Mixing Music on Linux

Mixing Music on Linux
By Tad Brooker
Ever since I was a kid I have always loved music, and like most others I like it hard and loud.  When it comes to speakers, the bigger the better, the louder the more perfect the sound is to my ears. And wow, has the hardware and equipment changed over the years.  I remember as a kid hacking together a 12 VDC converter to run and old car stereo I got from my Dad, and then buying a 5 band equalizer/amplifier at K-Mart to really power the system up. Oh boy did we rock, and blow a lot of cheap low-end speakers while having a ton of fun!
As I grew up my equipment got better, stronger, and of course more powerful.  Not much runs off of DC in high end audio anymore, it is all AC powered and expensive.
Over the years I even spent many-a-nights as a DJ mixing for parties and get-togethers, on a Windows laptop unfortunately.
Ohhh how times have changed, and I just found myself buying a rack-mount amp and some killer JBL speakers off of Craigslist last weekend, yeah yeah, I know.  What are you thinking, and as my Wife Lisa said “What the ^%$#@! are you doing?” All in all I think I have a solid background in music and technology, so let’s put the two together, have some fun and make an inexpensive DJ outfit using Linux as the driver and the heart of the system.
I have no intention of taking my new set up out and spinning at night, but you can bet there will be a few parties that may get my presence and the use of my high end equipment that I can certainly bring to life.  If you read my last article I went over the various Linux Distro’s I recommended and to get started, I think you would be safe picking any of them that were mentioned.
As I mentioned I use Antergos and it is an excellent choice for the underlying operating system to run your DJ Rig. It is light, stable and really holds up good to the banging around and abrupt starts and stops a DJ’s laptop may encounter.  Make sure you grab the current release from their website, find your laptop (Or desktop) of choice and get it set up.  After that is complete do all of the updates and system patches to ensure everything runs at top performance and then you are ready.
The software I use for DJ’ing and mixing it up on my Linux Laptop is of course: [Advertising follows…]
Mixxx, powerful, free and easy to install/operate.  DJ Your Way. For Free. Incredible Features, Unbeatable Value
Mixxx has everything you need to start making DJ mixes in a tight, integrated package. Whether you’re DJing your next house party, spinning at a club, or broadcasting as a radio DJ, Mixxx has what you need to do it right.
iTunes Integration
All your playlists and songs from iTunes, automatically ready to go for your next live DJ performance.
DJ Controller Support
With over 85 MIDI DJ controllers supported out-of-the-box and several HID controllers, Mixxx gives you comprehensive hardware control for your DJ mixes.
BPM Detection and Master Sync
Instantly sync the tempo of four songs for seamless beatmixing. Need a break? Create a quick playlist and let Auto DJ take over.
Powerful Mixing Engine
Mixxx has a cutting-edge mixing engine including support for MP3, M4A/AAC, OGG, FLAC, and WAV audio, adjustable EQ shelves, timecode vinyl control, recording, and Shoutcast broadcasting.
You can visit their site at http://www.mixxx.org for more details.
To install the base package on Antergos the set up is as easy as #pacman -S mixxx after the installation you can jump right in and run the program, it will ask you a couple basic configuration options such as what is your sound hardware for output and where your music library is installed.
Take a stroll through the options and settings to tweak your set up as needed.  You can get some pretty amazing sound out of an old laptop, amplified from the headphone out jack.  Mixxx has a nice graphic equalizer, use it.  Fine tuning your output can make everything sound just perfect for your equipment and environment.
Also do not forget to look at any of the sound settings on your laptop hardware and software.  Some have better controllers than others, and trimming the top end or scaling back some of the mid-range can make a huge impact on your systems output to the amplifier.  Me?  I like bass, and I like treble, I like the top end of the treble spectrum and the low low end of the base, the rest can be pulled back a bit and then I have the warm, crisp sound I like.
You are now ready to rock, hook your laptop up to your Mixer and Amplifier and turn it up. You can find great deals on used hardware on craigslist.org or Amazon.com is  a nice place to buy new hardware, just beware of brand names and remember you get what you pay for.  Yamahaw is not the same as Yamaha no matter what they try to tell you, and you can bet your pants that will will not sound as good either.  You can save some bucks but most definitely the quality will suffer.
The secret is: use what you have available to you and have fun.  Jamming music is exciting and will always draw a crowd  practice fading between the two decks on screen, once you get good – bump it up to 4 decks then you will always have extra songs on your screen to fade into.
With my two JBL G-732’s in my tiny office, I can easily vibrate EVERYTHING hanging on the wall, in a matter of seconds.  A couple of good bass hits from an awesome Kid Rock song and the walls are clear.
I love loud music, I guess some things NEVER change.