Denon SC2900: Is it time for change?

After a teaser and a video, the official Denon 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.

Consider this set a bit of fun. it’s a snippet from a much longer 15 minutes set that will take centrestage at the BPM Show. But it does give a tantalising glimpse of what 4 decks could do.

Denon SC2900 official press release:

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.

Denon SC2900 details:

  • 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

Denon SC2900 our thoughts

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.

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