Denon’s DJ SC2900: Is it time for change? They think so

After a teaser and a video, the official Denon DJ Sc2900 release is here. Denon return to the CDJ (if I may be so generic) fray with a unit that brings together all that is great from their SC3900 vinyl emulating deck, and add in some CDJ specific features, as well as some that they just don’t have (why don’t 900s have hot cues?) and bring forth a unit that they feel is a real contender for the CDJ crown.

But it also comes with their new cross platform Engine software, that will allow you to tame your digital media into a proper digital workflow that’ll work alongside CD and USB devices plugged in ad hoc.

Here’s what Denon finally have to say:

Press Release

Denon DJ SC2900

Category: Digital Controller and Media Player

Press Release Date: Summer 2012

• 7-inch Touch Sensitive ‘Eclipse’ Platter with LED Cue & Position Marker
• Natively supported by Traktor 2 software, Traktor LE 2 included
• Media Server for “Engine” Software*
• Player Link Network — File Share between Networked SC3900
• Playback Direct from USB / PC / MAC / CD *Engine software included

Denon DJ SC2900 marks a revolution for Professional, Club and Studio DJs by bringing Denon DJs first ever static-platter controller and media player combining the ultimate in ground-breaking design and the highest in industry-standard quality.

Designed with both Professional and Club DJs in mind, the Denon DJ SC2900 steps-up to the booth with a fresh take on true digital-media versatility. No longer is there a need to struggle dragging a mass of CDs to the club or through the studio doors – the SC2900 includes playback from USB drives and offers the ability to share one USB stick over (up to) four networked Denon DJ SC2900 or SC3900s. However, traditional CD DJs and producers can still make the most of the front mounted CD slot, and pure software DJs can utilise the Traktor 2 compatibility* to mix and produce.

‘ENGINE inside’ ensures compatibility with ENGINE software – a unique combination of software and hardware that empowers todays DJs with high speed access and control over their extensive digital music libraries. Leaving the ENGINE software to manage the set from a USB connected, or networked, PC or MAC and the hard work down to the player itself – reducing the need for a super- powerful computer to manage the DJs performance.

What set’s the Denon DJ SC2900 apart from the conventional “club CDJ” is its leap forward in display technologies with the introduction of the ‘Eclipse’ platter with glowing LED markers that surround the circumference; enabling a very clear and elegant method of accurately displaying ‘Cue Point’ and ‘Playback’ markers. Combined with the ENGINE for iPad® App means that a networked iPad becomes the biggest and most versatile media navigation screen in the industry, giving every DJ a powerful way to manage tracks and playlists, ready to perform, all through the iPad touchscreen.

The button layout reflects that of the popular SC3900 with a bank of Loops and Cues top left of the platter for throwing down samples and top right are the navigation controls ensuring the fastest access to the DJing essentials. Similarly reflecting the same newly redesigned ‘Hard’ Cue and Play buttons with the only significant layout change to be the ‘SLIP’ button which replaces the SC3900s ‘DUMP’ button: for reverse, loop, and scratch whilst continuing playback at the same rhythm and point that would have been reached prior to pushing ‘slip’ – an essential editing feature in the studio and the booth for dropping out inappropriate lyrics without disturbing the flow of music.

Denon DJs heritage in Professional DJ Equipment married with new developments in software leaves the SC2900 as a true consideration in the Professional, Studio and Club DJ market. From the more traditional CD DJs, through portable USB media and connectivity to the latest in software or even network sharing makes the Denon DJ SC2900 the choice, whatever the style of DJ and whatever the occasion.

It’s time for change.

