Stanton SA-5 Review
The SA-5 is the first professional battle mixer which does not have a single rotary knob. Using all faders gives turntablists controls with which they are familiar and comfortable using. The positioning of all sliders and switches has been taken into special consideration for a clean, simple and easy to understand layout that is not over-crowded or confusing.
This DJ mixer was definitely built with the Battle/Scratch DJ in mind but also packs in the features to accommodate the needs of most club/beat-matching DJs. The Stanton SA-5 is currently the latest and BEST in Stanton's Scratch Artist series which used to include the SA-12 (DJ Craze mixer) and the SA-8 (DJ Focus Mixer). Those mixers however were only available for a short period of time as limited edition mixers. The SA-5 is the new flagship Battle Mixer from Stanton. To start off, the faders are custom built P&G (all 3 of them), and by far the absolute SMOOTHEST I have ever used! Take my word for it; the faders really are of the finest quality. The layout is in the classic Battle-Style form, with the SA-5's screw-less faceplate giving the user the smoothest movements possible around the fader section. Another great component of the mixer is that every single control function is done completely 100% by faders!
The front panel of the SA-5 includes the headphone jacks that are tucked in a small groove, and out of the way (you have the option of a 1/4-inch or 1/8-inch jack). All of the curve control and reverse switches for both channel faders/crossfaders are positioned on the front panel as well, and again out of the way of your performance. The curve adjustment is adjustable to 3 different positions: Long Fade, Short Fade, and Sharp Cut (this might be a negative for DJs who like to fully control their fade using a knob). If you try to put the crossfader on sharp cut, a fader lag will occur along with a 2mm cut in time (lousy for scratch DJs). You have to actually perform a fader mod in order to make the cut super sharp. When you do the mod, however, you will no longer be able to fade on any setting.
Note: To complete the mod, take the two plugs out of the circuit board on the bottom of the fader and plug them directly into each other. It is a very easy mod and you can see by the pictures below exactly how to do it:
One of the best things about the design of the SA-5 is the OS-2 phono/line switches. On most mixers they resemble stick-like levers, but on the SA-5 they are replaced by short-throw faders, giving the user a more crossfader-like approach to line/phono switch usage. In addition, there is an 8-position switch-able as the user seems fit. These tiny faders are extremely loose and incredibly smooth, with a great sound. They are so loose in fact that you could accidentally switch them by any physical movement of the mixer itself (they have fixed this issue with an optional OS-2 lock). This is a switch that allows you to lock the line/phono switches to the position you like when not using them.
There is also a three-position cue select function where you can select to hear a post-crossfader cue, pre-crossfader cue, and master cue. This allows you to privately practice a mix or scratch completely in the confines of your headphones.
The other key features are program reverse, headphone mute, a three-band EQ Kills, and Fader Gain Level controls. When the Program Reverse switch is activated, channel 1 will completely switch with channel 2. This means all the settings will be on the other side. There is a headphone mute button in the middle of the LED display that can be used when you want to hear exactly what is coming out of the speakers. The three-band EQ are also sliders (as all controls on the mixer are) and boasts a full kill on all frequencies. The gain level controls can be located near the top of the mixer and are also faders with full sized knobs for complete control over your mix.
The Wrap Up:
Overall, the SA-5 is a very good mixer with an awesome price tag. It has all the features targeted towards the seasoned professional turntablist, but still has the versatility to appeal to the all-around mix DJs and everyone in between. The P&G faders are high quality with crisp and punchy sound. The all fader design is also a rare treat! The mixer would have gotten a10 out of 10 easily; but because the fader mod is required to achieve a very sharp cut, along with the fact that you lose the option of fading after the mod is done… have to bring down the score (although us real DJs will just use line faders to mix, but still an inconvenience).
Features & Specs
- 2 channel scratch mixer
- Custom Penny and Giles faders and crossfader with curve adjustment
- OSII optical phono/line switches with LOCK feature
- 3 position cue select switch Pre CF / Post CF Cue / Master
- 3-band EQ with complete kills
- Program Reverse
- 2 headphone outputs (1/4" and 1/8" minijack) w/headphone mute switch
- Master output attenuation control
- PGM input attenuation control
- Unique front panel design prevents dj from accidentally damaging the headphone jack and mixer during battle
- TRS balanced master outputs
- Ultra Quiet: Dynamic Range greater than 110dB, noise floor less than 92 dBV (line)
- No Bleed: Channel fader and Crossfader Kill better than 95 dB
- Line to Phono and Phono to Line Crosstalk better than 90 dB
- Low Distortion: less than 0.015%@1kHz