Denon DJ Prime GO: A Pro DJ’s Opinion 6 Months On…

Phil Morse | Read time: 4 mins
denon dj Engine OS Prime Go Standalone DJ systems
Last updated 9 November, 2020

5227

I’ve been using the Denon DJ Prime GO for six months now, regularly. I have used it at home, and to play gigs. I have livestreamed on it, prepared sets on it. taken it away with me. I have attempted to use it as my “only” DJ system.

So following on from our first review of the unit (when we had literally had a day or two to get our heads around it), here are some long-term user thoughts about this intriguing little portable DJ system.

Learn everything about this unit

We have produced a 75-minute video manual and training tutorial on the Denon DJ Prime GO, that goes through every feature, function and setting:

If you’re planning on buying one, you have one on order and you want to hit the ground running when it arrives, or you have one and would like some help discovering all of its features, this is for you.

Prime GO: 6 Things I’ve Learned…

1. It sounds great

I am not one for audio specifications. I use my ears. And this thing sounds great. We have used it with portable speakers, and studio speakers (my favourite current monitors, the iRig iLoud MTM), and PA speakers. The audio quality from its audio interface is excellent – detailed and crisp.

Despite it running from battery quite happily, the headphones monitoring is nice and loud too, and so overall as far as sound quality goes, it is a pleasure to use.

2. It feels pro

Here’s the thing. Small versions of “serious” gear often feel at best like also-rans, at worse, like cheap consumer versions of that bigger gear. Not here. While this isn’t, of course, particularly cheap, it is built just as well as the more expensive Denon DJ Prime gear. It is a dream to DJ on, albeit a bit fiddly (although the small jogs don’t bother me at all).

Prime GO
In all ways, it feels like “pro” gear to DJ on – just shrunk. Strangely maybe, the small jogwheels didn’t worry me at all – and I thought they might.

That comes down to the metal build, the bright, high quality screen, the pro knobs (all bolted to the underlying metal plate), the pro inputs and outputs. It feel like “bigger” gear, shrunk, not a plastic copy of pro gear that you just know won’t stand abuse.

3. It is better when you angle it

It’s a shame the screen is flat. I tried and tried, but it didn’t get any easier. I found myself leaning over the unit too much just to read the screen. In short: It can be hard to see.

This little laptop stand folds up to nothing, and works great with the Denon DJ Prime GO (you can see it in use in the video linked to above).

But I found a solution (saw it on YouTube, can’t remember who shared it but it’s genius, whoever you were!). I have taken to using a small, fold-up, portable laptop stand to angle the unit a few degrees towards me, which makes all the difference.

It maybe looks a bit weird, but it is actually a great DJing position too, so that was an unexpected bonus – better visibility of the screen and easier DJing.It’s just not so good when you’re livestreaming and only using a front camera, as nobody can see what you’re doing on the console when you raise the back, so I don’t use the stand in that circumstance.

4. The OS has some annoying quirks

I have used every type of DJ gear and every type of DJ software, and I forgive most differences, but there are just a few things about Engine OS (the software embedded in this unit) that irk me.

To give two examples: I dislike the way loop move moves the loop but not the playhead when moving forwards. And I wish Shift + Cue would jump you to the start of the song. Both behaviours are non-standard, and there are others too. I’d like to see these fixed, as I will not be the only DJ reporting them I am sure.

5. The SD card slot in the front is a great idea

Unlike the “bigger” Prime units, this does not have a SATA bay for fitting a hard drive. But it does have an SD card slot, and you can buy some pretty high capacity SD cards nowadays.

Prime GO
There is a USB socket on the back, but I have taken to using the SD card slot on the front, as the card can remain in there with much less fear of damage or loss.

I have taken to using the SD card slot on the front, as the card can remain in there with much less fear of damage or loss. I don’t know why (maybe because I am used to using SD cards with our DSLR cameras here in the studio), but I really love using the SD card for music on this, and am nowhere near filling the 128Gb card I have in it.

6. It ROCKS for outdoors and for streaming

I have DJed with a laptop for years, but especially when playing outdoors and when livestreaming, it is so much simpler to DJ with a portable, standalone item like this.

For outdoor gigs, you don’t always want a laptop (wind, sun, security), and for livestreaming, it’s great to only be using the laptop for the streaming software, not your DJ software too. (The backlighting on the buttons is hopeless in sunshine, though.)

Final thoughts…

When this device was launched, the general consensus was, “It looks great, I love it… but what would I use it for?”

In truth, Denon DJ invented a new category of portable digital DJ gear here. I’ve taken to carrying it around with me on my travels, as it easily fits in a backpack with my overnight clothes, work laptop and cameras, and so on. It means I can play DJ sets without much compromise on gear I trust, anywhere I go. And right now, I’m loving that! I am also using it for outdoor livestreaming (here’s a link to a recent livestream on the Prime GO).

Watch me talk about this on our live show

On our weekly Tuesday Tips live show, I recently talked through my thoughts on the Prime GO, so if you want to see me discussing what’s in this video with out audience, here it is:

There are lots of viewpoints and opinions expressed on the show from our DJ community too, so it is well worth a watch if you’re considering buying one of these, or just curious.

DJs are using it as a backup system for bigger Engine Prime-powered gear. Event DJs have been using it when they are asked to have a DJ in a small room like a bar or drinks party, alongside their main set-up in the bigger dining room/dancing room at weddings.

• Want to learn to DJ on this, or any other DJ system? Check out our Complete DJ Course. It’s helped thousands of DJs learn the five big aspects of DJing – gear, music, techniques, playing out, and promoting yourself – to pro level.

Black Friday Sale