It’s certainly an impressive piece of kit, then – not to mention completely addictive – but it isn’t perfect. Hand it to someone used to spinning vinyl and immediately flaws become apparent. The main problem is that although it is very effective, the control system isn’t intuitive – you can’t simply hand this over to a DJ mate while you take a rest – he wouldn’t have a clue.
Tonium also appears to have missed a trick by not finding a way to involve the touchpad more. In addition to being able to fine tune the cue point, it would be lovely to be able to fast forward and rewind with a sweep of the finger; instead, you have to click and hold the buttons to navigate through a track, which is awkward and fast becomes tedious.
The other shortcoming is that you can’t scratch as you can with other, more substantial iPod mixing solutions – the Numark iDJ2, for instance – which is, to my mind, another missed opportunity. Once again, the touchpad system would seem to be the perfect means of controlling a scratch (it’s certainly sensitive enough), so why hasn’t Tonium included it here?
It’s clear then that the Pacemaker won’t be replacing many DJ’s decks lock, stock. Although you can use it to play an entire set on – its 120GB hard drive should be able to accommodate as many tracks as you could possibly need for that. And, let’s face it, twiddling around with a glorified iPod on stage isn’t exactly the height of stagecraft. It just doesn’t look as cool as hunching over a pair of spinning discs with headphones half-on.
So vinyl lives on for now, but I can see the Pacemaker being used as a tool that professional and semi-professional DJs could use for experimenting with ideas when lying around on the sofa, or when they’re on the move away from their precious (and bulky) collection of discs. It’s good enough for that, and the occasional impromptu house party set. The fact that, in conjunction with the software, you can mix and save sets in advance is a real boon too and could see it being used as a sidekick tool, filling in for a few minutes while you take a rest from the wheels of steel.
At £479 Tonium’s Pacemaker isn’t particularly cheap, but for a music player and DJ mixing device of this size it packs a remarkable feature set, the hard drive is big and the sound quality isn’t half bad either. What’s more, it’s addictive fun for amateurs to play around with too.
Score in detail