Djay 2.3.1 review
When you need a quick music mix, the temptation to fire up iTunes can be tough to resist. But a dedicated DJ app will give you more advanced features that make playing music more fun - and fun is what DJing is all about, right? While advanced apps such as Native Instruments’ Traktor Pro certainly fit the bill, for many users they’re overkill and over-budget.
Many people are just looking for a tool that combines iTunes’ playback library with the basic tools for mixing, scratching, effecting, looping, and sharing music. And for that purpose, you’ll have a tough time beating Algoriddim’s Djay. Surprisingly, more-serious users may want it in their arsenal, too.
The interfaces of most advanced DJ programs resemble airplane cockpits. Djay’s visual presentation, by contrast, is immediately understandable - imagine iTunes if it had been created for DJing.
Djay’s main screen has two virtual turntables separated by a crossfader, with play, reverse, speed, pitch, EQ, and volume settings for each deck. To the right of the turntables, you see your iTunes library, browsable by playlist or searchable. For some, this functionality alone will be worth the purchase price. But regardless of your user level, Djay provides powerful features as you dig further in.
Basic operation couldn’t be simpler. Pick a track, drag it to one of the decks, and the turntable spins to life, even displaying the track’s album art on the virtual record. (It’s fun just watching your album art spin around.) Most of what you can do with a real deck, you can do with Djay’s decks: You can stop and start a deck by clicking on the “record,” and you can skip to different parts of a track by moving the tone arm.
Drag the record, and Djay simulates scratching; even better, if you’re using a Mac laptop, you can scratch using a two-finger trackpad gesture. Djay even mimics the momentum and inertia of a deck.
Using the speed and pitch controls, combined with the program’s per-album cueing and scratching, you can manually beat-match with Djay, though you don’t get the convenient waveform displays found in tools such as Traktor or M-Audio Torq. (On the other hand, you get something more akin to the experience of working with real vinyl.)
For beginning users, or for unattended mixing, Djay includes a number of “autopilot” features. You can transition automatically between tracks, optionally adding pre-defined effects such as backspin and echo. The effects sound good and can be a lot of fun, though they do get a bit repetitive after a while, even when randomly-selected. You can also add backspin and forward-spin effects while playing a track.
If manual beat matching isn’t your style, or your area of expertise, there’s a tap-tempo function. By clicking the Tap button along with a track’s beat, the software can calculate the tempo in beats per minute (BPM).
Plus and minus controls allow you to manually adjust playback speed for each deck, and a Sync button is intended to automatically align one track’s tempo to the tempo of the other deck. In practice, I found this arrangement a bit tough to use, especially given that there isn’t a “nudge” control for shifting one track forward or backward relative to the other.
I wound up manually adjusting tempo, and even then, the result was an approximation. Then again, if you need advanced auto-beat-matching features, you probably want a more-advanced tool than Djay.