About 6 years ago, DJ equipment supplier Numark presented the first NS6, which was designed to control Serato Itch, the software that has now merged with Serato Scratch Live to form Serato DJ.
Since the NS6 could easily keep up with the competitor products from Pioneer DJ (DDJ-S1), American Audio (VSM4) or Denon DJ (MC-6000) and knew how to convince in the test, I was very curious to see how well the improvements of the new layout, the pads and the double USB ports prove themselves in practice. You can find out the result in this article.
In the hierarchy of Numark DJ controllers, the NS6 II ranks second and is only surpassed by the controller battleship NS7 III, which has a special role with its motor-driven turntables and three color displays. If you can be satisfied with conventional jog wheels and want to avoid dragging a 14 kilogram bolide, you should look at the NS6 II as an alternative.
With its 568 x 350 x 65 millimeters, the NS6 II is one of the larger controller models, but is content with a transport-friendly weight of 4.2 kilograms. In addition to the device, the package contains a Serato DJ license, an external power supply unit for power supply and a USB cable. The chassis of the Numark device is made of plastic and has a metal surface.
What looks like a possible deterioration on paper compared to its predecessor, which was completely made of metal, turns out to be an advantage in reality, as the manufacturer was able to save almost two kilograms in weight through the material mix without impairing the quality or stability.
The processing quality of the NS6 II is high and meets the requirements of professional users. Buttons and faders are of good quality and allow accurate parameter manipulation.
The capacitive jog wheels, whose total diameter is 15 centimeters, are equipped with displays that show various information that supports the mix. As befits a current Serato DJ controller, the controller offers eight pads per deck with velocity sensitivity.
As a further specialty, some rotary controls offer touch-controlled operation, but more on that later in the practical section.
The mixer area is equipped with dual-mode filters and offers a stand-alone mode
The connection equipment of the NS6 II in the area of the outputs consists of the often chosen combination of XLR and Cinch sockets for the master signal and Cinch for the booth signal, so that a direct connection to a PA system can be made.
The Numark device has two combined line/phono inputs for channels three and four as analog inputs. Players can be connected to these for setup expansion or DVS control. There are also two microphone inputs for announcements, designed as jack sockets.
Two USB sockets, which allow two computers to be connected in parallel, are practical for using the controller in different application scenarios. An external power supply provides the appropriate operating voltage and supplies the device with power even without computer contact,
If you take a look at the first NS6 model, you will notice that it had four line/phono inputs and the microphone inputs were not designed as separate inputs, but were assigned to channels 3 and 4. There was a single USB port for digital communication with a computer.
The master and booth outputs allow a connection to a professional sound system
On the front of the Numark NS6 II, two headphones can be connected to 6.35 and 3.5 millimeter jacks. In addition, there is volume and mix control for these signals as well as an activation option for the split mode.
On the left side are the controls for controlling the microphone signals. The volume and low/high frequencies can be adjusted separately for both microphones, but there is no ducking function to attenuate the music.
The signals from the good-sounding microphone amplifiers are sent directly to the controller output, so that no software effects can be used and no recording can be made in Serato DJ. Another rotary control allows the crossfader curve to be continuously adjusted between gently blinding and sharp cutting.
The microphone signals can be tuned and the crossfader curve adjusted on the left
The NS6 II has two decks that allow four-deck operation. The decks house rubberized and illuminated transport and sync buttons and jog wheels with a ribbed edge made of aluminum.
The wheels can be used for song manipulation and have an optional scratch function. With a touch strip you can easily navigate within a song. This function can be set up in the setup menu so that it can only be used when playback is stopped, so that there is no unwanted triggering.
To change the speed, Numark has given the NS6 II pitch fader a control range of ten centimeters, which is also provided with an illuminated zero position indicator.
In the upper part of the deck are the controls for controlling the effects in Serato DJ. On both sides there are three rotary controls, a potentiometer and four buttons for configuring, selecting and activating an effect or an effect chain.
There is also a Touch-FX- / Touch-All- button on the left deck and a Filter-Roll- / Filter-FX button on the right. These buttons activate touch control for the effects and EQ knobs and combine the filter knob movements with effects.
If you compare the two NS6 generations, you immediately notice a lot of detail changes in the area of the deck equipment. In addition to the newly designed jog wheels and the relocation of the transport buttons, the positions and equipment of the effect controls have been adapted to Serato DJ.
The touch strips have been rearranged and the loop controls have been incorporated into the new pads.
The NS6 II has a total of 16 multi-colored illuminated pads, the functions of which are selected with the buttons placed directly above them, and parameter adjust buttons that make additional functions accessible.
The pads control Hotcue points, Hotcue points combined with loops and loops in different forms (temporary, manual, automatic). In addition, the sampler can be controlled with the pads and an optional touch dynamic can be activated for a lively import of samples.
Unfortunately, the volume of the sampler cannot be regulated directly with the controller, but only with the mouse in the software. For interesting-sounding mix tricks, the pads allow access to the slicer and slicer loop function. This divides a song into selectable large sections that can be played with the pads.
If you have the optionally available Serato Expansion Flip, you can also control it with the pads. Function control takes place in combination with the Hotcue mode and allows Hotcue triggers to be recorded and song edits to be made.
In addition, the NS6 II is equipped with a “hidden feature” that I would like to call that because I have not found a reference to it in the manual or in any other source. The controller can control the pitch play function if there is a pitch-n-time expansion.
This allows the tonal processing of Hotcue points and is suitable for generating musical phrases as an addition to a mix. As with all other Numark devices, the control is activated via the key combination Shift & Sampler.
