Professional and at-home DJs have been offering praise for djay throughout its evolution from freeware to an app. But it’s not one to rest on its laurels. Djay 2, its latest evolution, has just been released with enhancements that make it even easier to use on the fly at the club or in the privacy of your own home.
But is easier necessarily better? Are more gimmicks a boon or a bane to what is typically a simple-to-use app? Find out after the jump.
The Good Old Basics
For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the app’s capabilities, think of djay as a personal DJ on your iPad. It allows users to mix songs from their music libraries together, either in synced playback, by using effects to make transitions or both.
It can match the BPMs — that’s beats per minute — of songs together for a seamless playback of your favorite tunes without the dead air that comes between one track transitioning to the next, and whilst maintaining a steady wall-to-wall flow of the music.
For more advanced users, the tool is also capable of remixing tunes, which comes courtesy of its varied sampling techniques, hot keys and the sound effects that are available, as well as its ability to record the music you are playing or creating.
New Analysis Tool
Now that those basics are understood and presumably mastered, djay takes the experience up a few notches with some nifty new tricks.
One that starts before your party is to have djay 2 analyze the music in your collection prior to mixing. This tool will scan through songs to determine songs’ BPMs (once again, that’s beats per minute). Each song will be marked with its BPM count, and music can be searched and sorted using that information, as well as by title, artist and how length. Regarding the BPM, sorting his helpful in finding smoother songs to transition into one another.
Analyzing takes about 10 to 15 seconds per song, so if you have a lot of music on your iPad, it’s going to be a while before you can jump in. The other less direct way to get this information is to simply start mixing. djay 2 can also determine a song’s BPM this way, though it’s a one-at-a-time deal and you won’t have a comprehensive listing of your music collection available immediately.
New Visuals with Waveform View
While knowing a song’s BPM helps with mixing, sometimes the eye is just as important as the ear. djay 2 accommodates that with perhaps its most helpful tool, the waveform view. Typically, the djay and djay 2 screens will feature dual turntables (or one, if you have your device is standing vertically). While the records spin, they’ll show the artwork of the album and the next song that is in the cue.
While fun to look at, it wasn’t a visual that necessarily helped DJs with the task at hand. Waveform view tries to compensate for that. Tapping the “wave” key in between the two turntables will switch your view from the turntables to waveform.
Waveform view is a spectrum-colored analysis of the track. Different elements of the song, such as explosive kicks, choruses, moments of silence, etc., take on a color. The DJ is then able to able to match up like colors, and seemingly similar sounds and beats of two songs so that the transition between the two is more fluid. This is helpful for syncing up songs that may have the same BPM, but don’t necessarily align in pre-programmed mix sequences (think tunes with long intros or breaks, or those with explosive sound elements).
And much like a vinyl record, the tune can be “scratched” and moved back to a certain point. If users tap the “slip” button, the flow of the song won’t be interrupted, meaning it will continue to play while you insert your effects. It is also easier to use beat grids, which at their essence more accurately map and match the tune’s BPM and can help with synching it to another song.
More Effects with Sampler View
Sampler view is another new addition found in djay 2. Here, sound effects a DJ might need are a hot key away — and those that aren’t can be created by the user. Divided into three categories, sound effects can be found in Essentials (think things like foghorns, synth beats and drum kicks), Sound FX (gunshot, laser beams, things you might hear on the radio) and a Dubstep Pack (wobbles, inspired snares and grzzls).
These can be added to smooth transitions or to spice up particularly long songs, as well as jazz up and remix currently playing tracks on the fly.
As far as this reviewer can tell, sound effects can’t be programmed to go off at certain points in a song, but advanced users could find the keys beneficial for remixing or adding extra beats to songs to speed them up. These noises will also spice up songs and keep listeners on their dancing feet.
Should djay 2 Enter Rotation?
djay 2 has a slew of other features, such as the ability to cue a song to a certain point, a full-screen library, a cue list, a history list, and “club lighting mode” so the iPad is easier to look at in the murky lights of a lounge or club.
It’s a must-have for hard-core DJs, as it and the iPad it’s on can easily be connected to a DJ system, even offering the ability for users to listen to a song in their headphones while using the “preview” option — all without interrupting a song that is being output through the speakers.
Is djay 2 a little advanced for a casual music fan? Perhaps. These aren’t tools that are necessary to listen to the music, they just add a little bit of fun and can make old songs new by presenting them in a new fashion, either with a custom-crafted remix or within a meshed-together playlist. But that same casual fan will probably find the tools provided to be more complex than they need. Simple mixing of the songs can be attained using the first and cheaper version of djay, while djay 2’s visual add-ons are more likely to appeal to professionals.
Unless you have a deeper interest in playing music for groups, this app is not likely to be one you’ll use often. But if you do play music for groups — or just like to make custom mixes for yourself or friends — you’ll be able to churn out top-quality mixtapes.