PRO AUDIO
Taylor

Taylor
July 26, 2013

Numark Orbit Review


One of the first things we saw at the NAMM show 2013 was the Numark Orbit wireless DJ controller. There was a lot of buzz from the early press day on through the week about Numark’s latest DJ controller. After the initial high wore off, many bloggers and gear heads began to wonder whether or not the Numark Orbit could be used in a performance environment and be used well. Well we took it for a test drive to see if it has performance potential and we found that it actually holds up pretty well. Many DJs may scoff at that sentiment, but we found it to be quite fun and had several folks around the office, who weren’t DJs, playing with it, sounding great doing it, and having a lot of fun. We also had more skilled DJs pick it up and see the potential for dynamic MIDI mapping capabilities and ways that they could start to include the Numark Orbit into their performances.

For an in depth look at the Numark Orbit, be sure to check out the video above. Below are some thoughts on the features and a review of the Numark Orbit wireless DJ controller.

Features

The Numark Orbit has the standard DJ controls you can come to expect from other popular DJ controllers. There are some obvious differences but you have everything you need to get mixing and performing, right out of the box. While many DJ controllers tout the “plug and play” functionality but require a few extra steps to get going, the Numark Orbit and it’s companion Orbit DJ software synched as soon as I got connected. So if you are someone who is just starting out with audio and DJ software, you can rest assured that the Numark Orbit will not put up a fight when it comes to getting started right out of the box.

The pads, the bank buttons, the bumpers, and the endless rotary, all have a great feel and the controller itself is built very well. Using the rotary wheel in the middle is certainly a different way to DJ. It can be used to control volume, EQ levels, and act as a crossfader depending on what function you have it assigned to control. The wheel itself responds well to the touch and has a nice LED indicator for your level control.

The Orbit is well built and all the controls feel great.

The Orbit is well built and all the controls feel great.

Next to the wireless capabilities, the built in accelerometer is sort of what the Numark Orbit is all about. You can control all the parameters of your effects by tapping the bumpers and manipulating the controller in the proper fashion. Each bumper can control a parameter of a selected effect on its own, or you can hold down both bumpers and open the full function of the accelerometer control. You can lock the Numark Orbit’s accelerometer by double tapping the bumper, which eliminates the need to hold the bumper down when controlling effects.

Review

The Numark Orbit is certainly not going to replace your DJ setup or be the ultimate solution to modular control. What it can do is act as a separate control surface for various functions that your current controller might be lacking. There is of course the obvious appeal of being able to walk away from the decks and still have control during a performance. One thing I felt was a bit lacking tightness with the accelerometer controls. They felt a bit clunky and if you like precise control over how you engage effects, the accelerometer is going to feel more like a burden. That’s not to say that it doesn’t function well for what it is, but when precision matters the Numark Orbit falls a little flat.

The accelerometer is fun, but it lacks a level of precise control.

The accelerometer is fun, but it lacks a level of precise control.

Aside from the functional appeal to working DJs, there is also a kind of heart-warming novelty that comes from the Numark Orbit. Sure many will look at this as a toy, but is that necessarily a bad thing? I could see the Numark Orbit being a fun party activity where you can pass around the controller to have you and your friends take turns DJing. The guy or gal who thinks they could never DJ can grab a Numark Orbit and start playing with some of the performance functions and have a great time doing it. It’s fun, it’s interactive, and it requires very little skill to begin using. With that said one of the advantages of the Orbit is that the more advanced of a DJ you are, the more functionality you can pull from it.

The bottom line is that the Numark Orbit promotes a level of fun and interaction that seems absent from a lot of DJ performance tools and DJ performances generally. If you are looking for a fun party favor, a modular solution with extra controls, or a gift for that very special DJ in your life, head on over to UniqueSquared.com and pick up a Numark Orbit for yourself.

SLAM!!

Transcript

The Numark Orbit is a handheld MIDI controller that wirelessly controls your DJ software. With 16 back-lit colored pads, a built in accelerometer, and an endless rotary wheel, you can have full performance control without being tethered to a cable. The Numark Orbit is powered by a rechargeable battery and can last for several hours on a single charge. You can see the battery life of the numark orbit by holding down K1 until the pad bank buttons illuminate indicating the battery life from 25% to 100%. You can connect wirelessly to your computer with the included USB stick or use it wired with the included USB cable.
On the bottom of the Orbit are your pad bank buttons which toggle between the different controls for each set of 16 pads. At the top are your controls for four different knob functions which can change depending on which pad bank you have selected. You can change the colors of the pads on the Numark Orbit. To do this, simply hold down the pad bank button for three seconds, then tap the right bumper once, select the pads you wish to change the color for and scroll through the colors with the bumper. The Numark orbit lets you control functions with a built in accelerometer. You can activate the accelerometers y axis by holding the right bumper, and the x-axis by holding the left. Holding both bumpers simultaneously engages both. Double tapping a bumper will leave the accelerometer on until the bumper has been taped again. On the back of the orbit is a place for you to connect the included velcro strap.
The Numark Orbit can be mapped to most every software including the popular Serato, Virtual DJ, Ableton, and Traktor DJ softwares. We are using the included Orbit software that comes free with the purchase of an Orbit to give you an idea of how the controls function. You have all of the basic functions of a standard DJ controller. There are controls for Play and Pause. You can setup four hot cues and clear them out. You have looping functionality with one, two, four, and eight bar loops, as well as manual looping controls. Your FX can be engaged either by selecting an effect, or by holding down that effect and using the accelerometer controls. Using the K1 through K3 buttons, you can control the highs, mids, and lows.
To learn more about the Numark Orbit Wireless DJ controller, visit our blog linked in the description below the video. To pick up the Numark Orbit for yourself, head on over to the UniqueSquared website. You’re watching UniqueSquared.com.