Video: Comparing Key Lock on iOS DJ Apps

Spotted over on the Digital DJ Tips’ YouTube this afternoon – a comparison of keylock engines some of the more prominent iOS DJ applications. It’s pretty shocking to hear the disparity between each of the different apps, and how some of them have vastly more quality audio than others. The video’s description explains the test:

I used “Touch Me” by Rui da Silva as the test track, as it features kicks, snares, vocals and synths in the section I used.

I played the same section of the track on all the apps in the test, at -16% with Key Lock enabled on a 3rd Generation iPad running the latest version of iOS (6.1.3) and the latest version of all apps involved (as of 25.03.2013).

The applications tested are (in order of appearance):

  • Capo
  • Native Instruments’ Traktor DJ (review)
  • DJ Player (review)
  • MixVibes’ CrossDJ (review)
  • Algoriddim’s djay
  • Touch The Wave

If anything, this test really brings MixVibes’ claim last week that they’ve got the best keylocking audio engine on the market into perspective – especially when compared to Traktor DJ’s results!

audio enginecapocrossDJdj playerdjayIOSios keylockingipad djtraktor dj
Comments (23)
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  • BoldFaceType

    Why are people so surprised and shocked to hear a DJ software (that wasn’t Sertato or VDJ) literally *spank* Traktor’s ass? At the very least everyone should be able to agree that Mixvibes *does* sound the best on and *iPad*. No one will do a test with laptops/desktops because they’re afraid of more of the same. Someone questioned when you would need to pitch-lock more than 16%? Answer: When you’re DJing anything besides EDM son.

    MixVibes CrossDJ has the best pitch/key-lock (& beat-griding) b/c it was designed for Hip-Hop DJs. Most EDM tracks vary between 1-2 BPM (5 bpm at the most) within the genre. Hip Hop is different, in that it’s the only genre who’s tempo has a *very* wide range (70-140 bpm). Cross DJ was originally a DVS pkg released way back 2004, same year Serato released their 1st DVS, and a year *before* Traktor released theirs. Some of MixVibes feature DJs are world DMC Champs. Pound per Pound, Dollar per Dollar, Franc per Franc, MixVibes Cross/DJ gives you the best bang for your buck. Thought you knew son.

  • William Connelly

    I would be interested in seeing this test re-done as Traktor has been updated with better key lock!

    DJ Player has also been updated but its mainly the looks

  • Ean Golden

    This test is the Dj Equivalent of “which celebrity looks more terrible in a bikini!” article. They take photos of people in terrible light, at terrible angles and make them look well – terrible. Pitch lock falls apart if you pitch lock a song down below -5%, but at -%15 (which this video was shot at) everything is going to sound like ass. So the question of which app sounds like less terrible is relatively pointless.

    Ask yourself, when is the last time I played a song at -15%?

    The truth is that the best keylock algorithm for pitch reduction while maintaining bass continuity is actually Serato. Their software specifically adresses that problem and does it quite well. When slowing a song, keylock must insert time into the waveform, which is very hard to do while sounding good and not taxing the CPU. Low end frequencies with long waveforms are particularly vulnerable and fall apart quickly.

    • BoldFaceType

      Then you need to show and prove with a proppa test Ean. I explained the situations in which pitch locking @ +/- 15% would come in handy (HipHop, but I guess nobody does that here). Otherwise your opinion is worth about 3 cents, as opposed to our 2.

    • Gmoney

      In my opinion Traktor 3.4.1 Phase Voc. setting still reigns as the best keylock in the business with regards to maintaining clarity in the Kick, Bass, Mid and High frequencies at moderate to extreme pitch settings. Native Instruments took a disastrous turn with the release of Traktor Pro and onwards with regards to KeyLock. I’ve also tested keylocks on Serato DJ, MixVibes Cross, Algoriddim DJay Virtual DJ etc. and to date nothing on the market compares. I wish someone would bring Phase Voc. back :-(….. Until then its Traktor 3.4.1 and Snow Leopard.

  • Guest

    sounds like different EQ models are part of the story.

    this is not a proper test, btw. one should record the same track with the various apps. then volume-match and sample-align them. finally, compare in an ABX comparator.

    • Guest

      Yeah, this test is def crap. Upon listening again, there are strong differences in volume, actually.

