When Numark unveiled the first iDJ iPod mixer in 2005, the half-baked product required two iPods, and lacked many essential features. After three years back at the drawing board, Numark's iDJ2 ($599 retail, $499 street) finally makes good on the promise of a professional iPod DJ mixer.
Compared with the hodgepodge of laptops, CDJ decks, mixers, and retrofitted turntables today's digital DJs are saddled with, the iDJ2's biggest selling point may be the neatness of its all-in-one system. Numark has managed to fit a two-channel mixer, music library, and DJ control surface all into a space measuring 16-inches wide by 12-inches deep by 3-inches high (including knobs).
The face of the iDJ2 is where all the fun happens. The centerpiece of the system is a slightly angled 4.25-inch color screen used to select songs and view playback status. An adjustable iPod dock above the screen uses a deep well in an attempt to keep your iPod out of harm's way. To the right and left of the screen are an identical pair of mixer controls, including knobs, buttons, faders, and jog wheels.
Like most traditional DJ mixers, all of the Numark iDJ2's audio connections are on the top edge of the console, with the exception of headphone and microphone inputs, which are conveniently located on the edge facing you. The bottom and sides of the iDJ2 are bare.
Overall, we're impressed by the iDJ2's ergonomic layout and attractive onscreen user interface, however, the all-plastic construction does feel flimsy compared to traditional analog DJ mixers.
The Numark iDJ2's plastic design and iPod dock may attract a few chuckles from doubtful DJs, but its useful and professional features are nothing to laugh about.
With the iPod's accessory compatibility always in flux from year to year, Numark was smart to diversify the number of ways to get audio in and out of the iDJ2. Aside from plugging your iPod into the iDJ2's dock (Classic, Nano, and 5G iPods are supported), you can also load audio from a generic USB drive or route external audio through the dual-line and phono inputs located on the back. The iDJ2's outputs are also diversified, with balanced XLR and RCA outputs used for the main mix, a separate RCA-recording output, and an S-Video output for playing iPod video content on an external display.
Whether you're connected to an iPod or a USB drive (or both), all your MP3, WAV, or unprotected AAC music files get displayed on the iDJ2's prominent color screen. A decremented rubber knob beneath the screen lets you browse your music by track, album, artist, genre, BPM, year, playlist, or folder tree. Combined with a USB keyboard (not included), a search option allows you to quickly locate songs in your collection, making requests a breeze. Once you've found a track to play, you can transfer it to either of the two decks using the illuminated buttons below the screen.