The pocketable DJ tool Pacemaker is now available here in the US at $499. That price is considerably more realistic than expected pricing earlier on, though it still fits in a funny sort of slot: it’s not quite the equivalent of pro DJ gear, which costs much more, but it’s still pricier than your run-of-the-mill DJ player. For those with the pocket change (cough), I could imagine it’ll be fun.

And you do have to admire the Pacemaker for being a really unique hardware gadget idea. It’s a glimpse of what music technology could be like in the very near future. Generically, you might describe it as:

  • a specialized embedded mobile gadget with sonic-manipulation capabilities
  • a connection between a mobile device and a computer-based editor
  • a cloud-based, online community for sharing work

Take that as the template, and I think you’ll agree there’s a lot of potential in the basic concept. The specific idea here may be a tougher sell. It’s actually like the DJ-centric “Pro iPod” I remember Jason O’Grady of and I once imagined in the first months of Apple’s iPod release. Whether DJs actually want that is another question – particularly with the iPhone and other mobile devices adding this functionality in software. But in the specific, as in the generalized view, the Pacemaker is nothing if not intriguing:

  • 60 GB storage
  • Touch controls
  • DJ playback functions: auto-beatmapping, synchronized loops, reverse, bend, pitch speed, timestretch, cue points, vinyl-style scrubbing / pausing
  • Visual feedback: beat graph, graphical effects visualization
  • Onboard effects: EQ, normalization decimator, filter, wah, echo, delay, key, effects crossfader for adjusting levels and beat sync on a lot of the effects
  • Two onboard channels (virtual channels, though – if this thing just had a line in function, I think I’d absolutely want one)
  • Independent headphone out jack, adjustable mix
  • Lots of audio codec support: MP3, MP3 VBR, M4A (AAC-LC), AIFF, FLAC, WAV, Ogg Vorbis and SND (!)
  • MiniUSB connection for a computer


Product page:

US sales: Tonium Pacemaker Pocket-Sized DJ System @ Amazon

I think that’s actually a pretty extraordinary set of specs, and it reveals just how fast the embedded space is moving forward. In fact, I think it may not be too long before the music tech manufacturers (Korg, perhaps?) start to embrace mobile/embedded applications for development. The result: even if the Pacemaker isn’t your thing, mobile music gadgets are looking increasingly like computers, which could get very interesting, indeed.

Will you use it on the beach, like this? For me, um, no. I’ll be hanging out, doing beachy things. If I tried this, I think I would trip over someone’s beach chair and make a very embarrassing scene.

And yes, if you’re getting a steady diet of DJ gigs, you can afford this. Enjoy. (If anyone gets their hands on one, I’d love to hear what you think.)


Our friend Nilay Patel at Engadget was one of the first in the US to get a Pacemaker in for review. Now, when is an unboxing of a product actually interesting? When the packaging adds touches like this:

Each cable is individually packaged in tissue paper inside its own box, and the flaps all have different little fortunes printed on them, from "Your future is looking sound" to our personal favorite "Listen to your mother."

Tonium Pacemaker unboxing and hands-on [Engadget]