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Engine: Denon’s Answer to Rekordbox

Last week, Denon made an official announcement of their new Engine software, setting Pioneer’s Rekordbox squarely in their sights in their quest to rule the CDJ/media player controlled DJ booth. Does Engine have what it takes to eat away at the industry giant, or will Pioneer’s time-tested workflow stand fast? Read on to find out our take on this battle.

When Pioneer introduced Rekordbox in 2010, CDJ users wary of plunging completely into laptop-based performance were given a way to enjoy some of the key benefits of DJ software (pre-stored loop and cue points and hot cues, virtual crate management, quick track searches, etc.) without having to work off a computer during shows. It was as a suitable middle ground between the old and new, promoting the interface and familiar form factor of traditional DJ media players, alongside the greater dynamism and creative flexibility of software-aided performance.

With the introduction of Engine, Denon users will be able to benefit from similar capabilities as well – but how do the software stack up?

Engine

The Engine GUI

Engine is a new cross-platform music management system for use on next-gen Denon network media players such as the SC3900 announced just two weeks ago. In many ways it is similar to Rekordbox, allowing users to analyze tracks offline prior to performances and save data such as hot cues, cue points and loop points, as well as BPMs and waveforms, for recall in the DJ booth. Like Rekordbox, it also offers advanced virtual crate management features, with iTunes playlist integration, as well as efficient track searches, tagging and organization.

The software’s GUI is similar to that of Rekordbox, with a dark, club-ready look dominated by gray and black. The top halves of both have a large waveform display and CD player-style buttons, and on the bottom halves are the crate browsers, both of which employ familiar, hierarchical tag-based facilities.

The Rekordbox GUI

Linking Up

The two music management suites also offer similar network capabilities. With the LINK function that was later added to Rekordbox, users were given the option of switching between playing tracks stored on USB drives and loading music files and attached data from laptops connected to the CDJs via LAN cable. Engine offers similar functionality upon release, with its PC-LINK feature.

Denon’s PC-LINK streams music stored on connected computers to the SC3900 over LAN cables, allowing DJs to enjoy the large display of their laptops while confining the actual control and audio processing and playback on the hardware media players. This also effectively gives DJs who would otherwise play off thumb drives a much larger crate to work with, and saves users the trouble of moving files from computer to external USB drive.

This network method presents distinct performance benefits as well- because all of the hard work happens on the SC3900, with Engine merely sending files to and between connected players, even lower spec computers have the potential to be used as virtual crates and performances can go on even if one’s computer freezes up.

iPad-friendly

We were excited to see iPad integration in Engine, setting it ahead of Rekordbox. Perhaps as a means of making up for the relatively modest display on the SC3900 (compared to newer Pioneer CDJs), Denon has also released an Engine app for the iPad that lets users control USB devices connected to DJ media players, browse for and share tracks between 2-4 media players, and monitor activity on the networked “Engine-ready” hardware.

The iPad Engine App

For users of Engine’s PC-LINK function with a laptop already in the booth, the program’s iPad integration might seem frivolous. However, Denon DJs who gig without a laptop should find the iPad to be a very convenient control hub for Engine, as well as a much more detailed track info display than that on the SC3900.

Even if you do already have a laptop running Engine in the booth, the iPad’s touch screen seems to offer a very quick and easy way of browsing through one’s crates and sending files to networked media players, allowing for quicker searches, sharing and playback- a benefit that could be well worth the cost of bringing an extra piece of hardware to gigs.

Weighing In

The Engine Browser

All in all, there aren’t a lot of substantial differences between Engine and Rekordbox, so the choice between the two becomes a question of seeing what brand of equipment is available at the club or venue you play in. Using the iPad as a control hub between networked Denon media players is a very nice option to have.

One of the most frequent complaints users had about Rekordbox was how limiting its track preparation facilities is compared to those offered by full-scale digital DJ platforms like Traktor and Serato, and this criticism might be applied by some to Engine as well.

What should be realized is that Engine, as well as Rekordbox, are tools with very specific purposes. Both Engine and Rekordbox are undeniably useful for DJs using newer, network-capable Denon and Pioneer media players, respectively, taking away much of the hassle of playing, maintaining and organizing crates of digital music, and freeing up mind space for more creative and dynamic performances.

This article was written for us by Karlo Cleto, a guest writer for the TechTools team. 


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  • i already spoken to Global Marketing Company representative (as they are the company who own Most of the share of Allen & Heath and Denon) that this software are suppose to be free from their website rather than downloading it from iTunes and just concentrate on making new ideas on controller rather than creating (again) CDJ which is already being and old ideas (i think) and they should focus on stuff like Denon MC3000 (Number 1 for Pre-Amp OutPut on World Class Controller).. i guess it takes time for them to digest.. well.. atleast i try.. 

    • are you kidding me?the iPad (unless jailbroken) only can install an app by iTunes,hope you already know this.

