My thoughts on the new Alpha Theta (Pioneer DJ) Euphonia advertisements...
Results 1 to 1 of 1
  1. #1
    Tech Mentor
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Dayton, Ohio, USA

    Default My thoughts on the new Alpha Theta (Pioneer DJ) Euphonia advertisements...

    My thoughts on the new Euphonia advertisements...

    No Ethernet preview for the CDJ-3000.

    Limited filters.

    No customization on the channel tone controls or master iso frequency bands.

    No master iso bypass? ̶E̶v̶e̶n̶ ̶M̶a̶s̶t̶e̶r̶ ̶S̶o̶u̶n̶d̶s̶ ̶f̶i̶n̶a̶l̶l̶y̶ ̶f̶i̶g̶u̶r̶e̶d̶ ̶t̶h̶a̶t̶ ̶o̶n̶e̶ ̶o̶u̶t̶.̶ V10 has one.

    Weird that the iso boost setting is not in a menu somewhere, on the back, or anywhere else other than next to the knobs right there. That’s literally an install setting, not something you want the DJs messing with.

    The combining of the isolator bands with the sends to the little FX section is neat.

    Tiny USB-C port?

    No SPDIF output?

    It looks like the transformer is being used as an analog effect contributing linear harmonic distortion like certain tube (valve) arrangements. I recall the late Tim de Paravicini (of audiophile pre-amp & headphone amp design fame) explaining that he could do a completely transparent-sounding tube design that sounded non-tubey, or instead use stuff other than tubes like FETs and transformers to do much of what tube coloration can.

    For a digital mixer, they'd also be better off simulating a variety of different colorations: sub-harmonics (like the Warm 4), tube emulation (like Master Sounds), etc. After reading up on it, the transformer-based harmonic distortion stuff is not actually widely beloved in studios. The people that do like them don't put their entire folded-down mixes through them, but individual tracks and sounds. I can only think they wanted an analog distortion stage for marketing purposes that was also less prone to microphonics & needing servicing as valves, but I would think those who really want loads of warmth are still gonna get a Condesa.

    Going further over the specs and block diagrams, I have more reservations, such as the fact Alpha Theta is not clearly explaining where the DACs are, but I can make some educated guesses.

    ̶I̶t̶ ̶l̶o̶o̶k̶s̶ ̶l̶i̶k̶e̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶h̶e̶a̶d̶p̶h̶o̶n̶e̶ ̶m̶i̶x̶b̶u̶s̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶s̶p̶l̶i̶t̶ ̶i̶s̶ ̶a̶l̶l̶ ̶a̶n̶a̶l̶o̶g̶.̶ ̶ Sourcing the cue master before the master level pot was a mistake. They should have gone back to the method prior to the V10 given the use of this transformer effector as it would have allowed them to even put “Clean” at 7 on the channel pots and 10 on the master level, and then “Effect” at 10 on the channel pots and 7 on the master level. Assuming you’re running the meters properly (bouncing symmetrically around 0dBVu), you can expect what that labeling would say. Anyway, their mix level meter (separate from the master meter) will obviously also help to see saturation.

    The DJM-1000 to 900NXS2 did this unity adjustment digital domain without any mixbus effector influenced by the level run into that pre-master mixbus just so that you could choose your unity (between 7 and 10) and have an appropriate level in the headphones. Using analog for the headphone stage and sourcing the master level after the transformer, there is zero benefit here having the master level in the headphones fixed like Numark, Rane, Denon, and now Pioneer DJ do it. Adjustable channel unity dependent on the master level (between 7 and 10) would be even more useful for this Euphonia than the pre-V10 mixers. In this case, ̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶E̶u̶p̶h̶o̶n̶i̶a̶ ̶m̶a̶s̶t̶e̶r̶ ̶l̶e̶v̶e̶l̶ ̶i̶s̶ ̶r̶e̶a̶l̶l̶y̶ ̶j̶u̶s̶t̶ ̶a̶ ̶r̶e̶p̶l̶a̶c̶e̶m̶e̶n̶t̶ ̶f̶o̶r̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶a̶m̶p̶’̶s̶ ̶p̶o̶t̶, and if you’re messing around with the varying saturation for the transformer effector, you’ll get inconsistent headphone master levels. ̶I̶n̶ ̶t̶h̶i̶s̶ ̶c̶o̶n̶t̶e̶x̶t̶,̶ ̶I̶’̶m̶ ̶n̶o̶t̶ ̶e̶v̶e̶n̶ ̶s̶u̶r̶e̶ ̶w̶h̶a̶t̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶y̶ ̶t̶h̶i̶n̶k̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶m̶a̶s̶t̶e̶r̶ ̶m̶e̶t̶e̶r̶ ̶i̶s̶ ̶s̶u̶p̶p̶o̶s̶e̶d̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶b̶e̶ ̶s̶h̶o̶w̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶y̶o̶u̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶a̶n̶y̶ ̶u̶s̶e̶.̶

    Same digital innards and fixed input gain as the V10 & A9, but add a transformer and nice pots. MP2015, X1700, and DB4 will still produce superior sound, not to mention a bunch of other analog mixers out there that I’d rank just below these four and still above Pioneer's recent offerings, but those recent offerings have been decent, and if you’re in the market for a Pioneer mixer and want a rotary, it’s potentially more appealing for some users than the converted others in their lineup.

    Rane did say they topped themselves, right? Kind of the pinnacle for them, and their last rotary tests comparably in the most important respects to the Isonoe audiophile analog mixers. If you want rotary, digital, and audiophile sound, you’ll probably just get an MP2015 no matter what. How does Pioneer DJ compete with that? I don’t think they do, and probably don’t need to.

