14 July 2012

Numark 4Trak Review

The controller has been on the market for some time now, but it intregued me enough to take a closer look when I recently stumbled uppon a review by DJ Worx. So without getting my hands on the controller I'll take a shot at reviewing the controller based on the information that is available online and give you my reflected thoughts on the matter.

Traktor version:
It comes with a special edition of Traktor. They have cut down the effects section and removed a couple of the full version effect algorithems. It's a smaller version of the full, but you can upgrade and use this with full Traktor.

Build and structure:
The controller looks to be pretty solid in the brushed aluminium finish. It might remind a little about what Vestax deliver in casing build quality. If it is anything like the NS series the knobs and buttons are descent, but not at the top of the class.
Solid construction

Anglede FX unit:
The "FX Kommand Console" seems to be sturdy and easy to reach. It's placed above the other controller with an angled mounting bracket that is screwed in place. I'm used to the S4 and having the Filter buttons close to the fader. However it might look visually more appealing when performing to reach for them.
Optional FX/Filter unit

Also a mixer:
A great thing about the unit is that it doubles as a standard audio mixer as well with a midi controller. There are 4 channel inputs (Line/Phono/Mic) and you select the source on the switch right next to the fader. It also has an interchangeable cross fader with curve and channel assignment, both balanced and unbalanced master output as well as a booth output with dedicated knob at the surface of the controller.
Front view: Cross fader and monitor control

The controller has a fairly good built-in soundcard that can be compared to Rane SL 4 on the analog side, but has only a 24 bit/44,1 kHz digital range. The frequency range is pretty standard for mid-class soundcards. It doesn't say anything about the number of inputs on their webpage though...

Click the image to see a full overview of the connectors.

Controller layout:
The layout is what we've come to expect of a 4 channel mixer with two transport controls, meaning it's really built for 2 decks, but you can switch from A/C or B/D which I think is a hassle. You need an extra controller to manage the transport of the C and D decks if you want to use them effectively; and then the four channels make sense.
When it comes to button layout and control features the Numark 4Trak controller shines and sticks out! The general layout is tailored to Traktor Pro with a lot of special functions and with dedicated buttons that many other controllers don't really give enough focus.
Looks  busy, but it's actually pretty well organized!

The surface of the controller is packed with buttons that do all the normal stuff that you would expect, but I would like to point out a couple of things that caught my eye.

The strip search is a feature I've never tried, but if you need to jump quickly in to a song it would come in handy. I normally use the beatjump feature to do this. At the top of the strip there is an indicator that probably is used to indicate the position in the track. I think that is pretty nice to have.

Key adjustment feature isn't found on a lot of controllers and the 4Trak even has LED indicators on the encoder. If you are in to key mixing this is a pretty neat thing to have. I seldom use it myself, but when I need to adjust the key it's a big hassle because I haven't got this available. If it was available on the controller I would probably use it more often though and be able to play a lot of other tracks together then I normally do.

Other features that I often use like Cruise (early in the evening) and Record are available as dedicated buttons.

The weakest point of the controller is that it does not have a designated section for the loop recorder and that they only could fit five hotcue buttons as opposed to the full eight.


To sum up what this controller has that the other ones on the market:
  1. Strip search with  progression indicator lights
  2. Dedicated key adjustment contols with value indicator
  3. Browse type buttons (Tree/Songs/Favorites)
  4. Dedicated View mode button
  5. Dedicated Tap button
  6. Multiple instant loop buttons
  7. Record button
  8. Cruise button
  9. Pitch bend buttons
  10. Cue marker buttons (Set/Delete)
  11. Jump to start button
  12. Assignable buttons??!!
Non assigned buttons??!!
It has one encoder, one fader and a small button that is not assigned for each deck! As well as three assignable buttons in the master section. In my opinion this is AWESOME! I would use this to control the club lighting! :)

This is a total package controller. It doubles as a mixer and has a button layout to die for. Assignable buttons that are free to use for anything that you imagination might offer! The price point isn't too bad, but in my they could have priced a bit higher and put in a better sound card to make this a high end controller.

+ Great button layout
+ HID interface with Traktor
+ Doubles as a standard audio mixer
+ Sturdy build materials
- Poor soundcard
- No loop recorder features

Check it out at Numark
Read more at DJWORX
Read more at digitaldjtips.com

Digital DJ Tips video review:

Another detailed video review of the controller:

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