The problem with iPod DJ mixers? They’re generally pointless toys that are a poor substitute for real DJ gear. The wonderful thing about iPod DJ mixers that actually are intended as pointless toys that are a poor substitute for real DJ gear? For only US$30 or so (check Froogle for some last-minute deals), you can pick up a scratching, mixing, multi-effects processing toy and plug in your homebrew software-running GameBoys and do some … unspeakable things to the sound. What? You don’t think the good folks who manufactured the mi Jam had that in mind when they set up shop? Hmmmm, you’re probably right …

The existing b2 line relates directly to the burgeoning market of digital music devices such as I pod and mp3 players. Future development of the line will center on the music and entertainment industries and strive to offer products that enhance these experiences.

That sure doesn’t sound like much fun. I don’t think they fully understand their market. So I’ve taken the liberty of rewriting the copy on their product description. Good people of b2, feel free to add this to your website — seriously, no charge. It’s my pleasure:

Now here’s a great device that really lets you make the music your own ^some crazy, f***ed up s*** ^. The mi Jam™ Mixer will have you mixing like a DJ ^terrifying your dullard DJ friends in no time^ and is so portable you can take it anywhere.

The Mixer functions with any digital music device, such as iPod® and MP3 player ^a hacked Game Boy or home-built synth circuit^, and can even work with stereo player ^Theremin^ and personal computer ^Commodore 64. Each mi Jam™ Mixer features two scratch discs which work in both directions with a variety of ^wonderfully cheap-sounding^ effects.
Also included in the Mixer are two programmed rhythm selection buttons, digital voice, techno effects, tempo and volume controls ^which you should distort as much as you possibly can^.

Just like all other mi Jam™ products the Mixer works either as a standalone Mixer or accompanies your favorite music ^Ableton Live set^ so plug it into your music device ^Max/MSP patch^ and jam away. You can even add the mi Jam™ Stage Mic to add vocals for the complete DJ ^toy-based music^ experience.

The mi Jam™ Mixer is so versatile, portable and easy to use that you can use it to develop your very own sound which you can record onto a PC or similar device and podcast it or add it to your personal blog. ^circuit-bend it into an evil effects processor. It looks really nice painted in Jackson Pollack-esque camouflage. With giant googly eyes attached.^

Yep, I want one. Amazon appears to be out of stock; check your local toy / electronics store. They make a guitar and drum sticks, but the mixer and vocal mic ($20) look like they could do the most damage.

mi Jam Mixer Product Page, via the excellent turntablist resource skratchworx (who took this entirely too seriously, I think!)

But, wait — there’s more. Looking for the mi Jam, I see Sharper Image has gotten into the tabletop / tangible musical interface game, with their own “interactive digital audio sculpture uses movable pawn-like pieces on a base to create original musical compositions accompanied by pulsing light shows.” That’s right: even more circuit-bending fun. Happy holidays, indeed.

  • http://sonicbrat.blogspot.com s o n i c b r a t

    Great EDIT!!! You got me cracking on the floor by the end of the edited passage! And I would actually like one just to make it interact with my kyma X!

    Nay…

    Great fun post!

  • http://oxo-unlimited.com nitro2k01

    Did you actually try this thing? According to the last comment on the scratchworx review, this thing is really just crap. Might not've been the exact same model, but anyway.

    Do you know whether you can actually scratch external audio input? (From own or friends' experience, not any kind of marketing)

    If you can't, it's just crap.

  • zoinky

    I really wish people wouldn't claim devices would be 'great for circuitbending' unless they've actually FOUND bends inside the device they're touting. This article tries to be cheeky and hip, like a tribute to kitch, but this device is not kitchy, its $40 down the drain. It won't 'terrify' DJ dullards or anyone else. It's marketed to DJ wannabes because people who want to be DJs are idiots.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Oh come on, Zoinky. I've never seen a sound-producing toy that someone couldn't find *some* use for. Sure, straight-ahead bending may or may not be possible, but anything that makes noise presents some possibilities for creative abuse. And I've seen some benders who are able to make up all kinds of bends even with devices that seem like they wouldn't be suited to it.

