As a company, Denon have definitely had a big hand in shaping modern DJ culture from a gear perspective- I mean they practically invented the modern CDJ as we know it, and in turn laid down the DNA for DJ’ing in the post-vinyl era, a legacy that that has informed all CDJ, USBDJ and DJ Controllers that have emerged since.
With the DJ world booming at present, never has there been more of a need for a professional quality, all-in-one DJ solution - something capable of handling multiple-media sources, DJ software and the ever expanding expressive demands of modern clubland. In this regard, the release of the Prime 4 really marks a coming of age for this kind of setup- where power, versatility and clean navigation remain paramount, all the while staying true to the kind of musicality that can go from ’Human Jukebox’ to ‘Bonafide Artist’ at a moment’s notice. The new Denon Prime 4 is definitely one such controller.
Upon unboxing, one of the first things that jumps out is the sheer breadth of features on the Prime 4. With four channels each with full standalone capability with three-band EQ and gain control for each and with 16 assignable pads. The integrated WIFI and internet functions allow users to sync their streaming accounts to their controller giving the Prime 4 a basically limitless selection of streamed media to be played and mixed from. In short, the Prime 4 offers a dizzying amount of media and input options for the working DJ.
You can tell that Denon has put a lot of forethought into making this piece as functional and flexible as possible. The responsiveness of the Jog wheel, coupled with the Prime 4’s impressive touch screen display give the unit the kind of efficient navigation that is sure to bring anyone working in the commercial space (with their 3+ hour sets and crazy cue lists) a welcome sigh of relief, combine that with the Prime 4’s massive 1TB SSD, which is integrated into the unit and allows users to save media directly onto the controller itself, instantly makes the Prime 4 one of the most versatile all in one DJ controllers of all time.
Of course, there is still the option to use external drives as the Prime 4 has both USB and SD card inputs giving the user even more choice as to where to play their media from. One thing that definitely impressed me with the Prime 4, was how quickly it was able to read my drive and load up everything regardless of source. Internal Memory, HD, SD card, Stream-everything seemed to work with as little lag as possible. This is sure to pay dividends in the field, where every second of load time can be the difference between happy crowd and vengeful crowd.
A former criticism of Denon has been the inability to play certain types of media from their hardware. The Prime 4 goes out of its way to smash this stereotype once and for all and belies the companies move towards a more versatile range that prioritises media accessibility. The Prime 4’s new mode of media streaming opens the users experience, in turn allowing them access to what is basically and endless library of music. To say this was a liberating experience would be an understatement-in practise it feels like a revelation!
As a performance tool, the Prime 4 definitely does not disappoint. The broadband EQ has enough cut to bring about instant and obvious change, both as a corrective and stylistic tool. The onboard filters are intuitive and pleasant on the ear and the onboard effects are more than palatable. The music management software that comes with the controller, while not your regular Pioneer Recordbox-style and might not be to everyone’s taste upon first impressions at first, but after a bit of getting used to, but rest assured the result is a much more intuitive and efficient method of navigation in the long term.
Denon has been on its game lately, and in the last few years has been making major moves with their release of the DJ range. I don’t think it would be outrageous to deem the Prime to be one of the best, if not the best, all in one DJ systems on the market right now.
Hits and Misses
Crazy number of media/input options
Insane amount of features
Simple navigation/media library
Music management software may take some getting used to