Monday, January 25, 2010

Mixing Software Compared, Part 2

Earlier this month, I reviewed Atomix Virtual DJ, Native Instruments Traktor Pro, Ableton Live, and Serato Itch. The first review can be found here: Unfortunately, I do not have any experience with Serato Scratch Live, but it is a very popular software. Today, I'm continuing my comparison of popular mixing software with: Image-Line Deckadance, Mixvibes Producer, open-source Mixxx, and Mixmeister Fusion.

Image-Line Deckadance

Deckadance is my second-favorite real-time mixing softwares. Traktor still has me won over, but not by much. Deckadance incorporates a lot of what's great about Virtual DJ and Serato Itch into a more complex solution, such as Traktor. It is very easy to program multiple midi controllers to this software and overall very user friendly in most cases. The interface overall is simple to get-around and very user friendly. The interface is colorful and fun, and the waveforms are displayed in multiple formats. The waveforms are displayed like Traktors, but in the middle they are displayed like Serato Itch's (one waveform on top of the other with different colors to represent frequencies). I believe it only supports two decks, as I did not see an option for four decks, but I may be wrong. I had a difficult time toggling between vinyl and cdj jog-wheel modes, but I believe this is due to lack of experience. The scratching sounds were decent, but the MIDI-controlled vinyl-emulation was sub-par to Traktor's in the couple hours worth of time I spent with this software. This is the main reason that I still prefer Traktor. I would look closer into this software if you are on the market.

Mixvibes Producer

Mixvibes is an attractive, functional real-time mixing software that does its job. I liked the way the large waveforms are displayed, in addition to the overlapping waveforms at the top. There are a lot of included presets for midi-controllers, but it is not an easy process to program your own midi controller preset. This is my largest complaint, aside from the scratching sounds not sounding all that great. This program seemed "average" to me. There is better software out there, but this is functional.

Mixxx (open-source, free to use)

Mixxx is a free, open-source mixing software developed by the DJ community. It does not contend with the more costly commercial DJ softwares, but it is a great piece of freeware! Since it is open-source, anyone can learn to program and change the program as he or she wishes. If you want to put a LOT of time into making your own CUSTOM DJ software, this is definitely a great starting point! Mixxx has a lot of good customization options, such as crossfader curve, skins, midi-learn, and a lot more. I have had a difficult time using the Midi-Learn function to easily program some of the functions on my midi-controller, but I'm sure it's possible to do. The main thing that I don't like is that the software only accepts one USB port at a time. I.e. no pad control + scratch control + separate usb mixer. I have not tried a USB hub with this software, but I doubt it would fix this issue. I also do not like the cheap look of the interface or how files are managed in the library. The library is very basic, and I'm having a hard time permanently removing songs in the library that I deleted from my computer. If you want your own custom software or if you just want something free to work with, download Mixxx! If you have some money to blow, I'd recommend Deckadance, Virtual DJ, or Traktor.

Mixmeister Fusion

Mixmeister is in its own league. Its focus is not real-time control, but it's not quite as advanced as Ableton Live. I'd have to describe this as a software to pre-plan your sets, although it could be used for similar functions as Ableton. Prior to playing music, you set which songs you want to play and when you want them to start. You can adjust the length, volume, EQ, pitch, and more. You can setup the automatic mixing method also, so that the software automatically mixes songs together for you. This is good for someone with a more systematic approach or someone who wants to remove human error from his or her set. Personally, it's not for me because I like real-time, hands-on mixing more. And when it comes to planning out a perfectly recorded studio set, I prefer Ableton for its advanced functions and capabilities. Mixmeister is a nice compromise between the two if you know what you'll be playing for awhile, and you don't care much about jamming out in real-time.


My favorite real-time midi-controlled mixing software is still Native Instruments Traktor Pro, but I may be swayed by Image-Line Deckadance in the future. Deckadance and Virtual DJ are similar products, and I'd look at both of them if you are interested in either one. As far as pre-planning and removing human error from sets is concerned, I recommend Ableton Live. Mixmeister is a nice, simple solution to pre-planning a night of music ahead of time, and it doesn't require you spend the whole night focusing on what you need to do next. This would be great if you are DJing your own event, such as your own wedding, because you don't have to pay any attention to it during the event.


  1. Mixxx 1.7 only support one MIDI controller. This will be fixed in 1.8 which I expect to see released in a month or two. The next release will also add hot cues and loops. It also features a full rewrite of the library management to be based on an sqlite database.

    The release there after will likely add full beat detection (which will enable variable BPM handling), bring the scripting more or less on par with Bome MIDI translator and hopefully bring some advances to the skinning engine (like vector graphics).

  2. That's great to hear! I will have to give 1.8 a shot when it's released. Sounds like it'll fix a lot of the areas where it's lacking.

  3. Your review of Mixmeister Fusion seems a bit rushed, as if you hadn't had the chance to really explore it.
    You most definitely can use it to mix live. Fusion is a digital sequencer designed for live use. It is very responsive to second by second changes. You can throw a new song on as fast as you can use your mouse or the controller (which I recommend highly).
    The automatic mixes Fusion makes by default are good enough usually to avoid a trainwreck.
    But there is much room still for the DJ's art. Where the overlap of each song starts and ends can make all the difference in making a seamless hand off from one track to the next.
    I DJ with it, and find it much more user friendly than Serrato Itch, the main other software I use. I add tracks generally one at a time, and work the transitions to make them sound great.
    Fusion doesn't create a virtual model of two spinning platters. Such a model is very easy to grasp for DJ's brought up in the old school, where they actually had two physical spinning platters of LPs or CDs to mix.
    But digitally, you don't need them! Fusion mixes easily up to eight tracks at a time. You can zoom in and crop slice tweak and adjust on the fly to make each track mesh perfectly with the others.
    Most Digital Jock programs spend much effort recreating something they don't need, the model of two spinning platters.
    Having played with Traktor, and used Serrato Itch live, they are hands down clunkier and less flexible than Fusion.
    And to top it off, Fusion and its controller are very inexpensive.