Numark iDJ2 Review
The iDJ2 succeeds Numark’s highly successful entry-level iPod DJ mixer, the iDJ. Years in the making, this more expensive mixer boasts so many product improvements over its predecessor that it’s a completely different animal.
For a start, build quality. While iDJ was manufactured in fragile white plastic, this black and grey iteration boasts a metal body and tough plastic surfaces, along with robust well-engineered metal knobs and faders – this equipment is tough enough for a serious working environment. iDJ2 mixes and scratches MP3, WAV, and unprotected AAC files. Like its predecessor it’s fully-equipped with all the inputs and outputs any working DJ needs, as well as the single centrally-mounted iPod dock you get support for: headphone, a microphone and an array of inputs for CD players, turntables, even USB storage devices, which can be used as music libraries.
Pro DJs ignored iDJ because it lacked essential tools, such as pitch-shifting, beat-matching and true song mixing. Numark has listened to these criticisms and met them with its hugely souped-up iDJ2. It offers those previously missing features and lets you play and mix two tracks at once that are held on your iPod. The system also includes S-video out, so you can use it to send music videos to a video projector, though true VJ video mixing isn’t the focus of this system.
Track navigation has been hugely improved. Previously you navigated music using the iPod screen, now you use the large back-lit LCD screen that’s situated below the dock. This displays a plethora of information, including track data and wave forms. Used in conjunction with the included ‘Librarian’ software, you can search through your iPod (or USB device’s) music library by numerous categories, including genre, artist name – even BPM.
You need to run Librarian on your Mac or PC with your iPod attached before popping the player into this system. The software – which takes a while to run through your music collection – assembles information about what’s in your music player in a format that the iDJ2 can read, allowing for advanced search functions. You can use an iPod as a music source without doing this, but must navigate through your music manually, as search functions won’t work without Librarian.
Navigation isn’t simple – not through any inherent usability problem, but because of the complex nature of what the software does. It’s designed for DJs who already think like DJs: select tracks for your set, put them in the ‘Crate’ for playback, set up in-points, and decide just when to drop tracks in and when to cross-fade between channels. It takes some getting used to, but benefits such as the ability to scratch digital tracks, create loops from music in your library and change pitch mean that once you understand what’s happening you’ll find yourself suddenly equipped with all the tools working DJs employ.
You get pitch-shifting, which you can control to plus 25 and minus 100 per cent – this means songs that don’t naturally fit together in a selection can be tweaked for better results – selecting larger pitch ranges impose more extreme speed adjustments on the BPM of the track, great for special effects. Another outstanding feature here is iDJ2’s ability to automatically set tempo. You can cycle through a track, or scratch it, using the two large jog wheels on the system.
iDJ2 also lets you work with playlists you create on the system or beforehand on your computer. You can go through a selected playlist and send individual tracks to either channel (A or B) for playback. If you’re dealing with huge music collections or playing a genre-based set, this playlist support is extremely helpful.
Naturally, you can audition tracks as you create your mix, meaning you can easily achieve consistent volume levels using the volume fader, gain, bass, mid and treble controls. There’s also a Cue function, which lets pre-listen to mixes between tracks you have lined up.
Loops are easy to set up. A Loop In control lets you define a start point, Loop Out an end point, loops can play once or continuously as a rhythm background for another track, for example.
This machine is so feature-packed, that simply describing them would take up this page, some we haven’t looked at include: the capacity to record sets directly to the iPod, or any connected USB device, support for a USB computer keyboard for advanced controls and the capacity to connect up to three iPods to the system using a USB hub.
There’s also a line-in for a microphone, which combined with the record facility makes iDJ2 the ultimate podcast creation tool.
Where the iDJ over-simplified the notion of DJing, iDJ2 opens the doors for any DJ to go completely digital. Feature rich with excellent music playback, iDJ2 rewards those who learn its navigation system with the ultimate digital DJ kit. If you have any active interest in digital DJing, you need this.