New (Prime 4) Volume Knobs Too Easy to Turn

Hi Denon DJ Forum community!

Hopefully one or some of you can share your perspective on this. I have a quick summary first, followed by my main questions / asks, and then longer additional context and thoughts for those that are interested. I was unable to find a thread with this topic so hopefully I am adding something net new to the community. If not, please point me in the right direction.

Thanks for your time and consideration. :innocent:

Summary:

  • The volume knobs (pots / potentiometers) on my brand new Prime 4 are too easily turned in either direction.
  • Compared to the Hi/Mid/Low knobs (and even to a lesser degree the FX knobs), the volume knobs are overtly super fast and smooth when turned.
  • This results in accidental volume increases & decreases when hands graze the volume knobs (as happens when mixing quickly and using the central browsing control knob).
  • Also results in over/under-estimating the effect a small adjustment of the volume will have, as the volume often times over/under-shoots the desired volume – it is hard to intentionally make incremental volume adjustments.

Questions:

  • Is this a feature or a hardware bug?
  • Can this be adjusted (tightened / resistance increased) by owners?
  • If this is a hardware bug, does this indicate that there may be other manufacturing / QA issues with this particular Prime 4 unit? (e.g. should I return it?)
  • Has anyone else with a Prime 4 experienced this? (am I the only one :sob: )

Additional Context & Thoughts (optional read):

  • This is my 3rd Prime 4! I bought a used one first, and it had this volume knob problem (among other issues from heavy use). Returned it thinking the previous owner had just worn out the volume knobs. Then I bought a new Prime 4, and it also had this problem, and the retailer offered to replace it. Received the replacement, and it has this same problem too! I thought maybe this would be a defect but 3 out of 3 Prime 4s I’ve had personally have had this issue.
  • When I used a display model of this unit at Guitar Center, the volume knobs were tight and set in their positions, much like the hi/mid/lows. Which is exactly what I would expect, and exactly what a DJ usually wants from a volume knob. This is one of the reasons why I’m posting to the community about this.
  • I feel bad for nitpicking on something like this, since the rest of the unit worked as advertised, but I played a few gigs with the last Prime 4 I had just to see if the volume knobs would be an issue, and multiple times during my sets I had issues maintaining consistent track volumes because the knobs were so easy to accidentally move. Even the gentlest accidental touch of the knobs by a finger or hand sends the knob +/- >30% to either direction, which, when amplified through a sound system is either startling or draining/distracting to those on the dance floor (and frustrating for me as a DJ).
  • Considering the navigation knob’s placement close to the volume knobs for tracks 1 & 2, as a right-handed person (with extra-medium-sized hands), I found my knuckles accidentally grazing Track 1’s volume knob many times while I was twisting the navigation knob to scroll through my library. This was probably the most frequent instance of volume fluctuation, and I had to change how I would naturally twist a navigation knob specifically to avoid this.
  • Every other DJ controller and Hardware DJ Mixer I’ve ever used has had volume knobs that have either the exact same feel/resistance as the Hi/Mid/Low EQ knobs, or a resistance close enough to them that it is impossible to accidentally boost/cut volume with a soft touch to the knob.
  • As important of a knob as the volume knob is (for each channel, master or mics), they should facilitate intentional and reliable control of their designated function. I do not feel like the hyper-low-resistance volume knobs on the Prime 4 facilitate anywhere near the ideal control levels I would expect from a ~$2,000+ “professional” DJ system.
  • It is a bummer that something as simple as this is the primary issue I’ve experienced so far for this product – since it seems so straightforward to prevent – so I am hoping there is either a fix or a reliable RMA to get a Prime 4 that has been confirmed to not have this issue.

I welcome any thoughts, similar experiences, recommendations and/or guidance.

Thank You for your time and consideration forum peoples, :innocent: :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

Surely having had 3/3 consoles with the same problem in hand cannot be a coincidence.

As for me, mine has potentiometers that rotate normally, neither too hard nor too soft, let’s say normal.

We wait for the other guys if they have something to add, but personally this is the first time I read on the forum about this problem. I knew of faders breaking or particularly hard faders (i.e. the opposite of what you say), but too loose pots is the first time I’ve heard it. :smiley:

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I have a launch day Prime 4 and a Prime Go.

The Prime 4 has developed slightly less resistance on the sweep FX for channel 1 & 2 as I use those the most. I’m really careful with my equipment and play with respect. I have my gear in flight cases when moved and Decksavers when in the studio. My gear is pristine.

