Saturday, October 7, 2017

Review: Denon DJ DS1

I remember the day perfectly: I was a college sophomore and took a handful of money to Guitar Center to purchase my first Digital Vinyl System (DVS) interface: Traktor’s Final Scratch. I was quickly talked out of it by the salesman, and I drove back to my frat house with a Rane SL1 in tow. I’ve been a Rane/Serato user ever since, with the Rane Sixty-Two as my current mixer of choice.
The Denon DS1 DVS Interface
However, I wanted a backup DVS interface on hand for the bar and club events that I perform at without a Sixty-Two in the booth, and since my performance setup is simple – two turntables and a mixer – I researched what was available on the market. It came down to Rane’s SL2, at just under $500, vs. Denon’s DS1, at just under $300.
So, I asked Denon if they would send me the DS1 to demo, and in turn, I would write an honest review on Mobile Beat highlighting my experience with it. They agreed and a few days later, I was looking at the box of a brand new Denon DS1 DVS interface.
Is the DENON DJ DS1 a viable option for users of Serato DJ? Let’s find out.
First Impressions
The packaging of the DS1 is great, it reminded me of Apple’s packaging: clean and minimal. Included was:
  • The Denon DS1 Interface
  • Four RCA Cables
  • One USB Cable
  • Two Serato DJ Official Control CDs
  • Two Serato DJ Control Vinyl Records (more on that in a second)
  • And some paper pamphlets that nearly every DJ will completely disregard
  • The Denon DS1 Unpacked
    A note to those unpacking for the first time: the control vinyl are all the way at the bottom of the packaging. I didn’t catch that after the first unpacking, hence why they aren’t in the first impression photo.
    Denon advertises the DS1 as compact, and they weren’t messing around; it’s about the size of a standard index card and definitely smaller than the SL2. Since the only DVS interface my rental company currently has is a Rane’s SL3, I put them side-by-side for a size comparison test.
  • The Denon DS1 is Super Compact!
    So simple. Plug the RCAs of your left deck to the left input, the right deck’s RCAs to your right input, and use the grounding post if you haven’t internally ground your turntables yet. Don’t forget to flip the switch down for turntables, or leave it up if using CDJs. Use two of the included RCA cables to plug the outputs of the DS1 to the line inputs of your mixer of choice. Plug in the USB cable to connect the DS1 to your computer and setup is complete.
    Now that everything was plugged in, it was time to open Serato DJ and start mixing! Denon says the DS1 is plug-and-play, and I didn’t have to wait for any driver installs; Serato DJ was ready to perform. Awesome!
    In Use
    Alright, so some of you gear-heads probably understand what everything on a spec sheet means better than I do. Fine; fair enough. I only care if the DS1 is stable, responds well to record movement, and if the output sounds good. If that is the case, then I’m one satisfied DJ.
    Stable? Check! The DS1 went an entire four-hour shift at my weekly Thursday residency with no noticeable issues (i.e. dropouts, etc.) at all.
    Response to Record Movement? Very tight. No noticeable difference compared to my Sixty-Two or my rental company’s SL3.
    Output Sound? Sounded great to my ears as I played selections from a wide range of genres.
    A noticeable difference from the Rane SL line DVS interfaces is that the Denon DS1 does not require an additional power supply to play-thru with vinyl records; it is completely powered by USB. All I had to do was put on a vinyl record, switch the deck input from REL to THRU in Serato DJ, and I was playing the vinyl record. Pretty cool; plus it saves the need to order, and carry around, an additional power supply.
  • Conclusion
    For Serato DJ users that only require the use of two turntables or CDJs for their performance, the Denon DS1 is a great, compact option! And at a price point of just under $300, that’s a great deal! If you need a DVS interface, buy this and throw it in your DJ bag.