Denon DJ MC3000 Controller Review
The MC3000 is the latest controller to be released by Denon DJ. It is a welcome edition to their current arsenal of slick products and the little brother to their acclaimed DN-MC6000. We received an advance demo unit from Denon DJ last week so we could give it a test drive and a proper review. We discovered some very likable features from this controller and decided to share. Here’s the scoop.
The MC3000 is a 2 channel Traktor controller with the ability to use 2 or 4 playback decks, 2 sample decks, as well as the loop recorder. It is small and constructed of mostly metal with hard plastic sliders and rubberized knobs and buttons, some of which are back lit in either red, amber, and green. It has 1/4″ balanced, and RCA unbalanced outputs on the top, and a 1/4″headphone output on the front. It has 2 RCA inputs and 1 mic input, both lacking EQ, but you do have a cool ducking feature when your mic is in use over music.
What is missing is the cherished booth output, not unlike other controllers in this class and price range. The jogs are smaller but pretty standard in Denon terms with the pitch sliders now conveniently located on the outside of each jog. This is a nice change from the DN-MC6000 which had them closer to the top in either side of the cue and loop section.
Right above the jogs are 4 nice rubber cue buttons, 3 loop buttong (in, out, auto), 4 rubber efx/Sample buttons, and 4 rubberized efx knobs. The mixer section consists of 2 channel faders, crossfader, filter/eq section, mode select (browse, sample, efx edit, record), browse knob and load buttons, fx select, deck select, and finally channel gain knobs. Headphone monitor and line in level controls are found on the upper left and right respectively.
The side panels are now black versus the silver ones on the DN-MC6000 and they can also be affixed with rack mounting hardware for permanent install or mobile rack use. All of this is actually laid out pretty logically on a compact, smaller surface then normally found on controllers with this much capability. The MC3000 ships ready to use with Virtual DJ LE in North America and Traktor LE in Europe and Asia but mappings for both can be found online. We highly recommend upgrading to pro versions if you have the chance.
PERFORMANCE IN THE MIX (by Zack Rocket)
We used Traktor Pro 2 for the demo after carefully mapping it in the controller editor in preferences (thanks again Ariff!). You can find the mapping .TSI file at the end of the post.
For the demo I wanted to do something cue point heavy to feature the cue buttons. I really wanted to try to play on them like pads. At first I thought they were great but the more I used them the more I began to fell out of love. MC-3000′s buttons themselves are quite large and require a great deal of depression before they ultimately click signaling their activation. Because of their raised height there is a pretty decent amount of horizontal wobble in the button as you press it down.
We actually had to do a couple of re shoots on takes because the buttons were getting stuck under the frame causing the button to continually activate, which was really annoying. Don’t get me wrong though, many DJs will think these buttons are awesome, and I find that 80% of the ones I talk to love them. You have to decide if this is something that will effect your DJing, unless your doing cue point heavy tricks you should be fine and even if you are you just have to be a little more careful.
The jog wheels weren’t calibrated as tightly as I would have liked them to be so I had to nudge a bit more than I would have liked to but thats something that can be fixed in Traktor’s settings. Otherwise the jogs felt pretty nice.
When I first saw the controller I was immediately a bit turned off by the layout because everything is quite cramped and I initially had concerns about what the performance of the loop section would be like. The AutoLoop button feels great and loop controls are easy to operate so it makes it easy to get really expressive on your looping and drop in and out of loops quickly. I definitely liked the effects section and the back lit LEDs made it easier to see what exactly I was effecting on the board.
I did not like the placement of the master volume controls, Denon placed them in the upper right hand corner of the controller which is also where I like to rest my hands when im using effects. We had to do a couple extra takes because every once in a while I would graze the master volume knob and blast everyone out of the room.
The controller feels great but Denon needs to change their font, its just too hard to read and makes the layout feel too cramped. Props are due to Denon for mirroring the layout and for build quality, this controller doubles as both a riot shield and a striking weapon due in part to its solid metal construction, very cool and very road worthy.
The MC3000 gives me every feature I need to flex my mix in Traktor Pro, but in a smaller, yet very durable 2 channel controller. I may not always use 4 decks, or 2 extra sample decks when I play, but I can do it very easily on this controller without really losing a beat. The only compromise is that filling a lot of features on a smaller plot of real estate leaves you with a somewhat congested work space. Buttons, knobs, and sliders get really intimate on the MC3000 and it really would take a lot of getting used to if you are more accustomed to using a bigger controller or most especially if you’re making the switch from turntables or cd players and a mixer.
Controllerists who need more than what a Novation Launchpad or APC20 has to offer and that are wanting more of a DJ style performance will do well on this controller for sure. Let’s be clear. The power and majesty is mostly found in the software, specifically Traktor Pro, and the MC3000 does well to translate it’s strengths. Overall the MC3000 is best suited for those needing a smaller, portable controller in a friendly price range that can be versatile with Traktor and Virtual DJ.
