The newest mutli-media player from Denon DJ has finally arrived in the DJbooth.net Lab for a full HD-Video review! The much anticipated Denon DJ SC3900 has hit the DJ scene a couple of months ago and everyone who's gotten the chance to use one has given it nothing but praises and accolades. This versatile deck can be used with CD and USB drives, and can as a MIDI controller with Hybrid DVS control mode that works with Serato and Traktor. Check out the full rundown review video inside to see if this powerful deck has what it takes to make it's way into your own personal setup.
Setup & First Impressions
The Denon DJ SC3900 is the new and improved successor to the Denon DN-S3700 multi-media player which I have personally owned for about two and a half years before selling them to get back to my "vinyl" roots. Throughout this review I will make some comparisons between the two units and also point out what was changed to make the SC3900 an all-around better performer. There are so many improvements over the DN-S3700 that I would almost say it's a completely new deck. Looks may be deceiving as both units look almost identical, but rest assured that the SC3900 is a serious upgrade and definitely worthy of a look for current DN-S3700 and other brand CDJ users alike.
First and foremost the Denon DJ SC3900 is a very versatile machine. The SC3900 is capable of playing music using CD's, USB drives (using the newly positioned top mounted USB port), and through MIDI DJ software. The SC3900 can be plugged directly into a computer for full MIDI mapping or for use with Digital Vinyl Software in hybrid mode such as Traktor or Serato with its internal timecode system. All the DJ has to do is load up the mapping file which is available directly from the Denon DJ website, plug in the USB cable, and you're ready to start spinning using the software and library on your computer. 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 SC3900 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 SC3900 can also be linked together with up to four SC3900's or SC2900's (newly announced) to share USB drives that are connected to only one unit. In order to link them together, the user simply connects the SC3900'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.
From the outside it looks very similar to the DN-S3700 with it's mostly-plastic outer shell, front slot for loading CD's and an LED screen that all look borrowed from the original player. The Denon S3900 loses all of the effects that were on-board with the DN-S3700, but it makes for a better layout with a lot less clutter. It also makes more sense to take the effects off the unit so that DJ's can use their DJ software or Mixer effects units for their FX needs. Some other changes between the 3700 and 3900 include a jump from only 3 hot-cue buttons to 4-hot cue buttons on the 3900 along with a MIDI Bank 2 button to allow the user to have a total of 8-hot cue buttons by layering the set of hot cue buttons. The USB drive port has been relocated from the back of the unit to the front which makes for easier changing of the USB drives and also makes it easier to fit into coffins and other DJ cases. The Denon DN-S3700 used to treat braking and reverse platter functions almost like effects and to make changes you had to go into the menus to do so. the new system 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. Also found on the Denon DJ SC3900 is a better overall file navigation system and a generally "cleaner" way of accessing your music. Other noticeable improvements in performance are the load times and the fact that users can go into the menus and cue up additional tracks and change deck parameters while the deck is playing back audio. The Cue and Play/Pause buttons in the front top of the unit have also changed as on the S3700 they were rubbery and less-sure of the user's input. Now these buttons on the SC3900 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 S3700.
The biggest improvement over the S3700 (in my eyes) with the Denon SC3900 is the all-new direct-drive brushless motor and actively spinning platter. The motor and platter on the S3700 were very nice, but the SC3900 is just so much better. At first glance, the platters look almost identical, but the improvements are massive. The Platter itself feels way heavier and more sturdy but still has a very slick and slippery feel to it making it perfect for scratching. The motor is definitely stronger than the previous S3700 motor and it is almost impossible to stop the platter using your hand/fingers. The whole setup just feels more true-to-vinyl than ever before. 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. In practice, the platter and real 9-inch piece of vinyl work almost perfectly. I had absolutely no sticker-drift when using the platter with CD, USB, or in hybrid Traktor mode. Everything that was done on the record is done within the medium you are using. Operation is absolutely one-to-one when comparing the record movements to the playback. The other great upgrade with the platter is the inclusion of the start/stop time knobs so the user can adjust the speed at which the platter 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 SC3900. If I'm really searching for something to complain about, I could say that the outer shell of the Denon SC3900 is made up of completely plastic. The same is the case for 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 other 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 its worth pointing out.
Conclusion / Recommended For
In Conclusion, The Denon DJ SC3900 is my personal favorite CD or multi-media style deck to date. There are great improvements over the original DN-S3700 design and there is even more versatility than ever before. 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 t he Engine software. The SC3900 has an excellent high-torque direct drive motor with a heavy-duty platter and feel to match. 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) 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 SC3900 is truly one of the best decks on the market today and there are is just so many ways to use it and incorporate it into almost any existing DJ setup. We at djbooth.net recommend the Denon DJ SC3900 to any professional user who is looking for a serious multi-media deck that has a true-to-vinyl feel while also giving the DJ many different options for music playback.
Pros & Cons
- Versatility! CD/USB/MIDI/Hybrid (Timecode) Playback
- Can link up to four SC3900/SC2900 together to share USB drives And Engine software
- Excellent High-Torque Motorized Platter with Start/Stop Adjustment knobs
- Nice Full Feature-Set can be used in all Modes (Loops, Cue Points, Navigation, etc)
- Big Improvements Over DN-S3700 (Better Platter/Motor, Play/Pause Cue Buttons, Faster Load Times, USB Drive Placement, Better Hybrid Software Integration, Better Navigation)
- Very Lightweight Unit (Could use more reinforcement)
- (Minor Gripe) Pitch slider has a Center Click