And an insight into what the SC2900 can do:

  • Compatible with included ENGINE Music Management Software (PC/Mac)
  • ENGINE iPad app available for easy file searching and player status display
  • Player Link function for sharing USB drives across multiple SC2900/SC3900s (up to four) and for connection to ENGINE software (PC/Mac/iPad).
  • 7-inch Touch Sensitive ‘Eclipse’ Platter with LED Cue & Position Marker
  • Seamless switching between media source devices
  • Natively supported by TraktorTM 2 software, TraktorTM LE 2 included
  • Built-In USB / MIDI control function
  • Built-In USB audio interface (ASIO / CORE compliant)
  • Supports CD-DA, CD-ROM and audio playback from USB memory devices (AAC, AIFF, MP3, WAV)
  • Burr Brown 24 bit DAC processing for superior audio fidelity
  • Redesigned PLAY and CUE buttons for greater tactile feel and response
  • Fast search and quick jump functions
  • Top mounted USB port for USB stick and hard disk drives
  • 4 dedicated Hot Cues (8 in MIDI mode via MIDI layer option)
  • Auto / manual loop functions
  • New SLIP function with dedicated button
  • Deep pitch resolution and key adjust
  • 4-Way BPM counter (Auto BPM, Manual TAP, Manual BPM, Reads BPM Metadata)
  • BPM sync feature
  • 3-way pitch bend functionality
  • Digital output
  • Fast loading slot-in drive

So what we appear to have in the SC2900 is a 3900 chassis, minus the motor plus a few bits and bats that sees Denon pitch this right into the CDJ arena. This is a toe to toe CDJ competitor – static platter, CD, USB, offline library software, link modes etc etc. The SC2900 does have hot cues though, something that the CDJ-900 doesn’t have but sorely needs, and adds slip mode to match the CDJ-900, making this SC2900 a worthy contender. But don’t expect hybrid MIDI from this unit – that’s reserved strictly for the 3900, although Traktor does directly support the SC2900.

So it would appear that there life in the full sized media player format yet. What Denon have brought to the table is a coherent modern media playing strategy. Yes it plays CDs, but that’s strictly for legacy reasons. This deck, along with the Engine software is all about wrangling your digital library into a shape fit for playing. Engine is much like Pioneer’s rekordbox in that you analyse your media and can stream it directly to connected devices. But Engine also has an iPad client, meaning you can wirelessly manage your library without having to keep looking at your laptop. That’s retina quality graphics for a few hundred of your local currency displaying more info than even the CDJ-2000 screen.

I know for a fact that any post about this product and its positioning will bring out the “you’ll never see that in a booth”. And I have no doubt that superclubs around the world won’t be eBaying their Pioneer installs to replace them with these. But there’s a lot of DJs who don’t play in booths but still use gear just like this. These mobile guys want what works best for them rather than having to be forced down one particular technology route because everybody else uses it.

I have to admit to having a soft spot for Denon. They’ve always lived in the shadow of Pioneer, despite putting out really good product. They haven’t always got it right, nor have they always quite dotted every I and crossed every T. But the people spearheading this new realm of Denon DJ are doing their damnedest to make sure that the product is as near perfect as is humanly possible.

So is it time for a change? As I said before, I cannot see clubs ditching Pioneer in preference to Denon. But if enough mobile guys try them and like them, this goodwill could find its way filtering out into clubland. All it’ll take is a big name to put them on their rider and the spark of a shift could begin to take place. Yes I know – ever the optimist, but I just don’t like being forced to use something because it is industry standard, even if it is really good.

So to price – Denon are being vague about this and quote “€800 + sales tax”. So perhaps €799 – 849? Perhaps £699-749? Us pricing – no idea. You guys with your MAPs and street prices confuse the hell out of me. I’m guessing at $899. We Europeans (for as long as that’s going to hold up anyway) will be getting these in July.

  • djlotus

    Good write up. These make me want to finally venture into the CDJ arena.

  • I don’t think your statement “Denon has lived in the shadow of Pioneer” is fair. Denon were and still are KING of the 19″ market and were the brand of the 90’s. Only when Pioneer launched the CDJ1000 tabletop did they start to get noticed and had a good head start before Denon got into the game. Pioneer have tried and fialed to break Denon’s hold on the 19″ market without luck. Denon has caught up and surpassed the CDJ with the 3700.

    IT IS time for a change.


      Denon were the kings of the 19″ mixer realm and were the “brand of the 90’s”?

