Back in the day, capturing your set was done with a cassette recorder hanging off the back of your mixer. Thankfully things have changed a little since the alleged good old days, and instead you get to hang a different type of recording device, probably from a dedicated recording port, off the back of an undoubtedly more advanced mixer or even controller.
But the workflow remains largely the same — hit record, hope for no screw ups, and press stop when done. But we’ve moved on from Walkmans… in fact we’ve moved past analogue completely, and live firmly in the digital realm, one centred around the devices in our pockets.
And given that for better or worse we carry our mobile phones absolutely everywhere, it makes perfect sense to devise a method to hook up a smart phone to our devices. In this case, the Evermix Mix Box 2 bridges the gap between your mixer and your iOS devices. But the app that runs on said iOS device also builds a bridge to the wider world. Enough words — let’s get into it
Measuring a mere 95x42x22mm port to port, the MixBox 2/MixBox2/MixBox II (depending on where you look) is a solid aluminium block (well thick extrusion and endcaps) of analogue to digital conversion.
It comes in a hard case, complete with a decent RCA cable and a mini DIN to Lightning connector. This isn’t uncommon as Pioneer DJ and Reloop controllers have a similar cable arrangement with their iOS controllers too. Here’s hoping Apple doesn’t bring out another standard anytime soon.
It does however mean that they can keep the same hardware and just swap out the cable for other OSes. And should you lose it, a spare is £18.99. Handy hint: don’t lose it.
There’s also a USB 2 Micro port to pass through a charge to your iOS device. That said, the stated 10% iPhone battery to one hour of recording isn’t too much of a drain, but it’s there if you need it. You’ll need to supply the cable and power source for that though.
On the front of the unit hidden behind the Evermix logo is a multi purpose flashing LED. We’ll cover that function in due course.
Needless to say, first impressions are top notch. This isn’t a flimsy plastic box of rattles. It’s built for the task and will withstand a serious amount of abuse… you know, the kind that’s usually metered out by you unforgiving DJs.
To get it all working, you’ll need to download and install the Evermix DJ app. Speaking of which…
Currently at v2.5, the purpose of the app is record and share your music. It’s incredibly simple — you’ll need an Evermix account (it’s free) from which you can share your mixes and build your following inside the Evermix community. You can also upload to Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud and Mixcloud, or download the mixes to your computer for further processing via Dropbox Personal or iCloud.
Let’s walk through the recording workflow — plug the RCAs into a suitable output on your hardware, then to the MixBox 2, and then finally plug that into your iPhone (and probably iPad but I haven’t checked that).
The app will register if sound is coming in and warn you if it isn’t. If everything is connected, and sound is registered, the Evermix logo will turn a solid blue. If not, it will pulse red.
The background of this screen will show a pseudo-waveform that gives a levels indication. Adjust accordingly and hit the on-screen REC button. As a guide, I used session out and booth on a Rane Seventy Two as a test, and the resulting recordings were excellent.
On the subject of sound quality, you can preset your recording to 320k AAC, 192K AAC, or WAV. I tested all three and all were excellent. Quality wise, I have nothing but praise — I even ripped some factory fresh Acid House, and the results were outstanding.
Once your mix is recorded, you’ll want to share it with the world. Your mix can be tagged with relevant information – name of the night, venue, location, genre and a description. You can also attach photos to the mix before uploading.
This is where things fall down for me, but luckily are easily fixable in an app upgrade. The hardware is excellent, and the quality of the recording is top notch. But the editing side of the app is lacking for me. The first thing I recorded was some new Acid House vinyl. I soon discovered a lack of Acid House as a supported genre. The next test was a random turntablism session, again only to find that turntablism isn’t supported either.
There are further issues with where the set was recorded too. Location and venue are limited to some arbitrary geo-tagged database. I had to enter “Haworth” as the location (the location must exist in the internal database) which in turn pulled up a fixed list of venues such as the local pubs. I wanted to enter “The Worxlab” but that wasn’t happening. Note to Evermix — allow custom entries in these fields. You’re excluding many actual venues with this approach, as well as not allowing users to be as vague as they might want.
UPDATE: After passing the review to Evermix for fact checking, they tell me that they’re going for a round of equity crowdfunding via Crowdcube next week, the revenue from with will speed up app development, and address the tagging issues I raised.
Side note — it seems that you can use the MixBox 2 as a streaming device too. Because it operates as a system level device on your iPhone, you should be able to use it to pass through audio from your mixer straight to things like Facebook Live. I haven’t tested it though, as the chances of seeing me live on social media are more or less nil, even for a test.
Rounding this section up — hardware and workflow is excellent. The tagging side of the app needs some work though.
Obvious comparisons will be made with small and cheap recording devices like Zooms or Tascams. And yes, there’s a lot to be said for not using your mobile device to record sets. The disadvantage is that while recording, it’s recommended to be in flight mode. For those somewhat addicted to being on their device, this might prove to be an issue.
The big advantage here however is the social media aspect, and the immediacy with which you can upload your sets instantly and directly. Portable recorders just don’t offer this ease of use. Subjectively speaking, I wouldn’t be surprised if the quality of the MixBox 2’s recordings are better too.
The obvious gap here is the lack of Android version, but it’s coming. And that makes me happy, because the simplicity of the Mixbox 2 and the workflow makes this an incredibly useful thing for DJs or frankly anyone wanting to record analogue sources. And it shouldn’t be limited to iOS.
I can see the MixBox 2 being a very useful tool around the Worxlab in the future. And that’s recommendation enough.