I’ve been a recreational DJ ever since I was 15 and discovered my first 12-inch. These days when I play out, I tend to switch back and forth between records and MP3s, but I’ve always preferred spinning vinyl to tapping on my laptop for two reasons: 1) you can manipulate the speed and sound much better on turntables than a computer and 2) being huddled in front of a Mac tinkering with Traktor all night isn’t my idea of a good time.
This is exactly why I was stoked to road test the Pacemaker, a portable digital DJ-ing device. Developed by European upstart Tonium, the Pacemaker looks like a cross between an iPod and a compass but it operates like a handheld mobile disco. Designed with the hobbyist DJ in mind (get-gadget definition: anyone wanting to play for a crowd of 200 drunken buds – not 2,000 Ibizan nightclubbers) the Pacemaker features two digital “decks” that let you scratch, bend, and stretch your tunes. Advanced options even exist for altering pitch, levels and BPMs with a tap and glide of the scroll wheel.
Getting started is easy: Siphon selected tracks from your iTunes and spit them into the Pacemaker’s software (which includes a Pro Tools-style program that lets you mix and record tunes on your laptop) and export to the player. Then things start to get tricky. It may be modeled after the idiot-proof iPod, but taking advantage of all the features on the Pacemaker requires an inordinate amount of button pushing (there are nine to contend with) and wheel tapping (merely to load tracks), which doesn’t render it the most user-friendly device – though the instructional videos on YouTube and Pacemaker’s recently-launched social networking site are a huge help. Fiddling around with it while sober requires a certain amount of dexterity – it’s easy to tap the wrong track. Tough to imagine trying to queue up and mix in bar lighting after a few drinks. (And isn’t that the fun part?) Ultimately, it’s a cool toy to play around with but not exactly the life of the party.
- Capacity: 120 GB