Look for a comparison video and blog on controllers similar to the MC3000 soon. Until next time, happy gigs!
THE .TSI MAPPING
Transcript:Hi, this is Scott Magno, DJ Madflip, here with UniqueSquared.com. Today we are checking out a pretty cool controller, the MC 3000 by Denon DJ. This is kinda a unique controller because this comes ready for Tractor or Virtual DJ. So that means that you can mix up to four decks, sample decks and loop recordings in Tractor and also up to four decks, video mixing, sampling and recording in Virtual DJ, all from one, two channel controller, let’s check it out. So the MC 3000 is like its older brother, the Denon MC 6000, so, if you are familiar with that you know you got a full metal chassis here, really constructed well. It is about the size of a twitch, probably just a little smaller than the control S2. Really nice. Convenient to be able to rack this up either for a permanent install, or for your mobile rack. Really nice to have. This is going to give you ¼” balanced outputs and RCA unbalanced outputs right here on the top, and on the front you got a ¼” headphone output, really cool. This is also going to come with 2 auxiliary RCA inputs as well as one mic input. Now, these are not going to have any EQ, so you are not able to really mix in between those, but you have a nice cool ducking features for voice overs on the microphone. So, this is not USB BUS powered, you actually have a power adapter, so that means that, yes, you can use this as a stand alone mixer or if your laptop goes down you can use an MP3 player or a CD player as backup. So, let’s check out the juice of the MC 3000. You got a mixer section with two nice faders, you got an EQ section, also a filter section, nice browse section, load A and B, as well as, C and D in there, you got your effects on and off, you choose two effects in traktor and those buttons are right there, and also the gain levels. You also have switchable buttons for decks C and D, you have got that up there in the EQ section as well as in the jog wheel and transport section. The jog wheels are a little bit smaller than most out there, but pretty standard from Denon terms, but a nice feel and a good response. Now, the transport section is going to give you sync, cue, and play on either side, and they are really rubberized and really nice. All of the buttons on here have a really good feel and they are going to be backlit LED in either red, amber, or green depending on which function you got. Now, the pitch sliders are located just outside of the jog wheels, this is kinda different than the Denon MC 6000, those things were like, way up here in the loop and cue button sections, it is nice and convenient to have those right there. Switch in and out of vinyl mode, you have got pitch bend buttons also here, conveniently located there. So, moving onto the cue button section. You have got four nice cue buttons, they actually kinda click, so you can tell what is going on, they also light up whenever you use those cues. Use the shift button to enable, or disable, or get rid of some of those, nice to have. You also have this modifier, so you can have cues one through four, or five through eight, that means you have control of eight cue spots weather you are using Traktor or Virtual DJ, really convenient to have, you don’t find that on controllers in this range. Alright, moving up , you got the loop in and out above that, as well as the auto loop function, you can select the size of the autoloop with these little plus and minus buttons here. you also have an effects section with some nice knobs, and these have a dual purpose. I have got my effects one, two, three, four right here, and I press this modifier button that says sample next to it, boom, now you got all your samples up there whether, again from Virtual DJ or Tractor, just from the buttons there. Nice feature to have, and of course with your knobs here, you’re going to be able to adjust all of the different parameters in either effects 1 or effects 2. You know, it doesn’t have a booth output, so you know, for your mobile DJs out there, you may not be hip to that, but I’m going to tell you, if you’re bringing it to a club or a professional environment, chances are, they are going to have another mixer that does have a booth output, so you know, I would just come out of the master outputs, go into that DJ mixer and utilize that one. That is what most controler guys do anyway, so, not really a problem, but it would be convenient if it did have a booth output that is dedicated, that would be pretty nice. You know the ways that LEDs light up, you got kinda, a dark environment, like a nightclub environment, it is nice to be able to kinda tell what is happening, and the backlit LEDs on the effects and also on the sample, kinda let you know where you are, kinda let you know what is going on, especially if you are in the mix, and controlerists like to do a lot of stuff and, you know, you still have time to kinda like, boom, I know what’s on, I know what’s off, now I just gotta like drum up on the mic and put my hands in the air, that is pretty cool about it. The compact size, you know, I kinda dig that. A lot of DJs that play in nightclubs that are used to the big setups, you know, you can still play on that big set up, but lets talk about some of the gigs that you might pick up, maybe a corporate situation, or one that is just at a house party. You know, I don’t limit myself to my abilities when I bring in a controller in like the MC 3000. As I said before, I got like EQ points, all my effects, you know like the Virtual DJ, I can do video mixing on it as well, and Traktor Pro of course is like a beast and there is really nothing I cannot control on Traktor Pro with the MC 3000. So, There you have it, the MC 3000 two channel controller from Dennon DJ, it is certainly a beast. If you have any other question about this, or to get the best price, please check us out on our website. Thanks for keeping up with us on our blog as well as twitter, and facebook. This is Scott Mago, DJ Madflip. Be you, be unique, at UniqueSquared.com.