I’ve had a bit more time now with my (still shiny, still new) Numark AVM02 – or “Avmo” as it’s been dubbed by my bandmates – and have some more thoughts to offer, if you will hear them. If you haven’t heard the original thoughts or seen the unboxing photos you may like to check out my “First Impressions” review.

Obviously the biggest question I’m going to get is “how does it compare to the Edirol V4″, so I’ll come out straight away and disappoint those who are looking for that comparison: This article will focus mostly on the AVM02′s own strengths and weaknesses, and while some comparisons to the V4 and other video mixers may be drawn, you’ll have to make your own conclusions at this stage. I will be doing a full head to head features-and-quality shootout vodcast in the coming weeks, so I’ll save the serious V4 comparisons until then.

AVM02 In Use

Unit Specs

The AVM02 combines a basic DJ mixer with what I guess could be described as a “DJ Style” video mixer, and is able to combine 4 Video channels and 4 Stereo Audio channels, mixing with independant (but linkable) Video and Audio crossfaders.

numark avm02 unboxing 05

Video Specs

  • Inputs: 4 Video Inputs – S-Video or composite input on each
  • Outputs: 2 S-Video and 2 composite
  • Previews: Dedicated composite preview on each input
  • Mix Modes: Alpha Mix/Fade, Wipe, Picture in Picture, Key
  • Chroma (Bluescreen) and Luma Key available
  • Video Effects: Strobe, Still, Paint (solarize), Invert and Mosaic can be enabled simultaneously, and act seperately on A/B video channels
  • 96 Wipe Patterns
  • Colour Background can be enabled for A/B channels
  • Auto-fade, speed controlled by the video crossfader

Audio Specs

  • Inputs: 7 Stereo inputs, switchable to 4 channels:
  • CH1: Mic2 – Line/Phono
  • CH2: Line – DVD
  • CH3: Line – DVD
  • CH4: Line/Phono – Line
  • Additional XLR-1/4″ “DJ Mic” input with Treble/Bass EQ and Gain.
  • 3 Channel EQ and trim per channel
  • 1/4″ and 1/8″ headphone outputs
  • Master Balanced, Unbalanced and Booth outputs
  • Crossfaders can have curve (slope) adjusted independantly
  • Fader Link button links video to audio fader

Price: US$1,299 List (around $1000 street)

So as you can see, you’re getting a pretty hefty chunk of mixer for your money. As an initial, fiscal comparison with other vision mixers on the market, the Edirol V4 is US$1,249 list, Korg Krossfour is $900, and pioneer’s VSW-1 (marketed to go with their DVJ DVD turntables) is $499.

Look and Feel

As mentioned in my first impressions, this is a solid, professional quality mixer. The crossfaders are smooth and quite fast, but not free enough to travel across with a flick. Both Video and Audio crossfaders have a 3 position switch for slope/curve selection. There’s also a “fader link” button, which links both to the position of the audio fader.

AVM02 Crossfader Link and Curves
Hello Fader Link button, we are glad you have come.

The channel faders are quite stiff which is fine for many mixing styles, but turntablists will probably notice this, the not-lightning-quick 55mm crossfader and the general expansive layout and look elsewhere for their audio mixing needs. The Ch 4 fader on my unit is noticeably stiffer than the others, which is slightly worrying, but not considerably so as I’m unlikely to use it very often. PFL buttons are lit by internal LEDs when activated. The EQ/Trim knobs all feel robust, and EQs have center detents.

All video buttons are plastic, and while they feel very solid they have a noticeable click, and need quite a firm touch to activate them. This, coupled with the lack of transform/take buttons rules out fast, hyperactive flash-cuts between sources. You can still select sources directly on the channel to cut between them, but the firmness of the buttons means this may not be as quick as you’d like.

Overall the unit is built like a small, shiny, conspicuous, unarmed tank, and feels like it would stand up to plenty of abuse in a live rig or club environment, and at 5.5Kg (12lbs) with fixed rack ears it’s obviously intended for this kind of installation or to be road cased, rather than being carted around in a backpack.

Operation

The audio section functions like a standard DJ mixer. If you’ve used one before you’ll know exactly what to expect. If you haven’t, KAM.co.ulk has some handy tutorial PDFs you can download and read. There’s nothing really missing, but nothing outstanding either. I would have appreciated an Effects send, but I’m thinking I could kludge something together using one of the headphone outputs and PFL select buttons.

