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Thread: My Denon Prime 4 Journey

  1. #1
    Benny Smyth's Avatar
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    Default My Denon Prime 4 Journey

    It's official. It required me to part with some of that pretty paper (which, in turn, resulted in this grown man crying), but I've finally pulled the trigger and ordered myself a Prime 4.

    I've been using the Traktor S4 MKII since it's release, and I have a MKI as backup. For the most part, it's been solid - there have been a couple of let downs over the years, but that will be true of any system. My frustration of these let downs is that I can never suss out why Traktor isn't playing ball, and I can never suss out why it starts working again perfectly fine at the next gig like nothing happened. It's like it decides "I can't be arsed today!"

    With the S4 having been used so much over the last 8 years, it's obviously starting to show signs of wear. It is still a perfectly functional controller, but I find that I have to press a button a second time because I didn't quite hit it right the first time - not saying that these buttons have to be pressed a certain way...just not as responsive as it used to be.

    So the obvious move is to upgrade to the Traktor S4 MKIII and, in turn, Traktor 3 software. And yet, I couldn't do it.

    When the Prime 4 and the S4 MKIII released, I decided that instead of jumping on the bandwagon again, I'm just going to sit back and watch what happens. I've spent a long time watching both, and had a play on the S4 and the same routine went though my head over and over again:

    Prime can do this, but I know Traktor.

    I tend to be very loyal to brands, but I honestly did not care about the Traktor S4. I was chatting to a mate of mine who upgraded to the S4, and the two features that left his mouth first to try and convince me to stick with Traktor was the motorised jogwheel and haptic feedback - two features that I honestly could not give less of a turd about. As he was championing his new controller, I was playing on it thinking 'meh'.

    But I know Traktor.

    The big thing that really irked me though was that I would have to lose one of the four channels to the mic. I can switch back between playout and mic at the touch of a button (well, two buttons), but I know that I will forget to do that and I'll start trying to talk while the channel is set to playout mode. Knowing me, I'll probably have a bloody track playing on that channel when I need to speak!

    But I know Traktor.

    Going over the the Prime 4 will mean needing to learn a whole new ecosystem. It seems that I can transfer all of my hotcues, loops and such from Traktor to Prime, so that will certainly ease the transition. The Prime 4 is considerably bigger, heavier and a damn sight more expensive. It looks the knees of the bee, it has features on it that really piques my interest, will shave about a minute from my setup and takedown time and I believe will be future proof for a long time to come (especially if Denon keep supporting with the firmware updates).

    But I know Traktor.

    The Prime 4 is going to take up the majority of space on my Liteconsole (to the point where the top shelf will need to be sacrificed), will require me to rethink how I load the van and Rock 'n' Roller, is twice the price of the Traktor and there's a chance that I may have to get a little bit creative with where the laptop I use for DMXing goes.

    Above everything else though, there is one thing that stayed at the front of my mind: the Prime 4 looks fun. Traktor is very good, but lacks a soul. Maybe it's because the Denon is so new to me that I think that way (familiarity breeds contempt, and all that), but I can't deny that I feel that way.

    So tomorrow, the Prime 4 should be in my hands. I've already downloaded Engine Prime to get my music analysed and I'm hoping tomorrow will just be a case of transferring from A-to-B. Then, it's going to be me teaching myself how to make the most of the Prime 4 ecosystem.

    Wish me luck!

  2. #2
    Dinosaur Excalibur's Avatar
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    Short reply, good luck. Long reply later/ tomorrow/ maňana.
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    Still watching. Still not buying it

    Each to their own though.

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    I pondered, I nearly hit the buy button, and then I joined the FB support group.

    There appear to be issues with some of the firmware which put me off. Plus, what happens if it goes belly up on the night (will you be carrying a spare controller and laptop?)

