Denon DJ Prime Go Review

Denon DJ Prime Go Review

The all-in-one DJ workstation Denon DJ Prime Go brings standalone DJ decks to play music from USB sticks or hard drives as well as WiFi streaming in the most compact space.

The whole thing is garnished with effects, pads and touchscreen and Denon DJ also integrates a rechargeable battery so that the party machine can also be used without problems on the go.

The perfect workstation for party people, well-heeled bedroomers, service providers and wedding & working DJs who want to hang up without a laptop and don’t want to carry around a lot? Or maybe as a replacement system for the large Prime setup?

Our test reveals what is possible and where there is still potential for improvement. 

Pros
  • Standalone workflow with Engine OS

  • Very compact DJ set

  • 7-inch responsive touchscreen

  • Integrated battery

  • Professional build quality and connections

  • Aux input for media player, smartphone etc.

  • Streaming Music-enabled (Tidal, Soundcloud, Beatport)

  • WLAN and LAN connection

Cons
  • Metering suboptimal

  • No batch analysis on the device

Feature Highlights

Denon DJ Prime Go is a dual-deck media player for playing music from external storage media or WiFi / LAN streaming.

Equipped with professional inputs and outputs, including XLR, aux-in and dual microphone combo sockets, a two-channel mixer, various effects and a touchscreen, as well as an integrated 24-bit / 48 kHz sound card and the option of network-controlled light synchronization.

Using Denon’s in-house engine software, compatible USB sticks, SD cards and hard drives can be conveniently created on the Mac and PC for the device.

Prime Go is also able to carry out the track analysis itself, i.e. without the use of a computer, whereby you can create and edit playlists, crates, tags, etc. on the device using a virtual keyboard.

Particularly interesting for those switching to the system: Traktor, Serato or rekordbox can be imported via software, Pioneer libraries even directly on the Prime GO. When importing, however, you have to do without some Pioneer-specific track tags.

Thanks to the integrated battery, this can also be done without a power supply on the plane, train or on the sofa.

Compact DJ mix station

The concept is of course always the subject of product developments and in the course of the miniaturization of DJ equipment and controllers, I have had some more or less successful specimens of this species under my fingers over the past few years, including the Tonium Pacemaker, DJ-Tech’s U2 station or the Sirus Pro DXS-1000 with screen, and the Wacom Nextbeat, to name a few examples beyond the big Pioneer and Denon standalone flagships ( for the purchase advisor DJ complete sets) to call.

At first glance, nobody seems to have succeeded in doing this as well as Denon DJ, implementing the ultra-mobile concept, which is also battery-powered, and thus stimulating the blind purchase trigger.

Scope of delivery and first impression

A handle in the box brings the Denon DJ Prime Go, USB cable, power supply unit, polishing cloth for the display, lanyard with SoundSwitch-Serial, sticker, manual and leaflets to light.

If the Prime 2 is placed (for testing) as a version of the Prime 4 that is slightly reduced in terms of channel and feature technology, as well as a slightly reduced display size, the Go really goes one better.

So if you want to throw the term “little brother” into the Denon DJ Prime product group, then that fits like a fist with the GO.

With a size of only 411 x 274 x 53 mm and a weight of 3.7 kg, the mobile party mixer can be easily put in the backpack and transported. In my opinion, an additional hard case like the Thon Case Denon DJ Prime Go would not be the worst choice to protect the display and the faders and pots in particular, a Decksaver cover can also be a worthwhile investment.

Denon DJ Prime Go box

The scope of delivery of the Denon DJ Prime Go: Everything on, everything in? The test will tell

Front and back panel, processing, I/Os

A look at the back shows to the left of the Kensington lock XLR and RCA outputs for master (including mono switch), jack for booth. In terms of interfaces, the console is optimally equipped for PA systems, amplifiers and monitor boxes. Two XLR / jack combo sockets for microphones are on board for moderation.

There is also a cinch aux input for other playback options besides stick/card / WiFi. Smartphone, of course. But how about, for example, a battery-powered MPC Live 2, as a technoid act with a loud soundbok on the glacier or in the pampas to “jam live to the canned music”?

If there is no MIDI socket for synchronization, that’s right. But Denon, who like AKAI belong to the Inmusic group, could also integrate Ableton Link, as with the MPC Live and Force devices, for example. And many DJ programs have this technology on board anyway – would also be something for the Prime 2 and 4, by the way.

But good, if you use the input for the tablet or whatever you want to dock at the entrance to entertain the audience.

On the right outside, next to the power switch, power supply socket and strain relief, are the USB ports for the PC / MAC and the removable storage device as well as the aforementioned network socket for lighting control or as a WiFi alternative.

