March 26, 2012

Numark 4TRAK – Impressions from Product Specialist Drew Hollis at WMC

Numark has provided us with a lot of exclusive access to their gear. When they sent us the N4 we were one of the first dealers to truly get hands on with it and we shared our impressions with the world. This time around, Numark has given us complete exclusivity with their brand new DJ controller, the Numark 4TRAK. This is a 4 deck controller that works seamlessly with the ever popular Traktor software from Native Instruments. Unique Squared is the only retailer in the country with the 4TRAK so we decided to put it on the Mobile Studio and take it around the country. We have met with DJ’s from all walks of life and have been getting their first impressions. We had Felix from Numark get hands on when we were in Austin for SXSW, and he gave us his thoughts on the 4TRAK from a DJ perspective.

This time around we were lucky enough to have Drew Hollis from Numark come on the bus while we were in Miami for Winter Music Conference. He uses the NS6 and he felt right at home hunkering down with the 4TRAK. He has had some time with the 4TRAK as a product specialist, but this was his first chance to really dive into this 4 deck controller as a DJ and play around with all the features. We opened up a laptop, installed the included Traktor 2 software, and in no time at all he was up and running with the 4TRAK. It was a great experience sitting with Drew and going over the features, some of which even surprised him when it came to ease of use, overall functionality, and dynamic versatility to make performances more streamlined and less clunky.

After he had a chance to mix a few tracks together, play with the effects, and get comfortable with the controls, I sat down with him and we went over the features of the Numark 4TRAK.

How long have you had an NS6 and what are your impressions of it?

DH: I have had the NS6 for a few months now and previously I was using the NS7. The one thing I really like about the NS7 is that true platter feel.

So you use Serato predominately?

DH: I am a Serato guy which is why I am really blown away by how easy it is to jump into Traktor after coming off of Serato. I haven’t had a lot of time with Traktor but I am beginning to see why it is such a popular piece of software.

Do you think you are a Traktor convert after this?

DH: Well my primary background is audio engineering so I use a lot of Native Instrument programs like Komplete. Because of the way Traktor is setup I am kind of kicking myself for not getting on it sooner.

Let’s talk about the 4TRAK. How do the jog wheels feel?

DH: It’s got the same great response from the NS6 and has something like 3600 ticks of resolution in there so you really get a high level of fidelity. If you’re doing sharp cuts or if you’re a battle DJ, then you’re going to really appreciate that amount of control.

What about the strip search feature?

DH: Yeah when I am in Serato and using the NS6 I can drop in anywhere I want but with the 4TRAK I now have to hold the shift button to active it. I really like that because if you are reaching over and tweaking effects, you don’t want to accidentally bump it and ruin your set.

It looks like the hot cues are ported over from the NS6. Let’s talk about those.

DH: I come from a production background and I like using controllers in the studio to arrange my mixes. For me the ability to break out a drum kit on the hot cues is great. We really liked the cue buttons on the NS6 and got such a great response that we wanted to keep those buttons in tact for the 4TRAK.

Will DJ’s like the ability to set quick loops with the shift feature?

DH: Oh yeah its great. If you want to do quick loops like from 8 to 2, in the past you would have to trigger it and be hot on the draw to click over to hit your next loop down. Its definetly a great feature for performance.

Why the FX bar at the top? How will that help DJ’s in their performances?

DH: The command console we have up here really breaks this thing wide open for Traktor users. You have your 4 proprietary filters for each channel and then you have the ability to stack your 3 effects when FX is engaged. It’s really easy to toggle them in and out without always touching your computer to switch out effects.

So are we going to see a case that is specific for the 4TRAK?

DH: There are road cases that will fit the 4TRAK but we actually have a bag that we are making specifically for the 4TRAK with a separate compartment for this command console at the top of the unit. Its as simple as loosening a couple screws in the back and putting it in your bag. For those that have an NS6 the bag will work great for them as well.

The mixer section is very similar to that of the NS6, almost identical. What stands out to you in the mixer section?

DH: Well first and foremost the top section has access to flipping on effects to A and B. Really responsive EQs and the great thing is that it acts as a stand alone mixer. I have noticed that some mixers out there are a little congested and the great thing about the 4TRAK is that the knobs are spaced well enough apart. The 4TRAK is color coded too so you can tell which deck you are on with the illuminating LEDs.

What about guys that want to use Digital Vinyl Systems (DVS)? How easy is it to get up and running with auxiliary turntables?

DH: The 4TRAK has 4 channel inputs so its an easy plug and play and they are phono inputs so they don’t need any external IO’s. That coupled with the fact that its a standalone mixer is great so you can plug up CD players, CDJ’s, an iPod, whatever you need to keep the party going in case your laptop goes down.

What’s on the horizon for Numark? Tell me what people can expect to see from you guys this year.

DH: There are things I can’t talk about just yet but we did debut a lot of really cool stuff at NAMM. The iDJ Pro is bridging that gap between the consumer market and the professional side. It’s a solid piece, runs on Algoriddim’s DJ app, and lays flat in the unit so if you want to go crazy with the effects you can really dive into it. But be on the look out because we have a lot of really exciting things coming in the near future and we look forward to hearing the response.