      Say what you want about Pioneer, that’s a different conversation, but these two comments make you seem like nothing more than a Denon fanboy and makes eveything you say meaningless. On what planet was Denon EVER been King of the 19″ market and who knew Denon even had DJ products in the 90’s?

      The king of the 19″ market has been Rane for at least 25 years and the brand of the 90’s would be Technics, Rane, Vestax, Numark, or even Gemini before Denon ever gets thought about.

      • Nothing more than a fanboy? Learn your history before you spout off at someone. Yes, Denon dual-decks (re-read the comment – he didn’t say mixers) were the industry standard for most of the 90’s. Every single bar and club I worked in had one in three different cities.

      • Denon DJ

        Galvin, Scott was clearly speaking about Denon DJs 19″ Dual CD Players…and he’s correct.
        If you are over 40, then you would know that Denon Dj did own the Club & Mobile market in the 90’s with various models that set new CD standards for all, even Pioneer.

      • mark

        Relax, he’s making a valid point — from here in the UK at least, models like the DN-2000F were far more common than any of the competition.

      • Richie Bula

        Oh dear, that’s a bit of a ‘silly’ remark. Your mission for the week is to actually get hands on with something made by Denon.

  • This looks like the best/most useful/most practical CD/media deck Denon has ever made. Thank goodness they finally dropped the motorized platter!

    But they need to work on a few things before people like me are going to be willing to buy them. It’s just not quite right yet, there are too many detracting issues. Even if the price is right. But they are getting closer and closer to something I’d buy.

    My first CD player was a DNS-3500, and I liked it a lot. Until I got a CDJ800 MK2 about a year later and realized how different the two worlds were. That Denon was on eBay the next day and another CDJ800 MK2 on it’s way shortly thereafter.

    • Denon DJ

      Gavin, Denon DJ didn’t drop anything, they added a static platter alternative to address both styles of preferred performance decks, classic turntable and non-spinning solutions.

      Nobody has ever done this using the same form factor including this high level of technology, build quality or price point.

      Technically you can have 4 of these Decks in a club, two SC2900’s and two SC3900’s, all connected together playing from one thumb drive and control from an iPad (if they wanted). The DJ comes up and picks his Deck style and rocks on, pretty cool.

      • Ragman

        If you look at what Denon has done is truly brilliant. Can you imagine if Pio came out with a motorized platter alternative to the CDJ 2000. DJs would be nut-hugging all over the place. But Denon did it and they deserve some credit, regardless of what camp you roll with. For me this is epic.

  • Kool Chiefrocka Dave

    I can’t see this doing anything against Pioneer. I’m no Pioneer fan-boy (I use Technics and Traktor) but their jog wheel with the outer ring that you use to pitch bend up/down is a design classic. I’ve used the motorised platter Denon CD decks and do not like (at all!) using buttons to pitch bend up or down.

    I also don’t trust Denon’s software/firmware drivers on their decks, two of my mates have had their decks brick on them with no fix.

    • Kool, I think Denon has probably figured out how to make the outer ring act as pitch bend, every controller is able to do it, so I don’t see why this premium product wouldn’t. I think they keep the pitch bend buttons on there for people who are used to them, Cheers!

    • Denon DJ

      Hi Kool Chiefrocka Dave, sorry to hear about your mates decks.
      But what do you mean “brick with no fix”?

      If your mates were updating the firmware and lost power or powered down by accident during the short firmware update process, then they would require service. This can be fixed.

  • Denon DJ

    Yep, as always, great monolog.
    Thanks Giz.

  • Anthony

    I don’t think (for the most part) Denon put out the 2900 to be a PioCDJ killer. Yes it’s probably geared towards the consumer looking for a premium CDJ that can’t afford $1500-$2000 but it’s just THEIR version of a premium CDJ… another option in the market. Hot cues & slip mode on one unit (separate on Pio CDJ’s), iPad integration (keep ur expensive Macbook at home), and price point are definitely things worthy of a good look. But Denon has a long way to go before they can establish the kind of reputation Pio has built over the years since the CDJ 800. Only TIME will tell on what the 2900 can really do for Denon… not for Pioneer.

