Numark CDX Scratch DJ CD Turntable Review

by MacBook DJ November 15, 2006

The Numark CDX is a CD player with a direct-drive turntable for scratch DJs who want the convenience and flexibility of CDs combined with the authentic sound, control, and feel of vinyl. And though the CDX has been around for a few years, it still delivers the goods better than any other similarly priced deck on the market.

The Numark CDX has a suggested retail price of $1,199 but can usually be purchased new for between $600 – $700. It’s important to shop around and compare prices at as many retailers as possible, because prices can vary widely.

The CDX is a front-loading, single disc CD player, but looks much more like a standard DJ turntable. This is primarily due to the large direct-drive platter and vinyl disc that dominates the top of the unit. When the music from the CD plays, the platter spins. The music can be cued, stopped, or scratched by moving the vinyl disc. No needle required. It feels and sounds just like a real record on a turntable.

In addition to standard turntable features such as a variable pitch control slider and key lock, the CDX also has a number of advanced CD features that would be impossible to reproduce on a standard vinyl turntable:

Beatkeeper – Automatic BPM counter. Very accurate with most types of dance music. Allows you to create perfect loops with the touch of a button. The BPM counter can be manually adjusted by using the Tap button.

Scratch Modes. In addition to the standard vinyl-emulating scratch mode, there are two additional and very useful modes. ‘Forward Scratch’ does what the name says… it scratches forward only. Scratching in reverse is silent. This lets you perform lots of nice cutting without needing to touch the faders. ‘Cue Scratch’ will jump to a pre-selected cue point every time you stop or scratch the track with your hand. Set the cue point at the beginning of a 2-bar break, and you can beat-juggle using only one deck (and no faders)!

Built-in effects. These include Sonar (a phaser effect), Slide (changes key), Echo, Filter, Chop, Pan. The effects can be controlled by a small scroll wheel next to the effects buttons, and many effects are tied to the Beatkeeper system, making rhythmic effects play in perfect sync with your mix.

Mp3 Support. In addition to regular audio CDs, the CDX also reads mp3 CDs. This means you can have literally hundreds of files on one CD, eliminating the need to bring a huge folder of CDs with you to a gig. As long as your mp3s have been ripped at a high quality, they won’t sound or handle any differently on the CDX.

Midi support. Midi in and out ports are available for connecting the CDX to other midi gear such as a computer, sequencer, or sampler. By doing this you can sync the tempo of external devices to the CDX or vice versa.

The Numark CDX is a great sounding scratch CD player for the club or the studio, and makes working with CDs as satisfying as vinyl. It makes a great addition to a traditional vinyl turntable setup, as well as a computer DJ setup. I use one in my studio along with Ableton Live and a Mac for beat-making. A friend of mine uses it with his Akai MPC4000 for sampling. It’s flexibility is only limited by your imagination.