Numark V7/X5 Review

41

The DJ equipment industry has been in a state of change for a while, not least because the traditional paradigm for club DJing has been turned on its head and shaken until it no longer knows which way is up. Digital music and the advent of controllerist techniques have changed what DJs need and expect from equipment – but without, as yet, any standardisation in the market, manufacturers are left to their own devices to experiment. Numark are no strangers to experimentation, and the Itch based NS7 was their first foray into the world of media-less controllers (update: Numark have kindly pointed out that they did of course release the Total Control in 2006, and even preceding that, the DMC1 dual load way back in 1998 – now that’s forward thinking!) . Now we have the V7 and X5, which take some of the key technologies developed for the NS7 and expand them into standalone products. How does the V7 stand up against CD decks and DVS solutions, and where does the X5 fit in the endless pile of two channel mixers?

Reviewed: Numark X5, Numark V7 (Serato Itch v1.7)

Price: Numark X5 – $449/£299, Numark V7 – $799/£499

Communication: MIDI over USB, 2x stereo RCA outs (Deck A/B)

Available: Now

Ships with: Serato Itch

THE GOOD
Both products boast tank-like construction and crisp, thick sound. They look great, and that extends to very intuitive ergonomics. Straightforward to set up, the V7 also benefits from Itch integration; you’ll have no need to touch anything other than the deck and mixer for your whole performance.

 

THE BAD
Despite looking the business, the brushed metal fascias can leave fingernails prone to the ‘blackboard effect’, leading to a couple of toe curling moments. Cue point buttons are a little small for controllerist heaven; in that vein, whilst Itch is great the lack of compatibility with Traktor is a thorn in the V7’s side. No send/return loop on the X5 might also put some off.

 

THE BOTTOM LINE
V7 is an excellent alternative to a DVS system or CD deck for the DJ that likes to play music whilst incorporating elements of turntablism and controllerism. Expandability and customisation is an issue, as Itch doesn’t support additional controllers. The X5 is a great mixer, ideally suited to turntablists and no nonsense two channel mix DJs, with a straightforward feature set that impresses.

BLACK BEAUTY

Numark has really pushed the boat out on build for the two products – there’s conspicuous rise in quality from its mid-range products, and the stylings leave behind the rubber and plastic aesthetic of TTX era devices – adopting a more sophisticated matt black metal look with red backlighting.

Despite the units obviously making an attractive couple, there’s nothing to stop you using each product individually; the X5 is as at home between two traditional turntables as the V7 is connected to your favourite mixer. In fact, aesthetics aside there isn’t any other advantage to pairing the two – so the rest of the review will focus on each product in turn.

V7: AN INDIVIDUAL

There’s genuinely not much in the way of simile for the V7 – what exactly IS it? What we’re presented with is a media-less controller and audio interface, with a direct drive HID platter and dedicated controls for most creative DJ functions, all tied to a customised software interface which powers its playback and effects. So, what does the V7 want? Simple: it sees your turntable, DVS, and CD decks, and it wants their place on your table.

The V7 is the same size as a CDJ1000, but has an advantage in that without a screen to worry about, it can space everything out across its fascia. The buttons on the V7 are a lustrous rubber, with a short travel and a click to assure they’ve been pressed.

Looping, cues, effects, and transport are all sensibly placed; there’s no danger of any anatomical pileup to worry about when flexing your controllerist muscles. The only real issue with the design is that the hot cue buttons are perhaps a little smaller than would be ideal.

V7: TWISTS AND TURNS

A large part of the V7’s appeal is down to its high torque, motorised mini-deck. Whilst a 7” platter will never give the same level of control as a 12” turntable, V7 does an admirable job of vinyl emulation. The platter assembly consists of a genuine metal platter, a thin slip mat, and a custom 7” vinyl, which attaches to the spindle and allows the movements to be read.

There’s a torque setting via a switch on the back of the unit, with the option of selecting the nail filing TTX style torque or a more gentle, SL1200 modeled spin. Traditional mixing tricks like gripping the spindle and rubbing the platter behave as you’d expect, and the resolution of the movement reading is really high – the quality of sound from Itch is just as high as Traktor Scratch when it comes to slow drags and there is absolutely zero sticker slip.

