IK Multimedia (www.ikmultimedia.com), the people behind the excellent T-Racks 24 mastering software and the very fun-to-use GrooveMaker, has provided Australian PC World with a free cut-down version of its MP3 mixing software, EZ-Mixer ($US39.95 for the full version). Emulating a two-track DJ mixer complete with all the necessary features to produce a live mix, EZ-Mixer should work across all versions of Windows (a Mac version is available for download) but please be sure to install QuickTime from the cover CD before running the program. EZ-Mixer SE has all the features of the full version, but is able to load only two songs and export/mix audio files only in QuickTime formats (no MP3 or WAV output).
Mixing the EZ way
EZ-Mixer isn't going to replace trusty Technics SL-1200 turntables and a mixer anytime soon, as far as a hands-on pro-quality mixing goes, but it can be quite fun to combine your MP3s and save the results. The following basic steps should help you get started.
Fire up EZ-Mixer and click the circular Load button in the bottom left of the program. Browse to a directory on your hard disk containing WAV or MP3 files. Select a file and double click it. The song should now appear in the far left window of EZ-Mixer, the Playlist. In the SE version of EZ-Mixer you can only add two songs (instead of 25) to each playlist bank. However, you can use the A, B, C and D buttons to add two songs to each lettered bank. When a song in the playlist is highlighted, it is selected. The backspace key will let you delete a selected track from the playlist, should you wish. Playlists can be saved with the Save button next to the lettered playlist bank buttons. To begin with, just add two songs to bank A.
Select the first song in your playlist and click on the >1 button to send the song to mixing track one. The song should begin playing automatically. Do the same for the second song in your playlist, using the >2 button this time to send it to mixing track two; it should also begin playing straight away. Using the blue volume knobs in the centre of each track, click and drag both volumes down to zero. You might notice that the player head slider (POS) above each track will move as each song is playing. You can skip to any part of the track by clicking and dragging on this. You can also nudge the track forward or backwards to help sync beats by using the < and > buttons.
Raise the volume in track one (left side) to maximum and turn down the volume in track two (right side).
Using the left mouse button, click track one's large TAP button at least four times in time with the song's beat to detect the song's beats per minute (BPM), or simply use the < and > BPM buttons to be more exact if you already know the song's tempo.
Click on track one's Save button to save the BPM settings for that song. Mute track one, and raise the volume of track two to maximum.
Repeat Step 4, this time applying the changes and settings to track two. Next, turn down the volume of track two and then unmute track one. Click on the Adapt button in track two to change track two's BPM to be the same as that of track one. Now you're ready to mix.
Click on the downwards-pointing cross fader arrow in track one. You'll notice that the upwards-pointing cross fader arrow in track two will also automatically be selected.
Using the beat indicator display in the upper right of EZ-Mixer (the two blue bars) as a synchronisation guide, and track two's position nudging buttons (< and >), try to sync the two tracks together. When you think you're close enough and you feel that it's the right part (perhaps a quieter, less complicated segment) of the track to do so, slowly bring up the volume of track two. The volume of track one will automatically adjust downwards, thereby mixing the two tracks together. You can even do this automatically, using the auto mix button on the far right.
TIP: These automation tools can sometimes be a bit clumsy, so I personally found it best (and more fun) to not use the auto-cross faders from Step 7 and just do it myself.
Try experimenting with each track's speed slider and bass and treble settings. To record your mix, just press the record button in the lower left of the program. If you want to get tricky, you can adjust the program's preferences from the Prefs button.
If this fairly basic mixing program has piqued your interest in mixing MP3s on your computer, check out www.mp3machine.com/win/MIXING-DJ for information on other software that may further meet your needs.