New DJ Gear: Pioneer DJM-850 and Denon SC3900

This week both Denon and Pioneer’s DJ divisions announced updates to their DJ product lines. Earlier in the week, Denon dropped the latest version of their CDJ, the SC3900, along with Engine, a setup software designed to match Pioneer’s Rekordbox. This morning, Pioneer made official the rumors of a major update to their mixer line by announcing the DJM-850. How do these updates stack up to their predecessors? Are they worth the upgrade, and are they poised to invade a DJ booth near you? Read on to find out.

Pioneer DJM-850 Mixer

Price: €1,499 / £1,299 (announced) and $1,999 (estimated)
Release Date: Late March 2012
Best Feature: Complex sidechained effects with Beat Color Effects
What It’s Missing: Two USB ports!

The DJM-850 is being promoted as being a future-proof mixer, with an integrated USB four-channel soundcard, multiple effects units and the overall build quality that’s expected from Pioneer’s kit. Most interesting are the new options for effects control.

When enabled, Beat Color Effects allow a DJ to take the Color Effects found on each channel and apply a beat-synced layer of control on top of the effect using the Beat Effects control unit. Pioneer’s explains it best:

 The Beat Colour Effect ‘listens’ to the audio input of each channel and directly connects the rhythmical changes in volume to another parameter: resonance for Filter and Crush, beat repeat for Cutter and ducking volume for the Noise Effect.

The Beat Effects unit has has a new level of control added to it as well, called FX Boost. Designed around the resulting effects possibilities of the DJM-900’s touch strip control, FX boost adds a second layer of control to effects using the Level/Depth knob.

Turn the dial to the 12 o’clock mark for a fully wet effect and turn it further to add Pitch Up to Up Echo and a High-Pass Filter to the Reverb.

As far as what you’re missing compared to the DJM-900 nexus, the 850 is lacking digital inputs and the ethernet Link port for allowing CDJs to access music data via the mixer and Rekordbox. Also, there’s still only one USB port, meaning that transitioning between two DJs who want to use the mixer’s USB soundcard in a CDJ-free environment (rare as it might be) is a massive pain. Rane has this down with their flagship mixers, and when you spend a good amount of money on a mixer, it seems only logical.

Pioneer will offer two color options, the popular black DJM-850-K and the silver DJM-850-S, will be available to match Pioneer’s dual color schemes on their CDJ units.

For more information on the Pioneer DJM-850, visit this page on PioneerDJ.com.

Denon SC3900 Digital Turntable

Price: To be announced.
Release Date: Also to be announced.
Best Feature: Hybrid MIDI Mode!
What It’s Missing: The awesome level of HUD detail (colored waveforms, etc) found on Pioneer’s CDJs

We’re a big fan of what Denon has done aesthetically with this unit compared to the DN-S3700, the previous iteration in this line of CD/Media controllers – the unit looks sleeker and more thought through than its predecessor, and the control placement has improved.

The unit can operate in a hybrid MIDI mode, meaning that it can concurrently be sending control tone to a DVS soundcard setup while also sending MIDI information via USB that can be mapped however you like in software. Pretty smart stuff to allow this kind of dual purpose on a controller, and will undoubtedly be a major attraction for laptop DJs who have had hesitations about keeping CDJs in their setup.

One interesting feature dropped from these units are the onboard effects – Denon has been putting effects into their CDJs for a while, which allowed a nice level of effects control for CDJ users who didn’t have a effects-heavy mixer.

The SC3900s also feature a new Link mode that’s a step up from previous Denon solutions, thanks to a brand new piece of software, Engine.

Engine – Denon’s Answer to Rekordbox

With many CDJ users moving to Link mode and library preparation software like Rekordbox, it only makes sense for Denon to rebuild their networked library software. Their new system, called Engine, is a cross-platform software that allows up to four control units together into a computer using an ethernet router and processes your tracks to assign waveforms and BPM values to each, data which then is shared back across the network to your controllers.

