Making the iPod easier to use with backing tracks

More and more singers are using iPods for their backing tracks but many are looking towards buying iPod / DJ based machines to get around the problem of the iPods fiddly little buttons and small screen:

Hi Kenny,
I was thinking of buying an iPod mixing desk
eg.Numark IDJ. This particular desk needs two ipods
and i was just wondering if you knew if when playing
one iPod, when it switches over to the other if there
is a gap in the sound? I have checked all over the
web for some clue to this but cannot find any info.
I sing myself using backing tracks but occassionally
I finish the night with a disco and would love to let
both ipods work simultaneously with gapless
playback. Can you please advise?
Craig Swan

Hi Craig

I’ve found the same problem – there doesn’t seem to be a lot of information out there about the Numark IDJ and without actually road-testing one of these machines it’s difficult to really know how good it is.

From the information I have found, it seems to be ok for playing backing tracks. It scores highly on things like having a better sound quality than usual because it connects through the iPods bottom connector rather than the mini-headphone jack. Also the IDJ buttons are big and bold as is the display (compared to the iPods fiddly little buttons and display).

Where it seems to fall down though is on DJ functionality (and ironically this is what it was designed for)! Apparantly you can’t scrath, beat match, pitch shift, and the fading in from one iPod to another isn’t too good.

Users also say that the automatic cueing of songs isn’t too accurate which is an absolute disaster for a singer using backing tracks. DJ’s can get away with a song starting 3 or 4 seconds in to the intro, but if singers are faced with their backing track not starting EXACTLY on the first note it could completely throw them out of sync.

From the limited information I can find, the IDJ would work fine as a very basic DJ type application (you say you’re only doing a bit of DJ’ing at the end of the night so the lack of scratching and beat matching etc is unlikely to be an issue for you).

You just have to decide if it’s going to be usable enough as a backing track player.

If it can auto-pause after each song then that would certainly fix one iPod problem that most singers using iPods complain about. But if the dodgy cueing facility makes your backing tracks start a few seconds in to the song or even fades every song out automatically then that would make it very unsuitable for backing track playback purposes.

I think this is one machine you will really need to try before you buy.

I’m sure most music shops and DJ shops who sell this machine will be happy to let you play around with it in the shop and put it through its paces before you commit to buy.

I wouldn’t recommend buying one on the internet just in case it arrives and then you find it’s just not up to the job….