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Numark DXMPro
Reviewer: Gizmo • Date: August 2005 • Price: £249/$399 • Link: www.numark.com

Numark are brave company. Having spent years on the edge of the market with a reputation for average but not great gear, they went away and had a serious thing. Out of this thinking came the TTX - arguably the best and most versatile turntable on the market. Not content with that, they went on to own the CD deck market with the pant-wettingly lovely CDX. But their mixers have really failed to set the skratch world alight. They had a worlds first the the PPD01 - the first all digital mixer on the market - with effects as well - but it was a case of close but no cigar. But now they've had a bit of time to improve things and have come back with a pure no frills 100% digital skratch mixer - the DXMpro.

First Impressions

Well it's unmistakably a Numark Mixer. In fact it's fair to say it's the PPD01 minus the effects unit. It's got the very familiar dipped front form factor and quite chunky controls, as well as being just a tad wider than your average skratch mixer. Weight-wise, it's pretty light thus easy to carry around from bedroom to battle and back, but the sharp edges are likely to cut quite a hole in your battle bag.

In your hands, the overall feel is really nice - the top half is a rubberised finish, the bottom half being black brushed steel. Very tactile indeed. But I can't help but feel that it's a little too lightweight. I don't think it's going to fall apart in my hands but hasn't quite got the solid chunkiness of some of it's peers.

The whole mixer adopts a black, silver and red feel. There's no green or amber LEDs - everything is red - soooo Knightrider. At times I expected this thing to actually talk to me.

The layout is very clean and simple. There's always an aesthetic battle when trying to cram too much into a mixer. What the DXMPro lacks in bells and whistles, it excels in usability due to it's very uncluttered layout.

Faders


As I keep harping on about in every mixer review that I do - the key to the long term success of any skratch mixer is it's crossfader. Seeing as the DXMPro is 100% digital. the option of plonking in an Alpha or P&G hasn't been available to them. So Numark have had little choice but to develop a new digital VCA fader called the CP-PRO. This apparently fits into several other Numark mixers - and in this particular mixer it's used for all 3 faders. And very nice they are as well. Smooth and quiet - but what possessed Numark to attach fader knobs like lego bricks is unknown to me. These might be OK for mix DJs but they pretty much suck for scratch DJs. Think dumpy Vestax fader knobs but harder on the fingers. I'm especially picky about fader knobs these days. With the crossfader being almost an extension of a skratch DJ's body, they have to be right.

Talking about the faders, no skratch mixer is complete these days without full reverses and curves on all channels, and the DXMPro doesn't disappoint on that front. All the curves are sharp to the point of being perhaps too sharp - if such a thing is possible. Being digital, at the sharpest setting, the sound is literally off/on with no discernable cut-in whatsoever. This does make my technique sounds harsh and robotic and indeed on full curve, there is a slight audible "pop". Thankfully the curve control can be adjusted to slightly soften that cut-in to appear more pleasing to the ear. The linefader curves are full sweep and beyond. In the picture below, you can see the icons under the curve adjust button to see what I mean. They don't just adjust to linear, the go all the way across to only being on at the end of the curve as well.

Many mixers seem to move all the curve controls and reverses to the front panel of the mixer - making it a pain to find and play with in a dark and murky club. The DXMPro take a leaf out of Rane's book and have the line fader curves and reverses on the top panel, above the line faders but out of the way. The crossfader curve control is on the trademark Numark dipped panel at the front, the reverse control nuzzles nicely between the line switches. And to make the curve controls less obtrusive, they're push button ones - neatly popping down almost flush with the faceplate. Neat.

One gripe though with regard to the reverse buttons - actually it applies to all buttons. Because the digital, when you reboot the mixer for whatever reason, the button settings are lost. You have to reset the reverses/cue/mic/aux each time you power up the mixer. I'm used to it now but it just seems like a bad idea to me.

Last but not least we have the transform switches. Nice and chunky and feel solid in your hands. And this years thing is double throw switches. This is the third mixer I've seen recently with this instant toggle action. You can switch it permanently or temporarily, giving you this double time transform facility. And as with every other mixer, the switch is rotatable at 45° increments.

I have to say I was very confused with how this worked. Each channel has a line input and also a switchable line/phono input as well. The transform switch, when moved to the middle activates the line/phono channel meaning you can use the double throw technique. However, when working with the line only channel, this is activated by moving the transform switch to the left (or right depending on how you've rotated them).

How does it sound?

I'll be honest - I'm about as far from an audiophile as you can get. All the mixers I test get blasted out through good quality Tannoy speakers at loud volumes but this clearly doesn't make me any kind of authority on such things. But I know what I like. Being 100% digital, I had the preconception that the DXMPro was going to sound pretty dire - flat and lifeless but crystal clear. Thankfully I was very wrong. The DXM sound is full, warm and bright. I really cranked up the volume and found it very difficult to make it distort. And even at full belt, there was no rumble as is often the case with mixers.

The EQ is pretty cool as well. Understanding that the standard these days is to make the EQs kill, Numark have done just that. I also noted that the mid range EQ range is very wide. It seems to sweep across a wider range of frequencies that others that I have tested.

As mentioned previously, the DXMPro adopts a red only colour scheme as far as LEDs goes. This does make getting levels right a bit harder than it should. That said, making this thing too loud is hard so it's not too much to worry about. Only red LEDs did allow Numark to do something different with the level metering - if the line fader is reversed, the level meter is reversed as well.

The Cue Section and stuff

No surprises from the cue section - works just the same as 90% of the rest of the mixer market. But this cue also has a tone control. Recessed like the fader curve controls, the tone adjustment is useful but not earth shattering. And harping back to the digital nature of the mixer, when you turn this mixer back on, by default the cue is turned on rather than the master.

And of course, no skratch mixer would be complete without the essential mic channel. Thankfully, this channel is switchable to aux as well. 2 Band EQ as well for a little more control. I'm using the aux channel for sessioning - very useful.

To finish off the the top of the mixer, just above the cue section is the master and booth volume knobs. Predictable I know but edging towards familiarity isn't a bad thing really.

Round the back...

The DXMPro is a pretty simple mixer and this reflected on the back panel. As stated previously, the 2 channels are split into line and selectable line/phono. RCA aux channel to match the phono socket at the front for a microphone. As far as output goes, there's unbalanced RCA as well as balanced phono. And with the mixer being digital, there's also a real ace in the hole that puts this humble mixer above the rest of the pack. There's 2 48kHz, 24-bit S/PDIF outputs - one coax, one optical. Hopefully this should allow direct connection to all sorts of digital recording devices meaning much better audio quality.

Summary

Looks to me like Numark may have put the bad rep of the PPD01 behind them now. What we have here is a good little skratch mixer. It's good quality no bells and whistles approach is refreshing. It does everything a basic skratch mixer should do at a good price. It does however miss a few features found on it's peers - channel pan, FX loop and fader start. The latter would seem to be quite an omission considering that the DXMPro is an ideal partner to their market leading CDX.

All in all, the DXMPro would seem to be a mixer worth of consideration for anyone in the market for a skratch mixer. A basic skratch mixer that is. The lack of key features does put it at a bit of a disadvantage in the marketplace but if you're after a well laid out mixer with good faders and a nice sound, this could be just right for you. And don't forget the digital out either - it can be a bit of a deal clincher for some people.

Rating - 84%

Big thanks to Numark for providing the DXMPro to review.



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