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Software Review: Cimio DJ Software

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Ever dream of becoming a club DJ, or of creating a mix to jump start a party? Cimio, software developed by the Scratch Academy (founded by the late Jam Master Jay), claims to make anyone a DJ in minutes.

In other words, the program helps users create their own non-stop mixes, just like club DJs. The difference here is that Cimio does much of the work: it analyzes individual songs' beats per minute (BPM) and allows visual mixing simply by dragging and dropping. While the result pales in comparison to a professional DJ, it serves as an easy way of creating party mixes or CDs to impress your friends.

First, users should visit Cimio's video site to view short instructional videos, hosted by Scratch Academy DJs. They guide you through the software's three-step process: importing music, creating a playlist, and mixing the songs within that list. These clips provide useful overviews for how Cimio functions, and they make the process look easy. I then tested the Windows version (it is also available for Macs), which boasts an easy-to-use, no-clutter interface organized around these three steps.

Because I have a large MP3 library, I decided to import only a fraction of my collection. Cimio only allows the user to import 200 songs at a time, and only non-DRM files may be used. The software supports all major file formats, including MP3, WAV, WMA, and AAC. Cimio analyzes each song's length, waveform, and BPM, so the importing process can be lengthy. I imported Michael Jackson tracks from my library, as they contain strong, easily mixable beats.

Step two involves selecting the tracks for your mix. The software simplifies this process by listing the BPM of each song. A DJ should select songs containing similar tempos; this makes for seamless transitions between tracks. Again, the software does much of the work for you. Simply click and drag a desired track to the "Playlist" box, and Cimio will suggest other tracks that would mix well with it. Look for the songs highlighted in blue, then click and drag those tracks into the list. For example, I first chose "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough," and Cimio immediately highlighted several songs that would mix together well.

After selecting several tracks with similar BPMs, I moved on to step three: mixing. When clicking on the "Mixing" button, you will see each of your songs presented in waveform, showing where the transitions begin and end. You can listen to the mix by clicking on the "Preview Mix" button to determine whether you like Cimio's suggested transition. In my case, by selecting the same tempos, "Burn This Disco Out" blended perfectly into "Billie Jean." I felt like a real DJ! You can select where you would like the overlapping to begin — four bars, eight bars, and other times. Cimio does not include effects such as scratching — it only allows you to transition one song into another. Not all mixes will work — beats may seem out of sync or simply not flow together — but you can try other related tracks until you create the mix you desire.

Once you have completed the mix to your satisfaction, click "Record Mix" to save it. Again, depending on the mix’s length, the recording process can last a while. The file can then be played through iTunes, Windows Media Player, or other media player.

In the company’s words, Cimio is “designed for music fans that want to mix their music like a DJ but do not have the time or money to invest in professional DJ software.” Overall, Cimio delivers on that promise; I found Cimio extremely easy to use, and had fun experimenting with different tracks. Help screens are available throughout the three-step process that provide hints on successful mixing techniques. The result sounds professional, particularly for software that costs $29.95. Cimio should appeal to any aspiring DJs who want to learn the basics of the art before moving up to Sony Acid Pro.

For more information and to purchase, visit Cimio’s website.

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About Kit O'Toole