DJ Software Comparison Round 4: all the rest…

The others

Hey Beatcornerities, its time for part 4 and the conclusion to my series on DJ Software. My apologies for the delay on this one, ain’t no enough time in the day!

Today, we are going to be looking at some of the lesser-known DJ software programs out there. Keep in mind that I have little to no personal experience in them software packages as I have never actually DJ’ed a gig with them, so the information you hear today is strictly hear-say and from the inter webs.

In saying that, there is no particular reason that I haven’t used any of these programs. Some of them offer unique features and different work-flows that may appeal to many DJ’s out there. There are a few that DJ BRUAEL has been keeping his eye on though…

In accordance, I will be giving a quick overview of each program and who might want to use it.

Lets just get right into it!

 

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Ableton Live (version 8 or 9)

For those for are unaware, Ableton Live is actually not DJ Software, per say. Its actually audio production software that happens to also be good at DJ’ing. How is this so? Unlike some of the other production software packages out there like Pro Tools, Logic, Reason, Fruity Loops and so on, Ableton Live has a “session” mode along with the more traditional “arrangement” mode. The beauty of its Session mode is that it allows you to drop in samples, loops and even whole tracks on the fly and keep them in time through the magic of “warping” (a fancy word that essentially means sync, but more advanced and complex). With Ableton’s Session mode, DJ’s have the control of production software with the flexibility of DJ software.

Of course, this is production software, so its not intuitive! In fact, its downright complex, so beginners will quickly find themselves in the deepend without a noodle in this one! It is recommended that you read the *HUGE* manual and perhaps even take some tutorial courses (Ableton offers live and online schools across the globe) to get the basics of this beast. Also, you will have to pre-plan your sets well in advance, as it takes time to “warp” and set up playlists, and requests will be very hard to accommodate. But, a very small minority of DJ’s are utilizing Abelton Live to its full potential, and for the creative, this is most certainly a candy store for them!

Oh yeah, and the price, its close to $1,000 USD for the entire Ableton Live Suite program! Although you can get an intro program for just over $100 USD.

ableton-live-session-viewWho will want to use this:

More tech-minded DJ’s who don’t mind fiddling with audio cards, options and settings. Also DJ’s with a production-mindset will love the workflow. True-creative types who want to re-invent the wheel will gravitate to this as well.

Who will not want to use this:

Old skool DJ’s who love to simply mix one song to another, scratch DJ’s and wedding/party DJ’s. Budget-ass DJ’s

 

 

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Cross (DJ)

Cross is a newcomer to the block that has just exploded out of the gate with features and compatibility galore. From the makers of Pioneer Rekordbox (a file management system for DJ’s to pre-plan their sets when using Pioneer equipment in the clubs), the Mixvibes company brings you Cross, the ultimate MIDI and DVS system for DJ’s. Cross has a clean and simple layout that manages to pack in a lot of features without cluttering the interface. To me it looks like if Traktor Pro and Virtual DJ made sweet, sweet love and popped out a kid, it would look like Cross. They claim to have the most compatibility of any software around (not sure if they rival Virtual DJ’s compatibility), which means that if you buy a controller, chances are that you will be able to find a mapping for it. Cross has video mixing, key detection, and many of the bells and whistles found in the other programs, plus it has a iOS app for the iPad/iPhone that allows you to DJ without a laptop. Its also the FIRST known *good* DJ app for the Android operating system, so you can use your android phone or tablet to rock a party properly with Cross! Critics say its FX is not up to par with the other programs, but with constant updates (its already at version 3.0) and an affordable price (around $60AUD for Cross DJ, more if you want DVS capability), I can safely say that Cross is the program to watch out for in 2014!

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Who will want to use this:

DJ’s looking for an all-round solution at a reasonable price. DJ’s who want to stand out without standing out TOO MUCH. ANDROID DJ’s finally have a home with Cross DJ.

Who will not want to use this:

FX heavy DJ’s and DJ’s who don’t want to re-analyse and re-edit all their files to suit yet another DJ program.

 

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Flow DJ

From the makers of Mixed In Key, Mashup and Platinum Notes comes FLOW DJ. For those that don’t know about the MixedInKey company, they have been releasing DJ “accessory” software over the past few years, with their Mixed In Key being the premier Key-matching software, Mashup being a fun and easy to use remixing software, and Platinum Notes offering to improve the audio quality of your music files. FLOW DJ seems to complete this cycle with their own stand-alone DJ mixing software. FLOW takes a different approach to DJ’ing others. It uses Harmonic matching, i.e. key matching, and phrases, i.e. bars of 8,16 or 33 notes as its main mode of mixing. FLOW will offer you recommendations on which songs to mix with next, matching them by Key. It will also mix from phrase to phrase using blends so your music will smoothly transition from one song to the next. It can even analyse your track and tell you the best point in which to mix from! For some old skool minded DJ’s this is blasphemy, and for others its a fun and unique way to DJ. Its interface is extremely clean and professional (it looks so smooth), but you may miss some of the customization and control you have with other programs. FLOW DJ goes for $58USD, but you may want to get the other MixedInKey programs for the full effect.

