skratchworx news
skratrchworx monthly archive

Skratchworx DJ equipment reviews
skratchworx skratchlounge dj forum
skratchworx downloads
skratchworx links
contact skratchworx
skratchworx RSS
SKratchworx twitter

Custom Search

Skratchworx Dj gear reviews DJ gear reviews DJ Mixer Reviews DJ Turntable reviews DJ CD deck reviews Digital DJ Gear reviews DJ Cart needles review DJ Slipmat reviews DJ accessories reviews

Vestax CDX-05/Tascam TTM1 Review - by Gizmo - November 2004

CD decks aren't anything new. There's a whole load of different shapes, sizes and prices available so as you might expect , it's a bit of a minefield to try and pick the right one for your needs. So when I heard on the grapevine that Vestax entering the field with a seemingly similar CD deck to the rest of the pack, my heart sank. But digging deeper and pushing people for a little more info, my heart suddenly leapt at hearing that the new Vestax unit would work with the new Tascam wonder gadget - the TTM1. Having used this amazing Tascam device at MusikMesse in April, I had high hopes for the future, especially as Tacam told me that they were working with "other manufacturers" to get it to work with different CD decks. Hopefully this Vestax device will be the first of many to come out into the market.

Let's get this straight...

This is skratchworx, by definition a scratch DJ oriented site so my review is not based on using the CDX-05 for mixing or doing any kind of 10 minute trance blends. I'm 100% sure that it can do these things on this and many other CD decks. Instead, this review concentrates on it's abilities and functions for scratch DJ's - because I feel that this is where it's strength lies.

On the face of it, the CDX-05 is just another small single CD deck in the same vein as the Numark Axis range, Pioneer CDJ100 or the new Denon DN-S1000. All these different decks share much the same overall features - loops, cue points, jog wheel for scratching and effects. But the CDX-05 seems to pack them all into one unit, with MP3 capability as well. And when you add on the TTM1, you have an awful lot of features for the apparent bargain big price. On the face of it, the CDX-05 looks very simple, but beneath the surface is a great deal of power. But let's look at each part in turn.

The Jog Wheel

Each manufacturer has it's own spin (sorry) on the jog wheel - some see it simply as a pitch bend controller, others try to turn it into a full on scratch platter. Vestax have gone for the latter and while it's also a full controller for many other features on the deck, it's also an acceptable scratch wheel as well. The platter is static but extremely responsive to movement and very free moving, allowing for some serious spin backs. When engaging scratch mode, the wheel operates in 2 different ways - when play is pressed, you have to press down on the platter to stop the sound. Not too hard but a good 2-3mm of movement. But when paused, you don't have to press down so you can do some nice faderless scratches. Maybe I expect too much from this tiny platter - perhaps the way it works could be changed in a future update.

Cue Points

Any good CD deck these days has cue points and the CDX-05 is no exception. In this case however there are 3 and they can be used in 2 different ways. To define the cue points is simple - hit the cue set button and press the desired cue button in the right place. Once you've got the cues defined you can either use them as simple "take me to the right place on the CD" buttons or after pressing cue play, they become 3 hot start buttons so you can happily load up some drums or horns stabs and hammer away on the cue buttons like a sample box. In around 30 seconds, I'd turned the 900 Number into a D&B nightmare. Very nice indeed.


As is the way of CD decks these days (and a serious beneift over vinyl), there a rudimentary loop function. So as to avoid the need to read the manual, operation is really simple - Hit Loop Start at the start point, hit Loop End at the end point and you're done. Nice and simple - just the way I like it. Loops can only be set within the same track and doesn't stay in memory after the CD is ejected. And you can do all the usual stuff with the loop such as pitch and apply effects. But be warned - I encountered an issue if you want to juggle with the CDX-05. If you try and scratch the beginning of the loop it misses every other beat. For simple looping this isn't an issue but if you feel like emulating your favourite scratch hero, it could prove a stumbling block.


Included in this little package is a straightforward sampler. 8 seconds in length, you can sample any source and if necessary you can also loop it as well. The sample isn't just a straight lift from the CD, it includes any scratching you may want to carry out as well. You do have a couple of options with the sampler - pitch is adjustable via the jogwheel while pressing the loop key with a range or +/- 32%. The volume of the sample is also adjustable using the jogwheel while pressing play.

