REVIEWED: Numark NS4FX
Numark have been very busy of late. 2021 was an especially busy year with the release of the new Party Mix II and the Party Mix Live controllers, as well as the Mixstream Pro, the world’s first standalone DJ controller featuring built-in speaker monitors. And hot on the heels of all this, comes the NS4FX, a 4-channel controller featuring a togglable FX section, multi-colour display and Serato DJ Lite software.
The controller is quite wide, giving it a widescreen look, and the extra surface estate allows for several features that elevate it from Numark’s latest models. The NS4FX also comes with improved inputs and outputs. The colour choice was a nice surprise too, with Numark opting for steel grey instead of the customary black.
4-channel DJ controller with dedicated volume faders
Large filter knob on each channel
6" capacitive-touch jog wheels with multicolour display
Layer buttons on each hardware deck to control up to 4 software decks
FX section with 6 selection buttons, parameter controls and 2 toggle switches
Dedicated loop sections with multiplier controls
Crossfader assignment switches on each channel
8 performance pads on each deck with pad mode selection buttons
Long pitch faders with pitch bend buttons
3-band EQ on each deck with full kill
Summed microphone and main output audio over USB for live-streaming
Balanced XLR Main output and RCA Booth output
2 ¼" microphone inputs with volume and tone controls (one is switchable to aux)
Serato DJ Pro upgrade ready
All together the controller offers a sturdy build for the price, as per usual from Numark. The jog wheels feel robust and the faders are smooth with good travel. The knobs also feel solid and the buttons are responsive but firm – they seem like they can take some punishment!
Numark gives us two microphone inputs: one is a mic/aux with tone control, while the second is for microphone only but with additional volume and tone. The balanced XLR outputs sit adjacent to unbalanced RCA inputs and with 24-bit audio, the NS4FX is suitable for a wide variety of professional purposes. For those who use high-end (and expensive) controllers, this unit should really be considered a substantial albeit brilliant back-up controller.
For me, it’s the little features that make a big difference. The addition of both standard and mini jack headphone sockets, a handy clamp to hold the power plug in place, and actual switches to assign the crossfader, are all impressive features to have on such a cost-effective controller.
The NS4FX is mains powered, something I prefer to USB power for reasons that become more apparent when using the controller for professional purposes (for example, you get brighter LEDs). Especially with a jog wheel display and 24-bit audio output, it makes total sense to utilise mains power.
The jog wheel displays are a great addition, featuring nine display functions: active deck, platter position, BPM, keylock, pitch and pitch range, pitch adjust and fader, time remaining/elapsed, and time bars (which provide a visual indication of remaining time and also flash towards the end of a track).
The jog wheels themselves are nicely weighted and offer smooth movement with scratch and nudge – impressive and intuitive stuff. The performance pads feel firm and robust, however they only light up in white rather than a range of RGB colours, a notable difference to many other controllers.
The effect pads include cue/pitch play (the Serato ‘Pitch N Time’ plugin is required to use ‘pitch play’ mode), auto loop/roll, fader cuts/slicer and sampler/scratch banks (‘scratch banks’ mode has four slots when used with Serato DJ Lite and 32 with Serato Pro). The loop on/off is particularly well placed, as are the ½ and x2 buttons.
Serato Lite is included and it’s perfectly useable, maybe even preferable for DJs using the NS4FX as their first controller. However, for most experienced DJs it’s worth upgrading to Serato Pro.
The centre panel is home to all the volume and FX controls and is dominated by the browse knob, load buttons and the FX toys that makes this controller exciting and fun to DJ with.
There are four faders, clearly marked 1-4, and a crossfader. The low, mid and treble EQ and level controls sit in pairs on the left and right above their respective channels. They work as expected, with a decent robust feel to them. The centre panel also includes a filter adjust knob.
The FX section is made up of the FX wet/dry knob (giving control of the wet or dry nature of whichever effect you’ve selected), a beats multiplier button (which increases or decreases the effects to the beat), a tap BPM (which ignores the track’s BPM when pressed four or more times, allowing for a manual BPM to be set) and six FX buttons: HPF (high pass filter), LPF (low pass filter), flanger, echo, reverb and phaser.
The FX on/off/hold is used to enable the selected effect to be sustained – a nice addition and fun to experiment with, injecting energy into your track. It is worth mentioning that you can only apply one effect at a time, so if an effect is applied on deck 1, it will be the same for all decks.
Below the FX controls are the main output LEDs. There was one negative regarding this: you cannot get a monitoring level when pressing the cue button because the output LEDs are for output levels only. Sitting in-between the output levels are the cue gain and cue mix controls, which function in the same way as practically all controllers do these days. The play/pause buttons respond well, and the length of the pitch fader is more than enough for anyone.
The rear of the controller offers you a main output via standard XLR sockets and a very handy booth output using standard RCA sockets, which is controlled by separate level knobs on the top panel. You’ll also find an aux input to connect a line-level device via RCA inputs, a great addition that’s not usually found on controllers at this price point. Level and tone can be controlled by the mic 1/line controls.
An additional feature that some DJs will find really useful is a hidden function for anyone who wants to livestream. By borrowing the mic/aux and the mic inputs, it’s possible to send your signal through the USB and therefore mix it with the output signal.
How is this useful? Well, in a real-world instance, by taking over the audio via the USB cable and the controller’s audio interface, the mic/aux signal and Serato music means there is no need for a separate USB microphone or other audio interface when live-streaming from a laptop.
The NS4FX is a well-built controller with some great features at a very competitive price. The colour choice is cool and a welcome change, whilst it’s difficult to fault the build quality. This is definitely a contender in an already very competitive market, but by adding the pro features and that little extra attention to detail, the Numark NS4FX is already catching the attention it deserves.
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The full review can be found in Pro Mobile Issue 114, Pages 76-80.