A lot of home DJ gear gets a hard time in DJ circles, much of which is deserved because a lot of home DJ gear is rubbish. But Numark's latest incarnation of its IDJ console is really rather fantastic, delivering just about everything an amateur spinner could want.
You'll need an iPad, and preferably a pre-Lightning edition running iOS 6 for the best physical fit and features. It does work with the iPad 4 and iPad Mini but you'll need a Lightning-to-30-pin adaptor and you'll have to settle for a slightly less tidy docking connection.
Docked with a 30-pin iPad the IDJ Pro is a thing of beauty. It uses Algoriddim's djay app, which is a great start. djay is fine app in itself but the iPad alone isn't ideal for DJing. When docked with the IDJ Pro, the app can really spread its wings, and most importantly (although it might sound like a minor issue) it can now pump out a stereo master mix and a headphone monitor output at the same time. That alone gives it a huge advantage over rival iPad DJ systems.
how it works
Once you've downloaded the djay app (£6.99 from the App Store) and filled your iPad with funky tunes you're all ready to go. The app knows when it's hooked up to the IDJ and automatically switches from its standard iPad mode to IDJ mode, offering extra features and a bespoke interface. From here, control is via a combination of touchscreen input and the IDJ's hardware knobs and faders.
In use the IDJ Pro is pretty much flawless for this level of DJing. Its tempo syncing is about as accurate as any other, and although you might need to give one tune an occassional nudge to keep it in time, that's all part of DJing. There are plenty of effects to play with too. For example, each deck has its own filter knob: turn it left to roll it down to a bassy rumble or right to resonate your way into the higher frequencies.
Four more effects are available from an onscreen menu, linked to hardware controls on the panel. If that's not enough, you can play around with Kaoss Pad-style effects on the iPad's screen, choose from a bunch of one-touch effects (such as reverse spins) and even tap out your own beats on little drum pads.
More experienced DJs will say a big "Hello!" to the bass, mid-range and treble knobs which can boost or totally kill those frequencies on either deck. Even scratch mixers will find the platters and crossfader are up to the job.
If we may talk connections for just a moment, it's good to see (unusually) both a 3.5mm and 1/4in output for headphones, along with inputs for a microphone and an additional sound source, with balanced and unbalanced stereo main outputs. Your performances can be recorded externally or directly to the iPad by simply pushing the onscreen record button at any point.
While the IDJ Pro is ideal for amateurs, jobbing mobile jocks could still find it does all they need with a lot less hassle than other set-ups. It's hard not to love the IDJ Pro once you're in the groove. Laptop and controller combos can offer more, but for a neat one-box solution there's nothing to rival the IDJ Pro.
Review by Tony Horgan.