Review: The One DJ 1.2 Software

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Earlier attempts at timeline-editing DJ software fizzled out because they abandoned the familiar decks-’n’-mixer format. The One DJ puts the chocolate and peanut butter together, letting you mix traditionally or create live edits, remixes, and mashups in a multitrack timeline that can also work like a standard digital DJ deck. But is this new software ready to take over the world or is it not yet ready to take off the training wheels? We have the full review inside.

Reviewed: Audio Artery The One DJ 1.2 software
Price: 49.99€ (approx. $67US)
Available: Now
Supported Audio Formats: MP3, Ogg, WAV, FLAC, M4A, AIFF
System Requirements (minimum):
Windows: Vista(SP2)/7/8, Intel Core 2 duo or better CPU, 4GB+ RAM
Mac: OS 10.8 or higher, Intel i3 or better CPU, 4GB+ RAM

The Good: Offers deep, real-time timeline editing without sacrificing the familiarity of traditional deck-and-mixer performance. Completely customizable layouts let you maximize screen space. Easy-to-use MIDI Learn. Good-sounding audio quality and effects. Stable performance.

The Bad: Browser has some problems reading metadata from tracks analyzed from iTunes playlists. Mapping to multiple MIDI controllers is buggy. Not able to drag the program window over to a secondary monitor in OS X.

The Bottom Line: While you can use The One DJ in many different ways, its greatest chance to stand out from the pack lies in its incorporation of real-time timeline editing for creating on-the-fly edits, remixes and mashups that can be recalled and/or exported to audio for future use. The workflow of such editing could use a little ironing out before it becomes a trusted live tool, but it’s currently a worthy consideration for your DJ toolkit.

WHAT’S DIFFERENT ABOUT THE ONE?

review-the-one-dj

With Serato and Traktor firmly entrenched in the top spots for DJ software, every new wannabe contender lately has wisely tried to put its own spin on the genre. Updates to Deckadance and Mixvibes Cross earlier this year slipped some ingenuity into their respective samplers, effects and interfaces in an effort to distinguish themselves from the competition.

However, One DJ takes it a step further, almost to the point that it attempts not to compete with the big players, but rather to offer something completely different. Remember the old Mixmeister DJ software that took a timeline approach to mixing, with real-time editing of files, automation curves for mixing between tracks, etc? It never really took off, perhaps because it seemed too much like DAW software to inspire spontaneous performances from DJs.

One DJ bridges the real-time timeline editing approach to live mash-ups and remixes with the traditional decks, effects, and a mixer style of DJing. You can do with it what you like:

  • mix 2, 3, or 4 tracks from decks while adding effects, and playing with cue points and loops
  • or you can explore the timeline editing features to non-destructively edit together as many songs as you want in a single One DJ Player, saving the edits to use again later or bouncing it to your hard drive as a WAV file.

ALL IN ONE

With a focus on interface customization, One DJ lets you start with some preset layouts or build a layout from scratch. Under the Gear menu in the Menu Bar, you can choose from Player (deck), Effects, Mixer, and Browser modules. You can use as many of each module as you want, and each one is fully resizeable, so you can create the layout that best suits your needs and available screen space. The Players and Browser have fullscreen toggle buttons, and from the Menu Bar you can hide modules that you want to use but don’t need to see–like a Mixer or Effects Rack–to save space.

The audio routing screen allows complete custom use of multiple devices
The audio routing screen allows complete custom use of multiple devices

You can save any Layouts you create, and you have flexible audio routing options. The Overview tab in the Menu Bar brings up a display that shows you the current audio signal path. You can send the audio of any Player to any effects deck or mixer, and you can place effects before or after the mixer (pre- or post-fader). As another option, One DJ supports multiple audio interface outputs, so you could send the audio of any Player out to different hardware.

BROWSER

The One's Browser
The One’s Browser

The fairly standard Browser reads your iTunes Library, your local hard drive, any networked hard drives or media servers, and also has a tree folder for the One DJ Library tracks whether analyzed or unanalyzed. You can click on any folder and click the Analyze Folder button below the file tree as a convenience.

