Numark HDX Review
The Numark HDX is the first professional digital turntable that has an integrated Hard Drive to store and play music.
First of all, I would like to give a Huge Thank you to my guys over at Sam Ash in Cherry Hill, New Jersey for allowing me to review gear right on the spot at their awesome DJ setup Room.
The review of the Numark HDX would be almost identical to the Numark CDX Review with only a few minor changes and some obvious additions. The Numark HDX sports an on-board and removable Laptop style 80GB hard drive (loadable via USB 2.0) and a front slot load CD drive, make the HDX a perfect tool for professional and aspiring mobile DJs as well as club installers. The Hard Drive is the biggest benefit for most DJ’s; allowing them to store their entire library or set on just one of these decks. The Numark HDX is also the only device of its kind to allow recording straight to the Hard Drive during playback (via RCA ports); empowering DJs to record their own live mixes. At the time of writing this Review (10/22/07), the Numark HDX has officially been discontinued. I do not have any additional information regarding this stop in production or a good reason for them to end the short run.
The first thing that jumps out at you when you sample the NUMARK HDX CD/Hard Drive Turntable is its super strong motor and platter size. This true to life vinyl turntable has a 12-inch vinyl and a direct drive motor with 4.7kg/cm torque. That is even more than the analog Technics SL-1200 flagship turntable!!! This is, without a doubt, the closest feel that you can ever get to real vinyl while using CDs or MP3’s Period!!! The Numark HDX platter actually feels smoother and more accurate than the Numark CDX. I can’t really put my finger on why it feels better than the Numark CDX, but it seems they used a better stock vinyl and/or slipmat in its construction this time around. If you want; you can even put your favorite vinyl on the platter (this will require drilling three small holes into the centre of the record for the record cap) and put your own Slip-Mats underneath for your comfort.
The NUMARK HDX is based almost entirely on Numark’s CDX and TTX turntables and also boasts twin start-stop buttons with adjustable brake and start-up times. This thing looks and feels just like the CDX/TTX. So if you like the NUMARK TT line of turntables or the CDX, then you will really be in for a treat.
For all the scratch fans out there the NUMARK HDX offers four different scratch modes (just as the CDX). Normal scratch mode will sound like ordinary vinyl on an analog turntable. The response time is right on and sound reproduction one of the highest I have ever used in a CD deck. The scratch cue mode allows you to perform loops by returning to a cue point after you finish the scratch.
The other two scratch modes are 'scratch fwd' and 'scratch cue fwd'. These functions eliminate backward motion sounds of a scratch, which means you will only hear the forward scratch. Some DJs may call this cheating and others say it's a very nice feature to have.
The NUMARK HDX also packs reverse and loop functions. The reverse switch has two settings: one that simply changes the direction of the motor, like a normal turntable, and the bleep setting reverses the sound instantly. The loop function has a smart-loop option that will automatically fix the timing errors made by DJs. The loop can also be doubled or halved.
The pitch control features are the norm amongst most new CDJ units on the market. The NUMARK HDX has selectable ranges of +/-6, 12, 25 and 100% and, of course, a key lock feature that provides one of the best results. The pitch fader itself felt pretty cheap as with the CDX. The platter has operational speeds of 33 and 45 RPM’s. There is also a key change feature that will change the key in which a person or sound is played. We also experienced the same problem we saw on the Technics DZ1200 table and the Numark CDX. When pitch lock was engaged…I could not scratch without getting some serious reverb and digital distortion sounds, and this was true when making only minor adjustments as well.
Other features found on the NUMARK HDX are the Echo, Chop, slide, decimate, filter, kill and pan that manipulate the sound using the BPMs (also found on the CDX). Each effect setting can be adjusted using the jog dial. Other features include a stutter button and a huge cue memory. The display screen is bright and clear just as it is on the TTX and CDX (which includes track BPM and a track elapse/remain bar). The NUMARK HDX also comes with a MIDI I/O, so you can use it in the studio with other studio MIDI gear! The Numark HDX also features an on–board Gracenote™ CD database to automatically recognize and tag audio CDs, for added convenience. The display Screen will also allow you to search through the 80GB Hard Drive by artist, album, song, genre, BPM, or Playlist using the Track/menu select knob or a keyboard (which is included with the HDX). The HDX is also user-updatable through internet downloads that Numark says it will release as needed. At the time of writing this Review, there is a Firmware update (Version 1.18) on the Numark website available for download.
There is also very nice and intuitive jog wheel in the upper left hand corner. This is used to navigate through the menu bar, HD tracks, and also used as a functional jog wheel to scroll through a track or rewind it very quickly! I enjoyed this jog wheel very much in addition to the vinyl control. It gives DJs the ultimate control over their mix, session, or scratch!
The slot-loading mechanism on the NUMARK HDX still really feels cheap and like it could break at any moment (I don't really think it will, but the feel is suspect). This was the same issue found on the Numark CDX and I am shocked that they haven’t really fixed it. When inserting a CD, the mechanism is relatively loud. Only time can really tell us how reliable and trustworthy these machines are. If the CDX is any reference to the future; then this could be a reason for the HDX discontinuation!
The NUMARK HDX CD/Hard Drive Turntable is definitely the number one Hard Drive turntable on the market and one of the top 5 CD turntables on the market no matter the spinning style. This unit has definitely lived up to my expectations and it definitely deserves a look if you are in the market of buying a CD or Hard Drive Turntable. This unit is also a scratch artist's Dream. Imagine being able to take your entire MP3 library or scratch material actually inside the deck and ready for you to use at the touch of a button. If you are going to do nothing but scratching, then this is the deck for you. When you switch from scratching on vinyl and back to MP3’s; you will still be right at home. The Numark HDX would also be the obvious choice for anyone looking for a Numark CDX simply because it also allows for CD playback and the prices have gone down tremendously since it was first introduced. There are so many features on these things that the mix-artist will also enjoy them just as much. The only problems making it hard for me to give this a perfect 10 out of 10 is the quality of build…which is still questionable even after the same build issues plagued the CDX. Numark ignored the consumer and didn’t address the problems of its previous Deck; and now that the HDX is discontinued without official merit, I may be a little weary of the purchase…
Features & Specs
* Authentic turntable feel
* Ultra-high torque (4.7 kgf cm) direct drive motor
* Full size 12” platter holds a real user-replaceable vinyl record
* Extensive DSP functionality
* Scratching, looping, smart looping via Numark's proprietary Beatkeeper™ technology, auto beat matching
* Beat-synched effects include sonar, slide, filter, echo, chop
* ±100% pitch control, Key Lock
* Slot load CD transport
* Fast CD loading
* Front-load slot
* I/O panel connections
* Audio input
* Audio Output (RCA)
* Midi In/Out
* Digital Output
* Fader Start
* USB 2.0
* PS/2 Keyboard