Thursday, January 19, 2012
Numark 4Trak Digital DJ Controller [ Coming Soon ] May / June 2012
Numark 4Trak Digital DJ Controller [ Coming Soon ] May / June 2012
Numark have set DJ hearts beating over the last few years with a couple of high end MIDI controllers. The NS7 and NS6 are in my humble opinion stunning pieces of DJ hardware, but something has been missing from them. Granted, they've run absolutely perfectly with their chosen software i.e. Serato's ITCH, but Traktor love for these controllers has been absent, or at least average at best. But that's about to change - Numark and Native instruments are about to set the record straight. Behold the 4Trak - it's the NS6 dedicated to Traktor.
We got the official world exclusive on this one. Some bright spark in the retail chain thought it would be cool to cobble together pages of the manual (not a patent application) and leak them, but Numark gave us the proper first look. So let's get the official stuff out of the way first:
NUMARK ANNOUNCES 4TRAK, A FOUR-CHANNEL TRAKTOR CONTROLLER WITH FX KOMMAND CONSOLE
4TRAK puts Traktor control into an indestructible design that
raises the bar for professional DJ controllers
Cumberland, R.I. (Jan. 19, 2012) – Numark, the world’s leading manufacturer of DJ technology, introduces 4TRAK, a four-deck digital DJ controller with built-in four-channel mixer and comprehensive effects console, giving DJs unprecedented command over Traktor software. Numark will unveil 4TRAK at booth #6400 at the 2012 NAMM Show from January 19-22 in Anaheim, California.
4TRAK is the ultimate controller for Traktor software, combining legendary Numark build quality with the critically acclaimed performance capabilities of Native Instrument’s software.
4TRAK lays out a vast array of fully mapped controls for Traktor software right in front of you, putting a playground of capability at your fingertips. DJs can mix anything: 4TRAK's built-in four-channel mixer allows turntables, microphones, MP3 players—really anything—to be added into the mix. Each of 4TRAK’s channels has an input selector, so DJs can instantly transition between controlling Traktor's four decks and their external sources.
4TRAK offers unparalleled control over Traktor’s effects and filters with the expansive 12-knob FX KOMMAND CONSOLE. DJs have top-level access to effect and filter parameters, giving them incredible performance capabilities. They can layer effects, adjust filters, and mix and match both instantly in ways not possible on any other controller. 4TRAK's platters feature bi-colored, rotating LEDs, 3600 ticks of resolution per rotation, automatically adjusting sensitivity, and high-resolution 14-bit MIDI, which combine to provide ultra-precise turntable control. 4TRAK’s layout features mouse-less library navigation, Master Tempo, complete Pitch Control, manual and instant Looping, Hot Cues and more.
“We wanted to give DJs the ultimate performance tool for Traktor,” said Chris Roman, Senior Product Manager, Numark “This is it—4TRAK represents the most precise hardware-software integration for Traktor, and it’s built like a tank.”
Four decks of software control, a four-channel mixer and total command over all effects: Meet 4TRAK, the ultimate controller for Traktor DJ software. 4TRAK lays out a vast assembly of tactile controls in front of you, putting a playground of capability at your fingertips. Mix anything: 4TRAK's built-in four-channel mixer allows you to bring turntables, microphones, MP3 players and more into the mix. Tweak everything: High-resolution platters, exclusive Strip Search needle-drop technology and an expansive 12-knob FX KOMMAND CONSOLE give you more precise control over Traktor than ever before.
4 DECKS OF KONTROL
At the heart of 4TRAK is a premium-quality fully independent four-channel mixer that can be used with or without a computer, making 4TRAK one of the most versatile Traktor controllers in the world. 4TRAK has a full range of input and outputs for connecting virtually any device: RCA inputs on each channel and four line-level inputs with two switchable to phono and two switchable to mic. Connect almost any external music source like turntables, CD players and microphones, and mix them in seamlessly with tracks from your software.
THE FX KOMMAND CONSOLE
4TRAK offers unparalleled control over your effects and filters. With the FX KOMMAND CONSOLE, you have top-level access to effect and filter parameters, giving you incredible performance capabilities. Layer effects, adjust filters, and mix and match both of them in ways that were previously impossible.
4TRAK's FX KOMMAND CONSOLE gives you two decks of effects controls, FX1 and FX2, plus four detented filter knobs for each of 4TRAK's four channels. Both the FX1 and FX2 decks give you three controls that can be assigned to the effects of your choice. Each FX deck also features time division controls, allowing you to match your effects to a track's BPM instantly, and giving you continuous control over an effect's pacing.
BUILT-IN FOUR-CHANNEL MIXER
Each of 4TRAK’s channels has an input selector, so you can instantly transition between controlling Traktor's four decks and your external sources. Connect two CD players, two turntables, two mics—the combinations are endless. Grab tracks or loops from your music library one moment, then your turntable, iPod, or a mic the next. 4TRAK makes it possible to take music from virtually any source and bring it into your mix.
4TRAK is a complete DJ controller, able to handle everything you’ve got, empowering you to perform at your highest level.
ADVANCED STRIP SEARCH TECHNOLOGY
4TRAK includes the groundbreaking Numark innovation known as Strip Search. Originally introduced with NS7, this incredible virtual-needle-drop technology allows you to locate any point on a track by using an advanced touch strip on each deck. LED track indicators above each strip provide real-time visual feedback about the tracks position.
4TRAK's platters feature 3600 ticks of resolution per rotation along with automatically adjusting platter sensitivity, giving you high definition turntable control. With ultra-precise, high-resolution 14-bit MIDI, 4TRAK removes the line between hardware and software, giving you incredibly tight response. Bi-colored LEDs also surround each platter, providing both an indication of the Deck in control and also a Deck’s playback status. Effects can be instantly accessed by channel.
