Tonium Pacemaker (120 GB) review: Tonium Pacemaker (120 GB)

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.0
  • Design: 6.0
  • Features: 8.0
  • Performance: 7.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good The Tonium Pacemaker is a DJ-oriented portable audio player with professional-grade audio quality, switchable headphone impedance, Mac and PC compatibility, and an inventive mix recording feature.

The Bad The Pacemaker's price may be too high for armchair DJs and its features and form too restrictive for club use. Like most DJ equipment, the Pacemaker takes some practice to master.

The Bottom Line As a pocket-size sketchpad for DJs on the go, the Pacemaker is peerless.

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Editors' note: A newer, less expensive, second-generation model of the Tonium Pacemaker MP3 player made its debut in May of 2009. Click here to read our review of the latest model.

The Tonium Pacemaker ($800) squeezes the performance and functionality of a full digital DJ rig into a single pocket-size device. Fitting a DJ booth into a product the size of a Sony PSP requires some compromises in design and features, but the end result is a new breed of DJ tech that is sure to make some fans.

The Pacemaker's minimal, matte black aesthetic is enough to make any red-blooded gadget hound salivate, regardless of DJ skill. In fact, those with a keen eye for tech design will appreciate that the Pacemaker is one of the first products of its kind to include features such as multigesture track pad control and an LED lit touch strip crossfader.

The suggestion that the Pacemaker's eight buttons can accomplish the same tasks as a full-fledged DJ setup would make even the most sleep-deprived club jockey raise an eyebrow. Indeed, unlike in a conventional DJ setup, accomplishing something as mundane as adjusting song volume requires some nimble two-hand dexterity on the Pacemaker. To work around the limitations of the Pacemaker's small size, every one of its controls serves multiple functions. As a result, the Pacemaker manual is a required read (we recommend creating a cheat sheet). After a few days of play, however, using the Pacemaker will become second nature to anyone who's spent their youth gripping a game controller.

The bottom of the Pacemaker features jacks for a power adapter, line output, and a headphone mix that can be switched between low and high impedance modes.

If you've dabbled with DJ software or touched a CDJ deck in the past five years, you should have a good idea what to expect from the Pacemaker's feature set. After loading music onto the Pacemaker's 120GB internal drive, you can select tracks through an onscreen menu and assign them to one of two virtual decks. Each virtual deck includes an adjustable three-band EQ section, an effects section (filter, echo, reverb, and roll), and controls for gain, pitch, cue point, track scan, and loop points.

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Where to Buy

Tonium Pacemaker (120 GB)

Part Number: CNETToniumPacemaker Released: Jun 27, 2008

As shown: $800

Check manufacturer's site for availability

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Jun 27, 2008
  • Built-in Display LCD
  • Color Black
  • Weight 200 g
  • Sound Output Mode Stereo
  • Supported Digital Audio Standards MP3
    Ogg Vorbis
  • Type Hard drive
  • Run Time (Up To) 18 hour(s)