If only two cinch pairs were there to dock turntables and a corresponding standalone mixer mode, boy, boy. Only a line-capable turntable model would work on the aux-in, which for me would at least exclude the GO as a central element in my setup if there wasn’t a club mixer already there.

I have nothing to complain about the workmanship of the console. The case is solid, the ventilation slots sit a good 20 mm higher on the side. Neatly dimensioned rubber feet at the bottom ensure stability. The connection sockets are screwed tight, faders and potentiometers (on metal pins) turn/slide pleasantly gently, the design pleases.

Certainly one could be of divided opinion about the knobs mounted on the front and therefore slightly protruding and complain about the fact that there is no tone control for Mike and Aux, as well as about the “fact” that the EQs had to be placed horizontally.

But hand on heart: You don’t want to work with your fingertips on a too densely populated, cluttered surface and so Denon can be attested that they have done a pretty good job with the operating layout. The workflow is quickly internalized.

Denon DJ Prime Go rear

There are audio interfaces, LAN and USB ports at the rear

What I personally find a bit of a shame at the first assessment: The hard drive compartment has been rationalized away. My old Sirus Pro DXS-1000 is hardly bigger and has something like that. Good, but it doesn’t have a battery in the case.

Nevertheless, an integrated SSD would be a great thing, because here systems from/for certain events / DJs could be completely equipped with a large/special music inventory, potential locker tracks from Beatport / Beatsource, whose support was announced, and the like could be saved.

Why there is only one USB port at the back and not another one in front also raises questions, especially if you are confronted with USB sticks that you have “brought with you” at an event or under the aspect of seamless DJ handover or when you share the evening as a DJ team.

Fiddling around in the back is also not for everyone. Practical, however, is the front slot-in for the SD. Mix recording the easy way. That goes on buttons, uh touchscreen printing.

Otherwise, the two headphone connections (3.5 mm / 6.3 mm) with cue mix (split cue possible via menu) and level control as well as the aux level control are located at the front.

When it comes to metering, Denon uses green, white, blue instead of traffic lights, which is probably also a matter of taste and it fits into the overall visual concept, at least for the larger models. I will come back to the subject later.

By the way, it is similar with some Numark devices (also Inmusic Brands), which use red/white instead of traffic light code.

Denon DJ Prime Go front

Headphone outputs and the control options for aux and cue mix as well as the SD card slot are located at the front

User interface Denon DJ Prime Go

As I already noted, Denon has done a lot here, because despite the compact form factor, we not only find the basics to hang up in the Prime Go, there is also a discreet playground for creative initial lights and beat mixers. I note

  • Two-channel mixer with three-band EQ and sweep FX (A = combined filter HPF / LPF, B = wash out echo effect)
  • Line and crossfader à 45 mm: The crossfader curve can be adjusted, the CF can be switched off, but it cannot be inverted.
  • 80 mm jog wheel, capacitive and extra flat, with vinyl mode, cannot be deactivated
  • 45 mm short pitch fader with pitch bend buttons
  • Transport section (cue, play / pause)
  • Button for vinyl mode and grid editing using jog wheel and touchscreen (keyword: set preparation, backup)
  • Sync and key sync
  • Loop encoder with jump/move function
  • four pads with three modes (Hotcue, Loop, Roll) and two banks (so in fact eight hotcues, roll sizes and loops)
  • FX and master / booth / microphone section

The FX section at the top left allows you to select one of 13 main effects and send them to the decks, whereby you can set the timing as well as the effect parameters and dry-wet proportion using the appropriate knobs/push encoders. Well resolved.

At the top right we find the level controls for the master and booth systems as well as for the two microphone connections, which were assigned power buttons and talkover. The recording of the microphones/moderation using the integrated recording function can be set via the menu.

The fact that there are no EQs here should be annoying to professional service providers, but it is not uncommon for them to have a submixer in their luggage anyway, here everyone has to define for themselves what advantages and disadvantages Denon’s compact format has in individual cases or for the specific application.

Denon DJ Prime Go mixer

Denon DJ Prime Go mixer

The biggest eye-catcher and the central element for track management is the display, which now allows me to transition into the practical part.

In Use

I let the Prime charge once after it arrived. It takes about 3 hours for the test person to completely refuel, then it stops for about. 3.5 to 4 hours through. That’s definitely enough for a trip into the green or blue. So, without further ado, shoveled a few tracks onto a fresh USB stick to enjoy the complete “standalone workflow” outdoors and of course packed the battery box.

On my stick (the Go reads extFat and FAT32, but no HFS or any other Mac file format) I have parked various titles of different genres and the console reads the data carrier in a few seconds.

