A Digital Distinction in Awesomeness
What Is The Denon SC3900?
The Denon SC3900 is the new top of the line Media Player and Controller from Denon DJ which replace’s the DN-SC3700. One of the biggest features on the new flagship model [carried over from the SC3700] is a 12 pole electric motor directly driving the platter with an adjustable torque setting in 0.1 increments from 1.0 Kg/nm to 3.0 Kg/nm. The default setting for the platter is set to 1.7 Kg/nm, which coincidentally is the exact same torque figure that the now defunct Technics SL range of turntables produced. Add platter start and stop times and 33 or 45 speed selector and now you can really begin to see how far Denon have gone to emulate the vinyl feel. Details on the platter even extend down to an infrared stroboscope to check the platter is accurate and it is really a sight to see [and feel] in motion. Now if that doesn’t pique your interest then settle down and carry on reading because the SC3900 is a beast on so many levels.
One of the key features of the SC3900 has to be the multitude of file formats and modes that it can perform in, and how quickly and painlessly it can switch between sources. The default mode runs off a format that in my opinion is on its way out, the humble 74 minute CD both audio or MP3 formatted. Then it’s an ultra-fast USB mode that can read up to 100,000 tracks on your memory stick or portable hard drive. There is also Link, and this mode lets you couple up to 4 SC3900’s via an Ethernet network cable and a router so you can play off all four units using just a single USB source. The other set-up for Link involves plugging the SC3900 into your PC or Mac also via a router. This use of the Link mode lets you use Denon’s custom music library software Engine and your computer as the music host and you can now browse your music library using your computers screen. If you happen to have an iPad lying around then you can also connect it to Engine and use the lovely touch screen interface as your music browser and monitor.
The final mode is MIDI which is also multifunctional but as the Denon SC3900 is not fitted with a user accessible sound-card you will still need a decent audio card to run that side of things. However for those making use of Timecode the SC3900 can run in Hybrid MIDI mode and for Traktor users you get 1, 2, 2.5 and 3K control tones as well as the Serato Scratch Live one right in the menu. No word yet on if its compatibility with Traktor 2.5’s reformatted time code signal, but I’m certain Denon will come up with a patch for that soon.
The only thing that Denon seems to have dropped from the previous model is the digital and vinyl effects section and in my estimation the SC3900’s are meant to be paired with the phenomenal DN-X1700 mixer which has dual effects units to efficiently manage the incoming audio and manipulate it comprehensively from one point. What has been retained is the Hot Cue, looping systems and reverse functions. There are 4 hot cues ready to use and a simple loop in, loop out system with a loop shift or an auto-loop if you’re not as accurate with those in and out buttons. A dump feature has also been added if you’re not fond of the reverse function.
All your track selection happens via a rotary selector and the display screen comprehensively lets you know what’s going on albeit on a dot matrix type screen. The USB slot has finally been moved to the face of the SC3900 so you don’t have to fiddle around the back any more to try and get your thumb drive in. The USB B port for MIDI mode and network connection is on the back along with RCA and Digital outs. Denon have also now fitted the Sc3900 with a figure 8 power socket so transporting is a little easier and less hazardous with a power cable dangling around.
Who Should Own One?
The Denon SC3900 is at the pinnacle of professional performance media players at the moment. It’ll go toe-to-toe with any of the other major DJ brands and fair favourably, so DJ and music orientated venues should definitely consider a pair of the SC3900’s if they need to update their gear. I’m hard pressed to think who wouldn’t want a pair of these in their venue, studio or bag.
I really got a chance to put the Denon SC3900 through its paces for a couple of weekends at my club residency and besides being a real head turner (what is it about a spinning platter that just captures everyone’s eyes?) it also had the added benefit of improved audio quality thanks to the hi fidelity Burr Brown 24 Bit digital to analog converter. After being afforded the opportunity to play on both the 3700 and 3900 I can say that the latter is a huge leap forward for Denon and a talented contender in the competitive high-end CDJ market. I spent some time speaking to a couple of clubs’ resident techies and most of them mentioned that up to two thirds of CDJ damage is related to laser and/or CD loading mechanisms, so you can imagine the interest and relief when you can play an entire set off of a thumb drive. Another neat feature unique to the 3900 is that you can change between MIDI and CD or USB live without a break in audio or having to reset your software package every time you switch back and forth.
The SC3900 is a definite step up from the older 3700’s in all respects. It loads music quicker, lets you have more options about how you want to utilize it, and the SC3900 allows you more control of your principle area of contact, the control wheel. What it did lose though was the digital and platter effects but with most DJ’s preferring to control their effects from the mixer it falls into line with direction that all the pro gear is following at the moment. Denon’s custom software Engine was quick and easy to install but beware this is not a plug-and-play option. Engine will have to scan your music library first to generate waveforms and track data for use with the SC3900. The scanning is fast and comprehensive but can still take some time. Once your music has been scanned Engine re-saves all your audio files with the waveform and info embedded into the file, so if you want to use your USB flash stick to perform, all of those tracks will have the info (hot-cues, cue points etc) ready for you to use.
Another cool perk to Engine is the iPad connectivity and while I’m still pining for one I’m sure those of you out there with one will love the chance to be able to use it in your DJ setup.
The slam dunk, however, for Denon, has to be the platter and for those DJs who know what it is like to perform off vinyl (still regarded as the pinnacle of DJ’ing prowess) the SC3900 is unmatched and certainly carries the torch as the most authentic feeling player on the market. If you’ve not yet used a Denon player, this extremely competitively priced unit is built like a tank, oozes professionalism and gets the job done. Simple as that!
Price: R 10, 495.00
Tel: (011) 790 4600