Many new DJs begin with an entry-level DJ controller. In this review, we check out a controller aimed at the beginner DJs. But this controller offers new DJs a few key features that other controllers in the beginner space lack.
While the Denon MC4000 is one of the more expensive entry-level options it positions itself as a premium option for new DJs. Let’s check it out.
There is a lot to break down so let’s dive right in and see how the MC4000 stacks up in the packed entry-level controller market.
The mixer section contains everything you would expect from a good controller. 3 band EQ with Gain and Filter for full control of the track you are playing. There is the expected channel faders and crossfader as well. Browse and load functions sit towards the top of the controller for navigating your playlists.
The Denon MC4000 has all the fundamental controls you need to start DJing.
Where the Denon differs from other controllers is the Sampler section. Located right in the middle of the controller and allows for easy access to stored samples.
VU meters are also present and can display both master output or individual channel output levels. To see the master level all you need is for no tracks cued. Cue the channel to your headphones and it will switch to showing you that channel level. This allows you to control your levels accordingly and set your gain stage.
The Denon DJ MC4000 comes bundled with Serato DJ Intro. This is a stripped-back version of the software so you’ll need to upgrade to unlock all features. There is a coupon code included so you can upgrade the software for half price. This is a good compromise to keep costs down while still offering a cheaper upgrade path for those interested in the full version software.
The MC4000 also plays nice with other DJ software. If you already have a preferred DJ software platform it isn’t hard to get the controller working with Traktor or Virtual DJ. Any software which supports MIDI mapping will work but if you are a new DJ it’s best to stick with the included software.
Solid and capable the jogwheels offer a good level of heft and resistance.
The Denon MC4000 offers good quality jogwheels with low latency.
For the scratch minded DJ, you’ll be able to get down to business without hassle. You can also use these touch-sensitive jogwheels for track skimming.
Another solid feature of the MC4000 is the long pitch faders. These 100mm long-throw pitch faders are ideal for beat matching. A skill that every new DJ should learn. Other controllers opt for shorter faders which can make it frustrating to learn beat matching. This often ends with new DJs giving up on this fundamental skill and sticking to only using the Sync button.
At first glance, it appears the Denon MC4000 has 8 performance pads but looks can be deceiving. The bottom 4 pads are transport controls. These handle the play, cue, sync, and shift functions. In reality, there are 4 performance pads. You can use these for your cue points, up to 8 but only 4 are accessible at a time. To access the others you’ll need to activate the pad mode button. This is a step backward from other entry-level controllers and is the weakest aspect of the MC4000.
There are some extra functionality options for the performance pads. They are a cue loop and loop roll which while usable don’t add much to the “performance” aspect of DJing. I’m torn on this front as other controllers offer a lot more bells and whistles. But this more traditional simplistic approach could be better for new DJs.
This is where the Denon MC4000 outclasses other entry-level controllers. It offers plenty of connection options.
For the Master Out you have two choices. A balanced XLR output as well as an unbalanced RCA output. The addition of a balanced XLR output is also perfect for connecting to higher-end speakers and PA systems. This makes the Denon a perfect portable entry-level controller that you can use to play gigs. It also allows for easy connection to the best studio monitor speakers.
The Denon MC4000 offers more connectivity compared to other entry-level controllers.
But that’s not all, it also has a dedicated Booth Output which few controllers offer at this price point. This Booth Output is also a balanced TRS connection. It also offers a high-quality 24-bit built-in soundcard. This gives you high-quality sound through a variety of connections.
There are also two microphone inputs. Each has a 2-band EQ for full control over the output. Once again this is ideal for the performing DJ. Whether it’s to layer original vocals or to accommodate speeches at weddings.
Two headphone connections are also available. Both ¼ and ⅛ inch jacks. This means that no matter what headphones you own you’ll be able to plug and play without needing extra adapters. It also makes it easier when buying new headphones. You won’t need to scour every DJ headphones review to determine if you can connect it to your controller.