The video mixer is relatively standard fare as well, with the noticeable exclusion of a Take/Cut function. The source buttons are lit internally so you can quickly see where you are and where you’re going, and the crossfader curve is switchable so you can do sharp cuts or long blends. In auto-fade mode the crossfader selects the fade length, which ranges from about 0.25 – 9 seconds, and is triggered by the “start” button. The auto fade just happens once (it doesn’t bounce back and forth like the V4′s BPM fade) and it conforms to the selected crossfader curve. No surprises here, it does what it’s intended to do in a straightforward manner. The promised 96 wipe patterns indeed exist though 6 basic wipe patterns, with 4 directions each, and a 4 stage “multiplier” button. Err, yay? I’m planning to follow this article up with a video review and V4 quality comparison, so I’ll be able to take you through the unbridled joy of multiplied wipe patterns and on board effects then.

However, the most critical wipe/effect issue can be easily demonstrated with text: There is no indication of what version of the wipe you currently have selected. This also applies to the effects which have multiple levels (strobe, paint, mosaic). The buttons light up to say “yes, you have this effect or wipe selected”, but there’s nothing to show you which one. I’m fully aware that I have my triangle wipe primed and ready to blast its way across the screen, but will it come from the top, bottom, or one of the sides? The same applies to effects, and even the “7 selectable background colours”. The only way to know for sure which colour or effect you’re going to get (without having your “what setting am I on again?” test fade visible to the entire audience) is to repeatedly press the button in question until it turns off, then (having previously memorized the effect or background colour order (black/off, blue, weird dull red, horrible purple, not too hideous lime, feeble aqua, diseased greeny-yellow, white)) you have to repeatedly press the button the requisite number of times, hope all of your button presses registered, and, hopefully, triumphantly fade in the correct colour or activate the right effect.

I’m aware that the review has taken a slight turn for the silly, but I’m trying to give you an impression of how ridiculous the effects and wipes feel in comparison to the rest of the unit. Personally I don’t use mixer-level effects very often because I have a better range of effects and more control via either in-computer effects, or my newly aquired Kaoss Pad Entrancer. I still crack out the V4′s Strobe, Mirror or Shake occasionally, but the AVM02′s offerings are so clunky to control that I can’t really imagine even a hardened posterize-junkie getting much use out of them. Ditto for the fruity little Picture-in-Picture/Wipe Position joystick. To me these features feel like Numark is just ticking boxes. They’re not truly useful effects, just gimmicks, but they do allow them to put “built in effects” and “a seriously large number of wipe patterns” on the product’s brochure.

Apart from the dodgy effects setup, my only real issue with the unit’s operation is that the buttons don’t seem to register if pushed too quickly. This may be a limitation of the internal processing, but rapid pressing of different source select buttons – while registering a distinct mechanical click – often doesn’t actually change the to the intended source. When they do register there is a small but perceptible latency when switching (cutting) directly between sources.

Zee Buttons, Zey Can't Keep Up With My Superior Skills!
Zee Buttons, Zey Can’t Keep Up With My Superior Skills!

What’s Missing?

MIDI! If I was designing this device I would have scrapped the effects entirely and focussed on truly integrating audio and video for live performance, and the one constant with A/V performance is MIDI. Allowing the unit to be send and receive midi messages would, in my opinion, instantly make it a requirement in any visualist’s rig. Of course I have no idea how much it would cost to implement this kind of change, but surely ditching that effeminate joystick could save some dollars.

Responsive buttons: MIDI would obviate this issue as you’d be able to sequence crossfades and cuts, or utilize the buttons of your choosing with an external MIDI controller, but while we wait for MIDI someone really needs to take a look at the feel and responsiveness of those buttons and get them fixed. Crossfaders are fine, but sometimes you just need to make a cut, or a lot of cuts, very quickly, and if you try to do so on an AVM02 it will refuse to play along.

Overall

Overall I’m extremely satisfied with my purchase. There are definitely improvements to be made and additions to be… added, but at the moment Numark are finding their way in a new market with a single product line, so they’ll never be able to satisfy everyone. They have made some great advances since the original AVM01 (review on VJCentral), and more competition in the video hardware market can only mean good things for VJs. Here in Australia the AVM02 is actually $300 cheaper (street price) than the V4, which makes for a very difficult decision.

