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Numark PPD01 Mixer - by ProfessorBX

"Strobe Light Honey"...

Occasionally a product comes a long that you just KNOW that you will fall in love with from the first time you hear of it. These products are usually filled with new and innovative features not seen thus far in the DJ world, and are also usually way to expensive for the average DJ to purchase. With the PPD-01 though at least one of these rules are broken, with the previously unseen features there in spades, but with a price that is very kind to the wallet. As the old saying goes though, you get what you pay for and all that glitters may not be gold in this case.

Physical Overview

The PPD-01 holds the distinction of being the worlds first 24bit digital DJ mixer in the standard 10 inch, 2 channel "scratch" format. On first inspection build quality is solid, with a nice thick faceplate and a heavy feel. On closer inspection a few things stick out from the rest of the mixer, most notably the "Cross fader FX" section. Further up, things are pretty typical of a standard scratch mixer, with the eq being the standard knob control variety, cue in the now standard 07 position, and a mic channel on the left hand side. In the middle of the channel eq's there is a button to switch the eq between "standard" and "filter" modes. Overall there really isn't much to complain about except for a lack of channel pans and the somewhat odd placement of the Fader FX section which frankly is in a very odd place for scratch use and could get in the way of those who like to do body tricks.

Tech Overview

(from the Numark website)
• The first Numark product to introduce Alesis® semiconductor technology
• World’s only 24-bit digital two channel mixer with an unprecedented SNR of 100dB, 0.005% THD+N (DSP processing is 28-bit, AD/DA are 24-bit)
• World’s first mixer with digital and interchangeable VCA cross fader and line faders. D-Type faders utilize a proprietary algorithm to insure ultra-high performance and long life
• World’s first mixer to incorporate 8 cross fader methods and modes with velocity-sensitive action
• World's first dual mode tone control: 1) 3-band digital EQ-KILLS 2) Low pass/band pass/high pass filters with sweepable frequency and resonance
• Eight-position phono/line switches
• Mini-cross fader cuing with headphone tone control
• Master balanced and Booth output
• S/PDIF optical and coax digital output
• 2 phono, 3 line and 1 mic input
• Transparent Look-Ahead Limiters on Master and Booth

From the start, the first thing that stands out is obviously the PPD's use of a fully 24bit signal path, and 24bit converters on the inputs. Considering that the only other fully digital DJ mixer that springs to mind is the Tascam X-9 which also carries a $1,099 average price tag, the $399 sticker price of the PPD-01 is frankly a shock and a half. This all digital design provides for a number of features either exclusive to this mixer or previously unseen in mixers of this price range, most notably the digital VCA fader control with multiple fx modes and the dual mode eq. Frankly, if the review ended here, the Numark PPD-01 would probably get a 10. Sadly though, it doesn't.

In Use/Abuse

I got the opportunity to spend a week with the PPD-01 due to a friend who was kind enough to lend me the mixer, and as such I feel that I got a pretty good opportunity to abuse the mixer overall. For the sake of organization I will work from the bottom up so to speak in my review.

Fader Section - Taking a look at the PPD-01, one cannot help but have their eyes drawn to the fader FX section. Controlled with a simple toggle switch, while the placement of the fx section leaves much to be desired, one has to admire the simplicity.

The fader fx section has 8 modes-

Normal: Self explanatory
Velocity Sensitive Flanger: Fader controls amount of flange, curve controls flange rate
Velocity Sensitive Band Pass Filter: Fader Controls Filter Frequency, Curve controls fade
Auto pan: Fader controlled Auto pan-like a "flip flop" switch
Auto-Cut: Fader controlled transform effect
Auto-Cut with Low Pass filter: Same as auto cut but with added filter sweepable
Dual Phase Shifter: Fader controlled phase effect, with wet/dry controlled by how close the fader is to the center.
Vari-Cut: The dreaded "machine crab" effect. Unlike the Samurai, this effect only has one type of pattern, with the cut points controlled by the fader curve control.

