Palm-size DJ solutions aren’t exactly in abundance, so newcomers are very welcome indeed. Liam O’Mullane gets hold of the latest in this review of Anymode Portable DJ Pad
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While a mobile phone or tablet device can be a perfectly adequate DJ tool for working on the move, they obviously have to perform many other functions as well. The Portable DJ Pad, however, differs in that it is a dedicated standalone DJ solution, comprising two decks and a mixer while offering the advantages of touchscreen control.
Each screen represents a turntable, but physical dial controls and a crossfader make this device potentially attractive to those who miss the tactile control omitted from touch-only devices. Sadly, however, these controls are rather cramped, making rapid movements of the dials quite difficult. The crossfader has a nice resistance to it though and its curve gradient can be set via software, giving it a fairly pro-like feel. The fader knob isn’t the best as it’s quite wide, making it feel odd to use, but it could be swapped out for your preferred knob type.
The Ins and Outs
Despite the brushed-steel case, the PDJP is light but feels solid in terms of the case and dials, although its length prevents it from slipping into your pocket, so it’s not as portable as a phone or alternative option. Charging and data transfers can be made via a mini USB 2.0 connection but you don’t get a carry case. Mic inputs, phones out and line in/out are all on 3.5mm connections, which means this unit isn’t equipped for serious DJ work, but that won’t prevent it from being a fun device to learn DJ’ing basic skills with, prepare sets during your daily commute, or make the most of a sunny day by working outside.
FX and EQ
The PDJP’s biggest secret, revealed during our tests, is the surprisingly large number of additional features. What’s more, there have been many firmware updates since its release, making it fairly mature in their implementation. Navigating other views on each deck requires only a swipe gesture across the bottom of the screen; a swipe to the left opens the library to load in your next track; and a swipe to the right takes you to an EQ page complete with low, mid and high controls. These EQ bands can be altered via touch or assigned to a hardware dial.
The next page along enables you to launch samples via a drum pad, but the included sounds are pretty poor so you’ll want to import your own. Finally, there’s a drum machine and sequencer option which lets you program beats to run in your mixes. Of all the features, this is the weakest, as the sequencing blocks are very small to program, making it a rather fiddly process.
Asides from this drum sequencing page, the rest of the unit functions fairly well: automatic beat-matching worked as expected, there are some fun effects to work into your mixes, and the process of cueing each new track to mix also functioned OK. For core functionality, then, the PDJP might be an option, but it’s up against some very tough competition in its price bracket.
+ Multi-touch control
+ Basic mixing is easy to implement
+ Compact design
+ Usable effects section
+ Unique look
– Poorly positioned 3.5mm IO connections throughout
– Effects on master only
– Sample loading is clunky and 16-bit only
-Drum sequencer is fiddly to use
Fun for a novice or an expensive treat for those with deep pockets, but not the most pro option available for the money if you want something compact and portable.