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As digital DJs, we’re all guilty of it. And our audience is more than aware of it too. And its name, rather unfairly, is Serato Face. This is the phenomenon of being rather more transfixed on the laptop-based waveforms and playlists than the actual DJ gear or crowd. But the Numark NV (that’s ENVEE not EN FIVE) aims to banish this blight on the DJ performance via a pair of built-in high res displays, all powered by Serato DJ.

Let’s get into the detail from Numark first, and then dissect it as only we do:

Numark Unveils NV Controller

Premier DJ manufacturer unveils the first intelligent Serato DJ controller with integrated software feedback screens.

Cumberland, RI, USA – July 14, 2014. Numark (numark.com), the world’s leading innovator of DJ solutions, announces NV, an intelligent controller for Serato DJ. Featuring high-resolution color screens that provide extensive visualization of Serato’s flagship DJ platform and advanced interactive controls, NV opens all-new doors for the modern performing artist.

With two 4.3-inch, full-color screens integrated into its sleek, compact chassis, NV completely redefines the software-hardware experience for professional DJs. Using NV, performers experience feedback of Serato DJ – an award-winning software platform for digital DJ’ing – within critically acclaimed Numark hardware. Another first for DJ controllers, NV includes downloadable Remix Packs from world-renowned Toolroom Records, allowing artists to remix with audio stems from the leading electronic dance music label.

NV’s backlit performance screens deliver vivid, real-time visualization of Serato DJ; complete with spinning Virtual Decks, effects (FX), Cue Points, waveforms and more. Supporting four decks of control, its screens also provide song library navigation and detailed waveforms respective to each deck. Now, performers can manage set elements with the source laptop closed or out of sight without sacrificing functionality. Further, eye travel from the laptop screen to the controller is eliminated for seamless operation.

“NV has that ‘x-factor’ DJs have been searching for,” says Karl Detken, Numark Marketing Director. “It completely re-imagines the DJ experience while infinitely expanding creative performance options. Feedback elements are placed in the middle of the action, not away from it. The crowd will never again question what the DJ is doing in the booth, nor will the DJ question what they are doing with their hands.”

Incorporating the groundbreaking touch-activated controls and performance pad modes introduced with NS7II, NV empowers progressive track manipulation on-the-fly. FX, EQ and filter knobs are capacitive – responding with a twist, a touch or both. Now, DJs can unlock textures and transitions limited only by the imagination. All-new touch-activated metal platters provide jog, scrub and scratch duties while intelligent adaptive platter technology optimizes touch-response based on the user and host environment. Users can expect the tactility and reliability needed for the stage’s biggest moments, every time. A total of 16 velocity-sensitive pads provide intuitive control over 10 pad modes for finger drumming, sample slicing, effortless looping, hot cues and more. The ultra-thin NV and its intelligent controls were painstakingly crafted to inspire confidence in transit or in the booth.

“With its embedded, full-color screens, the Numark NV is a breakthrough in digital DJ controller technology,” noted Serato CEO AJ Bertenshaw. “Numark has achieved an unprecedented level of integration with Serato DJ that blurs the line between hardware and software. We cannot wait for performers to experience it first-hand.”

Highlights:

  • Intelligent Serato DJ controller with dual high-resolution screens
  • 4 decks of Serato DJ software control in a sleek, low-profile design
  • Screens provide 1:1 real-time feedback of Serato DJ so you can focus on the music, not
    the computer
  • Dedicated hardware controls for critical software functions
  • Touch-activated knobs provide groundbreaking control of filters, EQ, and more
  • Dual 5-inch hyper-responsive metal platters with search and scratch modes
  • Adaptive learning platter technology for optimum response in any environment
  • 16 velocity-sensitive trigger pads with backlit RGB feedback
  • 10 pad modes for hot cues, loops, song slicing, and sample triggering
  • Dedicated 3-way touch-activated filter knob on each channel
  • Dedicated touch-activated control of Serato’s 12 professional iZotope® FX
  • Built-in professional 24-bit USB 2.0 audio interface
  • Zone/booth outputs and balanced XLR outputs for club use
  • Plug and play with Serato DJ (included) – no upgrade purchase required
  • Toolroom Records Remix Packs included (download) 

DJs will see NV at DJ Expo, August 11-14 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. NV will be in stores this fall for $699.99 USD. For more information, visit: www.numark.com/nv

Numark NV Serato DJ Controller (4)

Envy for the NV?

