FULL HOUSE >The Numark 5000FX is the perfect mixer for DJs who want to bring a wide variety of sources (turntables, CD players, laptops) together within a single work space.
Literally dozens of DJ mixers are available in today's market, running the gamut from inexpensive, no-frills utilitarian mixers to the high-priced, full-featured professional equipment used in the world's finest clubs. Numark's latest entry to the mixer market is the midpriced 5000FX. The 5000FX, as the name suggests, has five channels and a comprehensive effects section. And at first glance, this tabletop unit resembles the Pioneer DJM-500, with which some of you may be familiar. On closer inspection, however, the 5000FX reveals itself to be a unique, powerful and flexible mixer in a class all its own.
SET IT UP
Whenever I encounter a new DJ mixer, the first things I look for are the essentials that I use all of the time: channel strip, cue monitoring, and booth and master output level. Each channel on the 5000FX has a gain pot, a 3-band EQ (high, mid and low) and a Cue button. The EQ cuts are great; if you turn each band all of the way down, the signal is completely attenuated. The first channel has a Neutrik combination XLR/¼-inch input jack at the top of the channel strip for a DJ microphone. (For your convenience, a second ¼-inch input for the DJ mic is located next to the RCA inputs on the back of the mixer, if you prefer to hard-wire a mic into your system.) The input-select switch for channel 1 is located below the EQ and Cue button, and it allows you to toggle between the DJ mic and a line input. Channels 2 through 4 have input-select switches at the top of the channel for either phono/line or CD inputs. These channels also have switches on the back of the mixer (next to the RCA inputs) to select whether you are using phono (turntable) or line inputs (CD, laptop). Channel 5 allows for switching among two line sources and a second ¼-inch microphone input, also located on the back of the mixer.
Channels 2 through 5 also have a crossfader switch, selectable between Crossfader A and Crossfader B (CFA and CFB), located just below the Cue button. Users should be aware that the crossfader assign switches are in the same location as the input-select switch on channel 1, and this might be a little confusing at first. For those of you who use the crossfader regularly, it is important to remember that you can only assign channels 2 through 5 to the crossfader. My only complaint with this section of the mixer is that the channel faders move a bit too easily for my taste; I prefer a tighter feel because it makes for smoother mixing.
The Cue section offers more flexibility than most DJ mixers on the market. First, it has two headphone outputs, one ¼-inch and one ⅛-inch. Therefore, if you ever lose your headphone adapter or just want to use your Walkman headphones, you can just plug them in and go. The headphone cue signal is post-EQ, which is much preferable to the pre-EQ cue found on some other mixers. This allows you to hear any EQ changes in the headphones before you bring up the channel fader. You can adjust the headphone mix to listen to either the cue or the master or a blend of the two. You can also select a split cue mode, which sends the cued signal to the left headphone and master signal to the right headphone. When the split cue is engaged, you need to have the headphone blend somewhere in between cue (fully counterclockwise) and master (clockwise) to hear both sources. Finally, there is also a headphone Tone control that allows you to brighten up the cue signal, a feature you might find useful in louder environments.
The 5000FX has a full complement of outputs for complete connectivity, whether you are using it at home or in a club. In addition to unbalanced RCA Master, Booth, Zone and Record outs, the unit features balanced XLR master outs and an RCA S/PDIF Digital output in case you want to connect a CD recorder or other recording device. The Master, Booth and Zone outputs each have independent volume knobs, and the Record out derives its signal directly from the output of the channel faders. Also present are two ⅛-inch Fader Start jacks (one each for CFA and CFB), which allow you to connect to a CD player equipped with remote-start capabilities. I connected my Pioneer CDJ-1000 to the Fader Start jack and was able to start or stop the CD playing with just a flick of the crossfader — pretty cool! The back panel is rounded out with three grounding posts for turntable ground wires and a Master Gain Reduction knob that allows you to limit the maximum output level.
Starting at the top of the Effects/Sampler section, you'll see a Tap button that you can use to adjust the bpm either by tapping on a downbeat and then tapping again on the consecutive beats or by holding down the Tap button and allowing the processor to automatically calculate the bpm for you. I tested the bpm counter on some songs whose tempo I already knew and found it to be quite accurate. The 5000FX has two separate bpm counters: The main counter, BPM 1, is for the master output and is displayed on the left side of the LED, just below the Tap button. Next to the Tap button is the Shift toggle switch, which allows you to select which channel is assigned to the BPM 2 counter (shown on the right side of the display when the BPM 2 button is engaged), as well as scroll through different parameters on the effects.
One of the most prominent controls on the face of the 5000FX is the jog wheel. It performs a multitude of functions, depending on which effect you have selected. If you select Scratch, you can use the wheel to “scratch” the audio signal just as you would a record. The feel takes a bit of getting used to, but after some practice, you can get pretty decent results. I'm definitely not a scratch DJ by any means, so you may want to judge the quality and accuracy of this feature for yourself.
