Numark 4Trak Review
Numark is back, this time with the release of their new dedicated Traktor 2 controller, the 4Trak. I have always been forthcoming in admitting that I am an avid Native Instruments Traktor Scratch Pro fan, and that I am also a Kontrol S4 user. We at Unique Squared also recognize that Traktor is one of the most widely used DJ software worldwide, hence our mapping segments with the M-Audio Torque Xponent and the ever popular Numark NS6. We were super excited to see that Numark was releasing the 4Trak when we first saw it at Winter Namm earlier this January. Well, we finally appropriated a demo unit here at the Unique Squared studios just last week and got an opportunity to check it out.
For decades Numark has been delivering some of the best DJ products to hungry, perspective DJs as well as professional DJs worldwide. But it has been in the past three years or so that they have really stepped up their game and arguably become the leading manufacturer of DJ controllers in the market. It seems that there is no end to their research and development of innovative DJ products that fit every price point and meet the unrelenting needs of the most demanding of DJs. The release of the 4Trak continues in Numark’s tradition of excellence and innovation. Here are the basics:
Four decks of software control with included TRAKTOR 2 4TRAK-Edition software
Controlling four decks has become the standard for professional DJs, whether it’s using playback decks, sample decks, or both. The 4Trak edition Traktor software identically mirrors the layout of the controller making it extremely easy for beginners to learn or professionals to perfect their skills.
12-knob FX KOMMAND CONSOLE for complete control over effects & filters
Traktor has the best digital effects in the world. Period. The FX Kommand Console extends the layout of the 4Trak eliminating any extra clutter, and tilts with a gangster lean so DJs can be quick on the draw when delivering the goods. It also connects and detaches easily to protect your controller when transporting between gigs.
Built-in four-channel DJ mixer that works with or without a computer
Stand alone capability gives mobile DJs a safety net if the lappy goes down. The 4Trak sports four line inputs, two turntable inputs and two microphone inputs. You can also switch back and forth from software, iPod, CD/media player, and/or turntable if you want to diversify your dj set-up and optimize your creative choices.
Touch-sensitive illuminated platters with 3600 ticks of resolution per rotation
Arguably the most accurate non-rotating platters on the market. We fell in love with these on the NS6 and now they have returned on the 4Trak for the previously jealous Traktor users. Your welcome.
Built-in 24-bit audio interface with balanced XLR outputs
Super high quality AD/DA conversion ensures your tracks and cuts maintain fidelity, while balanced XLR and separate booth outputs give you the freedom and confidence to utilize your 4-Trak in the booths of the biggest night clubs or massive event stages.
Solid metal construction
Solid, rugged, and ready for touring. This is definitely a pro controller weighing less than 20 pounds that is lighter yet and with more capabilities than two decks and mixer.
Maps seamlessly with TRAKTOR PRO 2 including sample triggers
It is a marriage of heavyweights without the headache of a time consuming mapping. The integration is precise and effortless.
Ultra-precise, low-latency high-speed MIDI
The 4Trak maintains Numark’s quality low-latency design, plus it plays well with other dj software programs.
Strip Search with illuminated track-position indicator
Needle dropping has never been easier, plus the LED visual confirmation let’s you know when you are close to the edge when laziness or vodka drinks ensue.
Mouseless library navigation with view options
You are no longer slaved to your laptop with the numerous browsing and view options on the 4-Trak. Speed kills and you will murder your dance floor.
Laying It Out
Not unlike many Georgia correctional facilities and institutions, DJ controllers often fall victim to overcrowding in terms of their layout and work space. Such is not the case on the 4Trak especially with the addition of the FX Kommand Console, or FXKC . The 4Trak is actually more like a mixing console than a standard controller due to its size and weight. The layout is pretty typical of what you expect from Numark, with each side of the deck in a mirrored layout. The Sync, Cue, and Play/Pause the largest on the controller, well lit and located on the bottom either side of the decks.
Just above the transport section is the shift button and five hot cue buttons. This cue area is still relatively small keeping in Numark’s tradition via the NS6 but still somewhat manageable if you are into drumming or juggling your tracks. To the lower inside area of each platter there is a “jump back” button which takes you to the very beginning of the track when you hit it. This replaces the “skip” button that was found in the identical location on the NS6. To the outside of each platter are the pitch adjust faders. These are quite firm and offer little resistance acting more like a pitch set rather than an adjust, as it should be. If you don’t want to nudge your track via the sides of the platters, you can do so utilizing the plus/minus pitch bend buttons below the pitch adjust faders.
The platters on the 4Trak are identical in size, stature, and ability to those of the NS6. They have 3600 ticks of resolution per rotation making them super smooth, very accurate, and definitely great for scratching. The platters also have rotating LED on the outside edge giving you visual confirmation of the track when it is paused or playing. If you don’t want to use the platters to scratch, simply deactivate the scratch button on the upper outside of the platter. This prevents accidental interruption of your track when reaching over the platter to tweak your loops.
