With 60-120GB of storage, USB 2.0 connectivity, and both headphone and line-out connections, the Tonium Pacemaker is an MP3 player designed with the DJ in mind. DJ techniques such as crossfading, filtering, EQ, and pitch control can all be performed, and a community-oriented Web site allows users to upload their custom mixes and legally share them.
The 1.75-inch screen on the Pacemaker may seem paltry compared to modern laptop or CDJ performance rigs, but leave it to the Swedes at Tonium to figure out how to make the most of it. Critical elements such as volume meters, track countdown timers, BPM information, and pitch adjustment, all have their place on the Pacemaker playback screen without feeling cluttered.
When you create a DJ mix on the Pacemaker hardware, all the data representing your mix manipulations (crossfades, EQ, filters, etc.) gets saved as well. When you transfer your mix from the Pacemaker hardware to your Mac or PC, you can refine the mix in the free Pacemaker music editing software. Once the mix is perfected, you can publish it directly to the Pacemaker online community and share it with others--legally. Users who don't shell out for the Pacemaker hardware can still use the free Pacemaker software to create and share mixes.
The bottom edge of the Tonium Pacemaker includes three ports. From left to right you have the power input, stereo line-output, and headphone output. By default, the headphone output allows you to preview (cue) music, before fading it into the main mix heard in the line output.
From top to bottom, the face of the Pacemaker includes a color screen, track skip/reverse buttons, deck toggle buttons, an illuminated touch strip crossfader, play/pause and cue buttons, and a multi-purpose touch pad. Loop holes in the top and bottom edges of the Pacemaker allow it to be worn around the neck.
The secret to Tonium's ability to pack an entire DJ rig into a palm-size device in the unassuming multi-purpose switch on the left edge of the player. When the button is held in the up or down position, the Pacemaker's touch pad and buttons take on new purpose. From this photo, you can see how the Pacemaker's all-important function switch is ideally placed right near the thumb.
The online DJ mix sharing community on Pacemaker.net is a phenomena in and of itself. For the first time, users can create mixes of their own music library and (using the free Pacemaker software) upload and share their music with each other--legally. There are some restrictions on how many tracks can be included in a mix, and how often any one artist can be played, but it's a small price to pay for the ability to create and share personal music mixes.
For your hard-earned money, Tonium delivers the Pacemaker along with tons of accessories, including a 3.5mm minijack to RCA cable, a USB cable, neck strap, and a quick start guide. The Pacemaker Mac/PC software comes preloaded on the Pacemaker's hard drive, eliminating the need for a CD. Do yourself a favor, however, and download the full manual PDF from the Pacemaker web site. You'll need it.
The Tonium Pacemaker is a DJ rig, not an iPod, so niceties like album artwork would only get in the way. Unfortunately, the Pacemaker could take a few cues from Apple when it comes to intuitive interface design. There's no way to get up and running with the Pacemaker without steeping yourself in the manual.
It may take awhile for the DJ community to bestow respect onto a DJ using the Pacemaker to rock a party, but with the transition from vinyl to digital already underway--why not go one step further? No, you can't bust a transformer scratch with it, but you might be able to rescue a boring party without lugging a carload of equipment.
The Tonium Pacemaker isn't the thinnest gadget on the planet, but with 60GB-120GB of storage, an 18-hour rechargeable battery and a 4-channel audio chip shoved inside, the folks at Tonium deserve a hand for keeping this thing under an inch thick.