A nice little side effect of the sampler is that it can function as a 4th hot start button - well sort of. Imagine if you'd set up 3 drum beats on each cue point do do some cool sample drumming technique, you now have a 4th sample to bang away at. The other fact to bear in mind is that the sample plays entirely independently from anything else. Pausing regular play doesn't stop the sample being played or looped, not does scratching or adjusting the pitch or applying effects of the regular play. What I would have dearly loved to see was a separate line out from the sampler. This way, you could set up a looped beat that worked outside of the normal fader.

And one last thing with the sampler - you set the sampler looping and then eject the CD. Nice for keeping your set going without interuption.

Pitch and Master Tempo

The CDX-05, like every other deck on the planet has pitch adjust - in this case +/- 6, 10, 50 and 100%. Pressing pitch range switches between the ranges. To settle a much argued about bone of contention, the pitch is 0.1% adjustable. This really doesn't matter for scratch DJ's but mix DJ's reading this will no doubt be condemning this deck as unusable.

Pitch bending is possible via the pitch bend buttons or by using the ever-useful jog wheel, with a range of +/-10%.

And let's not forget master tempo either. Press this button when the pitch range is at the 6 or 10% range and it's activated with a range of +/-10%. Not an especially wide range I hear you cry, but Vestax have realised the limitations of their DSP so sensibly limit the range so as not to sound poor.


I've got to be honest - I'm not a fan of on-board pre fader effects, especially anything with echo. But I guess people expect them these days so Vestax have included a small selection for completeness. Here we find flange, delay and filter - the last being my favourite and most effective. The parameters for these effects are handled by - you guessed it - the jog wheel, but can also be auto synced to the beat by pressing effect sync. When in the CDX only scratch mode, you can't change the parameters for effects, because obviously you're using the platter to scratch with. However when using the TTM1, you can fully effect the parameters.

While we're talking filters, one of the major pushing points of the CDX-05 is the CD filter. By definition, CD's always sound cleaner, tinnier - more sterile if you like - and Vestax have recognised this and decided to try to compensate by adding a CD filter function. It's not really possible to make CD sound exactly like vinyl but by having an onboard filter to warm up the sound, Vestax have gone some way to addressing the problem. In reality, it seems to be little more than an onboard EQ tweak to the mids and lower end but I'm sure I detected a hint of added distortion as well just to make things a little dirtier.

Odds and Ends

Alongside the scratch button, you'll find brake. This gives you the option to simulate the spin down of a regular vinyl table. And the time is adjustable as well from 0.1 to 5 seconds. Right next to that is reverse which needs no explanation.

Fader start - no self respecting CD deck should be released without fader start. The CDX-05 is no exception and via a minijack, you can start the deck from a suitably equipped mixer (I tried it with a Denon X100 and 300 mixer). But it has an ace up it's sleeve - you can assign the fader start to start the deck or the sampler or both.

So what does it sound like?

I'm no purist - one deck sounds much like another to me. I'm more a man of function than sounds but to my untrained ears the output from the CDX-05 is nice. Obviously with the aforementioned CD filter, the sound is more pleasing to the ear, especially when used within a vinyl setup as well. Being the price it is and not having the best DSP on the planet, it's always going to struggle to keep up with decks twice the price. There are digital artifacts, especially when slowed right down but only when your listening - like you do when you're doing a review and looking for issues. As you've seen in the movies I've done previously, it's not really noticeable in everyday use.

MP3 or not?

Well yes, but it's somewhat limited. Basically you can scratch MP3's and sample, but not cue or loop. And MP3 tags aren't read in either. Here's what the manual says it can handle:

• Disc format: ISO9660 Level 1
• Number of directories: up to 254
• Number of files: up to 255
• File format: MPEG 1 audio layer 3
• Bit rate: 32kbps to 190kbps, Constant Bit Rate
• Sampling frequency: 44.1KHz, Stereo
• File extension: mp3, Mp3, mP3, MP3

Indescriminately, I threw several CD's from different sources into the CDX-05 and it handled them all, but then again I'm not fussy about my MP3's anyway. ProfessorBX will be following up my review with hopefully a rather more technical one so I'll be sure to get him to cover off some of the above limitations. I did hit the 255 file limit, but the first 255 tracks it found worked OK. Basically, the CDX-05 looks at the CD folder by folder and will plays the first files it finds - so if you have 10 files in the first folder, it'll find those first and then look to the next folder etc etc.

