We've been playing with the Tonium Pacemaker pretty much non-stop since we got it, and while we're not terrible DJs, we thought we'd bring in some big guns for a demo -- so we asked our buddy Carlos from Chicago's CAPCOM crew to come in and spin a few tracks. Check out the video and our in-depth impressions after the break!



Some quick impressions:
  • It's hard to deny the sheer charm of the Pacemaker. Everything about it, from the packaging to the accessory cables to the interface, feels thought-out and friendly.
  • First-time DJs will certainly be able to figure things out, but you'll be well-served by knowing the basics of DJing before you go in -- the Pacemaker is essentially a portable simulation of two decks and a mixer. If you don't know how to use those, it'll take you a while to get things sorted.
  • On the same note, experienced DJs shouldn't expect to just pick up and go -- there's a bit of a learning curve, and although the fundamental tools are all there, you've got to learn how the Pacemaker thinks about tracks and beatmatching before you can get into a groove. It's more like a CDJ than like vinyl, but it's still quirky enough to require some practice.
  • It doesn't scratch, and we're not really even sure how you'd pull it off using the touch fader -- it's not like you can click it really fast or anything.
  • It'll auto-beatmatch for you, but it doesn't lock in, and it drifts almost instantly. In fact, it drifts a lot, even when playing straight house or techno -- you have to baby the tempo adjustment just as much as vinyl.
  • Mixing rap and hip-hop is a unique challenge, since the beatmatch controls seem to get confused by anything other than a steady four-four beat. It can be done, but the Pacemaker seems best suited to house, trance, and techno.
  • File management is pretty much on the user -- you can use filters and set up crates, but if you've got a lot of files you'll eventually find yourself scrolling endlessly through the list.
  • Speaking of file management, that's pretty much all we used the included software for -- it does have some mixing features, but they didn't seem deep enough to devote a ton of time to learning.
  • Ultimately, we've had a great time playing with the Pacemaker, but we're just not sure what we'd use it for. Sure, it cuts down on having to lug two decks and a mixer around, but you still need a PA for the full experience, and we wouldn't really want to play a show with it. On the other hand, you can set it to just mix in headphones, and if you're looking to work on your set or just practice mixing on the road it could be really useful.
Thanks again to Carlos for helping us out -- check out CAPCOM on MySpace to find out where he's spinning next. (Hint: tonight at Crocodile in Chicago.)

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