One of my favorite hobbies is DJing. It combines the universal love of music with the tactile feel of vinyl (plus it makes people dance) -- what's not to love?
I've been testing a new app for the iPad that's going to revolutionize DJing as we know it, djay for iPad ($19.99, App Store). Now instead of lugging crates and decks -- heck instead of lugging your notebook computer -- you can now rock a party with just your iPad. I spun a decent-sized holiday party for a friend this weekend using just djay for iPad and I'm a convert.
While nothing will completely replace a pair of 1200s (or CDJs or Serato) and a mixer -- djay for iPad is the closest thing yet that I've seen. This app will give you pause before packing up all your gear for your next gig. You'll be asking yourself "could I spin this party with djay instead?" I practiced for a few days, loaded my best playlists and scratch records into my iPad and off I went.
The biggest difference is lugging equipment and setup time. At previous parties it would take about an hour to load the car at my house, then about another hour to unload and setup once I got there. Then that same two-hour ritual in reverse -- for a total of four hours per gig.
With djay the only "loading" I had to do was with my iTunes playlists, and once these were set, I just had to sync my iPad, test the tracks and go. When I arrived at the gig, I had no equipment to drag in -- except for my iPad. Once there I simply plugged into the waiting stereo mini plug (which is jacked into the house PA) and off I went.
djay for iPad features two realistic low-latency turntables and virtual mixer that work just like the real thing. It even sees your iTunes library and allows you to choose from playlists, artists, albums and genres. I recommend reducing your synced playlists to only the music you might play. Having extra music forces you to scroll through longer playlists and can waste critical seconds when you're "in the mix."
My favorite feature on djay for iPad is its auto-cut scratching, which allows you to scratch like a pro. Simply move the vinyl with two fingers and you don't even have to worry about the crossfader. Auto-cut scratching was a great feature on djay for OSX that got insanely better on the iPad. In fact, the iPad app is leaps and bounds better than the desktop version because you manipulate your music simply by touching it, which sure beats using a mouse or keyboard to control a distant monitor. It's as natural as the first day your were born.
When spinning you can play tracks a la carte and when you need to mingle or otherwise need to leave the DJ booth, use djay for ipad's automix feature. Automix allows you to pick a playlist and set a crossfade time and djay will spin the playlist in order (or shuffled). Automix can even beat match the BPMs between tracks smoothing out your mixes automatically. It even has automatic transition control allowing you to choose from fade, backspin, reverse, brake and random.
djay allows you to record your gig via a simple record button and wirelessly transmit your mix to an Apple TV or AirPort Express station via AirPlay, however this only works only while in Automix mode. If you purchase an optional split output adapter (about $10 for the adapters) you can pre-cue your music via a pair of attached headphones. The app is optimized for iOS 4.2 with multitasking and background operation so that the music will continue to play even when you jump out of the app.
It comes from a great pedigree. Born from Algoriddim's excellent djay 3.0 ($50) software for Mac OSX, (djay was one of my Best In Show picks at Macworld 2010 and 2009). Algoriddim also publishes djay Remote($5, App Store), an iOS app that turns your iPhone and iPod touch into a full-blown DJ controller for the company's OS X application.
I just can't say enough about this djay for iPad, it has pro-level features but is approachable enough that even someone who's never DJed before will be able to launch the app and immediately begin using its amazingly fun features. djay for iPad is well worth the $20 and is my current favorite iPad app bar none.