  • Gunnie

    This Denon vs Pioneer crap is getting boring. Abit like laptop vs vinyl debate. If denon put as many free items into clubs that pioneer do you all might think differently. I use both and have no problem with either. 30 years ago when I started Djing some clubs only had belt drive turntable not 1200’s. And we beatmatched on em as well. Get to know the gear and your whinging is solved. Learn, adapt master it all.

    • Forza Malta

      your right my friend i use both
      and for me they are good at home i have XDJ-700 and in the Pub Peppermint Park i have Denon SC3900 your ear have to be good and what you play and how u mix not the CDJ a Good DJ is when they play on the Turntable’s

  • CDGAY H8R

    what they should make is a cdj that runs whaktor or serato directly off of it. just bring a usb and problem solved.

  • Mr. V

    This is EXACTLY WHY DENON WILL NEVER WIN NOR SEPERATE ITSELF AMONG OTHERS and why it’s not respected nor used or asked for by some of the biggest Dj’s in the business, it carbon copy’s the LEADING BRAND’S FORMULA instead of innovating it or creating something groundbreaking, now I must say, I have tried out many Denon units and have yet to bring my ass to the store and own 1 because the OTHER LEADING BRAND either is better or does the same exact thing and many nightclubs around the world use the other leading brand.
    Denon is dying a slow death and with all due respect it seems like only 1 person works at that company???

    The entire Denon Dj Department should be fired and they should hire people WHO ACTUALLY GO OUT TO NIGHTCLUBS AND SPEAK, SEE & HEAR WHAT TODAY’S DJ’S ARE DOING with Dj Equipment to get a sense of reality cause they CLEARLY are disconnected with today’s market & Dj.

    Real recognizes REAL!.
    Mr. V.

    • Richiebno1

      Are you serious buddy? I guess you beleave pioneer invented needle drop aswell yea? Denon made ‘music manager’ (and no it’s not very good) first, pioneer just refined it and if just read all of the above you will see now engine does things that rekord box doesn’t.

      Those big bollix dj’s you look upto…. Their laughing at you buddy cause every time you buy pioneer you pay for their free kit.

      It’s time to invest in decent hardware, not the marketing of it.
       

      • Haha.. denon invented DJing on CD… before the CDJ was even invented Denon had millions happy DJ’s

      • Ha Ha well said bro. I agree

    • Tom

      Woahhhhh wheres the button to make the CDJ 2000 platters spin bro???? I need to find that feature?!?!?!?!?!?

    • Really??? Ha ha I have a Mc6000 and i can honestly say it 99999999% better than the Pioneer DDJ controller. The Pioneer is PLASTIC and the Denon has a solid steel chassis. SO Pioneer are also not perfect, but then again who is?

  • Jack

    “Pioneer’s time-tested workflow”… Huh? A measly two years is now considered “time-tested”? lol

    • Jack

      I guess if being riddled with problems for that length of time during the testing is thought of as “time-tested”, well yeah then. 

      • David Cabasso

        When it has the label “Pioneer” clearly it’s time tested and the perfect solution.

        Start drinking the Pioneer kool aid and spend a million dollars on your DJ gear like everyone in the world. 
        Wow.
        *I can’t express the amount of sarcasm in this comment.

  • I own the  Denon DN-s3700 media players, and they are really awesome. however the music manager for those players really is bad, and I have really been lookin forward to have a music manager working on a mac to manager my play lists on USB’s only. But they did only make this software ready for new players, totally abondoning their old media players.. tooo bad. DENON at least give the DN-S3700 people the ability to use this software and export to USB sstick.. cant be that hard.

  • I own the  Denon DN-s3700 media players, and they are really awesome. however the music manager for those players really is bad, and I have really been lookin forward to have a music manager working on a mac to manager my play lists on USB’s only. But they did only make this software ready for new players, totally abondoning their old media players.. tooo bad. DENON at least give the DN-S3700 people the ability to use this software and export to USB sstick.. cant be that hard.

  • GUEST

    and the real BAD NEWS is this is only for SC3900???…i’ve been using the DNS3500 for a year..and i’ve been looking forward to this since the day they announced it…just to learn that it’s only for the SC3900….this is b*ll*hit!

    and i decided to sell my worthless 3500 and buy an S2…this Engine is USELESS!

  • GUEST

    and the real BAD NEWS is this is only for SC3900???…i’ve been using the DNS3500 for a year..and i’ve been looking forward to this since the day they announced it…just to learn that it’s only for the SC3900….this is b*ll*hit!

    and i decided to sell my worthless 3500 and buy an S2…this Engine is USELESS!

  • I understand the business decision behind this, create an in-house software in order to cut the cost of licensing from a third-party, but as a consumer, why not focus on the major softwares out there, e.g. Traktor and Serato? 

  • I understand the business decision behind this, create an in-house software in order to cut the cost of licensing from a third-party, but as a consumer, why not focus on the major softwares out there, e.g. Traktor and Serato? 

