Review: Numark DJ2GO Portable DJ Controller
The [dj2go] is a tiny, slimline digital DJing device that really couldn’t be more simple if it tried. It has no loops, EQs or effects. There’s no headphones socket. You can’t scratch on its tiny jogwheels. You can’t record your mixes.
So why on earth did we end up loving this little unit – a unit that, to be honest, looks like nothing more than a next-to-useless toy? And who on earth would want one of these anyway? Find out in our Numark DJ2GO review…
First impressions and setting up
Toy, toy, toy! It comes in a shrink-wrapped plastic display case. Inside there are a single USB lead (it’s the mini camera type, not a “full sized” variant) and a CD of software/manuals, plus a warranty sheet – and that’s it. Wasn’t really looking good at this stage to be perfectly blunt. The unit itself carries on the “toy” feel on first look – it’s MacBook-coloured silver plastic, with two tiny, Fisher Price-style jogwheels. However, the cue and play/pause buttons are pleasingly rubberised, and the pitch controls – while very short – feel OK.
In fact, the knobs and buttons aren’t bad at all; the front and back are properly screwed together; and while it’s light, it does have some weight to it. And when it’s plugged in, you see that they’ve done a good job of backlighting the main controls too. It has sturdy rubber-style feet to boot. Not as bad, then, as first impressions suggest. It only takes a few seconds to realise that there’s plenty missing, though – no bass, mid or treble, no extra buttons for looping, or effects, or scratching, no way of plugging your headphones into it…
To set up, you install the software (and drivers for Windows users), and plug it in. The software is only for this controller (it’s a version of Virtual DJ, but more on that in a second), so there are hardly any options to worry about.
The software is Virtual DJ LE Light – as “LE” already stands for “light edition”, I was wondering just what a “light light” version of software would look like, and I soon found out – it is the simplest DJ software I think I’ve ever seen!
(The manual supplied on disk is for the “full” LE version of Virtual DJ, which will confuse beginners. Minus points for this.)
Again, no controls exist on the software for looping, FX, keylock, hot cueing, or anything else that isn’t on the hardware; the good point about this, though, is that as the software duplicates exactly the look and layout of the hardware, the controls that are left are big, chunky and clear.
In the settings menu, you have four sound choices. You can have a single sound output from your PC (so that means you can’t have speakers and headphones working together), you can have a four-out sound card (presumably this works with standard four-out sound cards, but I didn’t have one handy to check this), or – and here’s where it gets really interesting – you can do one of two other things we’re constantly suggesting new DJs do:
Firstly, you can use a splitter cable to add headphones to the mix. One little cable lets you DJ “properly” without any additional hardware. Secondly, you can use a tiny little USB sound card of the type that you can sometimes fine on eBay for as low as $1, to give you the headphones output while using your computer for the main sound (or vice versa).
That means you can turn this simple little unit into a fully functioning practice set-up for pennies more than the price of the unit itself.
I used it with a splitter cable for the purpose of this review, and quite honestly found it to be great fun. The library functions are easy to use for selecting tunes, the play/pause and cue buttons feel good and work well, and the sync button is simple but works (it snaps to sync and if it drifts, you just press it again).
There are two colour modes on the software (for day and night presumably), the waveforms are good, there are beat matching bars as with all Virtual DJ versions to help you with syncing, and big, clear track information displays give you clear feedback.
You clearly won’t be able to pull off any tricks with this unit, though: It is just like using two record decks and the most simple mixer in the world, but with the single improvement of a sync button.
This is definitely toy-like, but it’s actually not a toy. It’s what it says it is – DJing on the go. “Real” DJs travelling will want something like a Faderfox controller, which while being as portable as this is at the complete other end of the spectrum as far as price and functionality go.
But for dabblers, people who want to get going real cheap, or people who want something they can practise on in hotel rooms or while travelling, it’s great.
For those who want to figure out for themselves what the essence of simple, stripped-down DJing is without any additional expense or without any of the bells and whistles, it’s also fine. In fact, it’s more than fine – it’s ideal.
The very fact that it removes all non-essentials is actually its strength, and the more I played with it, the more I liked it. And I wanted not to, believe me! The point is that this could have been done awfully, and it’s actually been done excellently.
If you’re a wannabe DJ who wants the cheapest, most portable, simplest DJ controller set-up on the market, then get this and a splitter cable and prepare to have a lot of fun. Because as a reader said over on our forum recently, if you decide DJing isn’t for you, it’s a cheap way of finding out.
But if you do decide DJing is for you and you want to get more serious about it, this is still going to be a great travel DJ set-up for practising on.
A toy you wouldn’t touch under any circumstances, or a great fun little controller for beginners and travellers? Let us know your thoughts in the comments…