Is Denon DJ Going To Release A CDJ-Killer?

Earlier this week, Denon DJ (part of InMusic group) released product teaser video, titled “#ChangeYourRider 2017”. We traditionally don’t enjoy over-hyped teaser videos, but it’s exciting to see a potential competitor to Pioneer DJ’s stronghold on media players make some noise. Keep reading for our analysis.

Denon DJ Wants DJs To #ChangeYourRider

In the video, there’s a schematic of what looks like a media player. This makes sense, Denon’s media player line hasn’t been updated in a while. The  targeting users of the immensely popular Pioneer CDJ range.

The title, #ChangeYourRider, is directed squarely at touring / club DJs who request an equipment rider detailing their exact specifications before any performance. Currently, the overwhelming majority of professional riders specify Pioneer DJ CDJs as the media players. Denon’s campaign is clearly focused on toppling that monopoly – with a new product that will likely fill many of the roles currently satisfied by the CDJ range.

BPM counters, time displays, and a moving waveform visible in this angle of a new media player from Denon DJ
Based on the video, we can deduce a few specific features in the upcoming Denon DJ media player:
  • At second 3, there’s a line of square shapes. This suggests performance pads or a bank of hot cues.
  • At second 8 in the video, it looks like there’s a large, central jog-wheel with a blue central jog display
  • At second 20 (screenshot above) there’s an inclined screen with track info, tempo, beatgrids, and a detailed waveform

Denon DJ’s Engine In A Standalone Unit?

Denon’s announcement comes months the launch of their MCX 8000, which used their proprietary Engine library software (which parallels Pioneer DJ’s Rekordbox) and worked as a full-featured for Serato DJ controller.

We suspect this new player would probably use the Engine software as well, and fit into Denon’s existing ecosystem that includes the MCX 8000 and their media players. Denon’s current media player lineup is in serious need of a revitalization – a new player would join the Denon SC2900 and SC3900, both of which have all been on the market for years and don’t stand up next to newer Rekordbox-driven CDJs.

Denon’s most recent media players – the SC2900 (left) and SC3900 (right)

I spoke with a DJ friend – who swears by Denon media players – about this teaser. He expressed hope that this new media player would have a hallmark feature of older Denon players: moving platters for jog-wheels. But motorized parts aren’t exactly in high demand by most DJs who aren’t turntablists.

Will Denon DJ’s campaign to infiltrate the riders of professional DJs work? It could happen. Particularly if the new player is able to compete with the CDJ-2000NXS2 and the XDJ-1000mkII (in both features and price). There’s a clear gap in the market for home/bedroom DJs who want to use professional CDJ-style setups, but don’t have $2,000 to $6,000 to spend on a high-end Pioneer DJ setup.

That said, it’s sure to be an uphill battle. Can Denon do it? Share your thoughts in the comments below. 

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  • Senator Wax Davis

    Having fun reading the comments now that the SC5000 is out.

    • Jan Schmidt

      For full / more information simply buy German based Fazemag 59, also digital available. The Information about the new gear should not be in public yet, but you can also wait for Denons official PR.

  • acemc

    Denon’s firmware/software has always been the let-down. Just look at Engine. It’s pathetic, how can they release software like this & expect people to take them seriously? Music management software that doesn’t even allow you to manually adjust the beat grids is a joke. Even Music Manager, after all this time isn’t anywhere close to rekordbox. Making decks that are filled with limitations certainly won’t ever trump Pioneer. Their customer support has become terrible too (#wemissSilvioZeppieri). Even with the release of the MCX8000 (which I own & really enjoy) Denon couldn’t / wouldn’t give their users a straight answer about the cue led brightness. Part of the 8000’s promotion was the ‘Stage-Link’ utility, over a year later & not even a peep from them about it!! Please Denon, get serious or get out!

    • Allaboutthavybz

      “Part of the 8000’s promotion was the ‘Stage-Link’ utility, over a year later & not even a peep from them about it!! Please Denon, get serious or get out!”

      This is an example of what I said in my post re: apparent “abandoning” of products soon after releasing them.

      Is Denons only aim to churn out stuff for short term publicity and to give impression that they are serious players (pardon the pun)?

