Pacemaker portable DJ player

We’ve seen DJ parties with iPods and now handheld remote controls for DJ software. But what about building mixing features into the portable player itself? That’s the idea of the Pacemaker, a new portable player promised for Fall.

Pacemaker site (Warning: auto-plays music)
Tonium, the mysterious manufacturers’ site

DJ features and mixing are internal to the player, and there’s rich playback support in general. You can cross-fade on the unit itself, and add effects, with dedicated headphone and line out jacks and cueing features. There’s a multi-function touch control for all these features. As a player, it looks great on paper, with a 120 GB hard drive and support for OGG, FLAC, and AAC in addition to the usual MP3, WMA, and WAV. (Apparently no line recording, which would really make this a must-have, but some of the specs are still unclear.) If they don’t botch the design somehow, I can see this appealing to electronic musicians as much as DJs.

  1. Line out and headphones crossfaders
  2. Pitch bend, cue, loop
  3. EQ, sound effects
  4. Dedicated headphones and line out jacks
  5. USB 2.0
  6. 120 GB hard drive
  7. Sound to noise ratio of > 100 dB
  8. MP3 with Variable Bit Rate, AAC, WMA, WMA lossless, OGG, FLAG, WAV
  9. 13 ms input latency
  10. 18-hour battery life; 5 hours in DJ mode
  11. Mac and PC compatible (assuming they just make it a USB Mass Storage device)
  12. Save mixes

We haven’t seen the first product yet, but they’re promising more — “a pallet of innovative products and digital services … Everyone can be the DJ!” Not everyone can be product designers and manufacturers, though, so a lot (build quality, effects quality, usability, actually shipping) depends on the shipping product.

This isn’t the first time manufacturers have talked about creating an “iPod killer for DJs.” A research team at HP had the unusual idea of building a player around a ring, with motion sensors scratching tracks and streaming to other devices for collaboration. Those ideas don’t sound so far-fetched any more, with the Wii popularizing motion control and the Zune popular– uh, implementing wireless sharing. Wearing a music player as a ring still sounds silly, though, and like many research projects, nothing came of HP’s DJammer.

Thanks to Oscar and Louis and Jaan for sending this in!

  • louis

    thanks for the post man.

    saw this about 10 minutes ago and really thought that this might get a bit of chit chat happening here πŸ™‚

    not sure what the dj features would be like but damn i'd just be using it as a portable player, not to mention the amount of files i'd be able to transfer from work to home like i currently do with my ipod.


  • anon

    "Pacemaker site (Warning: auto-plays music)"

    Thanks Peter! I hate when sites do that. It's like an auditory goatse every time… That surprise you just really didn't want…

    "Everyone can be the DJ!â€Β

    I feel the classic De La quote coming on….

    I think stuff like this is great to give everyone a chance to try their hand at DJ'ing, but after spending 3/4 of my life living with or being around turntablists, I just don't see how anyone can seriously consider anything but vinyl for professional/performance use… We just don't have the computing power to emulate the flexibility that it allows as yet… For example, AD/DA latencies are greater than the phase difference between 2 records in tricks that DJs sometimes use, meaning that it's hard to get the phase to sit at the right amount if you're adjusting by ear…

    That said, MP3/CD/iPod DJ's have a legitimate tool on (in) their hands, it's clearly a musical instrument like any other, just as valid as turntables or a guitar. I just wish that people would realise that a guitar is a guitar, and is good for things like strumming, decks are decks, and they're good for things like turntablism, and digital devices are digital devices, and they're good for something else – not for trying to be 'the next turntable', but for being something new.

    Taking my phase example from before, the same argument could be flipped around – while it could be hard to find a certain phase difference by ear, a digital device could be precisely set to play tracks out of phase by a certain frequency, and that frequency could be controlled with a great deal of precision in real time with a knob – and you sure as heck can't do that on a turntable!

    Similarly, there's the trick where turntablists lift the tonearm and move the needle to drop it directly in place, to do a 'recycle'/beat chopper thing…. Just imagine the lengths to which this could be taken with a digital device, you could do some crazy things… Certainly beyond the capabilities of decks.

    The point I'm trying to get to is that if digital devices really want to be taken seriously, the people making them need to realise that they are not building the next SL1200, they're building a new device, and start coming up with some new ideas to match that technology.

    If you want historical evidence… Just look at the 303. People are still laughing at the mere thought of using it in place of a real bass guitar as it was intended, but the few new features it brought with it have kept it famous for decades… That was an accident, but there's no reason it can't be done deliberately πŸ˜‰

  • Yeah, I agree absolutely … well said.

    This does appear like it might be useful as a replacement for less-capable music players, and as an accessory to other music-making equipment. The only thing that would kill that: if this thing is absurdly expensive, which it may be. Or if it doesn't work well. We'll have to see.

