Radical changes in performance techniques often demand radicalchanges in equipment design. For example, the electric guitarremained relatively unchanged from its introduction in the’50s until the late ’70s, when Eddie Van Halen camealong with his flamboyant whammy bar dives, which influenced thecreation of the Floyd Rose tremolo system. During the ’90s,turntablists pushed scratching techniques to new heights, andVestax recently responded by developing the ASTS antiskippingtonearm system, whose exceptionally stable tracking is asignificant improvement over the capabilities of the traditionalS-shaped tonearm design.
Now Vestax has introduced the PDX-2000 turntable, which offersseveral major improvements over the beloved Technics SL-1200MK2.The most significant distinction is the PDX-2000's incrediblypowerful motor: it provides the fastest startup time (less thanhalf a second to reach full speed from a complete stop) of anyturntable on the market. Add to this an extremely solid platter,versatile Start and Brake controls, flexible pitch controllers(Fine and Ultra), and Reverse and Quartz Lock controls, and youhave perhaps the most responsive turntable ever produced.
Anyone accustomed to an SL-1200MK2 will immediately notice thePDX-2000's superior performance. The motor, platter, and tonearmreally lock on to a record, allowing extremely precise control.There's none of the side-to-side tonearm movement or back-and-forthplatter rocking that make most turntables somewhat sensitive toradical record manipulation. Perhaps the best indicator of thePDX-2000's responsiveness is its Reverse control. When you engagethis button, the record starts spinning backward immediately, andwith very little practice you can play measures or even singlebeats backward and forward in perfect tempo. Even with the platterchanging direction, the tonearm remains locked in place and theneedle won't skip out of the groove. In fact, it takes an extremelyheavy hand to cause the needle to skip out of the groove, even whenyou're scratching vigorously.
The Start-Stop button offers similar responsiveness, startingand stopping the platter almost instantly. You can change the startand stop times with the rotary Start and Brake controls, which letyou dial in slower times over about a 2-second range. The Powerbutton is located within easy reach on the rear of the top surface,in case you want an even slower stop time.
NO SPEED LIMIT
The PDX-2000 features separate 33 and 45 rpm controls, butunlike some turntables it doesn't allow you to engage both buttonsat once to provide 78 rpm. However, the turntable's Ultra Pitchfader makes up for this limitation by allowing users adjust therotation speed ±50 percent. The fader works in conjunctionwith the traditional Fine Pitch fader, which provides control overa ±10 percent range, giving a total of ±60 percent pitchadjustment. This means you can slow records down well below 16 rpmor speed them up much faster than 78 rpm to match any desiredtempo. The Fine Pitch control's throw is 100 mm long, the same asthat of the corresponding control on the SL-1200, and has a smoothfeel with just enough resistance to provide stability once you'velocked in the tempo you want.
Vestax designed the PDX-2000 to be noticed. It has a shinysilver body made of molded plastic with rounded corners, and aridged zigzag surface surrounds the turntable's bottom edge. Butthere's more to this design than just good looks. The Reverse,Quartz Lock, Start, Brake, and Ultra Pitch controls are recessedunderneath the top surface, where they're easy to reach butsufficiently out of the way to avoid accidental engagement. Thebody also resists feedback well, so you won't hear any loud boomingwhen you tap it. The turntable's footprint is also slightly smallerthan an SL-1200's — an added bonus if you're particularlytight on desktop space.
The PDX-2000's design is not a complete departure from theSL-1200, however. Its controls are arranged in the same standardmanner as that unit, the turntable has a similar pop-up cueinglight, and the tonearm offers the usual height and tracking weightadjustments. One small but welcome improvement is the inclusion ofRCA output jacks instead of hardwired output cables. It would benice if Vestax had included the pitch-bend joystick found on itsmore expensive PDX-d3 model, but the company probably left out thisfeature to keep the PDX-2000's price below the SL-1200's. Thedevice also lacks the Key Adjust feature and digital outputs foundon the Denon DP-DJ151. With the addition of these three features,the PDX-2000 would be the all-time ultimate turntable. How about anMK2 version, Vestax?
BEAUTY OF THE BEAST
Despite a few similarities, the PDX-2000 is an entirelydifferent animal from the SL-1200. Although the Vestax turntable'soperation feels different from the Technics unit's, DJs should haveno problem working with a pair of PDX-2000 decks after spending afew minutes getting used to the improved response. In fact, it'shard to imagine ever wanting to go back to a Technics after tryingout the PDX-2000. Because it's unlikely that most clubs and eventswill be replacing their warhorse Technics decks just yet, DJs andturntablists who rely on the Vestax's unique features androck-solid stability will need to take their beloved PDX-2000 decksevery time they play out. But if you really want to stand out fromthe pack, it's worth the extra effort.
PROS: Incredibly strong and responsive motor. Stable tonearm.Affordable price. Versatile Ultra Pitch and Fine Pitchcontrols.
CONS: Lacks pitch-bend joystick, Key Adjust, and digital outputfound on competing models.