There’s also the option to switch off the motor in order to make the platter function as a pitch bend, appealing to those used to CD decks too.

V7: MULTIPLE PERSONALITIES

One of the standout features of the V7 is that whilst it might look like a single deck, it’s actually two sharing a common interface. Glimpsing at the back of the unit reveals two sets of outputs, and a switch at the top right of the fascia switches between deck A and deck B control. This is a great feature and works really well in practice; simply flip the deck select switch from A to B to move from channel one to channel two.

There’s a visual indicator in the form of a letter by the switch, backlit white (easily distinguishable at a glance against the rest of the red lights), the platter switches speeds immediately, and the FX dial is a rotary encoder that automatically switches to the selected deck’s value. The wet/dry slider and pitch work via pick up, changing the value only when the fader position is first moved to its original position. Stanton’s motorised fader approach is more elegant, but this way works fine.

Of course, you can always buy two V7s and connect them with an Ethernet cable for total, hand holding compatibility and a ‘complete’ setup.

V7: MIND CONTROL

V7 is nothing without a computer running Itch (indeed without Itch connected, the platter even refuses to start). Thankfully, they’re a great pairing – and as Itch is becoming more broadly adopted, it’s starting to look familiar. It sounds great, responds very accurately to play head manipulation, and has very good key lock algorithms.

Itch itself is always customised to suit the controller it ships with, though, and so some versions are more equal than others. The V7 edition of Itch is two deck, comes with a bunch of effects (Low and High Pass Filters, Delay, Echo, Reverb, Flanger, Phaser, Bit Crusher, and Repeater) and of course, all of V7’s buttons refer directly to Itch commands. File loading is a cinch, and the freshly released v1.7 of Itch has added beat gridding to tracks, allowing really tight, Traktor-alike syncing – complementing Serato’s proprietary ‘stalagmite/stalactite’ transient view.

X5: …IT’S A MIXER

The X5 is a two-channel ‘battle’ mixer, in the standard 12” form factor. For a mid priced mixer it’s furnished fairly generously with two inputs per channel, one of which is phono/line switchable, a combined mic/aux channel with EQ, and both balanced (TRS) and unbalanced outputs as well as a booth out and S/PDIF and co-axial digital outs. All it’s really left wanting for is an effects send/return. The switchable input is a nice inclusion all too often left out of this kind of mixer, allowing line level audio devices such as turntables with key lock and CD decks to play nice with DVS systems and still have a pass-through output going into the mixer.

X5: CONTROL

All three of the faders in the X5 are Numark’s own CP-Pro, which is by any standard a great fader. Light and smooth, it’s a digital conductive plastic design that has very short cut lag and a smoothly adjustable cut in time from linear all the way to more or less instant on. Despite being very long life in the first place, it’s nice to have the ability to rotate faders to ensure maximum longevity, and all faders being equal leads to a nicely coherent feel and slope adjustment. The fader caps are a comfortable shape, but should you prefer another feel, the stems are a standard 4mm so it’s possible to pop on Vestax or other caps.

Despite rarely factoring into most DJs’ mix arsenal, it still seems odd to encounter a mixer with no pan adjustment. There’s a standard three band EQ, the knobs for which are nicely spaced and smooth, as well as gains which are smaller to help them to stay out of the way.

X5: THE BRAIN

The meters on the X5 don’t display gain levels, simply lighting up a single deep red. Numark’s reasoning for this is down to the signal chain including a look ahead limiter which automatically squashes audio rather than letting it clip and distort – a feature which really does work, and allows fairly extreme EQ boosting with much less manual gain reduction. However, it would be nice to see a pre limiting gain level to ensure that sound is still maintaining some semblance of dynamics in a loud environment where monitoring’s not great and ears gradually lose the fight against fatigue. Sound quality is very good in general, however – and fully 24 bit circuitry does help to maintain dynamics of the audio. EQs will fully kill, and have a useful, musical frequency band – subtler than Pioneer but not as musical as Ecler.

X5: THE DEVIL’S IN THE DETAIL

Little touches that some mixers still don’t include, like EQ adjustable mic/aux in, selectable pre/post fader cue, rotatable input select switches, and the aforementioned switchable line/phono channel and digital outs all count in the X5’s favour.

