Numark NS7II Digital DJ Controller Review
Overview: The Numark NS7II Professional Digital DJ controller is the successor to the original (and wildly popular) NS7 which was released a few years ago by Numark as the first all-in-one DJ control surface to include motorized platters with real vinyl and slip mats instead of jog wheels for track control. The new NS7II keeps the same stellar build quality, footprint size, and actively spinning platters as seen on the original, while adding two additional decks of control, touch sensitive EQ and FX controls, and 16 authentic AKAI Professional MPC pads to control features such as loops, hotcues, and slicers.
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Setup & First Impressions
The Numark NS7II Professional Digital DJ controller is the successor to the original (and wildly popular) NS7 which was released a few years ago by Numark as the first all-in-one DJ control surface to include motorized platters with real vinyl and slip mats instead of jog wheels for track control. The new NS7II keeps the same stellar build quality, footprint size, and actively spinning platters as seen on the original, while adding two additional decks of control, touch sensitive EQ and FX controls, and 16 authentic AKAI Professional MPC pads to control features such as loops, hotcues, and slicers. The NS7II is the biggest and most equipped professional DJ controller from Numark that offers insane levels of control over the recently released Serato DJ 1.6 software that comes bundled with the device. Numark has advertised the NS7II as the “Best DJ controller ever built. Period” with features and options never before seen on a Digital DJ console. The NS7II is certainly the most feature-rich and financially expensive DJ controller that we’ve ever tested here at DJbooth.net but I supposed two ultra-high torque motors and top-notch build quality throughout may be part of the reason for the high price tag.
The NS7II shares the same size and footprint as the original NS7 which means they can share the same cases and bags as the original. Even though the NS7II adds two more channels worth of controls and MPC pads, the weight is actually reduced from the original NS7. One of the reasons for this weight reduction is a new material that has been used in the front and rear panels of the unit which is glass-infused and remains very rugged. The bottom and sides of the NS7II are covered by a completely silver metal shell that is super-sturdy and strong. The top surface of the NS7II is also made of metal and the whole package just feels like it will last for a very long time.
The NS7II is a rather large and heavy controller overall and some mobile DJ’s may not be willing to travel from gig to gig with this unit and DJ’s who play at bars or clubs may also find it hard to fit this beast into a DJ booth. With that being said, the NS7II is still smaller and lighter than two vinyl turntables and a separate mixer… The platters are also made of metal and every knob has a metal post underneath for added durability. All of the EQ and effects knobs have a soft rubberized coating to them and a silver top to let you know that they are touch sensitive (more on this later). Mostly all of the buttons have a rubberized feel and audible click to them and they are backlit to give the user quick visual indicators during use.
The Numark NS7II comes bundled with the full Serato DJ software which has finally replaced the Serato Itch software as the premier Serato DJ software for Digital DJ controllers. We’ve extensively reviewed the Serato DJ software in the past with other DJ controllers, so be sure to revisit the older reviews or click here to go directly to the Serato DJ site for a full list of features, functions, and system requirements for the new software. The NS7II is a four-deck/four channel Controller which works flawlessly with the four virtual decks in Serato DJ. In order to get started, the NS7II comes bundled with a registration card which allows you to go to the Numark site and download the necessary drivers to start using the device with the computer. After the driver is installed, the user can download the Serato software directly from the Serato DJ website. The NS7II currently comes with Serato DJ 1.5, but I am extremely happy to report that the NS7II runs even better with the new Serato DJ 1.6-Beta which the Numark team recommended I use for this review. After downloading and installing the software, the user simply connects the supplied power cable, USB cable, headphones, and speakers via the outputs and we’re ready to go.
Front & Real Panels
There are a healthy number of inputs and outputs on the rear panel of the Numark NS7II. There is a balanced master XLR output, a master RCA output, and a booth RCA output. Both the booth and master outputs have separate oversized volume controls on the top panel of the controller. The NS7II has a total of four line-level RCA inputs and two of those inputs (on channel one and channel two) can be used as Phono Level inputs by setting the toggle switch appropriately. There’s a locking USB connector, ground-post for using vinyl decks, a metal button for power control and a standard AC power socket to round out the back. There are also two combo XLR/quarter-inch Microphone inputs. There is one on the back of the unit (MIC2) that can be assigned to any of the mixers’ channels, and one on the front of the unit (MIC1) that has its own separate Gain, Bass, Treble knobs and an on/off switch which is also located on the front panel.
