Denon DJ announced the Prime 2 alongside the Prime Go, and they represent the second and third units launched in this standalone, all-in-one range of DJ systems (the first of course being the runaway-successful Prime 4).
As the name suggests, this is a two-channel version of the Prime 4. But what else has been cut down? And is it a viable choice for the pro DJ who doesn’t really need a four-channel controller? In this hands-on review, I’ll give you my thoughts having spend an hour with it at a Denon DJ press event. (Expect a full review of the product once we’ve been able to spend a bit more time with it.)
First Impressions / Setting up
It essentially looks and feels like what it is – a cut-down version of the Prime 4. Most of the controls are still there, the form factor is similar, the jogwheels are similar, it still has an HDD slot for your hard drive underneath, there are two independent mics, full balanced/unbalanced booth/master outs, and so on.
However, looks more closely and the changes show themselves.
Firstly, the screen is much smaller. While the 10″ tiltable screen in the Prime 4 feels generous, this 7″ screen is smaller than an iPad mini, and is fixed. It’s still multi-gesture, bright and high-resolution, but it inevitably feels cramped, especially when seen next to the Prime 4.
Clearly the Prime 4 lacks the extra two channels, but round the back, you see that there are no line/phono channel inputs for the two channels it does have – these are purely software channels. It does have an Aux input though for a backup or extra music source, and it retains two mic channels with talkover and hardware EQ – although these now share those features.
The two FX engines have lost their cute little OLED displays, responsibility for feedback info now passing to the screen via little drop-downs that appear when you need them.
But while there are other minor differences (a few buttons have been rearranged, there is one fewer USB input, for instance), it is pretty much the same experience you get on the Prime 4 overall.
The best thing about all the Prime controllers is that Engine OS, the embedded software, is more or less exactly the same on all units, and all updates to it get rolled out across the range. So you get the WiFi streaming from Tidal (and other services soon), the ability to make and organise playlists on the fly, on-board analysis (even of libraries from rival system Rekordbox) and all the other features that have made the Prime 4 such a bit hit.
On this unit, one specific change is the inclusion of elements to control the FX, as mentioned above – but basically the software is identical to on other units.
For some users though, the 7″ screen is going to be an issue, because it is inevitably just not as easy to use and see as the 10″ screen on the Prime 4. It is the chief way you interface with the library and other software features, and I’d like to have seen this at least 8″ (ie iPad mini)-sized.
Ultimately, many DJs simply don’t want or need more than two channels to DJ with. For such DJs, you’d be getting a cheaper, lighter, more portable system here, that packs basically the full Denon DJ Prime experience into something at a compelling price.
The obvious comparison here is with the Pioneer DJ XDJ-RX2, a similarly sized two-channel standalone controller. Technology-wise, this blows the Pioneer unit out of the water, and is appreciably cheaper, so for DJs who aren’t bothered about buying into the club-dominant Pioneer ecosystem, there’s no contest. (It’s actually the same size screen as on that Pioneer unit, too.)
The Prime 2 may well prove the be the “sweet spot” in the Denon DJ Prime range, and could prove to be just as successful as the Prime 4.
• The Denon DJ Prime 2 will be available from Q1 2020 for US$1399. Check the Denon DJ site for more details.