I am a proud Numark TTX1 turntable owner. I bought them with my own money before I started skratchworx, and bar one trip back to Numark HQ to get the arguably reputation killing motor issue fixed, my love for them has never waned. Well apart from when I’ve had to clean the decaying rubberised surface with Isopropyl. Once cleaned, I loved them all over again.
Why the TTX1? Being the open minded and balanced decision making type, I made a list of what I wanted from a turntable, and at the time the TTX1 ticked the most boxes. I compared all the turntable information I could (not much), posted in forums for help (buy Technics because Technics), and eventually set up skratchworx off the back of the lack of information. If anything, you should thank Numark and specifically Chris Roman for making the TTX1, because it is in part the inspiration for 15 years of the very best DJ technology content.
But is it just about what it does? Does my need to say TTX1 rather than TTX say something about my buying decision, enduring adoration, and constant evangelism? Yes, of course it does.
It’s all about me
Firstly, to explain the difference between TTX1 and TTX. The TTX1 was Numark’s first iteration of their boundary pushing turntable. But it wasn’t its problems, namely the motor eventually doing weird stop/start/spin slow/spin not at all shenanigans. They were all fixed, but subsequent updated models dropped the 1 as a way to differentiate from the original.
Thus the 1 in TTX1 is important. It marks me out as an early adopter of a very risky proposition. And it wasn’t a cheap position to be in either. I could have bought a safer and cheaper option, but I like being the one not following the crowd — the trailblazer and suicidal lemming that laughs in the face of convention and yearns for cutting edge fuckery. It was fun to get into forum rucks with people who stuck to the safe 1200 based DJ comfort zone. I enjoyed getting under their skins and deliberately winding them up. Buying TTX1s and bragging about it online sent a message to the world about who I am.
It’s also incredibly inspiring when someone wants to shake up a paradigm, and goes off in a direction that the majority simply wouldn’t dare. The TTX1 was Numark leaping so far past the established line in the sand and not giving a crap. I was and still am happy to be right there with them, albeit encouraging them to rejoin me on the bleeding edge where we both once stood together. Safe is risky.
In amongst the chaos of the Worxlab attic is my personal setup, and it’s been the same for a very long time.
In the times when I disappear into the Worxlab attic for a play in my private domain, firing up the TTX1s and Rodec Scratchbox is magical. Aside from being a unfinished man-cave/dumping zone, the feeling of using gear that most people won’t get to use is wonderful. Do I technically play any better on this setup? No, because gear doesn’t give you skills. But do I feel good using it? Hell yes, and that almost certainly does improve my set to some degree.
And it’s this point that is the crux of this entire article.
Now I understand Audiophiles
Having just written a piece about audiophile gear in the DJ domain, I went down the rabbit hole a little, and read more irrational belief than I care to remember. They’re an easy group to target and mock — to the vasty majority of people, it makes no sense to drop obscene sums of money on gear that might maybe perhaps possibly make a microscopic infinitesimal difference to playing their favourite tracks.
It’s at this point that you need to step back and think about why they do it. Do they honestly think that interconnects (that’s cables to you non-audiophiles) costing thousands make a marked difference in audio quality? There aren’t enough spiky charts, pseudo-science FAQs, or carefully crafted hyperbole drenched press releases that could convince me that some of the truly outlandish prices quoted are worthwhile.
But to audiophiles, it’s an investment in their emotions, and their need to believe that they’re making a marked difference to their enjoyment of music. They care and really believe in their path, and their setup shows it.
Put another way, they probably think we’re audio peasants for touching vinyl with our bare hands and not using record weights. Why are we disrespecting our music, our audience, and ourselves by using cables that cost less that £100 per foot? Don’t you care? Heathens. You see, it’s all about perspectives.
Do you still believe that purchasing decisions are based mainly on what a product does and how it functions?
What about if you were offered an über expensive for free — your choice of equipment, and money is no option. The only condition that it’ll be painted Barbie Pink, and you can never change the colour. Even if it was next level shiny of the first order, I suspect that almost all of you would probably decline. I’m confident that some of you would feel uncomfortable using black and silver 1200s in the same setup. It would feel wrong, despite functioning in exactly the same way.
