Numark NV Controller Review – More than just fancy screens
The Numark NV Controller made headlines last year when it was announced as the first all-in-one DJ controller to have built-in screens for each deck. Right from the get-go Numark’s message was loud and clear:
Stop staring at your laptop screen!”
Finally, they arrived in South Africa several weeks back and finally we have had the chance to test this new and exciting addition to the Numark family.
Unpacking the NV controller I was somewhat surprised by the size of the unit. It is definitely smaller than the impression one gets looking at images online. This is a good thing. It’s one thing packing a DJ controller with tons of features, and indeed the ultimate one, the dual screens, it’s another thing doing so without considering that some poor git has to lug this unit to gigs every week as well as find place to set it up in an often cramped DJ booth. The NV controller is best described as ‘a good size’; it is neither too big nor too small and is handily reasonably light (considering) and remarkably flat. Numark have done well in this department. It is also a bit of a mix between their high-end products such as the NS7 II and their mid-range gear – which would explain it’s very, very competitive price point.
The transport buttons and the performance pads plus the jogwheels are perhaps a little smaller than expected but once one starts using the NV controller you soon realise that they’re all more than adequate. Everything is intuitively laid out as illustrated in this image below. I’d say Numark have got the design mix exactly right.
NV Controller Onboard Screens
Despite a host of really cool and useful features, which I’ll get to later, it’s the screens that’ll interest most so let’s dive straight in.
The screen display is just under 11 cm’s which is more than adequate. They do appear quite similar to that of a Pioneer Nexus CDJ although the colour scheme is somewhat muted and slightly grainier which I assume is a compromise for not being able to adjust the contrast/brightness at all. Numark have assumedly struck a balance they feel will serve most environments. I perceive no issues with this and found it instantly easy on the eye. The default screen layout on the NV controller is a replica of the Serato deck layout and includes info such as; deck selected, track info (name, key, BPM), spinning Serato disc with cue marker, a full waveform display, as well as the 3 FX that are loaded for use.
On either side of the NV controller are 5 controls. Some of them have dual functions which are indicated by the red writing underneath the main name (written in white) and this you will find on many of the NV controller buttons; secondary functions in red which are activated in conjunction with the shift button.
The screen controls include deck select (1/3 or 2/4), tempo slider range/keylock, BPM TAP, beatgridding controls, 3 browsing related controls – 2 buttons and a nice big rotary, a panel toggle button and finally a deck view button which, when combined with shift, can also change your laptop screen layout.
The second screen view is the one I think most will use as this has dual waveform displays; the full waveform with all cue markers which is great for looking ahead on a track and seeing where the breaks are and where you are in the track in context to the rest, and then the big Serato waveform which is the same as on the computer screen, as well as all the rest of the info displayed on the default screen, except no spinning disc. One thing that is notably different to looking at the on-screen display is that you won’t get parallel waveforms running next to each other for each deck, which some use to assist with visual beat-matching.
The third screen view on the NV Controller is the library browser and you get the following; track title, artist and BPM all neatly separated by a white line between each. Using the rotary browser knob you simply scroll up and down. Pressing the knob returns you to the folder view. To load a track one simply presses the load button on top. I like the fact that anytime one turns the browser knob the screen automatically changes to library browser view. The only shortcoming on the NV Controller browser page (which is evidently going to be fixed in a future update) is that info such as genre, key, comments (the 3 most likely needed in my opinion) are not there which means that those who use that info will still need to look at their laptop for this.
Numark NV Controller Features That Impress
Rather than discuss everything on the NV controller, let me say this; the Numark is packed with almost every conceivable feature one would expect from a pro controller such as 4-deck control, XLR outputs, booth output, mic input (strangely on the back of the unit) full assignable dedicated FX knobs and buttons, channel and master LEDs, 3-band EQ plus a nice BIG filter knob, decent channel sliders plus a pro-grade crossfader and decent jogwheels.
But this is what impressed me…
The velocity sensitive pads (in sampler mode) come direct from the Akai MPC range and whilst smaller, are really good. They also perform 5 different functions with 3 of those having dual ways of using them too. So all triggering from hot-cues to looping, sampling and the slicer loop are instantly accessible here. They are also backlit so visual feedback is instant.
The touch-sensitive knobs are taken straight off the NS7 II and this to me is a massive winner especially for FX as it allows one to turn 2 knobs together for some rad effecting. You can also turn an FX knob and the filter knob for some excellent results.
Filter FX button – Similar to above but this button means that when you turn the filter knob, any activated effect will work with the filter at the turn of this single knob.
Serato FLIP – The NV controller has all FLIP functionality built in with parameter buttons to the left of the pads to assist with recording your ‘flips’.
Toolroom Samples – The NV controller comes armed with a FREE download of a ton of samples ready for triggering to add extra spice to your mixes, mainly of the EDM variety, it must be said.
Headphone mix with split cue – Not often seen on controllers these days, you can split the headphone signal between track playing out and cued track, very handy when no booth monitors are available
NV Controller Summary
The more I played with the NV controller the more impressed I became. The ways in which one can combine FX, coupled with the awesome performance pads is where the real fun is. So whilst the screens are very, very cool and definitely make one feel like you’re playing of conventional CDJ Nexus type gear, offering just enough info to stop you staring at your laptop screen (other than the limited browser view), it’s the sum of all its parts that make the NV controller a definite winner. The price is also very, very good for what you get.
- Onboard screens get a big thumbs up
- Split cue on headphones
- Touch-sensitive FX
- Solid and portable
- All round Pro features
- Designed to maximise Serato DJ features
- No external hardware inputs
- No DVS connectivity
- Limited browsing on deck screens
Recommended Retail: R 13,652
Numark NV Controller available from Viva Afrika South Africa