Review: Algoriddim djay 2 App for iPad & iPhone

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Forget what you knew about Algoriddim djay and find out what’s in store in this massive version 2 update, which launches today in the App Store. Known up until now more for solid performance than whiz-bang features, djay 2 checks a huge list of goodies off the want list: waveform view, effects, a sampler, beat grid editing, improved syncing, colored waveforms, and much more. Is one of the first iOS DJ apps now one of the best? Read on.

Reviewed: Algoriddim djay 2 app (on iTunes)
Price: $4.99 (iPad)/$0.99 (iPhone) for the first week, then $9.99 / $1.99
Available: Now
Requirements: iPhone 4 or newer,  iPod touch 4th generation or newer – running iOS 6 or later.
iPad 2 or newer, and iPad mini – running iOS 6 or later.

The Good: Huge new feature set, including parallel waveform view, sampler, track preview, effects, x-y pad, colored waveforms, Slip mode and Sliced Beat mode. Excellent, glitch-free performance on an iPad 3 or better. Crossfader features like one-touch fade and transformer switch.

The Bad: Can’t make playlists within the app; you have to make them in the Music app. Uses iCloud for cloud syncing. Its desktop software counterpart can’t compare to Traktor Pro.

The Bottom Line: With its first major update, dJay 2 has truly become a whole new program, with enough performance features to match or exceed any other iOS DJing app. It can’t offer the same integration with professional desktop software as Traktor DJ, but it’s worth every bit of the introductory price and then some.

VERSION ONE PLUS ONE EQUALS DJAY 2

Algoriddim entered the iPad DJ app game relatively early, launching djay for iPad in late 2010. Its turntable-based interface and fairly limited feature set lead some people to write it off as watered-down version of the already beginner-level djay Mac software. Although djay for iPad was still good for a quick spin through your music collection when stuck on a plane, when higher-level apps like d(–)b and Traktor DJ came on the scene earlier this year, it appeared as though djay had been left behind. Realistically, it had been – until today’s launch of djay 2. 

We accessed the gold master of djay 2 for iPad before the launch to test it out, and it is an uncommon update, in that it truly doubles up on the app’s features and usefulness. djay 2 adds so much over djay 1.6.5 that it almost defies a quick summary, but some of the major points include:

  • a waveform view with parallel scrolling
  • a sampler with performance pads
  • many new library features such as instant preview
  • performance tools like Sliced Beat mode + Slip Mode
  • an x-y axis pad for effects and loops

Some things have not changed. Most importantly, djay 2 supports all the same hardware controllers as the previous version.

MIXING & WAVEFORMS

Djay 2: the highlighted wave icon toggles from the Turntable to Waveform view.

For every person who appreciated the old-school turntable look and feel of the original djay app, someone else thought it was missing the boat on the modern method of waveform mixing. Djay 2 bridges both worlds. The app launches in turntable view, but touch the waveform icon between the two decks and the view toggles to parallel-scrolling waveforms.

You can still touch the waveforms to scratch and manipulate them in same way as the turntables, and there is even a new Slip mode that you turn on by touching SLIP in the waveform display. Slip mode lets you scratch the waveform, and when you’re finished, the music snaps back into place, still in sync with another track if Sync is enabled. While scratching in Slip mode, the waveform doubles to show you both the scratched wave in the foreground, and in the background, the scrolling in time waveform that will snap back in sync when you’re finished scratching.

djay 2: The highlighted icon engages the Slip scratching mode.

With djay 2’s improved analysis and beat syncing, you can easily see the scrolling beat grid in waveform view, whether you mix with Sync enabled or more traditionally with the pitch fader. Djay 2 also adds a simple beat grid editing feature. To adjust the beat grid, line up the playhead to the downbeat spot on waveform and touch the pencil icon on the wave display. You can then set the beat grid to the new location or reset it to the original location.

Djay 2: Beat Grid editing features are highlighted.

For some instant clip-juggling fun, the Sliced Beat mode delivers. With a track playing or paused, you click on the grid icon in wave display, and the app creates four 1-beat slices in real time that you touch to play. With the song playing, the beat slices scroll along with the track, and you can jump around on them. Or with the track paused, the beat slices become like instant cue points or samples at your disposal.