Equally imagine a pair of SL-1200 GLDs in front of you — technically no better that a regular set, but imagine the feeling of using them. You would probably play a better set because you feel better using them.
It’s not just cosmetics. So many pieces of DJ gear are on paper equal if not substantially better than industry standards. But brand loyalty plays a huge part in buying decisions. The brand you buy says so much about you as a person. The fact that I don’t give a crap about what people think about my choices allows me to fly the Numark TTX1 flag with pride and a fuck you if you don’t like it attitude. But others care about this stuff, and it impacts on what they buy.
LOOKS > FUNCTION = THE FEELS
You suddenly see how using a particular product says something about you, and how using them makes you feel, and these can overshadow what the product actually does.
Case in point — you can guarantee that one of the first comments about a new product is about how it looks, inferring that the commenter wouldn’t buy it because it’s ugly or cheap and makes a statement about their personal taste. “(Insert hated brand here) always (does that thing I hate)” shows a clear bias beyond the raw function. Decisions are made before the PR is read because the reader is predisposed to exhibit bias based on all manner of personal preferences. Logic and rationale are poor relatives to performance for some, and they probably don’t even realise it.
I see the buying decisions based on three factors:
- What it actually is, does, and costs
- What it says about the buyer
- How it makes the buyer feel
The proportions of those slices will vary from DJ to DJ, and will be different depending on the product too. But I’m a firm believer that the function is less of a driver than some would care to admit.
At a base level, we all want to belong to some sort of tribe. And this is manifested in the things we buy. While we can argue (that’s not an invitation BTW) about the pros and cons of Macs vs PCs, I can actually do the same things on both. Equally, sit me in front of a big screen with a games controller, and I’d be hard pressed to tell you the difference between an Xbox and Playstation while despatching from aliens from whence they came. And don’t get me started on image quality from cameras.
But we all lean towards one or the other, and will often defend our choices to the comment box death. But when you stop, take a breath, and ask yourself if it really matters what someone else uses, that’s the point at which you realise that your buying choices and the tribes you follow are so much more about what the choices you make say about you. Buying a 1200 says as much about someone as does my staunch loyalty to the underdog TTX1.
For the record — Sinclair Spectrum, Atari ST, Apple, Playstation, and Canon — my other tech tribes over the years.
When a new product comes out, and people naturally build walls around their choices and opinions, perhaps you won’t be so quick to dive into a ruck with them. You can tell them they’re wrong as much as you like, and demonstrate why with facts and figures. But your bias is probably just as irrational as theirs, and you sure as hell won’t change their mind anyway. It never has — experience shows that it has precisely the opposite effect, and that wall they’ve built just gets higher, and the full caps get more cappier.
So before ploughing in the full caps “you’re wrong” diatribe — take a deep breath and ask yourself why it matters to you so much. Just because they’re doing something you’re not, they’re not immediately inferring that in fact it’s you that are wrong in your choice — it’s that their choice makes them feel good. Don’t take it so personally that people you don’t even know use gear that you don’t. You’re not that special.
But after all this verbiage, it’s interesting that I can’t recall many comments about how using a product makes people feel — it’s always the data that’s thrown around or hate for someone else’s choices, rather than “I love using my stuff because”. But if you take comfort from measurable specifications like SNR and wow/flutter, that’s absolutely fine too. As I’ve said many times before — I don’t give a single crap about numbers. It’s my hands, ears, and gut that count more than a spec sheet. But whatever makes you feel good about your gear choices is absolutely fine, and should be for everyone else too. Heart > brain.
The F(eel) WORD
Whether you care to admit it or not, that rational buying decision is probably driven by emotion more than reason. It’s all about the feels, and that’s exactly as it should be. If it makes you feel good, then that will impact on your performance. I definitely love my TTX1s for a solid number of emotional rather than practical reasons. They make me feel good, and I wouldn’t change them for the world. Well… maybe for a pair of yet to be designed TTX2s. Yes, Chris Roman — I’m talking to you.