Numark's iDJ missing key feature
If you've seen a picture of the enticing Numark iDJ Mixing Console for iPod in XLR8R magazine or run across it on a blog, you're probably as excited about it as we were--at least until we got one in for testing. The Numark iDJ shows promise as a high-quality two-channel DJ mixer with two built-in docks designed for any Apple iPod with a dock connector (cradle adapters included). The white-and-silver design with glowing blue LEDs is decidedly elegant and cool, and the mixer's features--three-band EQ knobs per channel, RCA and phono line-in capability, and a mic jack--make this compact mixer a treat for any iPod-lugging DJ who's imagined playing a set with two totally integrated iPods in style.
The $249 mixer measures 11.5 inches wide, 11 inches deep, and 2.5 inches tall, including all protruding knobs. It features big controller buttons, such as a 2-inch-diameter rubberized circular wheel for navigating the iPod. In fact, you never need to touch your iPod while you're rocking out and scanning for the next track. Your iPods--yes, you get two to make it worth it--charge while docked, and the mixer has thoughtful conveniences such as a record-out, S-Video-out for owners of the fifth-generation iPod as well as the iPod Photo (the Numark iDJ could conceivably let you show off photos and video via a projector during your set), and USB 2.0 ports on either channel so that you can sync your pods with iTunes. The crossfader and line faders are smooth and precise, and you can switch on the Fader Start feature that starts an iPod as soon as you hit the crossfader. The front of the unit includes 1/4- and 1/8-inch headphone jacks as well as a mic-in with mic gain and tone.
Now here's the crummy part. You enter the DJ booth with your dueling iPods and dock them, ready to mix, right? Wrong, unless your idea of mixing is pull the crossfader from channel A to B. There is no pitch control, which would require a bit more technological magic; thus, you can't match beats to create seamless mixes--a feature that would turn the iPod DJ thing on its head. The existing interface would be ideal if there were a slider-style pitch control for either channel, which might also require some additional iPod software. Granted, the Numark iDJ is a blast to to play with (we don't want to send our review unit back), and the iDJ will look dope in your studio or fitting at the local hair salon, but remember that iTunes can do pretty much the same thing.
The mixer's saving grace is the fact that it includes grounding points, so it can be used with turntables. But if you're looking for pitch control, we recommend holding out for a future model.