Denon DJ MCX8000 - Getting Rid of Freezing, Distortion, Dropouts and other Performance Issues

The Denon DJ MCX8000 is a performance beast, but that doesn't mean it can compensate for problems in your computer, USB drives or other gear.

If you haven't taken every step to prepare your system for DJ performance, chances are you'll run into issues like freezing, distortion, drop-outs and latency. These are symptoms specific to each user's setup and could indicate anything from out-of-date software, missing updates or even just a bad cable. More often than not it's a case of poor computer performance, drive formatting, other faulty equipment, and of course, user error.

There's a good chance there are a few simple steps you can take to optimize your system and squash all of these problems. Every professional DJ and audio engineer will keep an eye on these steps every day to ensure every piece of their system is running at top notch.

Before we begin, the purpose of this article is not to completely diagnose every issue, but to assist each user in recognizing and evaluating the source of their problem. There are two things we want to avoid:

  • Convincing users with a minor issue that they have a major issue
  • Dismissing users with a major issue that their problem is minor

To help you better diagnose and potentially resolve the issue, this article contains a series of buckets, each containing symptoms, problem descriptions, and of course, solutions and other advice. 

 

Buckets

  1. Does your computer meet the required specifications?
  2. Faulty cables, speakers, headphones, or other equipment
  3. Computer and USB drive optimization
  4. Out of date Engine software, drivers or firmware
  5. Faulty, worn-down or mismanaged USB hard drives
  6. Further Technical Support

 

 

Does your computer meet the required specifications?

Helps with: Freezing, Drop-outs, Serato crashing

Before using any computer-based piece of equipment (i.e. the MCX800 with Serato), it's paramount to make sure that your system can handle its portion of the job. Sometimes it may not be immediately clear if the problem is based on hardware issues or computer performance, which is why it's important to review this first.

While it's easy to assume that most MCX8000 owners have done their due diligence and researched this before purchasing the product, it doesn't hurt to double-check. 

  1. Check MCX8000 compatibility with your system - MCX8000 Product Page
  2. Check that Serato is fully up-to-date and compatible with your system - Serato Download Page and Serato Compatibility Chart

Take note that Serato is a little pickier about the processor type than the MCX8000. If these specs have not been met or exceeded, Serato will not run properly and the MCX8000 will not perform properly. For instance, AMD processors found in some Windows computers can cause performance issues with Serato:

If you're having trouble, especially with freezing or Serato crashing, please make sure that you have completed these steps and verified your system is compatible before moving on. 

 

 

Faulty cables, speakers, headphones, or other equipment

Helps with: Distortion, Noise, Drop-outs, Poor audio quality

The main goal in troubleshooting is to find the source of the problem by ruling out other factors. Just like any experiment from high school science class, this means changing one independent variable at a time until a change in behavior is observed, i.e. the problem stops. This could not be truer when it comes to troubleshooting an audio signal.

Bad cables, speakers and headphones can have a very unique sound, causing interference, drop-outs, distortion, noise, and everything in between. The good news is that with the exception of failing cables, these factors are usually very consistent and don't take a lot of time to re-create. For instance, a noisy speaker will likely always be noisy or buzz when receiving certain frequencies. It's unlikely this will come and go, which means it will be easy to notice when it disappears.

So in order to rule them out as the problem, you'll need to try swapping them out. This includes trying different:

  1. USB cables and different USB ports on your computer - Note that the MCX8000 and even Serato will work best with USB 2.0 ports. Check out the guide here for more info. 
  2. Headphones, speakers or amplifiers - This could include different inputs on your speaker or amplifier as well.
  3. Speaker cables - Use balanced XLR cables for Monitor and Booth outputs for the best protection against external noise and interference.
  4. Computer - You can also test if you have the same problems in standalone while using Engine.

If you DJ at different clubs or parties regularly and find yourself working with different systems, you may have already done all of this. You likely will have noticed that the issue will exist in one location and not another, indicating that the problem is somewhere in the particular system and not your MCX8000. 

 

 

Computer, MCX8000 and USB drive optimization

Helps with: Freezing, Distortion and Noise, Latency

This is the most obvious, but the least understood. It's easy to get wrapped up in the high performance specs of a brand new laptop with top of the line processing and RAM. But, don't forget that a brand new MacBook is also filled with extra software and features that are built to make the average user feel like a computer whiz. But you're not an average user and all of this extra "stuff" will just get in your way if not addressed.

