June 1

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Mixed in Key Review: The Ultimate DJ Plugin for Harmonic Mixing?

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If you are new to the technical aspects of music, then you may not be familiar with what key mixing is. You may have heard DJs mention things like “mixing in key” or “harmonic mixing”, but what do these statements actually mean? Well, in music, every piece is in a key. By mixing music in the same keys or ones that are close, you create beautiful music.

Today, you don’t need even need to understand musical theory in detail to do this. As long as you have the right digital software at your disposal, you can create musical art.

Digital software comes in handy when you need to determine which of your tracks are key compatible with each other. This is why you need Mixed in Key, especially if you use software that does not come with built-in key detection. It works by doing the analysis for you, effectively making harmonic mixing much more effortless.

mixed in key Ableton-Live

What is Mixed in Key?

Mixed in Key, sometimes referred to as MIK is a software for both Windows and MacOS that is used by top DJs and producers to simplify the technique of harmonic mixing. In addition to allowing you to edit track metadata (song title, artist) manually, it also lets you analyze all your WAV and MP3 files in readiness for mixing in key. Mixed in Key can also be used as a tool in music production for analysis of samples.

The first version of Mixed in Key was developed for a Windows interface and consequently released on March 25, 2006. Not too long afterward, development for a version that would be compatible with Mac OS X began, with a version finally being released on June 4, 2006.

As a key detection software, Mixed in Key runs on the Tornart key detection algorithm developed by Zplane, which has been used to make the Elastique real-time pitching algorithms that have been employed by well-known software such as Native Instruments and Ableton. The initial Tornart algorithm only had a modest Windows-based demo that was unable to process a huge collection of audio files at once.

Since May 2007, Mixed in Key has continued to make improvements on this key detection algorithm. This was done by combining the original Tornart with a custom-in house algorithm, for which Mixed in Key was granted a patent. This newly developed algorithm was released in Version 3.0, with the latest version being 8.5.

My story with Mixed in Key

I used to key all my tracks with a pitch pipe before Mixed in Key was introduced in the market. Once found the key, I would then write it down. This was very time-consuming and even frustrating at times, especially when I really got into melodies and harmonies. It wasn’t hard to notice the flaw of not mixing in key.

Mixed in Key made my work so much easier and enjoyable since it analyzed my tracks and reported the key with more accuracy than my humble pitch pipe. I have used Mixed in Key ever since, and so far so good. In addition to creating my own unique mashups (which my audiences enjoyed by the way), I have been able to make my beatmixes far more interesting with the software, as well as make smooth transitions from one genre to another. Hyping up my audience become so much easier with the energy level feature of Mixed in Key since I know exactly which playlist to use.

Key features

  • Cue Point detection algorithm/Cue curve

One of the later versions of Mixed in Key released in 2015 incorporated an improved algorithm that automatically detected and effectively placed cue points for users of Traktor and Serato. However, you. The latest version incorporates this system, in addition to some new functionality. This latest improvement allows you to drop a perfect cue point through a system of peaks. The highest point of the peak indicates where the software predicts a cue should be. You can also edit where the automatic cue points are dropped, in addition to importing them from Traktor and Serato.

  • Built-in MetaBliss ID3 tag manager

Mixed in Key also incorporates a standalone MetaBliss ID3 tag manager app, essentially a bulk tag editor, in their latest version. This built-in feature allows you to clean up your playlists, folders, files, in addition to editing track titles, editing artists, comments and any other information, including for more than tracks. With this feature, your music library is similar to an Excel spreadsheet, allowing you to move from one individual ID3 field to the next as you clean them. In addition to this, you can also correct any issues you may find such as extra spaces, irrelevant promo links in the track comments, and automatically make changes to the case to a number of provided options. This process is just as easy as what you would normally do in iTunes.

  • X-ray waveforms

The Mixed in Key software features a whole-track waveform view that functions by separating beats from melodies, allowing you to easily find where cue points ought to be dropped.

mixed in key Melodyne

  • Track importation

You can import your tracks and then direct Mixed in Key on what to do with the information- where to write it depending on the DJ software you are using (there are usually guidelines in the incorporated documentation that will help you make a decision on the next step to take)- and effectively get it going. After a few moments on each of the tracks, you will have your key, energy and cue information all added accurately. The next time you use your DJ software, all this information will still be present and in the correct format.

  • Result verification with a Grand Piano

A Grand Piano has been added to the latest version of the Mixed in Key that allows you to verify the results you get at any time. This is an optional feature and is only meant to test the accuracy of the software.

  • Tag personalization

You have the option to customize your ID3 tagging to facilitate the storage of Mixed in Key results within your music files. You can use then use these results in Virtual DJ, Ableton Live, Serato, Pioneer CD-Js, Traktor, and any other DJ software you might have.

  • Export cue points to Traktor and Serato

Earlier versions of Mixed in Key did not have a user-editable feature in the software that dropped the cue points. You now have the ability to configure Cue Point writing in order to update cue points in Serato and Traktor.

What to expect from Mixed in Key

Mixed in Key was a pioneer of the harmonic mixing revolution, and has since been used by DJs and producers alike for blending samples, whole tracks, melodies, vocals, and basslines. In order to be able to use harmonic mixing techniques to your advantage, you have to be aware of the key of the music you intend to play.

Some of the things you can expect from using Mixed in Key include:

  • More adventurous beatmixes

In the past, beatmixes were not at all easy especially since you had to use manual beatmatching. Currently, virtually anyone that can access a sync button has the ability to beatmix. As a result, you have to go the extra mile to make your beatmixes stand out from the rest. Mixed in Key allows you to attempt more interesting beatmixes and achieve harmonic mixing. Consequently, you end up with impressive mixes that are on the beat as well as on key.

