Recently I got my hands on Mixed In Key version 5. I knew the program of course by name and also by fame, but I never had used it before. So I was kinda curious what it was all about. If you have never heart of Mixed In Key, it is an analysis program to detect information like the key and bpm of audio files. With this information DJs can elevate their mixes to higher levels because of ‘harmonic mixing‘. DJs can match tracks better or select tracks that are (more) compatible with eachother (key wise). If you need more information on harmonic mixing, checkout this page for a detailed description.
Well this is very simple, and I like that. The GUI is light and clear. All functions and buttons tell you exactly what they stand for, very effective! On the top there four ‘tabs’: Analyze Songs, Browse Collection, Personalize and Read Tutorial.
The first tab, Analyze Songs, is easy to use. You could analyse a single file or just select a complete folder (multiple tracks). After selection the program automatically starts to analyse the tracks and displays the results. Double click on a track/song and it is displyed as a coloured wave-form. The cool part of this is that if there are vmodulations/key changes within a track, the color (of that part) changes! Neat!
Second tab is ‘browse collection‘. Like the name says, here you’ll find the complete collection of tracks. With a tree structure you can create sub-collections for example a typical music genre or BPM range. It’s all up to you! On this page you’ll also find the camelot wheel which will help you to find and select compatible tracks. The wheel is divided in ‘key’ parts. Click on the part 2B and you’ll get all tracks that are compatible with keycode 2B.
The ‘personalize‘ tab lets you set your preferences for the application. This all speaks for itself. One thing I want to point out is the explanation on how to use MIK5 with your preferred (DJ) software. At the moment there is information for the use with Ableton Live, Pioneer Rekordbox, Serato Scratch Live en Itch, Native Instruments Traktor and iTunes.
Final tab is a useful tutorial on the use of Mixed In Key and ‘Harmonic Mixing’.
Actual Use In Practise
When I opened the application for the first time and had clicked around for, like, 30 seconds, I had the workings down. It really wont take you long to understand this great program. Also because there isn’t that much to do really. The program has only a few tasks and does them very well.
First thing you do of course is to select a few tracks just to see how it all works. Suprisingly I noticed how fast this worked. It took maybe 5-6 seocnds per track to be analysed. I have used a few freeware ‘key-detection’ programs before and the only thing I remember of them that they were quite slow and crashed 4 out of 5 times.
This first time was only with just a few tracks so my DJ2DJ colleague Mathijs Cornelissen and I decided to put MIK5 through a kind of ‘stress’ test. I selected a collection of 244 tracks (2,55 GB) on my harddrive. Within just a little over 7 minutes this complete collection was analysed! But, … that was with a collection on my HD. So second test was with a bigger collection (500 tracks, 5,2 GB) on an external USB-HD. And this didn’t gave any problem as well. This 500 track collection took only 20 minutes to analyse. Great!
This test was done on a WIN7 (64bit) PC, where Mathijs tried it out on his Macbook, which gave him ‘almost’ the same results. So I am sure that when you use a fairly ‘modern’ computer the result will be the same for you, however users with older computers will of course need more time to analyse tracks. On the other hand DJs who are serious about their trade don’t use ‘antique’ laptops/PCs (…. I imagine).
Oh, I can be very clear about this: I Love IT! Often I come across software that’s good and nice, but rarely I can use the term ‘perfect’! And to me (personally) Mixed In Key 5 is perfect. The program works exactly how it should, fast en smooth. Any DJ who’s serious about his skills and trade should use this, if only because it makes your life so much easier. Every 58 dollar for this program is well spent!