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Ptowns 08/31/2013

Tascam X-9 : Ptowns's user review

« Before its time, but now behind times. EQs!! »
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Standard size 12 inch ixer, Heavy as hell! feels good though, not cheap and plastic, but still wouldn't call it a complete tank, road worthy though.
All standard connections. 1/4 headphones on face and front side, a touch I like as the cord gets in my way (dont forget youre 1/4 inch adaptor!). 1/4 master outs would be nice, not needed though. biggest complaint here would be NO rca record out pre master! cant use the booth out to record its to unbalanced. XLR master balanced and spdif digital out as well.
Fully Digital mixer at 24bit 48khz seems a touch low for a pro mixer, but sound has been far above what you would think. Maybe its watered down for spdif out. Fader curves are adjustable through the settings, so no worry that you will be locked into a nasty software feeling fader curve. Also a 3 mode EQ for the headphones.
with 2 spdif in 4 phonos/aux, 4 lines, fx send/return, and 1 xlr mic, i have always owned a 1/4 inch mic, dont use mic much bout if i did id like 1/4.
4 channels, with a feature to copy the 1 and 2 pre faders to 3 and 4. like an input matrix before it was invented! love this. The fx send has no wet dry just a punch in... this can cause popping. usable, but a complaint. Ideally i would want a wet dry on each channel. Dont like the channel to send knob either.
Fully parametric EQ with independently adjustable Q value!!!!!! prize feature on this mixer. The reason its in my collection to stay! needs to be on new mixers! like a good mastering desk eq for the djay that likes master blends!
2 bulilt in fx units but they each can only be assinged to alternating channels, meaning you cant run 2 fx on one channel. Inless you run fx unit A on channle 1 or 3 and then fx unit B on master option... then i guess you would have 2 fx on one.
2 loop/1 shot samplers. have not found use for this in the mix, used it for one shots before, but with vinyl i could see this to be good!
Color scheme, feel, architecture, and layout make this mixer stand out! Alot of times a company tries to build a top of the line product and misses out on simple over sights or makes it with too much character so that its a love hate thing. though this mixer is not a just show up and play on it for the first time, once you tune it to your styles and lean it, its good as any. well done tascam, a classic in my eyes. for sure worth owning, but is it ageless?? im not sure.

UTILIZATION

fx are not the best... and the way you use them is not the norm... punch in is fun, but with encoders and no dedicated knobs, fx values and wet dry are hard to control. fun, but not a real mixing tool, more just some frosting to throw on top of a mix. I had high hopes for the low pas filter, but no can do its a pulsing oscillator type thing.

This is not a just plug in and show out for your first time mixer.
You will NEED the manual!!!!
Functions are not easy to access.
With no manual you will never be able to set the features to your mixing style. You will be able to mix, but only using maybe half the features, and with the default settings, and since there is so much that can be changed to fit your style, you need to read that manual.

You have to cue the master channel to hear the master in the headphones. This through me off at first.. why would you even not select this? it would effectively turn the mstr/cue knob into a backwards volume control.
Having the samplers input on there own channels with no meter and a volume knob can make it hard to drop a sample at the right volume.

SOUNDS

No his.. have seen a slight buzz before but probably some place else in the cords not the mixer. Mixer seams clean and true. sounds slightly cold.. probably not preferred for playing old soul vinyl or something.
The fx are a step above toys, but not a strong point on this mixer. They can sort of be used as real tools, but the control is not as intuitive as one would like. In combination with the input copy feature you can create a wet dry control and cue preview the fx. The pitch fx is the coolest and good on looped vocals! also the delay and echo can be good, but maybe pull some bass and work the volume down as it builds.

The sampler seems to loose a small amount of bass push.
But I love the highs!!! to me the highs sound better then any pioneer mixer, even the newest djm900! some of my favorite highs come from the rane ttm57, and these highs are a good runner up, with a little less space between the mids and the highs, but in no way would i say the highs sit on top of the mids. sound wise i would say this is the digital version of Xone sound! Not a xone sounding digital mixer, but the quality of sound frome a xone with out the analog warmth and a crisp almost refreshing at time digital crisp on the highs!

