When the Denon DJ Prime 4 went on sale, it was clear: a two-channel version won’t be long in coming.
Why should Denon DJ not bring a compact version of its flagship DJ workstation onto the market, because the Prime 4 is already a colossus and many wedding, working, party and other digital DJs have been waiting for that System is a little cheaper and more compact on the market, as it sometimes doesn’t need every feature.
Now the Prime 2 is a few hundred dollars less than the Prime 4. What is the difference between the two mix stations and what are the advantages and disadvantages of the two approaches? Is it worth spending more or is it better to go for the compact model?
Despite the “little brother” label, the console weighs an impressive 7.2 kg and measures 645 x 410 x 120 mm. The workmanship is great, the look ‘n’ feel almost like the Prime 4 and the “Essential Mobile DJ Workhorse” enters the test studio with gifts that were also given to the big brother:
- USB cable
- Polishing cloth for the display
- Protective display flap
- HDD screws
- power adapter
- Manual and leaflets
The contents of the package
Denon DJ Prime 2
Is a digital media player with 24-bit / 44.1 kHz audio quality, two-channel mixer and touchscreen, which is designed for Denon’s Engine OS and Wi-Fi / LAN streaming.
You can easily create engine libraries, analysis data, crates and co, or engine-compatible sticks, SD cards and hard drives with the Mac and PC software on your computer. Alternatively, you can analyze tracks on the fly, create and edit playlists and virtual record cases on the device via the on-screen keyboard.
If you come from iTunes, Traktor, Serato or rekordbox, you can import your playlists via Engine Prime Music Management Software. Rekordbox libraries are also read directly from the device. All in all, there are data carriers/players, recording and seamless DJ handover: 3x USB Type-A, 1x SD and a hard drive compartment with power connection under the device.
On the back panel, Denon DJ installs an additional aux-in for tablet, smartphone or other external player and two independently switchable microphone paths in XLR / jack, whose signals and levels can be modified and modified using a common three-band EQ. Talkover, microphone attenuation and a send to booth option are also available, unfortunately Mike-FX is not.
There are also symmetrical XLR outputs for master and booth systems on the rear, the first-mentioned signal path can also be accessed via cinch. There is also a power connection, power button, USB type A and B sockets and an anti-theft device in the form of a Kensington Lock compatible recess. Light shows from SoundSwitch and Resolume can also be synchronized via the network connection.
Headphones are connected to the front using the two 6.3 mm and 3.5 mm jack sockets. Separate controls for headphone volume and cue mix / split as well as for controlling the master, booth and aux levels are located on the user interface. So you know it to a large extent from the big brother or other consoles.
Mix on two decks
Tracks of the following formats can be placed on two engine decks via a USB stick slot, SSD slot or SD card slot.
- AAC / M4A
- AIF / AIFF (44.1-192 kHz, 16-32 bit)
- MP3 (32-320 kbps)
- Ogg Vorbis
- WAV (44.1-192 kHz, 16-32 bit)
In addition to its two-channel mixer with three-band EQ, dedicated filter per channel and navigation elements, the Denon DJ Prime 2 offers an extensive creative playground for live remixing.
These include official 6 inch jog wheels with cover art loop and playhead displays. In addition, dedicated loop sections with push encoders, censor and slip features, FX departments per deck whose parameters are shown on the display, performance pads with hot cues, slicers, rolls and much more.
And, of course, you can’t hide the transport section and the winding and skip buttons above. Neither the switchable, wonderfully long and very precise 100 mm pitch fader, the pitch bends and keymixing options. A remarkable offer for a standalone console of this format.
Denon DJ PRIME 2 – standalone console with remarkable features
The device even has LAN and wireless LAN. As far as streaming is concerned, Denon DJ is currently cooperating with Tidal, but some providers are expected to follow suit. Including Beatport, Beatsource and Soundcloud, although one may wonder whether Beatport’s locker system will find support.
If you don’t want to work with streaming music or prefer the cable network, you can of course switch off Wi-Fi. Time for the practical check.
