The Race Is On: Who Will Make The 4-Channel Standalone Unit DJs Crave?
One of biggest movements in the DJ industry in the last two years has been a strong movement to standalone DJ gear. While the DJ controller segment holds strong, the first priority on a lot of DJs minds’ when buying new gear is having something that they don’t need to plug their computer into. Right now, there’s no good option for a more-than-two channel all-in-one unit. In this article, we explore what companies might be making a four-channel standalone rig – keep reading for our analysis.
The Case For (and Against) A Four-Deck Standalone Unit
Before we dive into the likely suspects, I wanted to break out the current lay of the land and discuss why we might never see a company release a four-deck standalone unit: profits.
As it now stands, companies are able to make more profit by requiring a DJ who wants 3 or more standalone decks to purchase a media player + mixer solution. For instance, three XDJ-1000MK3s and a DJM-750MK2 currently cost $4,796 new – far more profit for Pioneer DJ than a $1,699 XDJ-RX2.
So a company like Pioneer DJ (who holds current market dominance) is incentivized to keep this “feature stratification” of three standalone decks away from their of an all-in-one solution. If you could buy a four-deck Pioneer DJ all-in-one, what home user would ever buy four CDJ-2000NXS2s and a DJM-900NXS2?
It does present a great opportunity for other companies to sweep in and create the must-have unit in this category. Below, we explore the potential contenders for what we might see in 2019.
Pioneer DJ and the XDJ-RZ
Based on the success of the XDJ-RX2, it’s clear that many DJs are looking for standalone Pioneer DJ gear that uses the Rekordbox system. Earlier this year, Pioneer DJ made a decision to release a second two channel standalone unit, the XDJ-RR. This release was squarely aimed at getting the more price-sensitive buyers onboard, but was further away from a traditional club setup with dramatically more limited FX onboard.
If Pioneer DJ were going to make a four-channel standalone unit, we suspect it would be called the XDJ-RZ – and would look very similar to the DDJ-1000 combined with the XDJ-RX2.
Think of this unit as a mashup between the DDJ-RZX and the XDJ-RX2. It could be sold as the premium high-end standalone dream unit, priced at $3,400 (double the XDJ-RX2 price) to keep it from immediately destroying sales of other standalone offerings from Pioneer DJ.
Expected features might include:
- even higher quality DACs
- DVS compatability
- advanced on-jog displays
- nicer per-channel VU meters
- full suite of Pioneer DJ Beat and Color FX
- full-sized jogwheels (just like the DDJ-1000s)
Odds we’ll see this, or something similar at NAMM 2019? I give it a low 35%, mostly because of the implications in profit sabotaging that were discussed above.
Denon DJ’s MCX Prime
Many might have thought that the Denon DJ MCX8000 would count as a four-deck all-in-one controller, but the frustrating reality is that despite having four channels on the mixer, the standalone playback is limited to two decks. However, if Denon DJ takes the same processing power found inside of the SC5000 Prime and were to build a pair of those into an all-in-one, a four deck MCX would be easily attainable. We’re calling our theoretical mockup the MCX Prime:
Denon DJ has everything to gain in this situation – they could potentially built the must-have home setup and dominate the industry from the bottom up – something that Pioneer DJ did when they entered into the DJ controller space by giving the people what they wanted. We’d target the price of this type of offering at $2,000 – low enough that almost every new standalone purchaser would give it serious thought before paying the Pioneer Premium.
Odds we’ll see this, or something similar at NAMM 2019? I give it a solid 65% – we already think something new is coming from Denon DJ in 2019, and this direction makes far more sense than adding more fuel to the media player fight.
Yes, there’s another company that is already making standalone all-in-one hardware: Gemini DJ. They’ve teased a few different concept units over the past two NAMMs – the SDJ-4000 at NAMM 2017, and the SDJ-2000 at NAMM 2016. Neither were ever commercially released, but the proof of concepts have shown that Gemini DJ at least has the desire to be making this type of hardware.
Despite both models having four channels, as with Denon DJ’s MCX-8000, both Gemini concept units only were able to play two decks from the onboard media player. There was no true four-deck support, and that meant it was highly unlikely that most DJs would consider something like this over similar established offerings from other companies.
Odds we’ll see this, or something similar at NAMM 2019? I’d be willing to give it 75% odds we’ll see another concept release – or maybe a soon-to-market product from Gemini DJ.
Many DJs would love to see Native Instruments bring Traktor to the standalone universe. In my mind, Traktor users represent the single biggest group of people who are looking for move from laptop-based DJ setups to standalone setups. They simply want a comparable feature set to Traktor – but that’s something that standalone setups still don’t quite have.
But considering NI have just released two Traktor controllers this fall, it’s incredibly unlikekly they will turn around and launch a competing unit anytime soon. Instead, expect to see a new iOS software release of Traktor in 2019 – more on that in a different article.
Odds we’ll see standalone Traktor hardware from NI at NAMM 2019? 5% – there’s almost no world in which I can imagine this making sense for them now.
A Wild Card
We’ve been surprised by hardware at NAMM before coming from unique or new manufacturers – so to see a DJ hardware release from an unexpected company wouldn’t be out of character. Have your own ideas about who might be well situated to take on this challenge? Let us know in the comments below.