The simple and intuitive design of 4TRAK includes favorites like mouseless library navigation, Master Tempo, complete Pitch Control, manual and instant Looping and Hot Cues. You'll get direct access to beat grid controls and beat skip, allowing you to juggle a track inline with the beat so that it never loses sync. 4TRAKS built-in professional 24-bit audio interface guarantees pristine audio quality from your computer.
TRAKTOR SOFTWARE INCLUDED
Start mixing and unleashing powerful effects right away with the included Traktor 2 4TRAK Edition software. Traktor 4TRAK Edition brings you a world-renowned, rock-solid four-deck DJ program with an intuitive interface featuring TruWave colored waveforms for a visually rich experience of your music. With Traktor 2 4TRAK Edition, you'll get a mixing experience guaranteed to be intuitive, creative and addictive.
Four decks of software control with included TRAKTOR 2 4TRAK Edition software
12-knob FX KOMMAND CONSOLE for complete control over effects & filters
Built-in four-channel DJ mixer that works with or without a computer
Four line inputs, two turntable inputs and two microphone inputs
Touch-sensitive illuminated platters with 3600 ticks of resolution per rotation
Built-in 24-bit audio interface with balanced XLR outputs
Solid metal construction
Maps seamlessly with TRAKTOR PRO 2 including sample triggers
Ultra-precise, low-latency high-speed MIDI
Strip Search with illuminated track-position indicator
Mouseless library navigation with view options
Works with a wide range of MIDI software
Yay - the other 50% of the DJ market finally gets some Numark top controller love. Be aware that this isn't a kneejerk product - it's been planned for 18 months, with many changes along the way, but mainly due to NI's constant development of Traktor. And to be clear - this is an official collaboration between NI and Numark rather than just an mapped NS6 with a new paint job.
So I know you're thinking exactly the same as I am - given that NI make their own hardware, why on earth should they work with Numark to make a full on (not in any way LE) Traktor controller? Well NI are a great software company, whereas Numark are a pure hardware company with a heap of purchasing power. Thus Native seem quite happy to allow Numark to make what is probably the premium Traktor controller on the market along with a license for a 4Trak specific Traktor Pro. And with the numbers that Numark shift, NI would be mad not want a slice of that hardware pie, as I don't think they could make a controller of this quality and keep it to an affordable price. Yes, they could make it, and make an amazing job of it, but I doubt you or I would be able to afford it. Given that Numark already have the tooling in place, it's far more cost effective for them to make this than it ever could be for NI.
It looks like the NS6 in a silver case, and to all intents and purposes it is. But to get the very best performance from their respective hardware, specifically the jog wheels, NI and Serato do things a little differently. So firmware comes into play rather than just software alone. If you'll recall, when I reviewed the NS6, I thought that the Traktor performance was OK, but it was a real compromise compared to ITCH. And the 4Trak would explain why that is, and with hindsight would also shed light as to why Numark didn't exactly push Traktor performance on the NS6.
But one area where Traktor has a clear and acknowledged advantage is with effects. ITCH and SSL have great effects - perfectly serviceable for the majority of DJ situations, but Traktor is the daddy of DJ effects. Thus the 4Trak comes with a new effects controller called the FX Kommand Console. Yes, comes with rather than optional extra and fits with a rather neat clamp system to the main body of the 4trak. It controls FX1 and 2 with knobs for 3 parameters, and rather neatly adds filter controls in line with the 4 channels. And to save your USB ports, the FX part plugs into the 4Trak rather than taking up a valuable port on your computer. I rather like the placement of the FX Kommand Console. Sometimes, controller users have a bit of a boring head down thing going on, but with this placement, it should add a little more movement to a DJ's live performance.
I have to comment on looks. The established Black/Red ID of the NS6 and 7 is cool and slick in a Knight Ridery way. The 4Trak... hmmm... will take some getting used to. The FX controller gives it a really 70s retro synth look. I will reserve judgement until I've seen it in the flesh. To match Traktor, I probably would have gone for Orange rather than Yellow, but the images look to be a victim of Photoshop rather that portraying real life.
So now there are 2 near identical controllers running different software. I'm sure that if Numark could, they'd just make one unit to run both Traktor and ITCH. But to me this signifies the predicted polarisation of the platforms to a point where hardware cannot be made compatible and get equal performance. Hmmm… I guess the world of a common MIDI protocol where you can choose your hardware and software independently are nothing more than a pipe dream, unless you adopt the middle ground of VDJ/MixVibes which seems to do a pretty good job of making most things works. So don't be having any mad ideas of buying a 4Trak and simply downloading ITCH - it doesn't work.
The Numark 4Trak comes in with a street price of $1099. No euro or sterling prices just yet. Yes it's a bit more than the NS6, but it does have a whole separate lump of effects controller with it. Expect to see it Q2 - that's March to June.
I think Numark have a winner here. Superficially speaking, I'm not a fan of the looks, the but NS6 workflow is sound, and only enhanced by the additional FX controller. It'll be interesting to see how well the ITCH specific controls adapt to the new Traktor sample based way of working of course. But Traktor fans now have choice - either NI's compact and lightweight S4, or a heavier more spaced out beast for those who give their gear a beating, or just simply don't want an all plastic controller. This will certainly test NI's user loyalty to the hardware brand.
One last observation - I'm seeing an increasing number of internet comments about how people have invested in 4 channel controllers just to sell them to get a 2 channel equivalent. I asked the logical question about a 2Trak, the response to which was that there are no current plans but if the people speak loud enough, then it might happen. And that means more than 3 of you with the ability to write long posts.