Numark today officially announced the professional version of its iPod DJ mixer, the iDJ2.

As reported yesterday, the device now offers pitch control and the capacity to digitally scratch tracks in real-time that are held on an iPod.

The hotly anticipated new product is unlikely to reach retail until June at the earliest; digital DJs may even have to wait until August to get their hands on the device, the company said. Pricing hasn't yet been set.

iDJ to remain available

Numark will continue to sell the original iDJ, sources confirmed: "The iDJ2 has such advanced features for scratching and mixing that it's aimed at a different market. The iDJ2 is considered a separate product and not an improved version of the iDJ," they said.

Numark's UK representative explained: "We see the original iDJ as an ideal solution as part of a home audio or enthusiast's set-up, but we see the iDJ2 as a professional option for live events."

The facts behind the product

The new pro-iPod mixer uses a single iPod, and integrates technology that lets users play two songs at once from the music player.

Digital DJs will also be able to connect mass storage devices, such as additional iPods, Memory Sticks and USB hard drives using USB ports situated at the back of the unit. Additional connectivity options include line inputs for any audio source, including a microphone, CD player or vinyl turntable.

There's also a small LCD screen on the front of the mixing desk which offers waveform display and visual track-profiling. In use, you can also record your mixes directly to the iPod or any connected drive. Users can also use this feature to record loops for use during their set.

The device supports MP3, Ogg Vorbis, and AAC audio formats. It does not support iTunes-purchased songs which employ Apple's FairPlay digital rights management system.

DJ quality device

Numark CEO Jack O'Donnell said: "The release of iDJ2 has been highly anticipated by the DJ community, the media and our extensive global customer base. The iDJ2 is the perfect system for any iPod owner, music enthusiast and DJ looking for an all-in-one solution to playing and mixing their music library with ease."

As iPod DJ sessions become de rigueur in cities across the world, Mr O'Donnell added: "Numark is truly bringing the art of the DJ to the masses and breaking the boundaries between the professional DJ and home entertainment."

DJs welcome digital

The product debuts as professional DJs increasingly migrate to using portable computers and Ableton or Final Scratch during their live performances. Pete Tong, Sasha, Mindlobster and the Freelance Hellraiser have all admitted to migrating to digital tools for DJing - not without some resistance.

"People still don't get it that there's no difference between digital DJing and using vinyl," Freelance Hellraiser explained. "They seem to think that if you are using a PowerBook in your set the computer is making all the decisions. It's not the case. At the end of the day DJing is all about selection."

Most professional DJs enjoy solutions that allow them to carry thousands of tracks easily, particularly on the international circuit. The introduction of new tools that allow them professional mixing options using an iPod may attract high-profile converts and lend new life to the iPod DJ clubs.