The Denon DJ SC2900 is the new jog-wheel based multi-media playback DJ device that shares almost all of the same features and functions of the Denon DJ SC3900 which we reviewed last year. The Denon DJ SC3900 was a definite success for DJ’s who wanted the closest vinyl-feel possible, but still gave the DJ options to play music using various forms of media or computer/tablet connectivity. It only makes sense that Denon would now focus its efforts on appeasing the DJ’s who want a CDJ-like jog wheel feel.
Review Video & Demo
Setup & First Impressions
The Denon DJ SC2900 is the new jog-wheel based multi-media playback DJ device that shares almost all of the same features and functions of the Denon DJ SC3900 which we reviewed last year. Since the SC2900 and the SC3900 are nearly identical units (with the main difference being the motorized platter or jog wheel interface) much of this review will be the same with the exception of a few new features and the control differences. The Denon DJ SC3900 was a definite success for DJ’s who wanted the closest vinyl-feel possible, but still gave the DJ options to play music using various forms of media or computer/tablet connectivity. It only makes sense that Denon would now focus its efforts on appeasing the DJ’s who want a CDJ-like jog wheel feel for club familiarity or to give users a different way to control the playback of their music. The SC2900 is basically the same exact device as the SC3900 with jog wheels as opposed to the actively spinning platter.
First and foremost the Denon DJ SC2900 (like the 3900) is an extremely versatile machine. The SC2900 is capable of playing music using CD's, USB drives (top-mounted USB port), and through MIDI DJ software either in full MIDI controller mode or in a hybrid controller/timecode mode. The SC2900 can be connected to a computer for full MIDI mapping (available via the Denon website) or for use with Digital Vinyl Software and Soundcards in hybrid mode such as Traktor or Serato with its internal timecode system.
For the full MIDI-map mode, all the DJ has to do is load up the mapping file which is available directly from the Denon DJ website, install the drivers, plug in the USB cable, and you're ready to start spinning using the software and music library found on your computer. For Hybrid mode, the DJ must have a compatible DJ soundcard (A6/A10 for Traktor Pro; SL2/SL3/SL4 for Serato SSL) and mixer in order to connect the SC2900 to the soundcard for timecode playback. The SC2900 then plays the timecode signal for the software as long as the correct timecode frequency is selected from the Utility Menu on the device. While in Hybrid mode, all of the other buttons such as loop controls, file navigation controls, and hotcues still function perfectly as if we were in full-MIDI-map mode. We tested the SC2900 with Traktor in both MIDI-Map mode and in full Hybrid mode with an Audio 6 interface and a Vestax Mixer. While using the SC2900 in MIDI Map mode, all of the buttons and knobs work just as expected, but the jog wheel response isn’t quite perfect one-to-one. When we used the SC2900 with Traktor Pro 2 in Hybrid Mode, there was no detectable latency while scratching or cueing while all of the buttons still worked perfectly. For those who are not satisfied with Traktor MIDI mode support, you can also try VDJ Pro and MixVibes Cross as alternatives, which may net you better results.
Other users are happy to step away from the computer screen and use the new Engine DJ software provided by Denon in order to set up Crates, playlists, and other properties on the USB drive the user chooses. Setting up your library in Engine will make the SC2900 search and load music much faster than many other competitor software setups out there. The Engine software can also be used in conjunction with an iPad which allows users to use the graphical user interface on the iPad to load upcoming tracks, search through playlists, and manage all the details of your DJ set and setup. The Denon SC2900 can also be linked together with up to four SC3900's or SC2900's to share USB drives that are connected to only one unit. In order to link them together, the user simply connects the SC2900's to a LAN router using the Ethernet port on the rear of the unit. If the user is only linking two SC3900's/SC2900's together, then only a RJ-45 cable is needed to connect them directly into each other. The iPad can be integrated into the setup using the Wireless LAN portion of the same router. As long as the decks and iPad are on the same network, then they can communicate using the Engine software.
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From the outside, the SC2900 looks nearly identical to the SC3900 with it's mostly-plastic outer shell, front slot for loading CD's and an LED screen that all look borrowed from the original Denon DN-S3700 player from a few years ago. The Denon S2900 has 4-hotcue buttons along with a MIDI Bank 2 button to allow the user to have a total of 8-hot cue buttons by layering the additional set of hotcues. The USB drive port is at the top left corner of the unit and USB thumb drives as well as full featured Hard drives will work for playback. The Denon SC2900 has a reverse platter button on the left and a set of start/stop time knobs to the right of the platter which can be used to change the speed at which the platter starts and stops on the fly for some cool playback and transition effects. In between the hotcues and Reverse button is the Fast Search and Track Search buttons so users can skip ahead to tracks or sections in a track that they want to get to quickly.
Also found on the Denon DJ SC2900 is a good overall file navigation system and a generally "cleaner" way of accessing your music. There’s an oversized silver knob for navigating through files as well as Back and Forward arrow buttons for folder/file navigation either within the software in MIDI mode or on the screen using the USB or CD’s. The SC2900 also has the Slip Mode button which allows the DJ to manipulate the jog wheel, use loops, cue points, etc, while the play-head continues to play the track so that the play position of the track never loses its place. This means users can do whatever they want to the track in terms of manipulation when the SLIP mode button is activated and the track will still remain on-beat and exactly where it should be if no one touched the track during playback.