  • Create your own unique mashups

Mixed in Key Mashup allows you to borrow elements from a range of tracks and almost instantly loop and come up with new tracks from them, and they will all be in key. You can then save your newly created mashup and add it to your DJ software so that at your next gig, all you have to do is play it and sound great.

  • Make genre and BMP switches effortlessly

With Mixed in Key, you don’t have to beatmix only one genre during your set. You have the option of experimenting with genres changes, as well as BPM and energy level changes to keep your audience lively during a set. Many DJs shy away from making bold genre changes since they are worried their sets will end up sounding random and chaotic, but with Mixed in Key, your music is key matched. This means the transitions you make are going to be more seamless than if you opt not to use Mixed in Key.

  • Allows you to include acapellas in your DJ sets

Finding the perfect acapella (a vocal without instrument) that fits over an appropriate instrumental was previously rare. However, with software like Mixed in Key, you can effortlessly key the acapellas and instrumental tracks of your choice. Consequently, you can discover new ways to play vocals that are not accompanied by instruments, or even introduce your audience to underground instrumentals.

  • Energy level ranking

Mixed in Key ranks every song in your library on a scale of 1-10 by how danceable it is. This allows you to group all the songs that will get the crowd going in one playlist, while the more laidback tracks are categorized in another playlist. This way, you will have the right song for every mood and occasion, making it easier to cater to a diverse audience.

  • Cue points

Finding cue points can be extremely time-consuming, taking up hours of crucial prep-time in your DJ management software. Opt to use Mixed in Key for automatic suggestions and storage of up to 8 cue points per track, freeing up your time and allowing you to concentrate on other areas.

  • Ability to clean your music files

As a DJ, your MP3 file inevitably fills up with junk comments and other useless information from time to time. You can take advantage of the efficiency that Mixed in Key provides when it comes to cleaning up your music files. This way, you can maintain organization and only retain the most important information on your laptop or CD-J.

How does it work?

In order to use harmonic mixing techniques, you need to have an idea of the key of music you intend to play. Mixed in Key works by scanning your music library and matching the results to the Camelot EasyMix system which informs you what key a sample or a song is in, and what will mix seamlessly with it. This system eliminates the need to have in-depth knowledge of keys or even music theory. Mixed in Key feeds the results from analyzing your music collection to your DJ software, with as much accuracy as possible to ensure that the transition in your mixes is seamless.

The Camelot Wheel system represents each musical key by a number and letter combination. The Major Chords are in the outer ring, while the Minor Chords are represented in the inner Chords. You have the option to stick to the same key for your whole set for a “perfect” set-although this could bore your audience quickly- or you can hype up your audience by moving around from one key to another on the Camelot Wheel. To ensure that you achieve harmonic mixing, move upwards or downwards one increment in a straight line on the Camelot Wheel. You can also move clockwise or anti-clockwise around the wheel for a fresh and dynamic mix.

You can use the energy level feature in the Mixed in Key software to rate every track in your music library on a scale of 1-10. This enables you to understand a track’s potential and how your audience responds to it so that you have a track for livening up the audience and another to set the mood.

In summary, the three elements that constitute harmonic mixing are as follows:

  • Analyzing your music collection in order to determine their musical key
  • Use the key results to label all your music so that you can retrieve the key quickly
  • Learning which keys go well together, and mixing based on this knowledge

mixed in key guitar

Price and Plans

Here is the pricing of Mixed in Key and other additional plans that you will need:

  • Mixed in Key 8 will cost you $58.
  • Captain Plugins, which includes captain chords, melody, deep, and play will cost you $79.
  • Mixed in Key studio edition will cost you $58.
  • Odesi Music Composition will cost you $49.
  • Platinum Notes 4.0 will cost you $98.
  • Mashup 2.5 will cost you $39.
  • Flow 8 Deck will cost you $58.
  • DJ Collection, which includes all DJ software and Odesi music composition will cost you $149.
  • The complete collection, which includes the DJ collection and plugins will cost you $249.

Pros

  • You don’t need to know the details of music theory or even be familiar with which keys sound good together to use Mixed in Key.
  • Using Mixed in Key allows you to come up with your own unique mashups.
  • Mixed in Key simplifies harmonic mixing and generally help you make the transition from one track to another during your set in a seamless manner.
  • You can use the harmonic mixing system of Mixed in Key to perform longer mixes.
  • You don’t have to worry about key clashes when you use Mixed in Key as recommended.
  • You can take advantage of the key notation software to hone your skills in mixing.

Cons

  • If you are a beginner in the sense that you are not familiar with musical keys, it may take you some time before you learn the basics.
  • Mixed in Key is more expensive as compared to other DJing software like Virtual DJ, Beatunes and Rekordbox
  • There is no feature that allows you to change your track filenames as per the metadata consequently limiting flexibility.
  • You cannot use Mixed in Key if you are not connected to the internet in versions that follow version 2.5

mixed in key ableton_master

Verdict

Mixed in Key is undoubtedly one of the best software out there when it comes to harmonic mixing. Even though the pricing may be a little steep for some, it is definitely worth your money and time. If you are a beginner, you can take the time to learn, even with limited knowledge of music keys. If you have more experience, make sure to take advantage of all the exciting features incorporated in the software to improve your sets. It has been used by some of the world’s top DJs, including David Guetta, Armin Van Buuren, Ali Dubfire, Diplo, and many more, with positive feedback from all of them. All in all, I would recommend Mixed in Key if you are interested in harmonic mixing.

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