DJs seem to be musical gadget collectors. Years ago we had two turntables and maybe a microphone. Then we added cassettes, CD players, mini-discs, computers and MP3 players. We also had our wireless system (or two) maybe even an effects generator. There are always new toys to add. And, we usually wait till our backs complain, the rack is full or we've run out of mixer inputs before we get rid of the old toys. Well thanks to Numark's new CM-200 mixer, we won't be able to use the mixer and rack excuses anymore. The CM-200 is a mid-level mixer offering a class leading 16 inputs in just four rack spaces. It is just what the doctor ordered for those of us that suffer separation anxiety at the thought of disconnecting any gadget.
Features and layout:
The CM-200 is a fairly standard 19" rack-mount mixer. Each of its five channels has a 3-way input selector, gain trim and a 3-band equalizer. The channel EQ and gain trims are located to the right of the channel fader rather than in line with it. This space saving layout leaves the knobs nearly centered between faders, creating the potential for confusion although I had no problems. Either side of the replaceable crossfader can be assigned to any of the five channels. A button on either side engages the fader start for that side.
Features at a glance:
A sixth channel is dedicated for the DJ mic. It offers a front panel XLR/¼" combo connector, level knob and 2-band equalizer. Numark also included a convenient mute switch for this channel to prevent constant fiddling with the mic gain. However, they chose not to include an auto-ducking function on the mic channel. Perhaps it is because there wasn't room for another button but I won't miss it. I have yet to find a built-in auto-ducking feature that works to my liking.
The master section includes a full-length fader for the main output and a knob for the zone control. A stereo/mono button, L/R balance knob and a cue/program mode button for the VU meters round out the master section. The meters flank both sides of the master fader, which helps make it stand out. The monitor section includes your basic headphone controls, a knob for volume, a fader for the program/cue mix and a button for the split/blend mode control. The headphone jack is also front panel mounted.
To fit all these controls into four rack spaces, Numark had to eliminate the 12v light socket found on many other rack-mount mixers. The mode control buttons also feature center-mounted LEDs rather than panel-mounted indicators. It is a nice touch that not only looks better; it helps you find the buttons in the dark. Another smart decision was to move the on/off switch to the rear panel.
Despite the four rack-space layout you'll need to leave a fifth space free above the mixer. The back panel isn't recessed and all those wires need to go somewhere. Of course, you might be able to cover that space with an external mixer light.
The first thing I noticed when I unpacked the CM-200 was that Numark mounted short-circuit plugs into the phono inputs. These plugs prevent unwanted noise from entering through any unused phono inputs. I commend Numark for including these but that made my second observation even more surprising. The manual is only three pages long.
I doubt any DJ will need a manual to operate this mixer and that is not my point. Techies like myself want to know things like maximum input/output levels, EQ frequencies and connection impedances. We may represent just a small percentage of the DJ market but it would only take an extra page to include the data. That's cheaper than one of those plugs that they did include. On the positive side, the short manual leaves out all those idiotic warnings about operating electrical equipment while sitting in a bathtub.
The crossfader had a light touch and smooth action. Although I couldn't measure it exactly, it seemed like the fader has both channels at full volume at the center position and attenuates linearly until the end points. Hip-hop and club DJs may prefer different fader profiles but there is no adjustment control on this mixer. Numark may offer replacement faders with different profiles. As expected for a new mixer, the crossfader and channel faders produced no audible clicks or pops.
The mixer produced a minor amount of hiss with the inputs turned all the way up and no sources connected. It is about par for mixers in this price range and not noticeable with music playing. The headphone output was plenty loud but I detected considerable distortion at the highest volumes. Of course, part of this may have been due to my headphones themselves. I doubt many DJs turn the levels up that high outside of clubs.
Bleed between adjacent channels was not detectable. However, there was audible bleed between different inputs on the same channel. I would highly recommend that a source be stopped or muted before switching the channel to a different input.
For a street price of approximately $250 Numark has created a real winner. The performance is just what one should expect in this price range, plus, you get more features for the money. This gives you a lot of flexibility for now and the future