    • B3NNY

      You dn’t know what you are talking about.  Re-read the blog and truly understand what Engine does.  It’s kinda like saying I-tunes is competing against serato/traktor

    • B3NNY

      You dn’t know what you are talking about.  Re-read the blog and truly understand what Engine does.  It’s kinda like saying I-tunes is competing against serato/traktor

    • its not that simple.. Traktor (Native Instruments) and Serato (Itch) approvals for pairing with Denon are kind of hard to get.. since both software are quite scared of the true quality Output frequencies from Denon or Allen & Heath (it is proven) and since both Serato are paired with Rane and Traktor with Native Instruments Audio and Komplete Soundcard series.. its business things that i couldn’t understand it my self… Lol..

    • Ya clearly didn’t read the whole article, and don’t understand the tool. This is not in house DJ/performance software.

  • guest

    Just my opinion, I really hate the ideas of Engine and Recordbox.  I would much rather see Denon spending more time trying to get full Traktor support.  I was really exited about the new DNS3900, but I wont lay down a 1000$ until I know that it will work flawlessly in traktor…

  • guest

    Just my opinion, I really hate the ideas of Engine and Recordbox.  I would much rather see Denon spending more time trying to get full Traktor support.  I was really exited about the new DNS3900, but I wont lay down a 1000$ until I know that it will work flawlessly in traktor…

    • oneend

      Rekordbox is amazing, if not in implementation then in concept. For those who want to mix using only hardware with nothing else it truly is the modernization of old-school style dj-ing. Saying that Rekordbox is useless or bad is like saying standalone hardware mixing should be stopped and everyone should go to software.

      You can’t tell people how to play and hardware companies like denon and pioneer create truly great hardware, its not their problem to get software support, of course they all want it, its up to native instruments and serato to make it work.

  • Jasonmd2020

    Is it just me, or does that first screenshot look like Winamp?

  • I still don’t understand this worthless effort of big name companies to threw done the stablished industry experts (native instruments & serato).
    Instead of focusing it’s investment in the development of soon to be forgotten software they should spend more time in innovation and truly listening to their customer’s needs.

    • Ben

      Engine and Rekordbox aren’t competing against NI and Serato, the only similarity is that it is on a laptop, from there Traktor/Scratch Live/VDJ etc. are a totally different concept than Engine/Rekordbox

    • RockungClub

      @542274cdd8560988b507030c83c59db2:disqus  Yeah, but nevertheless it’s a sort of using your CDJs with a laptop to mix mp3s. Does this make sense?I don’t think so, as it is quicker and easier directly to use Traktor with a Midi controller.
      I think this is a product for those who still can not admit that CDs are dead and Mp3s are state-of-the-art and who say that MP3-DJs are not really DJs but you need CDJs to be a real DJ.

      We should never forget that often tools and products do not improve your work. It’s all about training and know-how!

      • David Cabasso

        You guys are cooked.
        This literally has nothing to do with NI or Serato or any DJ software.
        It is simply to make preparation and file management easy. 
        The rest is glorified fluff. 
        Literally the only purpose is to get waveforms, cue points, loops all set before you get to the club.
        Great so i can plug my laptop into a hub and to my CDJ’s. What’s the point when i can just use a large usb stick. All about being prepared here. 

        • COOLOUT

          I agree. What most folks don’t understand is that the target audience for high-end CD decks and mixers are club installations. Even hobbyists with deep pockets would only want high-end stuff because clubs have them installed. The name of the game is how to make the gear most useful for multiple DJs. I’ll admit… just walking into a club gig with a pair of headphones and a USB stick is very attractive.

          The only problem I see is since timecode took over, a lot of clubs went back to turntables installations and now everyone is used to walking in a with a laptop, control vinyl, and interface. (although I’ve seen clubs just have a house serato box strapped down in the DJ booth). I don’t think the tide will ever turn back to CD decks or a new media player/control surface becoming the standard. Of course that doesn’t stop them from trying. 

        • You got it david. Everyone comparing this stuff to laptop DJ setups has either never used it, or is an idiot. I prepare all my material with rekordbox and then I’m off to the club with a USB stick and the most reliable setup in the business. Haven’t had a single problem yet, and I’ve been using rekordbox since 2010. Its all about preparation. Don’t bring your damn laptop to the club! WTF is that crap?

    • Dimitri Fransen

      yes like the big problems with de Sc2000 

  • I Hate Latino

    RecordBox is better. Denon – that’s for beginners. 

    • FUZZYBUTT

      I Hate Latino – waddya mean?

      • Civ142000

        He doesn’t know what he means.

    • Nunohawk

      LOL…

    • Tom

      Do some research brotha and don’t be a sheep

    • cokeisdope

       lmao @30a5eefaf18b86e091208ab7a298b37b:disqus @d185add98a5151ad392ab00c17040e7a:disqus @cae0d1278076aed054cb65c0558d5281:disqus @bd20a755b46640c957f6e6947da06c39:disqus , you are trolled so easily.
      1/10 for the effort, but it was a bit too obvious I Hate Latino.

    • I hate ppl who hate latinos

      NB

    • D Holling

       if they slapped a pioneer logo on it, i’m sure you’d think otherwise.