It’s not destined for any innovation awards, but the X5 from the pack does have a couple of neat features rarely seen elsewhere. In order to minimise clutter, some of the pots can be depressed and left to hug closer to the faceplate. Even so, the faceplate itself is admirably neat, with no screws or clutter around the faders and plenty of space around the EQ knobs. Another clever feature is the headphone cue’s ‘tone’ knob, which allows you to find a frequency that’ll best cut through the sounds of the main speakers as they blast into your ears.

WRAP UP

There’s no point in pushing the V7 into direct, box-ticking competition with the things it’s vying for the space on your work surface for – it’s not as simple as that. The combination of its features is what makes it a strong product, and in that regard it stands alone. The X5 can’t make the same claim, but it certainly holds its own in the crowded two-channel mixer market and the CP-Pro faders are excellent.

Whilst I realise this entirely a matter of taste, I’ll go on record as saying the V7 and X5 are gorgeous. I certainly appreciated Numark’s inclusion of a microfibre cleaning cloth in the package, as these are two lumps of gear I imagine you’ll be proud to show off.

About the author: Chris is a writer, artist and DJ who runs ohdratdigital.com, an online magazine for music and the arts.

  • Music Express
  • Djbdirty

    I just bought one V7 and an X5. I am mostly happy with everything but have noticed a few things that have left me wanting. First seems to be more of a bug or mistake than anything. When using only one V7 as both decks A and B you will find that for instance while Deck A is spinning down because you hit pause with the stop time turned up, if you then switch to Deck B then Deck A just abruptly stops rather than continuing with its spin down. The next quirk is that the V7’s come with a fader start input yet the matched X5 has no such fader start capability. That just seems to be poor craftsmanship to me.

  • PipeAndWire

    just got my 2 V7’s today and the X5… Love the setup, love the price.. Brand new v7’s for $299 and FREE ata case after rebate – YES $299. Picked up used x5 for $250 locally. The software works PERFECTLY with itch, however I AM A VDJ guy and its not so friendly. The x5 is not a midi controller(no usb) so everything goes thru the V7’s. This is going to pose a problem for me until the x7 comes out. Which imo Numark must be having problems with or else it would be available by now (a year after its debut). The cue’ing and looping is fantastic, the effects is nice but like vdj i would prefer an easy way to get sound samples up with a push of key (like to use movie lines in my routines). Anyways, that’s my two cents worth. I look forward to any feedback or suggestions to tackle my conundrum with vdj and the x5….PEACE

  • Bob mitchell

    Ive been reading this with interest, I had a set of cdj800,s and a pioneer djm600 setup alongside my beloved ttx’s – I have since sold the pioneer kit and got myself 2 x v7’s and an x5. I cannot tell you how good this stuff is whether its compatible with tractor bus or any other vehicle they are still brilliant. The pioneer kit is getting very expensive and im not sure who they are aiming at these days. Also Pioneer should be ashamed of themselves I paid a good bit more for 2 plastic pigs Than I did for the loveliness that is a v7 – Solid sexy and sounds great! The v7 is a work of art And for people like me who can’t get on with this digital thing it’s the best way to go from vinyl to digital the platters are superb and very responsive which made me feel right at home. Using the pioneers for me was a bit numb where as the feel and features on the v7s is much more satisfying. I do like itch and think it’s developing nicely so personally I am happy with the setup I now have and although most clubs have cdjs they are not infallible and do break down as well. To be honest I’ve had a motor go in one of my ttx’s which I bought 6 years back other than that no faults on the numark kit and I’m conifident that the new gear is as good if not better built than anything on the Market. Rant over 😉 hope this interests someone! Oh and a lot of touring or travelling djs I talk to always have back up CDs incase there is an issue hooking up pcs/macs

  • Dj Illuminati

    I just got my V7 a couple days ago and its great!!! i prefer scratch live tho so im currently running my V7 with SSL instead of itch but regardless itch is a very good software and i know the updates will be awesome!!

  • DJCamRoberts

    just bought one and another is on the way. I use it with virtual dj and it works nicely. Hopefully traktor will get them certified or mapped well.