    Anyway, nitro, sorry I didn't make that clear. I didn't get hands-on time with this, I'm afraid. The scratch effects are sound effects. But you can add fx to line-in devices. Hands-on impressions of the whole line are available over at iLounge, who I expect got comped on these (I'd have a harder time arguing they should set me one to abuse):

    iLounge on miJam

    $30 starts to get closer to my silly toy threshold, either way. But I would comparison shop — you know, with the rest of the toy section / garage sale / etc.

  • zoinky

    When you say "you can add fx to line-in devices", what you are saying is that you can trigger the dumb samples over whatever you're playing into the input. That is not what most people will think of when you say "you can add fx to line-in devices". Most people will think you mean that the audio input can be modulated with effects (or 'fx'), like a guitar pedal or 'fx unit'. Typical effects/fx would be, delay, flange, phaser, etc. Not a 2bit 5khz sample of a record scratch…

    Those of us with actual circuit-bending experience know that the technology in these units was around 10 years ago and sold for the same ridiculously high prices, at least when stuck in toy guitars rather than keychains… Apparently the only difference between now and ten years ago is that these types of toys now have a line in, which is 'iPod compatible' (uber-snicker).

    Seems to me you've done an even worse service to the public than the original authors of the ad copy. They tried to make it sound way better than it is in the ad copy, and you edited the ad copy to make it sound even better than that! Personally I'd only consider doing that if I were on the payroll, but you did it without even being comped a unit! The guys at iLounge who you speculated did get comped units were actually somewhat critical of the units, unlike your glowing report…

    Incidentally, this is my third try posting this, lets see if it actually goes through this time. "Proudly powered by Linux servers…" that explains it…

  • joe dalton

    the things I like with circuit bending is that you can reuse old toys from your youth into musical instruments. the thing I don't like is that people are buying these crappy chinese products for 30$, 10$ transport, 5$ reseller, 5$ distributor, 8$ pieces and 2$ for the chinese workers and 0$ for the catastrophic environmental situation that we'll be into in a 10 years.

    buy it buy it and buy some iPod and a new computer, a new mobile phone, a new car and a large TV screen

  • Damon

    Is this a Victoria's Secret design?

    "Get your hands on these babies…"

  • yo…

    interesting debate sparked by this one… i would tend to agree w/ joe that there are plenty of manufactured goods already in the mix … but shazaam zoinky, chill … you make some good points … but no need for the attitude …

  • BrandonTylerButcher

    HERE’S A REAL REVIEW OF THIS PRODUCT!!!!!

    So I just got one of these at a thrift shop. Which I’m good it was only about a buck, because it’s a piece of shit. It looks like it would have at least SOME cool features but nope. All it really is, is 14 one-shot sound effects, 4 (single bar) drum patterns with a very limited adjustable tempo and an input for anything with a headphone jack on it. Also the “jog wheels” are horrible to use, clunky and inaccurate. It doesn’t even have an internal speaker, which, I guess for a parent may be a good ‘feature’, you’ll have plug in headphones or into an amp, etc. to even use it.

    Anyone would be much better off buying a toy keyboard with sound effects for the same price or cheaper. If you want cheap scratch sounds look for “hip hop” toy keyboards. You’ll have real buttons and keys that do what they say when you press them. The wheel thing on the MiJam usually hits the sound effect 3+ times with the slightest touch, either that or you have to spin until it actually triggers. You’ll also have the whole keyboard part of it too. Most to keyboards have ‘beats’ (rhythm, songs, whatever) the MiJam ones are similar to any you’d find on any newish keyboard. Plenty of toy keyboards have inputs that do nothing except let you plug anything in.

    This thing is a really simple toy, one that functions poorly and the input cable is just asking to be ripped out (you can’t remove it, it just dangles). Get a toy keyboard instead.