There’s one major qualm with the Browser in version 1.2 that doesn’t come up with other DJ software. If you click on an iTunes playlist, it shows all the metadata for the tracks in the Browser as it should. But after you analyze the tracks, One DJ doesn’t update the iTunes playlists with BPM values. To see those, you have to look in the Analyzed folder in the One DJ Library. However, from there, the Browser listings don’t display the metadata for artist, album, length, genre, and others; instead it just shows the raw filename in the Title field.

EFFECTS + THE MIXER

The One's Mixer (left) and example effects unit (right)
The One’s Mixer (left) and example effects unit (right)

In addition to having good-sounding audio all around, One DJ includes 12 high-quality—and of course, tempo synced—effects. You can put as many of them in an effects rack as you want, and activate as many as you want, but only one can be selected for adjustment at a time. The 12 effects—Flanger, Delay, Stutter, BitCrusher, Sweeping Filter, Reverb, Gater, Compressor, Phaser, ParamEQ, ComboFilter, and FrequencyMasher—have 1-4 parameter knobs depending on the effect.

The mixer resting in the middle of the One DJ setup - but it could be in the middle.
The mixer resting in the middle of the One DJ setup – but it could be placed anywhere.

The Mixer modules automatically add a track for any Player feeding it audio. You can use or not use 5 components inside Mixers: EQ, three-band, with Kill buttons; a Filter with frequency knob; Volume & Gain, with channels for each Player and a Master level and meter; Headphones, with Cue buttons for each channel and Mix & Vol controls; and a Crossfader. You can collapse any of those components to save space while leaving them active.

PLAYERS

The decks/players in The One can be routed as well
The decks/players in The One can be routed as well

The Players, or decks, represent the crux of the One DJ workflow. When you drag a track into one from the Browser, it looks much like any other DJ software deck, with a large scrolling waveform and a small, complete waveform for viewing and jumping around the track. Most of the essential controls reside along the bottom of the Player: play/pause, cue, loop controls, pitch adjustment, keylock, grid nudge, snap to grid, and sync & master buttons.

You could stop there and use the Players as standard Decks, or you took take the plunge into the generous and powerful Timeline Edit features. Frankly, if you don’t, there’s not much reason to even mess with One DJ other than its low price. If you drag a second track into a Player, you have the option to replace the first one, or to add the second one to the Timeline. If you add it to the Timeline, and then click the Edit button on the Player, you enter Timeline Edit Mode.

Timeline Edit Mode activated -
Timeline Edit Mode activated

In this mode, you can drag audio files of any length into as many tracks within a single Player as you want. You can move, crop, split, cut, copy, and paste the audio files to create custom edits as complex as you want, all while the music is playing. You can drag the ends of clips to create instant loops of any length, or drag the clips to stretch them to the exact length you want them to be, either shorter or longer. That’s quite a cool and unique feature, which you can do with or without keylock on.

Whether you use the Timeline Edits in real-time for a performance or use it to create sophisticated track edits, remixes, and mashups, you can save the edits for later in the Collections folder in the browser, and drag them back into a Player to use again. The edits are non-destructive, so the original files remain intact. You can also bounce the edits to a disk a WAV file for you to re-use or distribute as a single mash-up, or even an entire DJ mix.

More timeline edit - with some simple automation.
More timeline edit – with some simple automation.

From edit mode, you can also apply volume and three bands of EQ automation curves to any of the audio clips. Those can be very helpful for carving out frequencies in clips so that they’ll fit better layered with other clips.

While Timeline Edit mode can be very powerful, it is also very mouse-centric , and in that way does resemble a DAW software more than typical DJ software. It will flow best if you have a two-button mouse with scroll wheel attached, rather than for instance the single-button trackpad mouse of a MacBook. I also think it could help for Audio Artery to make use of the standard established keyboard shortcuts for functions like cut, copy and paste. Currently, such functions are done a bit differently than is the norm, so it may take some people longer to be accustomed enough with the workflow to feel confident with creating live remixes with Timeline Edits.

