Perhaps it’s just me and my complete lack of musical ability, but any time I open up a bit of DJing software, I get completely lost – There are far more knobs, levers, sliders, options and timelines than any man could ever want. I do, however, quite enjoy doing a bit of casual mixing, but don’t want to go through a massive learning curve to get there.
Enter Djay, a very impressive DJing app from Algoriddim, which does everything most users will want it to, in a beautiful interface which is very easy to get to grips with. Sounds like your sort of thing? Read on to see just how good it is.
For an app with so many features, the free trial, which you can download from the Algoriddim website, is a mere 9.3 MB, so it’ll download nice and fast. You’ll then have the standard installation which we all know and love – just drag the application into your Applications folder, and Djay is installed and ready to use for all your partying needs. Couldn’t be simpler.
Djay is also available from the Mac App Store, if you prefer that route, although you don’t get the option to bring it for a test run first.
Music apps are known for their love of skeuomorphic interface elements (elements which look like their real life counterpart), and Djay is no different, with plenty of sliders and a beautiful turntable. You can instantly tell exactly what almost everything does, and if not, you can easily find out by messing around with it during a song.
While the interface is nice, to me, it seems that the graphics have been scaled up and don’t look as crisp as they could be. This is a shame, because it would give it even more of the “Wow Factor” were the interface to be as polished as some of the other DJ apps. Nevertheless, it’s not horrific, and it doesn’t make it impossible to use.
Like the best apps, Djay is easy to learn, but difficult to master. Upon first opening up Djay, you’ll see all of your iTunes music on the right, which you can drag onto the turntables and instantly create a song.
The BPM will be calculated for you, and saved on Djay for future reference (although not, however, ported back to iTunes, which would have been nice). You can sync the two tracks’ BPM in order for it to play seamlessly. This alters the speed of one of the tracks to match the other. Unfortunately, this results in the pitch becoming higher or lower, which, although sometimes fun, can be annoying.
There are plenty more features that anyone will be able to use, such as reversing a track, adjusting the equaliser, and the mixer. If you’re a casual DJ, you’ll be perfectly happy with these features, but for the more serious DJ, there’s plenty for you too.
Djay is not just an app for those of us who have no musical ability whatsoever – it is also equally good for the true DJ, with plenty of features hidden in the menu bar. You have loads of effects and can alter just about anything.
You can also add multiple cue points which can all be accessed via the keyboard for some amazing results. I am essentially the least musical person there is, and even I could create some great effects using cue points and a bit of experimentation.
Trackpad and Keyboard Integration
As you would expect with a DJ app, the keyboard plays a big role, and there are over 80 keyboard shortcuts, enabling you to control everything with a few taps, from the mixer, to the cue points, to the speed and pitch bends.
Although it’ll take you a while to learn 80 shortcuts, you’ll quickly pick up a few crucial ones and be on your way to music heaven in no time.
What I find more impressive is the use of the trackpad. Place the cursor over any slider, and you can control it with a two-fingered swipe, which is pretty useful, but the magic is when you place your cursor over the turntable. A two-fingered horizontal will slide the mixer, and a two-fingered vertical swipe will scratch the track, making you really feel like a proper DJ.
The same things will work when scrolling with the mouse, but the trackpad just feels right, and you can really get into those big gestures.
Djay is not just a standalone app – it has all kinds of software and hardware which can turn your computer into a music-making beast. First up is the Djay Remote, an iPhone/iPod Touch app which allows you to control Djay from a distance, if both devices are on the same network.
This means that you can be the party-maker and the party-goer at the same time. It will knock you back $4.99, but considering how much most DJ software costs, that’s a small price to pay.
Secondly, Algoriddim have produced a lovely keyboard cover which will not only protect your MacBook’s keyboard, but will help you learn all those shortcuts with a colour-coded design and lots of detail. It costs $29.95, and works on MacBooks, MacBook Airs, MacBook Pros, and even PowerBook G4s.
Thirdly is the one for the serious DJs – the MIDI Controller. The Vestax Spin was specifically developed for Djay and will turn your Mac into a true musical powerhouse. There are plenty of other controllers which will work with Djay, but Algoriddim recommends this one. It doesn’t come cheap, however, at $280 (Djay software included), so it’s only really for the professionals.
I love Djay. I could sit, playing with it for hours. Even when I was supposed to be writing this review, I kept finding myself back there, getting lost in it for 15 minutes before suddenly realising I had work to do. It’s a joy to use, and produces surprisingly great results with absolutely no ability or learning required, which is something I can say about very few apps.
At just $49.95, I would say it’s well worth it, whether you want to play with it for fun, bring the house down at a party, or become a professional DJ. If you do nothing else today, buy, or at least try, this app.