Reviews

PRODUCT REVIEW

Pacemaker: A Pocket Music Mixer and Masher

One day, when I go on to the “Great Reward,” my hope is that my epitaph will include something about how much I love music. I’m a music fan, but not a stodgy one who will only listen to my tunes on the finest of equipment. Rather, I’ve always wanted to create my own music.

A permissive childhood left me with a smattering of music lessons on various instruments and a well-developed singing voice, but without the deep knowledge needed to compose my own songs. As a result, every time I hear about a new device or bit of technology that can help me create music, I’m there, eager and ready to give it a go.

So, when I came across the Pacemaker, to say I was excited would be an understatement. Several years ago, you see, I decided one of my passions was making my own beats. While composing music would be great, creating something from music that already exists is a talent for which all you need is a good ear and sense of timing.

Portable Wheels of Steel

Developed by Swedish technology company Tonium, the Pacemaker is billed as the world’s first pocket-sized DJ system. The device has won several awards, including the “Best of What’s New” award in the Gadgets category from the editors of Popular Science.

Able to fit in the palm of your hand, the Pacemaker is a 120 GB media player plus some. It offers serious music lovers and DJs some of the same features they would have with two turntables, a mixer and an entire record collection.

The system is more than just the actual gadget. It also includes the Pacemaker Editor, a free downloadable software package for PCs and Macs through which users can play music, edit and create mixes. There’s also the Pacemaker Web site, where users can upload and share their mixes legally as well. The musical creations can also be uploaded to personal profiles on social networking sites with widgets and an embeddable mix player, or they can be taken on the road for a gig.

Music to My Ears

The first thing that I noticed about the Pacemaker is its look and design. The all-black, rubber-covered, ovoid-shaped device looks like an anti-iPod. Where you would normally find a square color screen display, the Pacemaker has a circular shaped screen below which are a set of basic controls — rewind, fast forward, play/pause, cue, Channel 1 and Channel 2 selectors, the crossfade indicator and crossfade slider — and the touchpad controller for the device.

Once I’d gotten a handle on how the Pacemaker works, it was time to get down. I loaded a selection of my favorite dance tunes to the device and got my mix on. With the Editor and the Pacemaker, creating beats is so easy that if I were a pro who’d been in the business for years, I’d be mad. This software even beatmatches for users.

With the Pacemaker, it is possible to alter the speed of tracks, changing or bend the pitch, crossfade between the two channels, set and adjust a loop as well as truncate and move a looped area.

Mad Mixer

It took a little work to get used to the user interface; however, once I conquered that, making beautiful beats and music was a snap. I really enjoyed the feel of the device and the incredibly easy-to-use Editor software.

So far, I’ve racked up 20 mixes and counting. Soon, I’ll have enough music to live my dream and become a DJ.

The only downside about the Pacemaker for me so far is the price. At a whopping US$874.06, which may or may not include a VAT (value added tax), the gadget will be too pricey for dabblers. Professional DJs, however, may find the price just right compared to the cost of their standard — and usually much bulkier — equipment. The Pacemaker is definitely something I would buy if I were I a pro.

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