Indamixx: an On-the-Go Recording Studio?

The Indamixx portable recording studio is built around a Linux multimedia real-time operating system and provides an unprecedented level of software integration and refinement for audio tasks.
The Bad

The Indamixx is advertised as an all-purpose DAW and is heavily marketed to DJs and those who work with live music. That means the people most likely to buy this device also are those most likely to use it in nightclubs and dive bars.

Such environments are filled with a number of hazards that, frankly, the designers of the Q1 and those who picked it as the Indamixx platform didn't consider. Those hazards include such things as spilled drinks, smoke, ash and particulates from pyrotechnics, high humidity and high temperatures, high levels of vibration (from speakers) and so on.

In addition, there are ergonomic issues that make working with the Indamixx in a club situation somewhat less than optimal. Simply put, it doesn't fit anywhere, and it's easily knocked off the edge of a table. There is no custom mounting hardware available for it, which means its hazard risk is at maximum in a club environment.

Let's face it, the Indamixx is flimsy. Despite its solid feel, the Q1 Ultra is made of thin, brittle plastic—difficult to disassemble and upgrade despite being user-serviceable and easy to break during service. Similarly, its touchscreen is ill-protected and prone to scratching (not to mention breaking if dropped), and there is no custom hard case available for the unit that adequately protects the screen. Worse still, it's a hard-disk-based machine, and the hard disk is neither shock-resistant nor mounted with shock absorbers. This means that, when running, a fall from desk height onto a hard floor has a very good chance of irrecoverably crashing the heads. Given the purposes for which this unit is advertised, it isn't in the least bit moisture- or smoke-resistant. Not all the ports have protectors; there's no sealing grommet at the seams, and the ventilation holes have no splash screen.

Of course, very few computers of any form factor are hardened against these kinds of hazards, and even fewer at this price point. Because of that, it might seem kind of petty to complain about those things, but the folks at Trinity Audio have advertised this remarkable handheld as being suitable for tasks that it simply can't stand up to long term, and that's not good for anybody.

The Ugly

A couple other minor points about this unit just aren't pretty, and they also have to do with the marketing literature. The Indamixx's sales brochure advertises the ability to record at 96KHz in 32-bit float format, and although this is technically true (that is, the hard disk will keep up with it), it implies that what you get in the box is what you need to do this, and that simply isn't true. The unit comes with no pro-audio interface, nor did it come with a list of compatible hardware so that someone building a studio around this unit could select an appropriate A/D converter (at the time of this writing, a list of such devices can be found on the Web site, but I have no way of knowing whether the list is included with the product).

The other ugly point is the price. The unit retails for just under $1,200, which is pretty steep.

The Verdict

I love the Indamixx. I wish I could afford one. I had more fun and got more work done with this little thing than I ever expected. It has, bar none, the best multimedia implementation of Linux I ever have seen—the care that has gone into the software design on this unit is nothing short of astounding.

The problem is, this unit is ill-adapted for the very environments I'd use it in most: bars, nightclubs, restaurants, film sets and other rugged on-the-go situations. It's not robust enough to do the very tasks for which it is otherwise ideal.

Because of that, I can't give it my unconditional recommendation, much as I'd like to. If you have the $1,200 to spare and need to do a lot of audio work on business trips, planes or at conventions, this is the ideal machine for you. If you're looking for something that'll hold up well in hard-core production situations, you'd be better off buying the $600 laptop model that Indamixx also sells and spending some of the balance on hardening the machine to make it safe for the environments where you're going to be working. Perhaps dropping some of the spare cash on a good pro-audio interface also would be a good idea. This solution won't give you something quite as portable, but it will give you almost all of the good points of the Indamixx's exquisite portability and software design without being constrained by its profound drawbacks.