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Numark has been an industry leader for decades, so they know what they’re doing. They usually offer nice DJ equipment, and the 4-channel controller that I’ll review in this article is no exception. I spent many nights working with the NS6, so I have tons of impressions to share in this review.
I stand by the idea that there is no perfect product, and I will probably never have a favorite. However, I definitely believe that the NS6 4-channel controller and mixer deserve special attention.
By the end of this read, you should have a clear idea of what the NS6 DJ controller has to offer. Hopefully, this article will help you figure out if this piece of DJ equipment is right for you or not. Let’s dig deeper and see what’s so cool about it, and what could be improved.
Numark NS6 4-channel controller is one the finest pieces of DJ gear I’ve laid my eyes and my hands on. The company’s target group are more experienced DJs, rather than beginners, as everything that comprises this DJ controller is of very high quality.
To begin with, the controller has four channels, which is enough of an indicator that this is a serious piece of DJ gear.
The Numark NS6 is large and in charge. It falls into the big-size controllers category, as it’s bigger than most hefty controllers, like the Traktor S4 or Denon DN-MC6000. The quality of the build is quite impressive, and unlike most other brands’ controllers, this one is almost entirely made of metal. However, it’s smaller in comparison to the NS7, which is perhaps too big.
Basically, the NS6 is a cut-down version of its bigger brother – the NS7. The NS7 is the size of two turntables joined together with a hardware mixer.
The interface of the NS6 is nice and neat. It features a broad surface with lots of knobs and buttons, but everything is exactly where it should be. The manufacturer sure passed the attention-to-detail test, as they even implemented little hollows on the sides for a good grip.
The NS6 comes in three colors: black, white, and silver, with a splash of red by Serato. Yes, this DJ controller was produced in collaboration with Serato, so it comes with Serato DJ software. More specifically, the controller is designed to work perfectly with Serato ITCH.
This is such a flexible DJ controller that you can connect almost anything to it. The NS6 is a 4-channel mixer, so clearly, it has four line inputs. However, it has additional jack and XLR inputs, so you could hook up two turntables to it and two microphones at the same time.
This is a $1,000 DJ controller and mixer. The price itself shows that this piece of gear should end up with a professional DJ who will take good care of it. Let’s take a look at what the NS6 has to offer, and see if it matches your expectations.
Numark NS6: Controls And Features
The NS6 is a good-looking controller, offering a lot of features and impressive specifications. Here’s what I like the most in the Numark NS6 DJ controller.
Jog Wheels (Platters)
The first thing that impressed me on this DJ controller are the jog wheels. They are very sturdy and built with high-quality materials so that they can’t get dented even if you tried really hard, which, why would you?
There is a cool LED lighting following the spinning course of the wheel, indicating the song’s status. This way, you’ll know the position of the track being played on the controlling deck. However, the lights have other functions as well.
Since this is a 4-channel controller, you have two channels per deck. In other words, you use one deck, or one platter, to manipulate two songs. The LED lights will appear in red or white, depending on the song that’s currently playing.
You can have the jog wheels in CD mode or you could turn on the scratch mode with the push of a button. Manipulating the jog wheels in CD mode will only result in you changing the pitch, so you can either slow down or speed up a track.
The response in CD mode is super accurate and nicely synced to the touch. On the other hand, if you have them in scratch mode… well, you scratch. Scratching with Numark NS6 is a treat. It’s very punctual and provides such a crisp sound that it will do wonders to those spinning hip hop, funk, or RNB tracks.
Right below the platters, you have the playback controls. Over there, you’ll find the play and pause button, which can play songs at 33 RPM (revolutions per minute) or 45 RPM.
Revolutions per minute, as the name suggests, describe the tempo (speed) of the spinning record. In other words, it describes the number of turns a record makes in a minute. Usually, when someone refers to a record as “a 45”, they mean a single record of 7” in diameter.
This is standard for most DJ controllers. The only speed they lack is 78 RPM, which is usually the speed of sort of outdated records mostly featuring ‘50s jazz.
Next to the play and pause button, you have the sync button, which can make your job much easier. When you press this button, it syncs your two mixing tracks by BPM, which means that it takes care of the beatmatching process for you.
Sure, you might hear people say that’s not real DJing, but believe me, everybody uses it when they’re sitting on a powder keg and have to pick and match a song quickly. Also, everybody could use a little rest while working, right?
The Numark NS6 4-channel DJ controller offers 2 speeds, but the pitch range is quite a bit more flexible. The pitch range is controlled by a pitch fader which is located right next to the jog wheels, one fader per deck.
