A great feature of the analogue inputs is this: It is possible to route two of your analogue signal through software or keep their paths 100% analogue – it’s up to you, and there’s simply a little button on the back for you to set up your preference.
This is something the Allen & Heath Xone:DX we reviewed last week, for instance, can’t do (it’s all within software control only on that unit), and is indicative of the awesome level of flexibility this particular controller affords you.
The controller sections
The transport controls are pretty much what you’d expect, with the usual play/pause and cue buttons. As with most of the main buttons on this unit, they are rubberised, backlit and of high quality, with a firm click when pressed – no complaints here.
Down here at the bottom of the controller there are also “vinyl bend” (which is basically a scrub function for moving quickly through media) and “pitch bend” (does what it says) twinned small buttons. The sync button syncs the selected deck to the master, and shift & sync makes the selected deck the master deck.
The jogwheels are as you might expect: high quality, with absolutely no give at all in them – rock solid. Like Vestax’s controllers, they have dual action – the metal top section is used to scratch, vinyl style, while the plastic outer section is a progressive equivalent of using the pitch bend. They feel good, and because they are high resolution they sound good too – jogwheels have come a long way in the last year or two and these are up with the pack.
Jogwheels have come a long way in the last year or two, and these are up with the pack.
One thing missing compared to some similar units is a visual representation of movement to show if your selected deck is “spinning” or not; the new Pioneer controllers and the Allen & Heath Xone:DX, for instance, have rotating lights when a deck is playing, but with this unit, a colour-coded “deck selected” indicator light occupies a static curved strip across the bottom of the jogwheel’s circumference.
Denon has chosen to lay each of the controller sections out identically (so the pitch controls are top right of the jogwheel on each side, for instance), not in a mirror image layout as preferred by some manufacturers. You may have a preference on this choice; I really don’t mind. It takes very little time to get used to it.
The pitch control alters pitch across a range set in software; there’s no way of switching this in hardware with the supplied mappings, which is no big issue. Finally for this section, key lock does exactly what you’d expect.
Loops, FX and sampler
Looping is the minimum you’d expect – you can set loop in/out manually and also auto-loop with beatmatched half/double functionality down to a small fraction of a beat and up to eight bars. There’s no loop memory though.
There are 8 cues available in Traktor, and four cues and four sample triggers available in Virtual DJ. As far as I can see there’s no way out-of-the-box to record samples, but I have to reiterate that everything is Midi mappable and you can set this unit up to do whatever you want within the limitations of your chosen software. Adding extra functionality using the shift key should be no real issue up to the total possible number of permutations of keys available to you, which is quite a lot.
The effects control varies depending on whether you’re using Traktor or Virtual DJ, but you have 4 adjustable parameters so there’s plenty of flexibility there.
Out of the box and with Virtual DJ, the first three knobs of the effects section control the effect you’ve chosen with one of the FX ON buttons, the fourth always controlling the filter (low pass filter to the left, high pass to the right).
With Traktor, the filters use two rotaries and buttons in the middle of the mixer section (which are used for video parameters in Virtual DJ) – again, though, all mappable to suit your own preferences.
Of course, these are software effects and so the quality is dependent upon the quality of the effects that come with your software.
Other features of the DN-MC6000
Plenty of other features have been included to ensure it could operate at the heart of the most complex DJ system without falling short on configurability.
It could operate at the heart of the most complex DJ system without falling short on configurability.
The channels the crossfader affects are fully assignable through switches on the front, along with the crossfade contour; there’s a standby mode selector; split cue on the headphones (a surprisingly rare feature on software controllers); and a stereo/mono switch across the master out. EQed and assignable booth send, plus echo and voiceover on the microphone channels, round the picture out further still.
The sound card is 16-bit/48kHz eight-in, eight-out; if you were expecting 24-bit/96kHz this may raise an eyebrow but it sounds fine to me; the frequency response is 20Hz to 20kHz and S/N for the analogue inputs between 87dB and 90dB, all perfectly respectable figures.
Denon means business with the DN-MC6000. It is similar in overall functionality to the American Audio VMS4 but in a different league as far as build quality goes, which is of course reflected in the price and the segment of the market Denon is aiming at.
This controller isn’t the most obvious choice if you’re a hobbyist wanting a pure software controller, because the Traktor Kontrol S4 has more software-specific tricks and arguably better software (its custom edition is also tied perfectly to the hardware).
And if you want pure plug-and-play convenience and equally rock-solid hardware but are prepared to sacrifice some functionality and most of the flexibility, the Allen & Heath Xone:DX is a more obvious choice.
However, once you start demanding more features of a general pro-DJing nature, as opposed to of a software controller/hobbyist nature, the competition begin to fall away.
Need two EQed mic inputs, or EQed booth send (remember, many controllers including the Traktor Kontrol S4, don’t even have a booth send)? Need stacks of external inputs, including the ability to route through hardware or software? Need something 19″ rack mountable? Looking for video mixing?
If any of these are on your “must have” list, the Denon not only has you covered, but is often your only choice.
Because it’s a full Midi controller, with enough time and effort just about everything about it is configurable in order to get it to how you want it (for instance, I suggest non-video-using Virtual DJ users would immediately re-appropriate the two middle knobs on the mixer as filter controls, as in the Traktor mapping).
It will be interesting to hear back from Denon as to how easily those channels can be reconfigured to better reflect the way the decks are visually laid out in 4-deck mode on both Virtual DJ and Traktor – my biggest bugbear overall with this unit – but it’s not a dealbreaker, more a hurdle to deal with as you get it set up to suit your workflow and DJing style.
For serious multi-format or video DJs, professional mobile DJs, and also for installation in smaller DJ booths where quality and flexibility nonetheless remain paramount, the Denon DN-MC6000 would be ideal. It’s easily the most flexible four-channel DJ controller we’ve tested at Digital DJ Tips so far, and overall is a quality piece of kit.
- Most flexible pro DJ controller at this price point
- Well-built with excellent jogwheels and controls
- Choice of software means you can go with what you prefer
- Operates as a standalone mixer too
We don’t like:
- Not the best integration out-of-the-box between hardware and software
- Lacks some of the innovative features of the best software-only controllers
- Mixer section a little bit cramped for fat fingers
What do you think?
What’s more important to you, flexibility or more innovative software control? Have you been waiting for video mixing? Does a bit of Midi mapping put you off or do you like to get your hands dirty? Let us know in the comments…
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DJ Controllers: The Ultimate Buyer’s Guide 2013.
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