It’s nothing revolutionary, and we haven’t had a chance to use a complete setup in operation yet so we’re not going to make any calls about how the system performs, but we expect that Denon is putting quite a bit of work into this system to make sure that it seriously matches and challenges Pioneer’s workflow.

Do you expect to see Pioneer’s DJM-850 or Denon’s SC3900 in a club install near you? Let us know in the comments!

cdjsdenon sc3900djm850enginefour channel mixersmidi mixerpioneerrekordbox
Comments (74)
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  • Ryan Glassman

    This sounds shallow, sure, but: I wish Denon’s products didn’t all look super dorky.

  • DJ Top Jimmy

    Hi, I am trying to decide on a new Pioneer mixer to run my Traktor, but it’s all so confusing. Do I need the Traktor Audio Box (Audio 4, 8) with the DJM 900 or the 850? How about the 700? I don’t need all the bells & whistles, but I would love to use my CDJ’s to control Traktor without the Audio box. Thank you!

  • Calypso647

    If dj ing was cheap and easy everyone would do it… Wait a sec….. thats why i hate computer djs

  • Manyface007

    Will the denonSC3900 natively control traktor 2 

    • Denon DJ (USA)

      Denon will release a .tsi mapping file that can be used in Hybrid Midi Mode.

  • Dj Gilvandro Cammpos

    cdj denon light years ahead of any brand !!!

  • Supadjmq

    The denon 3900 is nothing but a stripped down 3700. I love the 3700s but denon music manager is garbage. I been playing in clubs for years who the hell is going to bring a router and a iPhone to control a software program that’s not a dvs.Since denon won’t fix the music manager how can I trust them with this new software.My next player will be a Pioneer or a S4.

  • GUEST

    PIONEER’s prices suck!…NOT VERY FRIENDLY AT ALL!!!!

  • GUEST

    PIONEER’s prices suck!…NOT VERY FRIENDLY AT ALL!!!!

  • Glitchmeister General

    i would not be buying these, software not mac compatible, no native control for traktor, super expensive! approx $1900 for 2 when you can get an allen heath xone4d for $1000 that blows them out the water in every respect..

  • Djgilvandrocammpos

    A pioneer and has much to improve their equipment, their products are expensive because of you DJ play, you consider the best, actually is not so, their equipment is not reliable, although a bit expensive, I can say that with all the experience of two examples that I have at home, I have a pair of cdj denon 3500 (7 years) and pioneer cdj 100s (three years) ask who was the first to give trouble? one that comes with the kit bug (iron to eject cd), the pioneer cdj, Dj play open your mind, try another type of equipment and draw your conclusion!

  • vicky AudioNauts

    these are “club standard equipment” which you simply carry your laptop
    containing Traktor and songs an just plug-it in to both Denon CDJ and
    Sound card/Mixer sound card base.. have a nice experimenting on the
    variety of Live setup..

  • Technics15

    Pioneer’s goal here is to get rid of the DJM 700 by the sounds of it, similar to what they did with the Nexus 900 vs. the 800.  At this point the 700 is about $900 bucks cheaper than the 900.  So tell me Pioneer, where does this DJM 850 fit into your pricing scheme.  Basically all they have done by the looks of it, is recreated the 800, but didn’t make it quite as beefed up as the 900, so that they could get rid of what they probably consider their “cheap” product the 700.  I think this is B.S.

    • Gavin Varitech

      They are getting rid of the 800, not the 700. The 700 is still manufactured and supported. This is for someone that has the 700 or 800 that wants a soundcard and improved sound quality but doesn’t want to spend $2,000 on a 900. Like me (I have a 700 and am upgrading to one of these if they are $1,600 retail as I expect).

  • Jak

    Wow, you can’t even drop and Inofader in, it’s pretty much a glorified djm700.

  • BOOBOO31

    the dJM-850 is sick, not to much different from the other pioneer mixers but whatever. but seriously, all denon stuff is absolutely crap, like who buys this stuff?!