When I bought the Prime Go, I initially purchased a used one for £765. It was a hot mess. It had been used heavily and wasn’t up to standard but thankfully it was returned with an apology from the store (and an investigation into how it was even sold). I found that many of the rotary pots were loose one pot was so loose you could have blown it and it would have turned. It looked 10 years old.

Previous to my Prime 4 I had an early batch MCX8000 and I had both the sweep FX go loose on that after a year too. I think one of the tall, thin FX pots went as well.

Now if they go loose, it doesn’t (usually) affect the function, only the way that it feels but I can understand if this is annoying. I’m trying to work out if these pots are losing their lubrication. They could be “oil dampened” that give the pot its resistance and I think this could be a common failure point where they lose thie lube.

I love Denon DJ gear so much but I do feel that Pioneer DJ have the edge over them with their rotary pot choice. I think it is a common failure but for many people but they just live with it as the rotary pot still works. I wonder how many users don’t report it as they can still play? I never got my MCX8000 checked as it still worked I won’t get my Prime 4 checked, even though the temporary cue button now doesn’t function 100% (it can need a second press). It has only been gigged outside once and this is when it happened. It still exhibits this behaviour after the gig so it’s just bad luck. Maybe a tiny airborne bit of grit is under it or a spot of dry solider. Who knows? It just needs a bit more of a press or a press in the right spot.

I work up to seven nights a week on my gear for between four and six months at a time. I can imagine it gets more use than many other units out there but a 10 year old Pioneer mixer can feel a little more ‘like new’ whereas a two year old Denon DJ can exhibit a little more of a worn-in feel.

As said, I love my gear a lot but I do feel that a change of rotary pot supplier would be welcome. While the old ones still work, some just don’t “feel” the same after a year or two of usage. DJ mixers get heavy use with guest DJs and residents bashing them for hours at a time. I’d like to see some work here.

At work I have a DJM-750 that has been used seven days a week for the last five years straight (on a cruise ship) and it still feels like the day it came out of its packaging.

Maybe humidity or temperature is causing the resistance dampening to be reduced? I wonder if storage by the supplier or shipping company could play a part on how the oil dries within the stem of the pot?

It does sound like something that shouldn’t be normal from your unit but my issues started after a year of usage and was just because they was twisted a thousand times, not that that is an excuse.

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“Hey you … did you know that your left eye is slightly larger than everyone else’s”

And just like, if someone said that to you, you’d be focusing intensely in mirrors all day, everyday, I think you having noticed something different from your last mixer, are now overly focusing on the Gain knobs far more than you’re likely to. It’ll be like driving a new car for a while; the brakes will feel sharper, the gas pedal will be more responsive, the turn signals stick is on the “wrong” side of the steering column.

I don’t believe anyone is brash handed enough to “ruin” a mix because of controls that act differently from their previous controller/mixer, not after a few days of normal usage. The other side of the coin is “even when I turn the gain knob all the way to the far end, I can’t get the signal to go as high/low as I need it to go.

Give it a few days of practice.

Also, remember than overall volume is a “balance” between the incoming signal level, the gain knob, the channel fader level, the channel fader curve, the cross fader, the crossfader curve, eq settings, fx settings and master volume.

Example: if you’ve got a lot of those controls up at Max, then changing one of the other controls will indeed make a much bigger difference to the overall volume, rather than if all the controls were set nearer the middle of their travel

A few things here, to clear up any confusion, using quotes from your post, @Nitebeatz :

“…having noticed something different from your last mixer, are now overly focusing on the Gain knobs far more than you’re likely to…”

  • There are plenty of things about the Prime 4 that are different from my last mixer, but none have caused any issues whatsoever when I’ve been mixing. Which is why I have posted to this forum to hear other people’s experiences with the Prime 4 volume knobs specifically.
  • You are assuming incorrectly that I am overly focused on the gain knobs. Also this is not a helpful reply.

I don’t believe anyone is brash handed enough to “ruin” a mix because of controls that act differently from their previous controller/mixer, not after a few days of normal usage.

  • While you might not believe it, that’s not a very helpful response is it?
  • This has literally happened the past several times I’ve used the Prime 4, and it has nothing to do with “brash hands” – again, this is why I’m reaching out to the forum community.
  • Even an abrupt, unintentional 20% increase or decrease in volume can undermine a mix. Especially from the POV of people on the dance floor.
  • Remember, I used a display model of the Prime 4 at a Guitar Center and its volume knobs felt completely different from the ones on the Prime 4 models that I bought. The knobs on the display model at Guitar Center were much higher resistance, closer in feel to the Hi/Mid/Low knobs, which is what I would expect, and I think most DJs would argue is what they would prefer from volume knobs.

