Mix it up with Mixxx

Mix tunes like a pro with this top tool.

Mixxx is a free music studio suite suitable for pros, semi-pros, and advanced amateurs. No flash in the pan, Mixxx has been evolving since 2001, and today it not only has the proven DJ tools you'll find on most studio software but also more than a few unique features, options, and capabilities. You'll have to spend a little time with Mixxx to learn what it can do, though we were also impressed with how easy the program is to navigate and use. Mixxx can be had in dedicated versions for 32-bit and 64-bit Windows; we sampled the 64-bit Mixxx.

Mixxx impressed us right away with its user interface, which somehow manages to group a lot of controls and features into one stylish console that looks more like a real mixing panel than a jet fighter's controls. We'd seen similar tools that managed to cram on so much stuff that it overwhelmed the interface, but Mixxx's up-to-date white-on-black layout is not just snazzy but intuitive. Some of the controls use rotary dials that look a lot like the real thing. We've never liked these, finding them awkward to click and turn accurately, but Mixxx's dials are among the smoothest we've tried, and they look great. While most of the controls you'll need are on the panel, including Cue, FX, and Loop (with a cool Beatloops tool), Mixxx has some interesting stuff on the Options menu, such as a Vinyl Control tool with two settings and a Live Broadcasting feature. A PDF-based manual, community support, and other Help resources make Mixxx easy to fire up.

Like similar tools, Mixxx displays identical sets of controls for each of its two tracks. We browsed to and added a tune in Player 1. Anyone who has used a WAV editor will find Mixxx's basic operation familiar, though it's more than ready to take things to higher levels. Considering it gives anyone with a PC access to digital mixing tools that you'd only find in a studio not so long ago, "free" seems like an even bigger bargain. Bottom line, we had huge fun with Mixxx.

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