Prime And Back Again: A DJ's Tale

I wanted to share this story with those of you who might come from a similar DJing background or have experienced similar issues since switching from whatever to Prime. And hope you JRR fans appreciate the title :wink:

I came in as a long-time vinyl and Traktor DJ using a pair of D2 controllers with a Denon DN-X1600 mixer and a laptop. This setup, while involving lots of devices, cables, and of course the dreaded laptop, was rock solid in that it was ultra reliable and matched my DJ style quite well. This involved a portable drive with a huge music library, playing tracks on the fly without any planned setlist, and analyzing folders or files on hard drives while DJing so I could see BPM’s and other metadata quickly and so friends could jump on with their drives and play their tracks easily, too. But like most techy people, I eventually wanted to try something new and at that time the Prime 4 had just been announced. The true standalone functionality, built-in hard drive bay and huge touchscreen all won me over, so I decided to switch.

I was one of the first P4 buyers and waited through that excruciating preorder phase, stupidly selling off all my DJ gear beforehand (minus my Technics of course, which will follow me to the grave :smiley: ) When I finally received it and started using it, I was amazed at how well engineered it was, and even felt Engine Prime was not a bad app to replace Traktor. But pretty soon, I realized that in standalone mode it just couldn’t do the things I was accustomed to with my Traktor rig. Such as batch analyzing on the fly while DJing (possible with a laptop running Engine Prime, but that defeats the purpose of why I bought the P4), auto-analyzing new files on an external drive, and not requiring your music to be part of a massive database first in order to see metadata. I also found the BPM detection to be worse than Traktor’s, and there wasn’t granular beat gridding capability (which has since been added with the 1.6 firmware, thankfully). To make matters worse, my P4 had the “deck locking up” issue, which literally killed my first live DJ set with it at an electronic music festival, and I then spent over a year trying to get the unit fixed or replaced. I’m still waiting for the replacement unit as I type this - at least it’s on the way finally, but Colorado weather has held it up indefinitely :expressionless:

All that said, while I tried hard not to compare Traktor to Prime and just move forward with this new style of DJing on the P4, in the end, I made the difficult decision to go back to Traktor. FWIW, I’m planning on keeping my replacement Prime 4 because I can’t deny how full featured it is, especially with the wireless capability and online integrations. And, it looks badass, which is great for live performances (IMO). But for my home studio I just had to go back to what was most comfortable and reliable, and therefore what I would utilize the most. Towards the end of my Prime journey, the Prime 4 was barely used as I was too apprehensive about it crapping out 30 minutes into a live recording. While I may be giving up some of the latest DJ technology and online integrations with this switch, at least I will have something I know will work and meshes better with my style of DJing, and in the end, that’s really all that matters.

The reason I’m posting this epic of a story is because I feel there are a lot of other DJs like me in this forum that experienced similar hardware problems and/or growing pains with Prime. I’m not here to try to convince anyone to ditch it or to advocate for any other platform, only to say that I understand your dilemma, and it’s possible that it’s not the right device or platform for YOU. Regardless, all the best to all you digital DJs out there no matter which platform you prefer!

3 Likes

Hi,

I have the Prime for 4 days now and today my touchscreen stopped working while I was just playing a track

I had pioneer gear before and it never ever has freezed so very relyible but i also wanted more features for a low cost price…

Hope this was a once in a lifetime freeze or otherwise i will return the unit because it has to be reliable cause I am a wedding dj and if this happens on a wedding… dont even want to think about that :frowning:

But you are comparing standalone dj system with regular computer software. Computer software will always be faster, more reliable and have more features…

Great article and understandable.

I also come from Traktor and a MAC Book. The combination has proven to be mega reliable.

I now have a Primo Go and have been very satisfied so far. What I sorely miss is the editing of meta data such as rating, comment, etc. Especially as a portable device, this should be the properties of this device.

For me, reliability is also the top priority. Nothing is more embarrassing than when the device crashes during a gig. The bad thing about the Prime devices is that the boot process takes about 3 minutes! 3 minutes of silence are then fatal … Unfortunately I can’t say anything about reliability yet. Maybe there are users who would like to post their experiences here.

But we should assume the current firmware 1.6 - Denon is making great strides here and I hope the devices will be more stable in operation and receive more features. There are plenty of requests and suggestions in the forum … Does anyone know when the next update can be expected?

Three minutes?! That’s odd - I just tried with my Prime 4 and the whole process takes less than 45 seconds.

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I was about to same the same thing. My Prime 2 is up and running in less then one minute.

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It can happen that you have a faulty unit. I have never (so far) had a block of my Prime 4 and I find it reliable as a rock.

I agree that it is necessary to be able to edit the MP3 tags directly in the console: there are requests in the appropriate section.

next update? already? :smiley: probably in 6 months