The virtual DJ your party's been waiting for

In-Depth: Pioneer Mixtrax

Tech : Electronics By Photo by Pioneer

Services like Pandora and Apple’s Genius technology changed the way many of us consumed music, by intelligently mixing and matching songs to fit a particular theme or mood. These jukeboxes of the digital age, however, still fall well short of what professional DJs do best — the continuous mix. Pioneer’s newly launched Mixtrax music software is set to change the listening landscape in this direction, by using pro techniques to create DJ sets on the fly from your ever-growing music library.

The free desktop software works by analyzing your collection and assigning various key DJ metadata to it, including song tempo, beat position, and chorus position. Once that’s out of the way, a variety of playlists covering popular moods are automatically built from your collection. Users can also manually form track lists of their own if desired. The final step then involves picking between three mixing styles dubbed, standard, basic, and active, which dictate the speed and techniques used for blending the playlist together. After that, Mixtrax takes over to create one continuous mix, complete with beat-matching, effects, and varying transition styles. Mercifully, the Funk Master Flex air-horn sample was left out of the software’s bag o’ tricks.

As of now, Mixtrax works with select Pioneer in-dash car receivers and Steez audio products in addition to the computer, allowing users to enjoy the non-stop beats wherever they are. Something tells us this product lineup will probably expand once CES rolls around next month too.

Our initial trials with the software left us impressed, and we’ve personally spent plenty of time mixing by hand. Mixtrax had an intuitive feel to its beat matching and effects usage that worked pretty much flawlessly when we allowed the software to dictate the order and type of tracks it was mashing together. The results were less dazzling when we manually selected a few songs and demanded they play in that order. Truthfully, we’re not sure even Tiesto DJ could have made our mix sound better without some serious hacking though.

All in all, Pioneer’s expertise in the pro DJ world clearly shines through in this product. The software is as close as it gets to having a personal DJ at your command, and because of it, house parties, long drives and sessions at the gym may never be the same, particularly if you enjoy the type of music spinners mix on a regular basis. It won’t make miracles though out of your massive collection of grunge, gospel, or a cappella, and it’s not going to challenge Girl Talk’s reign as the king of mashups — yet, that is.

If you’ve got a PC, you can download the free software at the link below to start sample what Mixtrax can do. There’s also a free iOS app that’s scheduled to drop at any moment and Mac compatible desktop software is coming soon.

Editor’s Note: DJs out there might see Mixtrax as the beginning of the end in terms of automating their skill set. While this is a natural reaction — our own demo DJ even joked about it — we couldn’t help think that the tool could save some serious time when developing new sets, by eliminating much of the trial and error that’s required to determine what songs fundamentally work well together.

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