The Denon Prime 4 is an exceptional DJ controller with a screen. Stacked with features it’s well suited to working DJs with a host of useful features. Let’s check out what it has to offer.
Denon Prime 4
The Denon Prime 4 features the largest screen currently available on a DJ controller. It also offers DJs an impressive range of connection options and performance features. A stand out controller that both catches the eye and delivers on features.
There is a lot to discover when it comes to the Denon Prime 4 so let’s get into the nitty-gritty.
The central mixer offers a refined layout but still packs in a lot of features.
The Denon Prime 4 offers DJs 4 channels. Each channel offers crossfader assign options. Each channel also has a full 3-band EQ along with a gain knob. The Gain knob is a different color making it easy to distinguish it from the other knobs. Each channel also has level meters for you to keep an eye on track volume.
A dedicated Filter knob is also present. But, Denon has taken it a step further with the ability to assign 3 other modes to the filter. You simply select the effect with a press of a button. It opens up Echo, Wash, and Noise options. An easy way to quickly add some FX to your sets.
A compact and refined mixer section give it plenty of room for the big screen.
Speaking of FX at the top of each channel is two buttons for assigning FX from the two FX banks (I’ll cover these later in the review).
The center section also includes headphone volume along with a cue/master mix knob. You can Cue any of the channels to your headphones via dedicated Cue buttons above each channel fader. There is also a Split option if you prefer preparing your mixes in this way.
Master VU meters are also located on the central mixer to keep you out of the dreaded red zone (or in the case of Denon a bluey/purple color). Above the master level meter is navigation controls. There is a dedicated knob for library browsing along with selection buttons.
The crossfader is appropriately loose for quick cuts and scratch routines. The crossfader is also replaceable. You can also adjust the crossfader curve via the dedicated knob on the front panel. Plenty of flexibility to adjust to your preferred style of DJing.
Dominating the rest of the mixer is the large 10-inch screen. Since it is a standout feature I’ll cover it in more detail in a dedicated section below.
The Denon Prime 4 manages to pack a lot into the mixer section. Especially when you consider how much space the screen takes up.
This is where the Denon Prime 4 does fall a little short. Having said that the Engine Prime software that’s included is evolving so take any criticisms with a grain of salt as it could change at any moment. Updates have been slow and it still lags behind Rekordbox and Serato. While the unit is standalone you do have the option to prepare your tracks beforehand on your PC or laptop.
The software allows you to analyze and organize your collection. It’s not as feature-rich as Rekordbox or Serato but still capable. You’ll be able to name, set cue points and loops. From there you export your tracks and then plug in your USB or SD card into the Denon Prime 4. If this was as good as it got I’d be a little disappointed but Denon has another trick up their sleeve.
If you already use Rekordbox, Traktor or Serato you’re in luck. Engine Prime can import your existing libraries. While it can be a bit fiddly and works best with 3rd party plug-ins it still is a good option. This makes the transition to Engine Prime much smoother.
The Denon Prime 4 offers DJs 6-inch metal jogwheels. They are solid and capable. Included on the jogwheels is a small display screen. This can display music artwork or a logo of your choice. While this looks great and adds a layer of personalization I’d have preferred to see some track info here. The only useful piece of information it offers is loop length. You can also alter the color of the ring on the touch capacitive jogwheels to suit your preference.
Solid jogwheels with customization options.
The jogwheels can be set to both Slip or Vinyl mode giving you access to both styles. Censor and Reverse mode is also available via a dedicated button. The left deck can handle either channel 1 or 3 while the right deck handles 2 or 4.
The pitch faders on the Denon Prime 4 are long and accurate. If you prefer you can use the Sync button to automatically match your BPMs.
Key Lock and Key Sync are also available. This gives you the flexibility to either lock the key as you adjust tempo or match it to the other track that is playing. Locking the key is a critical part of harmonic mixing. Pitch bend buttons allow you to further manipulate the track on the fly for fine adjustments or pitching routines.
The Denon Prime 4 offers 8 backlit pads per deck. These pads activate and control a variety of performance features. The functions are fairly stock with nothing new or innovative but it’s still a solid selection.