Lastly the EQ's for me are the crown jewel of this mixer! I dont know why this style has not become the norm or more commonly found on all mixers! I have seen some high end mixers like the stanton vrm that has a paramic control on the mids. also i have seen high end digital mixers that the parameters of the mids can be changed in the settings. but these eq's truly offer the most control I have ever seen on a dj mixer!
True the knobs are small and pointy and a bit hard to work needing 2 hands. they dont feel good in your hands like some mixers.
The curve on the pull down of the EQ's is very aggressive! not as bad as some cheap digital mixers. ( the built in mixer on the numark ns7 so aggressive it makes the eq's almost un-usable.) to describe the curve, when you see so called pro djays always just slightly turning the eq's and you cant hear much of a difference. Almost looks like they just are touching or making sure the eq knob is centered. well on these EQ's that all would have a nice small effect on the music. but a slightly more normal turn on the eq will pull it out too fast and with out a track under to fill will make the mix sound a bit dry.
There is a delay on the EQ, drives me crazy but it dosnt get in the way too much. if you slam to -40dbs or full cut its instant. any other adjustment there is a half second or so delay! almost like it moves in slow motion. so lets say you have you bass turned to -12dbs and then you want to slam it back in!, so you spin it fast up to strait, what you get is a smooth longer slightly delayed reaction. as if you did it smoothly. So it can gloss over a dj that eq's overly aggressively and makes everything he dose sound done smoothly. but with the sharp curve on the db pull down added to a delay, can cause some problems. but still the control makes it easy to look past this.
so if you twist from 0 to full kill no delay, distant kill. but if you go kill bring the bass in twist back to 0, delay and smoothing/slowing of motion!!!! ok... well ill do my bass drops with the eq kill toggles on either side of the crossfader. NOPE! these are a fun feature.. but i dont think many people buy a mixer based on EQ kill toggles next to the crossfader. well these are junk! for the music I play the low cuts out the lows and most all of the mids, were the highs cuts out most all of the mids and highs and the mid kill, will damn near cut out the whole song. Awful useless parameters that cannot be adjusted on these kill switches.
Let me dive in deep here and paint a few pictures.
Another mixer like the x9 that had a revolutionary idea, that should have, but didnt catch on is the Urei by soundcraft 1603 series mixer. if you look up this mixer the eq is at 0dbs when turned to 2 o'clock, +8 db at 5 o'clock, and then full cut at 7 o'clock. so between 2 o'clock and 5 o'clock there is 8 dbs of positive, and between 2 o'clock and 7 o'clock going backwords you have from 0 to -100 or kill. helps balance the curve. most mixers like the x9 have 0 to kill from 12 to 7 or 5 "hours" between 0 and -100 then 5 " hours between 0 and + 8!! so there has to be curves so fit the physical range of motion. the X9 can go +9 and then goes to like -40 then kill or off. what im saying is i need less motion range on the up side and alot more motion range on the negative side, or a better designed curve on the down side of the EQ.
So as if i didnt write enough about EQ's let me finish up with saying, pick any 3 mixers to go up against the X9, some mixers have better feeling knobs, some have nice long curves on the eq, some mixers like the Xone may even have 4 parameters with the mid high and mid low. But no matter what the mixer and how good the eq's lets play songs of all ages and styles through them and play the eq's some are going to cut the lows all the way into the mids, most get sloppy when on some style of music when it comes to the point were the highs meet the mids. lots of vocals will be mastered in the mid high area, and there will be overlap. so in my mind from ontop of the vocals up i want my high know, vocals down to the top of the kick i want my mids, and kick down to bass line i want my low knob. every song every style of music, these points are different! adjust the parameters and tune it in every song. you can even use it to do sweeps giving you a control like a filter with a pull down like a eq. making it still different and better in most situations then a filter sweep with a wet/dry. There are songs when you got a good kick, but the bass line just isnt coming through strong enough, damn... turn up the lows, too much kick.. but with the X9 go down and grab that bass line and pull it up were you want it!!!
The X9 has the best EQ CONTROL found on any dj mixer. not he best eq's, but the most control of the EQ's!

OVERALL OPINION

If you are a DJ and you know you always bullshit knob touching on the eq... doing super slight to no adjustments to make it look like you are doing so much work up there, stop bullshitin and get this mixer! enough EQ control to keep you busy!
If your a producer that is into hardware and not laptops, and your use to working with big mixing mastering desks, if you are starting to dj and/or do live hardware shows this would be an ideal dj mixer to sit along side a pair os cd players, an electribe and a tr909 drum machine! Perfect for me a dj thats starting to like pre-laptop prediction hardware. Mixer is timeless for its build and features, like the sp-404, not like the sp-303 witch is timeless for its sound color.
This mixer is well made and far from a cool toy for in your home. this bad boy is ready to go on tour! I paid 300 for a used x9 off ebay. I wanted it because its unique and I wanted to use it at my weekly gig that didn't have a house mixer. I will still opt to use the house mixer a pioneer 800 or what ever, if another dj brings our his 900 or rane or what ever ill plug in and play. this isnt the kind of mixer that you just show up and play on, but its fun when you know it! I also have found some use for it in production as well.
Well made and the plentiful options gives you a creative way around most all limitations. it may be old, but it will keep up with the top guns of today still!
so in conclusion, I dont think anyone can complain about the sound, I personally love it! top notch sound to me. Not the best mixer in the world, but a unique mixer with character and special ability's. It will make you different, not better! Its timeless for the right collector. Its not timeless for the sound like a bazooka or a urei. but timeless as it was the electric car made by GM in the 90s before there was Tesla. I the next new Pioneer mixer the djm 1100 has full parametric EQ's then no one will remember this mixer, but someplace there will be a die hard fan like me saying " I told you so!"

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