The Vestax PDX-2000MKII PRO turntable has some major improvements to the tonearm and platter which makes it a serious contender for scratch king!
Review By: DJ Swayde (djSwayde@djbooth.net)
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The people at Vestax have amassed a loyal following with their PDX-2000 turntables. Considered to be the scratch artist’s deck, it had 2.7 kg/cm of torque, beating out Technics’ legendary SL-1200MK2 turntables by 1 kg/cm. It also had +/-60% pitch control, as compared to +/-8% on 1200s, quartz lock, and a hole next to the tonearm to hold an extra headshell. Technics later adapted the latter two features from their M3D turntables and so on, but they still had the limiting +/-8% pitch range (not changing the pitch until the M5G models which sports a pitch range of up to only +/-16%). However, for many scratch artists, this is still too low. Turntablists like having a wide range of pitch for new tricks and to make mixing easier, not being limited at just 8% like on 1200s. The PDX also had a reverse function, and an adjustable start and brake speeds. One of the highest selling points on the PDX-2000 was the Anti Skipping Tonearm System (ASTS) technology, which made the tonearm almost unskippable partially due to its straight tonearm, compared to the S-shaped tonearm on the 1200s. Many complain that because the PDX seems to be made of some sort of plastic, it therefore looks unreliable and cheap, but I thought that the plastic was rather strong and sturdy and not easy to break at all. They also complain that it is ugly, but I personally like its aerodynamic look. It’s a breath of fresh air from the tank-like appearance of the 1200s and the many copy-cats out there on the market.
When Ricci Rucker introduced his Utility Phonograph Record, he had something unique on the record—aah and fresh samples recorded at +50%. Why is this so unique, you ask? You could slow it down to -50% on your PDX and have a normal aah or fresh sample, but the platter and record would be moving at the -50% rate. As a result, you would have much better control over your scratches. This is something that Technics still cannot achieve.
After the PDX-2000 was discontinued, the PDX-2000MKII took its place. They looked almost identical, but the MKII boasted a new slimmer platter, better tonearm height adjustment system, brighter stylus light, and eliminated the dust cover hinges (that almost no one used). Overall, it was quite an impressive upgrade to the original PDX-2000.
But what improvements does the MKII Pro have over the PDX-MKII? The MKII Pro took the already unskippable tonearm and made it even more skip-proof (yes, apparently it’s possible) by incorporating the spring balance system to it and making the tonearm with aluminum rather than brass. It wasn’t that big of an improvement, but it was definitely welcome. Otherwise, they seemed to be identical. However, it is worth noting that the improved tonearm also seemed to have less record wear, especially using Ortofon’s (which are notoriously known for record-destroying Concorde cartridges). Because the spring balance system on the MKII Pro model allowed the tonearm to put less weight on the cartridge, it wore down records slightly less than that of the regular MKII. This should be especially important for those who plan on using Ortofon cartridges to scratch. For mixing, Ortofons seem to be okay as long as excessive cueing is not involved. But since most turntablists use Shure M44-7s anyways, they should be okay. The Shure M44-7s are popular for having minimal record wear and unrivaled skip resistance.
Vestax released two upgraded models of the original PDX-2000 without adding too much for each upgrade. However, each upgrade was important and made a big impact. The MKII Pro was a delight to scratch on, as it rarely skipped and the extra features were fun to play around with. The Technics 1200s may be industry standard because they have been around for so long and last forever, but they lack features that a lot of turntablists want and the Vestax PDX-2000MKII offers many of these features and pull them off beautifully. It is uncertain about the longevity of the PDX decks as there have been mixed reviews, but the features that the PDX decks have are either features the 1200s don’t have, or features that have been improved from the 1200. As a result, Vestax may have created the almost perfect deck. If you are a turntablist and in need of a new turntable, look into the Vestax PDX-2000MKII Pro, as it may be a turntable you may have for a really long time.