TTX – Past, present and future
It’s an often told story – my return to the world of DJing that is. But in a nutshell, being away from the DJ scene for close to a decade and a half, I was determined to pick the very best turntable I could from the pretty tiny selection of high end fodder that was on the market. Of course, Technics were on the list, along with Vestax’s PDX-2000 and the very new and space age looking Numark TTX1 (as it was way back then).
Sure – the safe bet would be the 1210, but I’m not one to follow the crowd and often deliberately buck the trends. So the choice between the PDX and TTX1 was tough, but looking at the specifications and reading the various orgasmic reviews, I went for the TTX1. And here I am, still rocking those same TTXs. But the journey hasn’t been without its hiccups.
And now here are some 5 years later, with the latest version of the TTX (now minus the 1) and jumping on the digital bandwagon that Numark seem to be hogging much space on these days, USB has been added. So now seems as good a time as any to track the mighty Numark TTX, from the first release to this new über digital version.
There have been several versions of the TTX. The first – tagged TTX1 – was quite remarkable compared to the rest of the competition. There had never been a turntable quite like it, boasting interchangeable tonearms, a finger bleeding 3.7kg of torque, a full display, and controls that you could swap around to suit your style. So of course, we all lapped it up and sold our family heirlooms to covet a pair of these stunning decks. But it soon became apparent that all was not well with the TTX1. Reports emerged of platters not spinning, going backwards or just stopping under the slightest finger pressure – including my pair.
Having opened up my TTX, it’s easy to see why this is happening. The TTX is a weighty beast, and the inside is chokka full of all sorts of technical wizardry, leaving almost no air circulation, leading to excess heat causing dry joints or even components even failing.
But the bulk of the TTX1′s early problems are down really clever people removing the platter while the TTX was powered up, despite sticker on the platter telling them that this was really stupid and would mess up your TTX big style. Within 2 months of the first batch being made, a sensor was added that would stop you frying your motor, should you choose to ignore the warnings.
There have been all sorts of homebrew drill based fixes for this overheating issue, some leaving the TTX looking like a block of Black Swiss Cheese. Another fix for the motor issue involves bypassing the sensor completely, neither of which are supported by Numark or indeed recommended by me and in reality are probably not necessary on anything that isn’t badged as TTX1. But to cover my arse, read the next bit VERY CAREFULLY:
Disclaimer: using these mods quite obviously flushes any warranty you ever had down the toilet. Don’t attempt these if you’re dangerous with anything that has a plug, sharp edges or gets hot. And if you fry your TTX or yourself, you can’t sue me or Numark. Are we clear?
2003 saw a silent but much needed update – the heat issues were addressed with a bigger heat sink and a new motor, which effectively got rid of the troublesome sensors. The next incarnation in 2005 sought to keep possible switchers happy. Mega torque isn’t for everyone and indeed I’m not even sure it’s that important despite manufacturers pushing greater torqued motors upon us. But Numark thought it would be cool to introduce an idea that has been kicked around for years – variable torque. The TTX now comes with 3 settings roughly matching the competition. And at this point, Numark updated things under the hood as well, by adding vents under the platter to cater for the extra heat generated by the new motor.
Such is the way of technology these days that USB ports are being put in everything, and the TTX is no exception. It seems like it’s being used for audio out only rather than some sort of clandestine MIDI control, but it does allow direct digital connection to a laptop for easy of transferring vinyl straight to the digital domain.
Of course, there have been several minor tweaks that you probably wouldn’t notice in Numark’s program of continuous improvement such as the tonearm height lock knob (the origonal is a real pain to move) plus a load of hidden updates as well. Only time will tell if Numark has cured the motor problem. The internet seems to be not as full of vocal TTX owners slagging off Numark these days, so I can only assume that the revised TTXs have fixed the motor issues. In fact Numark are convinced that any TTX that came out of the factory in the last 4 years should be free from motor problems.