Denon DJ MC7000
When unpacking the MC7000 I experienced a sense of relief as I extracted only three items from the box: the controller, a USB lead and a power lead; this was sure to be a simple set up! I downloaded the Windows driver from a very organised and uncluttered denondj.com site and minutes later fired up Serato with the controller standing to attention and ready for duty. The power-up sequence is a thing of beauty, as all the indicators light up in a flowing pattern that only a DJ could be fascinated by; psychologically it made me feel confident that all was working and I was ready to go. I tested with both Serato and Virtual DJ, as I believe these are the most common choices of DJ software among mobile DJs, and both programmes worked very well with the MC7000, demonstrating quick response and good control equally.
I am always tempted to ‘joy ride’ as soon as I get hold of new kit but the build quality made me stop and take note of the care and attention that has gone into creating what is clearly a controller of substance. The layout is a mirror configuration, with the main controls – Master, Booth, Phones and Sampler volume – positioned down the centre dividing the two sides.
All the faders and control knobs have a solid fitting with little or no play. I’m not a fan of the emerging trend for small, hard plastic control knobs and thankfully these ones are a decent size with a rubber coating making them more tactile and user-friendly. As a side note, I also noticed six rubber feet have been included to ensure that the whole base of the controller is supported; a small feature, but one that I believe illustrates Denon DJ’s commitment to build quality.
The four-channel mixer section sits – as expected – centre stage, with a good-size replaceable crossfader that is quick and nimble to use. The channel faders are of good length and smooth, with just the right amount of resistance. Each channel can be allocated to the crossfader using the assign switch to select Left or Right of the crossfade or ‘Thru’ which sends the signal directly to the programme mix. All channels have a 75mm level meter that is very responsive and sits alongside the channel EQ controlling the High, Mid and Low frequencies.
The inclusion of a hardware-based Filter effect on each channel is a nice addition, as is the Stop Time (brake) control knob which alters the rate at which the track slows to a complete stop allowing for added creativity without any need to touch your computer. My absolute favourite feature is the Key Select / Reset knob. This can be used to raise or lower the musical key of the track in semitone increments and works in combination with the Serato Pitch ‘n Time expansion pack software, which is included with the controller [Serato Flip and Serato Video also come bundled with the product].
The FX sections found above each deck are also a great addition and each allow for up to three separate effects to be assigned to individual control knobs. Additional Beats dials, one per deck, then allow the adjustment of time-based effects. Overall, the FX system is a joy to use and very versatile.
Each of the two deck areas boast a six-inch platter with tracking LEDs, a long 100mm pitch fader, and a Needle Drop strip. The latter represents the length of the entire track and, by placing a finger on a point along this sensor, allows playback to instantly jump to any point in a track. These are typically only found on higher-priced controllers, so I believe this to be a real bonus feature.
With the increasing trend for bad language in pop music, one of my favourite additions is the Censor button that enables you to knock out bad language on the fly whilst maintaining the BPM playback progression of a track – very clever.
The capacitive, touch-sensitive platter controls the audio play head when the wheel is touched and moved. It also controls other features such as Pitch Bend by touching only the side of the platter while the Vinyl option is selected, or amending the Loop In and Loop Out points where fine adjustment is required.
The controller is essentially a 4-deck player with push button switches clearly marked 1 and 3 on the left deck and 2 and 4 on the right. This is simple to use and very intuitive (even for a 2-deck dunce like me) allowing for multiple tracks to be played for more creativity during a performance.
I was pleased to see the addition of hard Cue and Play buttons, as I feel that the rubber versions never really respond properly and can lead to a miscue quite easily. Next to these are the eight pads that have various functions dependent on which mode you choose. This is controlled by four pad mode control buttons positioned neatly above: Cue, Roll, Slicer and Sampler. The MC7000’s SHIFT button is also your friend, and is key to accessing the alternative features offered by many of the buttons. It may take a little practice to learn them all, but even a basic understanding of the modes opens up a world of additional tricks and features that many DJs will love. The Roll, Slicer and Sampler features are fun and easy to use, but – in my opinion – the real power comes from being able to set eight cue points per track (in Serato you can even name them!) which are colour-coded, helping to identify each one on the track waveform.
Each deck has its own track selection controls comprised of a Select/Load rotating knob, Back button and three multifunction buttons: Load Prep, Files and Panel. Each button has three features – accessed using either the Shift or Sort buttons – which are all very useful in managing, sorting and selecting your tracks. The labelling of the buttons and how you access the multiple features is very clever and can be picked up quickly from a quick run-through.
The front panel has been kept clear of unnecessary clutter and is simply home to the headphone output – provided via a choice of 6.35mm and 3.5mm jacks – and the crossfader Contour control. On the rear all the necessary input and output connections are present as you would expect. The Master Output is delivered via a choice of twin (Left and Right) balanced XLRs and unbalanced RCA Phono sockets, both of which can be switched between stereo and mono. The decision to add a separate booth output – via balanced XLRs – I think was a good move as this makes the MC7000 a serious contender in the pro-performance arena.
Stereo RCA phono inputs provide an analogue connection for each channel with easy switching options (between external analogue and software-based digital) found on the top panel. The outside channels (three and four) are switchable between phono and line level, while the inside ones (one and two) are fixed at line-level. The rear panel is also home to the two USB inputs. Yes, there are two of them, which is another big plus of this controller. A USB selection switch for each deck means that it is possible to control the audio from two computers at the same time which allows for seamless transitions while switching from one DJ to another. I believe this will make the MC7000 a big contender in bars, pubs and clubs that regularly have guest DJs perform. From a mobile DJ perspective, it also means that a backup laptop can be already connected, so that if the primary computer fails the backup is instantly available.
There are two mic inputs, again located on the back panel. The first is provided by way of a combination XLR/jack socket while the other is just a regular 6.35mm jack. These are operated by two sets of controls found on the far end of either side of the top panel. At the left are Level and High/Low EQ knobs for Mic 1 along with its On/Off button. There is also a Talk Over switch which applies to both mics. Meanwhile, on the right hand side, there are Mic 2’s controls (On/Off, Level, and a single Tone control) as well as an On/Off button and Level knob for the Echo feature that applies to both mics. This positioning of the microphone controls on either side of the front panel felt unusual and in the real world was not very practical. Flip-flopping between each far side of the controller whilst managing the main DJ microphone and the guest one during speeches proved far from ideal. Although, I have to say, this is pretty much the only complaint I could come up with regarding the MC7000 and two dedicated mic channels in addition to the four music channels is still a big plus.
In summary, this controller is all about the party, and it really does allow your creative side to run wild. Denon DJ has delivered a solid workhorse that offers a good mix of innovative and tried-and-tested technology. The MC7000 is definitely best mates with Serato and it performs really well with it, however, discounting a few feature differences, Virtual DJ was also just as easy to set up and use. The functions and features add a huge amount of scope to how we perform as DJs and I am convinced that in time it will change my style of DJing for the better – it is just so much fun to play with!
Pro Mobile equipment reviews are sponsored by insure4music.
The full review can be found in Pro Mobile Issue 84, Pages 64-66.