  • Hatter

    As a person who’s intent on getting a great value on gear, rather than having the uber-forefront, and who likes Denon, I’m looking forward to what this will hopefully do to the pricing of the 3700.

  • Dj_

    Wow shit! You paid 2,000,00$ and you have always a RCA Jack on your device?? WTF! the sound card could be really good but if the connector is a shit you gonna to have shite ! 

    • sonyy

      further explain, i am interested in what you are trying to get at, but a little confused. 

  • Anonymous

    I’d rather throw an innofader into my aging djm800 than pick up this update. I love that mixer, but a new crossfader would be better than a replacement.

  • M Calica

    Why did they remove the echo/dub?… NO!!!!

  • 1000 Cutts

    epic fail for the Pioneer – same ol shiz….Liking the Hybris Midi mode on the Denon though.

  • Ruesue

    I’m not posting this for self-promo purposes. I just see a lot of harsh comments. Am I shit? I have been djing just over a year now and I worked my ass off to pay for my dj gear. I thought the best way to go for a newbie was pioneer so I could actually learn the fundamentals of beat matching, phrasing, building, dropping etc. And one day through a lot of hard work maybe I could get a ounce of respect.. 

    http://www.justin.tv/frenchfryy/b/309538733 

  • Djteeoh

    Seriously Pioneer? You produce all these basic products and sell for a ridiculous amount of cash, all because you are riding on your name. Newsflash, there are a load of companies gunning for your spot with good or better gear, but at a price not nearly as high as yours. Pioneer makes so much money in all they do, why not make products CHEAPER!! When companies start, they make products as quality as possible at cheap prices. Then the larger the get, the prices inflate. Granted to quality and technology increases too….but this is backwards. Larger companies can afford to sell their products cheaper so why the hell does Pioneer make and remake and remodel the SAME mixer over and over. Maybe if you made something new and innovative, the price would be comprehensible. But for now, you can keep your mixers. I’ll buy a Rane anyday.

    • Jon Cooper

      Have you By any chance read what you’ve just wrote?! You make a completely nonsensicle statement about pioneer being too pricey and how big companies should release better quality, more technological products but at a cheaper price and then top it all off by saying you would buy a “Rane anyday” – their 4 channel mixers costing around the £2,000 mark as well!! You don’t make any sense. Sounds to me like you are jumping on a very large anti-pioneer bandwagon without thinking about what you are saying!! Don’t be a cliche!!

      • Richiebno1

        So what? Does the man not have a point? You know there’s charging the most because your selling the best and then there’s just ripping the piss. Pioneer dj should be boycotted for their own good in my opinion. The average ‘super star’ who is given and advocates their products are only interested in maintaining the ‘status quo’ not because the products are fantastic but because most of these guys wouldn’t make it as labourers otherwise, because at the moment, if prices were lowered and the playing field evened…. These guys would be out of a job and I think  alot of us are starting to realise this.

        • Richiebno1

           …. And are buying Denon!

    • Lightrefraction

      Dude are you some type of blogging marketer for Rane?

  • Mr. V

    Who still uses Pioneer anything??? Unless they jump in head first into the Dj Software game they can keep there “Gas Price” equipment.
    BTW can someone please tell Pioneer’s Dj Department 1995 called and said they want there DJM850 mixer back!

    • Mr. V

       Sorry let me take that back…I meant the year 2000.

    • Gary

      “Who still uses Pioneer anything?” Honestly…most clubs in every large US city.

      That’s like asking, “who still uses turntables?”

      Club owners with deep pockets are really the target market for the DJM850.

      Midi controllers are great (I own a bunch) but with the exception of performers like Ean, you’ll mainly see all-in-one controllers only in small bars, house parties, and bedrooms.

      • Mr. V

         @ Gary – Of course but the real question is how long is that gonna last??
        Everyone i know is going controller route and why shouldn’t they??
        Pioneer CDJ’s are classics like 1200’s there mixers we can debate on all day but just seeing another RECYCLED piece of equipment in this ERA is non-sense just sayin’….
        At the end of the day though I doubt me and you will be buying that SHIT! LOL so who really cares?

