iPhone App Directory

7 Skies DJ app review

As I'm not a DJ I've been struggling to work out how to do a reasonable and constructive comparison of a couple of the new DJ apps that have appeared. So when David Boldini | 7 Skies offered I couldn't believe my luck. Here are his thoughts:

Let me 1st of all introduce myself if you haven't read anything on my website.
I m an italian producer/dj, during the last 8 years I have been producing various kind of electronic music, from eurodance to hardcore & hardstyle, house and my favorite (and only genre I produce at the moment) Trance.

I've been lucky enough to perform as a dj in different parts of the world, Uk, Prague, Melbourne and upcoming gigs in Russia, Los Angeles and I m constantly doing guest mixes for internet and fm radios around the globe. All that is written above is far from being an "I am cool" introduction, I just thing that by introducing myself that way, it'll help you understand better from which perspective I see the dj app I m going to review.

Starting with the super long awaited Touch DJ (that I'll call TDJ) that I have been lucky enough to test for a couple of months before approval.

It is definitely a lot of fun, as well as 2 CDJS and a mixer all inside the iphone, so far the app I've spent most time on. At the moment I'm in australia for a few gigs and other stuff, few days ago I updated my playlist on TDJ walked to the beach, got comfy and started building my set with that amazing landscape in front of me.

As previously said, I have many guest mixes and radioshowa that I make DJj sets for. Besides being a hell fun of an app, TDJ is also very helpful. I can create a draft of my set wherever I am, (plane, bus, train or beach, listen to how the tracks fit together, and create the perfect playlist to record it with professional equipment in the studio.

Let's get a little bit more "technical" now. TDJ on iPhone 3GS works very fast and is very responsive. However, visual mixing doesn't allow for linear mixing so most of the time I have to mess up with the bending to beatmatch (maybe just because I m not used to it).

Of course visual mixing is the only solution possible due to the limitations of the device (we all should remember it is a phone). But being used to a certain "mixing method" the best solution I got was mixing with the cross fader, so that it is not at 100% on the left or right side. This allows me to listen to a tiny little bit from the track I m about to kick in and gives me more chances to beat match.

The pitch algorithm works very well. I was actually impressed the first time I used it, I did some A/B comparing with ableton's pitch algorithm and believe or not, in my opinion Amidio wins the challenge.

The Eq part seems to need a little bit of rework, the range of the various band seems to be too large, for example when I want to cut the bass I end up cutting half of the frequencies of the track, something less drastic would definitely do the job.

The interface: Amazing on one side, difficult on the another. Amazing because everything is well displayed, the spectrum is big and clear and the bending (the arrows that pops out over the spectrum and let you temporarily decrease or increase the speed of the track are very well displayed and they have the perfect sensibility.

Difficult on the other side because even though everything is well displayed, the controllers are sometimes too small and sometimes too close to each other or to the edge of the screen, more than once I've mistakenly reset the pitch by pressing the reset, or that I missed a mix because I couldn't push the start button, but as previously said, we all have to remember where we are using this app, so it's surprising to find a very small amount of defects and even more surprising is how well TDJ works on the iPhone.

In conclusion with TDJ, this is an application that EVERY DJ professional or not, should have on his/her iphone, leave the classic sentence "a real dj only mixes with cdj or technics" behind and enjoy this revolutionary software even because, except for David Guetta no one ever mixed with a deck on a plane, with Touch Dj there is no need to be a superstar to do it.
Touch DJ ?

Dj Player.
This other dj app cannot be compared to touch dj at all, not because is better or worse, but simply because the concept is completely different.

It has been created to be a replacement of the classic cdj, it has and does in fact everything a cdj with basic function has (no guys it is not as cool as the new Pioneer CDJ 2000) well what can I say, it does the job!

At the moment I'm away from my studio and I will stay away for a few more months, meanwhile though I still have a lot of gigs to play and I surely don't want to go playing at a club and not being able to mix just because I m out of training.
In my studio I have 2 beautiful cdj 800mk2, the problem is that I surely don't want to carry them in my luggage while i travel around the world, it would damage them and I would have less room to put my underwear (pretty sure you didn't want to know that).

