Pros: Value and feature packed, direct drive, excellent professional quality sound reproduction, heavy [sturdy].
Cons: Brake mechanism unrefined, flimsy tonearm pickup, possible motor reliability issues.
The Numark TTX1 Turntable was not what I set out to purchase when I went looking for records and or a turntable. Having had great luck with the Panasonic [Technics] brand, I was hoping to get one of these babies, even an older used one, as I've heard wonderful things about them. The Technics decks appear to be rather hard to come by, though Numark seems to be a good brand which the professionals also use. This TTX1 unit will play 33, 45, and 78 RPM records, as well as playing at just about any speed in between, and the TTX1 is chock full of more features that the higher priced Technics decks.
I had checked for Technics turntables on eBay, and they seem to hold their resale value rather well. I was questioning the wisdom of purchasing a used deck from eBay, and I'm glad I didn't as I think I got a better deck for less money from Sam Ash under the Numark brand name. I was looking around in the local thrift shops, Goodwill, Salvation Army, etc. hoping to find an old Technics deck, only to find a few sad (and overpriced) decks that looked like they would fall after about 1300 milliseconds of use. I wanted a turntable, but couldn't find exactly what I was looking for.
After several hours of attempted bargain hunting, I started to become rather fed up with the lack of a used selection of turntables, thus I decided that I had better go check the local Sam Ash Music store to see what was available. After drooling over the Technics decks that were on display, getting some funny looks from the associates on duty at the time, and not having a rag to clean up the drool, some of the associates realized that I might acutally want to make a purchase, (or were worried that I was about to swipe something when they turned their backs). Either way the associates took note of my presence.
I inquired about open box items, and was hoping Sam Ash wanted to move some decks, and I wanted a "nice" [beat-up] Technics deck for about $300 instead of $500, but apparently I was dreaming, or they were. The peeps at the store didn't think that player was really all that beat up, even though it really was, and they wanted almost full price for it.
When they didn't budge much on the price, even though the Technics deck on hand was obviously beat up, I inquired about what other options were available for used and or open-box deals. The salesperson brought to my attention, that there was a used Numark TTX1 turntable available for sale, and it was very attractively priced at only $160 minus a stylus.
Most folks would probably balk at spending $160 on a turntable, but this turntable is really not just another turntable. Not only is it rather futuristic looking and aesthetically pleasing, but go pick one up and make sure that you've brought along your back support brace. Weighing in at just about 27 lbs, the Numark may appear lithe, but it most certainly is the antithesis of a lightweight, and flimsy turntable. A good analogy of the weight of this TTX1 turntable is the notoriously Merecedes-Benz, and if weight is any indication of durability, this TTX1 table is one of the most durable on the market.
$160 for a used Numark turntable is also rather economical when compared to the [rather overpriced] competition. The Technics turntable is a great brand-name, but when one considers the sheer number of extra features on the Numark deck, the choice between the two becomes an issue of whether one has more money than brains. If one has more brains than money, then the Numark TTX1 is the clear choice. That being said, allow me to highlight some of the more exciting and useful features of the Numark TTX1, and what sets it apart, or at the very least on par with, the competition.
The Numark TTX1 has a very wide range of pitch control, /- 50%, and even boasts a pitch lock. The TTX1 pitch lock is rather useful, and can be used to lock the pitch while changing the tempo. This DSP (digital signal processing) is a feature that is lacking on the much higher priced competitior's offering(s), and might prove to be quite useful to the DJ, and intriguing for the home listener.
There is also a (questionably useful) BPM counter to give the "DJ" a good idea of the BPM count for whatever happens to be playing. I say questionably useful becuase it's an automatic feature, and it may or may not be accurate, but it was thoughtful for the designers to include this feature. On to the stylus and tonearm issues...
The straight tonearm is the only tonearm I recieved with the TTX1, and is supposedly used for scratching, so I can't comment on the S-shaped tonearm. My TTX1 had a slipmat "underfoot", and I was careful to ensure that I purchased an elliptical scratching needle. My rationale when choosing this needle was that I figured that folks would see the professional turntable, and then want to scratch on it, and this particular needle seems to be really sturdy.
I didn't want folks walking up and scratching without having the right needle. This Stanton stylus hopped right over a chip missing from a damaged LP and didn't seemed to be phased by such abuse (I had nothing to do with this mishap though, other than having dropped the record at one point taking a nice little chunk out of the first track). No more Donna Summer, "Finger on the Trigger". The Stanton scratch/mix stylus seems to have great bass too; as I think it was intended for hip-hop and rap listeners as they are usually the ones that like to scratch, and love their bass.
I would like to say though, that the straight tonearm seems to track quite nicely, and since the player didn't come with a stylus, I spec'd it with a Stanton (Hollywood, FL) $40 elliptical scratching needle (from Sam Ash Music). I set up the stylus for maximum tracking force, as I had issues when dialing in the tracking force too low. Other Epinions reviews have stated that dialing in the tracking force is a matter of an educated guess; and I would have to for the most part agree here; but it's okay to guess...I guess.
