Let's talk about the PRIME 4

DISCLAIMER: Please don’t take any of my words as critique to Denon DJ or any person working at Denon DJ. This is just my personal opinion, how I feel about this product.

I have been using my PRIME 4 for more than 10 months now so I thought about writing up my thoughts on it as a DJ.

I have been a DJ for more than 8 years with experience in a lot of places: clubs, bars, big events, private parties, etc… I play in as a DJ duo so we both have or own USB & music when playing. I am also a big DJ gear geek and love DJ gear and new technology. Before I switched to the PRIME 4, I was using a DDJ-1000. I also have a lot of experience with the CDJ line of Pioneer gear, as I use those players in most of the clubs that have them.

So let’s get right into it :slight_smile:


Build quality

The build quality of the PRIME 4 is amazing. Metal face plates, strong metal pods and an overall rugged feel. I do have some remarks on consistency: the knobs don’t have the same tension. The filter knob of channel 2 & 3 on my unit are way more tense than the knobs of channel 1 & 4. It is not that big of a deal but it is noticeable.


The layout of the PRIME 4 is good. Everything looks to be on the spot where they would be on any club standard player/mixer. I would have loved the effects to be like the X1800/X1850 with a single knob to control and a button to activate. This just feels way more natural than reaching over the deck to control. I mostly use effects when transitioning and having the controls not far away from the volume sliders & eq control feels more natural and faster. Anyway it is not a dealbreaker and I am used to it by now.

The screen

The screen is amazing in size, color & touch control. It is, no doubt, the best screen on any standalone DJ player I have ever used (I have used almost all Pioneer players with a touchscreen). The included screen cap is a nice inclusion! I do wish I could buy a glass screen protector to prevent any future scratches.

The jogwheels

This was one of the downsides when I was considering switching to the PRIME 4, coming from the DDJ-1000. I love Pioneers mechanical jog wheels over any other jogwheel. I just find them way more satisfying to move around, feeling the gears while moving them. Mechanical jog wheels also prevent you from accidentally touching them when doing something else and stopping the track.

Now, the PRIME 4 jog wheels are good, but not amazing. I just find them way to lose. I am not a scratch DJ but I just prefer a higher tension. The gold spot on my DDJ-1000 was setting the tension to right in the middle. They also feel quite “cheap”, when touching the ring the plastic “creeks”.

After using them for a few weeks I got used to them and I don’t really mind now, I just prefer Pioneer jogwheels over anything.

The faders

The faders are amazing. I love these over the Pioneer DJ faders. The loser tension makes it easier to use. With Pioneer the faders would be harder to move in the beginning of the set & losen up quite a bit when using them for some time (at least for my DDJ-1000). I just hope the faders don’t become too lose on my PRIME 4 & I hope that my caps don’t start to fly of (this has happened quite a bit on poorly maintained Pioneer mixers in clubs, trust me)

The crossfader

I don’t use a crossfader, I am not a scratch DJ. But if compared to Pioneer, well it is night & day. Pioneer Magvel crossfaders are just amazing compared to the metallic feeling crossfader on the PRIME 4. It is hot swappable so you can replace the crossfader any time if you prefer something else.

The pads

The pads are rubber without a click but you can feel a slight feedback when tapping them. They are better than the pads on a DDJ-1000 with more feedback and a more premium and quality feeling. I also like the fact that they are not entirely lit up, just the sides display the color, making them less distracting and giving them a more professional look.

The buttons

One might say that buttons are just buttons, and you would be right, but some buttons need more and faster presses than others… The CUE/PLAY buttons need fast response times. They should register a press without tapping to hard. Coming from a DDJ-1000 or any other Pioneer player, they are way to “hard” to press. You need significantly more force to push them. The more you go away from the center, the harder it is to press them. It is almost impossible to trigger them from the corner of the button. I eventually got used to them and it is not a problem for my anymore. I know the new SC6000 has rubber CUE/PLAY buttons which are easier to trigger (according to Laidback Luke’s review) so Denon knows that they have to improve in this area :slight_smile:

Media sources

This is just absolutely amazing. Having 4 USB ports, 1 SD card and a freaking internal SATA connector is just incredible. No other media player in the market has this amount of input. No remarks on anything here (at least not on the hardware side).


Engine PRIME

Engine PRIME has improved a lot lately, with the dev team doing a great job catching up to the competition. However it is not Rekordbox. This may look like a cheap shot at Engine PRIME but it’s not. When I was thinking about buying a PRIME 4, Engine PRIME was one of the mayor drawbacks. I tried using the software the first few months I used my system but I just don’t like it.