…overall volume is a “balance”… if you’ve got a lot of those controls up at Max…

  • My post has nothing to do with overall volume settings. I never run any of my volume controls at maximum, for a number of reasons. I’ve been DJing for 15 years on a variety of equipment and sound systems so I know better than to do that.
  • Not sure if you read my post fully, but one of the big problems with volume knobs that have very low resistance is that if they are turned, even gently, they tend to overshoot your desired volume level, which, when amplified through a secondary outboard audio mixer into large speakers significantly amplifies that change in sound.

So, being able to accidentally turn volume knobs (with a graze of a knuckle or side of a finger), in a way that is impossible to do so on other mixers/controllers built with regular/higher levels of volume knob resistance, is a problem that is amplified significantly when performing on bigger speakers.

@Nitebeatz Do you have a Prime 4?

What would be more helpful to hear from you is what your experience has been with volume knobs on your owned Denon equipment, and/or if you know whether or not these types of knobs can be fixed. I don’t think skeptical replies or misreadings of the original post help.

Thanks,

@Nitebeatz is a troll and a Denon fanboy. Anyone dares to complain about anything and he’ll twist the reply to divert you away. As has been pointed out to numerous other new forum visitors, please ignore him and don’t take the bait. He gets a kick out of winding people up. Ignore.

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@MrWilks Thank you for your reply.

“Now if they go loose, it doesn’t (usually) affect the function, only the way that it feels but I can understand if this is annoying.”

  • Exactly – it’s not like the volume knob isn’t successfully controlling the volume. It just seems wrong that the gentlest touch on the knob causes it to turn.

“…both the sweep FX go loose on that after a year too. I think one of the tall, thin FX pots went as well…”

  • Interesting, I’ll have to keep an eye out for that. What is really strange to me is that the sweep FX knobs have had higher resistance than all of the volume knobs on the three Prime 4 units I’ve been through…
  • Another thing I should point out is that when I say ‘volume knobs’ I mean every volume-related knob on the board, including the Mic channels, Master volume, Booth Volume, and of course channels 1 - 4."

If I hadn’t used that store model that had higher resistance volume knobs I might have interpreted low-resistance volume knobs as being a Denon design choice, but since I do know that there are models floating around out there with the proper amount of resistance in their volume knobs, it makes me wonder if there are A/B/C-quality stock Prime 4 models in circulation (and I would obviously like an A-quality stock Prime 4, especially for $2K).

“I work up to seven nights a week on my gear for between four and six months at a time. I can imagine it gets more use than many other units out there but a 10 year old Pioneer mixer can feel a little more ‘like new’ whereas a two year old Denon DJ can exhibit a little more of a worn-in feel…As said, I love my gear a lot but I do feel that a change of rotary pot supplier would be welcome. While the old ones still work, some just don’t “feel” the same after a year or two of usage. DJ mixers get heavy use with guest DJs and residents bashing them for hours at a time. I’d like to see some work here.”

  • Thanks for saying this! I think if I was just DJing for myself in my living room still I’d be okay with these loose volume knobs, but since I am out performing, I would like the peace of mind to know that an accidental volume spike or drop cannot happen, to know that all the knobs can stand up to regular use, and know they behave in a way similar to how DJs expect from other equipment.

Thank you for your reply @MrWilks :pray:

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No worries @vivn

I have all the faith in Denon DJ gear but the “rotary pot becoming loose” is something I’ve experienced on three models of Denon DJ gear. I hope they change the supplier of the pots one day but if you are in any doubt I would take it back and see if the store will do another exchange or give the guys at Denon DJ support a hit up (not on here though as it isn’t monitored as much).

Each knob I’ve ever had on any Denon DJ gear had resistance to it and if they really are very easy to turn then I would definitely enquire through support. Hopefully you get a result as the Prime 4 really is a great piece of kit. Best of luck!

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I would suggest to check if the knobs are physically tightened under the caps. Some mixers and controllers can have tighter turn feeling when they are tightened to the faceplate. Check this, maybe it would help.

Gently remove the knob caps (just pull them off, or pray them with plastic tool - just be careful to not scratch the surface of the mixer). Check the nuts around the potentiometers. Gently tighten them if needed and check if it helped.

I hope it will work out for you.

