What Denon DJ Gear Is Right For You?

Phil Morse | Founder & Tutor
October 27, 2021

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Denon DJ is a huge name in DJ tech. It was one of the first brands to introduce CD technology into DJing, and has traditionally made well-regarded DJ controllers (eg the Denon DJ MC6000), that were especially popular with mobile DJs.

Nowadays it is part of the inMusic family of companies, alongside Rane, Numark, Akai Pro and more, and is the biggest (really, the only) competitor to Pioneer DJ, with a suite of products designed to give a true alternative to what Pioneer DJ offers, at least as far as pro DJs are concerned.

Who does Denon DJ aim its products at?

I just mentioned it: In a nutshell, pro DJs. They could be touring DJs, event/mobile DJs (Denon DJ’s gear is still immensely popular within this niche), but also “serious” hobbyist DJs – especially the kind of DJs who are early adopters of new DJing technology.

Nowadays, Denon DJ’s focus is also squarely on DJs who want standalone equipment (ie gear that they can DJ on without a laptop). While in the past Denon DJ has had equipment that can be used with a laptop in the DJ booth, all of its current product range is primarily aimed at DJs who prefer to DJ without a laptop when performing.

How to use this article

In this article, we’ll look at all of Denon DJ’s current product range, to help you choose what set-up may be right for you. We’ll also compare Denon DJ to its big rival, Pioneer DJ, we’ll explore the software Denon DJ uses to help you understand its importance within the Denon DJ ecosystem, and we’ll even take a look at legacy Denon DJ equipment and let you know what is safe to buy today, and what you may want to give a wide berth to.

We’ve linked to our full reviews of pretty much all of the gear featured, here, too, which usually also have an accompanying video review, so you can get really deep into comparing the kits and researching your options, should you wish.

Just a word before we go any further: We are not affiliated with this company, or any other company we cover on this website: We are a DJ school, 100% funded by our students. This info is offered with complete impartiality, based upon our experiences and those of our students with this gear, so you can trust it to be unbiased and based upon the real experiences of DJs using this kit.

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Contents

 

 

 

 

 

 

Current Denon DJ Gear

Denon DJ has made a wide range of DJ equipment over the years, but as I said, nowadays its gear is all about DJing without a laptop – standalone all-in-one DJ consoles, and more professional “separates” that together achieve the same thing. We’ll look first at all-in-one units, then move on to separates.

Denon DJ all-in-one consoles

These are a good choice for hobby DJs, as a backup device for DJs who use Denon DJ separates as their main system, and for DJs for whom expense is an important factor (as they’re much cheaper than buying separates).

Read this next: Denon DJ Prime 2 vs Prime 4: Which Is The Best?

  • Prime 4

    This is Denon DJ’s flagship all-in-one four-channel DJ system, with a big screen, four channels, standalone mixer capability, and Serato compatibility too.

     

    GOOD IF: You want a powerful centrepiece to your DJ system, that has got lots of flexibility with inputs and outputs, and that will both look good and perform well in pro/public situations. It even lets you fit a hard drive internally so you can carry around tons of music

    BAD IF: You want something that’s easily portable (It can be moved around, but it’s relatively big and heavy)

     

    Price: $1899 / £1649 / €1778
    Our rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
    Full review: Denon DJ Prime 4 Review
    Buy now: Amazon

  • Prime 2

    This is a stripped back, two-channel version of the Prime 4, with a smaller screen and fewer inputs, but essentially the same functionality and looks.

     

    GOOD IF: You don’t use four channels in your DJing and want something smaller and more portable (and cheaper) than the Prime 4. It still has a SATA hard drive port

    BAD IF: You want to use it with Serato (the Prime 4 is the only Prime controller that works with Serato)

     

    Price: $1499 / £1299 / €1499
    Our rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
    Full review: Denon DJ Prime 2 Review
    Buy now: Amazon

  • Prime Go

    Denon DJ Prime Go

    This is a tiny but pro DJ system, with a built-in battery – really it’s in a class of its own.

