Reporting from the field
~ Ric Frye, 21 July, 2014

Having spent the last few hours running Mixxx (version 1.10.1 in my Slackware install, but available for Mac & Win as well), I am digging this software quite a bit!

Had someone like me needed to come in for an emergency for a little Community FM station I could have filled in the last several hours loading one from column A, one from column B, one from column A, one from column B, one from column A, one from column B, well, you get the idea! Wasn’t too much dead air in there that whole time & I morphed from local artists to archived acoustics & live shows. Quite fun, saving the imaginary broadcast day with some open & free software, an old computer, and a drive full of audio files! I recommend everybody try it just for giggles ‘n’ grins. if nothing else.

Mixxx has a broadcasting option for hooking up to an icecast or shoutcast server system. From the manual located at http://mixxx.org/manual/1.10/chapters/livebroadcasting.html so it could be used for broadcasting. And since it has been compiled for all the major operating systems, users could be familiar with the interface no matter what they were booted to at the time.

“Starting with version 1.9.0, Mixxx directly supports live broadcasting. This allows you to connect directly to Shoutcast and Icecast servers. Using the preferences dialogue, you can simply supply Mixxx with all information needed to establish a server connection. To enable live broadcasting you can either use the options menu or the checkbox within the preference dialogue.”

“By default, Mixxx broadcasts artist and title information to your listeners. You can disable this behavior by selecting “enable custom metadata”.”

Although I can understand what Cole was telling us about studio mixers, his vision was of a pro broadcast console, which is what I imagined more as an end goal in gear as we hop on the air with the best we can scrounge. I envisioned folks coming in with podcasts & playlists, libraries of audio clips, and plugging the stereo outs of their laptops and digital playback devices into the stereo line inputs of whatever console we had while they utilize the better quality mics in the broadcast studio to mix their shows. The software Cole recommended is great stuff, but more of a thing we would save up for while we make do with what we already have for digital recording and Open Source for what we don’t have already because of costing and cash flows.

So I envision us actually doing both, starting on a shoestring and working our way up to the kind of stuff Cole envisions us having after a certain amount of “makin’ do” just to “git’r'done” to get to the point we can afford the very good stuff that’s really worth the investment.

Mixxx played all my sound formats so far, and was bringing back memories of loading disks and cueing them up & getting all the fun out of the transitions you could possibly squeeze out of ‘em.

I do not recommend the old 3 : 4 aspect ratio on the computer monitor; Mixxx was designed for widescreen deployment. It’s usable on a standard monitor but one side will be scrunched up more than the other.

All in all the advantages of this program are the ports for many operating systems, and the freedom to put it on as many systems as you like with no software police acting as ticket masters over terminal & console seats on all our devices.

I have barely scratched the surface of Mixxx as a console tool. It was designed for loading songs up on the fly as you would if you were playing a crowd at a real gig, giving them the music that went with their flow on the fly instead of a rigid play list that forces the crowd to the DJs flow for a whole different vibe. But you can do that stuff with it, too. It’s very versatile & I’ll be happy to provide updates on my Mixxx experience at our next BYOL or media workshop.

There are other similar programs recommended by Prometheus and I plan to check them all. Cory has already told me she can hardly wait for the executive summary for that, and so it goes. I hope to have a dedicated computer with this stuff on it for production workshops and for software awareness & training for our bunch and anyone else that’s interested.

In the meantime, I’ll be checking this stuff out & sending in field reports, which will be excerpted in the wiki & there in the report will write itself as time goes by.

Learn more at http://mixxx.org/

And now, returning you to your regularly scheduled programming… … while I get back into my mix … Enjoy!