BEATGRID EDITING

Grid editing (left) and cue point editing (right)
Grid editing (left) and cue point editing (right)

The One’s beatgrid editing is also a part of the Timeline Edit mode feature set. To edit the beatgrid, just click Edit on a player, and then choose Edit Grid from the contextual menu on an audio file.

In general, I found the One DJ’s track analyzation for tempo and beat grid to hold up against the industry standard DJ programs, but you always will need beatgrid editing eventually, and One DJ does it well. If the software has the tempo right, but the grid wrong, you can simply drag the grid left or right to right spot. If the tempo detection was wrong too, you can clear the grid and use the Measure tool to highlight a single beat length on the waveform. That will then scale the grid to the whole clip. If it’s still not accurate enough, you can Measure two or four beats for a more accurate reading, and then adjust the tempo back using the tempo double and half buttons.

CONTROLLER SUPPORT AND MIDI LEARN

MIDI Learn for loop controls
MIDI Learn for loop controls

Have one of the 17 natively supported controllers? One DJ will instantly map to the hardware when launched. Audio Artery is part of the same group that owns the EKS hardware company, so their Otus and XP controller lines are supported, as is Novation Twitch and several from Reloop and Vestax. In keeping with the low cost of the software, many of the supported controllers are on the lower cost side, like the Numark Mixtrack Pro and several Hercules models.

One DJ includes a well-designed MIDI Learn that supports multiple MIDI controllers. You can designate a default MIDI controller, and then assign specific gear modules within your Layout to other available MIDI controllers though the settings menu available on each module.

We tested One DJ using both a Keith McMillen QuNeo and a Pioneer DDJ-SP1 (review coming next week). The software recognized both class-compliant controllers with no problem, and I could indeed assign different software modules to either controller. The MIDI Learn function looks great as well. You can assign controls to the browsing and loading of tracks, to scratching audio within a Player, to the 8 hotcue points available in a Player’s clip mode and another 8 in Timeline mode, and so on for basically every function available.

Everything with MIDI Learn was smooth sailing until I tried to assign MIDI functions to both controllers. Using either controller as my default, it was no problem creating my own mapping. However, when I tried to designate the DDJ-SP1 to just the Effect Racks, after I made the assignments, the other assignments I’d previously made to the QuNeo disappeared. Going back and reassigning the QuNeo controls meant that the previous DDJ-SP1 assignments disappeared.

We have word from Audio Artery that another One DJ update should be coming in a few weeks, and it is supposed to include a “major MIDI mapping overhaul” that is supposed to fix the ability to map multiple MIDI controllers at once, as well as adding some additional natively supported MIDI controllers.

BEGINNING TO BELIEVE

Can One DJ become The One?
Can One DJ become The One?

If this software is to truly become The One, the 1.2 version is still living the second act of The Matrix, where Neo clearly shows potential, but no one is yet quite convinced that he’ll be the savior of humanity. The promise of The One DJ lies in its fully customizable modular interface and the way that it can offer both traditional digital DJing and a timeline-oriented, live-editing approach within a single deck.

At its present early stage of development and with its low price, it’s an interesting software to experiment with, to find out if the Timeline Edit mode appeals to you either as a live tool, a straightforward way to create custom DJ edits of tracks to use in your sets, or maybe some of both.

Audio Artery also tells us that it’s working on an audio input for the Players so that you can record to a track in the Player, as well as many other features. We’ll have to see how it develops and how quickly, but the good news for One DJ is that is has so far laid down a fairly solid foundation upon which to build and improve. And because of its modular framework, the software seems like it can really go in any direction that the company – or you – decide to take it. Feel free to send them your suggestions.

Markkus Rovito is DJ Techtools’ tech editor. Want to try out One DJ for yourself? There’s a free demo available here. 

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  • ozgur

    i tried the demo. program didnt sound good. and stoped trying other things. also not looking good and safe.

  • Tha B-Rad

    Does it support any sort of time code vinyl?

    • Cebo Glover

      can someone answer this please?

  • MidVinter

    This could easy be the next thing, kicking traktor in the boot really good, serato may be a good software but it looks dreadful.

    One might be great with some adjusments here and there, i really like it.
    it looks better then Ableton, and performs better then traktor and sound as good as serato.

