Numark Party Mix II and Party Mix Live review: ideal DJ controllers for beginners?
These portable controllers are seriously affordable with plenty of options to deliver genuinely engaging mixes.
⊕ Low-cost entry to DJ’ing and Serato DJ software
⊕ Plenty of flexibility for beginner DJs
⊕ Light show is a genuinely enjoyable feature
⊖ Disappointing speaker quality on Party Mix Live
⊖ Party Mix Live requires external power
Price £89 for Party Mix II, £125 for Party Mix Live
Numark has been lowering the barrier to entry for DJs for years, with a range of affordable controllers packed with features. The updated Party Mix controller and the new Party Mix Live continue this approach, albeit with some eyebrow-raising features – the built-in light show and the Party Mix Live’s speaker, for instance.
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Such quirks will be fun for a house party, but beginners seeking to improve their DJ skills may want more control over their mixes. That said, casual music lovers wanting an affordable and durable controller with a Serato DJ Lite license may not have to think twice about these compact decks.
Numark Party Mix II
The Party Mix II may be small and lightweight, but its sturdy knobs and metal jog plates make it feel built to last. Its buttons and performance pads are very responsive and will click when you press them. Despite it’s low price, its faders move smoothly and don’t feel feeble at all.
Numark has given its Party Mix controllers a two-band parametric EQ and a high-pass/low-pass filter control on each channel. This is more than enough to get creative when blending tracks, but DJs would benefit from a three-band parametric EQ for more precise tonal control when making two tracks sit together.
Also in the centre of the controllers is a bank of knobs for headphone mix, main output, levels for each deck and a browse knob for navigating Serato DJ. There are also Load buttons to select tracks for either deck, cue buttons and, of course, a crossfader and slider for track volumes. These are all essential controls for DJs, and we’re glad Numark didn’t omit any of them.
On each deck are play/pause, cue and sync buttons. One frustration is the inability to take a track out of sync once it’s locked in, forcing you to change the setting within the Serato software. There is also no way to adjust the range for the pitch slider, but we see this as a bonus to ensure beginner DJs aren’t overwhelmed with parameters.
Next to those transport controls are a bank of four performance pads that allow you to set hot cues, create loops up to two bars, trigger samples (including but not limited to air horns), or apply effects including reverb, delay, phaser, flanger and more. These simple pads provide lots of flexibility for both newbies and advanced users to build tension in a mix.
Lights and Lite
What would a party be without a light show? Both Party Mix controllers come with their very own. Albeit nothing more than three LED light balls on the back of the device, they can bring a bit of atmosphere to a dark room and would be well-received at a small party. The different programmes can be toggled via a button on the side or via the settings menu in Serato. Full disclosure: we had these on throughout our entire testing process, because why not?
Setting up the Party Mix controllers is easy. You can connect and power them with a laptop via USB and connect headphones and speakers via their respective mini-jack ports. Installing Serato DJ Lite is also no bother, just head to the website and enter the code that comes with the controller, then simply plug in and play.
Numark Party Mix Live
Party Mix Live has all the same controls and features as the Party Mix II. The only differences are the addition of the stereo speaker, the slightly bigger size, and the need for a power supply. How does the speaker sound? Not amazing. At lower volumes, the audio has a slight punch in the low-end and is relatively pleasant in the high and high-mid frequencies, but it lacks clarity in the low-mid range.
Crank up the volume past 12 o clock, and you’ll be distorting the audio, making for a less-than-enjoyable listen. This is fine for kids that just want to pump up the tunes in their rooms, but anyone looking to use these speakers in a house party setting would be far better off connecting an external speaker.
Fortunately, just like the Party Mix II, the main output is a mini-jack, so it’s not hard to connect a home speaker to the Party Mix controller. This isn’t such a great thing for DJs with a more accomplished sound system, though, as they’ll likely need a stereo RCA or line output. You can also select your main audio output as your laptop speakers via the settings menu in Serato DJ, which is useful for Party Mix II owners without a dedicated speaker. Sadly, there are no input options to connect a microphone, which may stifle childhood dreams of MC’ing to a huge crowd.
The best budget DJ controller for beginners?
There’s no doubt that Numark has succeeded in giving newcomers a taste of DJ’ing at a low price. Both controllers boast straightforward controls, a simple setup, a durable design, plus low-cost access to Serato DJ and its music streaming service.
The biggest let-down is the speaker in the Party Mix Live, which is sadly its unique selling point. It can be a lot of fun for children and the odd mix in a bedroom, but we’d rather Numark threw in some more knobs and pads for the extra buck. At £125, the price isn’t far off a more accomplished controller, such as the Pioneer DDJ-200.
Still, we love the idea of having the compact Party Mix II in our laptop bag for a long car journey or a quick test mix before a gig. It’s a stellar option for those wanting a cheap thrill.