Djay 2: The highlighted icon engages Sliced Beat mode.

Djay 2 utilizes colored waveforms both in the zoomed-in waveform view and in the full-song Spectral Timeline at the top of each deck. However, the two waveforms are color-coded in different ways. The Spectral Timeline uses color groups to identify parts of songs like intro, verse, and chorus, while for the zoomed-in views, the waveforms are color-coded according to frequency, so that elements such as kick drum, snare, hi-hat, etc., each have a different color.

Fans of the turntable view should appreciate the attention to detail that djay 2 brings in the form of virtual vinyl grooves. Using the track analysis, the app renders virtual grooves into the vinyl graphic that mimics the look of the groove on real vinyl, so you can identify breaks in the track.

And whether in turntable or waveform view, you can toggle from the dual-deck to single-deck view by turning the iPad or iPhone from landscape to portrait view.

Djay 2's single-deck Turntable view. Note the virtual vinyl grooves and cue point locations on the vinyl. Highlight arrow button switches to the other deck.

NEW LIBRARY FEATURES

A much-improved music library treats djay 2 users to helpful new organizational options. Buttons toggle the library from a pop-up window to full screen and from a low-light to bright-light display.

Djay 2’s improved track analysis stores tempo, Beat Grid, waveform, and auto-gain settings per song, and you can also sync that analysis data to iCloud for use on a Mac or another mobile device. You can analyze either the entire collection or one playlist at a time, but you can’t create new playlists in djay 2; you have to use the built-in Music app instead.

However, a new Queue column in the Library lets you create a shortcut list of songs to play next. Swipe a song to fast-add it to the Queue, or hold a song to bring up the following options: Load, Add to Queue, or Preview. 

Djay 2 library: Highlights show the dark/light view button, the Analyze and Sort buttons, and track being previewed from within the browser.

Instant preview is new to djay 2, and you can headphone-cue music using either an audio splitter out of the headphone jack or an iOS-compatible audio interface. For example, the Native Instruments Kontrol Z1 worked as an audio interface with djay 2 for headphone cueing, but not as a MIDI controller (so far, the Kontrol Z1 only works with the Traktor DJ app on iOS). 

Also new to the library, a Sort button lists tracks by BPM, title, artist, or time in ascending or descending order. The app also automatically saves your song selections by session under the History button.

Djay 2 Libary in "dark" view. The Queue and iTunes Store are highlighted.

SAMPLER

Djay 2 Sampler: You can load samples from the saved sounds or record a sample live from one of the decks.

Twelve sample pads hide underneath the main deck views of djay 2, and you access them with a button-grid button in the center of the display. Tap the button to reveal all 12, or hold and drag to reveal the sampler one side at a time.

Djay 2 comes with three preset banks of 12 samples each: Essentials, Sound FX, and Dubstep Pack. Each bank holds a variety of drum, synth, and sound effect samples from the standard foghorn and gunshot to dark and dirty dubstep wobbles. You can set any pad to any of the samples you want, and color-code the pads to any of six colors and then save your template as a preset to recall later.

Better still, you can record samples on the fly from either one of the playing decks, where it will be instantly playable from one of the pads. 

MORE LOOPING AND EFFECTS GOODNESS

Djay 2 loop features.

Each deck has a pop-up window that holds EQ (3-band plus gain), effects, looping and cue point (three per song) functions. Both the effects panel (new to djay 2) and loop panel benefit from a Kaoss-style x-y axis pad for live manipulation.

In the case of the looper, the x axis controls loop length, and the y axis controls a lowpass-to-highpass filter. Two other loop modes let you create loops manually or automatically from 1/16 to 32 beats, and the Bounce mode sets instant loops that repeat for as long as you hold one of the six buttons.

There are five choices in the new effects engine — flanger, phaser, echo, gate, and bit crusher — each with two editable parameters. In manual mode, you can tweak the parameters with two sliders, or use the Pad mode for the x-y axis. Instant effects mode gives you six buttons that apply one of the effects for as long as you hold it.

PERFORMANCE

Many of djay 2’s numerous enhancements would seem to add a fair amount of processor load to an iPad of iPhone: Slip mode, effects, beat slicing, the sampler, and track preview, not to mention keylock and time stretching.

