REVIEW: Numark iDJ Pro iPad DJ Controller


EQs and Filter

Numark IDJ Pro iOS iPad DJ Controller (18)

Another compromise of the embedded iPad is the location of the EQs. Normally you’d get 4 knobs in a nice vertical row just above the line faders, but these have been moved to the top of the iDJ Pro. And for some reason, the gain controls have been totally left off.

Some people incorrectly use gain as a volume control. It’s not for that at all, and that’s what the big volume knobs are for. But instead of removing the functionality completely, it has been implemented in both an automatic and manual way. When you load up a track, djay analyses for BPM and levels, and if you want to, djay will automatically adjust the gain so that all your tracks are more or less at the same level. You can also manually adjust gain by swiping on the iPad’s meters – there’s a tiny gain control in there too.

Numark IDJ Pro iOS iPad DJ Controller (17)

Obviously the whole issue of audio is rather more complex than a simple auto gain control, but it’s a good start, especially for those looking for an undoubtedly less complex and more automatic experience.

Those volume knobs

Numark IDJ Pro iOS iPad DJ Controller (16)

As mentioned previously, due to space concerns, the iPad has seen the channel faders unceremoniously ditched. But there still needs to be volume control, so Numark have come up with a radical solution. Rather than cram a tiny fader into am awkward space, they made a full on feature out of a rotary volume control. They’re large, smooth and well illuminated. In use, you understand why mix purists swear by rotary controls.

It is a brave move, and I’m absolutely certain that the Numark R&D guys pushed around every possible Tetris-like permutation of controls to try to shoehorn proper faders in. But they do work, but you’ll just need to watch that you don’t knock them in use.

Loops

Djay offers BPM based auto-looping, that allows you to define loops up to 32 beats down to 1/16th beats, and be able to double and half as necessary with hardware controls. What I do like is the shift-enabled loop (or bounce as Algoriddim call it) roll. The loops aren’t saved however so this is very much an immediate on the fly feature. This is pretty standard fodder these days, but still really well implemented.

Hot Cues

Numark IDJ Pro iOS iPad DJ Controller (15)

In line with djay, the Numark iDJ Pro offers 3 hot cues. Yeah I know this is peanuts compared to the likes of Traktor, but for the likely buyer of the iDJ Pro, it’s ample. It’s a simple press to define/shift press to delete, and the buttons are highly responsive and accurate too – perhaps a little too responsive as I found double hits cropping into my faster performances.

One small issue – if you have doubles loaded, cues you set on one deck don’t carry across to the other. They get saved to the audio file on the fly,

Effects

Numark IDJ Pro iOS iPad DJ Controller (14)

These fall into 2 main categories – temporary and permanent. The temporary effects are beautifully handled on the iPad, and legitimises the whole reason for embedded it into the unit. They are however pre-fader, but I didn’t expect anything different.


This isn’t any different to how djay already handles them – you get an XY pad that applies a hi/low pass filter, and one of 5 effects: Flanger, Phaser, Bit Crusher, Gate and Echo. Where you move your finger to depends on the amount of hi or low pass and the single parameter for the effect.

There are also what are known as Instant FX. Each does a specific and cool things based on the track’s BPM:

Absorb: BPM echo and low pass filter fade in and out
Drift: As above but with hi pass
Sway: 16 beat flanger
Crush: A consistent crush effect
Punch: a 1/8th loop + spindown+fadeout – music continues a la slip mode.
Twist: 1/8th beat echo plus reverse, again with slip mode.

The last 2 do switch off the loop you have running so be warned. There’s a lot of fun to be had using instant effects like drum pads. But be careful with punch – I found a bug that often makes the track restart if you hammer it repeatedly.

The permanent effects are the same as the XY but without the filter. They’re switched on and off with a button, and have an associated single parameter knob. Djay does a remarkable jobs of allowing you to combine the pad fx with the channel effects and still not choke.

The effects are however basic and of a decent enough quality to keep people happy. You cannot however apply effects to the mic or aux channel, but only because they don’t tun through the iPad. But overall, I’m very happy with the effects implementation.

Ins and Outs

Numark IDJ Pro iOS iPad DJ Controller (11)

As you might expect, the ins and outs were never going to look like the back of an Allen & Heath mixer. But you get enough to serve the basic needs of DJs. From an input perspective, the iDJ Pro offers a mic input with volume control as well as an RCA line level input with volume control. But as mentioned previously, you can’t apply effects or EQ to these channels.

The very useful part about these inputs is that they bypass the iPad completely. So in the extremely rare event of your iPad crashing, or perhaps in the more likely event of wanting to swap iPads, then you can still talk through the iDJ Pro, and plug in an external device to play through as well.

The outputs are simple enough too. There’s balanced XLRs, unbalanced RCAs plus the usual 1/4″ and mini jack headphone ports with volume and cue/master. One related note here is the ability of djay to record your sets internally, eliminating the need to have an external aux for recording.

All rather unremarkable, and does what it’s supposed to. I’m not bothered about the lack of booth on this as I doubt the iDJ will ever venture inside one, although Numark have intimated that this unit is turning the heads of some VIPs. We’ll just have to wait and see on that one.

