Thursday, September 30, 2010

Back to Basics - DJ App roundup

As you may have noticed this blog has taken a turn straight into music creation territory on the iPad and iOS devices. My original intention was to focus on DJaying but after I got an iPad I realized I did a lot more creation than DJaying with the iPad. One big reason was the possibility of spilling drinks on the iPad, something I have done more than I would care to admit with my computer. I have pretty much solved this issue by using a ziploc bag to protect the iPad. The other big obstacle has been a lack of physical buttons, knobs and sliders on the iPad. This isn't a deal-breaker for me like it is for a lot of other controller obsessed djays I work with, but it isn't ideal either. In any case, I thought it might be interesting to look at some of the iOS dj apps in a little more depth and compare some of the best choices out there.

Sonorasaurus Rex: Ready for Prime Time? Eh... Almost.
You may have noticed that in my Sonorasaurus Rex review I give it a great review but declare it not ready for prime time. As the best available DJ software out there Sonorasaurus Rex still not ready to be my stand alone solution for DJaying. I have used it a couple times in backup situations in the real world but haven't depended upon it yet. It would actually probably serve quite well for a wedding DJ or something less stressful, but for real dance parties, the response isn't fast enough and the beatmatching capability isn't there yet. Sonorasaurus Rex is still the best overall package as far as DJaying on the iPad goes.

Touch DJ: Awesome idea but blown out on the iPad
As far as the little devices go, Touch DJ is probably the best DJ App for iPhone/iPod, as it actually lets you timestretch and do real beatmatching. It also has the coolest interface of the bunch as the interface essentially is the waveforms. You pinch and stretch to timeshift and line up the waveforms to beatmatch. It lets you split the output to two channels for cue monitoring and has made the biggest leap forward in interface design of the bunch. It includes effects, EQ and is generally really cool. Unfortunately, there is no iPad version yet and the interface is clearly designed for the screen of the smaller devices. When stretched to the iPad screen it gets kind of awkward and unruly. Aside from that, it is a really cool little DJ app and if it ever grows up, probably has the most potential of any of the ideas floating around out there for the DJ app space. The existing interface coupled with access to critical controls on the iPad screen would make this one really useful.

Quixync? Cool function, awful name
Another app with some potential for a DJaying solution is Quixpin DJ.  It also has a good interface for beatmatching that uses overlapping waveforms to really facilitate visual beatmatching. It even has a feature called "quixync" which while sounding gross actually is auto-beatmatch that is pretty accurate. It is also a iPhone centric app, but it is a little less awkward scaled up on the iPad than Touch DJ. However, it isn't quite as intuitive or innovative as Touch DJ so it is sort of a toss up between the two. I really like playing with Touch DJ and Quixpin and could see either of them fitting in my DJ setup prominently if they scale up to iPad size. 

A new player on the block which wasn't really up to par until its latest 3.0 release is DJ Mixer. It is an iPad app and FREE download totally worth checking out. I will review DJ Mixer in a later post as I have just started playing with it.

Sonorasaurus Rex
Touch DJ
Quixpin DJ
DJMixer 3 FREE!


  1. great overview, thanks! do you have a spread sheet feature matrix? if not, you should so it's easier to judge exactly what each software does and doesn't do.

    personally i don't see sliding my finger on glass to ever be as responsive and fun as knobs or sliders so i picked up a u2 station for my strictly mp3 sets. but always interesting to see the tech evolve.

  2. Hi! great webpage dude.
    I'm now introducing myself into the dj's world with my new ipad and by mistakeI bought sonorasaurus rex before reading your reviews, and I would make you a question, how to mix well if you can't listen to one deck and then rise up volume to introduce it on then mix? DO you have some more hardware like a 2channel table mixer to make this?

  3. I split the channels, one goes to the room and one goes to my headphones. Unfortunately they are only in mono that way. A DJ mixer would do the same thing, but you would still be splitting to mono channels.

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