We tested the app on an iPad 3/iOS 6.1.3 and tried to load it up with as many simultaneous tasks as possible. No matter what though, the app performed smooth as butter, whether we were previewing a song with two looped and effected tracks playing, playing the sampler and Slip mode simultaneously, or any other scenario.

Djay 2 effects features.

Although most of the music we played with djay 2 was already quite DJ-friendly, the app’s track analysis and beat syncing produced as accurate of results as full-priced desktop software, and with cue point and loop setting snapped accurately to the beat grid, it was no problem creating seamless mixes with djay 2.

The keylock and time stretching sounded natural all the way up to the maximum range of +75% and down to about -30% before there were noticeable artifacts in the audio. Also the responsiveness of all the controls, including the sample pads and beat slices, left nothing to be desired.

The only lag we could even comment on was a small delay in opening the library when the app was already quite busy, but that luckily had no affect on the integrity of the audio playback. Overall, it’s a full endorsement of djay 2’s performance on an iPad 3 or better. 

HEY MR. DJAY

Since the iTunes store doesn’t have upgrade pricing, anyone can grab djay 2 for the first week starting now at $4.99 for iPad and $0.99 for iPhone.

For those who aren’t interested in mixing with djay 2, either solely from the touchscreen or with a compatible controller, the app still has some value simply as a sound source. With many performers using iPads either as remote controllers, or as hosts for instrument and sampler apps, djay could be added to the toolkit for performing with its Sliced Beat mode and sampler, creating sampler presets from songs from your collection.

To that end, there are some things Algoriddim could implement to make djay 2 even more useful, such as the ability to import any sounds into the sampler and letting you route the sampler through the effects. Somehow separating the EQ, effect, looping, and cue point panels into separate windows would also enhance the performance flexibility of the app.

Perhaps the one thing separating djay 2 from Traktor DJ as a professional tool is its desktop software counterpart. Like Traktor DJ, djay 2 saves metadata for each track and can sync it over the cloud using iCloud (Traktor DJ uses Dropbox) for use on the desktop Mac djay software or another iOS device. Of course, djay for Mac doesn’t have the same professional feature set or user base as Traktor Pro, which makes it less attractive as a track preparation and practice tool.

Besides that, however, djay 2 has done just about everything right to keep itself at the top of the heap of consumer iPad DJ apps.

Markkus Rovito is the DJTT Tech Editor – got a review you want him to do? Let him know in the comments. 

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  • Stonedsour

    You can load your own samples you just have to do from iTunes.

  • Endboss

    Traktor DJ rip-off. No own ideas?

    • Crippnipp

      Do some research. Then you can talk

  • Endboss

    Traktor DJ rip-off. No own ideas?

  • Carmai

    I think zzzzzz, and zzzzzzz. The best thing is zzzzzz… What why who where? Oh yeah, Djay, zzzzzzz….

  • Mojaxx

    I’ve done a walkthrough video of DJay 2 taking a look at all the new features:

    Hope some of you might find it interesting. This one has brought the fight to NI’s door, for sure!

  • DJ Rapture

    And the best part about this is that Algoriddim is gonna take the features they introduce here and fold them into the OS X version. Beat gridding? Yep. Colored waveforms? Guaranteed. Beat slicer, FX x/y pads, and pre listen? You know it! Plus, Djay on the mac already has samples, effects, and bounce loop, just like djay 1.6.5 on the iPad had them. I see a bright future for Djay.

  • Anonymous

    bought it… feels like an update not a brand new app…

    • Paco Loco

      Yeah me too. For me the fundamental problems Djay has are still present. Disappointing.

      • smuve415

        please elaborate on its short comings

        • Paco Loco

          Ok. First thing that is a big issue for me is the access to EQs and cue points is way too difficult. These are two of the most important controls for DJs and yet they are tucked away in a pop- up menu, cannot be visible at the same time and cannot be left visible at all times. That’s one of the big issues I was hoping this update would address. For me that renders it unusable as a serious DJ tool straight away.

