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 🙂 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.  One 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.  The 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 I’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: The defining feature of the 4Trak.  This makes Traktor effects control super easy, compared the the Mixdeck’s limited effects controls.  The FX bar is pretty cool.  Setting 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 🙂
  • System Resource Needs: The 4Trak places a noticeably higher CPU/memory demand on my macbook.  To 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!