You can set and recall Hot Cues with the first Pad mode. The second Pad mode opens up Loop controls with Auto Loop also available via the Shift key. If you are already familiar with using pads for loops you’ll feel right at home.
The Denon Prime 4 offers a decent range of performance pad features.
A Roll, Slicer and Slicer Loop round out the performance pad options. These allow you to remix on the fly with quantize-locked track manipulation features.
Notable omissions include any form of Pad FX or Sampler. It is a little disappointing if you use these features regularly on other controllers.
This is one area that Denon has well and truly delivered. There is an extensive range of connection options available.
Master output options include both a balanced XLR and an unbalanced RCA option. This will allow you to connect to a wide range of systems. Taking it further is a balanced XLR booth output. But it doesn’t end there. A third XLR connection is available as a Zone Output.
A large selection of connections gives you full freedom and flexibility.
The Denon Prime 4 offers controls over the master output above the right-hand FX section. Here you can alter the master volume. You can also alter the Booth volume with the added benefit of a 2-band EQ for fine-tuning the sound in the booth.
Zone control is another quality feature. It allows you to assign one of the 4 channels to play out of the zone output. This is perfect for a set playlist for a separate room. For example, if you are playing at a wedding venue you can have a certain playlist for outside or the bar. This is all separate from your main performance.
Both ¼ inch and ⅛ inch headphones are compatible with a port for both types on the front panel. You won’t need any adapters for your headphones.
Two microphone options are also available on the Prime 4. Both of these are TRS/XLR combo jacks giving you plenty of choices. Control over the microphones sits above the left-hand side FX section. It features on/off buttons, 3 band EQ for Mic 1, and a 2 band EQ for Mic 2, and of course level controls.
Extra features are also included with the ability to assign an echo FX. You can apply this to one or both microphones. A dedicated knob controls the intensity of the effect. Finally, a talkover button will lower the master output whenever the microphone is in use.
There are also many USB ports available. Two on the back and two on the top panel for connecting media. The top panel also includes an SD slot if you prefer. There is another USB port for connection to your computer or laptop. Plus, you can also install a SATA drive with a dedicated slot. A testament to the all-in-one nature of the Prime 4.
Four Line In RCA options rounds out the connection options with two Line/Phone and two Line. This supports connecting of external gear like turntables or CDJs. The front panel allows you to switch between these sources or the digital source.
The Prime 4 has all types of DJs and setup combinations covered.
Located above each deck is a dedicated FX section. The FX selection is the same as Denon’s X1800 mixer. It features 13 different FX to add variety to your DJ sets. The FX sound good. Even better is the control and visualization of the FX.
The Denon Prime 4 has 2 banks of FX controls with excellent control features.
Scrolling through the FX is simple and intuitive. The small display above the main knob highlights which FX you have currently selected. The other knobs then control the parameters of the FX, frequency, and wet/dry mix. This gives you excellent granular control over your FX. All this information is available on the mini monochromatic screens via easy-to-read bars. It’s an excellent way to condense the info in a logical and useful fashion.
If you like to add FX to your sets the Denon Prime 4 will give you plenty of options.
The Denon Prime 4 gives you a good selection of looping controls. Besides the pad loop modes, there is a dedicated loop section to the side of each jogwheel.
Here you can set manual loops via the In/Out buttons. A very familiar way of setting a loop that is practically universal across controllers. There is also an option for Auto Loop. This works like how Traktor controllers operate. You use the scroll to select your loop length and then press it to activate the loop. This loop length displays on both the main screen and the jogwheel screen.
If you want to move the loop you’ll need to hold down the Shift key and then turn the knob. It would have been great to see another knob for this function. Either way, it’s a natural way of activating and managing your loops and I’m glad it’s here.
The Denon Prime 4 is not a small unit. Featuring 4 channels and a big screen does result in a large footprint.
It’s worth noting that the screen protrudes beyond the top when folded down.
Despite weighing in at 9.6kg (21 lbs) it’s not the most uncomfortable controller to transport. Though I do recommend a case to protect the screen when you are taking it to gigs.
Build Quality & Design
The build quality of the Denon Prime 4 is good. Metal components add a certain heft to the device. Good jogwheels, faders, and knobs. The rubberized performance pads are also good. Denon has a pretty good reputation for build quality but as with all technology, the occasional issues can arise. After-sales support is solid though so if you do run into issues you shouldn’t have any trouble getting help.