     

    GOOD IF: You’ve fallen in love with it (many DJs do!) or you have a clear use for a tiny, battery-powered device – “out and about” livestreaming, or a second device for a wedding DJ who plays outdoor receptions, for instance

    BAD IF: You’re a beginner considering your first Denon DJ device – it may be the cheapest, but it is too non-standard to be a good choice to learn on. You’d be better off with the Prime 2

     

    Price: $999 / £939 / €958
    Our rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
    Full review: Denon DJ Prime Go Review
    Buy now: Amazon


About Engine DJ software

All current Denon DJ all-in-one systems and media players run Engine DJ OS embedded, and you’re also strongly recommended to use Engine DJ desktop on a Mac or Windows laptop to prepare your music, too. It’s made by the same company, and indeed, used to carry Denon’s “Prime” branding until recently.

Read this next: Engine DJ 2.0 Desktop & OS Review

The desktop software lets you analyse your music for musical key and beatgrids, manually add cue points and loops, sort into playlists and export your music to USB drive or to Dropbox. (You can just “throw a load of music files onto a USB drive” and plug into the gear, and it’ll work, but you’ll be missing a shedload of features that way).

The OS software (embedded in your DJ system) lets you DJ on that system with lots of powerful features more usually found on laptop DJ software, such as key sync, powerful performance pads features, DJing over WiFi from streaming services, and playing from your own collection using Dropbox.

Denon DJ standalone consoles

Standalone DJ gear is the “pro” choice, at least for clubs – separates that together do the same job as the all-in-one gear. Think of it a bit like buying hifi separates.

The advantages are that if something needs servicing, you replace just that one element, and also you get bigger controls, and more features, especially when it comes to mixer functions.

  • SC6000 Prime media player

    The SC6000 Prime has a huge 10” screen, a bigger jogwheel than the player it replaced (the SC5000), and a hard drive bay (like the Prime 2 and Prime 4). Apart from that, it pretty much does all the same stuff as the earlier SC5000.

     

    GOOD IF: You want to latest, and best – this is a truly stunning media player

    BAD IF: You want spinning jogwheels – motorised platters are the unique selling point of the sister product, the SC6000M

     

    Price: $1599 / £1459 / €1499
    Our rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
    Full review: Denon DJ SC6000 Prime Review
    Buy now: Amazon

  • SC6000M Prime media player

    The motorised version of the SC6000 Prime, with an incredible 7” platter, complete with “real” vinyl and slipmat, for a completely authentic vinyl DJing experience.

     

    GOOD IF: You want to feel like you’re DJing on vinyl, but with a modern media player

    BAD IF: You want to be able to easily move it around – all the extra internals needed for that “turntable” experience sure do add to the weight of the thing

     

    Price: $1799 / £1629 / €1699
    Our rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
    Full review: Denon DJ SC6000M Prime Review
    Buy now: Amazon

  • X1850 Prime mixer

    The companion DJ mixer to the SC6000 media players, and the natural choice to complete a Denon DJ separates system.

     

    GOOD IF: You want the most tightly integrated set-up: You can network the mixer and players together to get, for instance, mixer effects that are tied perfectly to the BPM of the music, and Ableton Link

    BAD IF: You already own a good mixer and don’t care about the aesthetics of matching it with the SC6000s – Denon DJ’s media players will work just fine with any pro DJ mixer in almost all circumstances

     

    Price: $1199 / £1199 / €1399
    Our rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
    Full review: Denon DJ X1850 Prime Mixer Review
    Buy now: Amazon

  • LC6000 Prime deck controller

    This is a full-sized controller designed to work alongside the SC series of media players to “unlock” the second deck within each of those (as each SC can control two “decks” of music). It also works as a Midi controller for DJ software.

     

    GOOD IF: You want a “four deck” system, but can’t afford (or don’t want to spend the money on) four SC players

    BAD IF: You want to use it with the Prime 4, which in theory should be able to work with it, but doesn’t – it’s strictly for the SC units

     

    Price: $699 / £599 / €699
    Our rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
    Full review: Denon DJ LC6000 Prime Review
    Buy now: Amazon