  • DjITCH

    I just bought these bad boys!!! Shout out to Pro Audio Star for the hook up:)

  • DjITCH

    Gonna get this in the coming weeks…thanks for this review! This review sealed the deal PLUS it’s only costing me $779usd for 1 V7 and 1 X5 brand new from an authorized dealer…BARGAIN!!!:)

  • [quote comment=”40787″]So if you had to chosse between an a&H Xone22 and the Numark X5 which would get your vote?[/quote]

    They’re very different breeds – look out for an upcoming article featuring both, but essentially, the X5 is very well suited to scratch heavy with its faders, the 22 to effects favouring DJs with its effects loop and filter…

  • DJ NICK NV (Hawaii)

    I been in the game for quote a while an used it all & I now use 1 Numark V7 and the X6 mixer, I was gonna pick up the X5 mixer but decided for my style the X6 was a better fit for me & I never had a problem using this setup since i first hooked it up, perfect control & feel.. i feel this is the best setup I have owned & used. Numark you really did a great job on the V7. Sure itch kinda sucks rite now since it don’t have more controls an features, but I’m sure we will be seeing nothing but the best in the future from Numark mastering the V7

  • DJ NICK NV (Hawaii)

    I been in the game for quote a while an used it all & I now use 1 Numark V7 and the X6 mixer, I was gonna pick up the X5 mixer but decided for my style the X^ was a better fit for me & I never had a problem using this setup since i first hooked it up, perfect control & feel.. i feel this is the best setup I have owned & used. Numark you really did a great job on the V7. Sure itch don’t have more controls an features, but I’m sure we will be seeing nothing but the best in the future from Numark mastering the V7

  • Craig

    So if you had to chosse between an a&H Xone22 and the Numark X5 which would get your vote?

  • DJEDGE

    any feedback on the NS7? i have a VCI Arcade edition and looking into adding the NS7 to my arsenal of Djing tools.

  • [quote comment=”40573″][quote comment=”40560″]@Mark:

    Don’t forget that turntables/CDJ’s are standard equipment almost everywhere in the world which means you don’t have to haul anything with you other than your laptop and a timecode supporting soundcard and maybe a supplementary controller like the X1. These V7’s however are not standard equipment so it’s an extra to lug around which I think is the point DjPC3 was trying to make.[/quote]
    Fair enough point. But I’d imagine the onus was on a quality, heavy duty construction rather than portability. Having said that, it’s not as heavy as say an NS7. Really, if you want a direct drive motor and a heavy duty steel chassis you’re never going to get a lightweight unit… unless perhaps everything is made form titanium etc., then it would cost you HEAPS more.[/quote]

    You are absolutely right. The only thing I was trying to say is that for club jocks this is not the best solution out there. Hauling these on planes with me is the last thing I want to do 🙂

  • Anonymous

    [quote comment=”40560″]@Mark:

    Don’t forget that turntables/CDJ’s are standard equipment almost everywhere in the world which means you don’t have to haul anything with you other than your laptop and a timecode supporting soundcard and maybe a supplementary controller like the X1. These V7’s however are not standard equipment so it’s an extra to lug around which I think is the point DjPC3 was trying to make.[/quote]
    Fair enough point. But I’d imagine the onus was on a quality, heavy duty construction rather than portability. Having said that, it’s not as heavy as say an NS7. Really, if you want a direct drive motor and a heavy duty steel chassis you’re never going to get a lightweight unit… unless perhaps everything is made form titanium etc., then it would cost you HEAPS more.

  • Pieter c

    Ine thing: I do not think ni would ever make à controller with moving platter, as somebody stated above…

  • doc_c

    Two thumbs up for the V7: built like a TANK and visually stunning for the audience.

  • I have had my two V7 units for a couple of months now. Switched from TSP to Itch. I love them. They are quality, sound great, and at the current price – a no brainer for anyone considering Itch as their solution.

    Thumbs up.

  • mblakely

    Can you use the V7 with SSL?

    What about those http://www.djtechpro.com/product_detail.asp?category_id=63&sub_id=105&product_id=294
    Dj-Tech Kontrol One’s anyone used one

  • Louie V

    Pretty good article..