Next up is Sonar, which is basically a phaser. After engaging the effect, you use the jog wheel to control the frequency of the sweep. It starts at zero and moves down through the frequency spectrum, going lower as you move the wheel farther clockwise. Rotating the wheel counterclockwise does just the opposite, raising the frequency of the sweep until you get back to zero, which removes the effect. Be aware that a phaser operates by mixing two copies of a waveform over each other, so this effect will be loud unless you bring down the FX Mix fader, located just above the Cue section. For the Sonar effect, I preferred to have the FX Mix set about halfway up; it was a nice blend of the source and the effect without dramatically changing the overall volume.
The Chop effect, which mutes sections of the audio, took a little getting used to — at first, it was a bit difficult to make it sound musically pleasing. The Shift toggle switch adjusts the rate of the effect and is synchronized to BPM 1. I found that starting at the zero point and going up (clockwise) created a cool stutter, almost like a bit crusher. The effect gets a bit disjointed once you reach 250, but if you slowly spin the wheel back counterclockwise to zero, it creates a wicked zipping sound.
Echo allows you to delay the signal, and if you cut off the source and leave only the wet effect up, you can create cool dubby trails similar to old tape delays made popular in reggae and dub records. I tried a few different methods to achieve the desired result and preferred to cut off the music using the input-select switch on the channel while simultaneously bringing up the FX Mix fader. By doing so, you can hear the delay trail at the end of a musical phrase without having the Echo clutter up the song. If you switch the input back on right on beat, you can get a great effect while keeping the overall groove kicking.
The Filter section offers three different modes, which are adjustable around specific frequency ranges. The 150 mode is a notch filter that begins at 150 Hz and can be swept up and down. At the top setting, all of the low-frequency material is removed, similar to with a highpass filter. At the other end of the spectrum, the Filter cuts all but the subbass frequencies. Flick the Shift toggle, and the Filter switches to the Vocal setting, which is a highpass filter centered around the vocal frequency range and moves only down toward the lower frequencies. Hit the Shift toggle one more time, and the Filter changes to High mode, which is a multimode filter with a unique twist: The signal will morph at the extreme ends of the frequency spectrum. At high values, this setting behaves like a highpass filter and at low values like a lowpass filter. If you keep rotating the jog wheel continuously in one direction — clockwise, for instance — as the jog wheel passes the high-frequency peak and is completely highpassed, the low end of the spectrum will come in (lowpassed) and the filter will continue its sweep up from there. It's an original effect and definitely worth checking out.
The Distort button adds distortion to the source material and is controlled by the jog wheel. It can get really loud and abrasive, so be careful and keep the FX Mix fader pretty low when you begin introducing the effected signal. Try keeping it below 60 percent or so; anything more gets a little crazy — unless that's what you're looking to do!
The Pitch effect works in two separate modes. If you engage the effect while playing music normally, it will change the pitch up and down without affecting the tempo. You can either sweep the pitch fluidly using the jog wheel or step the pitch up and down in semitone increments using the Shift toggle switch. The second Pitch mode is achieved using the Sampler; if you record a segment of music into the Sampler, you can play it back with the Pitch effect in one of three ways: SLD is a sliding effect that smoothly changes the pitch without affecting the tempo; PIT changes both the music and the tempo at the same time; LOC changes only the tempo without affecting the pitch. Please be aware that you will need to have the Sampler FX button active to hear the pitch changes.
SAMPLE AND GO
The Sampler unit is straightforward and effective: Simply pressthe red Record button to start recording a sample, and press it again to stop recording. You can check out the recorded sample in the headphones by engaging Cue FX/Cue Sample, which also allows you to listen to any effects before you bring up the FX Mix fader. I recorded eight-bar loops of beats, and when the Smart Loop mode is engaged, Numark's proprietary Beatkeeper technology will sync any recorded loops to the master bpm. This is great for layering rhythms on top of tracks or extending a mix-in or mix-out of a song. Don't worry if your loop is slightly off; Beatkeeper will help keep your loop in tempo, and you can also use the jog wheel to adjust the tempo up or down, similar to how you would on a DJ CD player. Furthermore, you can use any of the effects on the sample by hitting the Sampler FX button, which really opens the door to some creative mixing possibilities. There is also a Reverse switch, which will reverse the master output in normal play mode and the Sampler output if you are in sample mode. The only catch with Reverse is that if you are playing back a sample, Smart Loop will disengage even though the loop will continue playing.
The Numark 5000FX offers a lot of features, more than most mixers in its price range. With five channels, total connectivity and loads of cool effects, it is a great option for home use or club installation. I think it would be particularly appealing to up-and-coming DJs looking for their first full-featured mixers. No matter what your skill level, if you are looking to purchase a mixer that will help expand the possibilities of your DJing — at a very reasonable price — the 5000FX should be a consideration.
5000FX > $899
Pros: Thorough input and output structure. Excellent effects section. Superb cue control. Replaceable crossfader.
Cons: Channel faders a bit light.