Janome MB-4S Review: Do You Need an Industrial Embroidery Machine?
Are you thinking of starting an embroidery business or growing your existing one? Or maybe you’re a home-based embroiderer considering taking your hobby to the next level? Whether you embroider for fun or for profit, a multi-needle machine will boost your productivity and efficiency.
The Janome MB-4S is a single head, four-needle embroidery machine that can act as a stand alone machine, connect to your computer or use a remote computer screen. It’s called “the world’s first four-needle embroidery machine for home use”. Here, four stitches in time save you – well, too many to count.
In this review, we will go through every feature, pro and con of this machine, and also compare it to a competitor.
Specifications of the Janome MB-4S
Before we get into the in-depth evaluation, let’s have a look at some of the Janome MB-4S’s important specs –
- Weight: 45.2 lbs
- Dimensions: W 14.4″ x H 25.2 x D 20.5″
- Electric: Yes
- Maximum Embroidery Area: 9.4″ x 7.9″ / 238mm x 200mm
- Embroidery Designs: 50 built in
- Monogramming: 2-3 letter
- USB Connection: Built-in USB port
- Maximum Sewing Speed: 800 stitch per minute
- Bobbin Winding Speed: 2000 rpm
- Warranty: 25 years
Alongside the aforementioned features, the MB-4S comes with upper thread and presser foot sensors, stitch-out time indicator, and stitch counter. It also has non-slip feet that have leveling screws and pads.
Unboxing the Janome MB-4S, you will find $550 worth of additional accessories that come with your machine for free.
The standard accessories are:
- Bobbin (metal) embroidery hoop
- Embroidery hoops of different sizes
- Lint brush for cleaning
- Seam ripper
- Spool accessories
- Other miscellaneous accessories (subject to availability)
If you order it off of Amazon, you might get your hands on some free bonus accessories, such as a hat hoop (100mm x 60mm) and lettering hoops. There are also aftermarket magnetic hoops available for this machine. Always check for bonus bundles to see if you can get helpful accessories.
The included instruction manual is very detailed and easy-to-understand even for newbie embroiderers. The CD is helpful too. Some customers find the Janome youtube tutorial videos extremely helpful, so you have a whole lot of assistance with getting started with creating gorgeous embroidered designs.
What is embroidering like with the Janome MB-4S?
The Janome MB-4S is a model designed specifically for embroidery work. It combines the efficiency of an industrial machine with the delightful comfort of working at home. Ideal for short-run productions in embroidery services, stores, on-the-go events, advertising agencies, designer studios, and working-clothes manufacturers, this latest model has a new, considerably faster processor that boosts its performance.
What are some unique features?
The Janome MB 4S has plenty of features to help you work smarter.
With four needles, you can use four different colored threads all at the same time without having to interrupt work. This multi-needle machine allows you to make colorful embroidery in a very short time, which is a significant advantage over slow and tedious single-needle work.
Many users love the “set and forget” feel of this machine. It’s a time saver because you can set up the project and let the machine do the work for you while you move on to something else in the meantime. Super helpful if you are running a business from home.
Designs and Fonts
With 50 pre-installed embroidery designs, 10 monogramming fonts, and two-and three-letter monogramming options, you can produce diverse and creative results that stand out. This embroidery machine has nearly everything you’ll need, whether it’s a decorative or formal design.
The font collection is also quite impressive — from Gothic to Hollowblock, your monogramming will not lack variation. You can also download your preferred designs and install them into the machine via the USB port if the system does not have it already. With a 3MB internal memory, the MB-4S can easily store 100 of these designs.
Take a look at the built-in designs here.
Modification and Editing
You can make changes to designs on the remote computer screen. Resizing, rotating, flipping, drag and drop, re-editing, zooming, arcing, and combining are some of the features available. The majority of these settings can be tweaked in one-percent increments, allowing you to get the precise embroidery you want for your project.
It can be frustrating to run out of thread. That’s where Janome comes to your rescue with a bobbin size 1.4 times larger than a standard bobbin. You’ll be able to finish larger pieces of stitching without needing to rewind your bobbin. The brands of thread available are Janome, Robison-Anton, Madeira, and Mettler.
Independent Bobbin Winder
The MB-4S not only features a larger-than-average bobbin, but it also includes a motor dedicated to winding the bobbin. This means you can wind a bobbin while the machine is sewing and swap it out as needed – a feature not often found on professional machines. The bobbin winder spins at a rate of 2,000 rotations per minute.
Auto Return Sensor
This model includes an ‘Auto-return post thread break’ sensor. This built-in mechanism informs the system about broken threads and automatically sets your needle back to the breaking point. Thus, accidental stitch-skipping is a problem of the past, and believe us when we say that this quality-of-life feature is a blessing when embroidering complex designs or monograms.
Upper Thread and Presser Foot Sensors
The upper thread and presser foot sensors prevent any unintended sewing errors from happening. The sensors will lock up the machine when they detect incorrect settings or awkward positioning of the fabric. With a stitch counter and a stitch-out time indicator, you can keep track of the statistics of your needlework, so no worries about uneven stitch counts.
Automated Thread Cutter
The automated thread cutter with the programmable jump thread trimming on this machine is a nifty little function. As the name suggests, it automatically cuts jump threads or threads between letters while monogramming. You can customize the number of thread jumps as required. This saves time by eliminating the need to stop and snip each thread separately.
Memory Storage Unit
This embroidery machine also includes an expandable memory unit that can hold a large number of stitches and patterns. It has a total storage capacity of 3MB, or around 1,500,000 stitches and up to 100 patterns.
