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      10.02.2001 08:38
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      So, you've got your decks and you mixer and your slipmats... you've worked out how to fit your carts to your headshells and your headshells to your tonearm, and you've just slapped your finest record onto one of the decks... Now's when it would be useful to have something to amplify the signal with... I don't think that a lot of people think about this when they buy a start-up package. Of course most decent stereos will amplify the signal - you just stick one end of your unbalanced RCA cable into the master out on your mixer and the other into the line in (or external in) on your stereo. The sound reproduction though is never really satisfying to me... it never sounds very clean, and you never get anywhere near to replicating the wonderful tones of club bass. So, what other sound solutions are there? Well, by far the best solution is to get yourself a nice big amp, a couple of huge speakers, plug everything together, and proceed to shake your house to the ground with raw music power and get your local council to serve you with a noise abatement notice. Chances are though, that unless you are very, very rich, you won't be able to afford the cost of this on top of your decks and mixer, which could already have set you back about a grand. So, what other alternative is there? It's either the stereo or the dedicated amp right? Wrong! For home use, there is a very serious third alternative, and that's powered speakers. I am using Numark M1's as my primary source of amplification and output at home, and I am pretty impressed. There is no way that you could possibly need to go any louder. Using the full output on the pre-amp in your mixer, these speakers will give you a very satisfying level of volume even using only half of the available amplification. These particular speakers were actually designed for use as monitors in clubs - allowing the DJ to hear th e live signal better, as in clubs you have a slight lag time between what is actually playing through the main speakers and what you hear, owing to the relatively slow speed of sound in air at normal pressure. (Sorry, I won't blind you with science!) The monitor then allows the DJ to hear the signal being played live much better and achieve a better match with the cued signal. They stand up really well as a main speaker system though. Unless you're planning on holding a party somewhere for 4000+ people, I can't see how you would need more than these can produce. They are small in size, but they can shake my floor! Seriously, if you use more than half volume, you can feel the beats through your feet, just like in a club. The speakers do require external power for the built-in amp, so you do need to find an extra socket. This can be a problem if like me you've got decks, a mixer, CD players, a tape recorder etc all active at the same time... you just need to buy a longer strip of extension cable. An eight way or bigger is definitely required... The speakers are linked together by an audio cable running from the left speaker to the right one, and then the right speaker has a cable with a set of RCA jacks on the end that plug directly into your mixer. The right hand speaker also has the amp controls on the bottom of it, with controls for overall volume, bass, and treble. I find that the best tonal quality is probably achieved by setting the bass and treble just under half what is available, and I usually set the volume to about three quarters. This just produces the most pleasing set of levels to me, but there is a wide range of different tonal qualities available - for example if you want to make it really bassy, then these can produce serious amounts of bass. These still aren't as good as a dedicated amp, but at only a whisker over £50, they do represent excellent value for money if they're just goin g to be for use at home. They really are worth considering... they sound much better than amplifying through a stereo anyway.

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