Yes I went there, so that nobody else had to.  So let’s get into what the Numark NV is, does, and also might do.

We were lucky enough to see the Numark NV via a Skype call on Friday. My first knee jerk reaction to it was “updated NS6 with screens”. That’s not wholly inaccurate, but looking a little harder, you’ll see that a more apt description is “NS6, NS7 II, CDJ-2000, and SCS4DJ in a blender”. You can see the heritage and features from all of these distilled into the Numark NV.

The first thing to say is that the Numark NV is smaller than you might expect, and deliberately so. It’s just about the same overall dimensions as the Traktor Kontrol S4 (so bag and flight friendly), and comes in at just 3/4″ thick at the front. The construction is quote “like a Push”, so that’s rugged plastic that feels a step up from budget plastic offerings.

The screens are custom high resolution offerings — think smartphone sized. They’re not touch screens though — that’s something that will come in time I suspect. The screens operate over three layers:

  • The Serato “widget” including hot cues
  • Wave forms and effects info
  • Library navigation

Essentially it’s the stuff that you’d be Serato-facing into your laptop for.

So far as I can tell, the Numark NV does no work of its own. All the data including waveforms is coming from the laptop so it should all be instant loading.

It’s worth differentiating this from the visually similar Stanton SCS.4DJ. The NV video shows the laptop being closed, but it needs to be connected to continue working. This will mean using something like Caffeine if you want to fully close your laptop. That depends on how well the screens work, and indeed if people will want to adapt to a small window. That’s going to be a hard habit to break. But to be clear  — the Numark NV has no standalone operation, neither is it bus powered.

It’s not a mixer

There has been a trend for making controllers also act as mixers, as if being able to use it for both was a positive benefit. Well perhaps it was for a small number of people. But generally speaking, my own experience is that people buy a controller because they want to move away from mixers and turntables/CDJs, or to have a compact option in addition to their full setup. And this seems to be echoed in Numark’s research as well. So those expecting to be able to hook up turntables and run Serato DJ in DVS mode are out of luck. The upside of that is that it makes the NV more affordable.

Mapping the screens?

Be in no doubt — the Numark NV is a wholly Serato DJ dedicated product. The screen voodoo that has been developed is very much a partnership between Numark and Serato and aims to stay very much within that domain. While it’s likely that some clever buggers will work out how its done, the screens officially remain as a Serato DJ thing. So you’ll be able to map other software to the rest of it, it’ll be a long way from the complete NV experience. And in all honesty, experience shows that using Serato controllers with any other software is a less than fulfilling experience. It’s designed for Serato DJ, and that’s how really you should use it.

That said, I’d be interested to see if algoriddim or iMect could work their djay and DJ Player iOS based magic on it.

That magic “stems” word

It does keep popping up in chatter at the moment, and. But this is the first reference to it in any kind of official PR, so one has to wonder if this is going to be the next big thing to come from software vendors. Case in point — the Numark NV comes with content from UK dance label Toolroom Records. Looking at the NV, there’s not much that is different in the hardware, so it’ll be interesting to see how people use the NV to handle stems. This is one feature I’m keen to be let loose on for sure.

Summing Up

Numark and Serato appear to have taken the popularity of NI’s Kontrol S4 very seriously, and the Numark NV looks to be the response with bells on. It does fill the gap between the entry level Mixtrack Pro and the high end NS6 and NS7 II, but doesn’t seem to skimp on features. Strip Search is a notable omission, as is the removal of analogue mixer capability. But the Numark NV still comes across as being a very complex and comprehensive controller, that if anything has more focus because it is only a controller.

You’ll be able to see the Numark NV for the first time at DJ Expo in Atlantic City in August. It’s priced at a very competitive $699, and once the final software features have been honed, it should be available “early fall”. We’re looking forward to pulling it apart in due course.

UPDATE: Street price is £559.99 and €699.99

Over to you

Game changer or rearranger? Has the next revolution in controllers been realised with the lines between hardware and software being blurred? Would you like this more if it were full standalone? Give Numark some honest and constructive feedback – they’re reading. 

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