Numark absolutely smashed the controller game out of the park with the original Mixtrack Pro. Sales were off the established scale, and literally (not metaphorically) sold twice as much as the nearest competitor to become as close to a standard entry level controller as you can get in a rapidly moving market.
We’ve seen the Mixtrack Pro II come and go but not get the same response as the first, leaving us with the followup. And it is generally accepted that the third in a trilogy is usually considered to be a poor imitation to the original — a rinse too far as it were. So let’s unbox the all new Mixtrack Pro 3 (not III) and see if it tries to be a better Mixtrack Pro, or strives to be something different from the rest of the increasingly cookie cutter pack.
IN A NUTSHELL
The Numark Mixtrack Pro 3 is a Serato DJ Intro fuelled two channel controller. It has all the necessary features considered to be entry level, and can deliver a solid performance straight out of the box. It is USB powered and only has RCA unbalanced ports on the back, but does offer just about everything a beginner needs to get going as a DJ.
For the record, I feel this is going to be a first time buy for most people, so I won’t be wasting time making comparisons to the old version. Well… maybe some, but with good reason.
Hmmm… there’s the initial burst of established Numark brand experience — from the packaging, to the contents and the very fist experience of the hardware, this is classic Numark. But the product is something else.
The design cues are clear. Much of this is taken from the Numark NV, and if it had a red base on it, it would happily sit in the evolving Akai Pro range too. The form factor is very interesting and refreshing — instead of trying to cram everything into a tiny space, the NUMARK MIXTRACK PRO 3 is shallow but wide (the same width as the NV it seems), giving a lot of space around controls.
For the price, the build is solid. I don’t think that anyone would expect a sea of metal for £169, but that doesn’t mean that all plastic means flimsy. Giving it a shake yields not a single rattle, and all the controls feel sturdy enough to take some reasonable punishment. And I do love the slab (or dare I say Slate) styling — less is more, and thankfully a lot of the garish Chrome has gone. Can we ditch the Chrome jogs too please in future?
The light show is good — bright enough that I could use it on my desk in the excessively bright Worxlab, and equally at home in a darker environment too. But with such an open layout, it’s hard to get confused anyway.
Overall, the Mixtrack Pro 3 is a good looking controller and punches above its weight for the money from an aesthetics and quality perspective. Now let’s get to the detail.
The design of this section holds no surprises, as it has been done over and over in the last few years. You get 2 channels with three band EQ to kill with a dual hi/low pass filter, which is something you don’t always find. What you don’t get is a gain control. The previous one didn’t have it, and while the experienced DJ in me misses it, we’re in an age where software limiters keep things in check.
The simple browse controls work well, and are assisted by shift controls to allow navigation around your library. This is definitely a tried and tested method and honed over the last few years.
The faders are 45mm with the line faders being a tad stiffer to help with mixing control, and there’s also a software crossfader curve in the preferences. And despite appearances, you can’t swap out the crossfader — the key line is nothing more than a design detail.
The metering is sparse — three greens, an amber, and a single red LED, and for the master out only. The reality is that if you’re hitting red, turn stuff down, or just let the auto-limiter keep things in check. You can always learn about best audio practices when you upgrade to a more capable controller.
The jog wheel is more or less the same as the NV — touch sensitive, free-spinning, and working as a pitch bend or shift-track scrubber when not being used for scratching. Speaking of which, this jog offers very good scratch performance for the money. You’ll definitely be able to pull off a few decent tricks, and with the sharp fader curve, crabs are very doable. Don’t expect brilliant juggling or accurate spin backs unless you stare at the screen as there’s no visual feedback on the Mixtrack Pro 3 itself.
Surprisingly for a compact and cost-effective unit, there are full-sized 100mm pitch faders. They’re stiff and should ideally help beginners grasp the finer points of pitch control without reaching for the sync button. But as great as this is, I find the lack of zero point detent combined with the lack of zero point LED to be a serious omission. This means that you always have to look at the screen, which is just as well because the screen readout does not match the hardware markings in any way. I imagine that this is a simple calibration issue though, but you can’t software upgrade a centre click or add a light.
The Mixtrack Pro 3 lets you assign three Serato DJ Intro effects per deck, which for the beginner is more than enough. These are managed by the touch strip (some Intro controllers have no knobs, let alone a touch strip) , and controls the single parameter for each one at the same time with a separate beats control.
It’s nice that there are three different effects, but the touch strip isn’t the right way to control the effects. Without individual control knobs for each effect, you have to reach across to your laptop and awkwardly tweak each control. For me, this is a big step backwards — I understand why, and we’ll get to that later.
As seems to be the way with Serato DJ Intro focussed products, the full glory of the full 8 pad multi-function Serato DJ experience is distilled down into essentials. Firstly, they’re a lot smaller than they used to be, and while quite sturdy I was able to push them under the faceplate in one particularly vigorous pad bashing session. They do pop out easily though.