      Denon’s Community Forum has been down since c. April (apparently, the hosting company servers crashed and no backups were kept!!) – Denon has done nothing to re-establish the Forum, which in my view, says all that you need to know about what they think of us, the customer.

      Mind you, when the forum was up and running, it was inundated with extremely unhappy users of Denon hardware/software, so I’m not surprised their in no hurry to get it back online.

      So, for now I’m stuck with my SC2900’s……but, as soon as finances allow, its “bye bye Denon, Hello Pioneer”

      A real shame really.

  • Chad Hobart

    Can Denon take on the CDJ – in the studio or science lab – maybe.

    However, I don’t think there is even the slightest chance that Denon could actually make a dent in the Club setup this late in the game. Even if it’s a better machine, it would be like BETAMAX trying to take on VHS in the mid-80s. Sony’s BETA technology was Clearly a better product, but everyone (Rental stores, electronics stores, etc.) supported VHS – and were not in the mood to either support BOTH technologies or change altogether.

    If the biggest clubs in Vegas and the world’s largest EDM festivals continue to let Pioneer dominate the DJ Booth – Denon’s only chance to penetrate the professional DJ scene is to create a unit that appeals to the Consumer or DJ hobbiest – based on Price alone. Additionally – even with the greatest new CDJ-style controller – will Denon even try to compete with the DJM mixers?? There are so many flaws with Denon mixers EQs and DSPs. I can’t tell you how many time the sloppy BASS knob on my MC6000 fails to properly drop and fade in/out consistently – making me only dream of owning an $8000 Pioneer setup in my home simply for making remixes.

    (NOTE: I’m actually a happy Denon owner – their stuff is nice and portable – perfect for a mobile DJ) and yes, I think Denon makes a prettier product than Pioneer. But both companies make some Sexy components.

    I just don’t see a takeover – great product or not – getting the world’s best DJs and producers to switch from Pioneer and Rekordbox to Denon would only happen if Pioneer suddenly starts failing time and time again in a live situation. Anyone Agree or Disagree with this?

    • xs2man

      Same could have been said when the first CDJ came into the record booth trying to oust the Technics. Or the first iterations of Traktor taking on CDJ’s.

      Sure, Pioneer is the industry standard just now. But that could change. And change quickly.

    • Mark

      And what happened to VHS? Oh yeah… more advanced tech… 😉

      • Chad Hobart

        Mark, I appreciate your comment, however, I must partially disagree with you – Betamax was known as having a slightly better picture and less “noise” (those lines on the bottom of the screen we had to track out) over VHS – VHS was just cheaper – so more people bought them – It wasn’t until the VHS HQ made their technology Equal to Betamax that they were able to excel – and ultimately dominate the marketplace. So I guess, in a way, VHS technology helped them prevail, but only by getting “as good” as their competition.

        (from wikipedia)
        “When Betamax was introduced in Japan and the United States in 1975, its Beta I speed of 1.57 inches per second (ips) offered a slightly higher horizontal resolution (250 lines vs 240 lines horizontal NTSC), lower video noise, and less luma/chroma crosstalk than VHS, and was later marketed as providing pictures superior to VHS’s playback. However the introduction of Beta II speed, 0.79 ips (two-hour mode), to compete with VHS’ two-hour Standard Play mode (1.31 ips) reduced Betamax’s horizontal resolution to 240 lines.[6] The extension of VHS to VHS HQ increased the apparent resolution to 250 lines so that overall a Betamax/VHS user could expect virtually identical luma resolution and chroma resolution (?30 lines) wherein the actual picture performance depended on other factors including the condition and quality of the videotape and the specific video recorder machine model. For most consumers the difference as seen on the average television of the time was negligible.”

  • Todange

    Pioneer nx2 media player are over priced plastic rubbish, what cost pennies to build but what takes the piss out of the buyer , me & you when it comes to buying a pair , all because carl cox is the face of pionner , lets be all like carl cox lmfao.

    • Todange

      Pioneer lol

    • Agungald

      what really? i’ve seen some videos of carl cox using traktor s8 om clubs and festivals.. he maybe left pioneer someday

  • Allaboutthavybz

    Sorry, but Denon’s Engine is absolutely the worst music management/DJ software I’ve ever come across.