In the next couple of years I see this product lineup in the video market expanding similarly to DJ mixers, with different layouts, effects and options available for “turntablist” style highly-technical VJing, live looping with onboard sampling and effects, battle-style VJ mixers allowing you to mount your DVD player sideways and tag over your DVD labels like the hiphop kids do… In the meantime the AVM02 is really the only A/V mixer available at anywhere near this price point, and it does a superb job too. If you’re a visualist branching out into the frightening world of audio, a DJ looking to add video to your set, or just someone looking for a solid, competitively priced vision mixer, you should definitely give the AVM02 a try.

  • http://blog.steamshift.com SteamSHIFT

    No MIDI?! What were they thinking – that alone is going to put loads of VJs off this unit!

  • http://beatfix.com Beatfix

    Highly amusing review. Jaymis, I give you high points for your tact and diplomacy.

    Not bashing Numark (I was a loyal user of their Matrix3 DJ mixer for several years), but it's pretty clear if you read between the lines that this mixer doesn't suit the needs of the average VJ. No MIDI, poor physical feedback, no way of knowing which effect is selected?

    Might be useful as a club install for smaller venues, or for mobile DJs looking to add a visual element (I suspect this is their real target market). Beyond that, I have a hard time imagining this as a staple of any VJ's performance kit.

  • http://createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Despite its shortcomings, I could see this as a staple of a VJ kit, for people with specific needs. Simple fact is, nothing else out there has an internal audio mixer, and that could appeal to all sorts of people — not just DJs. This could also make a fine second video mixer. I know plenty of people who travel with two V4s. If you can fit them in, that combination could work well. I think we will have more comparative information as a follow-up to this review, as well. But certainly you do want to know the limitations, and I hope Numark will get the message and add MIDI.

  • klif

    to me, it's quite obvious that numark is using technology that was used in panasonic (and other brand) video mixers in the late 80's early nineties, like wjmx10 wjmx55 etc. they use same colors, effects, and wipes.

    to me all this is quite dissapointing. while i appreciate the effort to do decent AV mixer, they didn't do any real development here. it's a repackaged dj+vj mixer with shared crossfader.

    the worse being the lack of usable controls for those few simple fx included on the mixer. very old wjmx10 and wjmx12 had excellent real time controls included. if they took over the basic stuff, why didn't they copy the rest of good stuff??

    klif

  • http://www.jaymis.com Jaymis

    Not having MIDI is definitely a dealbreaker for many people, but the ability to have linked crossfaders and A/V in one unit will sell a huge number of units, and their implementation is fantastic. This is Numark's second attempt at an A/V mixer. It contains plenty of improvements from the AVM01, and means they're actually. making. improvements. How many upgrades has the V4 had in recent memory? It still only has 2 S-Video inputs!

    Klif: Most vision mixers with effects include strobe, negative and freeze, the V4 does, and those wipes are standard in every editing suite available. This doesn't mean they're using old tech, just following old standards.. Are you going to criticize current DJ mixers for having 3 band EQs?

    I don't think it's going to cause anyone to throw their V4 out quite yet, but I can see a lot of people getting one to use alongside. I definitely will be, as I can use it to mix in audio from musicians on stage and to premix 4 S-Video sources.

    I also tested last night and it's possible to use the AVM02's headphone jack and PFL mix as an effects loop (through the Kaoss Pad Entrancer). Lots of fun.

    J

  • http://createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Right — and you can't have a mature video mixer market when there's only one dominant model (as the V4 is, certainly in certain circles). Imagine if people never used an audio mixer other than the Mackie 1202-VLZ. Korg's KrossFour, for instance, didn't really stand apart from the V4 other than having a crossfader — unlike their Entrancer and Kaptivator, which did carve out a unique niche. So what's appealing about the AVM02 is that there is some new thinking, and it has a place that nothing else quite fills (other than two pieces of gear, which doesn't have the same appeal). But that makes our complaint about MIDI all the more important, because it's keeping the AVM02 from reaching its full potential market-wise.

    I am very pleased Numark is coming up with new stuff. Even repackaging an audio mixer and video mixer is a step forward. I hope this market expands to the point where this kind of hardware continues to evolve, just as it has in the audio market. (Look at early offerings there, say in the early 80s as MIDI was just appearing, and you'll see all kinds of oversights. If this market grows, it can also mature.)

