Price: Discontinued ($1200 New)
Pros: Great quality and good feeling of vinyl control for a CD player
Cons: Can be problematic playing MP3 files, is quite large for a "CD player"
Model: CDX (discontinued)
My Initial Decision
Early in 2000 I started working with friends to produce some hip-hop based tracks. Festivals that I was attending at the time really inspired me to want to pick up the art of turntables for that "hands on" approach. No one wants to see a performer just using their mouse on their notebook. I wasn't interested in really DJing with turntables. This seemed limiting to me and also, records are not cheap or easy to come by. I really was more interested in just scratching some samples and doing some hands on tricks.
I knew some DJs that used the Technics CDJ tables at the time and loved them. Though their use was purely for DJing and not scratching. I then went to my local music store to have a look at the Technics but then comparing the CDX to the Technics it became apparent the CDX was designed for what I wanted to do.
- Ultra-high torque (5.0 kgf/cm) direct drive motor
- Full size 12 inch aluminum platter with vinyl record control
- Slot-load CD transport with CDR compatibility
- Integrated DSP effects include sonar, slide, echo, filter, chop, auto-pan, and auto-dissemination
- Multiple scratch modes for tricks and effects
- Seamless loop with smart loop, live trim, and beat shifting
- Built-in Beatkeeper™ with auto-synchronization of loops, effects, and
- Bright VFD (Vacuum Fluorescent Display) shows BPM, time, and unit status.
- Dedicated wheel for effects and search control
- MIDI I/O for synchronization with drum machines and other
- 3,000 cue point memory
- 2 hot stutter starts
- Dual "battle-style" turntable platter controls
- Adjustable start and brake speeds
- Forward/reverse toggle with bleep
- ±6, 12, 25 and 100% pitch control
- Key Lock at any tempo up to ±100%
- Anti-Shock™ buffer technology
- S/PDIF digital output
- Fader/remote start and relay play
Being in my early 20s at the time the purchase of this was a big deal. It was quite expensive for a "CD player" and was being purchased for only a small part of what I wanted to do but I was very excited about it. The CDX looks very similar to the Numark TT turntable line of players and uses the same motor and platter. Bolted to this is an actual vinyl record (though be it a blank record) which is fixed to a centre spindal pin whcih controls the playback. You can place your choice of slipmats under the vinyl.
Out of the box it is heavy and very solid. All the controls and apperance look like decent quality and I can now say that after a decade of use it is still in great working condition and operates as good as when I purchased it. The feeling of the vinyl and the controls would have you thinking this is a vinyl turntable and for somoene that wasn't really paying attention you wouldn't even notice the difference (apart from the missing pickup arm).
When I first purchased the unit I had issues getting it to read MP3 CDs. Research showed that people were having the same issues and I returned it for another unit. The one I still have seems to work just fine.
The weight is good for a solid platform on a desk but I can imagin it would be a bit of a pain to lug this thing around, let alone 2 of these.
Powering the deck on from the back switch it is on instantly and you can start the platter spinning with the press of the play button. It takes about 5 seconds for a CD to read and start playing and the quality of sound is that of any CD player. It sounds as the CD is designed to sound. Nice and clear.
The platter will represent your playback so as you adjust the pitch control the playback will speed up and the platter spins faster, same when you slow down. If you grab the vinyl and stop it or scratch it this is reflected in the playback. Manipulating playback using the vinyl is pretty much exactly as you would expect it to work on an actual turntable so it is really quite seemless.
There is a quick-jog wheel to allow changing tracks and a bright VFD display showing track info, song name (MP3) and a progress position bar.
The menu is very easy to navigate to change some features and functions and it is pretty easy to operate without needing a manual. Browsing a CD full of MP3 files is a little clunky and with a disc of several hundred it can be a challenge to find what you want.
The main reason I wanted this device was for the scratching abilities. I wanted to make scratch samples and start to develope scratching techniques wwithout having to source vinyl or maintain a turntable. For this the system worked perfectly and using quality CD files I was able to scratch quite convincingly and have a lot of fun. Even after 10 years I still rip this table up and it has handled the abuse very well. The sound quality of the scratching is very good for a digital scratch but it is not quite the same as the real thing but could pass easily in a performance with proper cutting and chopping.
Features and Functions
This is a CD player at heart but has a great controller built in which is a record platter. Being a CD player though it has some nice tricks that a turntable cannot achieve. When you adjust the speed of a track you can choose to maintain the pitch with just a button press. There is also a complete effects section built in with low/high pass filters, echo, beat repeat, phaser, chopper effects with a control wheel to adjust on the fly. Effects are a nice touch but are quite plain and I personally found them wasted space.
A BPM detector is also inbuilt which works quite well with a lot of EDM and standard time stuff. The beat detector is used to lock the effects to the beat and also to show the BPM of a track to assist in beat matching. It is also possible to link these together using a sync cable which can set the BPM on another deck automatically but I found this all a bit clunky.
The MIDI in/out is a nice idea and can be used to connect to a DAW to sync the daw and the deck. I haven't needed to play around with that side of things too much.
In the centre of the top section is a complete beat looper where yo9u can set your content to loop easily with LED markers and you can also adjust the length from 1-16 beats easily on the fly. This works very well if you have a perfectly locked track. A cue button allows you to create a marker on your content and set playback to that position like dropping a needle and is useful to cue the start of a scratch sample and align it with your marker on your vinyl.
This has been a great buy for me. It has lasted the test of time and I have had a lot of good fun with it but it really hasn't been used for production or DJ work. While the concept is great and it is a fun toy it simpoly is not practical these days with digital DJs. It is large, heavy and still needs you to feed it CDs. It is an expensive toy but for someone that wants to start out practising turntable triocks and techniques it is a good option because you can scratch anything you like without ongoing costs of vinyl. I would personally not sink money like this into a device like this again but 10 years ago it was a great option for what you had available.