    It’s like an “after-thought”……but WORSE!!!!

    I cannot believe that Denon have let it loose on the public. I think thier time would be better spent having a good look at Traktor/Serato/VDJ etc , then spending time developing software that is actually usable.

    Also, what’s happened regarding the SC2900? or the MC6000MK2? – Both, in the not too distant past, “Flagship” products? They seem to have been abandoned 10 minutes after being released!

    Nothing for yonks – not even a firmware update. Have they been totally abandoned? If so, Denon could at least have the decency to let those of us who forked out the best part of £500 for each unit know.

    Abysmal customer support (as much use a a chocloate kettle),

    Denon build quality is legendary for its quialty – unfortunately, its customer support (using the word “support loosely) is legendary for exactly the opposite.

    • DJ MoRican

      I agree with almost everything you stated, as an owner of 2 SC3900s. The customer support is where I would disagree and only before the sale of Denon to InMusic. After the sales, yes, their “flagship” players are an afterthought.

      I have owned the 3500s, the 3700s and now the 3900s. Denon nailed it with the 3900s but failed with Marketing, IMO.

    • Mark

      My understanding of this – SC2900 and SC3900 were created under D&M Holdings, prior to the acquisition by inMusic. Since the acquisition most pre-existing products have been discontinued, with the new product range coming out to replace them and grow the range (DS1, MC4000, MCX8000, MC7000, VL12 and more).

  • Matthew DjLyte Rapoza

    if it has a full size motorized platter im in , if not just another toy

  • couic

    not sure lots of DJs will like having to re analyse all their track library.

    • Nosboost300

      if it comes with some sort of rekordbox import that’d be awesome… too many playlists and cue’s i don’t want to have to deal with again

  • MiQ

    In a word. NO.

  • DjFREQ

    So in essence, nothing new, really?

  • eugene

    Denon CDJs have always been more toy-like than anything else. From the s5000’s to the 3700’s, they don’t exactly announce quality. I actually picked up the mcx8000, it isn’t bad, but it still has its quirks. Denon seems to be improving their ability to listen to what dj’s want, so they are headed in the right direction again. I loved their dual cd decks back in the day, those suckers were pretty stable and felt quality.

  • Toby Silver

    Unfortunutly, A DJ who has recordboxed their whole library of music will not want to redo it all in engine for marginal gains. recordbox is free so why would pioneer have to protect the file format’s. We need a standard file to use weather it’s recordbox or engine or some other one, all players should be able to play the same file format. I think if dennon want to do well with this player, theyll have to give rekord box support

  • JayMan

    Have a friend of a friend that’s seen them, pretty cool, which I could say more ?

  • The Great DJ Swindle

    After reading the comments here, basically what you all want is a Denon CDJ better than Pioneer 2000NXS but at a third of the price…good luck with that.

  • golemus2

    Competition for CDJ is definitely welcome (as the prices are astronomical):

    Here is my feature requests:
    – FLAC support, exFAT and/or NTFS support
    – both USB sticks AND CD support if possible (there still is a lot of DJ (especially professional DJs) that use CDs and have not yet switched to another media.
    – real time analyzing of song structure (like in CDJ-1000mk3), so that DJ:s will not need to pre analyze with Rekordbox or any other unneccessary software to see song structure. There IS still a lot of situations where you put a random USB stick to the player and would like to play it without an opportunity to pre analyze the tune with a software.
    – HID support for all major software (Traktor, etc…) would be nice.
    – problem free operation with both Windows and OS X and both USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports.

    • deejdave

      This sounds like current Pioneer CDJ’s, no?

  • Black Mail

    It’s something rarely discussed – but Pioneers products just look sexier than anything made by other competitors. The styling and work flow is beautiful and simple. Vestax were the only other brand that realised aesthetic plays strongly in driving consumer demand. There will be those who immediately jump on the “its whats inside that counts” and “feature rich” … the reality is that even sports cars look beautiful. And while some will lament over the fact that Denon players are really sexy – they’ve never for me been able to shake the fact that they look like ugly broadcast 19″ rack gear made into tabletop players #SampleOfOne

    • Ricardo Martínez

      Spot on. Many people don’t realize the important role played, at both conscious and subconscious levels, aesthetically superior design that’s also functionally superior, from tea kettles to airport terminals. Remember what MP3 players looked like before the iPod, or mobile phones before the iPhone? Native Instruments’ hardware line is another example of what you say.

