It seems like iPhone and iPod DJing apps are pretty much ten a penny these days. Just as virtual DJing on computers revolutionised the affordability and availability of DJing, the idea of being able to skip the laptop altogether and do things on a tablet — or even your phone — is too good to resist. But sometimes you just want to get your hands dirty. And no matter how well you know your tunes, it is hard to mix without cueing the incoming track. Enter iRig Mix.
iRig Mix combines a pretty standard DJing app with some custom hardware to allow mixing, cueing and EQ with real life faders and knobs instead of virtual ones. The hardware is a nifty two channel analogue mixer with long faders, firm gain pots offering high and low-EQ, plus a wide crossfader and master level pot. It feels pretty sturdy, but not exactly tough.
As mentioned, the iRig Mix is a combination of software with an analogue mixer, so if you were expecting a digital link, think again. The audio connections all run through a single 1/8” custom mini-jack cable with four different breakout contacts at each end. At first glance this might seem a little old school, but there are advantages. Firstly, your iOS device can be connected to a power soruce as well as running it into iRig Mix, so DJs needn't run out of juice as they are not using the standard iPad/iPhone connector to send the sound to the mixer.
The mixer itself is powered either by the included power supply unit or via USB. The design of the mixer also means that you can plug in any standard microphone or any other 1/4” jack instrument if you wish. In fact, for the guitar players and singers out there, the whole thing serves as an audio interface for IKMultimedia's Amplitube, Vocalive and Groovemaker apps too (all of which are included free with the hardware).
Of course, there's a downside: with such a small jack output running from a headphone socket, the sound quality suffers a little. But not as much as you would think – it sounds very good when turned up loud, and the gain pots and EQs have bags of boost to further tweak your sound and are crackle-free.
Moving on, we find two main operating modes. One uses a single cable to provide two stereo analogue channels. The advantage to this is that there is less to carry around and it only requires one device (not everybody has or wants two iPads or iPhones). The downside is that by using one device it means each vitrual deck is only half the size on the display. You can get around this by rotating your device sideways and the software will go into single-deck display mode, but it means having to toggle between the decks — a tricky operation when in the height of the mix. Alternatively, if you’ve got two iPads/iPhones, simply leave them permanently rotated so that the view represents one deck per device and you get more control. This looks more in-keeping with a traditional DJing set up.
DJs familiar with digital DJing software may now be asking how to sync the two devices if there is no digital connection? IKMultimedia have plumped for good old fashioned beat-detection from the audio signal. A sync switch on the hardware routes the audio from one device to the other, via the mixer. It's not ideal, but it works pretty well and, interestingly, opens up more useful possibilities of syncing up the DJing software to another iOS app — say Rebirth or iElectribe — or any other audio source. It is a really clever and innovative system, and as far as we know it's the only iOS DJ app with analogue beat detection and syncing.
So far we haven't really said much about the software, and apart from the beat-detection there isn't much to report that we haven't seen before in every other DJ App. DJs can use internal BPM syncing, pitch controls, scratching, effects (although there are less of them in the free version that accompanies the hardware), EQ, iTunes library import, cue-points, looping and mix recording. There are also some effects banks (only one in the free version) to help DJs get a little bit Dave Rodigan in the FX sound department. It all does exactly what would be expected, and works well. Our only criticisms are that there is only one fixed compressed record format for your mixes (no full quality), and the GUI resolution is a bit rubbish on the iPad as there's no proper full-screen mode.
iRig Mix is a really interesting mix of innovative old-school hardware and run-of-the-mill new-school software. And by and large it works really well. If you regularly perform small gigs where trick-mixing and scratching aren't vital, but still want a bit of hands-on fun, a mic input and the luxury of a physical bit of hardware to get your hands on, then prepare to be as excited as someone who's just discovered bread that you don't need to slice.
|Ease of Use||10|
|Value for Money||8.0|
Great for basic mixing in pubs and bars.
The sound quality from the 1/8” analogue mini-jack isn't really going to cut it on a proper club system.
If you want iOS mixing with some hardware integration then consider the iRig Mix. It isn't going to replace your Traktor S4 anytime soon, but for parties, pubs and similar gigs it is a lot more convenient than lugging decks, controllers, mixers and laptops around from gig to gig as it can all be done from one device!
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