Djay: A Powerful Music Mixing App for the Mac

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.

Getting Started

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.

gettingstarted

Installing Djay

Interface

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.

interface

The Djay Interface

Basic Mixing

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.

basic mixing

Mixing Tools

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.

Advanced Mixing

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.

advanced mixing

Advanced Options

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.

shortcuts

Keyboard Shortcuts

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 Expansion

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.

keyboard cover

Djay Keyboard Cover

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.

Conclusion

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.


Summary

Djay for Mac seamlessly integrates with your iTunes library and transforms your Mac into a full-blown DJ system.

9
  • TC

    Can’t even compete with Traktor… IMHO this is just a fun app for the kids.

    • Maxi

      You are right TC, Traktor is way better.

    • Jesus

      Traktor can’t compare to REAL mixing. 3 technics, a pioneer mixer and a good vinyl collection is the best.

      Traktor is a very funny app for beginners.

      • rw

        If you are a pro DJ, you can’t be serious. Traktor can’t compare to real mixing. But its definitely not for beginners.

      • fractalfrog

        Sigh…
        Why is is always the vinyl dinosaurs posting silly comments? Are you guys ever going to realize that DJ’ing isn’t about HOW you do it but instead WHAT you do?

        I have worked as a professional Internation DJ now since over a decade and have been fortunate enoough to play in many, many countries around the world, sometimes for crowds over 10.000 people.
        Trust me, the people on the dancefloor could care less about the technology that the DJ use. DJ’ing is all about selecting and playing good music that the poeple want to hear at that moment and NOT about how you do it.

        Vinyl was ok back in the day but face it, we live in new times now and as a vinyl DJ you can’t even come close to using the same creativity as a good digital DJ. I’m not talking about some clueless noob using auto sync, playing one crappy mp3 into another crappy mp3 but instead of a pro DJ using only uncompressed music, external controllers and high-end audiocards.
        I would like to see any vinyl DJ pull off a mix between two tracks, where one of the tracks are spilt into three channels, each channel on a different frequency, one channel looping the lead melody, one channel being LFO filtered and one channel being treated with a flanger/delay combo and all this in a pristine 24 bit audio quality that no vinyl will ever come near. All that might sound complicated but yet it is something that I easily do.

        However, at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter what tricks and techniques you use since it is all about the music.

        (PS. For you next clueless pro-vinyl commet: The Numark TTX is a way better turntable than the 1200′s and the Pioneer mixers just plain suck. They were alright, way back when they were still made in Japan and they still live on that reputation but today their audio quality is far from top of the line. Check out Allen & Heath or Ecler is you want to experience a good mixer.)

  • jesus

    I have 3 technics, 1 numarkt ttx, 1 denon 3000 and a denon 3500. Numark ttx cant compare to technics for mix. i don’t know for scratch, but not for mix.

    I have been mixing with traktor, its different, but, i thinl, if you never have mixed with “real” hardware, you don’t know how to mix

    • fractalfrog

      Unless we are talking about turntablism “real” hardware or not doesn’t matter the slightest.
      I have never understood this focus on the mechanism of DJ’ing because, lets face it, even a monkey can learn how to beatmatch two tracks together.

      Remember being a DJ is job, an awesome job :) but still a job and you’re main task is to make the people on the dancefloor happy. How (technically) you do it is completely beside the point. The ONLY people caring about that is other DJ’s…

      Personally I much rather listen to a DJ spinning Old-Skool Cassette Decks mixing into/outro but have an excellent feel for the dance-floor, playing the exact right song at the right moment than listening to some wizz kid playing 4 turntables at the same time making one perfect mix after another, completely clueless about what the dance floor wants.

      What I find ironic is that almost all the music we DJ’s spin is produced with computers and software but then when it is done, the dinosaurs suddenly regard the very same music as a sacred relic that can ONLY be played on technology that is decades old, with less possibility for creativity, producing an inferior sound quality.

      I also started DJ’ing with “real” hardware and that was fun for a few years but after realizing the enormous creative possibilities of using a computer for DJ’ing (I still use a hardware mixer though) I switched and never looked back.
      I can today easily do a live remix of a track, creating something that everyone at the same time knows but never heard before.
      No, I don’t spend hours and hours preparing my music in my studio but have instead focused on creating techniques which allows me to manipulate the tracks in real time.

      Everything in our society evolves and I hope that one day the vinyl dinosaurs will realize that as well and embrace the tools available to them. Tools that allow them to express their creativity in ways that was not possible to even imagine just a few years ago.

