Top positive review
34 people found this helpful
A great deck at bargain price - IF the firmware is up to date!
on 8 April 2011
Had I have been writing this review a week ago, I'd have been cursing the day I ever bought a pair of these decks. I will explain later in the review!
I bought these about 3 months after they came out, and there was little to convince me not to at that time. I had basically seen one YouTube video saying how it was a solid deck at a bargain price. I had a few people (Owners of Pioneer CDJs mainly) tell me to steer clear, but I went on my gut instinct and paid the £350. As I'm by no means a pro DJ (yet), the price and feature set was ideal for my needs - practicing and casual use (house parties etc). I use Pioneer CDJs when I'm playing out, but I can't really justify the price of them at this point.
When I removed the packaging I immediately noticed the build quality. Despite being made of plastic, these decks are solid, weighty and all the buttons/controls feel nice and `positive' when pressed. The Jog wheel has a nice smooth feel to it as well, though it's not quite loose enough for my tastes. I like doing spinbacks!
The pitch controller is smooth and allows pitch adjustments to 2 decimal places, which is great for precise beat matching. It doesn't `click' at its centre point, which some people may dislike, but I'm indifferent to that. Pitch control goes all the way up to +/- 100%, though don't expect your tunes to sound good at these extremes!
There is a BPM counter, which is rarely 100% accurate and annoyingly enough you can't turn it off. I've heard people complain about the accuracy of the BPM counter, but to me that's like a football player complaining that the ball isn't scoring the goals for him. You're a DJ, you should be listening, not watching!
Scratching seems fine on these decks, but I'm not a scratch DJ and to be honest I find it easier to mix with it switched off! The music `stalls' ever so slightly when you release the jog wheel, so you'll need to give the jog wheel a little push. Probably not ideal for the pros, but it's something you could get used to.
Looping and hot cue features do what they say on the tin and do it well. No complaints there. The reverse and break features seem like gimmicks to me, though the brake function could be nice to simulate vinyl `spin down' at the end of a set. You could argue however that the pitch fader set at +/- 100% can basically do the same thing. The search feature works fine for skipping through a track quickly, though I'd have personally preferred fast forward and rewind buttons for this.
USB stick function - works and works well. I had a 4GB memory stick of MP3s and it loaded it reasonably quickly. All playback features (scratch, brake etc) function when playing from USB. It will only read MP3s however, which is no good for those of us that like playing uncompressed music. To me, MP3s are fine for casual use and are very convenient, but a decent club sound system will quickly show them for what they are - compressed. This is why I still like CDs.
Now CDs are the reason why I was initially disappointed with these decks. CD playback was noticeably `glitchy' and slightly distorted. I contacted Numark about this, and they suggested I try burning a higher quality audio CD at a slow speed. Did this, and the same thing happened. Likewise with commercially burned CDs! This annoyed me, as despite the low price of these decks I've used cheaper units that can play back CDs perfectly fine!
This resulted in me returning the units for inspection and possible repair, despite the fact that the supplier found it hard to believe that *both* decks were faulty. They called me a fortnight later to say that they'd found nothing wrong with the units, however they'd send me a brand new pair out of courtesy... In 6-8 weeks time.
So nearly two months later, I received a brand new pair which had a factory date of 6 months after the first. If the first pair had been in a bad batch, these certainly wouldn't have been. I plug them in, insert a CD and low and behold, the same glitches happen again. By this point, I was swearing I'd never buy another Numark product again and that I should have listened to the Pioneer CDJ owners!
Thinking at this point the decks weren't broken and Numark had basically just released a bad product, I admitted defeat with the NDX400's and lost interest. They sat in my basement, getting occasional use with the USB function only.
HOWEVER - on browsing the Numark website last week, I noticed that new firmware had been released for the NDX400s, and that it was supposed to fix playback issues with CDs! I downloaded the file straight away to a memory stick and loaded it onto the decks by holding down the `PROG' button while turning the power on. CD playback was now flawless, with a subtle but noticeable increase in sound quality. No glitches, no skipping. I could hardly believe my ears.
So with the NDX400's fully functional, I can recommend them to anyone looking for a useable CD deck on a tight budget and to beginners. All a beginner really needs in a CD deck is an instant start, a responsive jog wheel and the ability to make an accurate cue point. The NDX400 offers all of these features and the added bonus of basic looping, hot cues and a useable scratch function. The USB playback feature is also great if you already have a large MP3 collection and don't want to burn CDs, though personally I would have liked WAV playback. A little too much to ask for at this price though!
Will these decks last? Difficult to tell, but the build quality is good and I see no reason why I won't get a good few years use out of them. I'd see no reason not to use them in a small club environment either, though like most other people I would rather rely on a pair of Pioneers in a more professional setting. At £350 a pair though, these really are a serious bargain and offer a lot of bang for your buck. As a more casual DJ they fulfil my needs perfectly. Recommended!