So, you’ve got an iPhone or iPod Touch and are intrigued by the idea of becoming a mobile DJ, without having to carry expensive gear? Up until just recently, that wasn’t possible, due to a total absence of appropriate software solutions for MP3 DJ’ing in the App Store. Now, the tables have turned (no pun intended!) – after keeping a whole bunch of DJ-related apps in review limbo for a couple of months, Apple suddenly released them all, one after another.
One important limitation which all the apps suffer from is the lack of iTunes library support – every app utilizes its own MP3 library. The developers explain that it is currently impossible to access the iPod library the way a DJ app needs to – playing 2 tracks simultaneously. However, it is not a serious obstacle, since it might be wise to separate your ordinary daytime listening pearls from the tracks you’re going to perform with at night.
The first app is called Touch DJ (US$19.99), developed by Amidio Inc, makers of the most well-known music apps like Noise.io Pro and JR Hexatone.
Touch DJ is very different from the rest and stands out with its “visual mixing” concept, claiming that it is possible to mix tracks by eye, not by ear. The app detects the low-bass (kick) parts of the track and renders them in different color compared to the other sonic frequencies. Given that the iPhone has only one stereo sound output, which makes it impossible to pre-listen to the next track while the current one is playing (to ensure smooth transitions), their efforts are quite successful. Mixing visually can be confusing for some users, but it is an elegant and innovative solution and it does help.
But “visual mixing” is not the only novelty of Touch DJ. It is quite obvious that the developers of the app aspired to provide the users a totally innovative way to play their music. The tracks have what can only be described as a “tactile” feeling: they respond to taps, slides, and pinch gestures, and the overall experience evokes old-school mixing on Technics 1200 turntables back in the 90’s.
After downloading, you’ll see that the developers bundled 25 dance tracks in the app, so right out of the gate there’s plenty of music to enter the world of digital DJ’ing. To get your own MP3/M4A tracks into Touch DJ, users can utilize companion programs available for Mac and PC at http://amidio.com/dj, or fire up the built-in Wi-Fi server.
Sonorasaurus by Pajamahouse (US$9.99) is an example of a much more traditional and conservative approach, which in this case gives average results. At its current stage, decent-sounding mixing with Sonorasaurus is a matter of pure luck; you cannot pre-listen to tracks, there’s no visual support and you cannot place cues (markers) on the chorus or verse. Basically, you never know where your next track is at, which gives your transitions a very random character.
For getting your own tracks into the app, Sonorasaurus offers a Wi-Fi solution, albeit not as elegant as Touch DJ’s implementation: you have to upload or delete tracks one by one, which can get really tedious if you plan to include 100 or more tracks.
DJ PLayer Pro
DJ Player Pro (US$3.99) from Musicsoft Arts offers a very simplistic approach, and therefore cannot be considered a serious DJ tool. Basically it blends one track into another approximately 20% before the end of the tracks. The app claims to have full auto BPM detection and auto beat-matching, but in reality those features do not function well (our opinion here). Note: developer pointed out that DJ Player Pro 1.1 is not just about auto mixing, it includes a full interactive mixer.
DJ Player:Blue Edition
The last DJ app is also called DJ Player: Blue Edition (US$24.99), developed by iMect. The most expensive app of today’s review is supposed to be an emergency replacement for a single CDJ player. So, bear in mind you’ll have to get two iPhones or iPods and an external mixer if you want to make full use of this app.
DJ Player Pro is good at being a digital replacement of a real CDJ, offering a nice set of effects and large, useable buttons. However, it lacks the BPM detection and — unlike Touch DJ — track start/stop events have approximately half-a-second lag, making it hard to fire off the tracks right in time.
Apparently, we’ll soon see the Red Edition, which basically will be similar to the existing app, but offer another color solution (a way smart move by the developer).
To sum up, all four apps to a certain extent offer a new way of DJ’ing. Imagine that someone told you 5 years ago that you’d be able to perform a live DJ set from your mobile phone — what would be your answer? The advance of the technology is becoming so rapid, who knows what new ways of playing music we’ll see in the following few years? FYI, you can try I am T-Pain for some Auto-Tune action and do not forget to check out 17 Best iPhone Apps for Musicians
Check out what you can do with some of these apps