Also on the front of the mixer there are two headphone outputs, one mini and one quarter-inch. The headphone volume control knob, Blend knob, and Split-Cue controls are situated right next to the headphone outputs for quick and easy adjustments. The crossfader curve control knob is also on the front panel. Users can adjust this knob for a sharp cut for scratching or for a smooth drawn out fade for mixing. There’s also four crossfader assignment switches that allow the user to select the side of the crossfader that the user wants the channels to reside. These switches can be changed from A-side to B-side or completely off which allows the channel or deck to play regardless of the crossfader position.
The Numark NS7II is a four-deck digital DJ controller and it also can be used as a standard four-channel mixer right out of the box. At the bottom of the Mixing console is the crossfader. The crossfader feels just like the super-accurate and smooth CP-Pro crossfader found on the NS6 and other Numark Professional mixers. I was extremely satisfied with the scratch and mix performance of the CP-Pro crossfader. It has a very loose feel and the cut in distance is very low (about 1mm) making it ideal for DJ’s who like to scratch it up while mixing. Next up is the linefaders. The linefaders are a bit stiffer than the crossfader making them ideal for accurate and long mixing.
Above each linefader is the input select toggle switch for each channel. The user can use the input select toggle switches to change the particular channel to PC-Midi connection (Serato DJ mode), MIC2, or rear RCA input. This switching makes it very easy for DJ’s to mix a hybrid of music sources on the fly. For example, users can have channels two and three control external CDJ inputs, while channels one and four could be controlled virtually via Serato DJ software. Next to each input switch, there is a CUE button that illuminates to let the DJ know which channels will play in their headphones to cue the next tracks.
Each Channel on the Numark NS7II has an oversized Low Pass and High Pass filter knob which works only with digital Serato DJ decks within the software. I was a bit disappointed that the filters do not work with external RCA input sources of the standalone mixer or the microphone, but it’s great to see them there for digital control. Each Channel has its own full-kill 3-band EQ and Gain knob at the top. Each channel also has its own 11-Bar LED level indicator so that the DJ knows the exact volume the source is playing at. There’s a Main 11-Bar LED level indicator directly in the middle of the NS7II so DJ’s can keep track of the master volume of the mix. Above each gain knob, there are FX buttons to toggle between FXA and FXB on/off. Above these FX buttons there is a BPM LED meter that travels from left to right in time with the beat to give the DJ another visual representation of the current BPM speeds.
All the way at the top dead center is the file navigation and browse controls. In the middle is a big oversized push-button encoder that allows users to highlight and scroll through tracks, folders, crates, etc. There are Back and FWD buttons to change the panel of track navigation and CRATES, Prepare, and files buttons to change the view. There’s also Load A, Load Prepare, and Load B buttons to quickly load the selected tracks into the deck that is currently highlighted on side A or side B respectively. Last but not least, there are separate oversized Master and Booth volume control knobs at the top of the mixing section.
Actively Spinning Platters
Just as with the original NS7 and the V7, the NS7II’s actively spinning platters with real vinyl and slip mats are a real joy to use. The NS7II features the same heavy-duty ultra-high-torque motors that makes scratching and back-cueing a real joy to pull off on this device. The NS7II is probably the closest a DJ controller can come to the real authentic vinyl turntable feel. There’s a real seven-inch vinyl on top and the piece that connects the spindle to the record can be adjusted to make the record more or less slippery for the user. The motors can also be turned down to a lower-torque setting if the power is too great for some users. Backspins are perfect and the scratch performance is exactly as it should be. The latency within the Serato DJ software is non-existent with an accurate one-to-one operation. Personally, I feel that these actively spinning platters are like a dream come true for any vinyl purist or old-school DJ who wants to get into the DJ controller realm without leaving their vinyl heritage behind.
The platters have separate knobs for Stop time and Start time which allow the user to define how quickly the platters start spinning or stop spinning when the play pause button is pressed. Next to the start/stop knobs is the Bleep and Reverse toggle switch. The toggle switch allows the platter to play and spin in reverse while the Bleep function is used to temporarily allow the music to play backwards while engaged. The Bleep function is useful for remixing and for editing foul language from a track on the fly. Towards the bottom corners of each platter are the Deck Select buttons. The left deck has buttons to switch between Deck 1 and Deck 3 while the right deck has buttons to switch between Deck 2 and Deck 4.
Situated towards the outsides of each deck is the super-long-throw 100mm pitch sliders. These sliders are nice and smooth and they have a zero LED indicator to let the user know when they are back at original speed. There is no center click to the slider. There is a Tempo Range button above the Tempo slider that changes the range of the slider to 8%, 16%, 25%, and 50% within the Serato DJ software.