  • Weasel

    is the sync better on this than djay? as its awful and I have to manually correct my tracks all the time

  • ryanselect

    could you not do a review for some software for the android market / or when some of the advanced software you have for IOS may be released on android…. would be amazing.

    • Carmai

      Android? As in Daft Punk? That will be awesome!

  • rafiq

    iPhone in that picture is begging to be used as a supplementary remote for the main iPad app. Seems like the most obvious logical next step…let people use it as a big x-y pad for effects or to control other pages of the main iPad app.

    Much more logical than trying to use the iPhone as a standalone in my opinion.

  • Crippnipp

    Traktor dj killer

    • Anonymous

      How so? i still find traktor dj easier to use in a pro setting. What parts of this app make it better? Am i missing something???

      • Crippnipp

        You use traktor dj in a pro setting?? Hardcore.
        Well to start.Clearer waveforms, colored waveforms the intuitive library design the cheesy one shots (witch make for good fills) loading your own samples in the pads. Being able to independently adjust tempo on each track. Just because its not a traktor or serato app doesn’t mean it can’t be a well rounded dj software. Think outside the box try new things out.

        Oh and also MIDI SUPPORT!

        • Carmai

          And best of all, everybody uses it! …no wait…

        • David de grandpre

          djay 2 support full midi mapping ?

          • Crippnipp

            Not full. They have designed ipad/phone controllers that are compatible with other algoriddim applications. It’s pretty cool check out the site

          • David de grandpre

            yes but all the compatible midi controller are not really interesting imo it would be cool if they would support full midi mapping like dj player

          • Crippnipp

            I don’t think ion was going for “very interesting” but more so practical and compact. Also remember this is an IPAD/IPHONE app..

          • David de grandpre

            Yes but other apps like dj player do it so they could if they want, it would make the app so much better. I know it’s just an ipad app but i like to have the dj player app as a back up so if i have laptop problem i can plug my controller to the app an continue mixing without having to use only the touch screen or a cheap back up midi controller.

          • Crippnipp

            Then use dj player.

          • David de grandpre

            That’s why i’m saying, it could have been cool if djay 2 would have it because it’s better in every ways exept for this.

          • Gábor

            Hi, i’m the dev of DJ Player and i’m really interested in every opinion about my software. Would you be so kind as to explain what do you find better in every ways?

          • David de grandpre

            In every way may be an over statement i just prefer the simpler interface of djay. I find the dj player interface too cluttered since 5.0. In djay i may maybe have less option but i feel that i can access them more easily. So it’s not better in every way but the interface is a big thing for that kind of app and i think dj player should go for a cleaner and simpler approach. IMO the 4.0 interface was way better

          • Gábor

            Thanks. Did you check the new interface of 6.x? We designed it to reach every core functionality in 0 tap (bend on waveform, play, cue, hot cue, jump, etc.), and all performance features in no more than 1 tap. Most functionality is further off in DJay.

          • David de grandpre

            i meant 6.0 sorry not 5.0, its great to have every thing at my finger tips but it makes the interface too cluttered in my opinion. i prefer the way it was in 4.0/5.0 with only 1 deck on the screen and a cleaner interface. It must be cool for someone only using the touch screen to have everything on the same screen but for me with a midi controller less button on the screen is better

          • Crippnipp

            I tried out dj player and maybe it’s because I didn’t buy the full version but is there no looping? I found it more confusing and I don’t understand how’s it’s full midi mappable. Again it may be because I don’t have the $9.99 full version

          • Gábor

            You can try everything even if you don’t pay.

            Of course DJ Player has looping, it was the first iOS DJ app with slip mode and triolic looping options 2 years ago.

            You can find “stored loops” on the 1-8 pane (a cue point can be a stored loop), or “loop roll” in the time group of the effects.

          • Anonymous

            I like the browsers with key detection and overall format with TDJ. does DJAY 2 have key detection?

          • Anonymous

            Newer ipads have the power to handle great applications, i can see in the future dj apps being just as good as their desktop/mac versions. DJay 2 does show us this. i do expect TDJ to improve greatly, its still a newish app were DJay 2 is an improved version of DJay.

      • David de grandpre

        pitch faders and time displays are 2 big things missing in TDJ

        • Anonymous

          Valid, thanks

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