My, how far the Mixtrack Pro controller has come. The new Mixtrack Pro 3 sports a thorough update for 2015, with a sleeker, shallower and wider shape, and some trickle-down features from Numark’s more expensive controllers. This is the best Mixtrack Pro yet. It’s the most “grown up” looking design to date for this model, being nicely spaced out, and feels very natural in use, especially with those lovely long pitch controls. For basic DJing, it does the job fine.
First Impressions / Setting up
Standout features on first encountering the device are long-throw pitch controls, touchstrips for scrubbing through tracks and other purposes, per-channel filters, and a return to more practical, deeper jogwheels than the rather shallow ones on the Mixtrack Pro 2 (my least favourite feature of that controller). There are even VU meters, albeit only for the master output, not per-channel.
Of course, a budget controller is going to be, well, budget, and so we have less expensive and limited function “performance pads” (against controllers like the Numark NV), lower quality faders and knobs (including a crossfader that appears to be removable for just a second until you realise it’s got a groove around it for decorative purposes only) and strictly two-deck control over the bundled free version of Serato DJ, Serato DJ Intro (if you want the full version, that’s going to cost you extra).
Overall, though on first impressions the device offers a simple, well spaced out and reasonably generously equipped control surface for basic two-channel DJing with Serato, and set-up is also simple as is the case with all Serato controllers; download the software and install (there’s a licence card in the box), plug in and you’re ready to go.
Now, basic DJing involves playing one tune, then another, and hopefully enjoying the process of blending them together creatively – and frankly, the Mixtrack Pro 3 is an excellent tool to help you with that. The jogwheels are nice, they respond well with the bundled Serato DJ Intro software (which is very easy to use), the cue and play/pause buttons work great, and – while built to a budget – the faders and knobs are fine. Indeed, the long-throw pitch controls are great (especially when set against the much shorter faders of some of the competition, which appear toy-like in comparison; for manual beatmatching, this gives the Mixtrack Pro 3 a definite advantage).
The effects section is designed to control three single effects per side, and the simplicity is nice, although one extra knob for wet/dry would have been better than shoehorning this function into the touchstrip alongside the scrubbing function. That said, having a touchstrip at all is a good thing in such a controller, but I’d have liked to have seen its primary use to be to scrub through tracks, with the FX use secondary.
The pads are of what I call the “pseudo-pad” variety, in that they don’t actually offer the full range of features that pads on controllers higher up manufacturers’ ranges offer with Serato (loop roll, slicer, etc). Instead, these are actually best thought of as more conventional buttons, just laid out on backlit rubber pads in the familiar 4×2 shape. So the top four control manual looping (a nice addition), auto looping and sampler, the required function being selected by touching a “pad mode” and one of the pads first. Meanwhile, the bottom four control cues.
By and large they work fine, except that the auto loop function would have been better served by the more traditional single encoder knob that is usually apportioned to this function; halving or doubling the length of an auto loop is cumbersome to say the least the way it’s been programmed here.
Input and output wise, you get a simple mic channel (1/4″ TRS) with a volume, which is routed to the master output (ie not through software), and a twin RCA master out, plus a headphones socket (or two actually – one 1/4″ and one 1/8″). This all is standard fare for controllers at this price point.
Otherwise, there are the expected headphone volume and cue mix controls, a master gain, a large library select encoder, and thoughtfully, pitch bend controls (a la CDJs). A pair of master VU meters at least give you some idea as to your output, and with no gain knobs (not really necessary at this price point, due to Serato’s built-in autogain and no mixer-routed analogue inputs), they suffice.
This is the best Mixtrack Pro yet. It’s the most “grown up” looking design to date for this model, being nicely spaced out, and feels very natural in use, especially with those lovely long pitch controls. It works well with the supplied software (remember, the supplied software is Serato DJ Intro, so you’ll need to pay roughly $100 for an upgrade to the full version of Serato DJ if you want the extra features). For basic DJing, it does the job fine.
Under-featured FX sections and cumbersome auto looping aside, it’s a good choice for a first controller for two-deck control of Serato DJ, and has all you need to learn; it certainly benefits from looking pretty similar to the Numark NV, which is a much more expensive and pro-featured controller. While also available in a “Mixtrack 3” version minus the built-in audio interface, this is the one to go for. For the price, it’s a steal.