    • Richie Bula

      Exactly! Without getting hands on yet, I can rather safely assume these are very well built and have all the features of a cdj2k plus the beloved slip mode (with an ipad or a lappy for an even better display than the 2k). Even with an ipad this is still cheaper than a cdj2k (and how many things can you find use of a ipad for?) and that 1 ipad will act as the display for all your linked Denon players.

      I think the point Denon is trying to make is that ‘this is what we think your CDJ of choice should cost, having just made a decent one ourselves’
      Fact is these probably won’t make it into the booth, because Denon wont give any away and good on em for not making young fellas pay more by doing so. But these should be in every bedroom of anybody aspiring for club glory because at the minute these look like the BEST and most sensible option out there.

      One last thing, who’s the idiot who keeps saying these are competing with ‘refurbished’ 900’s…..Get real! Once you get a real job you will soon realize you don’t bother with ‘refurbished’ tools.

  • In my opinion Denon seem to be going backwards with their technology these days.

    Look back at the DN-HS5500. Modular design, so you could choose to fit a CD drive, an internal HDD or just use external media. Two decks in one, with two separate outputs. A screen that was actually capable of being used to browse media files, and you could plug a keyboard in the back and search by typing.

    Now what have we got? Back to CD we go, only a single output, no way to connect a keyboard – although with that screen, what’s the point?

    They talk about no longer struggling with CDs, then fit a CD drive and a screen that’s only good for displaying one track at a time. I think the whole “Use a computer or an iPad for a screen” thing is the wrong direction to be going for something which is supposedly an all-in-one standalone player.

    There are plenty of USB MIDI controllers for the DJs who want/like to use computers, and the standalone stuff should be just that – without involving consumer kit like wireless routers and wifi connections, and needing a computer to use it fully.

    • Denon DJ

      GroovinDJ, make no mistake with the direction of these decks, they are indeed “standalone” decks that can be used in a multitude of ways.

      You can easily find any file you want (up to 100K per device) with “this display” and our improved search system. The new navigation area & method is easy to use and lighting fast, yes faster than your HS5500 and previous models.

      • So you’re saying that when using the SC2900 without the aid of a laptop or iPad, someone could find and load any given song (with a browse knob & limited display) faster than from a player that has a keyboard plugged in?

        I’d like to see that!

        Tell me, how many song titles can this display show at once? Is it five, like the HS5500? Maybe six like the CDJ-2000?

        • Denon DJ

          The human speed of finding a track without a KB is relative to one’s library size and search capability of the unit itself. The best way from the SC29/39 would be Artist > Title to refine your search results., thanks.

          • Denon DJ

            Its 2 Lines in the display.
            About 42 Lines using Engine.

            • OK, so 2 lines. And this is a new, 2012 model?!

              Back in 2008 you gave us the HS5500 which has a much better screen for multimedia/browsing purposes.

              After that came the 3700, 3900 and now the 2900, all with inferior screens.

              Why are you going backwards?

              Did Denon not look at the CDJ-2000 and take a hint at where they should be going?

              Re your comment below, about “if superstar DJs can use a thumb drive with a CDJ…”: they’re not needing to search through 40,000 tracks though, are they?

              A superstar DJ is only likely to be playing for 30 mins to 1hr, so 10-20 tracks at most, and no doubt in a fixed play order, no need to search, no requests coming in.

              But it’s not “superstar DJs” that want to use Denon products. It’s ordinary working DJs, who carry large track libraries in order to cater for the huge variety of gigs they do, and have to find dozens of requested tracks each night.

              DJs who buy standalone players for reliability and ruggedness reasons don’t want to be carrying all manner of consumer neworking kit in order to make full use of the product.

              Standalone should be standalone. No external bits and bobs required.

              This is why I use two HS5500s with internal HDDs. Turn up with my coffin case, remove the lid, plug into mains and audio, and off I go.

              • Denon DJ

                Most mobile event DJs play 70% of the same music day in, day out, the rest are requests or new music. On average a DJ will play no more than 100 songs per a 5 hour gig (wedding for example).

