. They share similarities, but some key differences might make the decision easy for you between the two models.
One of the standout features of the DDJ-1000SRT is the club-standard, eight-inch jog wheels. DJs who play in multiple venues will appreciate the lighter weight of the DDJ-1000SRT. DJs born and bred on Pioneer gear will feel right at home with the DJM-style mixer layout and FX.
- Pioneer’s comparable model to the Denon Prime 4
- Club standard, eight-inch, mechanical jog-wheels
- Lighter weight, lower price
- Familiar DJM mixer design
Denon DJ Prime 2
If you think the Denon DJ Prime 4 is super cool but would like a toned-down a few notches, check out the Prime 2. You’ve probably already gathered by its name that it’s the Prime 4’s kid brother. As such, the Prime 2 has got lots of the same DJ features, just in a slimmer size.
The Prime 2 cuts 4 inches off the depth and width of the size and reduces the controller’s weight by 5 pounds. The phenomenal display is very much the same but in a 7-inch version. The two-channel, cheaper Prime edition might be a better fit for some DJs.
- The two-channel kid brother to the Denon Prime 4
- Slimmer, lighter body
- Same processing capabilities and display features in a 7-inch version
Final Thoughts on the Denon Prime 4
The Denon Prime 4 packs innovative, creative capabilities in a stand-alone 4 channel controller. It’s two types of FX sections, performance pads with 4 types of modes, key shifting & matching, and lots of other features we did & didn’t mention will keep a DJ creatively satisfied while mixing for years to come.
For some DJs, the Denon Prime 4 might be too much to handle – both literally and figuratively. Professional DJs best use the controller’s features, and the all-metal body is hefty to handle.Denon designed the Prime 4 to do it all. The installable storage & processor analyzes tracks to digest performance metrics. The Denon Prime 4’s multi-gesture has every function you need to keep the DJing strictly using only the controller, or it comes with Serato DJ Pro if you want to use a computer.