On the upper inside of each respective platter is the layer button which switches all deck control from A to C on the left and B to D on the right. The looping section is actually pretty elaborate having ten buttons exclusively for sizing, activating, moving, setting, and shifting your loops. Without getting into too much detail you can punch in and out of loops, auto-activate loops that are of a pre-determined length, as well as storing and activating loops automatically. WHOA, anyway you have a lot of ways to loop. Overall, the deck section is very easy to navigate and is logically laid out.
The Set Up
The 4Trak arrived on a Thursday and we were quick to unbox and unveil via Instagram. We pretty much knew we had to install the proprietary Traktor 2 Numark 4Trak edition and possibly a specific driver, which were conveniently included, which we did promptly. However, I was pleasantly surprised that my current version of Traktor Pro 2 also recognized the Numark 4Trak immediately after plugging it in, but some tricky configuring had to be implemented in order to have full functionality.
Launching the 4Trak edition of Traktor 2 proved to be the way to go as it was literally just plug and play and everything was ready to go without any additional configuring or routing. I like to just start playing music and figure things out while I go, but it was remarkably easy load a track, navigate, load the next and execute the mix immediately. To be fair I am very familiar with the software and to some degree even the 4Trak due to its strikingly similar layout to that of the Numark NS6. In fact, the only MAJOR difference is the addition of the FX Kommand Console which was easily attached with the built in brackets and two adjustable screws.
In The Mix
The 4Trak is a seriously professional controller in terms of feel and accuracy. Navigation of all of my music and files was also very quickly and easily done having quick buttons to take me in and out of folders and sub-folders. Preparation is definitely the key to successful DJing so that you can focus on the mix, transitions, and creativity. Once my tracks were loaded and ready to go, I like to set my cue points for the intro, first drop, build, and outro. The 4Trak has five hot cues directly above the transport section and right below the platters making it super easy to set cues. Simply hit the cue button where you need it and it’s set. If you are a little off, you can delete the cue point by holding down the first “shift” button and pressing the desired cue point to erase it. Simple as that.
Even scrolling through the track to find the exact cue points was easy using the “strip-search”. This was first introduced on the NS7 and truly perfected on the NS6. By holding down the shift button in the cue section, you can then slide your finger across the touch strip located above the looping section to navigate quickly through your track. This is a useful tool when setting your cues or finding specific parts to mix into while playing. Having to hold down the shift button also is brilliant in that it prevents you from accidentally displacing your current track when you are adjusting any of the loops just below. Very cool.
Once into the mix it was easy to blend because the EQ and gain section is just wonderful and has a solid, broad range. I personally like to “up and down” level mix with the channel faders with the cross-fader centered. The faders are long and tolerant and feel just as good as any of the best full DJ consoles on the market, and they are perfect for the long mix. The addition of the FX console also gave me complete control when selecting and modifying my incredible Traktor effects and filters. Overall, mixing on the 4Trak was just as easy and efficient as using any of the best controllers on the market including Native Instruments’ coveted S4 and that alone makes the 4Trak a heavy contender.
4Trak with Felix Pacheco at SXSW
Numark 4TRAK Brief Overview and Demo with Felix UniqueSquared Mobile Studio
We recently caught up with Felix Pacheco of Numark when we were in Austin, Texas for SXSW. Felix is a SXSW veteran calling Austin home and playing many gigs in the area both as a DJ and as a bassist for his band, Cilantro Boombox. Felix has been a long time friend of UniqueSquared and this was the second year we visited with him for SXSW at the MobileStudio tour bus. We met him and Casey Lloyd (also with Akai, Numark, Alesis) at the bus parked conveniently at 7th and Neches, deep in the heart of the festival.
After setting up the 4Trak in the tracking room of the bus, Felix commenced his eclectic mix of soulful, Latin laden house, exploring the array of nifty effects from Trakor’s arsenal. I took the liberty to show him some of my favorites since he is primarily a Serato Itch and NS6 user for most of his gigs and he quickly went to town. The cool thing about jamming with Felix and the 4Trak is that it instantly became a party with Zack Rocket, Lonely Paul, and myself getting some spins on the 4Trak as well. When all was said and done Felix compared the similarities of the 4Trak and NS6, and shared his favorite features of both for our cameras.
The 4Trak is a beast. It is a big gig, professional controller with a solid layout and a very rigid, full metal construction. But at the end of the day it’s all about the software. The long awaited marriage of Numark and Traktor is so necessary for the DJ universe. Sure, we can map Traktor to almost anything and we will continue to, but for Numark to release the 4Trak amidst the success of the NS6 makes it very easy for Traktor fans (especially in Europe) to choose Numark. In all fairness there are a few minor quirky features on the 4Trak (like the assign buttons and sliders above the browser) that seem like leftovers from the NS6, but the quality of this controller is undeniable and we know it will be a huge success. We also know that Native Instruments has something on the horizon with Traktor Remix 2.5 in April and hopefully some of the new features will still translate nicely to the 4Trak. I personally look forward to doing a comparison with this and the Vestax VCI-400 very soon. But that’s another blog. If you have any input or questions, please be sure to leave them in the comments below. Until next time, happy gigs!