MixMeisterPro: MP3 DJ Software

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MixMeister software offers a unique and very satisfying extra to users of the software -- they sponsor a web radio broadcast where mixes created using MixMeister (any version) may be streamed.  MixMeister Radio was one year old as of November 16, 2002 and we had a party to celebrate.  Although the party is over, you can still listen in, choosing either the HiFi stream (for broadband) or the LoFi (for dialup) -- here are the URLs:

HiFi   LoFi

New mixes are frequently being added, all genres are welcome, as long as the mixing has been done using MixMeister software.  Listen, then tell us what you think....

And now, please continue on reading the review of MixMeister software, below:

The excellent people of MixMeister kindly put me in touch with an evaluation copy of MixMeister Pro, the next step in the evolution of their computer-assisted mp3 mixing program.  This version offers a number of significant features in addition to the basics that distinguish its predecessor, MixMeister 3.  I'll discuss those a bit in this review, although I haven't used them all.  First let's talk about why I was so delighted at the chance to use this program. 

 

I got started with MixMeister when I was looking for a way to get a grip on the nice, shiny new music collection I'd come into as part of my subscription to the emusic.com downloadable music service.  Part of becoming familiar with MM included finding out about their user's forum.  I discovered so many excellent tips and techniques posted by the other users that I really began to dream big:  what if I could go back in time and repair some of those first few hopelessly bad mixes I made when I didn't know what the hell I was doing and was burning that ignorance live to CD.  O, yeah --  help definitely in order. 

So for my tryout of MM Pro, the project was to rescue from ignominy one of my first house sets, Housebound: Home Alone.  This set includes some excellent classics from the crate, including rare groove Candi Staton -- much too good not to ever hear 'em again just because the mixing was dismal.  My idea was to rip the original tracks to mp3 format using MusicMatch Jukebox, which came bundled with my Gateway, and just throw the resulting tracks at MixMeister in the proper order and let it do the totally automatic thing.  Right away there was  a problem with this plan when one of my originals wouldn't rip to MP3 ... improvisation began to seem possible.  So next, I decided to try rearranging the sequence of the tracks ... after all, maybe one of the reasons the original mix sounded so bush was that it was poorly thought out.  And, now of course, I have the benefit of the BPM read-out and the ability to edit the tempo as I please.  So, the net result was that two of the original songs were discarded (just not that special, after all) and one was added, and the order was completely changed. 

I also started out by letting MM automatically handle all the beat matching, since it will do that for you.  Once again, tho, I felt the need to get involved with it, and switched to the Standard Mixing mode on a few of the transitions in order to exercise more control.

Although there is the possibility of using DirectX8 effects in MM Pro (and although I've found a couple offered for free on the web) I didn't go that far on the repair of this first set ... I really just wanted a sense of what you get if you stick with the basics.  Well, one thing you get is speed:  even as I write this, the program is burning my newly edited CD.  Oh, did I mention, MM Pro comes with an option to order up the burn right from its File menu, and uses your default CD-R software to accomplish it.  I noticed that the recorder dialog offered two versions of a track-marked CD ... Automatic and Place track at label marker.  Well, this was the experiment in using the most automatic settings, after all ... and besides, I hadn't placed any label markers on the tracks before exporting it to .wav format anyway ... so I accepted Automatic.  I do know that if I'd closed down MM Pro and opened up my TDK recorder software, I would have gotten one long, untrack-marked track.  In order to get an indexed version of that without any gap in the sound during the cross-fade, I'd have to copy it using my audio burner -- that's a pretty tedious process and wasteful of recordable media as well.  We'll see if  MM Pro will free me from this chore....

And the entire export-and-burn operation was completed while I typed those paragraphs:  Right now I'm listening to the opening track, Phunk Phorce, giving up Mind Games. 

....aaah! Delicious crossfade right into De'Lacy's Hideaway with no audible break between the tracks.  I am in heaven indeed!

Another innovation in the Pro version of MixMeister is the ability to run a second sound card and use the program's preview function.  If I'm describing this properly, the feature enables you to use your computer to DJ live and be able to preview your up-coming segue in headphones while you rock the party off the other board.  I understand the 2-soundcard option can be somewhat expensive on your laptop but that having SoundBlaster Live! makes up for the 2nd card (I'll double-check this with MixMeister and correct myself on this if I'm off base....)  Well, as righteous as my Home Alone set sounds after being put through MixMeister, I'm still not up there on stage, moving those bodies, so I'll let someone else comment on the usefulness of the live spinning tools. 

For my purposes, which is basically making myself plenty of custom-mixed music to listen to during my daily routine, MixMeister puts me so far out ahead of where I was, it makes me dizzy.  As for my repair job, is this a perfect mix now?  No, I wouldn't say that.  It's clear that I could spend more time at the controls and end up with something even better.  And then there's always the pursuit of perfectionism, which I understand working with MixMeister inspires.  But I was just happy to resurrect a mix that deserved another chance.  Watch out for me now, that's all I can say.

I also used MixMeister's v.3 to mix a bunch of stuff from www.emusic.com -- check out some of those set-lists here.

It's been nearly a year since I wrote the review above ...  In that time, I've gotten notably better using MixMeister (it would be hard NOT to get better, because the software makes it easy for you...) and MixMeister itself has gotten better, with a new version of the Pro release that features some excellent, user-driven enhancements, including the king daddy:  effects can be applied to selections (not just globally as was the case in earlier releases.)  I think this is majorly cool, and I don't even use effects all that much.

I occasionally use my old copy of version 3 in order to do tag team mixes with other MM users who don't have the Pro edition, and all I can say is: I wish they would upgrade =;o) ... many of the little things, like deeper zoom in, become second nature to use and speed the mixing process immensely. 

Late in 2002, I was contacted by a reporter for U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT.  The magazine was doing a brief story on music editing software and wanted to put "a human face" on what might otherwise be a somewhat dry description of the various software packages available.

The story appeared in the January 20, 2003 edition, and is available online at the USNews site.  Reading is free for a couple of weeks, then you must pay to access the story.

It was fun to represent for MixMeister and talk about the ways it has changed my enjoyment of music ... even though not much of what I had to say was directly quoted.