The first mix with the Prime 2 can be described as uncomplicated, especially for those who are new to the system or who are switching, because thanks to onboard analysis you don’t even need to prepare your tracks on the PC / Mac.
The console itself is able to evaluate the pieces of music and save the calculations on your data carrier. Navigate to a track, load it into the deck with a swipe or button, the analysis is quick and then you have file information, BPM, sync functions, tempo-based effects of all kinds and the waveforms with Beatgrid, which you can adjust via the console.
However, I think it makes more sense to have the entire hard drive or stick analyzed and cataloged beforehand via a computer.
Various search filters, sorting functions and an on-screen keyboard are available on the Prime 2. The individual tracks can be previewed in the library without being loaded into the deck, even with finger coils or “needle drop” in the preview track.
Very convenient. With a swipe the second track lands in the playback unit opposite and can be adjusted in tempo and rhythm at the push of a button (sync modes available via Preferences).
Denon DJ PRIME 2 display
In the channel strip, DJ will find a high/low pass filter, 60 mm long line fader and a cross fader with an assignment switch and contour control for mixing the tracks. One gets along very well with that. The pots are easy to grip and turn gently, the faders slide gently. If you want, you can also adjust the EQ cutoff frequencies or set the resonance and type of combination filter.
Comfortably long LED meters enable the signal level to be checked visually. Whether you prefer the green-white-blue color coding instead of the otherwise common traffic light color system is probably also a matter of taste, but it fits into the visual concept of the console.
Also according to the personal workflow and taste, the display can be switched from vertical waveform layout to horizontal. Navigation and view switching for the 7 inch touchscreen are housed in a suitable place – everything is at hand.
If you look at the Prime 4, you will see that the display has been reduced from 10 inches to 7 inches. It is still high-resolution, very responsive, presents its information really crisply and also accepts touch actions such as swipe, pinch or drag.
For example for sorting playlists, zooming the waveforms, rating the tracks, changing tags, naming lists, etc. The 7 inch display can no longer be adjusted in angle, which is known from competing products, but this could be difficult Outdoor lighting situations can sometimes be a disadvantage.
But it is not so wobbly and in danger of breaking. Here are a few screenshots of the various screen views and the preferences.
Horizontal layout on Prime 2
The ribbed, haptically extremely pleasant 6 inch handwheels give you optimal control over the track. Scratching, phase alignment, coils – no problem. In addition to the virtual playhead, loop lengths, slicing and slip are temporarily shown in the display. If you want, you can also show your DJ logo instead of artwork.
The light ring that shows the working layer on the Prime 4 is no longer used on the two-channel console. The start/stop time of the track can be varied using a controller. There is no adjustment option for the jog wheel resistance.
Decks and Effects
In total, the Prime 4 has two effects sections, a dedicated loop section with push encoder, and eight performance pads, some of which are double-assigned. Loops, cue juggles, beat jumps, scratches and the like – if you work with the quantization function and the beat grid of the tracks is in place – stay in time.
The following FX are available:
- Ping pong
- Car gate
- LFO filter
There is also one of the best keylocks in place and pitch synchronization or shifting is on board and there is a color-coded key filter system to find out which tracks harmonize with the current ones. It’s all very beginner-friendly.
Not to forget: You can also record your session on a connected medium, in 24 bit with 44.1 kHz in wave format. Below are some audio examples of the successful range of effects and the integrated mixer.
Great 6-inch jog wheels, they make a difference
Streaming: Tidal, Beatport and Soundcloud for the Prime 2
For streaming music you have to create a Tidal, Beatport or Soundcloud account. We carried out the practical test with Tidal. There around 60 million tracks are waiting to be played by you, one of the largest music libraries in the mainstream sector currently.
Tidal also offers slightly more expensive hi-fi streaming. 3 months are free for Denon Prime 2 buyers. Then you can choose between various subscriptions, which cost between $9.99 and $19.99 at the time these lines are written. Before you can start streaming, however, you must first activate the device code of the Prime 2.
Denon’s DJ console allows you to determine the quality of the streaming yourself.
