First Impressions and Design
The Omnis Duo, a portable and standalone DJ controller, marks AlphaTheta's (formerly Pioneer DJ) foray into next-generation standalone units. Its design diverges significantly from the Opus Quad, the company's earlier release. Sporting a dark blue, slightly rubberised finish with rounded corners, the Omnis Duo is both sturdy and stylish. It's larger than the Denon DJ Prime Go, its closest competitor, but this size difference allows for more substantial jog wheels – a distinct advantage over the Prime Go's smaller ones.
User Interface and Control Layout
The controller breaks from some of AlphaTheta's traditional design conventions, opting for a simpler and more intuitive layout. It includes rubberised hot cue and loop pads, standard cue and play/pause buttons, a reasonable length pitch control, and a beat loop encoder. The mixer section is straightforward, with three-band EQ, trim control, Color FX knob, and a simplified Beat FX section. The design choices seem to prioritize ease of use and accessibility, which could appeal to a broad range of users.
Screen and Connectivity Options
At the heart of the unit is a flat glass-topped screen, offering a new smart dark-on-light livery. The high-resolution screen is responsive and clear, though not on par with tablet screens. The Omnis Duo offers various connectivity options, including USB-C power input, SD card slot, USB stick slot, and additional USB-C for computer connections. The inclusion of master XLR outputs and unbalanced booth RCA outs, along with two microphone inputs, provides ample connectivity for various settings.
Unique Features and Functionality
One of the standout features of the Omnis Duo is its Bluetooth capability, offering a unique Input Playback function. This feature allows DJs to record up to 10 minutes from a Bluetooth input, which can then be loaded onto a deck and manipulated like any other track. This innovative functionality enhances the flexibility of the unit, especially when integrating tracks from non-Rekordbox sources.
Performance and In-Use Experience
The Omnis Duo performs admirably in basic DJing functions. The jog wheels, faders, and mixer feel good in use, and the simplicity of the controls is commendable. The unit’s waveform view and library functionalities are user-friendly, with a focus on ease of navigation and track selection. However, the absence of key shift or key sync features is a notable omission, potentially limiting its appeal to DJs who rely on these functions for harmonically matched sets.
Power and Portability
The USB-C power option, while slightly flimsy, offers the advantage of universal charging capabilities. The built-in battery charges in about three hours, and the unit can be used immediately upon plugging in. This feature, combined with its compact size, makes the Omnis Duo a suitable option for mobile DJs and those requiring a portable, secondary system.
Room for Improvement
Despite its strengths, the Omnis Duo has areas that could be improved. The lack of an auxiliary input limits backup source options to the Bluetooth connection. Additionally, the absence of streaming services at launch, though potentially rectifiable in future updates, is a drawback. The USB-C power connection's fragility might also be a concern for some users.
The AlphaTheta Omnis Duo is a well-crafted, functional, and appealing DJ system with a distinct character. It's particularly suited for simple DJ sets and offers a modern, user-friendly experience. While it does have certain limitations and areas needing enhancement, its unique features like the Bluetooth Input Playback add significant value. If AlphaTheta addresses some of the noted omissions with firmware updates, the Omnis Duo could become an even more compelling option in the portable DJ system market.