Recent times have seen me playing the reviewer version of Snakes and Ladders. It wasn’t so long ago that I was mingling amongst the highest echelons of Numark’s product line when I got to fiddle with the spacious and highly specced NS6. And now, here I am, right down at the bottom of the food chain with their diminutive in price and stature DJ2GO.
If you’re aware of it from NAMM 2011, you’ll know that it’s about as basic as it comes – stripped down MIDI DJing with just the bare minimum needed, squeezed into the tiniest of boxes. So as you can imagine, this isn’t going to be the usual epic tome of a review. So let’s get cracking.
In A Nutshell
The Numark DJ2GO is a 2 channel MIDI controller. This is almost a complete DJ experience, albeit lacking EQ, but other than that offers the majority of controls needed for mixing tracks back and forth. You’re also going to need an external audio interface to be able to hook it up to a sound system and use your headphones. It comes with a specially skinned version of Virtual DJ LE, but being MIDI should work with other MIDI software.
The packaging of a product is often a giveaway to the perceived quality. I’m used to DJ equipment coming in lavish boxes, but the DJ2GO comes in a blister pack… exactly. It doesn’t scream pro, and maybe not even quite beginner – more throwaway stocking filler. But there is more to it than the first impression gives.
It’s small – perfectly designed to fit right at the front of any laptop, and equally low profile too. It fits better with smaller laptops, and is a great fit for the new 11″ Macbook Air (that’s a 13″ in the picture). Indeed, the black and silver stylings are a perfect match for each other.
But despite the bargain basement price, the build is like a slab of solid plastic. I’m sure it’s hollow but it feels like a block. The controls are a mixture of hard plastic and regulation Numark rubber buttons too. It definitely feels like it’ll take a beating, but given the price I think it doesn’t really matter too much if it doesn’t. You certainly shouldn’t buy one thinking it’ll survive a regular professional level thrashing.
Hooking It Up
It comes with a USB cable – type A to a mini type B (like a camera cable), and that’s all you need to connect it up to your computer of choice. It also comes with Virtual DJ LE Lite, which like the DJ2GO itself is a bare bones version, that does just enough to make the DJ2GO operate.
Installation of VDJ LE is a doddle, as is operation. It comes with a skin to make it look and feel just like the hardware. It can also be used with any MIDI software, and Numark have a link to a TSI file for Traktor that works pretty well, although unlike the supplied VDJ LE, there’s no scratching.
This will be a short section won’t it? Sarcasm aside, the DJ2GO has just enough to get you up and running. Starting with what we will nominally call the decks. The jogwheels are 40mm across and free-spinning, but are neither touch or pressure sensitive. They simply respond to movement in either direction and instantly release when the wheel stops moving. With practice, you can scratch a little and even juggle. Can’t work out why Numark didn’t optimise the surface area by losing the angled wheel edge. I also wish it tracked faster.
Mixer controls are there – a somewhat lively and low profile crossfader as well as volume knobs for each channel, as well as master and headphone cue levels. Yes, it would have been very nice to have EQ, but on something so small, there’s only so much room. And let’s remember that this is for fun rather than pro use, which is backed up by having a sync button.
You will of course need to load your tracks in. And as is stanadrd these days, library navigation controls are front and centre. These are really good for such a cheap unit, and much easier to use than many costing several times more.
There’s a short pitch control as well as pitch bend buttons should be prefer the manual approach, or indeed when VDJ LE fails to sync the beats. Auto sync is a tool, but isn’t the answer to every mixing situation of course.
There is the regulation play/cue button arrangement too, which can yield some fun when scratching and juggling. But even with this slimmer than slim feature set, mixing is very easy and surprisingly slick. Regardless of your preconceptions about this unit, you can rock a set on the DJ2GO. You just have to want to and adapt your workflow. But equally, beginners can cut their teeth on this and easily step up to a larger unit without feeling overfaced with a heap of new controls.
Getting this out of the way, and underlining for those who keep asking on Youtube and forums – DJ2GO needs an audio interface to work properly. Be it the internal audio on your computer, or a designated external interface like Numark’s DJ|iO (unfortunately costing more than the DJ2GO) or perhaps a Behringer UCA202, which does a pretty good job but is a lot cheaper. You’ll need this to split master output (what the crowd hears) from headphones (what you hear).
Given the extremely limited feature set, it wasn’t hard to get to grips with the DJ2GO. I was expecting a a bit of a fight to be honest, but the combination of optimised hardware and software controls had me mixing in minutes. VDJ makes short work of correctly analysing tracks, making various flavours of House music easy to sync at the press of a button. You’ll also be amazed to know that scratching and juggling is possible. It’s a stretch of course, and you’ll need to adapt your technique to suit the jog wheel limitations, but it is nonetheless doable.
TIP: Use the jog wheel to scratch and then hit the cue or play buttons to nail the release.
One downside with the size – I found that if I got a little too busy with the DJ2GO, it was very easy to knock the wheels and spoil the flow of the mix. Just be careful when pushing the limits.
As for Traktor – download the TSI file, install and you’re off. Because you’re dealing with the often imposing interface, it’s actually not as much fun to use as the VDJ version, and interestingly isn’t as fully featured as it misses scratching and back-cueing from its repertoire. That said, it’s perfectly possible to pull off regular mixing, but you’ll be reaching for your mouse if you want the more advanced features that Traktor has to offer. But if that’s what you want, then clearly you’ve bought the wrong controller.
But something is missing, but it’s something that Numark are doing elsewhere in their range with their budget controllers. I would love for this to work with algoriddim’s djay app. Given that the iDJ Live works with iOS devices, for such a tiny controller to require a laptop to work feels wrong. It’s screaming out for some djay love. Make it happen people.
DJ2GO is a hoot – a pocket sized dynamo that delivers way more than I’d expected. It’s times like this that you realise that mixing tracks together with a little hands-on backcueing is just as much fun as having a bevvy of bells and whistles at your disposal.
This is the perfect christmas present for all DJs everywhere. Whether you’re an aspiring noob wanting to toe dip the digital world, or a skilled DJ wanting some fun while out and about, DJ2GO adapts to suit a multitude of scenarios. It also makes for a really cheap and compact emergency controller too.
View it for what it is – a dirt cheap controller costing the price of a night out and you’ll be rewarded by just how much it gives back.
For the price, it’s surprisingly sturdy.
Features and Implementation
It does just the absolute basics of DJing with no frills and bar missing EQs, it does it pretty well.
Value For Money
It’s $60/£50 and gives you a solid performance from a laptop. Worth every penny.
The DJ2GO has no delusions of grandeur. It knows it’s a frills-free bite sized controller, but gives solid performance for the bargain basement price.