I am not offered a batch track analysis for the entire medium. Instead, the calculation takes place when the piece of music is loaded into a deck. For a 7-minute techno track, the GO allows itself about 20 seconds via USB.

Checked later on the Prime 4: no speed difference. You can start the track beforehand ( in contrast to streaming titles, which first have to be loaded completely), but then there are no grids and co.

The display shows razor-sharp track information, status and waveforms, lets you edit the music titles without a computer via the on-screen keyboard, generate and edit playlists, sort, search, push tracks into the decks without even slowing down to appear.

According to personal taste, the waveform layout can be switched from vertical to horizontal, whereby the current playlist has been faded in the middle in the vertical layout in favor of reduced waveforms. Practically.

Denon DJ Prime Go display

Horizontal view Denon DJ Prime Go display

Various adjustments can be made via the screen, including fader curve, FX, recording and preview volume in the swipe or deck, mixer and system-specific presettings via the menu button.

The Preferences also contain numerous tuning options such as talkover, microphone attenuation and a send-to-booth option, EQ and filter adjustment as well as quantization options, standard loop sizes, key notation, deck color, etc.

The Denon Prime Go supports the following music formats:

  • AAC / M4A
  • AIF / AIFF (44.1-192 kHz, 16-32 bit)
  • ALAC
  • FLAC
  • MP3 (32-320 kbps)
  • MP4
  • Ogg Vorbis
  • WAV (44.1-192 kHz, 16-32 bit)

hang up

Mixing using line and crossfaders on two decks works well with the tracks analyzed by Engine OS and despite the compact device format. You can beatmixing while flying blind if the grid sync is technically in place.

But if you think you are limited to autosync, you are wrong, because the flat jog wheels do their job well and the small pitch fader even works with a hundredth, so that manual beatmatching is also possible without any problems. All attention.

In-the-Mix you benefit from the well-stocked cue rail (I mention this separately, because I was recently able to inspect a workstation that doesn’t have a Cuemix control) and the possibility of a track preview directly from the library. If you want, you can use a color/number code to identify pieces of music that match the current title.

The headphone output doesn’t have as much output as on the Prime 4, but the sound is transparent and it is loud enough to be able to survive both outdoors and indoors (by the way, we tested some interesting battery boxes for you here).

I could not see a drop in performance in battery operation ad hoc by disconnecting or plugging in the power supply unit. The equalizers also intervene well in the sound, with a cut/boost of +/- 6 dB low and +/- 10 dB Hi and Mid and the option of ISO along with adjustable cut-off frequencies (for ISO EQ Hi and Low).

The filter can also be adjusted in terms of resonance. Here are some audio examples.

DJ Prime Go fun

Prime GO is fun, that’s for sure

Sound and metering

The Prime GO sounds very decent, but in a direct comparison it provides a lower output on the master/booth than the Prime 4, so the Prime Go is noticeably quieter than its big brother, the one with the same settings on the channel gain and master control brings a slightly higher dynamic range and more headroom.

Five steps, that may be completely okay for a Numark Mixtrack or NI S2 MK3, but I would have wished for more for the Pro use, especially since there would have been space for 2-3 more LEDs if you had the two views / Shift keys arranged horizontally directly below the nav.

The Prime Go with its short LED chains also begins to tug in the sound earlier than the PEAK LEDs indicate or even before the blue LED lights up. Not only a stumbling block for inexperienced DJs, here should be improved via FW update.

What I also noticed: If you turn the gain and EQs to the limit as a test, a limiter intervenes and it starts pumping, but then you are already far from a clear sound.

DJ also has to do without level meters for the individual channel, which in this case could have been set horizontally below the equalizer or simply running down from the sweep control or wherever. Level controls without a level meter seem a bit stingy on a console like this one.

Even if nothing is “leveled from the outside” here, but the local or WiFi tracks have to be adjusted: Channel meters would be a clear advantage, even if there were only virtual level meters in the display, such as with the DJM Tour1 screen. A case for an FW update?

All in all, a little sure instinct is required when making the settings or wanting to increase the level with Prime Go during the evening. If you have set the channel to 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. and turned the master up to the extra thick 1 p.m. mark, you should generally be or stay in the safe area.

LED meter on the Prime GO

LED meter on the Prime GO

WiFi and streaming music

WiFi and streaming music I am with the GO adhoc into the green and WiFi streaming outdoors or at an outdoor party, for example at the quarry pond or on a rooftop location, of course, just like indoors, depends on the existing network and may therefore not always be possible.

