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Open source digital DJ: Integrating Airtime and Mixxx

The Mixxx 1.8.1 Optional Deere Skin
The Mixxx 1.8.1 Optional Deere Skin

Last week, we showed you how to broadcast live. Today we will demonstrate how Airtime works with another open source app, Mixxx.

Mixxx is a cross-platform open source application for DJs. Installed on a desktop or laptop computer, it complements your Airtime server to provide a complete system for both live and scheduled broadcasting. Although Mixxx has many features designed for dance music DJs, the program can be used for any kind of manually triggered broadcast playout, including live speech shows such as news or current affairs.

Mixxx supports a wide variety of popular hardware control surfaces, which can be connected to your computer using a USB cable. A control surface might replace or augment an analogue mixer in your studio, depending on your live mixing and play-out requirements.

If you make the Airtime server's storage directory /srv/airtime/stor/ accessible to a desktop machine as a read-only location, Mixxx will accept that location as its default music library when starting up for the first time. (This location can also be configured after installation by clicking on Options → Preferences → Library in the main Mixxx menu).

You may need to adjust file and directory permissions so that the storage directory has read access from the desktop user account. Enabling write access directly to the storage server is not recommended, as this would allow desktop users to delete files which might be needed for play-out later.

If the filesystem path has been configured correctly, the metadata for the files in the Airtime storage server will be displayed in the main window of the Mixxx interface. Individual files from the Airtime storage server can then be added to either of Mixxx's live players with a right-click on the filename, or by using the appropriate hardware buttons on a control surface. Therefore it is possible to manage the station's storage archive remotely and collaboratively through Airtime, while using Mixxx as the live play-out client in multiple, remote studios.

The Airtime storage archive can be exported like any other file server share. The method that you implement would depend on the operating system of your desktop machine, and whether it is on the same local network as the Airtime server, or remote. For performance and redundancy reasons, it is advisable to cache files required for a particular show on the client machine where Mixxx is installed. For example, for a GNU/Linux client machine, a nightly rsync download of new media in the archive would guard against network problems at play-out time potentially disrupting a broadcast at a remote studio.

Mixxx users can also record a show, encode it, and then upload it through the Airtime web interface on a local or remote server for collaborative or user-generated broadcasts.

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