Tonium Pacemaker

Forget the iPod – this is the portable music player that DJs really need

The Pacemaker promises simultaneous two-track playback with DJ monitoring, crossfading, looping and effects – all in the palm of your hand.

The device has a matt-rubber feel to its casing. The screen is bright and clear, while the buttons feel good and click subtly when pressed. This is crucial in a DJ product, where tactile response is an absolute must.

Inside the unit there's a 120GB hard drive. This means that DJs can store high-quality MP3s or even uncompressed WAV files without worrying about running out of space.

There are separate 3.5mm line and headphone outputs so you can monitor one channel while the other plays, plus a touch pad and touch-sensitive crossfader for full DJ control.

The Pacemaker works by letting a software editor take care of BPM calculations, so when music is transferred to the device, these are shown. Tracks are then pitched to match, ready for mixing. The device doesn't automatically synchronise tracks in the way that DJ software does - it's much more similar to CDJ mixing - but because of the accurate BPM calculations, mixing is a breeze.

In use

When you boot it up, the unit takes about seconds to initialise. Then you can start loading your tracks into channels A and B. The actual sound of the Pacemaker is excellent, and there are different impedance settings to match your headphones.

While a track is playing you can nudge its tempo by circling the touchpad in clockwise or anticlockwise motions – just like you would when using a turntable or CDJ. This works really well and is actually much easier than many of the old tray twin CDJs we've used; the touchpad responds very sympathetically to your movements.

Controlling the Pacemaker is relatively easy once you're familiar with the way the touch pad works. Swiping the pad in different directions gives the device different instructions, as does a double tap on its surface.

Built into the device are DJ effects and EQ controls that are also accessible from the touch pad. A movement from the centre upwards, for instance, activates the treble control then movements either clockwise or anticlockwise will increase or decrease the level. This is also true for mid (a stroke to the right) and bass (a downwards stroke).

This system means that tweaking the tone of a track on the fly is fast, and the EQs sound great. Hold a slider that's up on the left of the unit and the functions of the touchpad shift so that the strokes for controlling the EQ work for reverb, roll, echo and filter effects.

Looping is taken care of by a shift function which turns the back and forward buttons into in and out markers which can then be set using the touchpad.

On the top of the unit there are two smaller buttons, one taking you to a menu with the settings for the device, including whether the unit is in mix mode or just set to play back tracks. The other button acts as an FX kill switch, so you're able to do tight drops or cut everything out if it's sounding bad.

One feature that would be useful is a channel reset for the FX as well as the kill function. With this, complex EQ settings and effects could be quickly reset without the need to go through, setting each back to zero.

Mixing between channels A and B is taken care of using the touch crossfader, which works perfectly. What's more, using a multi-touch action you can do quick cuts by touching one side and tapping the other, a dot of light indicating where the fader is located.

Summary

So, what kind of DJing experience does the Pacemaker deliver? A great one, we'd say – it puts lots of features in a sexy, portable package. It does have some flaws, though, and it's easy to make errors due to the lack of visual feedback, especially when moving between channels.

This is a decent product for people who've never tried DJing before and the perfect designer accessory for the initiated. Once the software side is fully up to scratch – the editor that installs on your computer still needs some work – the Pacemaker really will be a force to be reckoned with.

This device isn't here to replace CDJ or laptop DJing – it's simply the iPod that DJs have always wanted. Why would you want a music device that you can't mix on when you can own this? With Pacemaker in your pocket, everywhere's a party.

MusicRadar Rating

4.5 / 5 stars
Pros

Lovely feel and build quality. 120GB hard drive. Full DJ control.

Cons

Software editor needs work. Visual feedback could be better.

Verdict

An incredibly cool and useful gadget. If you like to DJ, you'll almost certainly want one.

Review Policy
All MusicRadar's reviews are by independent product specialists, who are not aligned to any gear manufacturer or retailer. Our experts also write for renowned magazines such as Guitarist, Total Guitar, Computer Music, Future Music and Rhythm. All are part of Future PLC, the biggest publisher of music making magazines in the world.

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