The Numark NS7 DJ controller accomplishes what DJs have dreamed of for years--a seamless melding of reliable audio software and high-performance analog-style control.
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Numark NS7 - turntable
Without question, though, the coolest features on the Numark NS7 are the two motorized, 7-inch turntables. They do an outstanding job of emulating the control and feel of working with vinyl, except you don't need to worry about worn needles or skipping tone arms.
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Numark NS7 - top shot
The NS7 has a spacious design that begs for abuse. Most DJs will feel right at home with the NS7's two-turntable design, that puts mixing and navigation controls right down the middle.
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Numark NS7 - laptop stand
Dangling your laptop out over the dance floor may not seem like such a smart idea, but the NS7's tanklike stability and integrated steel laptop stand inspire trust.
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Numark NS7 - laptop stand
The NS7's integrated laptop stand is a unique feature that connects to the back of the system. The stand can be disconnected for transportation, or if you prefer not to have your laptop cantilevered over the floor.
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Numark NS7 - back
The back of the Numark NS7 offers high-grade audio outputs (gold-plated RCA or balanced XLR), along with USB output, power button, and a standard, three-prong power cable jack.
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Serato ITCH software
The Serato Itch software that comes bundled with the Numark NS7 is the same program used by the Vestax VCI-300. Essentially, Itch is a competent, yet slightly stripped-down version of the popular Serato Scratch Live program, and should appeal to DJs who prefer stability and simplicity over tricks and effects.
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Our favorite feature of the Serato Itch is the audio waveform view, which is colorized to distinguish high-frequency sounds (snare drums) from low-frequency sounds (bass drums), making it easier to visually align two beats to fall in sync.
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Numark NS7 - front
The front of the Numark NS7 offers quarter-inch and 3.5mm headphone jacks with adjustable volume, as well as connections for a microphone or RCA line audio source. In the middle, you'll find a selection of controls to fine-tune the NS7's crossfader.
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Numark NS7 - real, motorized turntables
Without question, though, the coolest feature on the Numark NS7 are the two motorized, 7-inch turntables. They do an outstanding job of emulating the control and feel of working with vinyl, except you don't need to worry about worn needles or skipping tone arms.
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The NS7 is so large, we had to take over a whole desk at CNET just to set it up. Of course, after we set it up, it became the most popular desk in the office.
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Numark NS7 - line/mic input
The mic/line input on the front of the NS7 includes EQ controls and gain adjustment.
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The main playback controls for each deck on the NS7 just beg for abuse. The buttons are deliberately oversize and made from a cushy rubber material that responds well to aggressive use.
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Among the more interesting features on the NS7 are these light switch-style controls for reversing the audio. Switched up into Bleep mode, the currently playing audio is heard in reverse to obscure profanity, but resumes naturally once switched back into the center position. When switched down, the entire turntable is thrown into reverse, taking the audio and the song position backward.
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The top of each deck on the NS7 includes multiple loop controls and a touch strip (aka Strip Search) control that allows for quick jumps within the song.
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The top center section of the NS7 includes controls for navigating and selecting songs from the Serato Itch software, without touching your laptop. The large rotary control at top can also be pushed to make selections.
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Directly in the middle of the NS7 are basic EQ controls, and a selection of settings for the headphone mix.
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Despite what you may think, the key to turning the NS7's turntable movements into digital control rests in the center spindle, which spins independently of the turntable platter. Each of the included vinyl record spindles include a locking metal screw that clamps onto the spindle, allowing record movements to translate into control data.
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The NS7's turntables are constructed just like a professional direct-drive turntable, minus the tone arm. A motor drives a solid metal platter, which spins a record that floats over a felt slipmat.
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Here's the underside of the NS7's metal turntable platter.
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Numark NS7 - serviceable, swapable faders
Here's another advantage of the Numark NS7 over the competition--components like volume faders and crossfaders are meant to be repairable and replaceable. The crossfader used in the NS7 is a Numark CP-Pro, which uses a conductive polymer to track movements.