This is how you slow down or speed up a track. Most all-in-one DJ controllers offer two pitch ranges to do this: plus or minus 8%, or 16%. The Numark NS6 controller also gives you the option to take your track up or down by 50%.
Right above the pitch fader, you have the master tempo button which will put the song on the master’s original tempo. That means that it will lock the original pitch of a song, regardless of where you’ve set the pitch fader.
Numark NS6 is a unit that combines software and hardware. It’s a hybrid that can serve anyone’s needs. It features a Numark DT45 crossfader at the button, which is a really nice and smooth fader.
Right in the middle of the unit is the independent mixer, which you can use as separate, standalone hardware. You don’t even have to turn on your computer to use it. You can connect it to external sources, such as turntables, CD players, or another mixer if you want.
This is doable because Serato ITCH, the software that was specifically designed for Numark NS6, doesn’t have routing of external sources throughout the software. The independent mixer feature will allow you to use the mixer independently, but you won’t have access to all the Serato effects.
The Numark NS6 4-channel DJ controller has a built-in 24-bit audio interface (sound card). I’d say that this is a perfect choice since it could provide enough signal-to-noise ratio (some 144 dB). If this doesn’t mean anything to you, here’s a breakdown.
An audio interface is standalone hardware. Its role is to improve your computer’s sonic capabilities. This means that you need it in order to connect an instrument, a microphone, or a similar device to your computer.
DJs use audio interfaces to record their mixes and to make them sound clearer and with higher resolution. In theory, you don’t need an audio interface to record your mixes, but I would strongly advise you to get one for better quality.
At the same time, 24-bits is just enough. I said earlier that it can provide a 144 dB signal-to-noise ratio. Since the human ear can detect a maximum of 140 dB, this is ideal. Of course, a 32-bit interface would give your recordings an even clearer sound.
Equalizer Section (EQ)
In the lower middle of the unit, there are 4 faders that run smoothly up and down. Each one represents a separate channel since this is a 4-channel mixer. Each line has its own equalizer section (EQ), where you will find low, middle, and high frequencies.
These are crucial when you’re mixing a song, so let’s see what the NS6 offers in the EQ area.
Frequency And Frequency Response
DJs dedicate a lot of their working hours adjusting the frequency of the two tracks they’re mixing. In order to have a perfectly mixed track, you must adjust the frequencies. That means that you should decide which lows, mids, or highs, also known as basses, mids, or trebles, you will use for your mix.
Some DJs cut the bass on their master track to make room for the incoming track’s baseline. Of course, it’s your choice how you approach this, but you could do that by turning the low EQ knob counterclockwise.
In the mids, you usually have your vocals, and in the treble you would have some instruments, such as a flute or a whistle, playing at a high frequency.
Right above them, you have the gain knob that you would use after you’ve adjusted the EQs to control all frequencies at once and make sure everything comes together properly.
Numark has a pretty good frequency response, from 25 Hz to 20 kHz. You’ve noticed that frequency is measured in Hz (Hertz). Usually, the higher the frequency the clearer the sound.
Let’s recall some physics classes where you learned about Hertz (Hz). Hertz is a measurement that indicates how high or how low a frequency the device can play. In some cases, you’ve probably noticed that the frequency is marked with kHz.
This is usually the case with higher frequencies since 1 kHz equals 1,000 Hz. So, when you have a frequency response from 20 Hz to 20 kHz, it means from 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz.
Usually, the lower the Hz value, the deeper the bass. On the other hand, the higher the kHz, the clearer the sound.
Numark NS6: The Highlights
The controls and features that we just listed are an important part of the DJ controller. Clearly, the NS6 was made by professionals for professionals that will use the Numark NS6 properly. Now, let’s take it a step further and see what makes this controller different from others.
Numark features a Strip Search – their version of a Ribbon Controller. I honestly have no idea why this function was named as it was, but its idea is to allow you to easily glide through a track. It’s touch-sensitive, so all you need to do is to glide with your finger and drop the anchor where you feel it’s right.
This function was first introduced with the Numark NS7. The only addition with the NS6 is the LED lights following your finger as you glide the controller, so you’ll always have a clear idea of where you are on your track. Also, they’ve been placed ergonomically on the dashboard, so you don’t need to worry about triggering the Strip Search by accident.
Auto Fader Start
I don’t know if I’m too excited about this whole DJ controller setup, but this is the coolest feature I’ve seen in an all-in-one controller. I’m sure there are other examples of this on other controllers, perhaps the one you’re using right now, but I was blown away by the fader start buttons.