    Pick an achievable market. They’re competing with the Master Sounds, the Ecler Warm 2 & 4, Condesa, etc. Especially for those using Serato or digital DJ media players who also want coloration and rotary, now they have something under this same company umbrella to choose. Buyers don’t need to look too far outside this safe nest, don’t need to wait for InMusic or A&H to get around to anything, or for Superstereo and Formula Sound to ever build the hybrid models they promised way back.

    If they’re hardcore vinyl-only analog hounds, I don’t think they give Pioneer DJ / Alpha Theta a consideration, anyway. Given how their digital competition isn’t doing much in this market, it’s actually not a bad strategy. They might capture a significant chunk of the rotary market.

    The biggest selling points are the nifty digital needle meter that can probably do other stuff later with firmware updates, and the fact it looks like a mini digital STP Vestax Phoenix. I like the way it looks. However, I want a bypassable iso, at least two filters, SPDIF out, more durable USB, and option to *not* have added harmonics. Think I’d rather have a modified older Pioneer, with the added bonus of their other features.

    I do hope this lights a fire under InMusic or A&H's butt on this stuff. They both own so much IP that could easily do everything and more, and do it better. InMusic has the Rane MP2015 stuff, the Alesis stuff from the PPD digital line, and old Denon of Japan's schematics. A&H could update the DB iLive-based line with a DB3 and DB6 based on the 96bit fixed point & 96khz dLive line.


    I missed a detail on the first block diagram. The transformer seems to be on its own send with DAC, and then an ADC puts it back into the digital domain. Potentially that means a utility setting might be possible to bypass the transformer. The master level might be digital domain and the headphones mix entirely digital domain, too, which means they could conceivably change the headphone master feed to be post-master-level, or at least add that option. If this is all indeed the case, then it's odd they didn't just have a "Trans Saturation" dry/wet knob specifically for that purpose, and then the current headphone master sourcing would actually make sense.


    I have listened to a pair of high bitrate lossless clips recorded to an interface and ones that were sent through various mixers including the Euphonia & recorded to the same interface. The V10 is more reference/source. The Rane even more so, like it's just the interface with that source content. If measured, you'd only get a little added phase distortion from the Rane tone controls' filters. The core sound to me on the Euphonia is arguably roughly halfway between the NXS2/A9 & V10 if the two were at other sides of a continuum, but the transformer definitely does something.

    The saturation difference is most obvious looking at a spectrograph and especially at the raw waveforms. Most evident on higher amplitude portions and peaks, giving it a subtle expander effect or very crude analog version of declipping plus coloration harmonics. At first blush, it sounds like it's mostly V-shaped added harmonics distribution, but looking at the waveforms and spectrum it's apparent the mids are getting them, too. Perhaps just sounds that way because the kick and presence regions are both just more obvious to the ear, and those are where the music's peaks are getting more of these harmonics. It's a bit like what happens with something passed through some tube emulators or, you're right, like a Urei. I think it's more refined-sounding than a Urei, though, and the expander sensation is welcome.

    The midrange harmonics seem pretty tame to me, though. Along with the reduced microphonics, I can see this getting less congested than tubes with dense source material when pushed, but what the Euphonia does to the sound seems more simplified tonally than tubes, ignoring the slight expanding quality. Maybe you can't do exactly what transformers do with tubes and vice versa. The Pioneer digital mixer beat bloom has an added touch of thump overlaying & obscuring it instead. The high hats aren't more polite (the NXS2-onward have been polite) or more grating & tinny (pre-NXS2), but like the original transient is both slightly dulled and with more associated side-energy, yet coming off as strangely less synthetic. I was not expecting barely softened attack and added harmonics to seem less artificial. Anyway, some who just rabidly find the Pioneer mixer sound objectionable (bloom in the lows, synthetic highs, etc) will probably prefer what the transformer is doing to it.

    I still don't totally get why they didn't allow us to source the USB main out pre-DAC apart from the transformer, and I don't get why they left out a SPDIF or AES/EBU digital out to also bypass the transformer and choose our own DAC stage. Now that I've realized they're looping the transformer out (trans send) through an ADC stage back into the mix, it's an even weirder bunch of choices. Maybe they really wanted to make a certain impression with people and didn't want you to be able to bypass any of it... iso, DAC, or transformer. You go onto a Euphonia, and it's going to impart a certain sound. Heck, maybe they didn't want people able to easily demonstrate that the pre-DAC & pre-transformer digital bit stream is not largely different than their other recent models.

    Like I've previously said, also a lot of other weird choices on this... almost like it's 17 years ago Vestax or Ecler. Though, back then there was a lot more innovation and competition than there was until just recently. At least someone is doing something. A coloration *and* slight expander effect being done in the analog domain with a transformer mixed back into a digital mixer is not something I would have guessed in a bazillion years.

    Pics seem to have disappeared above.

    Unity on the channels is max, not 7. Doesn’t bother me, but their reps are giving incorrect information, sort of like myths Rane spread on the MP2015.


    Here is the block diagram indicating the transformer is on a DAC send → Transformer → ADC receive back into the mixer:


    Here's what it looks like when you (presumably) hard limit into the Trans Send and also clip into the master out:



    Talked to one of the product devs.

    Main isolator does not currently have iso bypass.

    Unity on the bottom channel rotary volumes is accidentally not 7, but may be somewhere between 7 and 10 right now... like 8.5. Alpha Theta product dev expects this can be fixed later in firmware. I tried to convince him that they should move back to the old method since the DJM-1000/800 rotary kits that they abandoned with the V10 onward where the headphone master feed is either after the Master Level or even an option to make the headphone master feed pre or post Master Level, but I don't believe I was successful.
    Last edited by Reticuli; 03-28-2024 at 12:11 PM.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts