The Numark Mixstream Pro is a great all-in-one DJ console that changes the game for those wanting to get into DJing, but who like the idea of not using a laptop, buying music, or even having to plug in speakers. By using WiFi to access streaming services, through having built-in speakers, and by having a full-colour touchscreen interfacing with the built-in Engine DJ OS, the Mixstream Pro is hands-down the simplest way to get started in DJing today. Just add headphones!
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First Impressions / Setting up
The Numark Mixstream Pro is a standalone DJ system, that doesn’t need a laptop to DJ with. It has built-in speakers, connectivity to streaming services for instant access to music (the clue’s in the name), and can even interact with your Philips Hue lights for an instant home DJ light show. In short, it promises to be a new way to get started in DJing, without many of the usual hurdles to jump through.
But does it deliver on that promise? That’s what we’ll find out in this review.
Despite being a “non-pro” brand, Numark’s gear has felt substantial, reliable and well-built for a while now, and the Mixstream Pro is no exception.
The Mixstream Pro is a mid-sized DJ console, notably deeper than typical software controllers, and is smartly presented in Numark’s black and red colour scheme. The unit immediately stands out by virtue of the two speakers bottom left and right, the 7″ touchscreen in the centre, and the 6″ jogwheels.
It has two channels, each with three-band EQ, a gain/level knob, an effects paddle, and a big filter knob (the latter are unusually positioned left and right at the top of the main screen). Each deck has four performance pads, switchable through cue, saved loop, auto loop and loop roll, and there’s a rather short pitch slider per deck too.
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Top left are the headphones volume and mix knobs, top right the main output and built-in speaker output knobs. A mic socket and volume control accompany the 1/4″ and 1/8″ headphones sockets on the front, and around the back are two USB sockets and an SD socket for plugging in devices. There are also both balanced XLR and unbalanced RCA main output sockets, the former a welcome but unusual thing to find on a DJ system at this level.
A few library controls including a browse knob and deck load buttons, plus buttons for accessing often-used menus in the built-in Engine OS software, complete the feature set.
To set it up, you plug it in, push the on/off button on the back, and it boots up. There are even a handful of demo tracks built-in so you can literally have music playing immediately.
However, the first thing you’ll want to do to get set up is add music, and you can do that in one of three ways.
The first way is to log in to a streaming service, and you get the choice of TIDAL, SoundCloud Go+, Beatport Streaming and Beatsource Streaming – no Spotify or Apple Music, I’m afraid (these services aren’t available on any DJ gear). At least you get a free trial for a month to see if you can live with one or more of the services that are on offer, which is a good thing if you’re used to another service and want to avoid paying for an extra subscription by switching.
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The second way is to log in to your Dropbox account. By exporting a DJ playlist or playlists of your own music from the Engine DJ Desktop software directly to Dropbox, that music is made available to the Mixstream Pro directly. Of course, for both of these methods you’ll need to log in to a WiFi network, which is simple to do using the touchscreen. Note there is no Ethernet port for hardwiring your connection to the internet.
The final way is to add music via a USB drive or SD card. You don’t have to analyse said music beforehand – it can literally just be a pile of files – but it’s much better to, via the Engine DJ Desktop app. That said, the unit can analyse on board if necessary (unlike, say, the Pioneer DJ XDJ-XZ), and it can also read Rekordbox exports, which is pretty cool.
If you happen to own Philips Hue lighting, you can also hook up to your Philips Hue Hub – the unit can then provide an auto light show, tied to the music, as you play, which you can control as much or as little as you wish.
Of course, you can plug in speakers too, but you don’t have to – those built-in are enough to get you going at home.
I’m used to DJing with the Denon DJ Prime gear, especially the Prime Go, which is the smallest unit in that range. This is roughly equivalent to it, although it has bigger, nicer jogwheels than the Prime Go, due to it being bigger overall. That said, compared to the little Prime Go (and definitely the Prime 2 to which it is also broadly similar), it is clearly a consumer DJ device – fewer inputs/outputs, less solid build quality, and reduced DJ controls.
Which isn’t to say it’s not fun to use. Engine OS is a marvel of an operating system, and I suspect most users used to DJing with a laptop would not miss having a laptop pretty quickly with this unit – the first hurdle any “laptop-free” DJ system has to jump.
It’s smooth, snappy, easy to control, and you feel confident DJing on it right away. The metering, EQs, filters and fader all feel good, and the jogwheels are great, as are all Numark controller jogwheels – refined and responsive.
The performance pads are fine, although as there are only four you need to double-tap the pad function selectors to access pads 5 to 8 (at least they’re there, though). They’re only one colour though – no RGB here.
Navigating the library to select and choose tracks is OK – I definitely appreciated the track preview function that lets you hear a track without loading it, and even when you’re using streaming services, you can add tracks to the prepare lists and even to playlists created on the unit itself.
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The waveforms can be horizontal or vertical, and there’s good onscreen feedback to show you where your loops and cues are. You can even name and colour them, although that has to be done on the desktop software. The screen is a bit small for my eyes, and for me could do with being angled towards you a bit – I have the same issue with the Prime Go, and it’s not a dealbreaker.
The effects are a little disappointing: You get echo, delay, flanger and phaser, but only on/off as a control. Although the paddles make the on/off bit fun, I missed wet/dry and a beats value knob, the delay being particularly stunted by not having the beats value knob. I also think they could have replaced either the phaser or the flanger with a much more useful reverb.
To show more tracks in the library, you can choose a smaller font, but on the 7″ screen here, that font is REALLY small – way too small for me to read. They use the same font for the settings, as well, and there you don’t get the choice. The Engine programmers should make this a bit bigger.
And the speakers? They’re alright – but they’re not amazing. My little JBL Charge sounds much better, for instance. They’re not a total write-off, but when I’m DJing, I like to hear things really well. Maybe I’d find a use for them, but for me, I’d rather DJ in headphones if I’m DJing for myself and don’t have good speakers. And I don’t like the positioning of them either – they’re where my hands naturally fall on a DJ unit. But these things won’t bother many people – and speakers are certainly a convenient addition.
“DJs no longer need an established music library or external laptop to DJ online, at a party, or in a club” claims Numark about the Mixstream Pro. And it certainly brings that reality a step closer.
In truth, DJing from music streaming services or your own Dropbox exclusively is still a way off for serious use, clubs etc. The lack of offline caching of full playlists is the main bugbear for “pro” streaming (although it does cache track-by-track). But even for consumers, the lack of truly mainstream streaming services currently holds this (and all DJ streaming software/gear) back.
And while you can add loops and cues to tracks from streaming services, it still isn’t possible to do all the sorting, re-ordering and prep work with streaming tracks that you can do on your own library (no adjusting beatgrids or re-ordering playlists, for example). Oh, and you can’t record your streaming sets – it’s a licensing thing, but annoying.
But this is undeniably a glimpse of the future – and it’s lots of fun. I remember reviewing the standalone Stanton SCS.4DJ on this very website over 10 years ago, and things have certainly moved on hugely since then, good as that unit was at the time.
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How great for people to receive this as a present and not have to worry about figuring out where or how to buy music.
How great for them not to scratch their heads trying to hardwire in speakers (because they’ve figured out that Bluetooth introduces latency, only to find that even when hardwired, many a Bose, JBL etc speaker STILL has latency!).
And how great for them to link to smart lights if they have them, for an instant light show at home.
For under $600, this is a deal indeed.
So what’s the competition? Honestly, I think the competition is the “standard” way of DJing at home, ie a controller. You could buy a Mixtrack Pro FX at $229 if you already have a laptop and speakers. You’d need the full version of Serato ($99) too, but once you had these, apart from the lighting control, you’d be able to do more than this unit can do. But you’d be losing the immediacy of the Mixstream Pro – and if you don’t have a laptop and suitable speakers, it would make less sense to go down that route.
What I’d like to see is a bit more choice, now. A four-channel version with slightly better FX would absolutely rock. And a two-channel version without the speakers but with eight performance pads would be cool, too.
As it stands, though, the Mixstream Pro, while not in truth really “pro”, is an exceptional all-in-one DJ system at a price that will appeal to far more people than the genuinely pro Denon DJ Prime gear, which it can be seen as a “cut down” version of.
And actually? There are some features that push it towards “semi pro” – it can work with DMX lights with an adaptor and a SoundSwitch subscription, and even Ableton Link, and there are those balanced XLR outs too…
Bottom line: It’s an awful lot of fun, typically a bold move from this historically innovative brand, and we think Numark will rightfully sell loads and loads of these.
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