    Check out this great article as well: http://bit.ly/aWrZDu

  • @Mark:

    Don’t forget that turntables/CDJ’s are standard equipment almost everywhere in the world which means you don’t have to haul anything with you other than your laptop and a timecode supporting soundcard and maybe a supplementary controller like the X1. These V7’s however are not standard equipment so it’s an extra to lug around which I think is the point DjPC3 was trying to make.

  • Mark

    Cool review. I own a V7 and I think it’s awesome. Whoever said it’s “too expensive and too heavy” has rocks in their head! It takes the place of 2 x turntables…. what would you pay for those? Oh, and don’t forget to throw in either SSL or Traktor as well…. and then the weight of all that system? I think for what the unit is, a twin-deck, motorised controller with onboard interface and FX module… it’s fantastic value for weight, size and money… not to mention the fact that both the V7 and X5 are housed in a rugged steel enclosure.

  • GOMEZILLA

    Whilst.

  • ToS

    You are a bit behind the schedule with this … filler article.
    It is not even a full review, but mora of a mention that product exits.

  • J. Varela

    [quote comment=”40547″]I’m sorry but the V7 is both too heavy and too expensive to be just a one trick pony. It only works with one software (officially), and for its price range that is not gonna cut it.[/quote]

    The V7’s are selling for $599 with a $200 rebate making them the cheapest ITCH controller out there at $399… A very good deal considering the performance of the unit…

  • I was lucky enough to DJ on these at BPM. It simply feels like using a set of 1210s and a pro battle mixer. It’s absolutely uncanny – that’s what it does 100% well, no debate.

    For ITCH users wanting to flightcase the lot and use it as a mobile set-up? Perfect. For pros wanting a lovely, lovely home set-up? Perfect.

    But I can’t see clubs installing this because of the lack of flexibility mentioned.

  • I’m sorry but the V7 is both too heavy and too expensive to be just a one trick pony. It only works with one software (officially), and for its price range that is not gonna cut it. They should have really thought about making this thing more universal.

    I understand they didn’t want to include CD drives, but they could have at least made it midi universal or a USB slot to all you to plug in timecode wav files for other software.

    And I too must admit that Numark DOES NOT stand by their products, I had a MixDeck and it took Numark over 10 WEEKS to get it fixed. So since they don’t stand by their product and it doesn’t work with other software, spells a disaster if you ever need to get it fixed… since its a Numark product, you will LOL

  • Dom

    Interesting you didnt mention the X7. Ive had my v7s for about 8 months now and am hanging to trade up to the X7 from my DDM4000.

    There is alot of speculation as to what the X7 would open up in Itch, but the 4 deck possibilities keep me dreaming…

  • Saying it’s not Traktor friendly isn’t strictly true, your just never going to get the same platter performance inside Traktor, which is fair enough considering it’s an Itch product.
    ++++
    I think it’s only a matter of time before N.I. make there own moving platter controller, there’s been more than enough Traktor user’s moaning about the lack of said controller for some time now. I seriously think if a turntable is going survive as a credible control surface for dj’s in many years to come, Needles, tonearms and even timecode will have to be replaced by moving platter controllers, can you really imagine needles and tonearms in dj booths in 20 plus years time?

  • Sjaak

    Fully agree with EDIT.

  • Ponyboy

    I need a 2 channel mixer as I am going the fully external route on Traktor with an X1. I still don’t know what I should get. Maybe a 2 channel mixer comparison article would help me. he he.

  • P.S. Would anyone be up for a proper breakdown of DJ software ins/outs etc and comparisons.

    I would love to read, would be great to write but I don’t have the resources 🙁

    EDIT .

  • I think by restricting the hardware to software we are going to find controllers struggling to make a mainstay in the common marketplace. I for sure am firmly rooted in Traktor and NI’s software glancing at other software along the way but never swayed from a comfortable, robust and professional environment.

    There needs to be some decorum with companies choosing particular software for relatively generic midi controllers. I for one am stuck on the S4 so far it just seems like finally someone (NI) have got their shit together and made a professional DJ device that is portable and trustworthy.

    Much Love

    EDIT .

  • I’d have to agree,Very nice looking!! But for me not being Traktor friendly is a negative. And Numark does not stand behind their product very well at all!! I’ve been waiting for a motor for my TTM for well over a year now.