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Good advise. I’ll be honest and say that never occurred to me that the stem can be tightened this way and looking at it now it’s pretty obvious. Crazy I missed that.

Great tip!

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I’m sorry if you found the previous reply unhelpful. Yes, I’ve owned a Prime 4 since 6 months before lockdown. The four channel input gains are easy to move and indeed easier than the other rotary controls on the channels.

Accidental movement of the channel gains isn’t something which I’ve encountered, and I don’t have Particularly small hands/fingers.

The idea of checking the fixing nut on each of the four rotarys is a good suggestion, although I think those nuts are more related to how solidly the rotaries are fixed into the mixer panel, rather than their operation or turning resistance.

There might be something like a thick gel which can be applied to controls but if there is, it’s not something which is commonly mentioned. The other option might be some sort of DIY option on the outside of the casing/potentiometer using one or two rubber washers to add some manual, rather than electronic resistance to control turning.

Also maybe worth a try would be to get some different diameter control caps, which again, for outside, so no warranty issues. A larger cap might make sensitivity easy to work with. Although a smaller cap would make the control less of a “target” for accidental knocking or nudging

@vivn Just to clarify - when you say “volume knobs” are you actually referring to the gain controls at the top of the main four mixer channels?

I’ve had a Prime 4 for around a year now, and have used it for many hours. I can state with 100% honesty that my hands (or any other part of me) have not “accidentally grazed” the gain knobs at any time, neither when mixing or using the browse knob.

I can grip the browse knob without my fingers or hand being anywhere near the gain knobs, so I’m finding it hard to picture what you must be doing.

I’d suggest at least enabling the limiter on the master output, to prevent any volume surges.

Ouh they are, I encountered this on many devices. Both Pioneer and Denons since X1600/1700. Also including more recent 1800 and 1850. This was also the case on many dj controllers. So it has a relation to the shaft of the potentiometer. Not all potentiometers are build the same, but it’s worth a try. I don’t own a prime 4, but just wanted to suggest a test. Does not cost a penny, and can potentially fix the problem.

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Absolutely.

Another option is a firmware “remedy”. A “lock” which could be applied to the gains/volumes so that any movement of those controls is ignored, unless shift or some other modifier is used. The only problem with that idea is that you’d potentially have a “soft takeover” situation going on, where the physical control is pointing at one value but the “ignored” or “locked” value is something else.

The software lock would do more bad than good. If You are used to mixers like allen 92/96, pioneer, denon, or any other club format, You will see, that there is no such thing. So You would not even expect a lock on these knobs. Simple thing is that all good djs should be able to do is to adapt. Imagine a dj coming to a festival dj booth, got the mixer there (possibly maybe 2 mixers), that’s it - choose Your setup and play. Complain - go home, done (many would love to be on your place now). So better to adapt and make the best out of it. Of course, no one will force You to adapt to the faulty stuff - that’s not the point. Back on topic - check the pots, see if my suggestion fixes the problem.

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Yeah true. I suppose there would be another way in which firmware could help reduce the impact of the gains being (too?) easy for some to adjust, and that would be to have a preference in the utility menu to say what the range of gain is, much in the same way that we have different ranges we can choose from for the pitch control.

So, in this way, a small accidental nudge of the gain control might only adjust the signal by 5% up/down, instead of the same amount of accidental nudge adjusting the signal by 20% for example.

That’s if the gain controls can be affected by firmware. On some previous models of mixer, the gains were hardwired rather than being reachable by midi, which might mean those controls couldn’t be reached by firmware either.

Might be worth the op filling out a new feature suggestion form for “user selectable gain ranges”

This depends on the electronic design of the device it self. If Gain knobs only send signal to CPU and the CPU drives the input circuitry - then it is possible. If the Gain knob is directly controlling the input circuit - than You can’t do anything. It works in an analog way - controlling the input op-amps that pass the signal to the Analog/Digital converters. So the change of the resistance on the knob will be picked up by a chip on the input, and based on that the chip adjusts the signal gain. No software is involved there, as that circuit works in a very simple way (that doesn’t mean that it is a bad way - actually less fragile and harder to fail).

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I had the same problem with my PrimeGo.

The EQ pots sometimes had a different rotation resistance - from very easy to difficult.

I exchanged the device 3 times. It’s not yet optimal, but the BASS controls now have the same resistance.

For a “Prime” device a poor certificate!

I have a new X1850 and I also have noticed the gain knobs on this mixer are way more sensitive than my X1800s.

Anyone else seeing this with the X1850?

No problem with mine P4