Right below the play and pause button, you have two buttons, one per deck, reading “fader start”. You turn them on and off with a simple switch, where up is on, and down is off. Featured between the fader switches is the crossfader curve which helps you put the fader starters into action.
What they do is incredible. If you decide to turn on fader start A, you will activate the function on the song that plays on deck A, obviously. That means that the track playing on deck A will start playing in its full volume capacity the very second you penetrate its threshold with the crossfader.
To make it clearer, the song that is under the fader start function will not gradually increase its volume as you switch to it with the crossfader. Instead, it’ll start playing in full capacity the moment you’ve crossed the line with the crossfader.
This is a great way to titillate the crowd by playing only segments of the song, letting them wonder which song it is.
Beatmatching is the most important thing when mixing two tracks. It’s the process of matching the tempos of the two tracks. If one song plays at, let’s say, 128 BPM (beat per minute), and the other one is faster or slower than that, you’ll have to adjust their speeds to create a smooth transition.
Of course, it’s always best to first learn how to beatmatch by ear. I always say this because it’s important to what the whole process means and how it works. Plus, you’ll then be more grateful that a computer can beatmatch for you, saving you time and effort.
All jokes aside, it’s important to know how to beatmatch because, with time, you’ll just naturally know which songs mix well together. You could always use the sync button if you want, which will beatmatch the tracks for you. Most modern controllers have the sync feature.
But let’s get back on track. Numark NS6 has a bar with LED lights right above the gain knobs which shows you the BPMs on your master, and cued track. It’s called the BPM match bar. Here’s how it works.
You have your master track playing and you’ve just cued your next song that’s gonna end up in the mix. A little square in the middle of the bar will tell you if the song is faster or slower than the master track.
The LED light will appear on one of the songs – the faster one. So, if it appears to the left side of the bar, then the track on deck A is faster than the one on deck B. You can try to adjust the tempo manually using the pitch fader (which in this case can do +/- 8%, 16%, and 50%).
Once the LED light is in the middle of the bar, you can be sure that you’ve beatmatched the tracks perfectly. I find this function very helpful, and I believe you will, too.
This is probably the most exciting part of the review to some people, especially for those that can’t wait to get into the action. Well, the Numark NS6 4-channel DJ controller has powerful effects, and the good thing about them is they’re not complicated like in some other controllers.
You will find the 12 featured effects right above the BPM match bar. You can turn them on and off using faders, not knobs. For a DJ controller, this is quite a cool and unique way of triggering effects, as it allows you to adjust their potency. If you wanna use the echo effect, you turn your knob left or light until the pointer points to echo.
Keep in mind that any effect can be assigned to more than one track. First, you turn on the effect you want, and then you assign it to a track (channel).
Both decks have separate low-pass and high-pass filters, which can come in handy when you’re mixing two tracks together.
In case this isn’t fully clear, a low-pass filter cuts off the frequency response that is above a certain level. This means that it will only let low frequencies “pass” through the audio channel. The same thing happens with a high-pass filter, just the other way around.
Above each deck, you will find a 10-button loop section that allows you to store up to 10 loops per track. It’s your decision whether you’ll set them automatically or manually.
By using the shift button you can add an extra function to the loop, such as a loop roll, where the track plays in the background during your roll and continues as normal once you stop the loop roll. In other words, it won’t pause when you activate the roll but rather “play underneath”.
Serato ITCH DJ Software
Numark NS6 was designed in collaboration with Serato. In fact, Serato worked on the ITCH DJ software specifically with the NS6 controller in mind. So, these two are made to match perfectly, but you could also use another software if you wish.
The DJ controller comes with mappings for Traktor Pro. However, I encountered many negative reviews regarding the mapping, so I wouldn’t recommend it.
On the other hand, I’ve heard people say that the Serato ITCH effects are “basic”, meaning you only have the “classic set”, including roll, loop, echo, and so on. I’m not sure what the problem here is and why you would need any other “advanced(?)” effects, but if you do, keep this criticism in mind.
Great For Scratching DJs: Post-Fader Effects
Well, the effects on ITCH might be basic but they are post-fader, unlike the ones on Traktor S4, for example. Let’s make sure we know what we’re talking about here.
Post-fader effects are used for those “tail-effects” – effects that have a delay, such as echo. The post-fader will allow the echo to continue and play on to its logical conclusion even if you’ve cut out the track (switched it off).
On the other hand, a pre-fader effect would cut the echo along with the track immediately, so you’d only get a “half-echo” or half of any other “tail-effect,” for that matter. Again, the post-fader makes the NS6 an excellent choice for those that scratch and use the crossfader simultaneously to cut between tracks, as it makes for smoother transitions.
