My music lessons at school were a little uninspiring, and at home my Bontempi keyboard failed to inspire me — even with its seven preset voices. I was slightly skeptical when I stumbled across the DJ Rig app for iPhone and iPad. Was this another short-lived gimmick?
Practically speaking, having mixing software on your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch makes a lot of sense as that’s the place your music already is. As ever though the lack of tactile feedback means that interacting with these devices can be a little sterile — when compared to physical music making object likes keyboard and guitars.
The iRig Mix app has a trick up its sleeve in the form of a monster peripheral. The iRig Mix hardware offers volume and cross faders to bridge the gap between the digital touch screen of the iPad and the analogue world of the musician.
Trying this out I was impressed how simple it was to use. I’m certainly not musically talented and within minutes I had setup a couple of tracks and was switching seamlessly between them.
The build quality is good, as I have come to expect from the iRig brand. I use the iRig Mic on a daily basis when recording video interviews on my iPhone, and I’m waiting for the iRig Pre to be released which will allow studio quality mics with XLR connectors to also be used with the iPhone.
My kids soon poked their noses in to see what I was up to. Happily they themselves seemed to find this way of interacting with music really interesting.
We’ve tried all sorts of different incentives to engage them musically in the past and none have been as happily accepted as the iRig Mix setup. They have even figured out a rota for who should be using it next.
We currently have two iPads in our household and so could try the high-end setup in terms of cost. It was a nice luxury being able to control the speed and pitch of each tune on the big screen, but actually we found it worked just as well on the iPod touch when the iPads were “otherwise engaged.”
One of the best features is the DJ Rig app’s track search engine that lets you quickly find the right songs to add to your current mix. We found this did suffer a bit of slow down when searching the whole library but this was resolved by setting up a DJ playlist of our favorite songs to mix.
The iRig Mixer comes with the DJ Rig free app but you can buy additional effects and functions for $4.99. Our kids have had great fun working their way through the different DJ effects and learning how to include them in their mixes: Filter Low Pass, Delay, Flanger, Crush, Filter High Pass, Filter Band Pass, Compressor, Wah, Phaser, Fuzz, Reverb and Stutter. It’s like a whole new world!
While there are cheaper options on the market, the quality and versatility of the iRig Mix hardware and DJ Rig app are hard to beat. For my family, finding a way to engage our children with music as creators rather than consumers certainly made it seem like good value for money.
iRig Mix is available from Amazon for $99.99.
Disclosure: An iRig Mix unit was provided for review.