REVIEW: Numark NS6

Written by:  DJ Jimmy

In life, I am very much a creature of habit. When comfortable with one method of doing things, I tend to stick with it. This lifestyle also applies to DJing. I began in 1986, and unless a track or mix was unavailable on vinyl, I exclusively spun records well into the 2000s. I only switched over to CDs when carrying up to eight crates to every gig became unfeasable due to the wear on my back and smaller booth sizes.

Over the past few years, I’ve repeatedly had an increasing amount of friends question when I was going to begin using a controller. I always cited multiple reasons – unpredictability, unreliability, and a general uneasiness with the format.

Continue reading REVIEW: Numark NS6

REVIEW: Numark V7 Motorized Turntable Controller

Written by:  Chris Racine

Moving forward in the digital world of DJing could not be possible without companies like Numark who consistently strive to push the envelope. Without a doubt, the Numark V7 is going to be a hit with DJs all over the world…

 

What is it?

The Numark V7 is a high-speed MIDI controller used in conjunction with Serato Itch. It has a motorized platter with a real vinyl record for the look and feel of a traditional turntable; it has its own built-in sound card, with 2 pairs of RCA outputs that will allow 1 V7 to control both decks. When using two V7s together, this feature is a perfect set-up for seamless transitions. There are loop controls for ‘on the fly’ loop adjustments, time control, and a touch strip that gives you instant access to any part of the song- like dropping the needle at any point on the record.

 

numark-v7-angleLayout – First Look and Feel

The look is stylish yet practical. The 7″ platter and the strip search are the first things you will notice when seeing the V7 in action; it is the closest feeling to working with real vinyl any DJ could ask for. All of the buttons are very sturdy and comfortable to the touch; this controller will give any single deck controllers on the market a good run for their money.

Testing – Getting Started

One of the best attributes of the V7 is the ease of the set-up. I was blown away by how quickly I was up and running after taking it out of the box; I was mixing within 15 minutes of the UPS delivery guy leaving my house. After installing the software there was nothing to map; every button worked perfectly. All I had to do to get started was hook up the audio cables to my mixer, and plug in the USB cable.

 

Great Hardware Paired With Great Software

The Numark V7 is paired with Serato Itch to provide an amazing interface between DJs and their music. Serato Itch is a user-friendly version of Serato Scratch Live that will fully interact with every aspect of the V7 controller. Serato’s Itch program works flawlessly with the controller and is both intuitive and user-friendly… In addition to the bells and whistles of some of the best DJ CD players on the market, there are controls for navigating files and folders; you won’t even have to touch the keyboard on your laptop.

Numark takes it to another level with the addition of whats called “Strip Search.” This is a long strip at the top of the platter that allows you to cue ahead anywhere in the entire song, instantly. Lets say you don’t need a long intro- you can forward into the song instantly and set up your cue point. The autoloop control is cool as well; this allows you to set in advance how many beats you want to loop. For those who would rather do it themselves, you can simply touch a button and you’re in manual mode as well. And for DJs who prefer two controllers, the deck select button allows you to link another V7.

Critiques

numark-v7-backMy major critique would be the fact that the V7 has very little support when using Cue (Numark’s own brand of software). For several weeks I tried getting Cue to map the V7 using mappers and updates; unfortunately, it never happened for me. I’m told by Numark that “The V7 is basically 1/2 of an NS7; and to pair the two together, you will need to use the included ethernet cable.” The cable is a bit short should you be using a 19″ club mixer, but any standard RJ universal ethernet cable will do; they are inexpensive, and available in many lengths. I’ve found that the ethernet cable feature is nice because it allows for the sound card to stay on 1 deck; this allows me to change decks and DJs in the middle of a set without having to mess with audio cables.

 

Conclusion

Numark’s second release of a program-specific MIDI controller has only minor flaws if you plan to use it specifically for DJing. The controller is easy to use, and the audio quality from its own built-in sound card is superb. The V7 would look great in any DJ booth, and it would be my choice as the perfect controller except for the fact that I also use video in my sets. Now, if Numark could make a controller like the V7 for its own software, I would be all over it.

Bullet points:

What is it: A high-speed MIDI controller specifically designed for use with Serato Itch Software

Who is it for: DJs with laptop capability

How long does it take to set up: 10-15 minutes

What is required for its use: a PC or MAC

Difficulty level: Almost nonexistent for any type of DJ, unfortunately, if you’re a VJ using “Cue,” you’re out of luck; support for Cue is nonexistent.

Posted June 2010.

REVIEW: Numark Omni Control

Written by:  Scott Nelsen

Since the turn of the century, DJ technology has changed at an amazing pace. Vinyl and the Technics 1200 turntable were the standard, but CD turntables were just making their way onto the market. Compared to the CD turntables of today, the early models were primitive and clunky. Now, with the proliferation of DJ sites that sell mp3s, the availability of inexpensive and durable laptops, and some really good MIDI controllers and DJ software, the CD turntable may be going the way of the turntable; they will always be used in some form or fashion but will eventually be pushed aside in favor of something smaller, cheaper, and more flexible. Clubs, even in the smallest markets, are starting to accept and even embrace the fact that DJ technology is changing again. If you are considering making the jump to laptop DJ sets, there are a lot of products out there for your consideration.

