Designed with deejays in mind, but with applications for live and studio use (setting delay times, etc.) Gemini Sound Product’s Automatic BPM counter, the BPM-1 ($199.95), is a one-rack-space unit that uses new proprietary circuitry to count the tempo of almost any song. It features four stereo inputs, convertible from line inputs to phono inputs, which let you loop in any four sources, including turntables, CD players, MiniDisc players, MP3 players or cassette decks.
The front panel is simple: dual buttons and digital displays, LED source indicators and a bargraph LED Beat Offset Indicator array. The literature enclosed with the BPM-1 claims that it can track and display music up to 180 beats per minute.
Upon powering up, the BPM-1 performed a self-test routine that sets the units timers to sync and prepares it to count the beats. The two buttons on the front panel assign the appropriate input channel to the correct side of the display and set the beat counting process in motion. Once the inputs are set, unless you need to change them, no further button pressing is necessary.
I ran a variety of music genres through the unit to see what it could do. The first music set I tried was two hard-driving disco tunes. The BPM-1 snapped into action, picking up 120 beats per minute in under 2 seconds.
A couple of country songs without hard-hitting percussion drove the BPM-1 into a frenzy, with the unit doing its best to catch the right beat. Needless to say, its readouts were all over the place. To round out my test, I went techno. The BPM-1 kicked in instantly, picking up on the beats from various songs from 140 to 172 BPMs. Each test assisted me in qualifying the BPM-1 to see exactly what type of music it was designed to tackle – which turned out to be anything with a strong beat.
For a second opinion, I gave the BPM-1 to a novice deejay, who figured it out quickly. He would check the readout of the BPM-1 for the track playing and choose another song with a similar beat to mix into – the BPM-1 would pick up on its beat and by using the pitch control on the CD player and observing the Beat Offset Indicator, he was able to sync up his next song and fade into it seamlessly. After using it a couple of times, it became second nature to crank out the mixes and he had fun with it.
Did the BPM-1 pick up the beat perfectly on every song run through it? No. Did it pick up the beat on the type of music it was designed to read – music with a heavy beat? Fast as lightning!
I also discovered the BPM-1 could be used for other things, such as music cataloging. I was able to take much of my library and jot down the BPMs on the CDs’ U-card for reference at future events – a handy tool to have. From novice to expert, the BPM-1 proves to be a useful tool for deejays and remixers.
Contact: Gemini Sound Products Corp. at 800-476-8633; 732-969-9000; www.geminidj.com