BUT: here is the catch, I don’t use Engine PRIME with my PRIME 4. Yes, you heard me right. In fact, I no longer have it installed on my laptop. I just use Rekordbox. I can just export the music from Rekordbox to USB, plug it into my PRIME 4 and it will convert all my playlists & cues over to my PRIME 4. You still need to analyze the track when loading it for the first time, but that only takes a few seconds. BPM is initially taken over from Rekordbox and Engine OS just calculates the new BPM after analyzation.

As I said before, I play in clubs with Pioneer players, so I need Rekordbox. I don’t have a car or even a drivers license so I go by bike to most of the sets I play. Carrying around a PRIME 4 to every set I play would be impossible. I just bring it when the club has no preinstalled players. I never would have bought this system if it didn’t have that functionality and I would switch back to Pioneer the day it gets removed (lets hope that day never happens :sweat_smile:)

Here are some things I don’t like about the software:

  • Lack of keyboard control/customization.
  • Losing position in the playlist when switching over to another playlist back and forward.
  • Slippery scroll (scrolling just feels weird in my opinion)
  • Bad performance: for some reason Engine PRIME will freeze my system on Windows 10 when doing analyzation. It is not a potato PC (a 10th gen Core i7). I don’t have this problem when using Rekordbox on the same machine.
  • Unnecessary album art scanning (why is it scanning every song for album art after some songs have been analyzed)
  • Lack of customization

Engine OS

Engine OS is just amazing, no, really amazing.

  • I love the overall layout and option to switch between vertical & horizontal waveforms.

  • Having both a library view & full performance view when on the main vertical screen is just amazing. I can look for music while someone else is doing a transition or just do a set without even going to the library or touching the screen.

  • Ability to pitch up/down keys is unheard-of on any standalone player.

  • Scrolling using your finger or swiping to load a track, thanks to the multi touch display, feels so intuitive & natural. I tried doing the same on a Pioneer player once, by habit :sweat_smile:. My girlfriend who has never touched a DJ player in her life just came standing next to me one day and started scrolling through the music with her finger without ever explaining to her how it worked. That is what I call good UX :laughing:

  • Searching using the keyboard is way faster on the PRIME 4 than on any Pioneer DJ player.

  • Managing playlists is handy. I wish there were more options like removing a track from a playlist/crate or being able to edit the star rating. But the idea is there :slight_smile:

  • On the fly track analyzation is fast & accurate (most of the time)

  • Streaming services are amazing to have. I don’t really use them in live scenarios but I see the appeal. I don’t like the fact that there is no BPM/key information when browsing. Maybe something in the future would be cool.

However I do have my problems with the software as well:

  • Switching sources: Switching sources got a lot quicker since the 1.5.1 update but it is still lacking compared to the competition. Me and my companion both play on our own USB, so we need to switch a lot between sources. Every time you switch a source you need to:

    • Accept the popup to load the user profile into the player. Why can’t this just be a separate button I can press? Or just a popup when using the drive for the first time. It is so annoying

    • Go back to the correct crate/playlist & position. Why is it not maintaining track position? When switching between a drive & a streaming service the position is maintained. Why not with drives?

  • Loss of sorting option: when switching between playlists, you lose the position inside the playlist/crate, but also the sorting option. This also happens when searching for a song.

    • I am inside a playlist at a specific song, ordered on BPM
    • I have an idea to play next and go to the search field and search for the song.
    • I go back to the playlist: now I have to select BPM as sorting option again, scroll back to where I was before searching. It ends up being faster to just look for the song in the playlist rather than searching. This should not be the case.


Since the effects are part of the software, I will discuss them here. This is one of the major lacking points in my opinion. The effects don’t sound as well as the Pioneer effects.

  • The echo somehow lowers the volume even at low dry control. I have to fiddle around with the frequency to prevent this from happening.
  • The reverb has the same issue as the echo
  • The flanger is limited to only 8 beats, which is way too short.

The strange thing is that the sweep effects are way better than the regular effects. The sweep effect echo doesn’t have the same problem. Why not use the same algorithm?

Maybe I am just spoiled by the Pioneer DJ effects?


While not part of the product, it is a great part of this product as a whole. We are able to voice or opinion, give feedback and submit issues and the Denon DJ staff is actually listening and implementing the things we like.

Compared to Pioneer where the staff just looks down to the users, removing opinions and just being toxic to the community of DJ’s as a whole. It is absolutely sad how they are greedy for money and don’t even care about who is actually using their product. It is night and day.