Below the pitch slider are two rubberized Pitch Bend buttons for micro adjustments of pitch control. The Numark NS7II also has Slip Mode buttons above the pitch range buttons which allows the DJ to manipulate the platter, use loops, cue points, slicer, etc. while the play-head continues to play the track so that the position of the track never loses its place. This means users can do whatever they want to the track in terms of manipulation when the SLIP mode button is activated and the track will still remain on-beat and exactly where it should be if no one touched the track during playback. When the shift button is pressed along with the Slip mode button, Motor-Off is engaged which means the motor of the platter will stop but the user can still use the vinyl slow down or nudge the track forward like a jog wheel. This is a cool feature for those who want a pitch bend operation instead of the traditional vinyl control.
The next eye-catching feature on the Numark NS7II besides those gorgeous vinyl platters is the inclusion of the authentic AKAI PRO 16 velocity sensitive performance pads that control multiple functions within Serato DJ. Anyone who’s familiar with music production will know about the AKAI PRO MPC-2000/3000/5000 and its iconic performance pads that people around the world use to make beats. These are the same “world-standard” drum pads that Numark decided to add to this professional DJ controller. These 16-performance pads have a rubberized feel to them and they are truly made for performing and drumming. They have the perfect feel and stopping distance when pressed. The pads have a unique style of back-lit color LED where the light shines through the sides of the pads instead of through the face of the pads. There are eight pads per deck and all of them are velocity-sensitive meaning they react dependent upon the pressure. I didn’t have any issues using the pads and they are sensitive enough to register the hit even when pressing the corners or sides of the actual Pad. These Pads have pad mode buttons above them which show the different uses for the pads which include Hot Cues, Auto/Roll, Loop, Sampler, and Slicer. Each of these functions has an additional mode when the pad mode button is pressed a second time and there are parameter arrows that allow the user to change the settings of the pad mode in operation.
The breakdown of each Pad mode is listed below:
Hot Cues – These 8 pads turn into 8 hot cue points for each deck when Hot Cue button is pressed at the top. To set a cue point, simply let the track play and press a Cue Point pad at the time you wish to save the Cue. In order to recall the cue, simply press the button. To delete the cue, hold down the shift button and press the pad of the cue point you want to delete. Secondary Function: Cue Loop function will start a loop from the saved cue point in the length that is set by the autoloop indicator.
Auto/Roll – The auto loop function starts an auto loop for the length that the pad represents. The first pad is the shortest, second pad is longer, etc. Secondary Function: Loop Roll is like an auto loop with slip-mode activated that allows the loop to activate when pressed, but the play-head returns to its normal position as soon as the pad is released.
Loop – This is the manual loop section where the top four pads represent saved loops and with the bottom pads, the user can define Loop In (first button), Loop Out (second button), Loop On/off (third button), and Reloop (fourth button). Secondary Function: Same operation, but four more Loop Banks available for saving. The user can manipulate the parameter buttons to change the length of the set loop or press shift and parameter to change the location of the loop in the song.
Sampler – There are a total of 12-samples per side for a total of 24 samples that are ready at any given time within Serato DJ. The pads are used to trigger the samples within the bank while the parameter buttons are used to toggle to the next set of samples. When the sample button is pressed, the sample plays in the mode that is defined by the user. Secondary Function: Same operation, but the pads are now velocity sensitive which means the sample will play louder the harder the pad is hit.
Slicer – These 8 pads turn into eight small “slices” of different sections of the song that is currently being played. Basically the Slicer divides a portion of the song into eight smaller pieces that can be rearranged and played back in different order depending on how and when you hit the pads. The software remembers where the song would have been during playback if you hadn’t touched the slicer in the first place, so the song returns to the normal playing position when you are done “slicing” it up. There are two slicer modes where one remains on a loop of those 8 slices, while the other mode allows the user to keep that individual slice going throughout the song as long as the pad corresponding to that slice is held.
Towards the inside of of the performance pad sections is the rubberized Play/Pause, Cue, and SYNC buttons near the mixing controls. The Sync button can be used in order to quickly match the BPM of the track in the deck with the master deck. To set a Deck as the master, the user must press the shift button plus the Pitch Range button, then all other decks can be synced for easier beatmatching. Above the sync buttons, there are five rubberized hotcue buttons for each deck that allow users to always activate hot cues even when the Performance Pads are designated for a different purpose. This was an excellent move by Numark since DJ’s often use hotcues even when working with samples or slicers.
