Tuesday, October 19, 2010

DJ Mixer 3 Review

In the neverending quest for the perfect iPad DJ app (basically iTraktor) I have recently stumbled upon the literally named DJ Mixer 3. It has a lot of features we haven’t seen on the iPad and is packaged in an interface that is, well… interesting. So do the functions excuse the graphics??? Let’s find out.

Never judge an app
by its icon
Free Trial: DJ Mixer 3 is a free download so you really have no excuse not to check it out after reading this. The devs let you download and try it and then give you two options for upgrading the package to make it actually useful. More devs could learn a lesson from this approach, it is very effective as I couldn’t resist one of the in app downloads and probably wouldn’t have bought this thing outright for $20. What you get for your download is an almost fully functional DJ app with some free music downloads that are useful for demo purposes. The music selection also sort of gives you an idea where the devs are coming from; the tracks are not really my cup of tea and have a strong connotation of something… I will let you interpret that on your own after you download the app and look at the free song choices.

In App Purchases: The in app purchases unlock one critical feature and one amazingly innovative feature. The first and critical one is “mix your own music” ($9.99) which allows you to access your own music library in addition to the free music you get when you download the app. The second, “DJ with headphones” ($9.99), is a really cool feature that allows you to stream your cue over wifi to another iOS device effectively giving you two stereo channels to work with. There is also a sound effects pack available for $4.99 that probably gives you some airhorns and fake scratch sounds. I am not into that stuff so I didn’t download it.

Autopilot: The app also serves as a stand-alone music player with built in mixing including beatmatching if the songs are near each other in tempo. Sort of like the cruise function on Traktor but with its own interface. This addition is great for someone who wants to DJ parties but doesn’t want to be stuck behind the mixer all night. I use the cruise all the time early in the night at my Saturday night party. I put it on autopilot and hang out with my friends until people show up. The designers also gave the app a “shake to mix” function that is kind of gimmicky but probably could be useful to someone.

Wicky wicky, wha???
The Interface: I have to admit, I am torn over this one. It has some very unique features like the headphones over wifi that are totally innovative and cool. However the whole aesthetic of it is kind of cheesy as the interface design almost seems to center around two fake turntables on the screen. In the initial version they appear to be onscreen for no apparent reason other than allowing you to scroll through the waveform. This can be done on the actual waveform anyway. After talking to the devs it turns out they will be implementing scratch capability into these decks with the next update so at least functionality is on the way. The turntables can be graphically turned into DJ CD players too (?). Like I said, kind of cheesy. This is really the major complaint I have about the interface and the app in general, but it is sort of a doozie.

The Good: The best thing about this app is it is a full-on universal app. It uses all the real estate on the big iPad screen and scales down nicely on the iPhone. The interface has some great ideas built in like letting you see the waveform vertically and horizontally. It even has a unique block readout next to the waveforms that can be used to beatmatch when the tempos are locked. Like Quixpin and Touch DJ, it couples the waveforms on each deck so you can beatmatch. It also has an auto-beatmatch function (sync) that works well and uses timestretch instead of pitch-shift. Speaking of tempo, you can actually pitch-shift AND timestretch on this one. It also has this really interesting “mix” button that when pressed spins back the current track and goes right into the track on the other deck. Sort of a panic button if a song kills the floor. I could probably have used this a time or two when dropping the wrong song for the room (come on, we all do it).

It gets worse. CD players???
The Questionable: This is why I am torn; it has some of the best functionality I have seen in an iPad DJ app, but it is packaged in a kind of ugly and awkward package that is trying to emulate CD players and/or turntables. Why anyone wants to stick to the old system when the hardware has clearly moved on is sort of confusing to me. It might have made sense to use the real estate they plopped the platters on for larger waveforms or hotcues or something else a little more modern and utilitarian. The system is also lacking any effects, which would be a nice addition but not a deal breaker for me.

The Verdict: At $20 (which is the real cost of the app), you get one of the most functional iPad DJ apps out there. It does a lot of stuff in one package that up until now no one else can deliver. The fact it pitch shifts and timestretches is a real standout feature. However, despite the awesome features, I still don’t know if I will use it because of the awkward looking interface. People are going see this thing and it just looks kind of like it was designed for a PC in the late 90s. The functionality however is anything but 90s…

DJMixer 3 FREE!


  1. Thanks for the heads up on this. I didn't know it was in universal form so it was good to be able to check something out that I didn't have to download and install. The fact that it is a universal app is a real stand out. Sonorasaurus has a separate app for iPhone and iPad, which makes me feel like I am paying for the same thing twice.

    It would be really interesting to see how many more apps start implementing the music streaming capability. Pretty interesting stuff.

    One thing I don't like about DJ Mixer is that they originally came out with separate versions, DJ Mixer Lite, Ultimate, Starter, and something else. Anyway, I paid for one of the versions, and now it is asking me to pay for it AGAIN if I want to use my own music. Not cool.

    Timestretching is pretty cool, a great feature I think they only have. One thing to note, from what I can tell, in order to be able to time stretch, the file will have to be decompressed to a WAV format, but it looks like the app may be able to do this for you (if you've already paid for it). Decompressing and timestretching at the same time takes mucho CPU power, but WAV files take mucho disk space. It's a trade-off. I'd say the biggest thing holding this particular feature back is how when you timestretch, the audio chops up. It's a very bad effect. I presume that the devs thought that most of the time when you are timestretching a song, you are PFLing it, so nobody else will hear.

    Also, the way the waveforms scroll is a little choppy. Could be better there.