                There’s no need to search through 40,000 files each time you wish to play the next song when you already know that 70% of what you must play as a mobile DJ can all fit within a single Playlist of 1,000 tracks. This will work nicely if you take the time to organize your music and playing style.

                An alternate solution is to use the tools of the Deck in order to refine your search results.

                If you create a DB and select “TITLE”, you will get a result of 40,000 files, in your case.
                Then you letter pick, A,B,C,D..etc to get closer.

                If you narrow your ID3 Tag search and select Artist, then “D”, then Donna Summer, you will get 25 results as opposed to 40,000 results. This takes seconds to do.

                Or you can forget about the ID3 Tag search and Folder search by your own custom category’s and sub folders.

                You make it sound like its 100% impossible to search for a file using a 2008, 2 line display within a 2012 search system, which is certainly not the case as a standalone deck.

                Work smart, not hard.

                • At no point did I say it’s impossible on a 2 line display – but it IS considerably harder than using a display that can show at least five tracks at once.

                  I do know how to search using the browse knob. I have HS5500s.

                  But even with the HS5500 display, I find it far faster to search using a mini keyboard attached to the USB port – a feature which you’ve removed from the latest decks.

                  So now you’re pretty much forcing people into having to use either a laptop or an iPad instead.

                  You can make as many excuses as you like about DJs only needing X number of songs per gig, but the fact remains that you’ve made it harder to use the products standalone.

                  • Denon DJ

                    Ah, but we are not forcing you to do anything, the buying choice is always yours.
                    iPads and computers have already become an everyday common tool for DJs and more so as each day passes.

                    Our design point is to use the computing tools you already own to aid your performance, which keeps our cost down and more importantly, your cost down.

                    We do offer an option for your need of multi-line browsing, even better than your HS5500….you just don’t want to use it.

                    • “the buying choice is always yours”

                      But someone needs to make that product and put it on the market before we can buy it!!!!

                      Please, tell me where I can buy a pair of standalone multimedia players that have:

                      Motorised platter
                      Internal hard drive
                      Dual layers/decks/outputs
                      Onboard effects
                      Large screen
                      Keyboard connection

                      If you can tell me where I can buy those, I’ll be out of your hair. 🙂

                      You say you “offer an option” but for many users it’s NOT A VIABLE option.

                      You just don’t seem to be able to grasp the concept that many DJs want an all-in-one solution, without network connections, wireless hub, external PSUs, external hard drive, a laptop, an iPad etc. etc.

                      I’m not the only one who’s been pleading with Denon about these issues. Read your forum!

    • Richie Bula

      I’m inclined to agree here, but it’s customer driven of course. Even look back back to the very very powerful but completely and ignorantly misunderstood dns 5k, this player still has features that are ahead of it’s time even today (and they were released 10-12 years ago). You had ‘splice’, 4 hot cues; 2 of which could be changed into samplers, stutter mode for your hot cues, ‘ALPHA TRACK’ for the f’n win on a player that old. and i have rocked 1 of these harder than a pair of cdj’s. So much so I actually sold my pair of CDJ1km3’s i brought to become ‘club familiar’. Denon need a ‘club line’ there is no doubt about that and unfortunately a club media player is basic, striped down and intuitive. I do however implore Denon to also build a ‘pro line’ The average jock is becoming now becoming a bit more educated and actually trying and researching there purchasing options and I bet in a year or 2 another fully featured player with all of the above (I think even now, dj’s would love having the option of sampler/hot cue and stutter mode and 2 in 1). would do alot better than in the past.

    • I second that, the 5500 was amazing! Still is my favorite Denon deck!
      And for all you DJs under 30 who have no clue about Denon, you really need to read up on some history. Denon was #1 long before Pioneer showed up to the Dance. You know I do like Pioneer once I get passed their price…but geez Pioneer why cant I get some hot cues! Why do I have to pay $500 more for hot cues? Unbelievable Pioneer, but I see people starting to see the light, times are changing PIO!
      As for the Denon deck, I like it so far, hopefully it performs well. BRING BACK THE 5500 DENON!! Update that thing and bring it back, how many people must you hear this from???