Overall these effects work to varying degrees. While the flange, phase, and auto pan effects work fairly well overall for scratching, the filter is almost useless, choosing to turn on for both channels sometimes, one channel other times, with no logical reason for either choice. The auto-cut effects are fairly useless overall, being to statico for scratching, and to hard to control for mixing. The Vari-Cut works better than the Samurai cut system as it allows for double clicks of one channel, but it overall doesn't feel clean enough to be used in a scratch routine. Overall the fx are a letdown, as they are to fineky for scratching, and to hard to turn on for slow fades to be used for mixing.

The faders themselves are PCV faders (referred to as "d-type" by Numark), and have that trademark slick PCV fader feel. The cut in leaves much to be desired on the cross fader, with the cut off decay making clean cuts a pain. The line fader curve strangely enough feels cleaner on the sharp setting, but this is offset by the fact that the line fader curve when set to long barely approaches a linear curve, making fading transforms and such a chore. While the price means that something had to be sacrificed I'm sure, if Numark couldn't get their digital vca controls perfect frankly they shouldn't have made them digital at all, as the almost 10 year old Vestax 05pro offers a cleaner cut in.

Eq Section - Besides the fader fx, the other major stand out feature of the PPD-01 is the dual mode EQ section. I have to say that unlike the the fader fx section this left me with a much more satisfied feeling. The 3 band eq provided a 100% kill in standard mode, and the filter mode was frankly a blast for doing DMC esq filter scratching. If I had to make a complaint, I would have to say that in the standard mode the bands are set a little to wide for making eq accapella's, and in filter mode the resonance lacks bite. Then again I understand that many clubs prefer the resonance of their chosen filter units to "safe" as well I can understand the choice, especially since blown speakers are only a knob twist away in the hands of a new DJ.

Cue Section - For the most part this is fairly normal, offering the now standard master/cue switch and fader cueing. One standout here though is the addition of a headphone eq. While the range of this eq is not very large, it is enough to take off the bite of high hats at high volumes or make a headphone mix less murky. Headphone amp volume is decent, and while it doesn't make one's ear drums bleed like the ttm56, it is more than loud enough for typical club use.

Mic Channel - While many DJ's won't ever touch this, one interesting feature here is the ability to use the the mic channel as an extra line input, complete with eq. This is useful as not only a session input, but an extra input for a CD player to provide the music for a group or even as a rudimentary fx return. This may not be the most flashy feature, but it is welcome nonetheless.

Output Limiter - This didn't exactly fit into a section, but is still quite notable. On the master, booth and headphone outputs the PPD-01 has a look ahead output limiter similar to other Alesis units. While this at first seems like a blessing as it can keep newbie DJ's from blowing speakers, due to the fact that it it is only on the final output is limited actual use when mixing is kind of limited (no pun intended). As well, due to the nature of a look ahead limiter the actual sound is delayed by roughly 3ms, and while this may not seem like much I am sure some DJ's will be angry that they cannot turn it off for this reason alone.

Sound Quality - When I first plugged in this mixer I was hoping for the end all, be all of sound quality in a DJ mixer, but expecting something far worse. What I got was something in between. On one hand the output was very clean, with very little (if any) background noise. When the eq was cranked I didn't notice much clipping to speak of which was welcome. On the other hand when played over a large sound system or in my headphones I noticed a bit of digital harshness on the high end when scratching or on tracks with harsh treble such as house tracks. While again the price range dictates that sacrifices had to be made, I have to admit it was annoying to say the least. While I can almost guarantee your crowd probably won't notice, if you have an ear for these things it may get to you after a while.


Well, in the end the PPD-01 is an interesting case. On one hand it is feature packed and the price is really nice. On the other hand some of those features (fader fx, output limiters) may have been best left off the mixer, especially considering how much of a mixed bag their implementation was. I have to say that I can't fault Numark for rushing to be the first company out the door with a product of this type, but I can't help but feel as if they should have maybe waited a few months and added a few hundred to the price tag to make sure it was all it could be.

Rating - 7/10

Clean Output
Feature Packed
Rotary Curve on all faders
Multi Mode EQ is a blast
Solid Build

Slight Digital harshness on the extreme high end
Fader Fx section is in the way of body tricks and such
Fader Fx section leaves much to be desired in its implementation
Cross fader Curve decay makes quick cuts less sharp than some comparably priced mixers
Line fader curve when set to long isn't that long.


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