There are three options:
- 96 kHz, HE-AAC
- 320 kHz, AAC
- Lossless 16 bit, 44.1 kHz, FLAC
Denon DJ Prime 2 with Tidal playlists
Tidal offers cataloging by genres, moods, hotlists and global charts. There are also a number of curated playlists. One downer: Unfortunately, you cannot create your own Tidal playlists on the Prime, this is only possible via the Tidal app on the PC / Mac or mobile device (which you can download from the Prime 2, by the way).
The loading time of the pieces of music varies with the available connection quality and DSL speed – for me it took just seconds. The analysis takes about 3 to 5 seconds and this data is immediately available after a new download because it is saved on the corresponding USB medium! Basically, you can work with the tidal tracks like with local music, only the recording of the mix session is prohibited.
If there was a protected storage area for streaming tracks that were loaded on request, that would be great. This could, however, find its way into Beatport and Beatsource Link in the future, two services that basically allow offline storage. With the ENGINE OS FW Update 1.5.1 Beatport Link is already at the start, as well as Soundcloud GO +.
Differences to Prime 4
Before I conclude, I would like to highlight a few differences to the Prime 4
It starts with the mixer, which, significantly, now has two instead of four channels. This goes hand in hand with the fact that the four cinch inputs on the back panel have been rationalized in favor of an aux-in.
A shame for all those who want to place a compact two-channel like this between two turntables. As a central mix element for the best of two worlds, so to speak. The dedicated zone output and control options for playing a second area with an extra playlist also had to give way in conceptual terms. Likewise the Booth EQ.
Instead of four-way switchable Sweep FX, there is only one filter per channel. I think that’s a shame because especially in the cross-genre mix you can really use echo-out and wash-out. The fader start option has been canceled for the flat track controllers. The crossfader is still interchangeable, the middle row with navigation and level meter as well as headphone mixes largely corresponds to the P4.
The two effects sections are now permanently assigned to the respective deck and they have to do without the dedicated FX displays. Instead, the display is outsourced to the screen. Various buttons have also been rearranged, deck switches and the beat grid section have been deleted.
Likewise the booth-out EQ, the separate EQs in the microphone department, Mike-FX and a USB port. Here everyone has to decide for themselves whether the glass is half full or half empty. For me, these small and large conceptual restructurings make the device very beginner-friendly.
Unlike the Prime 4, Serato DJ compatibility has not yet been communicated. Consequently, it cannot currently be assumed that software can be operated via a USB connection or computer mode. Due to the lack of phono inputs, DVS is not due anyway.
What you should definitely consider when buying a device from the Denon universe: All Prime Units, including the SC5000 and SC6000 and the M versions, use the same OS. So you don’t have to get used to it or build new data carriers if you are thinking of switching from the small console to the media player or if you find them in the club or rely on the tech rider.
The Denon standalone consoles and media players are technically state-of-the-art. The bar for the next generation and competing products is high. Let’s see what else the development department has in store for us.
Engine Prime DJ software
Denon DJ Prime 2 would like to present itself as the perfect all-in-one essential solution for mobile DJs and event service providers, and in my opinion the console has done that really well.
With the integrated Wi-Fi streaming (Tidal, Beatport, Soundcloud) and the numerous USB interfaces in addition to the hard disk compartment, you can play music from common data carriers, from the Internet or a connected player on two channels plus an aux channel.
Moderators can use two microphone channels, live remix DJs can access a number of effects, loops and performance pads. The 7-inch multitouch-capable display also provides all information, enables keyboard entries and lists to be created, even recordings are possible. Light shows can be synchronized via LAN.
The console looks great, the look, workmanship and feel like it. Sure, the price is not without it, the touch display and the performance pads are smaller than in the Prime 4, the features are somewhat trimmed and the inputs/outputs are reduced.
In part, this is also due to the much more compact, far more mobile form factor and gives me no reason to refuse the Prime 2 a buy recommendation. Personally, I would have liked two full phono/line inputs for this workstation, plus Serato DJ compatibility. Apart from that it can be said:
The workflow of the Prime 2 is straight forward, the audio quality is very good, the computerless Engine Prime 2 and 4 concept currently sets the bar very high for mobile standalone DJ workstations.