You can upload additional embroidery designs with the built-in USB port. Just make sure the design images are in JEF, JEF+, or DST format. To directly link up with a PC, you can get the digitizer MB software – a great aftermarket option.
Display Screen and Controls
In this age, you cannot think of advanced technology without the availability of a touchscreen, and keeping that in mind, this Janome model offers you the option of a 5.7” colored LCD backlit Remote Computer Screen (RCS).
The touchscreen has a series of directional keys on the two sides for easy navigation and an editing control with up to 65,536 colors. One RCS can power many machines, saving the cost of additional controllers if you feel like linking up multiple units. You will also find a number of on-screen editing functions which allow you to calibrate, mirror flip, and join your embroidery patterns. Hence, getting the RCS is, in our opinion, the wise choice. The MB-4S also includes an on-board sub-control device, so if you decide not to get the RCS for some reason, you will still have a workable controller.
Threading the machine is a straightforward process. It’s as simple as following the color-coded printed pathways with the thread. It’s not automated, but in terms of practicality and usability, you won’t find it making much of a difference.
Three included MB-4S hoops snap in and out with ease. M1: 9.46″ x 7.88″, M2: 5″ x 4.3″, and M3: 50mm x 50mm are the standard hoop sizes. The hoop for hat embroidery is available, but it is not included with the set and is sold separately.
They provide the most-often-used embroidery areas in the industry. The MB-4S is also perfectly compatible with industry standard Tajima hoops. The hoop positioning is adjustable as well.
The fifty pre-installed patterns are categorized by hoop size, so you’ll know precisely which one to use for your project. In the machine’s computer, the fifty designs are displayed across seven separate interfaces.
The Janome MB-4S can stitch up to 800 embroidery stitches per minute, so you can get a lot done in a short amount of time. This machine is three times faster than single-thread embroidery machines in terms of stitching speed. This is the quickest pace attainable among all home embroidery machines.
The four white LED lamps above the needle provide great illumination to the work area. This will allow you to make fine stitches on dark materials without worrying about your shadow.
Is Janome MB04S Good for Beginners?
This machine tends to attract embroidery artists with some previous experience. Often you’ll find those that start with the Brother SE600 or PE800 fall in love with embroidering and want to “graduate” to a machine that can manage larger designs, faster, and with more editing options. This machine is a favorite for those that run a home embroidery business.
That said, if you’re an absolute novice but maybe have some sewing experience, we think the Janome MB-4S is still worth considering. The multilingual operation handbook and instructional CD have all of the information you’ll need to get started.
Experienced embroidery artists say this machine is simple to set up and easy to learn, right out of the box. Newer embroidery artists say it’s easy once you get the hang of it – and often point to careful reading of the manual and lots of YouTube tutorials.
In general, the Janome MB-4S Embroidery Machine is rather simple to set up, so don’t feel daunted by the number of steps required. It should take you between 20 and 30 minutes if you’re a beginner.
The step-by-step instructions in the instruction manual are accompanied by useful graphs and illustrations, allowing you to approach the procedure one step at a time. While this machine appears to be difficult to operate, it is, in reality, pretty straightforward.
To begin, make sure the bobbin is threaded and properly positioned in its compartment. Thread the needle and then browse the RCS for a design or lettering of your liking. Next, place your fabric beneath the needle and in the embroidery hoop, and then let the Janome do its magic. It only takes a few minutes or less to do all of this.
Janome MB-4S Embroidery Machine Cons
One of Janome MB-4S’s challenges is its hefty price tag. That being said, it is certainly worth the money, if you do a lot of embroidering. If you look at the number of computerized and automated features, the price does make sense and the machine can be considered a worthwhile investment.
Since the presser foot can’t be raised very high nor can the pressure be adjusted, you can’t embroider thick or multiple layers of fabric.
You will need to purchase RCS and the hat embroidery hoop separately as they’re not included as standard accessories. It’s an inconvenience as well as an additional expense, because both of them are really handy when using the four-needle embroidery machine. Therefore, you will have to buy them anyway to get the full MB-4S experience.
You cannot download new fonts but you can import words and letters from your USB drive to the system.
Janome MB-4S vs. Elna Expressive 940
If you’re thinking about buying an embroidery machine, we’re guessing you’ve looked at other alternatives as well. To make the choice easy for you, we’ll be comparing the Janome MB-4S to the Elna Expressive 940.
In terms of specifications and features, Janome MB-4S is identical to Elna Expressive 940, hence the pros and cons of the two models are also the same. However, the Janome model has one edge over Elna’s, that is of brand name and reliability.
This Janome multi-needle embroidery machine is owned by the Japanese sewing machine behemoth Janome, which has a long and illustrious history in the sewing machine industry.
Our Final Thoughts
After going through all the positives and negatives, we highly recommend the Janome MB-4S to any ambitious home embroiderers reading this. It is a fantastic option for advanced and sophisticated home embroidery.
If you are interested in trying embroidery to see if you like it or if it can enhance your existing home sewing, consider the Brother SE600 (most economical) or PE800 (slightly more expensive than the PE600 but offers a larger embroidery area). These two machines are great to experiment with before making the larger investment in the Janome 4 needle machine.
Although the price can be a little intimidating, for small business owners it will more than likely pay for itself soon enough. It’s obvious to see that this machine is incredibly convenient, with automated functions, built-in patterns, a user-friendly computer screen, illumination, and connectivity with your personal laptop or desktop.
Whether you’re a seasoned embroiderer or a beginner – Janome MB-4S has plenty of greatness to offer for everyone.