Serato ITCH Library
The Serato ITCH DJ library is out of this world. I don’t say this because it offers the world, but rather because what it does offer, it offers exceptionally well.
The integration with iTunes is flawless, and I’ve never had problems with it. At the same time, the creation of crates is very simple and effective.
Browsing through the library is also made very easy, as you can search for a track using many parameters and filters. You can browse for tracks based on the key they’re in, artist, album, and BPM.
A disadvantage is that you cannot sort by genre, not even during the set, which is a problem for DJs that are known for their multi-genre sets. Also, there is no way to quickly preview and listen to a track before loading it onto a deck.
I find this a great disadvantage because you all know that when you’re mixing, you wanna quickly hear the song before deciding whether to throw it in the mix or not.
What Could Be Better
With no disrespect meant to the Numark NS6 4-channel DJ controller, there are a few things I would improve to make this device the best on the market for digital DJing. Although it’s already one of the best all-in-one controllers, let’s see what could’ve been done better.
As mentioned earlier, it’s a pity that you cannot take a crate while you’re DJing and create columns sorted by genre. Other than that, the Serato ITCH library is perfect, but this is a function that we all need, especially those all-around DJs that mash multiple genres during their sets.
Another item on the wishlist is that the NS6 DJ controller could be lighter. I’m aware that it’s a big device with multiple decks and options, but still. It’s not easily portable and I doubt you’ll be able to go from club to club without renting a vehicle to transport you and your DJ gear.
Also, the Numark NS6 controller isn’t very adaptable for those that want to avoid the Serato ITCH. Personally, I don’t think you should because Numark and Serato made sure that everything works great when you put the two together.
Plus, if you try the mappings for Traktor, you’ll be disappointed with how poorly they’re built.
Now that we’ve more or less covered everything there is to know about the Numark NS6 4-channel controller, let me give you some advice for your purchasing adventure. There are a couple of things you have to keep in mind in order to figure out whether the NS6 is the best choice for you.
Set Your Budget
Don’t blindly base your budget on the status of your bank account or cash in your wallet. Setting your budget means putting aside enough money to buy a DJ controller and mixer that suits your needs.
For instance, the Numark NS6 DJ controller is a great option, but I’d say it’s more for professionals and advanced users rather than an entry-level DJ. Therefore, it’s silly to spend $999 on a device that you have no idea how to use.
However, these are the features or controls that a thousand-bucks DJ controller should have:
- High build quality, preferably metal. Plastic should only be tolerated for the knobs and faders. Even that plastic should be “the good kind”, i.e. not flimsy or cheap.
- Sturdy platters that won’t leave a dent if you accidentally push them harder. They should be touch-sensitive and designed ergonomically for your fingers.
- Firm and heavy build. Heavier controllers tend to keep the engine safe from the vibrations and resonance in a club or other concert venues. On the downside, this will cause you some trouble regarding transportation.
- Effects and shortcuts, such as BPM software which will make beatmatching easier for you. The Numark NS6 controller and mixer, for instance, has the Strip Search. So, you should look for a controller that has something extra to make up for the higher price.
- Three pitch range options. Numark NS6 has that covered. Having a controller with wider pitch ranges (the NS6 has up to 50%), means faster beatmatching and speed adjustment.
- Good DJ software with a comprehensive library and an efficient browsing section.
I personally like the Numark NS6 DJ all-in-one DJ controller and I think there is little reason not to. It’s a four-channel controller, which already gives you way more flexibility than you’d get with other controllers. The mostly-metal build is quite sturdy and durable, and the whole construction is firm and heavy.
Overall, the NS6 looks professional and offers great connectivity with Serato ITCH. You could use it on other software as well, such as Traktor Pro, but, as I already mentioned, the mappings for Traktor are poorly done so you’d better stick to Serato.
At the same time, the Numark NS6 DJ controller offers great effects, low and high pass filters, a very useful search tool – the Strip Search, BPM match, and so on.
Despite the criticism about the effects being “basic” and the library missing the search by genre function, I find everything to be perfect the way it is!
The price is fair, I’d say. There aren’t many 4-channel DJ controllers and mixers out there, and this one is far ahead of its competition. You get a lot for just under $1000.
Numark NS6 DJ Controller And Mixer: FAQ
Can I Use The NS6 With Virtual DJ?
Yes. Numark NS6 comes with mapping files for Virtual DJ, as well as for Traktor Pro.
The Auto Loop Function Is Not Working. What Should I Do?
In order to trigger the auto loop effect, your song needs to have its BPM set. Check if this is the case. If not, use the tap function and enter the BPM.