The FX section resides at the top of the controller and allows you to control up to 3 different effects at one time. You also have the option to set one effect and alter select parameters of that effect. Everything feels natural when using the effects. Using DJ sound effects is one of the first skill upgrades to your mixing style so it’s nice that Denon has kept this area clean and simple.
Other controllers attach looping functions into the performance pads. Denon has taken a different approach. The looping functionality is above the jogwheels. You can activate an auto loop based on the setting in your software. You can also set manual loops if you prefer. Extending and shortening the loop is also present. In use, it will come down to personal preference. If you are already used to using loops lower on the controller it may feel a little out of place.
While the Denon MC4000 is not a massive controller it is still larger than other beginner controllers currently available.
The Denon DJ MC4000 is slightly larger than the average entry-level controller and nearly double in weight.
At nearly 6kg it’s also not the lightest. But, it is still portable enough for easy transport between gigs. Considering the extra features it offers the extra size and weight is worth it.
Build Quality & Design
Another high point for this controller is the quality of materials used. The Denon DJ MC4000 offers steel construction on the top layer. The side and bottom are plastic.
A steel top plate is not common among entry-level controllers.
This shows Denon’s aim to offer a controller that will stand the rigors of the modern working DJ. It’s also another example where spending a little more results in noticeable improvements. You can get a cheaper controller but it will be using cheaper materials.
This quality extends to all other parts of the controller giving it a solid professional feel. I get the impression that Denon aimed to pack as much value into the controller without letting the price get too high.
What Others Have To Say
Both new DJs and seasoned mobile DJs are praising the Denon MC 4000 for its intuitive layout and plenty of connection choices.
Why Connection Choices Matter
Most beginner DJ controllers are USB based and need you to connect them to a PC or laptop. If you are looking for a standalone DJ controller you’ll need to spend more.
The other major restriction is the lack of input and output choices. Entry-level controllers tend to offer one mic input and in some cases not even that.
Microphone inputs are important for a professional mobile DJ.
It’s also rare to find anything beyond one master output which generally tends to be an RCA output option. For a performing DJ, this can be a huge drawback. Balanced TRS or XLR inputs are often required to connect to PA systems or other DJ speakers.
Having access to these extra connection options can help you go from a bedroom DJ to a working DJ. If you want to turn your hobby into a career pay close attention to the connection options available when buying your DJ equipment.
The Denon MC 4000 is not the only controller in the market. It’s higher price point may also be beyond what some new DJs are looking to spend. Below are some other choices currently available.
Pioneer DDJ 400 Review
Pioneer has a long track record of quality DJ gear. The DDJ 400 is an entry-level controller that is cheaper than the Denon and also comes with full version software.
- Full version Rekordbox software included. No upgrade fees.
- A professional layout that mirrors higher end Pioneer gear.
- The mixer section can feel a bit cramped. Not great for big hands.
Read our full Pioneer DDJ 400 review for more detailed information.
Pioneer DDJ 400
Roland DJ 202 Review
Roland also offers an entry-level controller. This controller pushes the boundaries by offering an in-built drum machine. The option of adding extra components also positions this as a more performance orientated controller.
- Inbuilt drum machine featuring iconic Roland drum kits.
- MIDI connectivity to add other gear to your setup.
- Awkward controls for the drum machine compared to higher-end models.
Read our full Roland DJ 202 review for more detailed information.
Roland DJ 202
Pioneer DDJ SB3 Review
If you want to stick to Serato the SB3 is a good alternative. The ability to access 4 decks on this 2 channel controller also allows you to experiment.
- High-quality controller at an affordable price point.
- Solid jogwheels aimed to please digital scratch DJs.
- Intro software that needs an upgrade for access to all features.
Read our full Pioneer DDJ SB3 review for more detailed information.
Pioneer DDJ SB3
Should You Buy?
The Denon MC4000 is a great choice for new DJs. It also is a portable and convenient option for a working mobile DJ. With a range of connection options, it has managed to find a place in a somewhat crowded market. It does sit at the upper end of entry-level controllers. Despite its higher price point, it offers excellent value for money with fantastic features. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this to both new and seasoned DJs.