Add production quality and mastering to that mix too… I find once your sound system is up to a certain standard, production matters so much. Still amazes me when I play some pop music that SHOULD sound good and it’s slammed to the point of distortion. I generally won’t hear it on budget systems but I’ll sure as hell hear it with my good system. Then I’ll play something well produced and mastered and it will sound absolutely fantastic.
Realistically, if the device’s SNR is above 110db and distortion <0.01%…. Can you hear the difference? Is it then more about frequency response and how it interacts with your other equipment, room acoustics etc. ?
And then we’ve got our own psychological biases to try and combat. I’ve convinced myself something sounds better plenty of times before swapping back and forth around 10 times until I finally realise there really is no real perceptible difference.
I’m probably biased towards the analogue distortion introduced by analogue mixers simply because I’ve used them for so many years. For digital, the db4 I had for a while sounded pretty bloody good, so did the Rane MP2015 (very clean), I haven’t used any of the new Pioneer mixers. I mean really, the x1850 didn’t sound too bad, I was being incredibly fussy when I decided to change mixers.
Back to the original topic, also consider what sort of mixer you want. Most high end expensive mixers should sound good enough really. It’s also worth considering the layout of the mixer, metering, how you want to mix, fader curves, if it’s analogue do the filters pop?And on and on…
Unfortunately, that often doesn’t include the ultrasonic range, nonlinear distortion, or a bunch of esoteric stuff that people clearly are able to hear (sometimes more than the usual specs) but for which you need a real expert and some high-end gear to detect. NWAVGUY, who designed the O2 headphone amp and ODAC, and did many gear tests before disappearing from the audiophile headphone scene, demonstrated this quite a bit.
I was surprised Rightmark even detected the IMD, let alone grouped it into at least some of its total harmonic distortion figures. I first assumed it was in error, but was able to confirm it with other methods like the spectrum analyzer in SoundForge when not using any conversions. Then other people verified it with their own tests. You do certain simple harmonic distortion tests and the players’ numeric results come out as clean as the InMusic specs, though clearly their original frequency specs were in error.
So, it’s certainly possible a mixer can do weird things and True RTA & Rightmark wouldn’t show anything significant, as they’re not even professional grade tools and have flaws. Most of the people I’ve seen using any real pro testing gear on DJ equipment barely even scratch the surface on the tests they could be running. And that’s not getting into the people using consumer tools who don’t know what they’re doing or don’t bother to double and triple check with other methods.
I now got the 1850. I was hesitant with this as I was a bit uncertain about (sound) quality of the mixer. But to be honest, I am quite happy with it, it sounds pretty okay to me actually. Could definitely be better but nothing too bad.
I guess I will upgrade to a V10 once it is available again. The Xone96 was tempting but I also need to use Serato from time to time and that is just too much hassle with the 96.
Yeah, the Xone96 definitely is nice sound wise. But I also want to be able to use Serato with it from time to time. I also don’t like that it doesn’t have onboard effects. This makes me wait until the V10 is available again.
Honestly, from Behringer DDM4000, to XONE92 you aren’t going to get much difference in Sound quality. Most of todays mixers are digitally processed (DSP) rather than analogue, to my ears they all sound rather unsophisticated and grainy. But then, adding faders, isolators and numerous transitional stages is unlikely to make it sound nicer. That said, mixers are for DJs to play loud music, so we should not be surprised if it doesn’t sound like a high end HIFI. If you want sound purity then you’ll need to find an old fashioned analogue mixer. My fav. Is always the A&H XONE62. For my SC6000m I use the RELOOP RMX60, which sounds great on our RCF sound system. But nothing compared to SL1210s connected to the XONE62. You could opt for Digital all the way, in which case the DENON x1800 / x1850 is certainly an easy decision.
The lion & lamb test methods were actually biased against the Rane MP2015 due to the fact they discarded certain tests that it would do well in, they were overly emphasizing of tests that are completely useless but for which the Iso420 would show on-paper superior results, their graphs were kind of crummy and lacking consistency, and they also left out a bunch of other measurements that are not that difficult to do, like IMD and discrete waveform traces. In spite of that, though, only the Iso420 was in the same league as the MP2015, they used three different Condesas to confirm that mixer design has some seriously heavy (though arguably euphonic) harmonic distortion, and IMO they did treat the valve MasterSounds in a fair way considering its moderate but still significant levels of harmonic distortion. I mean, if you’re buying an analog mixer with valves on its input section intended to add pleasing distortion, you know what you’re getting into. Some people also complained that the test didn’t bother with phono connections, but those people are clueless.
Very pleasant DACs on the record & master outs of it. It’s a great mixer even as-is but has some areas they could improve the firmware just to tweak some features, like allowing Split to be selected but overriding it when two or more cues are pushed without needing to go back into the menu. I believe I had a few suggestions for them to improve the firmware on the current DB4, and then an idea for a newer model or two in the DB lineup with updated aspects. A&H seemed totally uninterested in doing any more digital DJ mixers, though. If they change their mind, I’d love to touch base with them again and explain how it should happen.