    The audiorouting and Midimapping (LEARN) is ingeneous, back in the day remotes had a learnfunction, and it was as easy like counting 1,2,3

    Native Instruments traktor, feels like stoneage comparing to this, you can manage many thing with the learnfunction, and this should have been in traktor 3 from the beginning, so easy, so nice, and what a great result.

    Midi is simple, why not make it the same when mapping controllers and hardware, heck even my Amiga 500 with a midikeyboard and knobs was more easy to program even without a manual, and there were tons of stuff you could do if you wanted to and had the right software. then say T2P with a basic controller.

    No i think One will go a long way, its quite more unique and apealing then the latter softwares out there, i just hope they dont tread in the same steps and drop on their arse.

    I rather buy this and try it out then Flow from MIK!, thats saying alot about this software
    Traktor may be good, but they have ALOT to learn about design and midimapping!, and as a good example, The Traktorbible!

  • DJ Zan

    How does “cue’ing” (headphones) work on this? I mean,when setting up the clips ahead, can listen to how i will sound or are you only able to do “by eye” instead of “by ear”?

    Hope u understand my question 🙂

    • grosbedo

      Since the timeline-edit-mode is inside a deck, you can pre-listen this deck in your headphones, and when you right click anywhere on the timeline you can select “Listen from here”, which will place the playing cursor exactly at this point so that you can listen the track from here (thus you can listen exactly where your transition is beginning between two timelined tracks).
      Not yet as intuitive as the former MixMeister prelisten mode, but it’s working good.

  • Percivale

    Interface needs a major revamp.

  • Petter

    Can’t make this work with my Twitch, even after the update!

  • i wonder if you can run this at the same time on the same machine while Traktor is running?

    • jesus juice

      for what pupose?

  • Pabs

    Is it fun to DJ with this, at the end of the day is the reason why I use 2 technics or 2 CDJs, because it’s fun as hell

    • djcl.ear

      What a question!!…
      when you can have fun with a turntable or a lollypop, this gives us the remixing, overlaying, tweaking, routing, etc wonders some of us scarcely deared to dream on and it can do all those LIVE. … This comes from an odd corner of the planet, now out at finger reach…
      ///I’m grabbing some Finnish/Australian crazy music and do whatever, sooon. I guess part of me -somehow- knew when I picked up those, that strange things were lying ahead… but the extent of the arrest over the standards (procedures an al) is just humbling aWesome

      • Pabs

        lol I do live remixing with decks… 😉

        • djcl.ear

          Yeah sure, I was a few hours ago playing over a small/mid sound system that sounded quite good for a restaurant launch event in the outside on a garden Boulevard (Southern Hemisphere here). The sound was open and bounced nicely with the stereo and details, and I wondered… how could I overlay (and susbtract, but this is other theme in itself) sounds and layers and do it with the clarity that good minimal set ups do?
          Ok, many other tricks to help in this rather production question.
          But these are precisely the kind of questions an easy and flexible timeline like the One has, gets to help.
          Its like once you sorted the Tempo and the Key alignment, then one naturaly focus on layering, atmospheres, details (I do) and I love to be able to do it and not be pressured by beat aligning or limited by what the software may do.

          Of course wheeling can be fun… guess it is a personal preference/focus. My case always been fascinated by the soUnds how they flow in the air, if you know what i mean.

          • djcl.ear

            Minimal Sets (above meaning musical style) Bruno Pronsato, Ricardo, etc

    • Dan White

      There’s lots of fun-having-potential in OneDJ – but I think part of the joy of two decks and a mixer is simplicity. This CAN be simple – but the fun really comes in with tweaking and customizing. It’s like modular analog synths versus a simple keyboard, IMO.

      • djcl.ear

        Modular Analog Synths?… Those where you may arrange your synth pieces to your liking, adding modules plugged via extternal cables up to fill a wall. Yeah, except this soft can be ported to a laptop, a big touchscreen, a Reactable kind fo table, you name it.
        The part where the modular synth vs normal one metaphor gets too short is the sameness of the Keyboard…
        >>Scroll up to the picture with the caption:
        TMELINE EDIT MODE ACTIVATED
        There it is where the FUN begins. It is like having SONY’s Acid Pro together with warping Ableton’s Live providing visual display right inside each remixing desk… of which, you may have as many as you want, and have each idea you fancy saved for future recall or further tweaking whenever you DJ… all with finger’s strokes (if you are on touchscreens)….
        //Deep yet simple….Using this. you’ll be accused by musicians and turntablists at DJ battles by the amount of things you may simply do.