Above the Bleep/Reverse toggle switch is the Beat Grid Adjust and slip buttons that allow users to adjust the Beat grid of a song on the fly. Next to these buttons are a Manual TAP button that allows the user to enter the BPM of the music in case the software isn’t quite right. To the top corners of each deck control is a long Strip Search touch-bar that allows DJ’s to easily cycle through a track by touching the area on the strip where they want the song to play from.
All the way to the top of the NS7II decks are the effects controls. Above the left deck there is an FX1 module and above the right deck there is an FX2 module. Both effects modules have four rubberized knob encoders that have an LED light indicator ring around them to show the user the level of effect at a glance. There are illuminated buttons underneath each knob to activate the desired effect. Using Serato DJ’s new iZotope FX allows DJ’s to string together up to six effects at once using three effects per module. Users can also download additional effects packs for a small fee for Serato DJ as they will continue to offer new and exciting effects from different producers and engineers.
Touch Sensitive KnobsAnother huge standout feature that separates the Numark NS7II from the rest is the inclusion of Touch Control. All of the EQ, FX, and filter knobs that sport the black sides and silver metal top have touch-sensitive sensors inside that can send MIDI information to Serato DJ. Situated in between the mixing console and the platter on the left is a Touch/Touch Lock button. When the Touch button is enabled, the FX knobs become touch-sensitive which means they will turn on for as long as the knob is held. When Touch and shift is pressed, both the FX and the EQ knobs become touch sensitive. When the EQ knobs are touched, they provide a full-kill until they are released. The next Touch Control FX button is between the mixing console and the platter on the right deck. When activated the filter knobs for each deck becomes a combination of a filter and a loop roll that decreases the loop length the further from the center the filter travels. When Touch FX and shift is pressed, the filter knob now applies the filter along with increasing the parameter of the first effect so there is a combination of FX and filter applied at the same time.
The Numark NS7II was really a joy to use and it is probably my personal favorite controller to date. With that being said, there were a few shortcomings that I was able to locate on the NS7II. The first one is that the NS7II is massive… It’s a pretty large controller both in dimension and in weight. It may be difficult for some to move around or for mobile DJ’s to gig with, but this level of control and build quality merits this heavy construction. The second issue that I have with the NS7II is that the Low/High Pass Filters can only be used with software MIDI control and not with the actual mixer inputs. The last minor gripe with the NS7II is the lack of true SP-6 sampler controls. It seems that no controller can adequately control the SP-6 on its own and the NS7II is no exception. With the NS7II, users can only play the sample, but they can’t change pitch, effects, volume and other parameters without touching the computer. I’m sure many users will end up purchasing an additional controller to MIDI Map within Serato DJ for the sampler functions, but it’s worth pointing out that you can’t do much more than play the samples using the NS7II hardware.
Conclusion / Recommended For
In Conclusion, the Numark NS7II Professional Digital DJ Controller combines all of the moving platter and digital vinyl goodness of the original NS7 and adds a lot more features and functions that gives DJ’s ultimate control over the Serato DJ software. The NS7II comes bundled with the full Serato DJ software giving users four decks of control and all of the power of the flagship software at your fingertips. The NS7II still possesses the ultra-high torque actively-spinning platters that vinyl DJ’s will love.
The NS7II comes with the 16 authentic Akai Pro Performance pads from the iconic MPC production range that gives control over hotcues, loops, sampler, and slicer. The Numark NS7II also possesses the new Touch Control feature that gives DJ’s a new way to control the EQ and FX on the fly. The Numark NS7II is also a true four channel stand-alone mixer with four RCA and two Microphone inputs without the need for a computer connection. Each Channel and the master output has their very own LED-Level meters so the DJ always knows the volume of each individual channel whether it’s a digital MIDI channel or an analog external deck channel.
The Numark NS7II is recommended to any intermediate to professional level-DJ’s who really want that vinyl and spinning platter feel to cross over into the DJ controller realm. The Numark NS7II has arguably the best and most complete control over the Serato DJ software to date making it one of the top choices for DJ’s who prefer the Serato software.
Pros & Cons
- Super Sturdy and Strong Build Quality & Bundled with Full Serato DJ software
- Ultra-High-Torqe Actively Spinning Platters w/Real Vinyl & Slipmats!
- Authentic AKAI PRO 16 Performance Pads to control the Sampler, Hot Cue, Roll, & Slicer
- Touch-Sensitive EQ and Effects Controls are VERY Fun to use
- Stand Alone Mixer w/Assignable Microphone & Four RCA Inputs
- LED Level Meters for Each Channel & Master
- Big, Bulky, & Heavy
- Low/High Pass Filters work with MIDI Virtual Decks Only
Written by djblaze on 01/30/14
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