DJ Mix Station 3 - PC - Review
DJ Mix Station 3 is more of a tool than a game; it allows people interested in mixing the opportunity to play DJ without spending thousands of dollars on equipment. It can also be useful for actual DJ’s as well, offering practice in matching beats between songs and finding those sweet spots that make for great mixes.
Mix Station takes MP3 files from your hard drive, and by means of a virtual turntable and mixer set up, allows users to mix together their digital music. Mixing is when two songs’ beats are matched, and then one song is blended into the other to create a seamless transition from the first song to the second. Mixing can be used to make your two favorite songs seem like one, or to string together multiple songs into one long “mix.”
Mixing is usually associated with electronic music. Attempting to mix another genre such as rock is extremely difficult, since pretty much every rock song has a different beat and tempo. Most electronic music follows the same beat pattern, making it easier for DJs to mix. So if you plan on mixing a different genre you may end up disappointed, frustrated, and unsatisfied. With that being said I strongly suggest you pass on Mix Station 3 unless you are interested in mixing electronic music.
The first thing you’ll want to do when starting up this program is having it find your music. The Mix Station window is cut in half horizontally, and the lower half of the screen displays options according to the tab you have activated. When the “music” tab is activated you will see that Mix Station can search your hard drive for all compatible music files. These are stored in the “database” folder once found and scanned. You can create more folders to sort your music how you like it, as well as create standard m3u playlist files to separate songs by mix. This is all very easy to do within Mix Station 3, and much like a Windows Explorer window you can view files within folders and playlists all while having each folder’s path visible.
The top half of DJ Mix Station 3 is set up just like a DJ would set up his or her turntables – a left table, right table, and an audio mixer in the middle. To cue up songs it’s as easy as dragging and dropping the file from below onto the turntable you’d like it to play from. The mixer has a basic crossfade for doing simple mixes that fades between the two tables. You can even tell the program to auto-mix, and it will match the beats then move the crossfade for you, but with some practice you can do much better manually mixing.
DJ Mix Station 3 includes many different skins, as well as offering them online for download. These skins change the way the layout looks, and may be more or less complicated than the default skin. So depending on your skill level you can give yourself more options or let Mix Station handle the complicated stuff.
On the standard skin you can bring up a few panels to spice up your mix. One is for storing and accessing samples. Samples are short clips that you can play during the song to add some character or flare. You can also open up the “samples” tab on the lower half of the screen to change the samples you have loaded, change their volume, and choose if you want it to loop or play once.
Mix Station also has built-in effects that can add even more style to your mix when used properly. Some include a backspin, which creates the effect of a record being spun in reverse before coming to a stop, or a Flippin’ Double, which will create a very short echo effect that sounds like each beat is being played twice.
The crossfade can also be broken up into an equalizer that controls the highs, mids, and lows of each song. This way you can gradually mix songs together without having the whole beat change at once. Mixes using the equalizer can sound really good, and when perfected will sound like a natural transition between the songs, like it was meant to be.
To aid in mixing, Mix Station 3 has a graph above the turntables that shows the wavelength in the beats of the song. This is very helpful in finding major changes in the melody of a song, finding drum rolls, or manually matching the beats of both songs. If you’re still having trouble getting the beats to match, there’s a beat match button that will do all the work for you. It matches the bass hits on both songs as well as keep the BPM's of each track the same.
Or, if you want the full effect of being a DJ, Mix Station 3 allows users to have their headphones hooked up to listen to the turntable that isn’t active. This offers the most control over your mix, and there are plenty of ways to set it up that Mix Station will allow for.
The only problem I ever ran into was an issue with the volume. Whenever I was recording a mix and using the equalizer, the song I mixed to would sound slightly quieter and a little muffled. I would play with the gain of each turntable but nothing seemed to prevent it. Once I cued a new track on the previous table the volume and sound would return to normal (so typically a lot louder after playing with the gain). I’m sure this is due to user error, but I couldn’t figure out how to fix or prevent it.
Other than that one problem, DJ Mix Station 3 was a lot of fun. I imagine that if I wasn’t a fan of electronic music I would hate Mix Station 3, but it’s more of a program than a game anyway and it’s made to mix electronic music. It gives users plenty of tools, options, and flexibility so that they feel comfortable mixing their favorite music. I was very proud of some of the mixes I came up with, and I plan to continue to use this program to make even better ones in the future. I scored this high because if you aren’t into this style of music you shouldn’t even consider this program, but if you have fun playing with music, mixing music, or love electronica then you will have a great time with DJ Mix Station 3.
Again: this is not a game. I scored the “gameplay” high because it is an easy-to-use program with tons of features. It makes you feel like a pro, even when you have it help you out. This allows the user to ease into the act of mixing. Soon you begin to do more and more manually, until you’re doing it all on your own.
I suppose I can categorize the layout and style under the graphics section. The offered skins all have their own uses, and depending on your level of expertise you can decide which is more comfortable to you. There are also more to download online if none suit you.
I guess here is where I can gripe about the sound issue I’m having. Other than that, the program doesn’t make any sound other than the music you’re playing or the samples you download.
With all the help Mix Station can offer, you will always feel comfortable no matter what skill level you are. This program is very good at easing you into more advanced mixing techniques without leaving you in the dark.
I’ve used mixing software before, and a lot of times I felt lost. I didn’t need the program to tell me what to do, but I also needed some help in getting started. Mix Station 3 has so many options that you can turn on or off on the fly, so you can have it begin by helping you, but by the end of the mix you can be doing everything yourself.
Out of all the live mixing software I’ve used before, DJ Mix Station 3 is by far the easiest yet in-depth. If you know what you’re doing you can go fully manual, if you’re a beginner you can use the auto beat matching tools and auto mix function, and if you’re somewhere in between you can use as much or as little help as you want. There are plenty of features to get you started creating mixes you can be proud of.