    At the moment, it's one investment too far for me which isn't going to make me any money.....as desperately jealous as I am

  5. #5
    Benny Smyth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Imagine View Post
    Plus, what happens if it goes belly up on the night (will you be carrying a spare controller and laptop?)
    I'm insulted that you'd have to ask such a question!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Benny Smyth View Post
    I'm insulted that you'd have to ask such a question!
    I know you work like me and have backups of the backups

    However, looking at the support pages for that thing, it's amazing how many absolutely rely on the thing to be the bulletproof solution to everything!

  7. #7
    Benny Smyth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Imagine View Post
    However, looking at the support pages for that thing, it's amazing how many absolutely rely on the thing to be the bulletproof solution to everything!
    If you rely on one thing, it will come to bite you in the backside eventually. Just this past Monday, I was at a wedding where I found out during the process of setting up, my primary playout laptop would not talk to my S4 MKII. Tried rebooting several times, naddah. Swapped the USB cable, still nothing. Swapped the MKII for the MKI and the Traktor software still wasn't interested. Plugged the MKII into the backup laptop and it worked, so I was running lighting and sound off one laptop.

    Couple of hours later, I kicked everyone out so they can play with sparklers and while they did that, I tried the primary laptop again. It worked. I couldn't tell you why it stopped working in the first place, and I couldn't tell you why it started working again.

  8. #8
    Dinosaur Excalibur's Avatar
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    Benny, I've got one of these. It's a bit heavy on the features for me, but I'm across the important ones, the play and pause buttons. I'm sure I'll pick up the rest as I go.



    OK, that was whimsical, although it's true that I have had two of those, and they served their purpose well. When they redesigned it, they added a soundcard, and made a pigs ear of it. There are occasions where it does absolutely all that's needed. I and others used to have that, coupled with a high grade soundcard, and it was effectively an alternative to more expensive controllers.


    To the Prime 4. we're reinventing the wheel, lads and lasses, we're reinventing the wheel. It used to be called the HD2500. I have almost finished rebuilding the case for a Numark DDS, due to finding a DDS Drive unit ( the CD player and disc caddy ) in another case I was about to cannibalise. For some of my gigs it's used as an important part of the night ( it sits there with the same two tracks cued all night, but they're there at the touch of a button when needed ) and it's another backup, not needing the use of a second laptop. Many companies have been looking for playouts which offered nearly PC functionality, but without the PC. ( Media players, in effect).

    A colleague who is very set in his ways told me a few years ago that he'd had half an hour playing about with the Prime, and found it totally intuitive, and that he'd strongly considered getting one. Probably would have done, except for the fact that at his age, he couldn't see it returning anything on his investment. I hope you grow to love yours, Benny. Here's to many reliable and happy years with it.
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    Ok, full answer now.

    I used to have a Pioneer DDJ-SX which (with a laptop and appropriate software) is near enough the same button layout as the Prime 4. I took it to the big gigs and had a Pioneer DDJ-SB for anything that didn't require 2 mic inputs, EQ on the mic channels, all of the extra buttons that the SX offered or the showyness of the SX.

    I sold the SX about 6 months later and moved to compact controllers as I used the SX twice in the six months after I bought the SB. The performance pads were nice, but I can do the same mixes with the little hot cue/sample buttons on an MC6000.

    I'm definitely not going to argue with the case for replacing something that is getting unreliable. I'm still just not sure if I'd ever buy a Prime 4, or any other controller that is larger than it needs to be or has more buttons than I need to use.

    Julian
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  10. #10
    Benny Smyth's Avatar
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    Yesterday, I imported all of my music to Engine Prime (music management software for Denon), so when the Prime 4 landed on my doorstep this morning, all I needed to do was install a hard drive and transfer everything over.

    That process was quicker than I expected, so I had a play on it for an hour or so. There's a lot of muscle memory to get rid of!

    Tonight, I'm gonna do something silly - I'm using it at a gig. Still taking my Traktors too, but the only way I'm gonna get used to using it is to use it, so why the hell not?

    I'll report back on my first impressions.

    Eek!

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