I’m writing this post to see if I can get any information on how to optimise the performance of my library (if possible at all) and to see if what I am experiencing is exceptional or is common behaviour. Also, I thought it could be useful simply to report to Denon my library usage needs, as most companies often welcome customer usage patterns when designing their products…
Before anything else, these are Denon’s official words, found in the SC5000s page FAQ:
We recommend limiting the total track count to under 10,000 songs on a media source. Larger track counts may affect load/search/sort times. We recommend that you only add songs to a drive that you need for the show/night/tour.
My library has about 50k songs, so I’m very well aware that this is 5 times bigger than Denon’s official recommendation. I’m not raising a bug or complaining here, just reporting my needs and the behaviour I observe, as maybe getting some tips from another users.
My scenario is:
- two SC5000s
- library of about 50k tracks, FLAC and MP3 files.
- tracks are all properly tagged by Track Artist, Album artist, Track Title, Album Title, Genre, Comment, Year, and Record label (Publisher). Some of these tags are not being used my the decks, as we all know.
- media is 1 TB SSD drive - Samsung 850 EVO 1 TB. According to some reviews and benchmarks available in the Internet this is a high quality drive, offering one of the fastest read speeds in the market.
- drive is formatted in exFat
- drive is connected with a USB 3.1 cable to the rear usb plug of one SC5000s. I think this is the fastest connection that can be achieved in the SC5000s.
- the two SC5000s are connected using another USB 3.1 cable between them.
- library prepared and analised on Engine. I have some crates, but most of the tracks don’t belong to any crate.
Unfortunately, browsing the library is very sluggish on the SC5000s. The behaviour in terms of performance is:
- the library is functional (most of the time). I can browse it and load their tracks. It works. It’s just that it’s sluggish.
- operations on the library such as searching or browsing tracks take about 8 seconds. Ie: when typing a character into the search box, switching between albums, navigating back and forth or changing the sort criteria will show the “Updating” message for about 7-8 seconds before showing results.
- I don’t see a significant difference in behaviour when browsing the library from the deck that has the drive directly connected to it or from the other deck.
- Subsequent execution of the same browsing operation is immediate. Ie: I navigate into an album, it takes 7 seconds. I navigate back and forth again, it takes 0 seconds. Obviously the result of searching and navigating operations are cached. I don’t know for how long or how many operations the units can retain on memory.
- It looks like about 20% of the time it takes to perform one operation is access to the drive, and 80% processing. Ie: I navigate to one album. The read LED of the drive flashes for less than 2 seconds. It will then stop flashing but it will take about 5 seconds to show results.
- I’ve tried the same library with one 3TB HD. I have not experienced a significant improvement in performance.
Apart from these performance issues, I see from time to time some functional issues:
- sometimes the “Update” message just won’t disappear. The unit simply won’t show results or the tracks in an album. Only fix is rebooting.
- I’ve seen the secondary deck (deck connected to the deck with the drive) rebooting without user interaction a couple of times.
- I’ve seen a message saying “the library is corrupt” while using it a couple of times. Rebooted, message not shown again, unit could use the library again.
I’m sure these behaviour are 100% down to library size. When limiting the library to 1k songs everything works immediately fast. When limiting it to 10k I can observe some delay, but it’s more or less acceptable.
From all these observations it’s clear to me that cause of the behaviour is library size. It’s not media (drive, SSD vs HD) or USB connections. I think it’s more about how the library indexes tracks and in the database, and maybe navigation/searching algorithms.
Again, I insist that when keeping the library size under Denon’s recommendations everything works, and that I’m abusing the recommended size by 5 times. However, I’d like to express that a library this big is a real requirement to me and to many mobile DJs. These usage patterns are met by existing software such as Traktor, Serato or Rekordbox with ethernet Link. Unfortunately this is preventing me to completely drop the laptop, if that is one of the main premises of the system (although people reading Denon specs should be aware of the limitation, fair enough). Don’t get me wrong - the system works and it’s great, but if you really need a library this big and have that problem solved with Software but want to drop the laptop, unfortunately I think the Prime system is not offering it yet.