  • Michael Provatas

    Please someone make a similar video but with PC/Mac programs!

  • dillinger23

    Its the pathological need to use an iPad for EVERYTHING, when the fact is you don’t need to!!!! You already have a laptop which is better suited to the task anyway!!! It’s like trying to use a new breed of banana to open a tin of tuna… you can try and use the new type of banana if you want, and it may even be possible if you really persevere…. but why not just use the bloody tin opener you already have FFS!!!!! :o)

    • Metalgearrr

      Wtf? No…. Just no

  • dillinger23

    TBH why would anyone run any of these apps (for DJing for a crowd) off an iPad anyway????? It seems reductionist to a pointless extreme! just run any of these apps on your laptop as you have always done, using midi controllers or timecode and you will be fine! OH, and FYI, you have a keyboard to search for a track/artist name if you want to!! 😀

    • Earnest

      A good DJ app on an iPad can make a good fallback position when your main rig is being willful. In those cases, since you are giving up a lot of tactile control (if you’re used to it) you’d probably want to get the best possible output from that backup system so you can concentrate on resurrecting your weapon(s) of choice.

      Also, a lot of people use a lot of different devices to rock the crowd. If someone can get the job done on an iPad, a gameboy, or a TI88, I say more power to them.

      • dillinger23

        i understand where you are coming from, but like so much since the thing was released (its basically pointless, and filled NO EXISTING GAP), and iPad is a piece of hardware that fanboys are forcing into a round hole, when there are already 3 or 4 or 7 round pegs anyway. iPads are pointless, but if you REALLY need to have one and rationalise the having of one, more power to you, I’m not really that bothered. :o)

    • toomuchswearingforrealname

      Easy answer, because Midi controllers and timecode vinyl are *fucking dog shit*. Decades old protocol, supporting a market of cheap plastic, planned-obsolesce, awfulness with the tactilely of the Sony remote (for accurate TV show flipping). Versus an inelegant, convoluted, failure-prone signal chain whose sole purpose is to re-appropriate high quality hardware from the-time-before-manufacturers-realized-consumers-would-buy-any-plastic-shitpile-they-released, as long as they slapped the right buzzwords on it. An iPad is a real product, created by a real industrial designer with an intense care for his craft. If consumers didn’t keep opting for poorly designed lowest-common-denominator garbage, then maybe we’d have a replacement for an MK2 that my touch didn’t recoil from, and I’d agree that using an iPad in this way would be unnecessary. But the market hasn’t produced high quality MIDI/OSC industrial design (excluding Monome, with isn’t practical for this purpose) so using an iPad is the least physically revolting solution.

  • tr4gik

    Hmm I have the feeling this test was biased somehow ….

  • Markku Uttula

    Umm… honestly – comparing these on a 1st generation iPad? That thing is barely able to run the facebook app without crashing…

    Also, was there a reason that the tempos were different between the softwares (as far as I was able to see, Traktor DJ @ 110, DJ Player @ 108.78, MixVibes @ 107.29, Djay @ 109 and Touch the Wave @ 80.6 – the last one was simply miscalculated tempo to begin with I’m guessing)?

    Personally I’ve had no problems with Traktor Dj, DJ Player or Djay keylocks (those are the only ones I have installed) … then again, I don’t even attempt to play a 128 BPM track at around 110 BPMs – because that simply makes no sense.

    • Chris Grace

      Except he said it was 3rd gen. Are you noticing something I’m not?

      I would certainly like to see a more thorough test of this now though … that wasn’t supposed to happen 🙂

      • Markku Uttula

        I stand corrected. Personally I only own 1st & 2nd gen iPads, and on the video it certainly looked a lot more like the 1st gen one. My mistake.

  • Anonymous

    So, MixVibes claim wasn’t as far off as some had hoped. Best sounding DJ software could also be supported on the Cross software also, from what I’ve noticed. See you when you all switch 🙂

  • William Connelly

    Really don’t understand why TraktorDJ sounded so bad in this video, I use TraktorDJ all the time and have had no issues like this whatsoever!

  • Wedro Otk

    In the last month using Traktor DJ i never noticed a so poor keylock feature, it’s very strange.

  • EmpYre

    Wow, Traktor DJ sounded awful.