MP3s and DJing: Numark toys18 May 2006
There will always be DJs that won’t play anything unless it’s vinyl, but for those who embrace the MP3 revolution (iPod, Traxsource, CD ripping, FinalScratch), there are some interesting hardware concepts being developed now, especially at Numark:
(because of Numark’s antiquated use of frames and bad redirects on their site, I can’t include deep links to individual products. Go to the homepage and click on ‘products’. Numark: get a real web designer!)
Imagine two iPods: while the left one is playing, you prepare the next song on the right. At $200, the Numark iDJ is an affordable baby-step towards iPod DJ-ing. Since it does not have pitch control, it cannot be considered a real DJ tool, but it’s charming. When you throw a party, people can bring their own iPod and blast their Celine Dion collection through your 500 Watt speakers. This is the gizmo Bart Becks has got at home!
Numark also sells it under the “Ion” consumer brand for $170.
The iDJ2 is a bit more serious: it uses the iPod as an external disk, not as a (line-out) music device. This means that: yes, you have pitch control, yes, you can play and mix 2 songs from the same iPod and yes, you can add other external hard-disks with MP3 files. You can even record your DJ set onto the iPod (and ‘scratch’, for those who are into that). Unsurprisingly, it is a bit more expensive: $600.
The Numark iCDX is a hybrid CD-player: it plays normal CDs, MP3 CDs and DVDs, allows connecting an iPod or an external hard-disk via USB. It has a large LCD screen, a scratch wheel, pitch control, BPM counter, DSP effects, seamless looping: the works. This baby will also set you back $600.
Two of those and a fancy mixer like the Matrix 3 (with those “Look mama, I’m Daft Punk” frequency KILL switches): now that would be a nice set of equipment!
The HDMIX is basically a mixing panel with an internal hard-disk of 80GB. Since the latter is ‘user-replaceable’, 300GB of storage is just $200 away. You fill that hard-disk by ripping CDs from the built-in CD-drive, or by connecting the device as an external hard-disk to your Mac or PC and copying your existing collection. It lets you browse through the collection on ID3 tags (and BPM) and helps you with the beat matching. It even has the (I presume – off-line copy of) Gracenote Database on-board to easily name CD tracks. It also does direct-to-disk digital recording.
At $1500, it’s not really cheap, but not that expensive either. If it had some kind of “Autoplay” functionality, I could see bars and restaurants going for this. It’s about the price of a MacBook with iTunes and that won’t let you mix properly.
The D2 Director is a rack-mountable (read: “Pro” material) mass-storage player and manager. You connect whatever USB storage you want, it will find the MP3s and let you mix them with a “revolutionary waveform display” (probably something like my Hercules DJ console + Virtual DJ does). There’s also a slot of the front to insert that USB-stick with that so-hot-it’s-still-smoking remix you made 15 minutes earlier.
To my surprise it’s only $600. So maybe this is rather what bars would go for.
The Numark HDX really has everything: it plays vinyl (the black 12″ round things), CDs ànd MP3 on an internal HD. It’s like the HDMIX and the iCDX got married and had a child.
The pitch-control is where you would expect it on a turntable, but is also used for the CD and MP3, just like the start stop buttons. I have no idea where they have put the LCD display (it’s hard to see on the picture) but apparently you can also search on artist, title, genre.
It looks like a million bucks, but can be yours for only $1300.
Ideal DJ USB disk
If you’re gonna play from a USB external hard-disk, which one would you take? I would go with a device with 2 disks in RAID1. USB-drives are not the most reliable, so you should go for either mirroring or having a second drive handy with a copy of the contents.
- No Lacie disk: the smaller models only have 1 disk, or no RAID-1, and the RAID-1 drives only have S-ATA or SCSI interfaces.
- No Iomega disk: the multi-disk Tera models only support RAID-0 (striping). Plus: I’ve always had trouble with Iomega devices, I wouldn’t trust them.
- No Netgear/Zetera : it has a network interface, no USB. Pretty amazing RAID1 capabilities, though.
- No Western Digital, Seagate: no RAID
- Maxtor OneTouch III Turbo (how’s that for a name?): RAID 1 and USB! 1TB for $900/€880. That’s a man’s disk!