Round-up: 8 iPad/iPhone DJing apps
28th Sep 2011 | 14:18
In the mix
Pretty much since the dawn of the iPhone, developers have been making DJing apps – a task that, initially, Apple didn’t make very easy for them.
Concerned that we might enjoy our music outside of the warm but secure embrace of iTunes, the iOS overlords denied access to the music library (you know, the one you already owned) effectively crippling the early DJing apps from the outset. Workarounds were found, typically by importing tracks into the apps’ own quarantined folder, or by bundling music with the download, but it was impractical at best.
Eventually Apple relented, and access to the library was given. There was much rejoicing, and the iOS DJing app lurked out of stifled obscurity into the mainstream.
Some limitations do still remain, however, notably the lone audio output that makes pre-cueing nigh on impossible. Some apps get around this by piping one track down the left channel, and another down the right, but it means going mono, and you’ll need a cable splitter too.
Despite these limitations, there are now some very capable DJing apps available; we’ve scoured the App Store for the best offerings on the market, from straight up vinyl emulators to futuristic four-deck performance tools. Whether you’re looking for something to spice up a party, or a serious creative tool, there is an app for you here.
Best of all is that you don’t have to pay a premium for top features, with all of these apps weighing in at pocket friendly prices.
NEXT: Xylio Info Srl Future DJ
Xylio Info Srl Future DJ, £2.49
As the name might suggests, this app eschews the virtual turntable approach, instead opting for a more efficient use of screen real estate. Two horizontal track players are separated by a crossfader, with your main transport controls cleverly tucked away in the corners, under the track names and so on.
A hidden panel slides out to reveal looping functionality, basic EQs and FX giving, this small app an impressive feature list. An audio split mode means you can pre-cue for the authentic DJ experience, and more importantly, share your mix with the world.
All in all a decent all rounder for the iPhone (there’s no native iPad version), with enough features to easily make it more than just a time killer.
Numark iDJ, £1.49
Ideal for providing party soundtracks, iDJ’s stripped back functionality might not let you get in the mix like a pro, but it does still let you have some control over your ‘set’.
Forget scratching, spin backs and other such show boating; iDJ in its simplest form does all the DJing for you. Just set the tracks up in order and go.
If you can’t bear to just sit back and let the app do all the work, you can still tailor the mixes to your requirements, deciding when tunes come in and out for those perfect ‘double drops’, so this is no one trick pony.
The interface is slick and the look and feel is great, so much so you might just forget this is an app that you only paid £1.49 for.
Amidio Inc Touch DJ Evolution, Free
Neon colours and a futuristic interface make this app look like what might result if you crossed the Konami classic Dance Dance Revolution with, well, a DJ app.
What initially looks like all fur coat, no knickers actually turns out to be quite a well-thought-out app. All the controls you need are here, and once you’ve worked out how to access them, are actually quite useable.
Many of the important features are unlocked through in-app purchases, so if you want the full experience you’ll have to shell out a few beans, but once you do the experience is actually quite beguiling, if a little bright.
It’s not for serious sessions (there’s no split/cue), but Touch DJ Evolution is definitely a great way to kill some time and train your mixing ears.
Algoriddim DJay, £0.69 (iPhone); £13.99 (iPad)
This is without doubt the one to beat. The guys at Algoriddim struck gold with this app, which literally has everything you need to DJ properly on your iDevice.
Two virtual turntables plus all the controls you’ll find on their real-world counterparts make mixing as natural and as intuitive as possible, especially for those with some experience on the old ones and twos. It’s not all old-school, though: auto looping, sync, hot cues and key lock deliver up everything the modern DJ might expect.
One killer trick up DJay’s sleeve comes in the form of support for a dedicated hardware - the Numark iDJ Live – which gives you proper hands-on control.
If there’s one thing we’d like to see added, it would be a ‘CDJ’ mode for the decks to control pitch, though there are +/- buttons on the side to do the same thing, albeit it in a slightly fiddlier fashion.
Laan Labs Tap DJ, £0.69
One of the longer-standing iOS DJing apps (as yet, there’s no native iPad version), Tap DJ is another one that favours the two-turntables-in-your-pocket approach.
The response of the virtual decks is easily among the best on test, suffering little to no lag or audio artefacts even when slowly moving the track back and forth.
This great quality is hampered by the curiously over-sensitive pitch faders, which are asymmetrical in their pitch range, with the difference between normal speed and plus 50% being too slight to effectively use for mixing.
This pretty much rules out the ability to accurately mix tracks, and with no auto-sync feature you’re left wondering what the point is.
To further confuse the issue, there are other advanced features such as hot cues and looping, alongside real time sampling (record from microphone) and an MPC-style sample board.
Tap DJ is well made but curiously executed.
Quixonic Quixpin, £1.49
Another app that takes the ditch-the-decks approach - Quixonic obviously concluded that screen space could be put to better use (this is another app that’s compatible with the iPad but there’s no dedicated version. In fact, not only is this real-estate claimed back, but the developer has also opted for a multi-screen layout that, while requiring some dexterity to use, ultimately gives you one screen for each music channel, and then a centralised mixer screen for, well, mixing!
Feature-wise, all the usual suspects are in place: iTunes access, auto-sync, pitch control and EQs, but sadly no looping or cue functionality.
Mixing can be a touch frustrating initially, but does improve with practice, and the fully three-band EQ and Kill switches do serve to make transitions quite smooth once you’ve got the knack.
Audio/channel splitting is on offer, so pre-monitoring can be achieved with the requisite hardware.
Little Worlds Studio DJ World Studio, £7.99
This iPad-only app claims to have everything you need to DJ like a pro, and that even includes music, coming bundled with a bunch of tracks as part of the purchase. This is good if you want to get started with club friendly tracks right away, but does mean the download is a bit of a whopper.
Two massive platters greet you upon launch and, pleasingly, can be used in either Vinyl or CDJ modes. If you don’t like the included tracks you can still access your iTunes library, while auto-sync, looping and FX are all on offer, with no in-app purchases required.
The two-band EQ makes transitions a little clumsy, especially for the fat fingered, but all in all, this is a good effort that with a little fine tuning could be a serious contender.
Sound Trends Meta.DJ, £6.99
Sounds Trends has been making music-based iOS apps for a while, with Studio HD and Looptastic already getting chins wagging.
Meta.DJ is something of a hybrid product that serves as a mash-up of the company’s existing products alongside more conventional DJing decks. You can combine up to four sound sources - be they music decks, samplers, loop players or a drum machine - slap on some effects and make use of a whole host of other neat options to create something pretty special.
Anyone who has used sample decks in Traktor 2 will be in familiar territory here. In fact, Meta DJ has a few tricks that even the daddy of digital DJing doesn’t, such as up to eight loops in one sample player.
Ambitious in concept, excellent in delivery, Meta.DJ is addictive and powerful. Future DJs will be in their element, but it’s not for the feint hearted.