        • grosbedo

          I agree, Timeline Edit Mode brings the editability expressiveness of a DAW (or MixMeister) with the spontaneous expressiveness of the traditional deck setup. And even if you don’t like editing tracks with a mouse, you can only be thankful when you have to remap the beatgrid, which is so much faster using such an editor instead of using controllers-based controls.

  • Panpan PanPan

    Not hard to read but I love videos. It’s one of the reasons I come to DJTT is the video tutorials and reviews you would make. Video please

  • DJtonality

    Can anyone help me figure out why i can’t download the demo? Ever since i downloaded the new OS Maverick on my Macbook Pro, I’ve had issues with opening downloads. “can’t be opened because it is from an unidentified developer” anyone know how get around this?

    • Hannes Niedbala

      Rightclick -> Open, Open

    • djmatthewstar

      It’s in your safari prefs, accept downloads from unverified sources or something like that…

      • Dan White

        Yeah, the last two OSX installs have “helpfully” blocked non-Apple certified (read: registered in the Mac App Store”) developers by default ¬.¬

    • That functionality is a tightened security thing related to Mavericks OS. To allow apps from other than App Store and sertified Apple developers, go to System Preferences -> Security & Privacy -> General and change “Allow apps downloaded from” to “Anywhere”.

      Also understand that changing that preference makes your computer more vulnerable to malware! But as long as you don’t open any app or package that you haven’t downloaded yourself (or have from a shady site), you should be fine.

  • Jake Hale

    $64K question: can it handle tempo changes in the beat-gridding?
    Given how reasonably priced this is, I am inclined to by it anyhow, but if it does allow you to (even if it’s just manually) it would be a gaurenteed sale for them.

    • Nexing

      In this unique software you dont really NEED tempo-changing-grids. Instead, just place the different sections with different tempo separated in Edit Mode.
      You just actually need two parallel tracks to accomodate all the sectionsin order to form a continous track (but you may have as many tracks as you want :D), You have the additional choice to either precisely align each section’s end and start either or mix their tails as desired, if the sections are perfect loops, just grab and extend its start/end to instantly create the iterations you want…
      So dancers are not digging so much the tempo changes?? Just mute the incoming changed ones and move on the section at the screen, with the steady ones filling the holes left.
      Can’t be more intuitive than this!
      So yes, you may rearrange these parts LIVE as the other player is going steady.
      Plus if you liked the result just save it under a variation of its name.
      See the picture with the simultaneous layers of music above where it says:
      “Timeline Edit Mode Activated”
      That is where you enter the amazing Mash-up/Grid/Arranging Mode to do as much as never before been possible. Then when you are finished, either polishing your tune, adding a sound/sample or whatever crazy mashing, just return to the ongoing two players mode, where similar to Traktor, Virtual Dj, etc traditional mixing/Eq/etc. has kept governing the mix you decide to send out to the speakers.

      • Nexing

        Jake Hale
        Actually…. Yeah you may want to have a direct way to handle the tempo changes inside your track’s single grid.
        Well, One’s developers thought the same and called it:
        -Advanced Grid Editing-
        “With the advanced grid editing feature the grid can be easily set
        even when the tempo of a track changes. Just select the area where you
        want to apply the grid and enable adjustments from the drop down menu.”
        http://one.dj/index.php?page=features#decks
        There you have the $64plus answer you wanted. Such is Dj life at 2013,,,

  • chayan

    Is it just me or I had to really try hard reading “Posted by Markkus Rovito on November 6, 2013”, maybe try changing the colour?

    Regarding One, I’ve tried using the initial demo which crashed a few times, hope they ironed those issues in this release.

    • Dan White

      Yes, stability was a big part of the 1.2 update – it’s much better.