This is probably the best program to start with if you want to enter into the brave new world of digital DJing but don't want to shell out for Final Scratch. AtomixMP3 is free to try (with time limits) and not that expensive to buy (60 bucks). According to the website (atomixmp3.com) it's possible to integrate the program with a Numark DMC-1 controller (this ups the price to $500, but it's still cheaper than Final Scratch). I've worked with both AtomixMP3 and with the traditional two-Tech-12s-and-a-mixer setup; this is my advice to anyone who wants to try using AtomixMP3 (or, really, any software DJ mixer):
- Invest in a secondary soundcard. This will allow you to cue (I.E. listen to a mix on your headphones before you commit to sliding the crossfader over). If you have a laptop, make SURE that your new soundcard will function simaltaneously with the built-in card.
- Automatic beat-matching is cool, but don't rely on it too much. Firstly, this function is pretty much useless for mixing anything that doesn't have a strong 4/4 beat. This means that if you want to mix breakbeats or d&b, the beatmatcher's not going to help. Secondly, even if two 4/4 beats are perfectly matched (and automatic matches are often imperfect) the mix can still sound jarring if you simply hit the "beatmatch" button and slide the crossfader over. Which brings me to:
- EQs. They can make or break the mix. One caveat, though: there's no separate killswitch (rightclicking a knob kills it). Therefore, if you've killed, say, the treble, there's no way to bring it back in slowly (unless you're very fast with your mouse-button finger).
- If you have Auto-Gain turned on, beware. This mixer tends to noticeably overcompensate.
- Effects do not reset when a new track is loaded. This has tripped me up (badly) during a mix a couple of times.
AtomixMP3 also has lot of really good features too, though: it's intuitive, it's customisable, there are some good effect plugins, the wide range of pitch control (+8-8 or +34-34) is cool, and recording a mix is simple. I've used it several times to play in a club, as well as to mix CDs, and it's always performed well.
I just discovered that AtomixMP3 automatically turns the master volume all the way up when it's started, even if music is already playing in, say, Winamp. Usually this isn't a huge problem, but if you're running a Soundblaster Extigy into a 200W amp, as I am, your pictures will fall off the wall.