We took a look at Cross 1.5 earlier this year and found it to be a very solid piece of kit, taking the fight to some much more expensive – and visible – competition. Since then, the boffins at MixVibes have clearly been busy and have just dropped version 1.7, promising a host of new features that have never been seen before. Sounds good! Let’s take a look at what this new incarnation, a free upgrade for registered users, has to offer.
First up, the beatgrid has had a major overhaul, heading into Ableton-esque plasticity with precision manual adjustments to individual hits, over and above the normal global analysis. It’s finally super simple to realign errant transients from your old funk records and keep everything neatly in time. On top of that, 1.7 will automatically snap your actions to the grid so you don’t have to worry about fine-tuning – when you’re done, you’re done.
There’s also a new Sync Meter, more Ableton-inspired timing goodness. As well as the regular pulse lines, a pair of unobtrusive rings is superimposed over the waveforms, one for Bar (four beats) and the other for Cycle (four bars). These rotate, making it easy to see where the odd nudge and pitchbend is required. All these visual cues make me think that it’s only a matter of time before you won’t even need ears to DJ.
1.7 also includes a clutch of new database import options. Playlists from Traktor and Virtual DJ are now supported and all the important data comes with them: cues, loops and beatgrids remin intact. Rekordbox users are also catered for (not surprisingly, since Rekordbox was written for Pioneer by – you guessed it – MixVibes), meaning you can organise all your cues and loops in Rekordbox, play in Cross, and then pull performance data off your CDJ and drop it straight into Cross to analyse later.
Finally, we get a whole suite of new effects. This is an area sadly lacking from too many DJ applications and it seems that MixVibes agree: 1.7 has no fewer than twelve new effects – four times what it had before – from regular filters and platter effects to a bunch of new proprietary effects with names like Crush, Bliss and Jet. Not too shabby, MixVibes. Not too shabby.
And that about wraps it up. Cross may not have the pedigree of Traktor or SSL, but neither does it have the price tag. Coming in at about a fifth of the cost of its more expensive competition, Cross continues to expand in innovative directions, proving that it’s not imitating so much as covering the common ground, the basics, and then genuinely looking for new ways to support the DJ’s creativity. It also demonstrates a welcome sense of inclusivity, integrating neatly with as many other platforms as it can, software and hardware – in an industry still sometimes too wrapped up in blinkered protectionism, a real breath of fresh air.