REVIEW (well almost): Engine Prime software

LINK AND DOWNLOAD: Engine Prime  |  FAQ: Here


“Do we even need to review the software? It’s not like there’s any choice for users” I asked in the DJWORX Slack channel before we started digging into the Prime ecosystem.

Looking back on this question, I wish the response from the team had been no, for the experience has been a tad trying to say the least. Please allow me to explain.

Rider changing

When Denon DJ started bandying around the #changeyourrider hashtag, it was my contention that to make this a practical reality, the process of jumping ship must be embarrassingly smooth, in a one button press for a complete import with everything intact way. For me, this would be the make or break of the Prime attack on the Pioneer DJ dominated booth.

Sadly, it was not smooth at all, with jumping ship feeling more like swimming from one ship to another through shark infested waters while carrying your luggage on your back. This forced me to angrily hammer a vitriolic 5000 word savaging into a first draft. But after a week from Engine Prime, I authored a second more concise and constructive piece — but it was still the harshest spanking I’ve metered out on a product. Engine Prime is for me so vitally important, but it fell considerably short on so many fronts, especially compared to the magical Prime hardware.

Denon DJ did however take our experiences very seriously, so much so that it warranted a personal visit to the Worxlab. The result of said visit (back in July) was the promise of a new version that would address our numerous issues and then some. The delivery date was imminent for a beta, thus I agreed to hold off publishing the literary savaging. There’s little point posting something just for it to be replaced just days later right? Something about second chances for first impressions.

So my mind was at rest and my heart was less heavy. It was accepted that the first release could have been considerably better, but it was all getting fixed, and quickly too. REVIEW (well almost): Engine Prime software

Engine Prime. If only it worked as well as it looks. New beta inbound any day now.


Days turned to weeks, and now months. My house burglary/car theft along with the birth of Lucy, Dan’s new daughter did impact rather heavily on the following months. But the last “literally days away” was a full month ago. And with NAMM being “literally days away” too, I suspect the new software will appear around that time. Plans change, especially coming up to trade shows.

For the curious about the software, here’s a toned down nutshell version:

  • Importing from iTunes and Serato proved anger inducingly problematic and inconsistent, to the point of numerous wipes of iTunes, Serato DJ, and Engine Prime to start over with clean slates.
  • Creating from scratch is better but still lacking fundamental features like smart crates, that have been found in established software for years.
  • Working with media is equally frustrating. No shift drag, just one folder or list at a time.
  • Analysis performance however is blisteringly fast, and the flexible beat grids in particular excellent. Shame about the initial downbeat bug though.
  • Since writing the original reviews, Denon DJ has released firmware that allows rekordbox USBs to be converted directly on the SC5000 Prime. It’s helpful, but has some way to go before being workable solution for rider changers.
  • Serato DJ compatibility is also out for the X1800 Prime and SC5000 Prime. So if you’re happy to stick with that and not have to migrate to the standalone world of Engine Prime, then the Prime hardware will happily embrace it.

Summing Up

Please remember that this is the opinion of not one but two experienced DJs and reviewers. I’m aware that Denon DJ fans are vociferous in their support of the brand, and we’re genuinely happy for you if your experience has been better than ours. But this is a reproducible experience, even after a full MacBook Pro wipe and reinstall, and using different source audio files.

Returning to my opening question, you’ve got little choice but to use Engine Prime v1 if you want to successfully use the SC5000 Primes. You can get a lot of the way there with Rekord Buddy or DeCU, but this is no excuse for Engine Prime being more of an afterthought than the key element of the #changetourrider to the Prime ecosystem that it should have been. But given the positive response from Denon DJ, I have high hopes that the next release will answer our long list of criticisms, and more. If my gut is correct, it’ll be more than just a bug fix.

So thanks for sticking around this long. Don’t worry — the worst is over. The remaining articles and reviews are considerably more positive.

The bottom line

I trust I’ll be revisiting this article in the very near future.