Monday, July 19, 2010

Rane TTM56s Review

Rane TTM-56s Review 
(and a little research i've done on other mixers that i considered)


So i sold off my DJM400 (along with my CDJ400s) and bought some CDJ900s. Now i need a good mixer to match the new gear. After a long long long research and trying many many other products, i finally decided on the Rane TTM56s mixer. I thought to myself that i want a PROPER mixer this time, something that is build like a tank, will last me a long time, good sound and especially good faders. Now, i wont call myself a turntablist but i do enjoy the occasional skratch sessions, so skratchability/good faders is definitely on the must-have list!

I wrote this review coz i really couldnt find a decent review of the TTM56s anywhere, skratchworx (awesome site - check em out!) did have an extensive review on the TTM56 (the previous model) but they didnt do a specific one on the TTM56s. Im hoping this article would be an interesting read for those in the market for a new mixer, as i will also write my observations on other mixers currently at the market.

If you are in Singapore you will also benefit from knowing the actual prices of several mixers discussed here - except for the XONE22, i noticed that the prices in Singapore arent very different from the prices in Sydney (where i used to live).

Other mixers i had in mind

Other contenders were the Ecler HAK360/Nuo 3.0, Pioneer DJM909, Pioneer DJM700, Pioneer DJM350, Allen Heath Xone22.

I didnt get the HAK360/Nuo3.0  (SGD $940/$860) because i tried them, and found that i didnt like the upfader curves. Even on the softest setting the upfader curves werent LINEAR enough for me. The Nuo 3.0 has some nice big fat knobs - but it didnt come equipped with the ETERNAL Faders - they are an extra SGD$240 if you choose to get them. The Hak360 comes with the Eternal (xfader only) but the knobs felt a bit wobbly - built quality wasnt THAT nice imo.

I seriously considered The Pioneer DJM909 (SGD$1600) but it  was S$350 pricier than the TTM56s - and only have one non-contact fader Vs three magnetic faders on the TTM56s. Very tempting tho - always been eye-ing this mixer since a long time ago , probably one of the best pioneer mixers ever made, too bad it got discontinued and now very RARE to find.

The DJM700 (SGD$1550) is a great 4-Channel mixer, but the faders arent very good. Plus i use traktor so the built in pioneer FX means nothing to me whatsoever - buying the DJM700 seemed like a waste coz i only need 2 channels aniway and didnt really need the effects. IF i was to get a DJM i'd probably get the 800 - but then again i really didnt need 4 channels so i quickly threw away that thought.

The DJM350 (SGD$830+TAX?) - the new little baby of the PIO family seemed like an interesting alternative at first with the filters, crush and usb slot,  but the price (and the stock faders) sort of put me off - Plus it looks so FUGLY and it makes no sense as i previously used the DJM400 - going to the DJM350 would be more like a DOWNGRADE so i quickly decided against buying it.

I also tought of getting the Allen & Heath XONE 22, but in singapore, they are somewhat Expensive (SGD$899???). I saw some djwarehouse sale (AU) where you can buy a Xone 22 from as low as AU$370. Just by knowing this i decided that i will NOT pay that amount for a basic mixer. Plus a quick search on the interwebs said there are bleeding issues with this mixer - plus the faders arent that great for skratching.

One more thing i really considered was the vestax pmc-05 pro 4 but hey are not out yet as of this review (damn!), so....

Ok now, onto the Review

The Review : Rane TTM56s

First Impressions

Very nicely build, slightly larger and heavier than the DJM400 is previously have. Everything about this mixer is solid and tough - the knobs, the faders, they all scream Quality. You can hook up 4 line/phono inputs - meaning you can hook up 4 vinyl decks if you want to. Every single fader is customisable with their curves and REVERSE.  Internal power supply means you dont need to plug an adapter to the mixer - just the usual desktop pc power cable (included of course!) is enough - and can be used in both 110V/220V

For FX Addicts: This mixer doesn't have any effects built in!, but then again these days most people use DVS anihow - either Traktor or Serato (and they both got FX now). If you wanna use an external effects unit (eg. EFX500/1000) they have the effects loop in/out with a dry/wet fader as well. Havent tested this feature so cant really say much about it. I personally use the NI Kontrol X1 as an effects unit / hotcues with traktor so i wont be needing this feature at all.

