French-based company MixVibes have been offering digital DJ software for the last 10 years. Originally launching with DVS time-coded systems, their latest product, the U-Mix Control PRO, is an all-encompassing controller, soundcard, mixer and software package. With a rather sweet price tag of £250, the U-Mix, on the surface, looks like a tantalizingly cheap proposition. DJmag gives the U-Mix PRO a good going over to see if this is really a bargain product.
Taking the U-Mix PRO out of the box, it feels well-built and solid, and MixVibes have managed to pack a lot of features into a relatively small space without it appearing too cluttered. Users are treated to full mixer controls, two touch-sensitive jog wheels, dedicated looping, and cue point and FX buttons/controls to browse and load tracks direct from your computer’s music folders. The controller doubles as a mixer/soundcard with two stereo RCA outputs and two stereo RCA inputs.
A phono switch provides pre-amplification, allowing turntables to be easily added to your audio arsenal, while a microphone input caters for your inner MC. Both the sensitivity of the touch-sensitive jog wheels and shape of the cross fader curve can be adjusted with dials located on the back of the controller. As I say, MixVibes have really packed in a lot and so far, things are looking rather splendid.
We installed the supplied Cross DJ software with no problems. However, things turned a little for the worse when trying to install the U-Mix Control PRO hardware. Initially, everything appeared to be working, as the laptop registered the presence of both controller and integrated soundcard. But, on launching Cross DJ, movements on the controller had no effect on the programme, and there was a distinct lack of audio signal. We experimented with a number of different USB ports and reinstalled both the software and drivers, but without success. Disheartened and somewhat confused, we then launched Ableton Live to test the U-Mix as a standard MIDI controller. On closing Ableton Live and after changing the audio set-up within Live, we then found the controller sprung into life and worked as expected. Success at last! This may just be a bug on our review model, but annoying, none the less!
OK, so first impressions of the software. The first thing that strikes us is that the bundled Cross DJ isn’t a programme that will run away with first place at the beauty pageant. The silver colour scheme used for the skin of the majority of controls looks dated and cluttered. It’s a missed opportunity, as the heads up display and player waveform view work well. Clearly, the GUI will always be subject to personal taste, but compared to the clean lines of Traktor, Cross DJ really appears less than modern. That said, looks aren’t everything, and thankfully, Cross DJ does perform better than it looks.
Anyone who has used DJ software will be in familiar territory here. It’s a standard set-up that MixVibes confirms as having an emphasis on simplicity and quality. We’re presented with two decks, a cross-fader, individual channel volume controls, dedicated looping and EQ functions for each channel and six cue points, all of which mirror the hardware controls. There are three audio effects on offer, with each effect having two variations; one mild, one wild. Each is controlled by a single knob on the U-Mix, and whilst offering nothing groundbreaking, they deliver some serviceable sonic candy, from classic aircraft flanging and pitching delays to high-pass filters. DJmag did find that the resonance screeched a little too much on the upper settings of the high-pass filter, but this is probably more a matter of personal taste, and we’re sure some users will appreciate the wilder settings.
Music collections are integrated simply and effectively, either through iTunes management or via your own music folders. The bottom half of the screen is where the browser sits, and the level of detail, such as artwork, playlists or iTunes integration can be customized by an intuitive docking window.
Overall, sound quality is good, with an output limiter ensuring digital distortion is kept in check whilst your levels are kept nice and loud. Additionally, an all-new BPM analyzer ensures the beats stay in time. Having a hardware controller built by the same team that created the software clearly helps to ensure tight integration, and it’s a welcome relief to bypass some time spent on the inevitable frustration of MIDI mapping.
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|Ease of Use||7.0|
|Value for Money||7.0|
A reasonably-priced, well-built controller and soundcard
|Conclusion||Dispite some reservations, the U-Mix Pro is not a bad choice for DJs to look at. The hardware is well-built and functional, and whilst it would be hard to recommend the Cross DJ software over the competition, at this price, it's a package worth considering purely as a soundcard and controller solution to be used in conjunction with better third party mixing software. Overall, it's worth further inspection
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