      • jesus

        First: Call people by his name. With “dinosaur” you will not be answer again.

        Second: I understand that, if you havent ever touch a real dj equipment you are a software fan. Try to mix with turntable, try to feel the music, try to feel the different feeling of every vinyl, and then

  • jesus

    TALK.

    Every, and i mean every pro dj use, or have been used to vinyls. Most of them prefer the real feeling to the computer one.

    The point of this kind of setup (laptop, controller) is good for mobile djs. I hate see in mosts clubs a 20 yo dj with traktor, autosync, and nothing more

    • fractalfrog

      OMG… Not the tired “vinyl feeling” argument. It is a piece of plastic, fer Christs sake and not a holy object.

      Your comment about turntables being “real Dj equipment” just show how ignorant and stuck in your ways you are.
      By standing still you will soon be left behind as progression goes on, no matter how good you are at the moment. Evolve or die, just like the din… (I won’t say it :P)

      Your argument that EVERY pro DJ use or have used vinyl is far from a fact. It something that you maybe wish to be true but alas, it isn’t since many, many pro DJ’s today have never even touched a vinyl but instead started directly with CD’s or computer.
      Also there are genres of electronic music that are impossible to get on vinyl since they stopped many, many years ago to even make them. By using such an old medium you are severely limiting your access to fresh music.
      I am fortunate enough to been able to build up a network with some of my favorite producers and many of them regularly send me their latest tracks as soon as they are done. That means that I often can play tracks at a gig that are, literally, only a few hours old.

      I had to laugh when you wrote that laptop DJ’ing is good for mobile DJs and I would love you to describe what a non-mobile DJ is, since just about every DJ is mobile :D
      Sure you might be resident DJ at a club around the corner from where you live but you still drag your music back and forth.
      After been a pro DJ for more than a decade, playing in 25 countries – often playing in one country one night only to go directly to the airport from the club and fly to another country to play the next night – I can tell you: you can NEVER be mobile enough as a DJ :)

      I do agree however about your comment with clueless amateurs autosyncing crappy mp3′s on a cracked version of Traktor on their crappy Dell.
      However those guys have NOTHING to do with pro DJs that have correct equipment and know how to use it. My current equipment cost close to $5000, not counting the music of course, but it is of course possible to spend less money than that.
      A few tips:
      1. Never, EVER play mp3s!!! Keep all your music in original quality (wav, aiff, apple lossless, flac etc.) and preferably even in 24 bit.
      2. Get a high quality soundcard. Buy the best one you can afford since you will most likely have it for a while.
      3. Buy one (or more) external controllers that fit YOUR playing style. You want to have a setup where you do not have to touch the computer or a mouse as you are playing. There are so many choices out there so shop around until you find something suitable. Some guys even go so far as to build their own custom controllers.
      4. Learn how to DJ and I’m not talking about learning to beatmatch two tracks together since even a monkey learn how to do that but instead go beyond the techniques and learn how to read and adopt to the dancefloor. Don’t be the “cool DJ” hanging out backstage with sunglasses on but instead join in on the dancefloor since there is no better way to learn what the people on the dancefloor wants than to be part of them :)
      Do NOT have an ego. EVER! As a DJ you aren’t cool or special but instead very, very lucky to be able to work with something that you love. As I see it, the only difference between myself and the other people at a party is that sometimes I am fortunate enough to be able to stand on stage and play music that I love. Appreciate it for what it is :D

      • jesus

        You know what? we both ain’t gonna change our mind. I started to mix when this software didn’s exist (back in 1995). I have been using a computer in home as a cdj, when the only option was the pioneer cdj100 (which i hate).

        For your speach i will try traktor with two external controllers (traktor x1 i guess) with a friend that has that equipment.

        But trust me, the fact of not search for the correct song, not to put the needle, not being able to put the needle in the correct part of the song, will be, at least, veeery strange for a man that has been mixing for the las 15 years.

        I’ll let you know

  • jesus

    I have tried 2 times 90 min aprox each. For now, oldschool is the best way to me.

  • Rick Santini

    A great DJ is one that can use it all, Vinyl, CDs,Traktor, VDJ, Serato, Midi, Time Code, Drum Machines, Samples, DMX and the list goes on. There is a place for all this stuff and it’s about what you can create for a unique experience for the people on the dancefloor that matters. I have worked with the best and worst equipment out there so please stop arguing about which format is best. This software is great, easy to use and works very well, but remember all of this stuff is only as good as your ability to use it and that goes for vinyl too!

  • adriano

    does this work with dj console form hercules 4-mx

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