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  • http://beatfix.com beatfix

    OK, I'll preface this by saying that all my comments should be taken with a grain of salt, since I don't have hands-on experience with the AVM02. I have used the AVM01, however, so I am familiar with the basic layout and functionality.

    @Jaymis: it's true that the V4 hasn't been upgraded in years, but that's largely because Edirol did a pretty good job the first time around. Yes, it only has 2 s-video inputs, the BPM tap is useless, MIDI setup is tedious, and controlling effects can be a pain. It's also compact, highly configurable, and laid out very intuitively for anyone familiar with DJ-style mixing. It's fair to say that lack of competition is not the only reason it has become dominant amongst VJs.

    The extra 2 s-video inputs and individual channel previews on the AVM02 are nice, but beyond that there doesn't seem to be anything on the video side that constitutes a step forward from the V4, whereas it lags behind in a number of key areas. If Numark is trying to compete with Edirol (and I don't necessary think they are), then why aren't they paying attention to what their competition does well?

    @Peter: I've been waiting for over 5 years for someone to release a proper mixer for DJs that can control visuals as well, and it's disappointing to see how slow the progress has been. Despite that, MIDI-capable mixers are finally becoming more common and affordable (driven more by the desire to control Traktor and Live than by the VJ market). Chaining one of these mixers to a V4 is a more expensive solution that requires some skill to configure, but it is also more flexible and powerful by an order of magnitude.

    The Entrancer is an excellent piece of gear for manipulating AV, not only because it does audio and video effects simultaneously from a single, highly intuitive interface (the touchpad), but also because it can both control and be controlled by other devices.

    A proper AV mixer aimed at the DJ market needs to have the ability to control visuals via not just the crossfader, but also the audio faders, EQs, effect send/returns, etc. And of course (and I realize we're pretty much in agreement on this point) it *has* to have both MIDI input and output. That's an absolute dealbreaker for anyone who wants to go beyond the most basic mixing techniques. Linked crossfaders is a nice trick, but is it really worth accepting all the limitations?

    It's always possible to find creative uses for any piece of gear, and sure, if you're rocking multiple video mixers to begin with then I'm sure this thing won't hold you back, but as a one-stop solution for audio and video mixing (which is the intended purpose), or as a primary video mixer? Sorry, I realize I'm definitely coming across as a basher now, but I just can't see this as anything more than an entry-level unit that, once the novelty of AV crossfading wears off, will quickly leave users craving more advanced features.

  • klif

    Jaymis: i meant that this unit has exactly the same architecture and fx and parameters as the mixers i mentioned (as did many, many other mixers before). i don't think it has to do with these fx being standard or not, but it is a matter of using same hardware base for the product. 10-20 years after the original products were released, i'd be pleased to see some change. if nothing else, they could have made the controls more usable for vj's. that can't be that hard because there were other similar video mixers with exactly the same architecture that had very usable sets of controls.

    As for the 3 band EQ, I think I would criticize it if it was made with rotary encoders, and without any indication of what the curret setting was ;)

    For comparison, see MFB VJ mixer or Vixid VJX16-4. Those are quite different units, but you can see that someone put a lot of thinking into it. Vixid is quite different thing, but MBF is small, cheap and very simple but much much more usable than this.

    Looking at Numark unit, I can see that they put some thinking in making usable AV mixer, and that I respect. But I don't see any effort in developing video side of this unit.

  • klif

    I forgot to add that I really don't mean to bash here. Especially you, Peter, since you bought the unit, obviously having good idea of how you can use it.

    There is nothing comparable on the market at the moment, so if this is what you need, I'd say get it and use it.

    P.S.
    And I'd really like to see firmware update for V4, fixing numerous small bugs, and few things that could have been easily made better in MIDI department.

  • http://createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    @Klif: No, please, this is good discussion!

    And I agree: progress in this market has been painfully slow. My basic sense is, the market is small, and the components for video processing are pricey. On the other hand, that means a truly innovative new product could really help turn things around. There are arguably smaller niches on the music side where much more has happened in the past few years. We'll keep looking.

    In the meantime, I suspect that basic features like having an all-one audio/visual unit or even just getting 2 more s-video ins will matter to at least some. As for the Category-Redefining Video Mixer / V4 killer — hardware manufacturers, we'll be waiting.

