One of the big buzz items at this year's NAMM was the Denon DJ Prime Go, a compact and fully mobile console that takes the Prime DNA and puts it all in a beautiful and functional little package. Most small consoles in this category are usually aimed at hobbyists or beginners. The Prime Go has a different customer in mind here, and the rationale and design are quite compelling. Whether you are a mobile DJ looking for a lighter rig, or a club DJ looking for high functioning set up that you can pop in a backpack, there are significant pros for both types of performers here.
Lets just quickly go over why you might want this unit -
Professional Club / Festival DJ - This is the perfect piece of gear to take with you on the road to prepare sets, do mixes, and even use as an emergency back up rig. The Go can easily plug into a house system and do the job of it's larger siblings or other pro gear. Even if you are a Pioneer DJ person, there is nothing else like this on the market, and learning the features and power of the Engine OS takes no time at all if you are a seasoned DJ.
Mobile / Prosumer - If you are someone that loves playing music and home and out at house parties occasionally, the Go is perfect. It gives you the pro performance features in one compact unit at a reasonable price. If you are a professional mobile DJ, this unit is excellent for smaller gigs and as a backup unit just in case. It also allows you to stream Tidal and eventually Soundcloud and Beatport/Beatsource LINK to handle all those terrible requests. Milli Vanilli - well, unfortunately, you've got that, you have just about everything if you have a great internet connection.
In short, the Denon DJ Prime GO is an all-in-one DJ console powered by the Engine Prime software OS, which has been winning over converts from Pioneer DJ ranks for the last couple of years. So Engine Prime is precisely that, the Engine that runs all of the players in the Prime family. Think of this unit as the sexy little convertible of the Prime line up, complete with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that lasts up to 4 hours. This onboard power supply allows you to take your Go just about anywhere and break out a set, as long as you have some excellent speakers (we suggest the JBL EON Compacts, also equipped with an onboard battery).
We are going to dive into every aspect of this hot addition to the Denon DJ portfolio to help you decide if this is worth dropping a $1000 on.
Live Mix Done On Denon DJ Prime Go (Mixed in Forest, seriously)
Construction and Design
This unit is small (16.2" x 10.8" x 2.1") and built like a tank, with an overall weight of about 8 pounds. So it's light enough to carry with you just about anywhere; think of it as a large laptop if that helps put it into perspective.
Despite its size, this little guy packs professional capabilities, and they have jammed a lot into a small interface that is surprisingly intuitive.
This standalone console features two decks with an onboard mixer, two small touch-sensitive jog wheels, and a 7-inch touch screen.
The jog wheels - these are touch-sensitive so you can technically try scratching in the vinyl modes, but probably not worth your time. These are primarily to help you push through tracks and give you some traditional control. I found that I was changing them in and out of vinyl mode a lot more than with my more prominent players, and I end up just tightening up the mix with the pitch control once it's close. Inevitably you will bumble over one of them and jack up your mix, so it's a good idea to practice on them before playing out in any professional capacity.
The 4 performance pads - These are amazing to have on such a small unit, and they will help you control the Hot Cue, Loop, and Roll effects with ease, and the bank button allows you to swap over to another set, giving you a total of 8 pads altogether. Next to the pads is an autoloop dial that is also very handy to quickly control that function, setting loop times and getting in and out of it.
The touch screen - this is plenty of space to operate in, and often you will forget that it is indeed a touch screen; it just depends on your workflow and style of DJing. I found myself still using the knobs and buttons to maneuver through the screens but to each their own. It's very nice to have that functionality, and the screen is bright and quite easy to navigate with a little practice in the OS.
The EQs - These are your traditional low, mids, and hights and can be toggled to be fully isolated in the preferences menu, which is what we prefer. You get used to them being where they are, it was not that hard to get used to, and they work quite well as you need them. The trim button is also on the outside of the EQ row and designated with a grey nob vs. black of the other three. Be very careful here when getting used to this unit, it's easy to grab the trim knob thinking it's the bass if you aren't paying attention.
Pro Tip - EQs should be used sparingly as an effect, don't be the DJ that's always noodling with them because you have nothing else to do. They are also great to help smooth our mixes to make them sonically seamless.
The onboard effects - tucked away in the upper left-hand corner, you have the effects controls. These can be assigned by channel with a one/two-button, and globally if you have both pressed. You have an FX select, on and off switch, parameters knob, and the classic wet/dry knob to push one of the 13 effects live. Classics like echo, reverb, delay, roll can all be deployed quickly to bring some great stylization to your performance. The tricky part is finding these effects on your screen, as they are a bit small and tucked away, just turn the FX knob and watch the screen for the list.
Also, above each channel is a sweep fx with a filter and delay/echo that can help get you out of a mix quickly.
Another cool feature is the ability to sync and key sync tracks to make your mixing easier in tough environments like dark house parties, weddings, or other social events where fast mixing is clutch.
The Inputs / Outputs
- Two microphone channels, these both feature with XLR/Jack connections and level controls - which is pretty standard. No effects can be used on mics, unfortunately.
- The AUX channel has stereo line-level RCA connections at the back of the unit, so if you want to plug in an iPod for a coffee break or bring in some other source, it's an option and has its own volume control in the front. No effects or EQ for this, so you don't have that much control here.
- USB A port for sticks and hard drives in the back of the console, and in the front, there is an SD card slot. In the rear, a USB B connection for hooking up your computer - but not sure why you would want to use this feature unless you were a mobile DJ. Another great way to get your tunes is via the Wi-Fi or ethernet connection, especially if you are a mobile DJ and have to pull requests on the fly. We found the wireless function to work quite well on a mediocre home wireless connection and dug into Tidal's vast library of music. Beatport/source LINK and Soundcloud integration are coming in the next few months, which will be much better for electronic and hip hop DJs.
On top of these external media sources, the Prime GO also features inbuilt Wi-Fi and a wired ethernet connection. By using the internet, you can then log into streaming services such as Tidal, Soundcloud, Beatport link, and Beatsource, brilliant for event DJ's, especially when dealing with requests.
If you are bringing files over from Rekordbox, Serato, or Traktor, the Engine OS can import them on the fly as well as just a USB filled with mp3s. The Engine OS is relatively intuitive, and you can find it free here for PC or Macs. If you plan on solely being on Prime, then this is the best route for you to go aside from Rekordbox.
- Outputs are two RCAs or XLRs for master out, so you can connect more consumer-grade speakers as well as the professional stuff.
- For monitoring your mixes and cueing your next track, there are both a quarter and eighth-inch jacks on the front to plug in your headphones. There is both a Cue Mix (allowing you to listen to both channels in the cans) and headphone volume control.
Get to know the Engine! Knowing your OS is the key to success and workflow here if you are going to master this unit and any other Prime player. Take the time to learn the controls and navigation before playing out or making a mix; this will save you loads of frustration. From organizing your files to finding them, there are plenty of options here via album title, genre, key, bpm, or playlist.
The Go is disruptive and innovative for the DJ console market and brings a lot of new ideas as to what a standalone unit should and can be. At $999 you are getting a fantastic unit that can be used for a variety of situations from a small desert party to a full-blown club performance and a variety of mobile DJ applications like weddings, private events, etc.
If you are looking for a compact player that can bring professional-grade features, there is nothing better on the market at the moment.
This player is a great way to enter the Prime DJ ecosystem and is especially fun because it literally can go anywhere.