Review: Philips DJ party machine

What’s the DJ party machine? A massive mini Hi-Fi setup that can deliver bone crushing bass, an innovative, yet simple way of controlling multiple playlists coming through various devices and can set the mood alight with some party lights. That’s what Philips is pitching it as – A DJ-like mechanism for a non-DJ. But at Rs 35,000, is it worth the price? Read on to find out.


Design

With its brash, in your face ‘I love bass’ design, the DJ party machine is devoid of any class; it’s a massive plastic gorge. Of course most of this heft comes thanks to the 300 RMS output that gets churned out of its twin woofers, mid-range radiators and tweeters. On top, Philips has built two faux turntables that also act like iDevice dock clamps with support for the older 30-pin connectors. That said, there are a wealth of other device connectivity options and users can choose USB or aux to both turntables. Between the turntables there is a cross-fader, which is there to facilitate the ‘DJ experience’. The turntables spin, but that’s just for effect and does not have any real function, which is rather disappointing. If one wants to scratch their music then an iPhone app is available for that purpose. There are mic inputs as well so one can start a karaoke very easily using the cross-fader.

Philips has coughed out a gamut of controls that even includes an EQ-preset, and the MAX bass dynamic compression switch. The level of nonsensical detail Philips has poured into the console design is pretty bewildering. For instance, there is a button tow switch the orientation of LCD display panel, so the user can use it like a proper DJ behind the speakers or the other way around. Now this does not work because the speaker produces an incredible amount of bass, which makes standing behind the speaker very uncomfortable.

There are some nice ergonomic touches in the design, for example the side bars extend over the actual height of the console and act like handles that can be used to lift this extremely heavy product. That said, the plastic build quality does not feel like that of a device that costs north of Rs 30,000. Considering Philips is billing this product for party environments where one can surely expect a lot of stuff breaking, the DJ Party machine feels like a fragile toy. It may look macho with it massive woofer starting at you, it may even look a tad psychedelic with it constantly flashing of blue lights, but it is not sturdy enough.

Sound Quality

Welcome to the uninhabited bass machine. It hits all the right notes with the bass, the bass response is actually quite incredible for a Hi-Fi speaker of its class, but the problem is that the bass response is not tight. It just booms, like a Concorde that has hit Mach 2.0. This means even at very low-volume levels it has the potential to create brain-busting migraines.

The MAX power dynamic compression system improves this, but if you hit a higher volume, the bass just become uncontrollable. This of course has other side-effects. You don’t hear the other frequencies of the sound spectrum – mids and highs. They just get lost in the tsunami of bass. So anything, you play that’s not Electronic, Hip-Hop, Trance, Drum and Bass and so forth, will sound horrendously bad. Of course, you can always cut the bass, but that reveals the mid-range drivers and the tweeters are not doing a good job.

Vocals lack presence, and the treble frequencies, well, add an excess of presence, and become very shrill. If you like a lot of guitar driven music, then the audio will sound muddy, which is in guitar player parlance is, distorted, not clear. That said, if you stick to bass driven music, it can create quite a racket, but you have to ensure that you are using high-quality files and not files that have been complied at low-bitrates. Unlike some high-end music systems there is no underlying plumbing to enhance the sound of low-quality files.

Coming back to it offering amateurs a way to DJ, well, that’s a gimmick. The scratching bit does not work smoothly using the app, and the cross-fader is a little too instantaneous and is not gradual which defeats the point of it being there and the turntables as mentioned above are just for show.

If you stick with the likes of Dead Mau 5, Massive Attack, Infected Mushroom and Daft Punk then you should be fine. But the moment you try to plug in anything ranging from Led Zeppelin to Pandit Ravi Shankar to Bach, you’ll be disappointed, with your ears stinging with the sour palette of poor audio performance.

Verdict

The DJ party machine flatters to deceive. While it will indeed do a great job rocking a house party with its 300 watts of bone crunching bass, its DJ features are inherently gimmicky.  Additionally, when we add the fact that it does not perform well with music that’s not bass-centric and its build quality is rather feeble, it’s hard recommending it primarily because it costs Rs 34,900. One could opt for many a better Hi-Fi systems in that price that at least would sound decent with a wider array of music, leave alone the build.

But one has to admit that the DJ part machine is an unique product, the only one of its kind so there is no proper competition and if you just like incredible amounts of bass, then the Philips DJ Party Machine could turn out to be a good option.

Photo Credit: Rohit Sharma