Prime 4 - harsh/Muddy sound quality when loud?

Generally loving my Prime 4 but have an issue with my sound - let me explain… Myself and another DJ both DJ in a large party room in a late night bar. We use the same cables, same MODEL of speaker (although a different set) and same subs. Before I go on, yes the issue COULD be the actual speakers, but as far as I can tell, nothing is wrong with them. We both use Virtual DJ (use videos so please don’t judge) - he uses a basic Windows laptop with generic USB cable, I use a 3 year old Macbook Pro with what i would consider to be a premium USB cable.

I will sometimes pop into the room towards the end of the night and I’m blown away with how smooth his sound is. The bass is easily picked out by the subs and it just sounds ‘smooth’. Mine on the other hand sounds more muddy and harsh. He has his EQs set at 12 o clock and never touches them.

The main difference? He is using a Pioneer XDJ-RX2 and I use a Prime 4. I used to have a Pioneer and can’t remember ever having an issue either.

I know many might say test his speakers and mine with my equipment - I will if I get chance - but could it be an issue with the Prime 4? The internal sound card maybe? The issue is just really highlighted when I hear his sound quality.

Can have so many reasons, why yours sound muddy:

First … the quality of your sources: MP3 sounds much worse than WAV. As well if you have bad encoded MP3´s under 160 kBit. If you use mp3 … use 320 kBit.

Second: Bad leveled equipment

Never go up to the red´s - or in our system … into the blue LED´s.

At first look at the loudest track you have. Level this so that your track meter only goes to the last white LED.

Then …

Master: do the same to the master … don´t let it go wider than the last white LED. (Mostly I let the master go only light the first white LED) … this should do the trick!

Also - the main PA can do this issue: While your white LED is just much too loud for the main PA. Then you have to reduce the level of master on your prime also.

Edit: You can also exchange some tracks with him Adjust your prime with the same track - so the PA sounds equal.

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Is the limiter of your Prime 4 on or off?

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Thats also a good point :wink:

Thanks so much for the replies - question about the Prime 4 limiter - never looked at that setting before - is it available when connected to Virtual DJ? EDIT - JUST CHECKED - Master limiter is off!

My sound files are of decent quality some flac, some encoded from CDs at 320kb.

I don’t go into the red at all. but one setting between us is different: I have ZeroDB set at -6 in VDJ where his is at 0. Can the -6 setting actually lower the sound quality? Maybe lose dynamic range? I always just thought it gave you more headroom but didn’t think that it would alter the sound in any way?

I had this same issue with my Prime 4.

At work we have a DJM-850 and I used to plug the Prime 4 into this via the RCA master out and it sounded great. Then I decided to remove the DJM-850 from the equation and I used the XLR output where the DJM-850 once stood.

It sounded similar to how you described. Lifeless and muddy, almost as if the phasing was out on the connections. Did you connect it this way? Have you tried the RCA master output? If the Prime 4 had never been plugged in via RCA then I wouldn’t have noticed but I could instantly tell and this is coming from someone who used it seven nights a week on that system.

My diagnosis was that there was something funky with the XLR balanced master out which seemed to leave the sound muddy and hollow, yet RCA was fine. I just rolled with the RCA afterwards.


Just bought some RCA cables so will give them a try in the week!


It may or may not make a difference but it did for me. If you can do a side by side then that would be great. Fingers crossed!

I’ve also ordered some different XLR cables to try, although me and the other DJ were using the same ones when his sounded better.

Hia. had recently reported here that the master out via xlr was quite distorted and sounded quite bad at increased volume … another user also reported about it …

Wow. Is this an inherent issue with all units?

It’s funny because when I first got my prime 4 I had it connected via XLR and the sound as described already was a bit flat and muddy so I switched to RCA and it sounded perfect. I just forgot about it and now seen this topic. Would be good to find out a bit more.

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Just a question on a side… Did anybody noticed a change in sound quality on the same track between Virtual Dj, Serato, Traktor, Rekordbox? Of course using the same audio interface.

I can’t use Rekordbox as the Prime won’t connect to Pioneer software. I could try Serato though.

Try, see if there is any noticeable change. As I had multiple times an issue between installations of Virtual Dj that on the same sound card it could sound sometimes worse and sometimes better. Any other software I used sounded way better with the same sound card than virtual dj. The test gave me results tat were not always consistent, so I stopped with it. But I noticed, that definitely there is some inconsistency in sound processing by virtual dj. I used multiple laptops (win and mac’s), soundcard was Denon X1600. Also tested with computers from other users. Always Serato, and Traktor showed a very good sound quality compared to VDJ, using same files and same audio setup for reference.

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Going to test some on a usb directly through the Prime 4 and test that too. Thank guys, much appreciated!


Ok so did a bit of testing tonight. Probably had it at about 70% or normal volume so was enough to test. Tested both sets of speakers and there was no difference between them so speakers are Ok. Tested the RX2 with Balanced XLR vs the same in the Prime 4. The RX2 did sound smoother across the board. The Prime 4 was more (slightly) bright and harsh in the mids and tops, as if the sound was too ‘hot’.

I then tested the Prime 4 XLR balanced vs RCA. The RCA to my ears and the other DJs ears sounded less harsh and smoother, more akin to the RX2 sound.

So to our ears, the XLR output on the Prime 4 is not as good as either the XLR on the RX2 or the RCA on the Prime 4 itself. I can continue with RCA output to keep my ears happy, although you do introduce buzz and interference at low levels, but if this is the case, it’s not good for a flagship product from Denon to have this potential issue.


You did test that in standalone mode, or also thru virtual dj?

It was all through VDJ tonight. Will try stand-alone another night when I get chance. Ran out of time!

I had a few thoughts back in 2019 on the sound but I’ve heard that the sound quality has improved since then.

And here…

Lots of technical talk in those threads too.

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