NUMARK 4TRAK – Review (I)

[Review updates can be found here]

So I finally gave up my rock-steady Mixdeck! It was tough seeing it go…but I’m sure it’s in good hands now ­čÖé It was time to move on to something else.

So, I got this: The Numark 4Trak + Kommand FX bar. A close brother of the Numark NS6, it’s a solid MIDI controller tailor-made for Traktor. It’s been out for over a year now, and so far I see it’s earned generally favorable online reviews.

Numark 4Trak By switching to the 4Trak, I gained and lost a few things:

  • All-in-one multi-source player: With the Mixdeck, I could play pretty much everything: CD’s, USB sticks, external sources…it even had an iPod dock! The 4Trak, however, is strictly MIDI, with provision for external input. This really isn’t a biggie for me, since digital media comprises 99% of my collection. ┬áOne could get a CDJ or other CD/USB player and plug it into one of the 4Trak’s auxiliary inputs.
  • Plastic Platters: In contrast to the Mixdeck, the 4Trak’s platters have a metal surface. Plus, they’re much more sensitive and (in my opinion) easier to scratch with.
  • Software Compatibility: I used the Mixdeck with Virtual DJ, Serato, Traktor, and Mixxx. ┬áThe 4Trak, however, was built specifically as a Traktor controller. Traktor’s my #1 DJ program anyway, so it’s all good (if you’re a Serato DJ, get the NS6). I know that it’s possible to set up MIDI assignments in VirtualDJ (and the new Serato DJ??) for the 4Trak. However, that’s one heck of a project on its own, and┬áI’m yet to see the complete MIDI assignment anywhere.
  • Dedicated Mic Channel: Whereas the Mixdeck has a dedicated Mic port, you’ll have to use one of the 4 channels on the 4Trak for a mic. However, to keep all 4 channels on the 4Trak available for playing music, one could just run the mic into an external mixer, sitting between the 4Trak and the sound system.
  • 4-Channel Analog/Digital Mixer: Did I mention that the 4Trak has 4 channels? SWEET!
  • Kommand FX Bar:┬áThe defining feature of the 4Trak. ┬áThis makes Traktor effects control super easy, compared the the Mixdeck’s limited effects controls. ┬áThe FX bar is pretty cool. ┬áSetting it up and stowing it away in the case can be a bit cumbersome, but that’s a small price to pay for it’s awesomeness ­čÖé
  • System Resource Needs: The 4Trak places a noticeably higher CPU/memory demand on my macbook. ┬áTo limit CPU overload while DJ’ing, I’ve had to follow these guidelines. However, I’ve also noticed that this isn’t a big issue with newer (i.e. post-2010/2011) laptop models.

I’ll post more findings & reviews as I take this bad boy on the road. Stay tuned!