The Enclosure

Numark IDJ Pro iOS iPad DJ Controller (10)

The iPad is the pounding heart of the iDJ Pro, thus it needs to be embedded neatly inside it. And it does that perfectly, albeit with home button at the top so that the 30 pin connector is just a short cable. The problem is that you’re stuck with it  inside whether you like it or not. There’s no way for it to sit upright like a laptop screen as the connector just doesn’t stretch that far.

Numark IDJ Pro iOS iPad DJ Controller (9)

Obviously, one of the biggest issues surrounding build a unit around any Apple unit is Apple’s natural product evolution. Thankfully the iPad’s changes have been minor enough to build into the iDJ Pro, so that some Velcro pads take up the slack in size difference between the generations. And as long as the iPad gets no bigger, then this unit should be compatible for a good while into the future.

And of course, Apple have just released the iPhone 5 with the new Lightning plug, which of course means that the next iPad and all mobile devices will come with it too. Fear not, because Numark have made sure that the back door of iDJ Pro will stay open to accommodate any adaptors that Apple might release.

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  • DJ SPARK

    I’m waiting for the next generation of Ipad thing : hook any controller with integrated soundcard into an app that don’t need to mimic the hardware under my fingers. Just a GUI with collection and a good software…
    For now there isn’t many serious offer on this side.

    • http://www.mobiledjforums.com/ GroovinDJ

      I agree it would be nice to see an app that had a configurable display, so that when connected to a controller it could just be one huge music library browser.
      You don’t need decks and a mixer on screen when you’ve got the hardware.

      • Gábor

        … and this is what you can do with the upcoming version of DJ PLAYER.

        • http://www.facebook.com/darren.solomon.98 Darren Solomon

          Not if you like being limited to the ipads onboard small storage space for your music. Gabor, fix that and then call me!

          • Gábor

            We have no control over that you know yourself. :-)

            For most DJs the many thousands of tracks on a 64 GB model is more than enough. I understand if somebody uses a larger library (like wedding DJs), but that’s the minority.

            • http://www.mobiledjforums.com/ GroovinDJ

              Where are you getting this information that “most DJs” use under 64GB of songs, and larger libraries are “the minority”?
              My view is that a very large number of DJs (of all types) now use computers, with music libraries much larger than 64GB.
              Wedding DJs – and mobile DJs in general – are not a minority. There are probably many more mobile/wedding DJs than club DJs, because DJs of all ages are doing it, and because the % of people having parties for birthdays, weddings etc. is higher than the % of people who go clubbing.

              • Gábor

                We are running a company developing DJ gear and platform, and make a living from that. Certainly we always monitor the market, the DJs, their habits, etc..

                • WATTS

                  There is now a 128GB ipad so that should be more than enough storage space for most people.

                  Unfortunately Apple just released their slimmer iPad 5 so although it will still fit, it may have some tiny space on the left and right of the idj pro.
                  Not verified myself for sure but would love to know.

  • Shishdisma

    Isn’t it interesting how the previous (Or next previous?) iDJ unit was a standalone player, but now we have a controller with iPad support? I just can’t see the advantage of a unit + iPad over a purely integrated standalone unit. I guess only time will tell how this stacks up against guns-out standalones like that XDJ thing. I expect a full shootout article!

    • pete

      had the XDJ-Aero for review last Month, its tons more of a beast than the numark

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  • http://twitter.com/Djscottfrost Scott Frost

    I’m curious to know when the iPad 4 comes out, will this unit be useless due to the new dock connector? Or does it connect wireless?

    • http://djworx.com/ Mark Settle

      As I said the review, Apple are releasing adaptors and the back door stays open making it all fit just fine.

      • Louis

        Seems a shame that the back has to stay open to fit the adapter. Will wait for the refresh model next year now. As would rather have the whole unit closed than hanging open to house a £30 accessory

  • The_KLH

    No “nextlevelness” here? This seems to be a proof-of-concept sold as a version one product. I dunno. Is there anything that’s better than using a laptop or no computer?

    -KLH

  • Dj BAM

    There are down falls to this unit. The major one is the lack of storage the ipad holds. The one positive thing I can say is it is user friendly, ipad app has its issues that normal computer base controllers don’t have. all in all I would say if I had a ipad and a way to maximize storage and wanted to do small get togethers this is the unit to use. I love the rotatory knobs for mixing.

    • http://techjitsu.wordpress.com Atypical Blackman

      I really wish people would STOP the whole ‘storage’ moan and recognize the silliness of the argument. I have 40GB of music on my iPad right now; that is exactly 6,254 songs with a running time of 16 days, 5 hours and 29 minutes. I have everything I need for the football after-party I am doing Sunday night and the wedding I am doing the week after that. I also have everything I need for the two different mixtapes I am working on [lounge & hip-hop] with no less than 300 tracks in EACH genre to select from during the curation period. I am thoroughly prepared to rock any surprise event that should happen in the next 24hrs, but I can always switch it up to to transport music from my laptop should the need arise…

      • http://djworx.com/ Mark Settle

        I’m with you on this. I used to have to prepare crates, numbering no more than the hundreds. Now tens of thousands aren’t enough for some. I think people are going to have to wait a few years for 1Tb iPads.