Just like you wouldn't take a brand new Jeep off-road without a few modifications, you don't want to gig with a brand new laptop or hard drive without preparation.

If you have not taken every step to optimize your computer and hard drives solely for DJ performance (up to and including a clean install of the OS and reformatting hard drives), than you'll need to do this before your system will be truly ready to perform with the MCX8000. We've picked out a few choice guides and articles that will cover virtually every step:

Windows:

Mac OS X:

There are also a few caveats worth mentioning:

  • If you've ever updated your computer with a backup software like Apple's Migration Assistant, your content may not be as stable as you think. It's certainly faster and easier, but not more reliable than the slower alternatives. 

    If you truly want to optimize your system, you'll want to backup your important content manually and do a clean install of your operating system.
     
  • If your computer was built outside of a standard manufacturer like Apple, Dell, HP, etc. it may be filled with tons of great components and features but this will inevitably mean it will require more hands-on attention to updates and compatibility. Every component in your computer will require certain updates to continue working properly. Especially with any Windows PC, those manufacturers know exactly what's in every model and can pre-package installations to make it easier for you to stay up-to-date.

    If your computer was hand-built by your friend, you'll need to stay on-top of the latest updates for things like your BIOS and USB-chipset to make sure that your MCX8000 will be able to continue communicating properly with Serato. 

    The same idea holds true for "Hackintosh" computers, i.e. a PC running a Mac OS, or vice versa. These frankenstein systems may be cheaper, but they require far more attention and will not run like the real thing.

If you fall into any of these categories, test your MCX8000 with a different computer or in standalone before moving forward.

 

 

Out of date Engine software, drivers, or firmware

Helps with: Freezing, Drop-outs

Make sure that you have installed and re-installed the latest versions of Engine and the MCX800 drivers (Windows only). If you're not working with the latest software or drivers, you may be experiencing problems that have already been resolved. Download the latest Engine software and drivers from the product page:

Keep in mind, the MCX8000 is class-compliant for Mac operating systems, meaning that it's using drivers provided by the operating system. If you're questioning MCX drivers and using a Mac, you'll need to revisit the system performance and optimization guides above.

Finally, check your current firmware version. You do not want to reinstall the same firmware, but you will want to update to the latest version if you have not already. 

To check the firmware:

  1. Press and hold the VIEW button until you're in the UTILITY menu
  2. Scroll down until you see MCU version. This is your current firmware version.

Download the latest firmware version from the product page and follow the included instructions very carefully to update the firmware on your MCX800. Only attempt to install the firmware if you are not already on the latest firmware version!

 

 

Faulty, worn-down or mismanaged USB hard drives

Helps with: Freezing, Distortion, Latency

This was mentioned earlier in the article, but it's so important that it's worth mentioning again!

Misunderstanding file management with certain file systems is a common reason why users may experience delays, slow-response or freezing on the MCX8000, especially when switching over to Engine or with Engine in standalone. Just like working with your computer, every step needs to be taken to ensure that the USB drive is operating at the top of its game, otherwise, performance will suffer. This means doing more than just deleting and re-installing the database every now and then.

FAT32 is the most popular drive format to use with the MCX8000 and when used properly, you will never experience issues with freezing or delays. The most important fact to remember about FAT32 is that over time it will not handle simply loading and re-loading files very well. The format retains its file structures on the back-end, even if you have deleted every file off of the drive. This means that data from the file is retained on the drive, even if you don't see it, causing the information to pile up and bog down the system.

If you're seeing slow performance from a drive, even if there are only a few files, this is likely the problem. 

Luckily, this usually just means that it's time to reformat the drive and re-load the database. Our guide below will go through everything from reformatting the drives, choosing the right file types for use with Engine and the MCX8000, and creating a database in Engine:

If you continue to have trouble with freezing, try a different USB drive. Most DJs will have multiple backup drives available just in case one of them fails (and they will fail!). As long as your songs are in the required format, your database is fresh, and your drive is stable and formatted correctly, you won't experience issues with freezing. 

 

 

Further Technical Support

This guide is not intended to undermine user's that are having serious issues related to hardware failure from the MCX8000 or something unique to their system. Cases are rare, but they can happen and we want to help. 

If you've been through every step in this guide and have not found anything to explain the experience or resolve the problem, it's probably time to talk wth someone one-on-one. Please contact our support team if you need further assistance:

Remember, the first thing our support team will do is check that you've completed each one of these steps. Please make sure to go through these beforehand so the process can run smoothly and come to a faster resolution.