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Mixxx 2.3 beta DJ software open source (2)

Mixxx 2.3 beta brings colour and more

The last time we mentioned Mixxx was over two years ago. That was the beta for version 2.1 of the free, open source DJ app, and we’re now testing beta 2.3. The development has traditionally been slow and steady, with a good leap in features every update, so with this version rolling off the factory floor, we have a fair few toys to try out:

  • Hotcue workflow improvements
  • Hotcue colours
  • Serato/rekordbox collection importing
  • Intro/outro cue points
  • Deck cloning (instant doubles)
  • UI and skin improvements
  • Multithreaded track analysis

There’s so much to pack in the announcement that pasting it here would just be ridiculous, so head on over to the release announcement page to see everything that’s been mentioned, though this is what we got in the email.

We have released Mixxx 2.3 beta with hotcue colors & labels, Serato metadata import, Rekordbox metadata import, intro & outro cues, a revamped LateNight skin, multithreaded analysis, deck cloning, and more. More details are in our release announcement:

My take

I love seeing open source software mature and improve in line with commercial products. I always try the OS alternative with hopes it will work out (hello Firefox, Audacity, LibreOffice, VLC, Atom, and Proffieboard!), sometimes it doesn’t

With Mixxx, I’ve always made sure to keep an up-to-date install on my computer to play around with. I’ve found the app has its share of issues, but beyond the inconsistent UI, it has features to compete with the big guns of the commercial DJ software sector.

Unfortunately, a brief play with the 2.3 beta highlighted some problems that definitely make this feel like a beta build… Basic stuff like the app not being signed so macOS blocked it from launching, and even just switching skins caused a crash to desktop (not here — Ed). It’s frustrating that one of the touted new improvements (redesigned LateNight skin) has a bug on a major OS that hasn’t been fixed since early May. But there’s time to iron this stuff out.

The list of new toys has a lot of items that would be considered fairly staple in modern DJ apps… With the coloured cues and deck cloning being the most useful for a lot of people. It’s nice to see improvements in migrating your libraries from Serato and rekordbox, though the recent update for the latter might put a dampener on that flexibility.

Mixxx 2.3 beta DJ software open source (1)

So what do I feel is still missing? What would draw me in long term?

Well, something that bothers me as a fairly modular DJ is that not only is there no Ableton Link support, but the app doesn’t even have MIDI clock. I’d be coming from Traktor, which offers this modularity, along with very powerful MIDI mapping as one of its core draws.

The recent homogenisation of DJ tech – every app/controller/deck is demanded to have features XYZ (see the shitstorm in a teacup over NI’s controllers without jog wheels) – has highlighted time and again my thought that there’s no shame in being niche. You don’t have to have a billion ‘standard’ features as long as you do your core stuff really well. And arguably, interconnectivity should be a core tenet of DJ equipment.

Another area that I feel could be improved is to not only have more ‘official’ support for various controllers, but to bring this to the forefront. A lot of open source software suffers from the fact that the people making it are engineers, not designers, marketers, writers… I’m sure the Mixxx team has plenty of these contributors, but so often the information is buried, and the user experience isn’t smooth. It’s not enough to throw a huge list in a wiki at the user… you need to make this a guided part of the setup, and promote and grow a thriving, concise community database of readily portable mappings, rather than just a discussion forum.

Your take

Have you given Mixxx a try recently? What is missing that would convince you to switch?

You can try out the Mixxx 2.3 beta right now! Grab it from the official website.