        V.

        • Jon Cooper

          I think you should safely assume that it’s going to last a long time. Just because you know a few people buying controllers doesn’t mean that the whole world is. The forum on this site alone is full of people switching back to traditional equipment and buying top end mixers!! I don’t think the big players in the mixer world are quaking in their boots just yet!!

        • Ryan Glassman

          Honestly, if digital mixing on MIDI controllers alone is going to take over, two things need to happen.
          1) Better algorithms for digital summing (not as important)2) Top of the line sound cards in controllers (all-important)
          The natural response to number 2 is “who really notices the difference, especially in a loud club?” I do. The club owners do. The residents do. The sound guy does. I use an S4 and I love it to death, but when I record my mixes I have to master them in a DAW before I can post them anywhere because the S4 sound card squishes the high end and pulls a lot of the gain out. At the last gig I played I sent out from my S4 into one of the channels of the house mixer (a DJM-850, actually) and my channel had to be pretty heavily EQed to get it to sound even close to the sound coming straight from the resident’s setup: Traktor to Audio 10 to DJM.

          Until the sound coming from controllers can compete with the sound coming from external sound cards and analog mixers, controllers will never be the center of a club DJ setup. They just can’t.

    • Bpocas

      Your lack of experience shows w/ this comment…..

  • One more thing... or two.

    So the 850 is arguably a slightly gimped 900, and I bought the 900 about a month ago for $1700… I’m thinking that estimate might be a bit high, or Pioneer really don’t know what they’re doing with their prices – either one could be the case. Also – feature-wise in addition to what you mentioned compared to the 900, the 850 is missing Space and Dub Echo on the color effects and the touchstrip in the beat effects. The 850 would have to be a solid $400 or so cheaper than the 900 to really make that worth it, IMO.

    • Seth Alexander

      I’m sure that’s the MSRP. Actual selling price will be lower.

      • Gavin Varitech

        Exactly. The 900’s MSRP is $2,399 and it retails (at Pioneer authorized stores) for $1,999.

  • Chemist

    Asusual pioneer an there stupid price range…common pioneer your stuff is good but theres other great stuff out there for less you”re not all that

  • M.

    Where is Traktor Pro 2 Rekordbox?!

  • R3Bonaire

    i realy can’t understand Pioneers price strategy. Or DJTT estimate is wrong. What in have seen is the Euro Price is in the US price in $. DJM900 retails for $1999, a DJM2000 for $2499, where does this model fit. I believe it should be like the old DJM800 for $1499 and guess that what it is going to be. What i miss here is the digital in on the ch’s . But it fits with the cdj850 line..
    The Denon is nice but i can’t really see that one do better than the 3700. Pioneers are all over the clubs.

  • RockingClub

    And congratulations to all of those who devaluate digital DJing and controllerism by saying Djing with TTs and CDJs is the only way to DJ seriously while they load their CD songs into Rekordbox and prepare them carefully. Just an envious bunch of people.
    And, no kidding: Beatmatching can be done by an ape. Using effects and juggling with the music creatively, this is what real art looks like!

    • MYGAFF_RADIO_PLAYFMDUBLIN

      For me personally there are three types of seriously good DJS – Old School DJing, perfectly chopping, using FX & Beatmatching flawlessly with-out the use of any auto sync… I play Techno and thats the best way to enjoy techno. Then there are your DMC heads who are a different type of genius on two turntables… then there is the production esq DJ, the controllerism expert example being Ean Golden… All of the above i’d be happy to support on the dancefloor. 

      Then there is you! 

      • Ryan Glassman

        Dig at the end aside, perfect. Thank you. Laidback Luke is sick. Carl Cox is..a god. Richie Hawtin is sick. Myagi is sick. Ean is of course sick. Shiftee, Craze, and Unkut are sick. For real, bark all you want at each other, people. But there’s more than one way to skin a cat.

