IK Multimedia’s Groovemaker 2.0 is the perfect program for amateur and professional mixers and DJs alike. No matter what kind of mixing you would like to do: techno, dance, ambient, house, Brazilian percussion, or even hiphop (soon to come); Groovemaker offers CDs for mixing these types of music. And for users who like to hear random mixes without having to mix themselves, Groovemaker includes many automated tasks that its closest competitor, Mixman, fails to provide.
Installation was a snap, and now it was time to make some grooves. Groovemaker first prompts you to select a song (or template) you wish to groove with. The Song dialogue box tells you a concise description of the song, the Beats Per Minute (BPM) at which the song was originally recorded, and plays a sample groove that can be made from the song (since literally millions of different grooves can be made from each individual song). Once you have selected a song to groove with, you have to copy it to your hard disk. Now you are ready to make some mixes.
Create new tracks
There are 8 different track spots for up to 8 different tracks (a mere half of Mixman’s capacity of 16). At the top left, there are four Randomix buttons that create a random set of loops and tracks. These tracks and loops include Bass, Bass-drums, FX – special effect-type sounds, Line – melodic lines with real and electronic instrumentation, Loops – drum/percussion rhythms, Pad – background texture synth, and Perc – percussion elements such as high-hat, snare, and so on. You can select any combination of these categories to “Surf the groove”. Since Groovemaker is not for mixing-on-the-fly, it mainly churns out steady streamed grooves that can be marked to make a repeating sequence of up to 99 grooves or just mark 99 of your favorite creations. It is also possible to group tracks for soloing a group of tracks, muting a group of tracks, or changing the volume for each track in the group.
With the Sync mode, you can make steady grooves that flow evenly. For example, if you click a Randomix button before the first Randomix has completed, Groovemaker will wait until the first one finishes to make the transition. Now no one will know you are just clicking around a computer screen instead of scratching vinyl. A very useful function for using Groovemaker at dances or public performances.
Groovemaker also includes a rather odd feature called the Arpeggiator. The Arpeggiator allows the user to click any sequence of notes on a keyboard (on the screen) and have those notes played in a chosen beat pattern (up, down, and tone patter such as drums, basses, piano notes, etc. While the stability of this function is questionable (it crashes my computer each time), it seems to add little meaning or definition to any such groove. This seems to be a minute useless feature.
Now that you have your favorite grooves all in sequence, now it’s time for the “Final Mixdown”, saving your selection to a sound file. Groovemaker allows you to select Stereo or Multitrack, meaning, one complete stereo file or up to 8 separate stereo files, which allows you to remix your 8 separate tracks with a digital-audio mixer if you choose. There is also a few formats of audio you can export your groove to: Groovemaker, AIFF, mLaw, Wave, System 7 – Mac format for producing system’s sound, or Sound – Mac Format. With the format selected, you now get to pick the quality of the format: compression — if any, rate — kHz, size — 8/16 bit, and use — stereo or mono.
So maybe you just want Groovemaker to do its own thing and make some mixes without aid. The virtual DJ does just that. One click and the virtual DJ remixes a continuous song randomly from the soundest you select from the CD. This feature is perfect for the effortless DJ — wannabe.
Upload and manage your loops
For making your own loops instead of using the ones on the CD’s, you can import your own sound files with the built-in LoopMaker. You set the bars (or counts), BPM — beats per minute, loop in — setting the beginning of your imported loop, loop out — setting the end of your loop, and offset — keeps the distance between the loop in and out fixed, and you have your own loop for use with Groovemaker. The LoopMaker supports sound formats including WAVE, AIFF, compressed AIFF, and MP3.
Also included is a Help and Tutorial for those who like the quote boxes with help text in them. The tutorial also helps you step-by-step to make a groove in no more than 15 minutes. Groovemaker also includes a full-length manual for tips, online help, and numbers to call for tech support.
Overall, GrooveMaker 2.0 gets a 6 out of 10. It isn’t really spectacular, but, for what it does, it does well. One useless function out of the many it has also isn’t too bad. The DJ version is a bit pricey, at $129.95, nearly $50 more than the regular package with only 2 more sound CD’s. I am sure you can do the math and find the deal there. At any price, GrooveMaker is a unique program and a fun useful tool in the creation of home dance music!