  • http://sidechainmusic.com Dave Dri

    Coming from the audio side of the convergence paths and getting past the "no midi??" reactions i can certainly see this filling a niche. The Pioneer DVDJ that came out was much hyped as another case of visual and audio merger though locked the performer either into a pre-prepared set (which rather defeated the point) or a non-synchronised set (which made the unit an expensive DVD player). Good concept flawed by forcing the performer to utilise a disposable media with linear connotations. Watching Hexstatic use DVDJ's was like watching Herbie Hancock and Stevie Wonder miming. Here we have the apparent logical workaround… merging the audio and video not at the player but the mixer. Throw in some cheap bonus effects and watch the money roll in right?

    This unit is perhaps chewing over common circuitry but it is enticing interest and developing feedback and catching up with the Resolume brigade in some way. One of the things that excited me about Jaymis getting this unit was not so much simply having him use it in our live act as is, but the interesting work arounds it proved a solution to. In our case they arent too exciting, namely aims to use the mic input and record out to record crowd noise whilst our DAT captures the set form the master mixer elsewhere, recording this crowd cheering (we hope they cheer) as well as video on a low grade VCR getting a ghetto recording of J's visual performance in sync audio, in addition to or independent of the two Sony cameras we use for live feed. The audio channels have us thinking of interesting ways to feed him seperate feeds from auxillary sends or even sub-mixes for monitoring etc etc. The best uses of convergent technology is never in the sales breif!

    Im with the universe on one point i cant help but beat the dead horse with… midi. EVERYTHING has midi these days. When i have a bbq at the beach i get midi in my hamburgers. When im driving at sunset i need to wear glasses from the midi glare. Even my girlfriend syncs to MTC when reminding me i spend too much time on computers (making lame analogous jokes in CDM comments)! In a more serious note the newer DJ mixers are all adding midi and yet here this unit emerges without it? Curious. I do have to wonder at the market research… no midi and no comparable features to the industry standard installations of Pioneer CDM600/800 and now CDM1000's? Very niche of Numark… although we are talking about the makers of the iPod mixer aren't we…

  • John

    Good reveiw. I have V4 & wanted to know diff. The seperate Audio is tough on V4. But still need Midi. Thank You.

  • Tiger Huang

    can some one tell me how to use AVM02?
    i want do live video shooting with 4 cameras that just use a video cable out from each camera, and about audio, we only put a pair rca stereo cable from "the soundman". i want output to 2-3 device like hard drive recorder / vhs / or PC. and do some body can tell me how to make 4 monitor out from AVM02 to just 1 monitor. say about video mixer, what the great for video quality "AVM02 vs V4" ???

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  • Michael

    I think Ill keep using my video switcher. Works much nicer and its cheaper!!

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  • Rod

    I was wondering how you do preview of audio and video in this unit? I see you have 4 monitor outputs so it seems that you have to take these outputs and route them into a switcher and use it to view and position the next video, correct? But what about audio? I don't see a switch where you can route the audio of the headphone set to position the audio track. How is this done?

  • http://www.jaymis.com Jaymis

    Rod: Video preview is 4 separate RCAs, so you need to have 4 monitors or a monitor with switchable inputs.

    Audio preview works as normal for a DJ mixer.

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  • telstar

    Please help. Today when I was using the AVM02, the picture suddenly switch to channel 2 by itself, and after that I can´t push any button on the AVM02, it has locked me out. What happened? What can I do?

    telstar

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  • Ashraf

    I recently purchased Numark Avm02. No proper signal from mixed video output. anyone can help me out.

    Tried with different cable and output device.

    Please help me out in this case.

  • http://www.jaymis.com Jaymis

    Hi Ashraf. Have you checked with a PAL/NTSC device? That's the first thing which comes to mind, although most modern devices can display either, so it's unlikely to be the problem.. I'd say you might have a dud unit, unfortunately. Have you tried hitting the "background" buttons on the left and right channels, and then hitting the "colour" button? That's the quickest way to check whether the unit is sending a signal.

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  • fortino franco

    i have a videomixer avm02 but the section for video is not function. only rarely and i dont know what happend,

  • ivan borisov

    can numark avm02 work with lap top and virtual dj softwear,and what i need to bay aditional to connect mixer with lap top