November 24, 2014 at 2:57 pm

The Itinerant Mixer: Fun, Slick, and More Than a Toy

itinerant_mixer

Over the course of a single November weekend, Hannah RobertsonRussell McClellan, and Matt Jardine were not romping around in piles of leaves. Nor were they taking it easy on the couch, bowling, or headed somewhere for a weekend getaway. Instead, they spent the weekend building something truly impressive at Music Hack Day Boston earlier this month.

Their creation, Itinerant Mixer, lets you “mix a track by exploring a virtual space in a browser,” which is a lot easier than it sounds, due to some impressively-easy-to-grasp design. The web app works on any of the usual computers, from smartphones to desktops, and on headphones or speakers. We recommend headphones for the best directional effect, and a mobile device, because it’s fun to use the tilt feature (although really, there are advantages to using a computer too). As its name implies, this slick, simple hack lets you mix audio in a novel, completely intuitive way, whichever platform you choose.

You’re the triangle. You can move around change your orientation, move the speakers around starting from various presets, and toggle between a few different pieces of music. As you do all of this, the audio gets mixed with ridiculous smoothness (using the Audio Web API). By merely moving your triangle around, changing its orientation, and moving the speakers, you can kind of remix the song in real time – and all you’re doing to make it happen is moving around in two-dimensional space around some speakers (their number depends on which song you choose), each of which contain some of the track.

You should just try it:

itinerant2

 

Try “walking” behind a speaker, then back out in front of it. This drops that track in and out of the mix so smoothly that we can envision it being used in a live DJ scenario.

To spin between the sources for a sort of inverse-Leslie effect (where you are the thing that is spinning), click or tap your triangle and grab the little square in front of it, and drag it wherever you want.

In addition to toggling to a new song or changing your method of movement (which makes a bigger difference on mobile, where you can tilt), the app also lets you select multiple speakers, drag them around, and change their orientation as a group, too.

You’ll probably uncover stuff we haven’t seen yet, as you experiment — it’s a lot of fun.

Photo: Jonathan Marmor

Photo of Boston Music Hack Day: Jonathan Marmor

Music Hack Day Boston is always one of the strongest events in the global Music Hack Day series, where software engineers, musicians, hardware hackers, idea people, builders, makers, and/or shakers gather to build new music technologies for fun and show them to each other for glory.

This year’s Boston event, the sixth annually, was perhaps the most focused, with 120 music wizards creating 32 high-quality, musical hacks to present to each other at the end of the weekend-long event, held at Microsoft’s New England R&D Center (The NERD) during the day and Spotify’s Boston office overnight.

You can find out about upcoming official Music Hack Day events here. The next event is in London on December 12-13.