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First look: Denon DN-S3700 Media Player
Reviewer: Gizmo • Date: January 2009 • Price: $899 MAP • Link: Denon

Introduction

Denon DN-S3700 review

Denon have been the perpetual 2nd place in the CD player market. Pioneer got in first with a killer product and the rest is history. But Denon have had enough, and their recent product range aims to leapfrog the CDJ offerings and put themselves very firmly at the top of the DJ shopping list.

The new DN-S3700 is aimed squarely at the potential CDJ buyer and current user, offering new features that the larger CDJs just don't have, such as USB, MIDI and a real platter. And this it does in large amounts.

First Impressions

Denon DN-S3700 review

Shiny, cleaner and streamlined. The Denon interface has been a little messy in the past, the the DN-S3700 rationalises stylings with a cool metallic black finish and sharp lines that is echoed in the controls as well. Even small touches like using the house font makes a difference. Not sure about the Silver body panels though. I'd bust out a can of car paint.

While making changes to the look and finish, the overall feel is still Denon. Controls are placed as other decks so that users can shift up without problem.

For CDJ buyers, the 3700 has the same footprint, so the investment in cases or booth fittings is safe. Nice move Denon.

The Platter

Denon DN-S3700 review

While the 7" platter is standard in the CD plater market, there has been a repeated call for something a little larger. Indeed, the fake DN-S8000 came complete with large platter than had Denon fans soiling themselves with glee. Well the dream is now real, with a 9" direct drive platter resplendent with real vinyl and real slipmats, all of which can be replaced with ones of you own if you wish.

Denon DN-S3700 Review

The platter runs at 33 or 45 and has a solid start-up torque of 2.5Kg - plenty for the small platter. With my own slipmat fitted, I was able to pull off all my current techniques with just a smidgeon of practice. And this is the first CD deck outside of 12" models that I can actually juggle on.

Bold statement that needs to be heeded ahoy: The Denon DNS-3700 craps all over the CDJ clunky old static jog wheel from a great height. If feel is a key factor for you, the DN-S3700 reigns supreme by a huge margin over the CDJ roost.

Display

Denon DN-S3700 review

Denon have learned that tilting the display makes for a much improved user experience. So like the 5500 before it, the 3700 is much more legible.

Denon DN-S3700 review

This is where the DN-S3700 ventures into Pioneer territory. New to this Denon is waveform display. This is created in the new version of Denon Music Manager and stored in the database. Real waveforms for the entire track are compressed to fit in the screen, and any loop and hot cue information is shown against the progress bar. The screen also shows CD TEXT and importantly ID3 tags on a line that can be scrolled to see artist, title, album, genre and BPM.

Formats

Denon DN-S3700 review

As you might expect from a single player, the DN-S3700 can read regular audio and MP3 disks as well as CD TEXT and ID3 tags. USB devices can also be used, from iPods and USB keys up to full mass storage class hard drives. And while some people might think this isn't enough, 50,000 tracks can be used. Important note - no hub support so only 1 USB device at a time.

Denon Dn-S3700 review

You can also organise your music in playlists, which are accessed via its own button, rather than having to navigate through screens. A nice touch.

Cues and loops

Denon dns3700 review

I'm very pleased with the improvements in hot cues. Instead of having to navigate menus, press button x while facing north and standing on one foot, cue assignment is as easy as pressing a button to define, and pressing another to clear. Clean and simple.

Denon Dn-S3700 review

The DN-S3700 also doubles up on the hot cues with auto looping. Assuming that the BPM is correct, pressing auto and the the loop start automagically loops at that point and the measure can be defined with the wet/dry control from 1/8 to 64. The buttons even change colour depending on whether loops or cues are defines. You also get the regular separate loop control as well.

There's also a new "breakpoint" feature. In the absence of a manual, it seems to be the option to define the break in the track on the wave form in 16, 32 or 64 beat measure and have it display on the 3700 screen.

Effects

Denon dns3700 review

Denon like effects and have included a handful to keep you happy. Essentially these are echo (which with full wet/dry becomes echo loop), flanger and filter, which is split into hi, mid and lo band pass. The effects are BPM linked and as mentioned, have a full wet/dry control.

The BPM can be measured inside the 3700, or the preferred method is to use the Denon Music Manager to handle all the donkey work of music management (funnily enough). But the BPM can also be overridden on the 3700 is you want to achieve something different.

MIDI

Denon DNS3700 review

Like the other Denon decks, MIDI is now a standard feature. In the short time I've had the 3700, I've not had a chance to mess with MIDI, but I have no reason to expect solid performance with the likes of Traktor and other MIDI software.

Summing Up

Denon dns3700 review

Please forgive the brevity of this feature. It's not intended to be a review as such, but just to give you an insight into the good stuff and what my first impressions are. In this respect, some features haven't been covered at all. You can take it as a given that if you ask, it's probably there.

Let's be straight about this - the DN-S3700 is a full on assault on the Pioneer CDJ range, for this old hack, it wins hands down. The platter alone would be enough for many DJs, but the enhanced loops and cues, USB support, database and ID3 tags with wave forms and MIDI makes the DN-S3700 a clear leader in the single CD deck market. When you factor in the size - designed to fill the same space that a CDJ takes - swapping out CDJs for a Denon is a no-brainer now.

Denon DNs-3700 review

Could this be any better? Well yes it could. If you were shopping for a CDJ-1000 right now, you'd be relieved of the best part of $1.5k at MAP (including Pioneer tax). A single DN-S3700 has a map of $899 (just $100 more than a CDJ-800). Your wallet will love you, and in my humble opinion, you get a vastly superior product.

For how long though is another question. The CDJ-400 has nextlevelness in scoops, so it's quite clear that Pioneer will shoehorn the same technology and then some into their bigger CDJs at some point. But if you're in the market for a vinyl emulating single CD deck stuffed full of all the latest hotness, the Denon DN-S3700 is the only one to consider at this moment in time.

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