Although it took some experimenting, it seems as though what works best for my application, (mostly listening with the occasional scratching session just for fun), is maximum tracking force. I just played around with the settings until I was able to minimize the risk of skipping when scratching on the vinyl, which turned out to be the most tracking force I could dial in with the stylus and counterweight combination. I've heard that the stylus skipping when scratching is generally an issue, but on the TTX1 it doesn't seem to be, at least once everything is dialed in right!
Specifically what seemed to work best was when I dialed in the maximum tracking force possible, using the 4 g weight included with the stylus, and as little counterbalance force as possible. This seems to keep the record from skipping under heavy scratching, and seems to keep the stylus firmly glued to the surface of the vinyl. I also needed to "toe" the stylus out in order to further reduce the likelihood of skipping even under "illicit" amounts of scratching.
The RCA outs on the TTX1 are nicely illuminated (once the unit is plugged in), and there is a rather nice switch which allows for either phono-level preamp output, or line-level preamp output levels. Since I don't have a phono specific reciever, the line-level outs are what I use, and I'm glad that they're available and easy to see even in the dark. There is also a digital out, (for connecting the unit to a computer), which I have yet to utilize but I'm glad to know it's there if I need or want to use it someday. All of this shows that Numark was really thinking about the user of this product, rather than how they could skimp on features in order to keep the cost of the product low.
Although it's not a feature that I use every day, the brake and start-up speed of the platter is adjustable, though I'm not really sure why. There is also a reverse/forward toggle, which is likely included to allow for convenient cueing of tracks. The forward and reverse button is rather nice, but the brake is rather imperfect. Other users have also noted this in their reviews. What happens is that the record stops fast enough, it takes less than a second, but tends to turn back, or reverse, (about 1/16th) of a turn when stopped/paused. Not a big deal, but something that the DJ should be aware of when making a purchase, and playing back tracks. This issue may have been fixed in later releases of the TTX1, at least I should hope.
For the professional DJ, or just someone working in the dark, the display is nicely backlit, and there is a nice little light that is somewhat useful in iluminating the record platter as it spins, though is of questionable use when looking for a particular track in the dark. The aforementioned illumination on the back around the audio outputs and power input is also a nice touch. The RCA cables are not permanently attached to the unit, which is a good idea as these cables can occasionally be damaged by careless handling. Also, there is no external ground required, as the entire unit is grounded through a 3-prong power input NEC (computer) style power cord.
The pitch and playback tempo speed slider is nice, and there is a quartz lock on the pitch control as well which is supposed to reduce any likelihood of the pitch fluttering from what it was intended to be. The wow/flutter is barely noticeable, as it should be, so the quartz lock seems to work quite well for situations where "regular" playback is required. Yet another feature present on the Numark TTX1, is it's swappable fader, which can swap places with the buttons. This is not something that I have yet tried to do, but it's nice to know that the feature is available, as it is supposed to cater to DJ "battles" where quick and easy access to the pitch control means placing it on the front where my buttons (33, 45, 78, quartz lock, pitch lock) are currently located. I don't know enough about DJing, or DJ battles to really decide whether or not this is a helpful feature or not, but it's yet another honorable mention on this feature packed Numark TTX1 turntable.
The only drawbacks I can report on is that the [replaceable] stylus pickup was broken when I purchased the [used] TTX1, and I've heard that some of these [older] units have motor issues. I don't know if my unit is one of the older ones or not, but the motor seems to be fine for now. Just heed the warnings about not removing the platter while the unit is powered on (or plugged in for that matter). I've hear horror stories about people not adhering to the warning and messing up their deck. (I don't know why anyone would think it's a good idea to open up something without first killing the power, but apparently there are some daring folks out there that have done such things). Also, I didn't realize that the stylus pickup was broken when I purchased the unit, so beware of this when looking to buy a used model. Sam Ash said they would honor the warranty and guarantee the the unit was in like new working condition, but they obviously didn't notice the damaged lifter. The part appears replaceable, but even still I don't like the prospect of buying something broken.
In conclusion, I am pleasantly surprised with the Numark TTX1, and it seems to be a lovely mix of features and value for the audiophile looking to have something to play with, or even the amatuer or professional DJ. There are many features above and beyond what the competition has to offer, all packaged sturdily, and available at an economical price. There has been mention of some of these decks having reliability issues, but so far so good here with my used deck. If I have any issues with the TTX1 I will be sure and report it here and update the review, but I'm happy to report that the TTX1 gets my two thumbs up. Everyone that has come over and seen it has been rather impressed with it's presence, and it will become the new centerpiece of any room. Just FYI I have it connected to my Klipsch computer speakers and the pots on the walls have been rattling the whole time I've ben writing this review. The speakers seem to like reproducing the signal this player sends to them, and there is very little cracking or noise when playing a record in good condition. Needless to say I'm very impressed, and I hope to hear what others have to say about this impressive, feature packed, and competitively priced turntable.