In both an acknowledgement of and a challenge to Pioneer’s current dominance of the pro DJ booth, Denon DJ today officially launched its SC2900 digital DJ controller and media player, with the words: “It’s time for change”.
As we previewed earlier this week, this is Denon’s first controller and player that drops the motorised turntable used by previous models (and by the current SC3900), in favour of a more industry-standard static-platter design, complete with Denon’s own take on the LED ring that shows operation and cue points. As is the necessity with any serious new entrant into this market, Denon has built in as much versatility as possible, offering the same choice of operation modes as the SC3900.
Denon is putting a lot of weight behind its take on library software, called Engine, which it claims achieves significant performance improvements over Pioneer’s rekordbox software, by employing a software/hardware combination with the SC2900 taking much of the heavy crunching work away from the device the software is running on (for instance, a networked laptop). In particular, Denon DJ claims much faster search speeds than rekordbox.
There is additionally the wireless, networked use of an iPad to act as “biggest and most versatile media navigation screen in the industry” (to quote from the official press release); something that Denon is presumably hoping will be considered as a plus point agains the minus of the 2900 (and 3900) having less impressive built-in screens than some of the Pioneer players.
As far as compatibility with established DJ software goes, the SC2900 works natively with Traktor 2 (Traktor 2 LE is in the box), although unlike the SC3900 it doesn’t emit timecode to control Serato Scratch Live in a “hybrid” mode, so you’d have to use timecode CDs for this, although you could still map its controls to SSL as with any Midi controller. (You’d still need your Rane hardware whatever.)
Up to four players are networkable together to “play” from the same musical source such as USB. Oh, and of course, it plays CDs too. 😉
Why it matters
Perhaps the biggest reason why this news is noteworthy is that previously, if you were in the market for a professionally featured CDJ-style set-up, your choice was to buy Pioneer (good if you’re a pro or a club, bad if you’d rather spend the money on a small car), or go for a lesser-brand and cheaper Pioneer copy and take your chances deviating from a known quantity.
Now there’s a viable professional alternative. Denon build quality is taken as read by the vast majority of DJs who’ve ever used Denon gear, and the company has dropped no obvious balls with the feature set here. The performance features, pretty much borrowed totally from the SC3900 (which we have here in the workshop for a review we’re preparing, but which we like a lot so far), mean it is more than just a Pioneer copy, although obviously with the fixed platter this is as close to a Pioneer-style player as Denon has released yet.
Whether clubs will agree that it’s time for a change remains to be seen, but if price is a consideration, you get a lot for your money here: the pricing information we have is “€800 + sales tax”, which we are guessing will translate into street prices of US$899, €799 and £699 or slightly higher.
If this turns out to be the right ball-park, you’d be able to add a mixer and have a decent pro digital/analogue hybrid set-up for under US$2000 – only slightly more than the cost of one Pioneer CDJ-2000.
Price: “€800 + sales tax”
Availability: July 2012 (EU)
Do you like the look of these? Or do you think Pioneer has this market stitched up? Have they got the price/feature set about right? Please share your thoughts in the comments.