From the moment I first laid eyes on the Numark Orbit at its unveiling earlier this year at NAMM, I knew this controller would be a game-changer. Everything about this unit is amazing, because everything about it – from the construction quality to the basic function – is both refreshingly unique and warmly familiar. After playing with it for less than five minutes at NAMM, I knew I just had to have one when they finally arrived a few weeks ago. Rather than continue gushing about how much I love this controller, I’ll walk you through just how the Orbit blew my mind, step by step.
First of all, the Numark Orbit is a wireless controller. This is definitely the most noticeable feature the Orbit has in store, but trust me, it’s better than your average wireless keyboard. This controller uses a 2.4 GHz frequency (the same as Wi-Fi) and works great even over long distances – meaning you can hang with your friends between songs at a house party, or stage dive in a club while staying in control of the action. One of my biggest concerns when switching to wireless was latency, but I’m happy to report that I haven’t noticed a single latency issue since I started using the Orbit. Even when I move from room to room, this controller works flawlessly and without hiccups.
The second aspect I love about the Orbit is its form factor. It reminds me of a Sony PSP, and it’s just as fun to play. To make it even better, I like to use the Orbit to control FX in Traktor. This means that every time I pick up the Orbit, I’m taken away from the “stress” of beatmatching and track selection and just allowed to have pure fun. What’s more, the two-handed layout is so open and intuitive that you can hand the Orbit off to a friend and they’ll get the hang of it in under a minute.
On the Orbit, not all buttons are created equal. Most notably, the controller’s two shoulder buttons give access to another of the Orbits most powerful features: dual accelerometers, each of which can be assigned to parameters such as filter cutoffs and delay times. Accelerometers seem so obvious and commonplace for a handheld device, but in a DJ controller this is revolutionary and absolutely welcome. We all know how much DJs love to emphasize and exaggerate their knob twisting during a performance; how much more awesome is being able to use your whole torso and both hands to dive into a big drop? Once you try throwing an accelerometer on a filter, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.
Another great feature is the O-Zone community Numark has created just for this product launch. Mapping on the Orbit can be somewhat complicated inside DJ software, especially when using multiple pages of pads and complex modifiers in Traktor. The O-Zone community is a centralized hub where users can upload photos, videos, and most importantly mappings to share ideas with others. Having this kind of support in place even before product launch is just an awesome tactic. The stock mappings are just fantastic and very well thought out, but if you do decide to make some MIDI assignments of your own, the Orbit also comes with a MIDI editor application to help set things straight.
The last factor that really blew my mind is the price. Since this is the first controller I’ve seen with wireless technology and accelerometers, and it has such a great, professional build quality, I cannot believe this piece costs anything less than $300. With everything the Numark Orbit has to offer, the in-store price of $99 absolutely seals the deal. So much value packed into a compact, cordless, and truly beautiful device means this product is guaranteed to take off – if you’ll pardon the pun.