Basically, however, Denon DJ offers a solid musical foundation with the fee-based streaming services from Tidal, Soundcloud GO + and Beatport-Link. You can also influence the Tidal, Soundcloud and Beatport playback/download quality. Most of the titles can be found on Soundcloud GO + with over 150 million tracks, DJ mixes and remixes.

Tidal offers around 60 million titles. For a local network or a party in WLAN-free zones, Beatport-Link, just like the Beatsource Link, which is not yet integrated, offers an offline storage solution, which in turn will not necessarily appeal to the wedding and party DJs of the world, but to the electronic scene and open format DJs. It should take a while before the offline locker and Beatsource are available on Prime.

Tidal Prime GO

Here in the picture: Tidal

FX and pads

Cuepoints can be precisely positioned and fired using quantization, rolls and loops can be triggered, manual loops can be captured using the loop mode of the pad section, optionally quantized or not. They are then immediately saved to the corresponding loop banks.

Placed above the jog wheels, the buttons don’t bother me there, after all, cue and play/pause still have to be accommodated and I would not have liked to swap positions. You could have bought lateral transport buttons with a wider width.

But it doesn’t have to be, it already fits (and has been there before) In addition, the “performance pad” factor is certainly not in the foreground here, given the size of the console, but I welcome the presence and that Denon has decided against click-clack buttons made of hard plastic, as with the larger models.

A compromise has been made with the two Sweep-FX, which is fine for me, but a setting via Preferences for the full range of the P4 would be welcome (keyword: Noise), so that you would have the option of using your two preferred Sweep-FX determine yourself.

The consolation here: The main effects section can also be used for the deck, but why you can’t use it as a master FX is a mystery. Denon DJ would also do well to integrate a few build-up and breakdown FX into the Prime series, with which you can set off a lot of alarms. And those are the existing effects

  • Reverb
  • echo
  • Delay
  • Ping pong
  • Car gate
  • Flanger
  • LFO filter
  • Phasers
  • Crush
  • Roll
  • Rev-Roll
  • Scratch
  • Hall

What actually happens when

The power supply unit is accidentally disconnected?

The device switches to battery operation and simply continues to run, provided there is still enough battery power.

The USB stick is pulled out from the back (accidentally or willfully)?

There is a warning message asking you to plug the track back in. Loaded tracks continue to run, a loop can also be set. If you slide the stick back in – or an identical backup copy that you got from a thief – things continue seamlessly.

The W / LAN connection is interrupted?

The Go then shows “Lost Connection”. Titles that have already been buffered are retained, e.g. also the one in deck 2 when deck 1 is still running, so that you may still have time to find the source of the error or to switch to USB first. You can of course also set a loop.

The battery is running dry?

Then, of course, it’s over if you don’t have a power supply or an additional battery pack that can act as a replacement power supply. However, there is a warning beforehand, for the first time from 20%, the charge status is also shown in the display in percent.

The network connection is being used?

This can either serve as a WiFi replacement or for lighting control.

Denon DJ Prime Go is also well-equipped for “special situations”, with which it can score additional points, especially in mobile use or as a backup system. And the console simply saves space if you want to use two media player decks are ready to go at the push of a button. It will be interesting to see how the competition will react to the concept.

Prime GO battery warning

Warning when the battery is low

Conclusion

Denon DJ Prime Go is a compact, standalone DJ workstation that has the potential to become a game-changer.

You can use it to set up a mobile DJ set in the smallest of spaces without the need for a power supply unit, use USB data carriers between Prime devices across systems, and even perform music analysis on the fly on the device. On-the-go tracks and playlists can also be prepared.

The Prime Go lasts up to 4 hours, so that you can even hang up outdoors, rooftop, or on the beach with the right battery box. For mobile party & working DJs, the Prime Go is also a device that offers a complete solution in a backpack-compatible size without having to rely on amenities such as touchscreen, FX, SD card/USB stick ports or streaming (Beatport, Tidal, Soundcloud) via LAN/WiFi. The latter point should also be a powerful argument for well-off bedroomers with little space.

In addition to personal requests, which include hard drive compartment & front USB, sync for external devices, and physical channel meters, there is another suggestion for improvement and this concerns the metering and the associated sound, which can potentially be affected by overmodulation (see text).

Short master LED chains without a channel meter are also available in this form in other devices, but the Go at least also has a price aimed at professional users. In my opinion, there would have been even more in total and if Denon DJ should improve some aspects with an FW update, I’ll add another half a star.

Apart from that, one has to attest to the Denon DJ Prime Go that it sets new standards in terms of portability for DJ workstations, not least due to the excellent usable display and the integrated engine OS.

Denon DJ Prime Go

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