by Charlie Sorrel
Djay, by Algoriddim, puts a pair of turntables and a mixer onto the touchscreen of the iPad. I have been playing with it for a day and itâ€™s pretty awesome.
The iPad seems to be an obvious place for the app, which also exists on the Mac. Multitouch makes adjusting sliders, choosing music and â€” of course â€” scratching seem like youâ€™re using a real (if very small) DJ setup, and an iPad full of MP3s is a lot more portable than a box of records, or even CDs.
Iâ€™m no DJ â€” when I used to have a bar I banned myself from touching the music as I tended to empty the place with just one song â€” but Djay is dead easy to use. Pick a track for each deck, in either a popover or fullscreen box, and hit Play.
You can adjust tempo up and down, cross-fade between tracks and even pick up the needle and move it to skip forward or back. The physics are faithful to the real thing: kill the power on a turntable and it doesnâ€™t just stop dead. Instead, you hear the sound quickly slow to a halt.
And then the fancy, computer-only gimmicks begin. Tap Sync to auto-sync the tracksâ€™ speeds (BPM), and tap the arrow next to the cross-fader to auto-mix between them. You can pick the type of transition â€” backspin, brake, reverse and others â€” and youâ€™ll sound like a pro. Which brings us on to scratching.
Scratching properly is hard. Itâ€™s equally hard to do well in Djay. If you put a finger on the record and wiggle it, youâ€™ll get that scratchy sound, but it sounds terrible. Switch to two fingers, though, and scratching gets smart, and Djay â€œautomatically applies the rhythmic pattern of the currently playing song to your scratches in real time.â€ What that means is that you come on all DMC, again sounding like the pro youâ€™re not.
Thereâ€™s a whole lot more: When you open a track, for instance, the app analyzes it, shows you a waveform and works out the BPM. When you scratch (or just cue up a spot in the track), the waveform zooms in to help you get to the right spot. You can also set a cue-point and hit a button to skip back to it. You can even put a virtual piece of tape on the record to keep track of where you are.
Finally, it plays nice with iOS 4, with background audio (and auto-mixing!) and AirPlay support (this suffers from the usual two-second delay, making it impossible to use for actual mixing, although Bluetooth speakers fare better), and access to your full music library and playlists.
Itâ€™s a lot of fun, and kept me up to 2 a.m. this morning. Like I said, Iâ€™m a hopeless selector, but real DJs should get a whole lot from the app, especially as you can split the output and send one signal to the speakers and another to a pair of headphones. This is done with a stereo-to-mono adapter in the jack-socket, giving two mono outputs. I tried putting a USB sound-adapter (via the camera connection kit) into the dock-connector and it works, but kills the headphone output. It seems the iPad will only use one at a time.
Djay costs $20. Combine this with something like the block-rocking, battery-powered SuperTooth speaker and you have yourself a pretty sweet portable party.
Djay for iPad [Algoriddim]