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Mixvibes Cross 2.5 review

Andrew Unsworth
23 Aug 2013
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
35
inc VAT

A simple interface, responsive controls and high-level features make this a bargain

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Cross 2.5 is digital DJing software that lets you mix digital audio, such as MP3s, on up to four virtual decks. It also lets you mash-up and twist your tracks with hot-cues, loops and two effects units, and control your digital tracks with optional vinyl and CDs. Of course, many other DJing applications let you do similar things, but Cross 2.5 does something they don’t: it determines your tracks’ musical keys so that you can mix harmonically. Harmonic mixing works by playing tracks with harmonically compatible keys so that they sound good together. Harmonic mixes flow naturally from one track into another, and knowing the key of your track will make it easier to combine tracks to make your own edits and on-the-fly remixes.

As with other software, Cross 2.5 analyses tracks when you import them so that it can determine BPM and so on, and it’s at this point that it detects the key. It lists tracks’ keys in the browser so that you can quickly see which tracks have the same key as the track you’re currently playing. You can then select the most suitable track to bring in to the mix next. Better still, Cross 2.5 highlights tracks with keys that are compatible to the track currently playing, which provides an obvious visual cue when deciding what you should play next.

Information on your tracks is displayed in a panel in the lower portion of the screen, in the track browser. Like all the best software, such as Serato DJ and Native Instruments’ Traktor Pro 2.6, Cross 2.5 lets you search for tracks using a Windows Explorer-style tree to navigate to specific directories for music or create playlists containing tracks related to specific theme or party. You might, for example, have a Deep House playlist or one for eighties classics. We found the track browser to be quick and responsive.

Mixvibes Cross 2.5 Four Track Decks

VIRTUAL DECKS

Cross 2.5 lets you use up to four virtual decks, and you can choose to use either sample decks or regular track decks for decks three and four. Sample decks consist of multiple sample slots, with a volume control for each slot and the ability to loop samples or play them once. You can also set the duration of samples, from 1/32nd of a beat to the full length of the sample. The sample decks are a great means of combining your own production with existing tracks to make interesting edits or store your own jingles that trigger during sets to advertise your services.

Regular track decks are similar to those in other software, and display two waveforms of the track. One is the full waveform, so you can see upcoming breakdowns or build-ups, and the other is a shorter, rolling waveform that shows you the next few bars of a track in greater detail.

Loop controls are located below each track deck, and you can either use the Loop In and Out buttons to set a specific loop or use the auto-loop control, which sets a loop of a pre-defined length, from 1/32nd of a beat to 32 beats, when you press it.

You can also set up to four hot-cues for each track, and label them with meaningful names such as “epic breakdown” and “two-bar breakbeat”. Hot-cues let you jump straight to a specific point in a track, and carefully selected hot-cues are great for cutting up tracks and rearranging them as they’re played.

Cross 2.5’s effects controls are arranged in a rack just above the virtual decks, and consist of two controls to adjust the amount of the effect applied to a track and the depth of the effect, and two drop-down menus. One menu lets you select the deck to which the effect is applied and the other lets you select the type of effect you want to use. The effects sound fairly decent and are the usual flanger, echo and filter effects you expect to see in DJ software.

Mixvibes Cross 2.5 Preference Window

TIMECODE

Mixvibes Cross is compatible with Mixvibes’ timecode vinyl (£15 from www.juno.co.uk) and CDs (http://www.soundbasemegastore.com), which means you can control MP3s with traditional turntables and CDJs as long as you have a compatible sound card.

We tested Cross 2.5 with a Native Instruments Audio 4 DJ, two Technics SL1210 turntables and two Pioneer CDJs. With the SL1210s, we found playback to be very good and responsive, unless we moved the turntable platter slowly, such as when performing drags. The sound quality then suffered from digital artefacting that gave audio an undesirable metallic quality. Increasing the sample buffer did nothing to prevent this. Annnoyingly, we also heard this effect when gently scrubbing vinyl back and forth before releasing a track into the mix. The most irritating thing about this problem, though, is that Cross’s vinyl timecode performance is otherwise very good.

Mixvibes Cross 2.5 Two Decks Controlled With Timecode

Mixvibes Cross 2.5 Two Decks Controlled With Timecode

CD timecode performance was, however, much better. We did occasionally hear the same artefacting, but it was only a slight effect and a fleeting one at that.

Indeed, Cross’s general sound quality is very good, easily as good as Traktor Pro 2.6’s to our ears, and we wouldn’t have a problem using Cross in bars or nightclubs, never mind the home studio. Although it can be used with just your keyboard and a mouse, Cross is best used with a controller, or with timecode in conjunction with traditional DJing tools such as turntables and CDJs. It’s a simple yet sophisticated DJing platform, which makes it ideal for the vast majority of DJs who want to combine the best that software has to offer with a traditional DJ workflow. It isn’t perfect, but it’s very cheap for what it offers, especially when you consider it doesn’t cost much more than some key detection applications. If you’re a DJ on a budget, there’s no reason not to get Cross.

Details

Price£35
Detailswww.mixvibes.com
Rating*****

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