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Who will want to use this:

DJ’s who want to create mash-ups and continuous-flow mixes. House Party DJ’s who want to keep the crowd excited and keen. DJ’s who want to sound professional and clean without spending a fortune on equipment.

Who will not want to use this:

DJ’s who want more control over their music, DJ’s who don’t care about harmonic mixing. DJ’s who have unorthodox mixing methods or who mix across many genres may find this method of mixing to their liking.

 

 

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Djay (OSX & iOS)

Djay is one the more traditional DJ programs in this list. It is an Apple-only program available for the Mac as well as iPhone/iPad. Djay was famous for being the first professional DJ app on the iPad. Its representation of two turntables and a mixer caught on with a lot of people. Apple even promotes Djay and its technology during some of the Apple Keynote speeches, so you know its something to boast about. Djay on the Mac offers a clean interface and super-easy setup. You can mix using just your computer (a customised keyboard layout for Djay is recommended for this and available online), or you can use a few Djay-branded controllers. The iOS version is arguably the more popular version and allows you to DJ with just the iPad, the app and a set of speakers. Their flagship controller would probably have to be the Numark IDJ Pro, which allows you to place the iPad inside the controller for an all-in-one package.

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Djay is a sold program to work with you. As long as you use iTunes to program your playlists (you can’t use other programs or source files from external hard-drives) you will find djay a very fun. I can’t emphasise how fun it is to play with and its price is minimal (iOS version is $5-20AUD and the OSX version is free with most compatible controllers). In fact, I can’t say anything bad about djay, it does everything good. But that is also part of its critique, it doesn’t do anything GREAT!

Who will want to use this:

Beginner DJ’s, iPhone and iPad DJ’s. DJ’s who want to jump into the Digital game little-to-no learning curve. Laptop-only or tablet-only DJ’s who don’t want to lug around extra equipment.

Who will not want to use this:

Advanced DJ’s who want to use multiple-chain FX, Windows DJ’s, and DJ’s who don’t use iTunes to organise their music or use external hard-drives a lot.

 

 

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The One

The One is the most mysterious program on the market these days. In fact, it doesn’t even look like a DJ program on first glance! The One seems to go in a different philosophy than other DJ programs. Usually a DJ Program will try to find a balance between offering you enough options that you have to monitor by looking at your screen from time to time, but also provide you enough leeway that you can focus your attention on the crowd. The One seems to want to divert your attention to its pretty screen and pretty waveforms and ignore the crowd! haha ok its not that bad but by relying solely on waveforms on the screen, rather than manual beat-matching by ear, you will be having a quite close relationship with your laptop during a show. The One seems to combine the Session mode of Ableton and the Traktor Remix Decks live by allowing you to cut and paste any section of any track and mix it with another track, in fact you can “stack” multiple tracks in this way for crazy on the fly remixes. In fact in looks and functionality, I would say that the One takes elements of Traktor, Ableton Live and its own unique interface to create a very, yes “unique” look. Im sorry for repeating myself, but its the best way to describe it. The One goes for 50 Euros at the moment.

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Who will want to use this:

Production-minded DJ’s who aren’t ready for Ableton Live and Reason, want to create mash-ups and unique mixes without breaking the bank. DJ’s who prefer to let the music do the talking rather than Jesus-posing on top of the decks. DJ’s who come from audio engineer backgrounds. Controllerist and modular DJ’s.

Who will not want to use this:

Party DJ’s and DJ’s that like to interact with their crowd a lot. Beat-matching DJ’s who like to mix by ear. Traditional DJ’s.

 

 

Well that is IT! Thanks everyone for making it to the finish line! That concludes my 4-part comparative series on DJ software programs. I hope this has been informative for you all and that you have learned something from this. I apologise if I have missed out on some of the less-known DJ programs but I believe I have provided a good, overall look at the digital DJ realm at the moment in terms of software choice.

Drop a comment if you liked what you read, share this with friends if it helped you, and like it if you enjoyed all the pretty pictures.

Join me next week for a new topic, and of course more music!

From the bottom of the Corner,

– DJ BRUAEL

 

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