    • Spacecamp

      Very true. However, since InMusic took over Denon, they’ve been simplifying their design aesthetics. They haven’t released a standalone media player since the sale. IMO this is the best opportunity for Denon DJ to get it right, so let’s see what happens…

    • deejae snafu

      well i for one , do not like the look of pioneer gears.

      • ...

        Pioneer gear looks like those big cheap home stereo systems they make over seas, with the big knobs and alarm clock screens, lol

    • DeepGroove

      I would add that bedroom DJs want to mix on the same gear that DJs they look up to use. And most superstar DJs are seen mixing on high-end Pioneer. This is a strong drivers of sales to individuals.

  • Carlos Hernandez

    Funny how we keep calling this things ‘CDJs” when almost nobody plays CDs anymore…

    • Spacecamp

      “Media Player” is just a mouthful. Have a better term?

      • Dubby Labby

        Media Deck?

        • Topher Dance

          MJ. Definitely. Would love for a future rider to read: 1 x DJM2000 and 4 x Michael Jacksons

      • teufelzkerl

        MJ = media jockey

        • Topher Dance

          MJ. Definitely. Would love for a future rider to read:
          1 x Pioneer DJM2000
          4 x Denon Michael Jacksons

      • Chad Hobart

        Xerox – vs. photo copier machine 🙂 – CDJ – maybe “DJU” or DJC – . Plus – if you are a touring DJ you can still encounter an archaic set of CDJ 1000’s in other countries (been there) – having some Backup CDs of your set never hurts for a last minute gig with older equipment.

  • mikefunk

    I consider Pioneer over Traktor (next year) only because Rekordbox will allow me to play everywhere I want on club equipment. SO this is nice.

  • AuralCandy.Net

    The CDJ market sure could use some competition, but I wonder how this upcoming Denon CDJ fits in Denon’s current or upcoming product strategy and line-up. Denon doesn’t have a mixer in its product range since DN-X1600/X1700 were discontinued.

    • ?The Other Denzel?

      I’m praying for an updated dn-x1600 with squishy pads and rane faders.

    • Klappa

      I don’t think neither X1600 or the X1700 is discontinued.

      • AuralCandy.Net

        Incorrect, they are discontinued. This has been confirmed by Denon themselves.

        Please note, that “discontinued” does not mean the same as “no longer sold”. Even though DN-X1600/1700 is no longer manufactured, retailers may still have them on shelf.

        In fact, Denon has confirmed that hey are no longer working with the subcontractor that manufactured the DN-X1600/1700. Denon’s current product line is manufactured by another subcontractor. This is also the reason Denon has not yet released firmware update to make DN-X1600/1700 work with macOS Sierra.

      • Mark

        Both are.

  • NIco Hesse

    I do not think Denon will change the club standard of Pioneer. Pioneer players are in most clubs. Therefore, almost every DJ uses Rekordbox . Traktor, Serato, Rekordbox and now a fourth software to prepare your tracks? The Denon software as well as products would have to be the absolute bang. And have a much more aggressive price than the competing products.

    • proben

      I would expect that compatibility with rekordbox would be a given.

      • deejdave

        About as given as support with the MCX-8000. They have their own “Engine” software which is in theory direct competition with Rekordbox so why would RB support be a given?

  • James Brian Thomaston

    Also, while I’m wishing for things.. make engine where it can work with the mcx8000 as it does with the sc3900, except stable. Browsing functions are limited on the mcx8000 so browsing on the laptop for special requests would be awesome!

  • James Brian Thomaston

    Only if they can get engine to be stable and work as well or better than Rekordbox. I still need to use mixed in key and serato in order to get a proper bpm and key. Also the looping is nowhere near as accurate as serato. If they want to compete they need these sorted. Also the pitch lock on engine is horrible. Artifacts showing at only 1% pitch change. Useless.