The mixer area of the Numark NS6 II is equipped with four channel strips. The channel strips offer gain, three-band EQ and filter knobs as well as faders with a 4.5 cm long control range.
The channels are each equipped with five-digit LED chains for optical level monitoring and the master output level can be monitored in the middle of the mixer section. The channel signals can be assigned to the crossfader using a slide switch and mixed with it.
The cut-lag of the crossfader can be set to a very good value of less than one millimeter, which means that even demanding users get their money’s worth.
All four channels are equipped with buttons to activate the two effects paths, and channels 3 and 4 have source selection switches that can be used to switch between computer signals or analog input signals.
When switching to external signals, there are no effects paths, as the external signals are not fed into the software. The interaction of the digital songs from the software and the signals from the external players is quite harmonious and only requires minor adjustments to the level swing.
To control the master and booth signals, there are two glowing red rotary controls in the upper area of the controller.
The mixer area of the NS6 had to do without filter circuits in the channel strips and there was only one central level display for the master signal. The routing options for the analog input signals were somewhat more convenient, however, since all four decks had the corresponding inputs.
You can intervene in the frequency spectrum with three-band equalizers and dual-mode filters
To use the Numark NS6 II, Serato DJ needs to be installed and an additional device driver under Windows. A sound card is installed inside the controller, which has two stereo outputs (master and headphone signal) and two stereo inputs for channels 3 and 4.
The signal processing takes place with 24 bit and 44.1 kHz. I liked the sound of the controller very much; in addition to a voluminous bass, it delivers an overall tidy sound – the manufacturer speaks of a frequency range of 20 to 20,000 Hertz.
The NS6 II is very solidly processed and offers a tidy user interface. The buttons, potentiometers and pads are arranged in a practical way so that you can start mixing after a short training period.
Above the mixer section are the controls for navigating the song library and loading songs into the four decks. The song sorting and the display of the decks can also be switched. Mouse operation can largely be omitted in this area.
With the jog wheels and pitch faders, tempo manipulations can be precisely adjusted and manual beatmatching is easy. Since the current song tempo, the set pitch value and the absolute song position are also displayed in the jog wheels, you do not necessarily have to look at the computer monitor to mix.
It is also well done that deviating pitch fader positions in multi-deck operation are visually recognizable by illuminated arrows on the controller when the deck control is switched.
At the same time, a pick-up function is activated to prevent jumps in speed, which switches off the corresponding arrow lighting when driving over. When switching between decks, the toggle button lights up and the currently selected deck also appears in the jog wheel display.
The filter control can be combined with effects
The NS6 II offers an optional touch mode for the effects and EQ knobs. This combines switching on the effects by simply touching the controls. This enables quick effects to be added and exciting selective highlights to be generated in mixes.
The touch function for the equalizer is only available for songs that are played in Serato DJ and lowers the corresponding band when touched, which enables interesting interventions in the frequency spectrum.
The filter circuit can be combined with a roll effect in digital mode and therefore not for external signals and used for mix tricks. Alternatively, any effect can be selected in the effect buses in Serato DJ. I like this feature very much because you can control so many functions with one control element and this is done precisely.
The songs can be manipulated very sensitively using the controller’s jog wheels. For my taste, however, the surface of the wheels is a bit too smooth to carry out quick scratch maneuvers – a shame.
If you don’t want to do without virtuoso scratching, you can retrofit a time code control with the optional DVS extension and use external turntables or multimedia players for song manipulation. The connection is made to channels 3 and 4 of the mixer. At the same time, the controller’s deck controls can still be used to load songs, move to Hotcue points or set loops.
Activation switch for additional functions of the filter knob
The double USB port of the NS6 II allows two computers to be connected at the same time. It does not matter which operating system is used, so that Windows and Mac computers can be used in any combination.
The controller can thus be used in a team. The division of the controls cannot be changed and assigns the left (deck 1 & 3) and right (deck 2 & 4) controller side each to a computer. The Ableton Link function integrated in Serato DJ can be used for cross-computer synchronization of the songs; alternatively, adjustments can be made manually with pitch faders.
Thanks to the double headphone connections, the tracks can be conveniently auditioned by two users – there was no significant drop in level when used twice.
The two USB ports can not only be used for the use of a DJ team, but also for a simple DJ change. For handover, the second computer is connected to the controller as described above and the first is then removed. Here, too, it is important to note the automatic deck assignment.
It is good to know in this context that the NS6 II can also be used with other DJ programs, as not every DJ works with Serato DJ. The manufacturer currently offers support for Virtual DJ, if you want to work with Traktor Pro, Cross or other DJ software, you are required to do the programming yourself.
DJ specialist Numark has equipped the new NS6 II with detailed improvements and tailored it perfectly to work with Serato DJ. The controller is very well made and offers, in addition to the basic functions for controlling the software, operating elements with a touch function that make effects and equalizers controllable in a special way.
Displays in the jog wheels allow convenient mixing and the possibility of connecting external players can be used to expand the setup. The surface quality of the wheels did not convince me 100%, because in my opinion they offer too little grip for quick scratch maneuvers – but this can be remedied by purchasing the DVS extension if necessary.
The NS6 II has received creative growth with the new pads, which are equipped with touch dynamics and can be used for many function controls. Another big plus is the double USB port, which enables a simple DJ change or DJ team use.
The controller can be used by mobile DJs or ambitious individual players, but due to its standalone mixer function it can also be used as an installation device in small clubs or bars. The NS6 II made an overall positive impression on me.
But due to its stand-alone mixer function, it can also be used as an installation device in small clubs or bars. The NS6 II made an overall positive impression on me. But due to its stand-alone mixer function, it can also be used as an installation device in small clubs or bars. The NS6 II made an overall positive impression on me.