If, like me, you think iPods are perfect for DJing in clubs and bars, then iDJ has just made life better. A few hours practice is all it takes to realise how useful this device is.
I took it to a DJ in a West End club to test it out. To connect to the house stack, we plugged it into the old and temperamental house mixer. Unexpectedly, this caused no sound quality problems. The warmth of tone and sound quality iDJ delivered was impressive. It really got the party started. Curious clubbers peered over the top of the DJ booth asking questions and making “Beam me up Scotty” wisecracks.
The iDJ is the same size as most small semi-pro mixers. It has useful neon-blue illuminated controls and twin-powered iPod Docks, which charge connected iPods and are controlled by iDJ’s large scroll wheel, volume, treble, mid, bass and gain controls and crossfader. Sound is drawn using the iPod’s dock connector, which makes sounds richer and warmer – much better than a headphone-connected iPod through any PA.
The cue switch moves between both channels and has a mix function so you can hear them both (the master mix) at once. It’s just a shame you can’t listen to the playing channel in one ear and the cueing channel in the other as pro mixers allow.
Numark assumed iDJ users would work in conventional DJ set-ups – working with unused turntables in front of you. So the iDJ has a hole on the bottom for the record deck spindle, which secures the unit.
It has a fader start button, which keeps an iPod paused until you push the crossfader across to its channel. This means you can select and cue a track on one iPod while the other is playing and makes transitions between songs smoother. Without iDJ you need to unpause the cued iPod while moving the fader across, and the pause isn’t always responsive. Start points in songs can be set using the giant scroll wheel, but iPods inherently don’t scroll songs accurately. You still can’t change pitch, but we hope Apple will add this in future.
iPods still can’t beatmatch, but Numark’s tasty tune-machine helps you use your ears to approximate. I had success dropping song intros into songs from one iPod while playing the song with another. We’ve managed to create some pretty good mixes – there’s a stereo record-out to record them.
The knobs and sliders seem as if they could fall off if roughly handled, so the iDJ may not be suitable for full-time use. Also, its functions are limited by the iPod’s own. Despite that, iDJ is easy to use with great sound and looks like it’s come off the USS Enterprise – I definitely want one. If you like DJing with your iPod, it’s the clear front-runner in a one-horse race.