Well, here is there djp comes handy, I have a portable sound card, my macbook pro, an Iphone and an Ipod touch and if I want to be extremely pro, even a small midi controller; problem solved, I have the perfect deck and it all fits in my backpack.
So with this setup I can get very close to what I have during one of my gigs, and this time differently than touch dj, I can listen with my headphones the track i want to play next while the other one is playing.

I have the devices connected to an external mixer so I can have a better control on the faders and eq. Of course, if you only have an iphone or just an ipd touch, the whole djp fancy story ends, and this app becomes handy just to play tracks at a faster or slower speed and to add some nice effects, but I rather keep 20€.

Let's get technical about this app as well. As on TDJ the pitch algorithm is impressive, the pitch control since in this app we have much more space, is controlled by a fader as in the classic cdj & turntables, this makes it easy to take our pitch to the right amount very quickly. To be more precise djp gives 2 additional buttons that increase or decrease the pitch amount by 0.5% each time we tap, this is definitely an amazing function!

The pitch fader can be then set from 0 to -/+ 4%, 0 to -/+ 8%, 0 to -/+ 16% and 0 to -/+ 100% simply tap the number displayed above the pitch control and it will change the value, there is also the possibility to rest the pitch to 0 by tapping twice on it.

A few problems I had with this pitch control is that every time I want to correct the pitch amount by taping and dragging it, I end up with moving it as soon as my finger touches the surface, this makes hard being precise and forces me to use the buttons to increase/decrease the speed by 0.5. As previously said, these 2 buttons are amazing by concept, there is a small problem though, the work only by single tap, holding the finger over it will not do anything, I really hope in further updates they will make the buttons "hold sensitive" the way that holding the button works as multi tapping.

The CUE and play part is another extremely important element for a dj app, the more responsive is the Play button, the higher the chances we have to start in beat matching, so we have less need to mess with bend pitching and more time to interact with the crowd or anyway select the next track or playing with fx.

I have to say that the "play" button of djp didn't really make me happy, there is gap (few millisec.) between the button press and the actual track play so you need to go and guess when you will have to push the button, if you are lucky that's fine, else you really have to go hardcore with the pitch bending.

Beside that, the app is well structured, had no crash at all and the song load is very fast, if you load it with the spectrum view it needs about 30 seconds on 3gs, so since I m quite fast at mixing I really have no time to wait for it, no big deal anyway I would prefer the programmer to focus more on the play response than the speeding up the track view.
The effect part works really good, it provides a small chaos pad where we can add : delay (synched with a master tempo that can be set by tapping on the screen), flanger, Eq sweep, LowPass filter and High Pass filter, the fx amount can be controlled either with moving the finger on the screen or by using the accelerometer.

The interface is less flashy compared to tdj but surely more accessible, buttons are pretty big so you can hardly miss a tap.
I would really love to see a sync software for djp that works as the tjd one, where the upload is done thru usb instead of the never ending transfer via wifi.
DJ PLAYER Blue Edition

So, to close:

Dj Player has very good potential to be a concrete competitor of the cdjs it requires 2 devices and some other equipment to work properly but is definitely a nice solution to mix in the "real" way and with a cheap price.

Touch dj is the all in the box dj app maybe the beat matching is not too easy to nail but the software surely is impressive, fun and helpful (if you have a wider view of things). To be sure not to fail I got both and I m happy of both as well.
I hope it helps :)

David Boldini | 7 Skies

I found that really useful and I hope you did too. Thanks to David for his review of these apps. I hope to have more reviews coming up shortly, but if you're interested in doing one please get in touch.

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1 comment:

szantog said...

Thank you very much for this really detailed review.

The pitch +- holding thing is now officially in our to-do list, thanks for the idea.

I wonder about the play button's latency, because it was a very important thing for us and even on a 2G iPhone it starts playing faster than any hardware tabletop player, plus loading a track is less than 1 seconds as well (if you have the groove image already calculated). We tested on many devices and no beta tester has reported a similar problem. Maybe you are loading an extremely long track (> 30 minutes)?

The USB upload is a no-go for us yet as it's strictly forbidden by Apple and I wonder how Amidio could take the risk.

Gábor (a dev for DJ PLAYER Blue Edition)