Denon’s rugged media player, designed for the rigours of nightly use, gets an update. Rob Lee offers his verdict on the D4500 MK2.
Denon are a company with a long and illustrious history in the audio world. Although they produced the first professional CD player for DJs back in 1993 to much acclaim, recent times have seen them have to respond to a media player market now dominated by Pioneer.
Denon’s response was to develop media players for DJs such as the SC3900 front loading CD player, a unit with the capability to play from USB devices, as well as a jog wheel and platter with a piece of real vinyl, arguably the most realistic simulation of vinyl based djing in recent times. Along with specially designed music management software and a reputation for a build quality that is second to none, all at an attractive price, they have been giving their competitors some serious food for thought. But one of the questions that nags continuously is the possibility that their early success – that first DJ friendly CD player – may play a large part in the current Denon predicament.
When CD technology exploded in the club arena, the Denon CD players were seen as cumbersome and difficult to use. It was hard to mix using the tiny jog wheels and clubs and bars were slow to upgrade their DJ equipment. Needless to say, most DJs ended up both loathing and fearing the dreaded DN 2000F CD players; to some extent Denon’s good name has been tarnished ever since, despite the high standard of their more recent products. The original D4500 is one such product and features a dual CD player with pitch control as well as looping points, hot cues and a stutter mode. The unit comes with a separate control module for the main CD trays that could be either rack mounted or placed on a table top. However, with Pioneer’s new CDJ offerings all featuring the ability to play from USB sticks, and digital DJ systems like Traktor dominating the club envinronment, an update was sorely needed.
The latest incarnation of this popular CD player is the D4500 MK2 and it provides evidence that Denon listen to the people that use their equipment; the overwhelming majority have been calling for the addition of the capability to play from a USB memory device for some time, and that is exactly what Denon have done with the D4500 MK2. There are two USB ports on the main module of this media player, one on the front nestled between the CD trays’ open/close buttons and the main power switch, and one on the rear of the module. Switching between the CD source or the USB ports is done on the main control module with a dedicated button on each side that toggles through all the options with the front USB port lighting the indicator green, the back one red and the CD player yellow. Unfortunately there is no option to power the control module separately, and the USB ports are on the same module as the CD trays, meaning that if you only wanted to use USB devices then you still have to carry around two modules. However, the D4500 MK2 will read devices that can store up to 2TB of wav, aiff, MP3 and AAC encoded files.
The dual displays give you feedback on a variety of parameters such as time elapsed/remaining, BPM, loop points and stutter mode. The transport control consists of a large play/pause button and cue button with search and load implemented with a push encoder knob. The two small jog wheels have forward and rewind functions that can be controlled using a shuttle ring around the edges and each side has a simple pitch fader with the ability to change the control width. It’s as simple a layout as you could possibly find with simple phono jacks and digital out jacks around the back.
In use, the D4500 MK2 performs exactly how you would expect. Switching between CDs and music stored on your USB device is intuitive, and those adverse to reading manuals will pick up most of the functions in no time at all. The layout is simple and the dual displays are uncluttered making this an ideal unit for someone who is just beginning the journey into DJing from USB devices. However, beatmatching using the small jog wheels is as difficult as it ever was and with the high standard build quality of the rest of the machine, the jog wheels are the only part that let it down in this respect due to the very plastic feel of the shuttle rings that control forward and review searches.
The question that begs to be answered is why Denon would want to update a dual CD player of this type in this day and age? The reason we are given is because there are plenty of DJs who have neatly organised their CDs via genre and BPM, and that going through the process of ripping them back on to a USB device would be both time consuming and undesirable. This may or may not be the case but this writer can’t help but think that Denon haven’t been keeping their eye on the market, as there are plenty of dual CD players that feature the option of accessing music on USB devices on the market already, many of which come at a more enticing price than the D4500 MK2.
Numark for example already have a strong offering in this category in the form of the Mixdeck Quad or Express, both of which feature dual CD players, large jog wheels and the ability to access USB storage devices as well as a built in mixer. They also feature the possibility of connecting to laptops and controlling DJ software via MIDI, at a very competitive price. Numark’s CDN77 also features a rack mountable dual deck system very similar to the D4500 MK2 but at a fraction of the cost. However, Denon are aiming their latest upgraded player at busy mobile DJs who need durable and reliable equipment with a high end build quality, and it’s this workmanship that Denon have on their side when it comes to the D4500 MK2. If you’re looking for a reliable media player that will allow you the flexibility of accessing music stored on USB hardware in a rack mountable dual module design then this unit will more than fulfil your needs.
Rob LeeBuy from Juno
|Media||Dual CD, USB (wav, aiff, mp3, AAC)|
|Dimensions||483mm x 88mm x 252mm|
|Functions||Loop (with loop trim), Hot Cue, Stutter, Key Adjust, Platter Hold, Shock Proof (CD 20secs: Mp3 100 secs)|
|Display||Dual digital display (BPM counter, mode, time elapsed, time remain)|
|Transport||Play/pause and cue buttons per deck. FF/RR via shuttle ring. Track search and load via encoder per deck.|
|Inputs||2 USB ports, 2 fader input jacks|
|Outputs||2 x 1/8″ analogue outs, 2 digital outs|