  • Anonymous

    Please have a look at the beat effects screen on the DJM-850 pic – it says Reverb while the effects knob itself is set to Delay.

    • DJBKZ

      The knob directly below the effect selector selects which deck or mic or even the master the effect is applied to. To quote yourself, to yourself, about yourself – “Ha -Ha!”

      • Anonymous

        You mean that on the display MST is selected whereas the deck selector is at Channel 1? 🙂

  • Brice Sarver

    Look at the differences between the DJM-700, DJM-800, DJM-850, and DJM-900Nexus.  Now, look at their prices.  Could you honestly justify purchasing a DJM-850 for, say, $1800 street when you could get a good quality, lightly used DJM-800 for $1000-1200 or ~$1400 new?  You can even find retailers selling NEW DJM-700s for less than $900.

    I use Pioneer gear and really enjoy it, but I was hoping that the 850 would have been released in a more affordable range comparable to current prices on the DJM-800.  I would love the extra effects, but the price is not there.

  • Dj Shungy

    I am looking forward to the new denon cdj! I believe it will be the best cdj but will not be the standard b.c of pioneer’s marketing with their cdj line.  The 850…. I think pioneer should have skipped that range for their other mixers above and below are too similar. Pioneer should have made a 4 channel DJM-t1! 

    • Michael Nelson

      your right would have made better sense seeing that the djm 850 is traktor scratch certified .. to me why do that and not have digital out its almost like pioneer wants you to say f it and buy a djm 900 . me i use a traktor s4 and a djm 900 but honestly i might get the allen and heath db 2 

      • Gavin Varitech

        The DJM850 DOES have a digital out. Digital inputs no, but it most certainly has a digital out.

  • Audioedge

    both products are archaic, trying to hold on to traditional methods for DJing and not really pushing the genre further forward. and they are expensive. move along

    • Johbremat

      Which genre?

      Techno?  Hip-hop?  Jazz fusion?  Wubstep?

    • vicky AudioNauts

       these are “club standard equipment” which you simply carry your laptop
      containing Traktor and songs an just plug-it in to both Denon CDJ and
      Sound card/Mixer sound card base.. have a nice experimenting on the
      variety of Live setup..

    • RU4Real?

       wow you’re line of thinking is even more archaic. re: sc3900: freedom from tethering to a laptop is a step forward and purifies the art of djing in all genres. Gooning at a macbook screen may be cool for you, but it’s not djing.

    • mrs bre

       wtf are u saying, thats what it should be, i dont wanna see laptop djs anymore …. go ableton live if u wanna push it forward and get ur self a macbook , fuck off by commenting pioneer and denonn u disrespectful fuck

  • Eddyvalencia123

    Oh that CDJ looks amazing!

  • DjKizouk

    the denon is the same for the 3700

    • Richiebno1

       Your an idiot.

      • Cwineb

        Says the guy who can’t write basic English. LoL.

        • Anonymous

          aaaaaahhhhhhhhhburn.

    • Sedwards

      Research could be your mouths best friend DJkizouk.  In the videos and reviews of the 3700 it shows that Denon have again listened to the end users.  The 3700 can be connected to a big screen on a Windows laptop, a Mac, and iPad to show record librarys etc. The 3700 link feature simply uses the connected computer as a big screen and a slave keyboard – and in any of these modes its always the 3700 in control, doing the processing, not the poor old computer.  I’m fed up with traktor amd serato and VDJ all getting so big and so slow that you need a top of the range computer to run with decent low latency.  I’ve already ordered a pair of 3900’s at a London dealer (deposit).  The RRP is £949, so guess that the street price will be £879-£899 as most kit seems to be about 10% off the rrp.

      • Seth Alexander

        Nice to know what the price range on the 3900 is going to be. Might need to see what I can sell some of my old equipment for 6 months after they’re released.

  • Ben

    Plus “Engine” can be controlled via an iPad, start stop knobs were added (huge improvement, a feature I have been waiting for), more precise platter, no sticker drift etc. for me, the 3900 is what the 3700 should have been.