  • Richie Bula

    I bet the Denon Engineers are becoming frustrated having to build the likes of the #29. Judging by what they have been capable of in the past.

    • HAHA, no doubt!
      I love Denon’s creative R&D……alpha track, dual sound cards, 2 in 1 players, spinning platter, hybrid MIDI, even MIDI long before pioneer had it on their decks…I guess the IPAD feature is pretty cool but other than that I don’t really see that high tech Denon WOW factor. It’s still a pretty cool deck, I guess they had to dumb it down for Pioneer users, I see they even made the play and cue buttons hard to appeal to Pioneer users LOL. Its funny how Denon fans want more features and Pioneer fans complain about how distracting having so many features is. As a person who has sold cars for a living, I have never had a costumer walk up and ask me to show them the car with the least amount of features, everybody wants the fully loaded car!

  • Why are Pio fanboys so paranoid? You’re not going to buy it, so why you care? Live and let live. I swear having Pioneer decks has become a fashion statement instead of a dj tool. Same with Apple devices. You’re not “cool” if you don’t have one. Whatever. I love to see every dj brand out there (even low budget ones) coming out with new stuff. Keep them coming.

    In 4 motorized platters.

    • Denon DJ


  • steezy

    I think that for the price, nothing negative can be said about these decks. They have every possible feature needed, and cover what pioneer offers in terms of track manipulation in their 2 top decks combined.

    To take out the top, however, I honestly think an decent sized lcd screen is the key. If denon could offer a deck with this feature set and an extremely user-friendly screen, I really think it could do damage to pioneer’s sales. Like I said, for this price range, I wouldn’t change anything, but stepping up to the CDJ-900 price range would surely be justified given a truly all-in-one solution. I’d rather spend an extra 400-600 between 2 decks to have my browsing functionality integrated into the decks.

    • Denon DJ

      Steezy, thanks for your comments, all good stuff.

      About the screen…
      From 2002/CDJ1000 until the CDJ2000, all previous CDJs had a “basic” FL tube display and they still managed to get the same attention, right?.

      With that said, is a small color screen that could never compete with a full blown laptop size screen absolutely necessary or has it simply become a bling status tool?

      I guess my direct question is, if the world of superstar DJs can DJ with a thumb drive on a CDJ1000MK3, then couldn’t they all do the same on a SC2900?

      • steezy

        The 1000 did get attention, but that ended 3 years ago and technology is only progressing faster and faster. And although a small LCD wouldn’t compete with an ipad or laptop screen, an ‘alarm clock’ screen still doesn’t compete with a well-implemented small screen such as the one on the 2000’s. Beyond browsing, waveform resolution is also much better. I think that almost everything on the CDJ-2000’s is for bling status, but the screen is not and is it’s best selling point hands down. The whole point of a screen such as that is so that I can step up to the decks and not set up a router, ipad and whatever else.

        Either way, I have absolutely no gripes with this deck for the price range. I mean, look at the direct competition… it (CDJ-850) doesn’t even come close. You wanna take out the 2000’s, add a nice LCD screen with trakto/serato HID integration and you will no doubt take the market. even if it’s just bling.. the lcd is why most people gawk at them.

  • ace

    Denon make quality products, sadly they have two huge obstacles that prevent them from overthrowing the Pioneer ruled roost. 1) Young aspiring dj’s want to learn on the same gear they will one day play on. 2) Clubs will only install gear that the majority of dj’s know, love & trust. It’s a circle that’s almost impossible to break. But two thumbs to Denon for persistence & constantly trying their best to deliver value & quality products.

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  • DJ Rated R

    When will these be comming out?

  • DJ Rated R

    When will these be out in stores?

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  • Mohammad

    can someone tell me the difference between denon sc2900 and 3900 ?

    • Pablo

      sc2900 pio like jog wheel, sc3900 derect motor driven vinyl like plater,few other changes

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  • kks

    made in china ……omg

    • There isn’t much that isn’t these days.

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  • djchan1

    I have a s2900 and i am having a problem with it reading a disk…. anyone have fix