        • http://www.mobiledjforums.com/ GroovinDJ

          It may be OK for DJs who play to a narrow age range of people or only one genre of music – club DJs etc – but when you’re playing general family parties and weddings the age range is much wider and the musical tastes varied. You need to cover maybe 6 decades of music and dozens of genres, and have enough tracks to give you a choice, to play a few in each “decade genre” and to meet requests. 6000 songs over 6 decades, that’s 1000 per decade so 100 songs per year. About 2 per week. How many songs come out each week? How many new entries are there in the chart each week?
          Break it down further into genres and you get even less of each. Let’s keep it simple and say there are only 5 genres. So that’s 20- songs per year from each genre. Say someone wants 80s rock. Could you do that gig with 20 songs? Yes, armed with prior knowledge you could strip down your iPad and only load up 80s music, but then what if they get tired of 80s and want you to play new stuff?

          • http://djworx.com/ Mark Settle

            Even though a 64Gb iPod can comfortably store say 16K tracks, I get that for some people, the iDJ Pro might not offer enough storage. I’m pretty sure though that the majority of potential users in the market for a £300 controller will not have the requirement to have every track made or ever will be made at their fingertips.

            The irony is that those DJs out playing private parties are most likely playing the same say 200 tracks, and the need to fulfil the just in case scenario is few and far between.

            It’s also worth bearing in mind that with djay’s links to the iTunes store, you could almost certainly download a request on the fly, especially if you have a 3G iPad.

            • http://www.mobiledjforums.com/ GroovinDJ

              Oh yeah of course there are the old Dave Doubledex cheesy DJs who play the same tunes at every gig, and for those guys it’s fine. Even the rack mount SD card players would suit. But we’re not all like that, and IMO in this day & age when even the punters have 1000s of tracks on their phones and MP3 players, it doesn’t go down well when they thrust the phone in your face and you have to admit that you don’t have it! I’ve got a 30th tonight where I had a list given to me & found I didn’t have a bunch of tracks. Another one in November where the guy is into rock, I found I didn’t have one of his fave artists, & only one song from another. And this from a 250GB collection built from over 30yrs of DJing.

          • http://techjitsu.wordpress.com Atypical Blackman

            You are bound and determined to say ‘not enough'; fine- the iDJ Pro is NOT FOR YOU. I have been DJing weddings, mitzvahs and corporate events for 20 years and I am more than satisfied with the iDJ Pro. Save your elite DJ moaning/bragging for people that are awed by your Dj version of a hipster. You don’t have to buy it, so why keep complaining about it?! If you are so afraid that you are going to miss having EVERY POSSIBLE SONG someone could request, then bring your laptop and a 2TB drive. Otherwise, get over it…

            • http://www.mobiledjforums.com/ GroovinDJ

              You misunderstand. I’m not “complaining” about the IDJ Pro.

  • http://www.facebook.com/korji.liddicut Korji Liddicut

    If the iDJ pro could connect to a computer I think that it would be good to use Touch OSC as a four channel mixer on the iPad so that you could have a four channel controller with a digital mixer screen in the middle.
    And maybe you could use the EQ knobs as the FX knobs instead…

  • Jameskelly

    I checked out the IDJ Pro along with the Vestax Spin 2 and Pioneer XDJ Aero at BPM this weekend. It left me thinking that we are heading for post-laptop era in DJ’ing pretty soon. I wrote an article about it on my blog, any thoughts would be much appreciated.

    http://minimaljames.wordpress.com/2012/10/08/ipad-dj-and-the-post-laptop-era-of-djing-thoughts-from-bpm-2012/

  • lexluminati

    They messed up by not having external harddrive support!! thats just DJing industry standard!!!

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  • http://www.facebook.com/kermie.j.rock Kermie J Rock

    It takes $9.99 to go and buy a chord from Best Buy to also use your laptop on your aux connection on the front of your IDJ Pro. I am killing the competition out here. I keep all of my new, relevant, clean, versions on my IPAD, while everything else is on my laptop. Where there is a will, there is a way. It is our duty to rock the house. Let’s get it DJ’s. Less excuses, more results!!! Hoorah!

    • Jason Hizer

      Yo, Kermie J! Please help! What is that Best Buy cord you’re talking about? I’ve been searching the internet and your mention here is the closest explanation I’ve found! I just can’t seem to find any details anywhere! P.S. Hope you’re still taking no shorts and mopping up the competition. Peace!

    • DJ Ecute

      bro wat the chord name so I can use my computer to dj through it ..I cant find a right chord to connet to my computer since I don’t hav the ipad yet to use

  • redjohn

    All you bozos talking about storage on the iPad
    Make a wise selection for the party you are Hosting and get a iPod Classic for requests. The IDJPRO has AUX inputs that allow youth connect any iPOD or iPhone or even a laptop, So cut the bullshit this is the future.
    The era of the Laptop is over and CDJ should have been gone along time ago.