Numark’s Party Mix is a DJ controller that is geared towards tomorrow’s deejays, i.e. beginners, in terms of both price and equipment.
It’s a perfect beginner controller that offers rudimentary basic equipment, and has a simple four-channel audio interface, and comes with a license for Virtual DJ LE.
In addition, Numark‘s controller presents itself as a party cannon that sends visual stimuli, because it is home to three prisms with colored LEDs on the back, which light up colorfully to the beat of the master bus and transport a little disco ball feeling into the living room at home. Fun on my part?
The packaging is already part of the program, because the marketing department of the American manufacturer stuck to the product name when designing the Party Mix cardboard box.
In addition to the colorfully illustrated glow and light effects and an oblique shot at the controller, there is a kind of “stamp” emblazoned at the top right, which once again makes it very clear what this is all about: Partylights built in! Well then nothing can go wrong, right?
In addition to the controller itself, the box also contains the multilingual manual, the download instructions for Virtual DJ LE and the mandatory safety and guarantee information.
Layout and functions
Numark’s Party Mix is an 800 gram controller that houses its controls in a completely plastic, 32.5 x 19.7 x 5.1 cm housing. It stands firmly on four rubber feet and shows a clarity in terms of layout that I have seldom seen in this way, which is not only due to the small number of control tools, but also to the clear priorities of the development team.
At first glance, the controller is quickly identified as a representative of a classic layout with two deck sections and a central mixer. The layout is also exactly symmetrical about the longitudinal axis, which greatly simplifies the overview and basically makes it possible to use the part intuitively.
The deck sections are each home to a jog wheel with a diameter of 77 millimeters, a 45 millimeter pitch fader, a transport button trio with sync, cue and play/pause and a pad section consisting of four fields that optionally sets cues or loops calls up, triggers the sampler or (de-) activated the effects.
The mixer is also very spartan, but basically everything is on board that the DJ newbie should need to rock his first party. The channels accommodate (pre fader) a two-band EQ with treble and bass controls as well as the gain. Both line and crossfaders are designed as 45-millimeter flat path controllers.
The middle column of the central unit allows more global adjustments such as the master level, the headphone mix (cue/mix) and the headphone volume (cue gain). At the top in the middle there is a gridded endless encoder for browsing directory trees and lists. It has two small circular load buttons, which are responsible for triggering the loading process of the tracks in the decks.
The front panel actually has nothing more to offer than a headphone output in the form of a 3.5 millimeter jack socket. On the back, however, Party Mix has a little more in store for us: In addition to the stereo cinch output, which is located on the far left, there are the prisms mentioned at the beginning with the LEDs on the inside as well as a button that also controls the entire light show.
The fixed USB cable protrudes out of the chassis on the right, which will certainly not only make the inclined buyers happy. Since there is neither a further socket for a separate power supply nor a battery compartment, Numark Party Mix is only supplied with operating voltage via the laptop’s USB bus.
Worth mentioning on the back: the firmly anchored USB cable and three lights.
Installation and first steps
After visiting Numark’s homepage and registering the hardware, the page releases the download link to Virtual DJ LE in version 8.2.
This is followed by the installation of the DJ program on my MacBook Pro with OS X Yosemite, the software still requires registration with Atomix. Last but not least, the response code that the new user receives by email to the address to be given must be entered in Virtual DJ LE.
In the setup, Numarks Party Mix must then be selected as the audio device and the special GUI that Atomix provides for the DJ controller must be loaded. Here we go.
The Virtual DJ LE surface: a layout specially designed for the party mix.
Virtual DJ LE
First a note for all interested parties: The subject of this test is Numarks Party Mix and not the enclosed software. Basically, the supplied LE version is a stripped-down version of Virtual DJ 8 Pro, which in Europe tends to lead a shadowy existence behind the local top dogs, Traktor and Serato.
Nevertheless, the program has a lot to offer: These include a classic software mixer, beat effects, a ribbon, a rudimentary software sampler, a master tempo function, DVS, streaming content, video mixing, etc. If you want to know more about Atomix Virtual DJ, the article by my valued colleague Peter Westermeier is recommended.
Is intuitive and well optimized for beginners. The Deejay browses through his list using an endless encoder and loads a selected track into the left (Load 1) or right (Load 2) deck using the Load buttons.
You can work with the EQ controllers with relative sensitivity and the jog wheels act very precisely because with them the exact positioning in the timeline of the track is child’s play.
Temporary braking and accelerating also prove to be practical. In scratch mode (triggered by a button) they invite you to a few baby scratches, but this does not necessarily turn out to be the parade discipline of the small handwheels.
Like all the other buttons, the transport buttons have a clearly noticeable and audible pressure point, which is very pleasant and is basically sufficient as feedback. In addition, there is the feedback from the button backlighting – the play/pause button, for example, flashes green in pause mode, whereas it glows green continuously in play mode.
The built-in faders are all only 45 millimeters long, but the control ranges are very well resolved, especially since the dead zones at the border areas are hardly noticeable. The resistance that the flat track controllers bring to the user is well dosed, in short: You feel really good in interaction with Virtual DJ LE, but also without it.
The mixer section is home to two channels with two-band EQ and gain
In terms of sound, the Party Mix also has something to offer on the output side. Although there is still room for improvement (would be really surprised if not!), The built-in DA converters sound quite transparent.
A little more steam wouldn’t necessarily have hurt, but in view of the low price, after all, you also get a four-channel interface, that’s fine. Even armed with an HD25 from Sennheiser, the headphone output will not be sufficient for the club, but the performance offered should do justice to every private party. Here are a few audio samples.
The feature mentioned at the beginning of the LED prisms, which light up rhythmically to the music, polarize immensely. For some it might just be a marketing gimmick, but others may enjoy the colorful light show that flashes in time.
In any case, I have cast off my initial skepticism, because in the evening when I recorded the audio examples for you, I was definitely able to gain something from the light show. Plus you can just turn it off.
And here the light show starts or ends …
With the Party Mix, Numark is placing a product for DJ beginners on the market that includes a simple controller, a four-channel audio interface, and the DJ software Virtual DJ LE.
Learning how to use the hardware and software is very intuitive. Party Mix is small, very light due to its plastic housing and yet well made. The interaction between controller and software works smoothly.
The controls allow sensitive interventions in the sound and all switching operations are carried out by full-surface triggering buttons with noticeable pressure points without grumbling. Only the permanently installed USB cable proves to be an unnecessary downer.
With a more stable housing and a USB socket, even more would be possible for the first revision of the Party Mix. I’m curious to see if it will come one day. Apart from that, the party mix for beginners on a tight budget is definitely worth a look.