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Denon DN-X100 Mixer review - by Gizmo - April 2005

Denon's range of CD decks is well know and given glowing reviews already by our goodselves as a testament to their turntablist abilities. But for a long time there wasn't a mixer in the Denon range to really bring out the scratchiness within the decks. The X1500 was brought out to bridge the gap but for the money, really didn't have the performance we need to do our cuts justice. A software update has been released to bring the fader nearer the mark but what was really needed was a dedicated scratch mixer. So blow me down if Denon didn't bring 2 out at the same time. This one, the DN-X100, is designed to compliment the additional baby DN-S1000 CD deck but has pretensions of being a quality entry level scratch mixer. So lets see what's on offer.

First Impressions

Er... it's miniscule. It's like a nano-mixer in comparision to pretty much everything else on the market. But like all of Denon's other mixers, is designed to compliment their CD decks and this it does wonderfully. Stood in front of a pair of 1000's with a 100 mixer between them is a site to behold. This truly is a mobile DJ's dream. Denon have clearly hit a niche market - the mobile DJ who still needs performance as well. I hereby coin the phrase nano-dj.

Obviously, as you can see in a vinyl turntable setup, the mixer is somewhat lost, but between a pair of CD decks, it looks right at home.

As with all other Denon gear, the quality of this little box is outstanding. There isn't anything about this mixer in terms of build that is even slighty iffy. Despite it's diminutive stature, this mixer feels like it's carved out of a solid lump of metal. It's probably just the fact it's so small that gives the impression of solidity.


Obviously being so small, some things have been consigned to it's bigger brother the 300 only. But for it's size, this mixer is chokka full of features.

Working left to right:

Mic Channel: As with every other mixer on the planet, there's the obligatory mic channel with 2 channel EQ. Not playing out anymore, I find mic channels a waste of space - but hey, DJ's need them I guess.

Channel Reverse: Swaps channels (but not EQ's)

EQ's: Again, following the standard mixer template, 3 channel EQ's have been included so no real surprises here. The surprise however is that the EQ's kill - which is nice for a mixer of this price.

Line/Phono: Because each channel has 1 phono and 2 line inputs, the switch toggles between the 2. There is a separate switch on the back panel to select between line and phono input. And each switch has 8 position rotation - lift the faceplate to move them.

Cue Switches: Routes the channel to the cue.

Master: Sets the master output level and has a L/R balance control (there's none on the individual channels).

Phones: Control cue section and has a handy split cue function as well.

Being a hamster line fader DJ, I did find the layout cramped in the extreme. But seeing as I'm in the minority and that the X100 isn't designed to be a pure scratch mixer, I don't see this as a black mark in the scoring book.

This is all pretty standard stuff across pretty much all mixers. But where it get's interesting is the front panel. Included are curve controls and reverse switches for ALL channels. And not your usual budget (and often not so budget) 3 setting curve switch - the X100 has full curve knobs so you can set the faders for whatever style you see fit. For a mixer of this price range, this really is something I wasn't expecting and clearly is a nod towards the scratch fraternity.

And because this mixer is designed to work with Denon's range of CD turntables, the X100 also has full fader start features. This is selectable for all faders, including both sides of the crossfader. Not having a Denon deck, I checked this out with the Vestax CDX-05 and it worked perfectly. Some nice effects can be achieved using a line fader as a fader start and the cross fader to cut.

Round the back

Simplicity is the key here. As I mentioned previously, each channel is split into 2 line inputs, but 1 input is switchable between line and phono at the flick of a switch on the rear panel. A microphone jack sits just above the fader start ports. and completing the setup is balanced and unbalanced outputs.

Power is delivered through a special Denon transformer with an RJ45 connector. I'm still a big fan of kettle leads over these often flimsy connectors but seeing as so much has been shoehorned into such as tiny space, it's obvious why a transformer has been used.

The faders

As with so many mixers these days, Denon have gone for Alpha faders. Nothing special here - just nice dependable faders that will last a reasonable amount of time provided you care for them and don't abuse them too much. It has to be said that the cut-in and lag times are very good indeed - somewhere around 1.5mm.


Something weird is happening here. When I cut very slowly, the fader response is good with excellent lag and cut-in. However, when I turn up the speed a little, the response tails off dramatically - almost as if the faster I go, the worse it gets. It's amost as if the curve knob is being moved, softening the lag. Now I can just about get away with fast electro cutting, but faster finger techniques are almost impossible. My technique has come on somewhat over the last few months but I'm findings crabs and twiddles just aren't achievable. Sorry Denon, but once again, your fader implementation is somewhat lacking.

As a test, I switched out a P&G from the Denon 300 mixer. The performance increased marginally (but not up to 300 levels), leading me to believe that the circuit is at fault. So it seems it doesn't matter what fader you add in here, it's never going to be good enough to be a true scratch mixer.

Sadly, the X100 isn't software upgradable so this is as good as it gets.

In summary

Despite it's size, the 100 has enough bells and whistles to stand out from the crowd but yet remains simple in use. The build quality is excellent and all styles of DJ's are catered for. The sheer volume of well implemented features for the price pushes the score for this mixer up. But for scratch DJs, I'd say try it before buying it - even for a beginner.


For everyday DJ use - 8.5/10

For scratch DJ's - 6.5/10

For more info visit Price - £245/€383/$299

Pros: Price/features ratio - compact styling - Quality

Cons: Poor crossfader response. Cramped layout.


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