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The all-new DENON DJ deck, the SC5000


Is the DENON DJ SC5000 Good Enough To Take On Pioneer’s CDJs?

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Hands-On Review

Playing on the DENON SC5000 is easy for anyone familiar with Pioneer equipment. The decks felt amazing when we had a chance to throw down on them, especially the heavy-weight pitch faders. Pioneer CDJ pitch faders tend to “walk” when being used during live performances, but the DENONs stayed put. If the tracks are analyzed. Despite being packed with more features the DENONs have fewer buttons than their Pioneer equivalents, meaning more touchscreen navigation is necessary. Admittedly we found the menu navigation frustrating at first, but after loading and playing a few tracks we got the hang of it.

The square-shaped cue + play buttons, common to the DENON DJ family of products, are made of a similar material to Pioneer and perform the same: no complaints there. One really cool feature is the built-in censor button, perfect for TOP 40 and club DJ’s alike. This button can be used to mask unwanted curse words in the track or as a neat effect and creative tool. We feel that the addition of a tempo-lock button would have been nice, but not completely necessary.

From what we saw, the main problem of the decks is the inability to plug in and jam – track analyzation is too vital to the DENON DJ standalone system. Not only can the decks analyze tracks on their own, the matching X1800 Prime mixer can even output waveforms and metadata information directly to lighting/production team members off stage. What this means is that un-analyzed tracks, straight from a USB drive, cannot be loaded and played like normal. Cue points can only be set on analyzed tracks, making even the most basic beatmatching difficult. Analyzing tracks takes about 30 seconds each so DJ’ing in this format is not recommended.

At first launch, the decks lacked support for Rekordbox, but a simple solution has since been presented. The most recent versions of the firmware can analyze 100 Rekordbox tracks a minute and convert them into “DENON Prime” tracks. On one occasion, one of our tracks analyzed as 77BPM instead of the correct 130BPM – unacceptable after waiting 30 seconds on stage. All in all, though, the decks were a pleasure to use and perform with.

So, is it better than Pioneer?

Historically DENON has tried to emulate vinyl with their players, while Pioneer elected to offer a whole new experience. The Pioneer vs. DENON debate is much like the age-old Apple vs. Android comparison. Both products are quality pieces and right-at-home in DJ booths worldwide. Both companies are respected Japanese enterprises with rich histories of innovation. Both products offer the same sound quality and are the same form-factor. Just like the smartphones, each brand offers its own solution to a problem. At the end of the day both can make calls, take pictures and navigate you to the nearest Starbucks – just like both brands of DJ deck can play the same music and make it your own.

The bottom line is that DENON released some game changers and Pioneer now is forced to upgrade their lineup. For less money DJ’s can get more features from DENON, so Pioneer must innovate. Otherwise, they will lose market share. There is speculation over what Pioneer will do, but they are certainly on the right track with their XDJ lineup of digital media players. Whatever gear you choose, do not limit yourself to that format only – DJ’ing is, and will always be, a progressive art form at the mercy of technology.


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Written By

Owner / Founder of AC AUDIO.

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Important things happen in Pacific Northwest nightlife, and DMNW will send you alerts!