Both the Denon DJ Prime 2 and the Prime 4 are excellent standalone DJ systems – but which is best for you? I’ve personally DJed on both of these units extensively, and even made full video training manuals for each (here’s the video training manual for the Prime 2, and here’s the video training manual for the Prime 4), so I am well placed to help you decide.
Read on, and we’ll look first at the similarities between the units, then the main differences, then the other differences, and finally I’ll help you decide which is best for you.
Denon DJ Prime 2 vs Prime 4
i. Prime 2 vs Prime 4: Similarities
Overall, they are more similar than they are different. They’re definitely “cut from the same cloth”, and aimed at the same kind of DJs (serious DJs who want pro-quality gear with modern features). For instance:
- Both run Engine OS – most powerful standalone operating system there is
- Same build quality, same sound quality, same tech (so for instance WiFi streaming works exactly the same on both)
- Both have exactly the same-sized jogwheels
- Both have two mic channels
- Similar feel when DJing
- Same two FX engines effects available
- Both have full RGB performance pads
- Almost exactly the same features on the mixers
- Both let you fit internal hard drives
- Both have full support for Virtual DJ software if you want to use them as controllers
There are clearly differences, though, so we’ll run through the big ones, then round up the rest.
ii. Prime 2 vs Prime 4: Big differences
- Prime 4 has four channels against the Prime 2’s two – It’s in the name, and is clearly the biggest difference between these devices
- Prime 4 is a standalone mixer – Four line inputs (two of which are switchable to phono) are available, while there’s only a single Aux input on the Prime 2. So you can plug record decks, media players and so on with the Prime 4 and DJ using them, whereas on the Prime 2, the Aux in is only really good to run a backup music source or similar
- Prime 4 is bigger and heavier, so is harder to transport than the Prime 2 – This is actually a disadvantage of the Prime 4 if you plan on moving it around a lot, and just want to carry your DJ unit under your arm or in a (big) backpack/bag
- Prime 4 works with Serato, Prime 2 doesn’t – This is a curious omission on the Prime 2, and one that may be fixed at some point, but it’s been a year now and it hasn’t been, so do not buy the Prime 2 expecting to use it with Serato any time soon
- Prime 4 has four sweep FX, Prime 2 only has filters – This is again curious, because even the ultra-portable Prime GO has two choices here, a filter and an echo out. But no, you’re stuck with just a filter on the Prime 2
- Prime 4 has a Zone Out – This means that you can play different music somewhere else using the fourth channel, which will autoplay through a playlist of your choice – good for mobile DJs who have to provide background music in one room while DJing “properly” in another
- Prime 4 is obviously more expensive – It will cost you around $/£/€400 more than the Prime 2
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iii. Prime 2 vs Prime 4: Other differences
Generally, there will be something you’ve already read here that will make it easy for you to choose between the two – but the devil is in the detail they say, so let’s carry on and list lots of other differences between these units, before tackling the question “which one to go for?” head-on at the end of this article.
- Prime 4 has a better screen – Prime 4 screen can be angled, Prime 2 is fixed. Prime 4’s screen is also bigger
- Prime 2 has one extra knob – Prime 2 has a stop time adjust knob (that decides how quickly the deck slows to a halt when you stop it playing), Prime 4 doesn’t (it is in the menu). This is the only example of the Prime 2 actually having a control that the Prime 4 doesn’t
- Prime 4 has larger, better spaced out performance pads – Good if you use them a lot and think you’ve got clumsy fingers
- Prime 4 has better hardware beatgrid controls – They don’t do more than the basic fixes (grid shift, half/double BPM), but on the Prime 2, you just get Grid Shift, and it is a modifier function on another button
- Prime 4 has an extra USB socket on the top – They both have plenty of sockets for USBs and also an SD card slot, but may be an issue if you regularly share the gear DJing with another DJ, for instance
- Prime 4 has 2-band EQ plus volume on the booth output – Prime 2 just has the volume knob
- Better mic controls and features on Prime 4 – You get individual EQs (Prime 2 only has one set of mic EQs) and an echo effect in addition to volume and talkover
- Main FX engines better on Prime 4 – They control the same effects, but they are easier to use and with more features on the Prime 4, as each FX engine has its own mini-screen and more hardware controls meaning you rely on the touchscreen less. Only the Prime 4 has “FX frequency”, which is a fun way of altering how the effects sound
As I said, none of these are major differences – although the screen size may be more important for some than others, especially those whose eyes aren’t what they used to be (something I can vouch for from first-hand experience).
Which To Go For?
- A dealbreaker will make it easy – If one of the big differences (Serato compatibility, standalone mixer, zone output) is a dealbreaker for you, then Prime 4 it is. If not though, and especially if you’re a two-channel DJ, Prime 2 is probably better
- Lack of a sampler may push you towards Prime 4 – Bear in mind that no Engine gear has a sampler, so you may want the extra decks of the Prime 4 to use for things you’d normally use a sampler for, even if you’re basically a two-channel DJ (DJ drops, acapellas and so on)
- How important is portability to you? – Prime 2 is just about transportable without a vehicle – Prime 4, no way. If you want to be able to easily take your Prime unit to gigs, Prime 2 may be right – but if you have loads of other gear anyway, and already hulk around flight cases, a van/trailer etc, it’ll make no difference which one you go for
- Most of the compromises on the Prime 2 are down to size – Many “missing” features over the Prime 4 are available in the built-in software via the touchscreen anyway (for instance, pretty comprehensive effects control)
- Both are actually great for mobile gigs – Prime 2 has great features for playing out, and would be fine for a mobile DJ – but if you’re a pro mobile DJ, you’d probably want the Prime 4 for its better mic channels & features (plus it looks better)
Still Not Decided?
If you’re still not decided, you should take a look at one or both of our video manuals for these units, which will talk you through every single feature in detail:
Prime 2 video manual
Prime 4 video manual
Have Your Say…
So which is right for you? Which did you go for? Any regrets? Got any questions? Let us know in the comments.