    Anyway, I give them major props for releasing it as a universal app and for free (trial). While I think it works a lot better than DJ Player/Red Bull, I'm not convinced that it works as well as some of the other DJ apps out there. But, most DJ apps currently do not have an iPad version yet...

  2. DJ PLAYER with NetOut was the first app offering similar music streaming (it's branded versions are the Red Bull BPM apps) _several months ago_. It still has the most flexible pre-listening functionality (master/cue ratio, stereo or split pre-listening, choose master or pre-listening is transferred over network). And it's still the only app offering zero latency for this feature, which is essential for a DJ.

    It seems like you don't look for information properly, sorry.

  3. SZantog, what is your problem with people voicing their opinions? I don't remember anybody saying that one app was first with a particular feature? Besides, the app store makes it very difficult for someone to determine when particular app versions came out, except for the most recent one. Cue.Play.DJ had this feature since at least this summer. So what?

    You want a more detailed review of your app? Fine, I've commented more feedback in the original post.

  4. Cue.Play.DJ had a 6 seconds latency, then they improved it to 2 seconds, and today it's still not zero. Anything which is not zero is unusable for a DJ. Do you want to hear the master a half beat later? Of course not.

    I've no problem with people voicing their opinion if they take the proper time/energy to provide valuable and truth feedback. And of course i'm voicing my opinion as well.

    You finally provided a valuable feedback on the another post, thank you very much. This is the kind of feedback which makes software better and better.

  5. I'm working in Musicsoft Arts, the maker of the DJ Mixer App reviewed here. Thanks for the thoughtful and thorough review. We are working hard to make iDevices DJing more fun and affordable for anyone. Few clarifications about your post and the comments:

    1. We have full scratching and audio manipulation by touching the record or CDJ interface coming live as a free upgrade in a matter of days (under review by Apple). The Vinyl / CDJ feature was our #1 user requested feature but we also keep the waveform (loudness) display that you can manipulate directly via touch!

    2. We do not store uncompressed WAVE files - we decode MP3 and M4A files imported from the iPod lib or from desktops using iTunes in real time, so there's no excessive storage.

    3. The free update under review by Apple also includes full scratching and track manipulation via touch (spin-back, tap to slow down or spin forward) for the iPod Touch and the iPhone.

    4. We recommend iPod Touch 3rd generation or later and an iPhone 4 as the App is pretty CPU intensive.

    5. We had to discontinue DJ Mixer Starter and Pro (Paid versions) due to massive piracy and switch over to use in-app purchases in DJ Mixer 3.

    6. Check out the headphone feature - it got very little latency using our patent-pending technology. We've been working on this feature and technology for a long time to make sure we got it right. You need a strong WiFi network that is not overloaded by freeloaders to get this to work.

    7. We have additional unique features under testing that we hope mobile dJs are going to like. Please see our blog for the latest info http://djplayerapp.wordpress.com or follow us on Twitter http://twitter.com/djmixerapp

    8. We are working with great dance music artists such as Adam Freeland, DJ Spooky, Bassnectar and Steel Stylus to bring free great music to DJ Mixer. We are adding more music styles to our free tracks selection. If you are a dance music artist and would like to have your tracks featured on DJ Mixer then please email us at info@djmixer.fm . The free music we provide is downloaded and played by a large number of mobile music fans on a daily basis.

    Please send us feedback and comments to support@djmixer.fm so we can make DJ Mixer better, faster and stronger...

    Keep it rocking!

    Your friends and DJ Mixer

  6. About the Mix feature. The magic 'mix' button will beat-match your tracks if the tracks' tempo (BPM) is close enough for beat-matching to sound right and tight (within 10% BPM from each other) and DJ Mixer will only use a vinyl rewind or scratch sound-effect to mix when the tracks tempo is too far apart.

  7. @SzantoG, thanks for your reply. Those are excellent points regarding the latency. I'm curious at how it is accomplished. I think that could be the basis of a whole article - review of WiFi-audio-out. (Hint hint hint @dandercore). I'm looking forward to seeing how your app evolves over time.

  8. @djmixer Thanks for the clarification on the decompression. That strange server side solution you used to have annoyed me.

    I understand that the iPhone platform has had enormous problems with piracy, but take it from a paid user: paying for something that gets discontinued within less than a year of purchase is really irksome. Isn't there anything you can do for us? I hate paying for the same thing twice.

  9. @djmixer Thanks for the info. The update looks like it will be kind of cool. I am totally shocked that vinyl/cd emulation was your number one request!!! I guess I am coming at this from a totally different perspective.

    That perspective may explain why even though I think this is probably the best dj app out there I am still not ready to throw away my netbook with traktor pro on it.

  10. people can get all kind of DJ Headphones
    with our best design and quality stuff . we are expert to provide you High Definition Headphones to increase your warestyle .

  11. Hi Guys ! my name is Vasanth ..I have a question on how to lock the set Cues on dj mixer 3 on an iPad 2.

    I have set my Cues in the - IN - 1 -2 -3 OUT which are found in Green , Blue , Orange , & Red circles.
    . But if by accident I touch the cue key again the actual Cue set is lost , I hv to set it again accurate.
    So is there a way to lock these Set CUES to avoid mishaps?

  12. Hi Guys ! my name is Vasanth ..I have a question on how to lock the set Cues on dj mixer 3 on an iPad 2.

    I have set my Cues in the - IN - 1 -2 -3 OUT which are found in Green , Blue , Orange , & Red circles.
    . But if by accident I touch the cue key again the actual Cue set is lost , I hv to set it again accurate.
    So is there a way to lock these Set CUES to avoid mishaps?