A budget battle mixer?
The budget mixer market place has long been avoided by both amateurs and professionals alike for many reasons. The bigger brands have pushed featureless, stripped back, dull products. Whilst the cheaper brands have fallen fowl of poor build quality and bad design. With the monumental rise in controller sales, most of which can be used as a mixer if needed. It almost feels like the manufacturers would rather push those than release a quality mixer with a reasonable price tag. The choice for most DJ’s recently has boiled down to featureless, bad quality mixers or expensive flagship over kill.
Professionals don’t always want to spend major money for something to practice on at home and beginners certainly can’t warrant the cost. So what we need is a well priced, balanced product with good specs and great functionality. Cue the Numark Scratch, possibly the best budget mixer we’ve ever used.
The Numark Scratch is a small, lightweight two channel mixer that features 8 pads and an internal 24bit sound card. Although the unit is small and relatively light weight, the build is full metal and feels very sturdy. The mixer benefits from being portable enough to fit in most DJ backpacks but doesn’t feel cheap regardless of the price. Numark have even managed to squeeze a universal power supply into this mixer, meaning the unit accepts the standard IEC power connector. No loosing the external power adaptor here, hint hint Pioneer.
The unit features a single USB B connection meaning no back to back laptop sets on this mixer, but for the price it’s an expected choice. However the inbuilt sound card is a high quality 24 bit unit, meaning the sound output is crisp and clear. On the outputs Numark has given this mixer a great blend of professional connections with balanced XLR’s on the master out as well as a pair of unbalanced RCA’’s. This allows the Numark Scratch to easily connect to a clubs system as well as the in the bedroom with some smaller monitors.
Booth output is handled by RCA connections rather than the preferable TRS jacks. However we imagine they will be more likely used to connect a second pair of speakers at a house party than actual club monitors. On the input side there are two RCA inputs that can be switched via a metal toggle between Line and Phono. A singular combo XLR/TRS microphone input finalises the impressive connectivity on this small unit.
Two channel battle mixers such as the Rane 72 and the Pioneer DJ DJM S9 come with a host of features such as premium faders, performance pads and effect paddles. At almost a third of the price of these flagship mixers, it’s amazing to find that the Numark Scratch comes with a vast majority of the same features. Compromises have of course been made, but Numark have excelled in ensuring these compromises don’t effect the DJ’s performance.
For example, instead of 16 RGB colour performance pads, Numark have opted for 8 smaller red pads. These are a little small but the main point to consider is the feel of these pads, featuring a nice smooth rubber that is tactile and responsive. Because of the lower number of pads, the modes available are limited to Hot Cue, Roll and Sampler with auto loops being handled by a dedicated rotary knob which doubles as a browse control when you hold shift.
The real head turning feature for this mixer is the inclusion of effect paddles. Taking direct influence from the flag ship battle mixers, these small paddles feel strong and can either be locked on by pushing up or pulled towards you for momentary control. The onboard effects buttons allow quick and easy change of the desired effect and when ever selected, these will override the first bank of effects within Serato DJ Pro with 6 effects to choose from. When plugged in, the Numark Scratch automatically unlocks Serato DJ Pro and the DVS expansion pack, essential for those DJ’s wanting to take advantage of using turntables.
The Faders and EQ
With a total kill three-band EQ on each channel, the Numark Scratch also features a high pass/low pass dedicated filter control for each side too. Being part of the hardware rather than a software control, these filters can be used with external sources unlike the effects paddles. The small dimensions of the mixer have led Numark to use quite slim knobs throughout the mixers controls. These don’t feel as nice as some of the rivals units but it does allow a lot of room between the controls.
The up faders on the Scratch are smooth and feel great but quite a short throw, again another bi-product of the small build size. Where the Numark Scratch excels however is with the crossfader. Built by the brilliant Inofader group, this crossfader is super accurate and buttery smooth. Worthy of being on a mixer far more expensive than this one, it turns the Numark Scratch into something of a bargain given its sub $500 price tag.
The Numark Scratch is an affordable, good quality mixer that’s packed with the features that actually matter. When you consider the cost of Serato DJ Pro, the DVS expansion pack and a Innofader crossfader, the Numark Scratch is amazing value for money. Bringing key features from the mixers almost three times the price without much compromise, we are amazed Numark haven’t decided to be greedy and charge more. If we were being nit picky it would have been nice to have seen larger performance pads or the ability to have different modes on each side.We would also have liked another USB port on the rear for those back to back DJ sets.
However these aren’t deal breakers however and given the lack of direct competition with other two channel mixers at this price point lacking a lot of performance features. We envision the Numark will sell extremely well not only with turntablists and scratch DJ’s but any DJ looking for a solid, great value mixer that’s compatible with Serato DJ.