In case you are wondering, "D" is my husband -- Dave Liu! As you've probably noticed, I don't update this blog often but I may post more as I've linked this to my Google+ account.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Mixmeister Express 5 Review

I use special aerobics music for my group exercise classes. For a start, it's all 32-count, and the songs blend into each other to create a continuous stream of music. I own aerobics CDs from a variety of sources like Power Music and Dynamix but some of them are cover versions of songs that aren't performed by the original artists. So far, my favorite music has come from Burntrax.

There are problems even with Burntrax. For one, I don't necessarily like all the songs on a CD. Secondly, each CD only has 45 minutes worth of music, so I have to go and switch CDs partway through class. In case you're wondering why each CD only contains 45 minutes of music, since its capacity is much higher, I'm told that it's a remnant from the days when people still used cassettes. The older cassette tapes only held 45 minutes of music, and hence when the ported music over to CDs, they kept it the same.

I looked for a way to remix my CDs and found an awesome solution from Mixmeister. I've known about them for a while, and have been following their product line since the introduction of Mixmeister 3. They followed up with Mixmeister 4 Pro, Mixmeister 5 Pro... fabulous stuff, but expensive considering what I was using it for. The Pro versions are meant for professional DJs to mix music real time at clubs.

Last year, however, the company came out with Mixmeister Express 5. It's a cheaper, lite version of Pro 5 that is ideal for novices who want to create basic mixes, for example, group exercise instructors who want to splice music. After owning the software for almost six months, I finally got around to using it. Since I bought the download version from Web, it didn't come with any documentation other than what was in the Help files. But that was enough for me to get started.

The procedure is simple. First, I used whatever CD software that came bundled with my Dell computer to rip the songs from the original CDs to MP3 files. Next, I imported the songs into a Mixmeister catalog, and then I dragged and dropped the songs I wanted to create a playlist. The software automatically lined up the songs so that they overlapped at appropriate points and then fade out one song while gradually increasing the volume of the next for a seamless transition. It works really well most of the time, but I had to twiddle with certain songs where the keys weren't compatible. In those instances, the mix would have a "sour" quality to them. I solved this problem by adjusting the volume markers and mix window. Finally, after finishing my mix, I used Mixmeister to copy the playlist to a CD.

I'm incredibly happy with the results. Not only do I now have an 80-minute CD to accomodate even extended classes, but I've managed to include only songs that I like in my mix. From now on, I can just bring a copy of my mix to class. If I lose my CD, no biggie. I just burn another copy. Hey presto!

I feel like such a genius for getting this all to work, but it's only because Mixmeister is such a well designed product. I doubht I'll have the patience to do this, but theoretically, I can even create my own 32-count music from regular songs. I think I'll stick to remixing aerobics music for now.

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