  • Michael Una

    Any word about DRM?

    It would be nice to see a high-performance, high-capacity .mp3 player without ridiculous copy-protection. If this thing functioned more like a read/write hard drive that also played files, they'd be head and shoulders above the competition already.

  • anon

    Good point Michael! If it even includes a vague hint of DRM, I for one will be boycotting it, and I'll be strongly encouraging others to follow suit…

  • Wait a minute, DRM is generally implemented in the playback end, so I'm not sure what the objection is. The only major licensed implementation for DRM popular with makers is for Microsoft's WMA DRM. And even that doesn't preclude non-DRMed music. None of them implement DRM at record time. In fact, the only players that force you into a specific transfer scheme for music are the Zune and iPod (ironically enough). Even then, there are workarounds. And neither of those force you into DRM.

    Looks DRM-free to me, anyway. More likely problem would be if the thing doesn't work as advertised. πŸ™‚

  • RichardL

    This diagram details the controls. Looks pretty cool.

  • anon

    My objection is towards DRM in general. I won't start a rant about why πŸ™‚ (unless you want one of course – FWIW my argument is a fair bit different to most) but I strictly boycott anything involving it. In a few places where I'm forced to deal with it, I do so kicking and screaming all the way.

    I think it's important to do so, because for whatever reason (and there are lots) you like or dislike DRM, it's important that we realise that today's DRM implementation is not necessarily what we'll be given tomorrow. As such, DRM should be considered not as 'this implementation' or 'that implementation', but as a direction that the industry is taking – and if we don't like the look of the possible destinations, it's better to not get on board from the beginning, than to decide in 5 years that this whole DRM thing has gone nuts and expect it to change, after it has a stranglehold.

    For historic example, I give you USB. Great for printers and still cameras, but what possessed the audio (and video) industry to even consider it's use is entirely beyond me (no, really, does anyone know why?!). Chances of getting a non-USB midi interface now that we let it slide for a few years? ZERO.

    Anyway as you said Peter, there are more likely to be other issues that will get in the way πŸ˜‰

    I just had to share this little nugget from their site: "Your move will music the world!" heheheh πŸ˜€

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  • lens

    nice & looking good, BUT:

    !! SAVE THE VINYL !!

  • xad

    “Everyone can be the DJ!â€Β


    “Everyone is a DJ!â€Β

  • I generally agree, Michael, though arguably that means you'd have to boycott Windows, Mac, DVDs, and VHS tape if you wanted to be really strict. I just don't see hardware player DRM as being as big an issue, divorced from music stores, as computer-side DRM, particularly with video as in the more aggressive stuff in Vista. But mostly, I don't see any indication this device will have *any* DRM.

    I think there are big signs DRM is on its way out for music, even as more is on the way for video. More on that soon.

  • James

    the details say pitch bend, think this would mean proper pitch control or just bend? i wonder if you will actually be able to mix on this or if its just a toy that claims to be for djs

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  • Mino Tronic

    Apple ?…

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  • Daniel

    Hey just wondering where i can buy the pecemaker? plz write back to my email =)

  • Marcos

    If this is really true, ive got to have one whatever it cost. Sounds too good to be true. Not onte boored minute on the bus anymore.

  • what if it gets stolen you would have alot of trouble on your hands whereas cds you dont have that bother

  • dmoney

    One of the best features that no one seems to be talking about is the ability to upload the mixes and share without copyright infringement – per their website – this is the first platform that allows that

  • Dee1

    I would like to know the price of this device? And when it will be available?

  • Tony H

    I've had the privilege of trying out the prototype and it works really well.

    I'm a vinyl man at heart but I was beat-matching and mixing in less than five minutes. It's not about replacing vinyl, or being better than every other DJing system in every way, it's a new way of mixing tunes – an alternative that's been made possible by today's technology and some inventive people.

    You could record mixes for yourself on your travels, just play with it for fun, or take it to house parties – plug it into the stereo and off you go.

    I'm nothing to do with the company that makes it, by the way. Read Stuff magazine (the UK edition) to find out more.

  • david marchant

    it's like that stupid phone off nathan barley

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  • adam r

    sick i want one how much is it


    it looks so awesome.

    : )

  • Super thing! Give this mp3 player to me!!!! Where can I buy it?

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  • Toby

    If its as good as it could be, I'll take one. If its not I'll wait for a competing revision. Turntablism has its place for sure and I agree with comments that this item will never provide that level but realistically the majority of DJs can't scratch, and beat mixing shouldn't be a problem with one of these puppies. Bring it on, and bring it correct.

  • hello i want to know if xsist? a mobile gear they you can make music whit samplers o others stuff like in a video o bjork..??..

    who remember..

    Tweet back!

  • Thanks for contributing. It’s helped me understand the iseuss.

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