Legacy Denon DJ gear

OK to go for

  • SC5000, SC5000M Prime media players – These were the previous models to the current SC6000/M Prime players, but they still work with Engine DJ just fine and really aren’t that old
  • X1800 mixer – While this was the previous mixer to the current X1850, there isn’t much of a difference and this one will still serve you excellently as part of a Prime set-up
  • VL12 Prime turntable – No longer available, but if you find it, it’s fine – it’s just a turntable, and a rather nice one at that. Should work OK for years to come
  • DS1 audio interface – This is a DVS (Digital Vinyl System), a small box that lets you use Serato DJ with normal turntables and a mixer. And it’ll still do the job fine – if you can find one

Be cautious

  • MC2000, MC4000, MC6000/MC6000 MkII, MC7000 controllers – These are the “previous generation” of Denon DJ kit, software controllers that work with Serato DJ, Virtual DJ etc. The main reason to exercise caution is that you’ll probably be buying them second-hand, as they’re hard to find new – but apart from that, they all still work fine

Avoid

  • MCX8000 – This is previous generation standalone tech, not supported any more by Engine DJ and so stuck on the last version it worked with. Unless you know what you’re doing, don’t buy this today
  • Any other earlier Denon DJ gear – Previous-generation media players, deck controllers etc may still work, but unless you are sure what you’re doing, are best avoided as they’re really old and will be difficult to service/get support with

Read this next: When To Upgrade Your Gear (And When To Wait)


Using Denon DJ equipment with third-party DJ software

Denon DJ kit nowadays, as mentioned, is primarily made to be used “standalone” – but some of it can also be used with DJ software.

For instance, the LC6000 Prime is a deck controller, that can be used to control decks in Serato, Virtual DJ and Algoriddim’s djay Pro AI software.

Meanwhile, the Prime 4 – While sold as a standalone DJ system, this also works as a Serato DJ controller (it unlocks Serato DJ Pro), and can be used with external record decks/CDJs as a Serato DJ DVS device, too.

Finally, both the SC5000 and SC6000 Prime media players play nicely with Serato, too, making them a good choice if you sometimes want to use Serato, but at others, want to use Engine standalone.

Want more gear help? Grab your free PDF: The Digital DJ Gear Buyer’s Guide

Denon DJ Vs Pioneer DJ

This is a choice many DJs grapple with when choosing which “route” to go down, so hopefully here we can help you make that decision!

Pioneer DJ is the club standard and is likely to stay that way for the foreseeable future – but to keep established DJs onside, Pioneer DJ has to innovate carefully and conservatively, which is something Denon DJ probably doesn’t feel the weight of quite so much.

Therefore, Denon DJ is currently more innovative than Pioneer DJ, and makes more powerful standalone DJ equipment, quickly adding features and ideas in a way Pioneer DJ doesn’t – hence the love for the brand from hobbyists.

Consider going for Denon DJ if…

• You can specify what equipment you want to play on (eg you’re a touring DJ who is big enough to ask for Denon DJ gear on an equipment rider)
• You’re a hobby DJ who’s more excited about the feature set of Denon DJ gear than Pioneer DJ gear, and don’t mind using a system you won’t find in many clubs
• You’re an event or mobile DJ who owns your own equipment anyway, and you like the features of Denon DJ gear over Pioneer DJ

Consider going for Pioneer DJ if…

• You want to play on club DJ equipment one day, and would rather stick to the “club standard” (all Pioneer DJ gear, from the lowliest to the most expensive, is laid out similarly and uses the same software for DJing or preparation, so your learning curve will be easier this way as you’ll never have to switch)
• You already play regularly on Pioneer DJ club equipment (because moving your library between the systems can be done, but is something you probably want to avoid if possible)

Get your free download: The Digital DJ Gear Buyer’s Guide

Finally…

Denon DJ offers a fantastic range of DJ gear, and is the only DJ ecosystem that can challenge Pioneer DJ’s dominance. Whether or not it’s for you depends upon how much you want to “tow the line” with the market leader compared to how much you’re happy to be an “outsider”; how much you value Denon DJ’s undoubted innovation over the more “conservative” approach of Pioneer DJ, and to an extent, the kind of DJ you are (club DJs will be more likely to be biased towards Pioneer DJ, hobbyist and event DJs, towards Denon DJ, to generalise).

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Hopefully, our guide has helped you to understand Denon DJ’s approach to DJing and the DJ hardware/software world. But if you have any questions, feel free to ask them below – our team will be more than happy to help.

Last updated 15 November, 2021

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