Reviewer: Gizmo • Date: June 2011 • Link: Numark • Price: $999/£799/€999
Just when you thought 2 channels were more than enough, along come 2 more to throw a massive spanner in the works, and at the same time create an all new way to make people want to chuck away their last expensive shiny just so they can hang with the cool kids. Yes, the 4 channel gravy train is rampaging through the industry, leaving a 2 channel graveyard in its wake.
Most of the big boys have already put out their own take on the 4 channel controller in the last 12 months. But one notably missing exponent of such things is Numark, who blazed a trail with the eversowonderful NS7. Mindful of how their faithful customers would be knocking down their door for the next scoop of controller goodness, they teased their own future offering at BPM 2010, thus ensuring that their loyal customers would wait, rather than jumping aboard the aforementioned gravy train early just to satisfy their hunger for new tech.
But the Numark NS6 is upon us, and ready to be unleashed to a rather suspecting DJ world. Like a handful of other media outlets, we got an NS6 in pre-launch, and like the good hack that I am, I’ve given it a thorough beating to see how well it holds up to all styles of DJing.
In A Nutshell
The Numark NS6 is an all-in-one Serato ITCH based digital controller. Sporting 4 channels, it has effects built in (so no extra ITCH box to buy later) and can handle analogue inputs too. As you can plainly see, you get 2 jog wheels, with access to all 4 channels via the layer buttons. Out of the box, it comes with ITCH v1.8.1 – named ITCH for Numark NS6, but should also have support for Traktor and Virtual DJ on release day.
What set the NS7 apart from the competition was the stellar build, and that’s been carried on to the NS6. Whereas other controllers feature a lot of plastic, the NS6 is mainly metal. The entire chassis is metal – an anodised base with a brushed top plate. It’s also a single piece faceplate, so unlike the NS7 it appears to be a single unit rather than a narrow mixer surrounded by V7s.This dear reader is about as far away from “toy” as a controller gets.
There have been changes in the detail though. Numark are renowned for rubber buttons. But after extensive research and listening to user feedback, these have been eradicated on the NS6, and replaced with hard plastic ones. More or less every control on the NS7 had a hard plastic frame around it as well as custom moulded buttons. The NS6 however whilst being simplified, and having harder buttons, feels good. The click is solid and the lights are bright. Some may prefer the rubber type, especially if repeated button bashing is your game, but I like these just fine.
Otherwise, the controls are all pretty solid. Pitch faders are often an afterthought but these are better than other controllers. I do however wish that the movement exhibited by the plastic posts could have eliminated by putting metal pots in there. Numark tell me that these are tried and tested on other products in their range so I imagine that they’ll be just fine.
Physically, it falls somewhere in-between its nearest rivals – smaller in all ways than the Pioneer DDJ-T1, bigger than the Denon MC-6000 and similar to the NI Kontrol S4. Weight wise however, it’s a bit of a bloater, with the S4 being the lightest at 7.5lb and the NS6 being nearly twice as heavy at 14lb. That said, you only have to look at the construction to see the difference.
So overall, the NS6 is a beast – a smaller and lighter beast than the NS7, but a beast nonetheless. But if you plan to travel a lot with it, it just too big for hand baggage, so it’s in the hold for the NS6, right next to the DDJ-T1, while the Denon and NI units sits happily in the cabin.
Note to Numark - 6 big rubber feet only aids stability on the flattest of work surfaces. My advice to people is to take the middle ones off.
Now, let’s pull the NS6 apart, bit by bit into its key areas.