  • David Brown

    Dear Denon DJ, here is what I think we REALLY want from your new players:

    1. Make the Engine variant designed for these players as open as possible. Try to get Serato and Traktor HID support if possible. Implementing Ableton Link in these players for standalone operation would go a very long way as well.
    2. Appease us and give us good lossless file support.
    3. Creative features are what will pummel Pioneer. PERFORMANCE PADS. Even if you don’t have them implemented in this player, implement them into the next one.
    4. Formula:
    Quality support for software and Lossless + Quality creative features + Good build reliability + Playing nice with others = Problem slowly forms for Pioneer.

    Keep your eyes on the road. The intellectual DJs are watching, with reasonable skepticism. Prove that unfounded. I double-dog dare you.

    • Spacecamp

      If there’s one thing that every major DJ manufacturer can learn, it’s to listen to your users. If Denon comes in and provides, out of the gate, every feature that users have asked Pioneer DJ for for years, and at a reasonable price point, they stand a good chance of competing.

    • Chad Hobart

      Great points here, David. Yes – Open architecture would certainly be a BIG advantage over Pioneer. Plug and Play with every major GUI DJ software would certainly make me reconsider my opinion. Even a Rekorbox “workaround.” Maybe a nice auto analyze Bar-count designer for 4-6 and 8 Bar intros/outtros 🙂

  • Rob Ticho, Default Rejects

    I’m not a huge fan of Pioneer and I dislike their dominance in the DJ booth. Nevertheless, Denon would need to release a product that is lightyears ahead of Pioneer in order for DJs to “change their rider.” Releasing a product that is marginally better is not enough to topple Pioneer’s dominance.

    • ?The Other Denzel?

      When has denon NOT released a media player that wasn’t light years ahead of pioneer?

      • ...

        Since when did we start measuring dj gear in light years?

        • ?The Other Denzel?

          his words, not mine. feature wise, pio’s gear is always at least a generation behind Denon.

      • Klappa

        Denons software sucks though

    • Pavel Veter

      After miserable DN-S3500, I will never buy anything from Denon.

      • Pavel Veter

        And the same bad DN-S5000.

        • DjFREQ

          I have the S5000s…I have never seen so many buttons that don’t do anything.

      • deejdave

        3500’s BY FAR the worst devices I ever owned. Try using them with SSL (DVS) wuth a 15 second buffer for scratching LOL. Light years ahead of Pioneer? Not even 15 seconds ahead!!

      • Nogui

        The SC3900s blew them all away and remains an industry grade player, even if it hasn’t been upgraded in a few years.

        • sean jackson

          love the sc3900’s, they rock, i’m banking on there being enough good condition ones around for another 10 or 20 years as the scene moves away from turntable feel sadly.

  • Christopher Allen

    Denon has been better than Pioneer for a while IMO but their marketing is sooooo garbage. The only thing stopping the SC2900 and 3900s from being better than CDJ’s was the crappy display and the lack of availability (fortunately my gf lives in Amsterdam). It was just terrible for 2014. And even today, the MCX8000 is probably the best controller and 1 of only maybe 3 DJ units, and the only one with 4 channels.

    In all, I’m hopeful, but the winning company will be the one who doesn’t dumb down their products with each price point. How about a 2 channel controller, a 4 channel controller, and 2 CDJs and a mixer that are exactly the same with the same features. Make DJing great again.

  • Scott Frost

    Inmusic will fall them to the ground. Support will dwindle and then users will be left out in the cold. Demon is dead. Rane will die as well.

    • deejdave

      Demons are always dead!! LOL

  • Sandeep Kumar

    I used to love the old school Denon decks…. Denon originally had a strong hold on the club DJ market but the CDJ-1000 changed all that. They’ve struggled since then to gain market share again…. I just had the SC3900 & absolutely loved them. I’m really hopeful about this!

    • Jan Andre

      Back in the days it was ONLY Denon on the cdplayer market. I hope they will come back as a strong competitor to Pioneer.

      • Brad Sartor

        Yeah. Even when pioneer release their CDJ500 players, the Denon’s were still king. But this was only for a certain kind of DJ, mobile and commercial clubs. Most club DJs still preferred vinyl. The rise of music downloads and the CDJ1000 changed everything.

        • Christopher Allen

          I think they took too long to have a CDJ without an automatic platter. Had they released products like they did the SC2900 and SC3900 rollout, they would still be on top, because feature wise, they have always been better