In one of the biggest announcements so far ahead of NAMM 2016, Denon DJ has today officially announced the Denon DJ MCX8000, a pro four-deck DJ controller with built-in colour screens for Serato DJ, that also offers laptop-free use via USB and a revamped version of Denon DJ’s Engine library software.
A pro unit in the traditions of the Denon DJ brand, the $1299 Denon DJ MCX8000 is designed to appeal to professional working DJs and prosumer hobbyists looking for a state-of-the-art controller to power a flexible audio or audio/visual DJ set-up.
It boasts metal construction, two EQ-able microphone channels, standalone mixer functionality, onboard hardware effects (post/pre-fader, that work on the line channels as well as software/USB inputs), extensive output options including balanced XLR and booth, velocity-sensitive performance pads, video control, and hi-res built-in screens that work with both Engine USB libraries and Serato DJ.
Its two USB sockets are designed to let DJs play music prepared on the Denon DJ Engine software platform, in much the same way as DJs using Pioneer pro gear can prepare their music on Rekordbox DJ; doing so “greatly improves the overall experience”, according to Denon; in practice this will mean easy search, playlisting, cue points, waveforms, key meta data etc being available in any Engine-analysed collection plugged into the unit via USB.
The unit is all about flexibility: For instance, you can switch on-the-fly between Serato DJ, DJing using Engine via USB, and just playing any music files on a USB drive, plus of course you can use the standalone mixer features to DJ too, with the unit effectively acting as a simple DJ mixer. Thanks to its onboard hardware effects, such standalone DJing is likely to be considerably more fun than on any other existing software controller currently out there. These features, of course, will make switching between different DJs on different platforms simple to do.
Existing Serato DJs who wish to try DJing using Engine and USB drives can easily import their Serato collections to Engine for export to USB, preserving cues, key data etc, meaning it will be simple for DJs to decide gig-by-gig whether or not they want to take a laptop with them. It’s worth pointing out that currently the Engine laptop-free option only allows DJing with two decks – although the other two would of course remain available for use with other sources. The unit is Serato DVS Upgrade ready, too.
Another power feature is the addition of an Ethernet Stage LinQ connection to control lighting and video. A new generation of lighting and video hardware will be able to take advantage of this feature, and it is worth noting that Denon DJ’s parent company, inMusic, has recently announced its own lighting and visual company, Marq Lighting. We expect to see the first fruits of this at NAMM, and will of course report back on these once we have more info.
Ross Goodwin, Product Manager for Denon DJ, said: “DJs have been clamouring for a single device that does two things: One, offers ultimate control of Serato DJ, and two, runs standalone in case of computer malfunctions and for the ability of one DJ to seamlessly hand off to another.”
What we think
We’ve had some hands-on time with the MCX8000, and the biggest mistake DJs would be forgiven for thinking about this unit is that it is a “Numark NV, but from Denon”. At a very superficial level, the unit looks similar, because it has the same size and type of screen for each deck – but the similarities stop right there.
The Numark NV is a fun and capable four-channel Serato controller with screens built in. The MCX8000, on the other hand, is a fully pro controller, built from the ground up in metal to perform at the highest level, with a huge number of additional and category-changing features added: Standalone mixer, on-board hardware effects, laptop-free operation from USB (a massive leap, and something DJs have asked for ever since seeing controllers with their own waveform-displaying screens built in), true two-DJ operation, dual platform flexibility, plus the rather exciting possibility of controlling visuals from your controller – all of these things mark the MCX8000 apart not only from the Numark NV, but from any other DJ controller currently available.
Denon DJ fans who felt that the Engine platform was defunct after the lack of improvements made to it in the recent past will be heartened to see that the platform is, in fact, alive and well (it first appeared with the SC29000 and SC39000 media players), and one of the more intriguing questions now is: What next? With a powerful new DJ controller launched, a revamped software platform, and a clear broadside at the Pioneer ecosystem, where will Denon DJ take this now?
Being part of inMusic – home of Akai Pro, Numark, M-Audio and so on – means that presumably the funds and ambition are there for Denon DJ to move back into the space largely occupied by Pioneer DJ currently, that space being a “pro” working DJ brand. Whether it succeeds or not is another question, but as a first shot, the MCX8000 is pretty exciting, and the price is certainly competitive when taken against the best controllers in this category currently out there, especially taking into account the additional features the Denon DJ MCX8000 offers, the biggest of course being standalone operation.
Check out the promo videos and photo gallery below.
• The Denon DJ MCX8000 is priced at £899 / US$1299, and will be available from February 2016. For more information, visit the Denon DJ MCX8000 site.
What do you think? Is this the kind of controller you’ve been waiting for? Are you surprised at this from Denon? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.