Denon DJ just announced the Prime 4, a groundbreaking all-in-one standalone DJ system that lets you spin with up to four decks. It plays music stored on USB thumb drives, SD cards, and even on attached hard drives. It’s got a massive 10″ touchscreen that lets you view waveforms from all four decks at once, and like the SC5000 Prime media player it has gesture controls, including gestures for dragging and dropping tracks for easy library management, track scrubbing for needle drops, and so on.
You can plug a variety of storage media to play music from and to record mixes to: it has four USB jacks, one SD card slot, and a 2.5″ SATA bay for adding a hard drive, letting you take your entire music collection with you wherever you go. You can even plug in a USB keyboard to make track searching faster. The unit supports MP3 file playback as well as FLAC, ALAC and WAV files.
The Prime 4 has an added independent output called Zone that lets you play music from a special playlist that is separate and different compared to what’s coming out of the master and booth outputs – a great aid for event DJs who need to provide totally different music, say, in a reception or restaurant areas in addition to the main dancefloor.
The Zone, booth and master outputs are all XLR balanced, with the master output having RCA unbalanced jacks too.
The Prime 4 has a four-channel mixer onboard, and it has four pairs of RCA line inputs in the back, with two pairs being switchable line / phono inputs. That means you can plug in up to four media players and two turntables – unheard of in a standalone system like this. It has input switches at the front of the unit letting you choose from either digital input (eg USB, SD, hard drive, laptop) or line / phono input.
Denon DJ’s StagelinQ visuals and automated lighting technology also gets a nod as the Prime 4 comes with it built-in, letting you take control of compatible video and lighting fixtures. It also works with other lighting and visuals software like Resolume, and with Serato DJ Pro support forthcoming, that means it will be compatible with SoundSwitch too.
Other features include two 6″ metal jogwheels with built-in displays, 16 performance pads (eight per deck), two FX sections for controlling onboard effects, three-band EQs with gain and Sweep FX knobs per channel, long-throw pitch faders, looping controls, a crossfader curve knob and crossfader assign switches, an Ethernet port, and two mic inputs with dedicated mic sections on the face of the unit. It’s also compatible with Denon DJ’s own Engine Prime music library software.
Who is it for?
The Prime 4 looks to be an astonishing piece of kit, certainly the most powerful in the all-in-one standalone system arena. DJs who stand to benefit from it the most will be those who love the idea of spinning without a laptop in the booth, but don’t want to be hampered by clunky music searching and sorting capabilities as well as limited USB storage sizes. As such, mobile and professional DJs come to mind, as well as gigging DJs who use a controller and would want to be liberated from having to take along a laptop wherever they go.
Club DJs who spin with media players and want a full-featured unit they can practise with at home and make mixtapes on would be another target audience for the Prime 4. It’s pricey for something to just use at home, though certainly a lot cheaper than a full-on Prime set-up.
Perhaps the only shortcoming of the all-singing, all-dancing Prime 4 is that you still need a laptop to buy, organise and prepare songs to load to it – or at least some computer to load songs over onto thumb drives or SD cards. But the days of truly laptop-free DJing seem to be coming closer.
It’s not hard to imagine a day when systems like this will be able to go online and access streaming services (Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal) and online stores (iTunes, Amazon Music), which would truly usher in the streaming revolution for DJs, and a new era for digital DJing, one where computers (and even smartphones) could be left outside the DJ booth for good.
How will the competition react to the Denon DJ Prime 4?
Pioneer DJ is sure to take notice because it has yet to release a four-channel standalone device, which DJs have been clamouring for since the original XDJ-RX was launched back in 2015. It has since released the XDJ-RX2, as well as the XDJ-RR, both of which are still two-channel units. To do so requires considerable internal processing power – something Denon DJ evidently has, proven by its technologically superior SC5000 family of media players.
Apart from having four-decks onboard, the Prime 4 looks exciting because it potentially offers the greatest chance of leaving the laptop at home while still enjoying the “full on digital DJing experience”: the huge touchscreen and USB keyboard option makes sorting and searching for music practical, especially if you’ve got a large DJ library (mobile DJs will be pleased!).
Plus, the ability to add a full-size hard drive means you can have your entire library with you – though we still don’t know just how big the maximum drive size will be, as well as how fast and efficient the unit will search for and crunch data coming from a huge library.
With DJ controllers and media players maturing, it seems like the next battle being fought is in the all-in-one systems space, and as of today, Denon DJ has beaten Pioneer DJ to the “four-deck system” punch with the Prime 4. The Prime 4 is also priced in the same range as Pioneer DJ’s XDJ-RX2 system, which is a stunning fact, considering how much new technology has been packed into it.
We’re sure this will be a highlight of the upcoming NAMM Show, so check back next week for our on-the-ground report on this unit.
Check the promo video and photo gallery below.
• The Denon DJ Prime 4 will be available for US$1,699 from March 2019. Check the Denon DJ site for more details.
What are your thoughts on this unit? Is this the way forward for digital DJing? Or are you happy spinning with a controller and a laptop? Let us know in the comments.