UmixIt? U Bet!

Convinced that your favorite music would have sounded even better if you'd been the mixing engineer? UmixIt Technologies is going to let you put your money where your mouth is.

How does that work? UmixIt CDs (or DVDs) contain a recording's original audio tracks, an 8-track version of the material, a 16-track version, and a selection of royalty-free loops formatted for ACID. The discs also contain the Cakewalk Media Mixer application. Slip the disc into your computer's disc drive and it will prompt you to install the song(s) and the application. The 8-track version of the recorded material will be launched inside the Cakewalk application. You can then go to work on your ultimate mix.

The recorded material uses secure licensing, so you can only store and use the uncompressed mixes in your own computer. However, finished mixes can be exported as 128kbps Windows Media files. By upgrading to a higher level of license, consumers will be given access to the 16-track version of the material, receive additional effects for processing the tracks, and be allowed to import other instrumental loops and effects.

Last November, Aerosmith included a bonus UmixIt track of their single "You Gotta Move" on the DVD of the same name. That release went quadruple Platinum and, according to UmixIt's website, Columbia Records credits UmixIt with doubling the disc's sales.

Now, the company, in collaboration with Webster Hall Records, will begin releasing a series of discs featuring prominent New York DJs under the name UmixIt Presents The Best of New York DJs. Disc jockeys featured in the series include DJ Honda, Astrid Suryanto presented by Victor Calderone, Johnny Vicious, and The Warp Brothers. Each disc will include at least two songs rendered in the UmixIt format. According to the company, it is engaged in on-going discussions with major record labels in hopes of incorporating UmixIt into major 2005 releases.

We can already hear audiophiles asking themselves why they should care about "CD enhancements" that require the use of a computer—anathema to many of the faithful. Perhaps they're right and UmixIt is another "fix" they don't need. On the other hand, UmixIt offers audiophiles a chance to discover just how much craft is involved in something as seemingly simple as mixing a recording so that it retains the excitement inherent in its component parts. It's an art and a craft, and it's a lot harder than it looks—or, perhaps to those who really and truly have the knack, it's a lot easier.

One way or the other, it seems worth the price of a compact disc to find out.