Taking the iDJ2 Out On A Three Month Spin, Literally
Numark iDJ2 Hands On Review
I love new things: new music, new movies, new clothes. Whatever. Here in the city of Angels, I’ve rediscovered a love for something else – the house party.
Now, we’ve all been to those lame house “gatherings” that some dare to call a “party.” Events where you are more likely to hear Barry Manilow than Barry White. I sure have. After hitting up numerous parties with both good and bad booze, cool roof-top spots and run down shanties, early evenings and late nights, chips+salsa and escargot, I’ve come to the conclusion that what divides the progressive dinners from the 4 a.m. cop-busters is the music.
Now, since we here at Gear Patrol are men who don’t settle for average, I’m not even going to suggest making a swell playlist for your next function. I’m going to bring us up a notch to what I like to call the in-house DJ. Sure, you can look into hiring someone and burn money on some guy who has tons of gear, doesn’t know any of your guests, and essentially plays a fine mix of crap OR you can spin the tunes yourself, impress the ladies, control the party, and rock the best tunes for your guests.
With a pair of speakers, an outlet, and a lock stock & smoking iPod, you’re golden.
The entire unit is a one piece system with separate A/B sides to run songs simultaneously, directly from your iPod. You can use the cue mode to ready a song in your headphones or “audition” a song while your party hears another song entirely. Stutter songs and reset them to a predetermined spot without missing a beat, or simply use the two scratch wheels, cross faders, pitch control, loop control, and an on-board EQ to author your soundtrack to the night.
Over the past few months, I’ve used the iDJ2 for two 300+ guest weddings, a 400+ reveler New Year’s Eve bash, and a variety of house parties. Long story short: it’s worked brilliantly.
People danced; I danced. The world was good.
I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical about the amount of power the iDJ2 could pump out, given its mass-appeal design, but paired with some quality amps the iDJ2 absolutely rocked out.
Unsurprisingly, the genius of the iDJ2 is the use of your iPod library. The included software comes loaded on a USB drive for easy on-the-go installation. Dubbed the iDJ2 Mobile Workstation, you can create a library of your songs for more streamlined access from the iDJ2. Upfront, it took nearly 8 hours of setup for my triple-digit gigabyte library, but after that it’s essentially plug and play. This is a claim that many models can’t even touch.
The unit itself is beautiful. All the keys feature blue backlighting, and the full-color screen is tack sharp. There is a key lock function that allows you to pitch bend a song (speed it up or slow it down) without messing with the actual key of the song, most definitely not a common function in this price point. Awesome. The iDJ2 also uses a function called Beatkeeper, a system that displays the beats visually so you can scratch and bend to sync song’s tempo. Perfect for you visually inclined soundcrafters. Another noteworth feature is the Crate. With the Crate, you can choose songs or entire playlists and send them to your “crate”. When you play songs from your crate they disappear from the list, ensuring you don’t look like a novice by repeating songs. Yes, the iDJ2 will make you look like a world-class, (um house-class) DJ.
After procuring the iDJ2, Numark also offered to send Gear Patrol their travel case which included a USB keyboard. The keyboard allows the DJ to search even faster than by using the toggle wheel on the face of the unit (a welcome feature). The travel case itself held up well on my varying flights to hosted events. The only apparent feature hiccup came when the ball bearings that glide the keyboard tray somehow managed to break formation and disappear into the nooks and crannies of my apartment, car, and event locations.
All this goes to say that I taxed the iDJ2; I used it and used it well. Not once did the unit ever freeze, skip, or miss. When I had the power maxed, there was a little delay in the function buttons, but given the the unit was pushed beyond its normal operating conditions, its a slight functional error that’s understandable at the $500 price point.
Like all good things – there are a few issues you might find annoying. For instance, the iDJ2 doesn’t support songs you’ve purchased from the iTunes music store (you aspiring DJ’s will most likely not care since you’re going to be running higher bitrate tracks or rips of your vinyl). Otherwise, I had to rely on burning my songs to a CD and re-ripping them back into my library, a pain. Another issue advanced DJ’s will find is the lack of waveform representation found in other digital DJ equipment. Waveforms make looping and scratching much easier, and the absence of this feature was felt. After all, DJ’ing (like other parts of your life) is all about control, but I do wish I could line up a few songs to play, like a more advanced version of Apple’s Genius Playlist maker. This might be a “have my cake and eat it too” problem, but there’s no reason I can’t ask for it.
Now, I should be clear. I’m not a pro DJ, but I am someone who has an unrelenting passion for music, even more for enjoying a club powered by a good DJ. So for me, the ability to quickly sort songs and play them with seamless integration is absolutely amazing, and the iDJ2 offers this ability in spades. It’s equipped with all the tools you need (and then some) to craft an incredible night of music, and to do so with ease.
So you men (or women) who care about the music, try this: the next party you have, look at grabbing an iDJ2, renting a few speakers, an amp, and prepare yourself to do it again. Why? Because there’s nothing like the realization that DJ [insert your name here] has everyone in a groove, dancing, and drinking. After all, everyone likes a man who’s got things in control.