23 May 2009

On the woad (interlude)

While for the most part I have managed to control my rampant consumerism, every now and then I break down and succumb to the sugar-rush high that accompanies the purchase of an overpriced electronic item that I will toy with for a few weeks before boring of it and discarding it to the ever increasing pile of unloved techo-ephemera that at times threatens to collapse and consume the rest of our shared office in the shards of its aluminum encased wake. But for those few brief days after that injection of shiny electronic insulin I am complete, a happy man indeed.

And then, I crash. Shame and remorse overcome me and I curse this cycle of Diabetical Materialism in which I trap myself, and start to fear the moment of discovery, that awful dark minute when The Very Understanding Girlfriend turns to me and says "Oh for the love of Moomin Papa, what piece of crap did you buy now?", before shaking her head and walking off, leaving me alone with nothing to mask the sounds of my own tears.

Ah, The Very Understanding Girlfriend, how she puts up with my consumerist foibles.

And the object of my current sugar rush/crash cycle? Tonium's Pacemaker.

This is a small handheld MP3 player with a touch pad the replicates a basic two deck and mixer set-up. It gives you two channels to mix between, with proper pitch-bending and some interesting CD-deck functionality, including looping and effects like reverb, hi&low pass and a few others. Its tiny, larger than an ipod but still easy to use one-handed, and with 160Gb of storage and the ability to play AIFF, WAV and OGG files in addition to MP3s, is capable of producing a really high-quality sound.

Although my main DJ set-up is still a pair of Pioneer CDJ-1000s, I've been experimenting with smaller and more portable controllers over the last few years, first with Numark's iDJ, little more than a docking station for two iPods, and later with their follow up iDJ2, which ran off a single iPod and worked by ripping tracks from the iPod to an inbuilt hard drive, giving you two separate channels to mix between and a limited pitch-bend, but with no deeper functionality like looping that really is the cornerstone of digital mixing.

While the Pacemaker is certainly no replacement for a good set of decks, it is vastly superior to any mp3-player solution I have encountered before. Its pretty intuitive to use, has a great sound, good effects features and its portability makes it a hands down winner to be packed in the bag when traveling on the road later this summer. DJmag have a pretty extensive video review that's worth seeing if you want to know more.

Mine arrived about three days after The Very Understanding Girlfriend went on her trip. My hope is that it is so small, she won't notice it when she gets back (a lesson I learned the hard way when I got my Moog).

To be fair though, she never actually expresses any displeasure with my purchases (hence the "Very Understanding" in "the Very Understanding Girlfriend"), it is more a case of me projecting my own consumerist shame onto her interactions with me. She says, "would you like a cup of tea dear?" and I hear, "why did you throw even more money that you don't have down the toilet on another piece of electronic crap that you think will make you happy and solve all your problems and yet within two weeks is guaranteed to be serving no function other than a glorified landing pad for all the moths your pile of abandoned musical dreams seem to attract?".

Harsh, but true. Maybe I should listen to my own projected sub-conscience more often.

In the meantime, Tonium's Pacemaker is amazing, and certain to be the answer to all my musical dreams.

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