Pioneer Brings The DJ On The Road

Pioneer MIXTRAX pushes to revolitionize the car audio experience.

Nash Herringtonby Nash Herrington

The last 15 years forever changed the music industry as personal preference overpowered all other marketing factors.

While albums were once crafted by musicians and bands confident that fans would enjoy the music exactly as intended at home or in a car, now music enthusiasts can listen to the music they like, when they like, in any environment, in an order they prefer, on a device they choose, etc. It was only a matter of time before it became possible for consumers to begin personalizing the music itself into forms they choose.

To announce the arrival of just such a technology, Pioneer Electronics invited journalists from around the world to the Eden Roc Hotel and Mansion Night Club in Miami Beach recently to explore the new MIXTRAX software and hardware  now finding its way into the marketplace.

Put simply, MIXTRAX allows a user to mix songs of similar tempo together into a continuous and personalized mix for nonstop (hopefully) enjoyment. Depending on likes and dislikes, the software can be set up to add club effects (scratches, skips) and transitions to perk up any mix into a proper clubbing vibe.

As Pioneer puts it, you can “use your favorite songs and enjoy mix play that sounds like a professional DJ Based on Pioneer’s own knowledge and experience with professional DJ devices, songs with a similar ‘mood’ are mixed seamlessly. You can mix and play for nonstop excitement.”

The MIXTRAX software analyzes a digitized music collections (most commonly an iTunes library) and breaks the gathered songs down into genres and tempos. After MIXTRAX has all of your music sorted, it automatically selects and links songs with similar beats and melody while controlling their tempo and effects.

The system then creates and serves up a recommend playlist according to each song's "mood,” including a Dance Playlist perfect for street dancing competitions. Once users choose a preferred mixing style, MIXTRAX will continue to link one song with another in that continual blend.

In keeping with our theme of personalized musical experiences, most features in MIXTRAX are adjustable. In addition to choosing different tempos (such as “Chill” for lounging or “Club” for dancing), users can increase or decrease the amounts of mixing effects and manipulate the beats per minute if the MIXTRAX chosen rhythm is too fast or slow.

MIXTRAX isn’t the only software capable of creating computer-generated music mixes. In fact, djay leaps to mind. But, MIXTRAX allows you to transfer mixes you like or are enjoying directly from your computer over to any MIXTRAX-compatible devices at home or in the car (such as Steez Audio and Steez Portable).

I had a chance to play around with MIXTRAX on multiple platforms and devices during the debut event and found that it did generally what it claimed to do. That was to be expected as Pioneer remains one of the industry leaders in equipment specially designed for professional DJs, dancers, club programmers and other music-based performers. If Pioneer releases a new DJ or club music based product, it’s going to work.

But, that’s the main problem I saw with the software, no matter the device. It’s application seems too limited to make a major, overall impact on the music industry as a whole. It’s clear that club music and the modern DJ’s influence on the dance scene is huge, and MIXTRAX could appeal to fans in that realm. But there are countless millions of consumers who deliberately have no contact with that entire genre. If Pioneer wants to tap the majority of music fans who don’t frequent clubs or engage in dance-offs (even once they’ve been served), they’ll need to expand the MIXTRAX appeal.

The question becomes whether MIXTRAX can indeed have other uses, and I do see a lot of potential. For example, I jog a few days per week at an admittedly slow pace and favor music that matches my lumbering gate. I figure the rhythm falls around 120 beats per minute – roughly the cadence of my heart. If I had a portable player mixing my music up or down to 120 BPM consistently, I’d enjoy that even flow of tunes as it kept my feet churning.

That’s only once concept. We’ll see if Pioneer serves up additional ideas as MIXTRAX matures.