The verdict

I absolutely love my PRIME 4, but it has some issues that can be fixed. I would like to thank the Denon DJ staff for innovating and not doing what some industry standard is doing. Thank you for listening to the community and actually caring about the product more than about your pockets.

Please don’t take any of my words as critique to Denon DJ or any person working at Denon DJ. This is just my personal opinion, how I feel about this product.

Thanks for reading if you got this far. Let me know in the comments what you think :slight_smile:


Love this in-depth description of you view on the Prime 4. Very well written :pray::muscle:

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Yes. Nice job and Prime 4 real test :+1:t3:


Really good balanced review. :heart::ok_hand::heart:

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Good review, I still have my eye’s on a Prime 4 and this has helped. Just cannot shake the feeling I’ll miss DVS too much.

The Prime 4 is DVS compatible (via Serato or VDJ).

Yes pls do something about the effects.

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Do what exactly?

I’ve seen a lot of posts saying that the FX’s are crap but not much detail. What exactly is wrong with them?


Great review: it is basically the summary of all the strengths / weaknesses of the Prime 4 (and its surrounding software).

I hope that from now on the DENON DJ technicians will take care of improving the software part to add all the lacking functions that are present in the appropriate section, and improve the already existing ones: since Prime 2 and Prime GO have now finished, they will surely have the time to devote to software optimization.

For example: why is the ECHO of SWEEP good, while that of the FX has the well-known flaws?

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100% true :slight_smile:

Very few effects

I wouldn’t call 14 effects “very few”. It’s the same as the Pioneer DJM900NXS2 for example.

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Very nice write up Maartenvr. I think you summed it up very well & I agree with almost everything you’ve written. My experience with Engine Prime however, has been the exact opposite to yours. I actually love the way EP is working right now (1.6 beta). On my mac, the software is 100% rock solid. 99% of my tracks are analysed correctly (extremely quickly too!!) & now that we have the flexible beat grids, it gives me most of what I’m after. Rekordbox on the other hand, constantly hangs on my mac & even sometimes doesn’t add my new music to the database - so yeah, total opposite experience there. But I do agree that there is still work to be done regarding the actual library management. The main effects on the P4 are sub-par to the sweep effects (which I love btw). Hopefully that can be sorted out via firmware. Something that not many people mention is the quality of the phono stage on the P4 mixer. It is actually phenomenal, if you had to A/B it next to some of the higher end dj mixers you would be surprised just how good it is. My vinyl sounds amazing on the P4!! I wish we had access to the effects on our analog inputs, but I presume all the effects (apart from the filter) are created within the actual P4 processor which might cause latency, going from analog to digital, then effects processing, and then digital back to analog again. So… I’ll rather not have any latency problems and be happy with what I have. I am patiently waiting for “on-deck” bpm editing (not just moving the grid or X2 /2 but actual editing). The fact that flexible beat grids has now been added to EP, it gives me hope that on-deck editing will come to us soon. Overall though, I absolutely love my P4 & I’m very satisfied with what Denon have given us. Anything else that Denon decide to give us via firmware from here, really is just extra cherries on the top!!

Yeah I’ve been using my Prime 4 for vinyl ripping.



good analysis of everything. Anyway I wanted to tell you that in a play list you absolutely have the option to remove the songs you have inserted, otherwise it would make no sense to compile a play list, don’t you think?

Great in depth neutral review. I purchased my Prime 4 more than one year ago. All in all the most things that bother me are the effects. The Effects could be improved. Don’t get me wrong they are not absolutly terrible. After fiddling a bit with them you can get them to sound quite good - but there is definetly some room for improvements. I wish there would be an option to change the FX Timing like on the X1800 / X1850 Mixer in milliseconds. (For example via SHIFT + TIME Paramter). That gives you way more ways to use the already existing effects.

Also the effectrs are either too loud or too quiet. Also the Decay / Feedback parameter should be more logorithmic. Most of those things could be easily fixed by them (i am a software developer myself). These small changes makes the unit more fun to use as well as opening new creative potential!


How exactly?

  1. Connect a turntable
  2. Press ‘record’

There are of course more inbetween steps, like plugging the turntable into the wall socket, turning on the power, putting a record on the turntable, setting the channel switch correctly and so on, but you can figure that out (I hope). :slight_smile:

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i love my prime 4 to bits !!


seeing rane released that Rane One controller with motorized jogwheelplatters …

I am kind of hoping denon will release a “Prime 4 M” upgrade version. (the prime 4 WITH motorized jogwheelplatters)

If that one sees the light i am selling my prime 4 to get that one without any doubt!

But again… i love my prime 4 to bits !! best setup i got at home for that price!

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I would love that too!!