The Cue and Play/Pause buttons in the lower-left-hand-corner of the SC2900 have also changed as on the S3700 they were rubbery and less-sure of the user's input. Now these buttons on the SC2900 are much more solid and they have a much more tactile feel with better user feedback all around. Users can also now switch between USB, CD, Link, and MIDI mode without going through a complete system reset as was the case with the old S3700.
The biggest difference between the Denon SC3900 and the SC2900 is the new seven-inch touch-sensitive jog wheel with LED Cue and Position marker. The overall feel of this new jog wheel is fantastic. The SC2900 jog wheel has a mechanical sound and good weight to it which is very reminiscent of the jog wheel found on the Pioneer CDJ-900. The top of the Jog wheel is completely touch sensitive and there is an amber indicator at the bottom of the jog wheel which lets the user know when the users’ “touch” is active on the platter. The top of the platter does not push downwards like other platters as it is completely sensor controlled by the users touch. The outer ring of the jog wheel is rubber with plenty of grip-textured cutouts for easy nudging when beatmatching. When the VINYL button is activated, the top of the jog wheel can be used to scratch and backcue, but when the VINYL button is deselected, the top of the jog wheel is now used for nudging and pitch bending.
The jog wheel has a torque adjust slider to the right that has five adjustments ranging from very light for scratching and juggling to very heavy for accurate/precise beatmatching. Around the jog wheel, there is an LED ring that shows cue point positions and the position of the “needle” while playing the track. I found the LED ring to be very useful when pulling off juggling routines and when trying to get the position marker back to the cue point or to the beginning of the track. I’ve used many jog wheels in my day, both on controllers and on other multi-media players, but the SC2900 jog wheel is honestly one of the best I’ve ever used. Even though it’s a jog wheel, it still seems to emulate a “true-to-vinyl” feel that I’m sure most DJ’s will love. The 9-inch platter is a great size for those who want the comfort of a real vinyl record beneath their fingertips while still maintaining a much smaller form factor than traditional vinyl turntables. The SC2900 also has the start/stop time knobs so the user can adjust the speed at which the track stops and starts when the play/pause button is engaged.
It is very hard to find any faults with such a complete multi-media player such as the Denon SC2900. If I'm really searching for something to complain about, I could say that the outer shell of the Denon SC2900 is made up of completely plastic. The same is the case for the SC3900 and most CDJ's and decks out there on the market these days, but it's worth pointing out that the unit is pretty lightweight in construction and they most likely will not survive a drop or any other hard impacts. Make sure you get a set of cases if you are going to use them as a Mobile DJ because they need to be protected when in transport. The next issue that I found with the SC2900 is that the jog wheel response when using the unit in Full MIDI-Mode with Traktor isn't quite perfect in terms of latency (Hybrid mode is perfect). The final minor gripe that I noticed is the center-click that is inherent at the pitch slider. The pitch slider feels nice and sturdy until you get to the middle of the band where there is a center click to let the DJ know when they are at absolute zero. Some users who like fine adjustments on the pitch may not like this feature, so it’s worth pointing out.
Conclusion / Recommended For
In Conclusion, The Denon DJ SC2900 is a very worthy CD or multi-media style for any DJ who is looking to spin with a jog-wheel based deck and lots of versatility. Users can play CD's and USB drives, and work as a MIDI controller for software or Hybrid timecode control for Traktor or Serato. DJ's can link up to four SC3900's or SC2900's together simultaneously to share music from a single USB drive and to communicate with the Engine software via iPads or computers. The SC2900 has an excellent jog wheel feel which can easily rival the top competitors’ offerings in the same space. There is also a nice full feature set with Loop controls, 4-8 hot cue buttons, and easy to use navigation controls to the right of the easy-to-read LED screen. The only minor issues I could find with the unit is that it's made up of mostly plastic (like 99% of all CD decks), the Traktor MIDI-Mode Jog Wheel performance isn't quite one-to-one, and there is a center-click at the pitch slider which hinders some users from making micro adjustments around the "zero" area. Other than these insignificant drawbacks, the Denon DJ SC2900 is truly one of the best jog-wheel based decks on the market today and there are just so many ways to use it and incorporate it into almost any existing DJ setup. We at djbooth.net recommend the Denon DJ SC2900 to any Pro DJ who is looking for a serious multi-media deck that has a great jog-wheel feel while also giving the DJ many different options for music playback.
- Versatility! CD/USB/MIDI/Hybrid/Engine (Tablet) Playback
- Can link up to four SC3900/SC2900 together to share USB drives
- Great Overall Jog Wheel Feel/Weight with Start/Stop Adjustment knobs
- Nice Full Feature-Set can be used in all Playback Modes (Loops, Cue Points, Navigation, etc)
- Jog Wheel not one-to-one with Traktor in MIDI Mode
- (Mention) Pitch slider has a Center Click