Ouch! Sharp Edges

One thing i noted straight after i unpacked the mixer is... how bloody sharp the edges are!!! Im not sure why they didnt round up the edges - it seemed like you can actually kill a person by thrusting any of the 4 edges of the top faceplate into someone's head.

Hmm... Slippery  - oh wait - theres a packet of 4 mini rubber feet in the box :)

When i first put the mixer on my table - i noticed that they didnt have any grip whatsoever on the table - i thought it was a really weird thing (compared to other mixers) but i later realised that they give you a mini pink pouch of 4x  rubber feet that you can affix to the bottom of the mixer. Luckily i didnt throw away the box yet! I wondered why they didnt just do this from the factory. Nevermind then! All is good!

Really Really Nice Faders!

The Rane TTM56s is known for their legendary magnetic faders (een the coca cola test? youtube it if you havent!). You dont get just one, but THREE very very nice smooth magnetic non contact faders! This means you probably dont need to change your mixer for a good 4-5 years - while the stock faders on other mixers would probably be long dead and gone by then, the TTM56s is most likely still cut like a hot knife thru butter. Even if you dont scratch, you'd still benefit from the smooth, long life faders.

Nice Sound. Love the EQ POTS - Whats with the CLICK noise on the EQ Switch tho??

This mixer sounds great - the EQ sounds really really nice as well with a complete kill.

The EQ knobs are  nice, rubbery, small-ish knobs. I kinda wished they are bigger like the NUO's, but they do the job just fine. One thing that really disturbed me at first - Everytime you engage the EQ on/off switch - theres a noticeable CLICK NOISE on the Master Out. Its not very apparent but its very audible especially at loud volume.

A quick email to RANE explained that thats the way they are supposed to be (Why???). I use the EQ Knobs and not the EQ Switch, so its not really THAT bad for me, but for people who would wanna use it as KILL switched - you'd think twice before doing that (coz of the 'CLICK'). This is something i picked up after i bought the mixer, so if you are thinking of getting one make sure you TRY it first and see what i mean - if you absolutely must have kill switches then you better have this in mind.

Mini Cue Fader 'Cross-Talk'

Explanation: Another thing i noticed with the mixer is , if i turn off channel one completely, play something in channel two, slide the mini cue-fader all the way to the left (cue-ing solely channel one) - i can VERY FAINTLY hear the music of channel two in the headphones. This is not really a BLEEDING issue (thats why i said 'cross-talk') because nothing is audible in the master output. This in no way affect anything in the main output so this is just a small thing to note. This worried me at first but seeing that the crosstalk is only in the headphones it is acceptable. I thought people should know about this before they decide buying one or not - some people might not like this at all, so if you are O.C.D. with this, please try before you buy and hear what im talking about!


The Rane TTM56s is a very nicely built, high quality mixer with no-gimmick but really nice faders and will last you a long long time. The price is a bit steep tho (SGD$1250 for a 2 channel mixer with no effects) but it was all for a reason. The TTM56s is already a legendary mixer known for its reputation, so its really hard to find anything wrong with it other than the imperfections i mentioned above.

The Rane TTM-56s is one of those mixers that will stay in tiptop quality for so long, when you finally give up yours to your grand children one day the faders probably still cut very well! As many people who own them say, RANE mixers age very well, if taken care properly (keep the leds below red at all times, for example) this mixer will probably be the last mixer you'll ever buy, just because its so tough and reliable!

I mentioned the only flaws that i found about the mixer (The FX switch click noise and the crosstalk in the cue) but those are the only things i could find that is not so awesome about the mixer. Everything else is just really really nice and high quality. If you dont scratch at all, there are other good alternatives that you can get for a similar or lower price, but if you do scratch (or want to in the future), even just occasionally, the TTM56s might be something to really consider - its more of an investment than a purchase.

Personal Review by Ivan Zilch 20/07/2010

Rane TTM56s 2 Channel DJ Mixer from Amazon