We've previously declaredand suffered the humiliation of being told we don't know our crossfaders from our tone arms, so when the Tonium Pacemaker turned up in the office we were very wary of making such bold claims. The Pacemaker lets you take your music with you, and practice your DJ skills while you're out and about.
The good news is that the DJing trickery doesn't come at a cost of reduced sound quality. Although the Pacemaker is slightly too large to use on a day-to-day basis, when you do sit down with it, it's got a powerful, clear sound and there's plenty of bass too -- handy for the market it's aimed at.
In terms of using it to DJ, we wouldn't advise you take it to a Gatecrasher event to entertain thousands, but if you're going to a party in a pub with the facility to hook up your own music, this thing could fit the bill perfectly. You get a headphone socket for cueing up tracks, and there's even a finger-slide crossfader that's really responsive and fun to use. It might also appeal to DJs who want to hook it up to their existing setups -- because it has pitch adjustment, it may be useful for those songs you have in digital format but forgot to take with you on vinyl to your gig.
The only problem we encountered using the Pacemaker came once we'd started mixing. Ignoring our very obvious lack of talent, we found that once you started to mix the second track in, adjusting it was nigh-on impossible. With vinyl, CD or PC-based mixing you can simply tweak the record to adjust for drift. This isn't as easy with this little thing. Although you can increase the speed through the pitch shift, it's not ideal when you're trying to get the mix just right.
To load music on to the Pacemaker's 120GB hard drive, you have to use a piece of software supplied with the device. For the most part this is fairly useable, but the only problem we had is that it insisted on analysing all of our music before it would let us transfer it over. This takes a reasonable amount of time, so if your collection is large, expect a bit of a wait.
The interface is beautiful though, and adjusting the settings is easier than you'd think, considering how uncluttered the device is. The high-resolution colour screen is brilliant, and adjustments are made by moving your finger on the touchpad beneath the screen.
We had loads of fun with the Pacemaker. We're slightly disappointed you can't scratch on it, but then that's of limited value for creating and enjoying mixes for most people. Now, this thing is wildly expensive at around £498. We can't see many potential DJs opting for one of these over a set of direct-drive turntables and a good mixer, which you could probably get for around the same price. -Ian Morris