I’ve been contemplating this transition for about a year now. Although I have looked at a few other products in stores and watched some online demonstrations, I have not found anything that interested me enough to make that jump – until I got my hands on the Numark Omni Control.

Unboxing

numark-omni-control-angleThe first thing I noticed when I unboxed the Omni Control is that it is built like a tank. It is made of high-grade aluminum that wraps all the way around the device, except for the front and back panels. It has durable rubber feet as well as two rubber inlays (on the left and right sides near the bottom) for extra grip when setting it down or picking it up off the table/DJ booth. At first it feels a bit heavy, but not much more than lugging around a bag of 400 CDs and definitely lighter than a case filled with 12″ vinyl.

All 5 faders (two pitch faders, two volume faders, and one crossfader) are as solid and smooth as I would except from any club-standard mixer or CD turntable. The knobs are smooth but tight, offering just the right amount of resistance, with the Global and Effects sections having “infinite scroll” knobs. The EQ knobs do not have quite the solid feel as the rest of them; however, they push down to kill the treble, mid, and bass frequencies. The rest of the buttons for transport, looping, loading tracks, and engaging effects all feel quite sturdy as well. In the heat of a set, the last thing one needs to worry about is to gently press a button or lightly grab a knob for fear of breaking it.

They have placed the headphone jack and microphone input on the front panel. Normally, I do not like this in a mixer design but I can see why Numark did this: the top of the Omni Control is quite crowded, and this would just add to the congestion. The back panel has two outputs (RCA), a USB port, and a 16v A/C adapter input.

Connecting to the Computer

numark-omni-control-side-by-side-with-mbp15The Omni Control ships with Native Instruments Traktor LE. When installing the software, the user is prompted to select which controller they are using (if any). Every button on the Omni Control maps to the identified function in the software; the QuickStart guide is very brief but concise about what each button/knob does. The Omni Control also includes a USB cable to connect to your computer; the 16v adapter is an optional purchase. It requires USB 2.0 to use without the A/C adapter. If you try to use with a USB 1.0 port without the A/C adapter, only output 1 will work. I loaded Traktor LE, installed the Omni Control driver, connected it to my computer and within about 10 minutes, I was able to load two tracks and start mixing. When the Omni Control is plugged in, the lighting from the buttons is enough to see the general layout of the controller but not quite enough to read the silkscreen on the face. The light from the laptop LCD provides enough light, however, to see well enough until you learn all the knobs and buttons.

I have been using Traktor Pro for about two months, so it was a bit of a “downgrade” for me to use Traktor LE. Although Traktor LE is not as flexible or powerful as Traktor Pro, all of the buttons on the Omni Control are mapped properly to the software. It will take some custom midi mapping in Traktor Pro to get the Omni Control to function as thoroughly as it does with Traktor LE.

The basic transport function of Traktor Pro – set cue, play, load track, EQ, pitch, volume faders, etc. – all map so without any custom MIDI mapping, so you could still use its most basic functions with Traktor Pro “out of the box” after loading the appropriate TSI file from Numark’s website.

Audio Interface

numark-omni-control-backThe Omni Control as has a built-in audio interface, saving the need for an external device. The RCA outputs are located on the back of the Omni Control; output 1 is recommended for sending audio to the main system and is controlled by the Master knob on the front. Output 2 is controlled by the headphone volume and is recommended for sending audio to the booth for monitoring. Unfortunately, this means that the headphone volume AND the booth volume are controlled by one knob. You can somewhat compensate for this by using the Phone Mix knob to control the ratio of main signal to cue signal in your phones; however, you do not have independent control of the booth and headphone volume.

Scratching

Although it is possible to “scratch” on the Omni Control, a DJ with these skills would find it very frustrating. The size of the “platters” (really just jog wheels used to scroll through tracks) and the proximity to the cross fader would be very limiting.

Summary

I could find only two issues with the Omni Control – the first is real estate. In the interest of making a controller that is compact yet packed with the standard features you would find in a setup consisting of a mixer and two CD turntables, a lot is packed onto the face of this controller. Anybody with average to large hands will have to be careful as to not bump other knobs or faders. In fact, while mixing a set for this review, there were several times that I accidentally bumped the jog wheel/platter or hit the pitch fader, consequently messing up the mix. I don’t have huge hands, but I still found myself barely grabbing the knobs with the end of my thumb and forefinger in order to not bump anything else.

The second issue is the lack of discrete knobs to control the booth and headphones volume. Many times in a club, your headphone level is not going to be the same as your booth level and you end up manipulating the volume of these independently. Also, the DJ typically does not have access to the amp that powers the booth speakers in order to adjust the volume. I think Numark would be wise to figure out how they could incorporate just one more preamp/knob into the Omni Control for this purpose, likely putting the headphone volume knob on the front of the Omni Control near the headphone jack. Just this one small addition and the Omni Control would be the perfect all-in-one DJ controller, giving you everything that a mixer and two CD turntables provide at just a fraction of the cost.

The Numark Omni Control is a very durable, well thought out MIDI controller. It sounds good, looks good, and maps perfectly with Traktor LE. The design and layout is very intuitive, making for an excellent combination mixer/digital turntable that includes all the standard features of a ‘traditional’ mixer and two turntable/CD player setup (and then some well-placed extras). Any DJ with experience on CD turntables and a basic understanding of DJ software could step up to this controller with their drive full of tracks and be spinning a set in no time at all.

Review posted April 2009.