First off, I had never planned to do a review of any DJ software. I’ve never been a DJ, nor have I ever had the desire to be a DJ. But you know what they say; Never say never. So, how did I come to learn about Mixx, and how did I end up with a real use for it? I’ll tell you.
It all started when my wife’s co-worker decided to get married. There was a little drama surrounding the entire ordeal and long story short, the bride had lost a bridesmaid. Though the bride only knew my wife for a short time, she thought she would ask her to fulfill those needs and balance the wedding party. My wife graciously accepted.
When she came home to give me the news — which I was not very excited about — she mentioned that there was a need for a DJ. I responded — half-jokingly — that I could probably do it. “I could probably do it” is probably the least committal way to volunteer oneself for a job, but that was enough for her. One day later she told me “You are the DJ for the wedding, are you excited?”
No, I was not excited. I never really wanted to do it at all, but it was too late to back down. It was time to start planning. At first I thought that it wouldn’t be a big deal. Being a DJ is probably the easiest job in the world. If you have any sort of trunk-slammer mentality then you should be adequately equipped to hook a laptop to a PA system and play a playlist. While I could have easily taken that route, I decided against it. It was pretty soon after I started to get organized that I realized Rhythmbox wasn’t going to cut the mustard. And so the search began.
I searched and searched and most of my searches came to a dead-end. All the time I was searching, anxiety started to set in. I thought, what if I can’t find anything for Linux? My machine doesn’t have a Windows partition and I’m sure as hell not rearranging my hard drive for one catastrophic evening. Then I found Mixx, and anxiety set in again. I resigned myself to the fact that this is the only serious DJ software out there for Linux, and if it doesn’t work well, is unstable, etc., then I am supremely screwed. There could not possibly be anything more embarrassing than having your DJ app crash in the middle of The Electric Slide.
And now, I will make no secret that the review you are about to read is probably the most glowing review I’ve ever written about a piece of software. So, let’s get to it!
For our non-Linux using readers, you will be happy to know that Mixxx is available for Mac and Windows as well. The former is available in the Mac App Store, so installation for those individuals should be pretty simple. The DJ machine for this event is is my HP Envy 15t-3200, a beast of a machine with a quad-i7 processor and 16GB of RAM. It’s running Ubuntu 12.04. While Mixxx is available in the Ubuntu Software Center, it is quite a bit out of date. This is a problem with many Linux distributions, but I’ll save that for another editorial… Luckily, Mixxx makes itself available through a well maintained and up-to-date PPA. Better yet, the PPA has packages for Ubuntu all the way back to Lucid Lynx (10.04). To install for yourself, do as follows:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:mixxx/mixxx sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get install mixxx libportaudio2
One of the best aspects of installation is how light it is on dependencies! This made installation a breeze, and if there is one thing I hate, it’s unnecessary package weight in my installation. Obviously, it needs what it needs, but I appreciate it’s lightweight nature none-the-less. Sometimes that can be a deal breaker. For instance, I’m not going to run Amarok in Ubuntu, but I don’t want half of KDE on my system just to use one application. In this scenario, my hands were tied. If Mixxx had the same dependencies as Amarok, I would have installed it regardless. Hell, I’ll probably never use it again regardless of how great it is, because if there is one thing I learned from DJing, it’s that I don’t like it at all. I’ll save that for the end…
Interface And Usability
I’m not typically one to get overwhelmed. I am pretty much cursed with a can-do attitude, even if I can’t. Though there is a lot here! The default interface is packed with controls that simulate what a DJ’s physical workspace might look like. It simulates a hardware mixer, and even 2 turntables! It comes with a handful a skins — sort of like Winamp skins — that are built for specific resolutions. There is only one that is designed for a 1920×1080 screen, and that was enough for me.
The theme shown — the one I used — is the default, 1920×1080 version, called “Deere”. It’s great! Also, it’s what I practiced on. That’s right, practiced. One does not simply walk into a wedding and DJ it. The design principal in the default theme is obvious; represent the physical controls of a real mixer board while making it high contrast white on black for dark areas, like a club. This is one of the very few troubles that I ran into.