Using Engine As A Serato Backup With The Denon DJ MCX8000

Phil Morse | Founder & Tutor
Read time: 2 mins
Last updated 6 April, 2018

We show you how a USB stick with music prepped with Denon DJ’s Engine makes for a good fail-safe when used with the MCX8000 controller.

The Denon DJ MCX8000 has proven itself a popular pro controller for Serato DJ users, but it has an ace up its sleeve: It also works with Denon’s own Engine software. Engine lets you analyse your collection beforehand, pop it onto a USB drive, then play with it on the MCX8000 – waveforms, sync and all. And that, in our view, makes it the perfect backup solution for gigging Serato DJs. Let’s find out more…

The problem

Many professional DJs, especially mobile, party and bar/lounge DJs, use controllers and laptops, and Serato DJ is a great solution – powerful, reliable and justifiably popular. Coupled with the Denon DJ MCX8000, it makes a DJ system any pro can be proud of.

But as with any laptop DJ system, there is an inherent weakness: the laptop. A crash, a hardware failure, a software glitch, or even user error (USB lead knocked out…) could all cause the music to stop. If the problem is serious, that could be the laptop out of action for the whole night, not just a reboot (which is bad enough, of course).

Traditionally, DJs either carry CDs, an iPod with music on it, a spare laptop, even a spare controller – after all, it’s a nightmare scenario that you definitely need a plan B for. But none of these solutions is perfect.

The Engine solution

Because the Denon DJ MCX8000 has USB ports and built-in screens, it lets you do something really quite neat: you can plug in a USB drive containing a music library analysed in the desktop Engine software, and DJ from that, no laptop required. The waveforms show on the screens, sync works, and there are even filters and effects. In short, you can carry on DJing almost as if nothing has happened.

It’s not as polished as using Serato: There are only two decks, beatgrids aren’t as good, library scrolling is a lot more limited, and there are other limitations too – but for a USB DJ system (and for a plan B), it’s amazing.

There are other use cases too (second DJ wanting to play a few tunes, quick set where you don’t really want to bring a laptop, smooth DJ switchovers), but for pros, this backup solution for us is the big one. Watch me talk you through how it works in the video below.

Talkthrough video

Do you like this? Are you an MCX8000 user, and have you DJed from it using Engine? How did you find it? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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