Perhaps people playing out live might need MP3's encoded at a higher frequency to cater for booming sound systems, but for my simple scratch needs in the skratcworx lab, the 190kbps limit is more than fine.

Howeverm, I've discovered a problem with the first 1-2 seconds of an MP3. Try scratching and it'll lose position until it reaches around the 1.5 second mark. No good for scratching a single sound on a disk.


Yes - software upgrades will be available. So the issues I've covered above should be fixed in a future downloadable upgrade. Won't they Vestax!

The TTM1

And now to the really good part of this whole setup - Tascam's wonder gadget the TTM1. Strapped onto a turntable, the TTM1 allows you to control the CDX-05 (and for that matter the Tascam X1500 & X1700 dual decks) from your regular turntable. But how does this wheeled wonder work?

The principle is ultra simple - think inverted mouse wheel and you're there. A rubber wheel sits on the platter and translates the scratch movement into CD control. The principle is so simple and yet so effective. Any linear movement is translated into CD scratch sounds - even spinning the wheel manually with your hand.

While it only works with 3 CD decks on the planet (right now anyway), it's been cleverly designed to fit to a whole range of regular turntables. Tascam have obviously spent a great deal of time with many different decks as the TTM1 fits pretty much every analog deck in one way or another. And for those it doesn't have a hole to locate into, the base has 4 rubber feet to sit nicely on a flat part of the deck. Hell I even managed to sit it on a Handytrax and bust a few scratches without a hitch.

The location of the TTM1 on the deck is vital. Things to bear in mind:

• It must be in just the right position on the deck or the pitch will be out. The wheel obviously has to spin at a particuluar speed to make the right pitch. RPM has nothing to do with this.
• Height is important as well. The get the best traction on the vinyl, adjust the height so that the wheel is at 90° to the vinyl.
• Ensure that the wheel is at right angles to the spindle for maximum grip.

Follow these simple rules and you'll have the best traction to acheive the best results. That said, it is possible to calibrate to suit the position of the TTM1. By pressing a combination of buttons it is possible to re-calibrate the wheel and thus sort out any speed/positioning/timing issues. Press and hold the "time/enter" button then press the play button whilst the deck is spinning. This will calibrate the wheel in a few seconds. This can be done whilst playing without problems.

So how does it perform?

Gobsmackingly good. For such a simple principle, it picks up every scratch I could throw at it without a single problem. If I were to be picky, I could make it jump if I performed the whammy (pick up the edge of the vinyl and drum with your fingers). Perhaps a degree of tension on the wheel might help here - I haven't tried it but a small coin could do it.

When in play, swapping between the TTM1 and CDX-05 is as simple as hitting the button on top of the TTM1. Swapping between the 2 was faultless. A word of warning - if the CDX-05 is in scratch mode while switching on the TTM1, if no movement is detected from the TTM1, the CDX--05 scratch mode takes over after a few seconds - meaning your well timed pause is out the window.

If I were to compare it to the Numark CDX in terms of scratch performance, I'd have to say I'd be just as happy using the Vestax as I would the Numark - certainly when you consider that you've paid £150-200 less for the Vestax combo.

To summarise

When I played with the CDX-05 at PLASA, I wasn't overly impressed and expected to dislike it even after the review. But having played with it and explored it's broad range of features and abilities (and shortcomings as well), I've ended up really liking the whole package. On it's own, the CDX-05 is a well specified single CD deck, more than capable of fulfilling most DJ's needs when looking for a small CD deck. But when you throw the TTM1 into the equation, you get a complete CD/vinyl scratching solution that doesn't break the bank - and fits snuggly alongside your exisiting setup. The list of features for the price is outstanding and any misgivings or bugs that there might be will hopefully be fixed in a future software upgrade.

Ratings - without TTM1: 8/10 • with TTM1: 9/10

Price with TTM1 - £400/$649 - available now.

Pros: Feature set, Price, TTM1 link and performance
Cons: Limited MP3 support in features, loops bug.

A few media links:

Handytrax with CDX-05/TTM1

CDX-05/TTM1 with Numark TTX

Sample looping and faderless scratching on the CDX-05

Using a Numark CDX to control the Vestax CDX-05

© 2011 and may not be reproduced in whole or in part without permission.