The Prime 4 offers excellent build quality in an attractive and functional package.
The Prime 4 offers a refined and clean design. Considering the features of this controller Denon has done a great job of keeping things simple. The White/Green/Blue aesthetic comes down to personal taste. I rather like it but you may have a different opinion. The unit does look the business. It’s professional and attractive without any garish design decisions.
The Main Screen
Now onto one of the biggest features. The screen on the Denon Prime 4 is excellent. It’s a 10-inch screen. Impressive to say the least. It’s hi-res and vivid. You can adjust the viewing angle to your preference as well.
The screen on the Prime 4 is excellent. Large, bright, and touch-capable.
The screen doubles as both performance information and library management. In performance mode, you’ll see the waveforms of all 4 decks vertically.
At the top of the display, you’ll see the full waveforms of the two active decks. I would have preferred horizontal waveforms but the vertical layout works fine. In performance mode, you’ll also see your current playlist along the center.
Library mode allows you to control your playlist and crates. You can search using a QWERTY keyboard and also sort it based on common parameters like BPM.
Swiping tracks can add or remove them from a playlist. Similar functions to what I’ve seen on other controllers. But, on such a big screen it feels more comfortable and not as cramped.
There is no denying the screen is a big draw for many DJs. With standalone capability, you can finally leave the laptop behind for your gigs. Even better due to the large screen you won’t find yourself squinting or hunching over to see what is going on.
What Others Have To Say
The excitement for the Denon Prime 4 is strong. People love the layout, feature set, and the usual Denon high build quality. The screen size is also a huge hit.
The Benefits Of Screens
For the longest time DJ controllers needed a connected laptop or PC to function. This disconnect between your gear is something that often puts traditional DJs off.
With the addition of screens and standalone systems, there is finally an alternative. This is especially important for the average working DJ that plays events like weddings. You can prepare your tracks and rock up at the gig without your laptop.
With standalone systems, you can leave the laptop at home or off to the side as a backup.
You establish a deeper connection with your gear when mixing without a laptop. While some DJs have become familiar with working with both there is a liberating feeling when you can focus on your gear.
With gear like the Denon Prime 4, the screen sizes are increasing. This prevents one of the main drawbacks of screens on controllers, eye strain. Decoding information on small screens can be challenging. Having a good-sized screen that is hi-res alleviates these issues.
If you want to experience a more connected DJ experience I highly recommend you try a DJ controller with screens. You may find it’s just too hard to go back to your previous controller and laptop combination.
If you are looking at standalone controllers with screens there are some solid alternatives available. Here are some other picks for you to consider.
Pioneer XDJ RX3 Review
The Pioneer XDJ RX3 comes with a large screen that is comparable to the Prime 4. With a solid selection of performance features and crisp integration with Rekordbox.
- Excellent 10.1-inch screen with horizontal waveforms.
- Industry-standard layout making it easy to adapt or move onto club gear.
- Capable of both standalone mode and playing with a laptop.
Pioneer XDJ RX3
Rane One Review
If you don’t really need a controller with screens the Rane One is an excellent alternative. It is targeted towards DJs that want to focus on scratching and stay focused on their gear.
- Motorized platters that simulate the feel of turntables.
- Excellent built quality with metal components.
- A more portable unit than the Prime 4.
Pioneer OPUS-QUAD Review
If you want to step into the Pioneer ecosystem the OPUS-QUAD offers a feature-rich 4-channel experience. With a unique design aesthetic it’s also a very different-looking controller.
- Full standalone 4-channel controller from the leading DJ gear manufacturer.
- A total of three screens grants you total access to all critical information.
- The price tag is exceptionally high compared to the Prime 4.
Pioneer DJ OPUS-QUAD
Should You Buy?
There is a lot to love about the Denon Prime 4. The large screen is an eye-catcher and very easy to use. A solid selection of integrated features adds to the appeal. Despite my preference for other software the Engine Prime software is capable and will get the job done. Add to that the impressive selection of connection options and it becomes hard not to recommend the Denon Prime 4.
Denon Prime 4
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