|DJ Player 4.0|
NB: All screenshots are iPad screenshots - and most are using the night time colour scheme.
Update: Thanks to one of the very helpful comments, I've now attached a couple more screenshots taken from my iPad to show the day time colour scheme and the tracks page.
Design & Deck Screen
Let us start with the new design. The layout is roughly the same as before, with the decks positioned either side of the mixer - but in practice you only ever view one deck screen at a time;
The above screen shows deck A on an iPad display. For iPhone/iPod touch the screen size is smaller so there's a couple fewer cue points (still a very impressive 6!). So starting at the top of the screen you have a very narrow bar with a CPU monitor on the far left and the sunrise/sunset time on the far right - both of these are iPad only. When day turns to night the paler colour scheme changes instantly to a darker palette (it is the darker sunset palette on the screenshots displayed here) - I would love to say I'd played with this on the terrace of a swish venue like Space in Ibiza during sunset, but I'd be lying...in reality I was sat on the couch last night seeing how good my harmonic mixing was when the display changed. This is something you can switch off in the central configuration though if you prefer one scheme or know you will be in a dark or bright venue.
Just for comparison, this is what the 'daytime' colour palette looks like;
The button bar along the top has been refined and now makes the move between decks, effects and mixer much more fluid and natural. The 'Sync' button has been moved to the top of the pitch slider while the Pitch Percentage button has moved to the bottom of the pitch slider - again making for a more natural layout and fewer buttons along the top.
Underneath the buttons you get to see the 'VinylVision' display of both tracks, along with the time elapsed/time remaining and bpm data for both. This is much more information than you previously had on this screen and is one of the key features for me on this screen. It gives you that crucial information on 'the other deck' while you're setting up your cue points, adjusting the pitch etc, so you shouldn't suddenly come to the end of the track in deck B during the process! The button bar and the VinylVision / Track data bar are displayed on the deck screens, mixer screens and the FX screens - which give the whole app some coherence between the screens.
The artist / track name is now displayed above the waveform (it was previously underneath) and the waveform itself has been sharpened up so the peaks and troughs are much more visible.
Now the really impressive bit...on the iPad you get a massive 8 cue points and on the iPod Touch/iPhone you get a (still very impressive) 6 cue points. From the screenshot above you can see that the first round button is titled 'Loop' - which does finally bring looping functionality to this app (something frequently asked for in the past). You could use the cue points as you did previously, to jump to particular points in a track. However, for each cue point you can now set an 'Out Point' (achieved by pressing the 'Store' button). A finer display of that point in the waveform is displayed above the 'In' and 'Out' buttons which allow you to scrub the waveform forwards and backwards to reach your desired point. The also have +/- buttons to fine position the In/Out points too. This has given me the most fun in the app during testing, I was blown away by the ability to set 8 cue points, but now being able to loop them too is fantastic. Immediately, I was loading up difficult to mix tracks (ie not a rigid 4x4 house beat - like funk or a track with a tiny breakbeat), setting up some loops within them and suddenly, they're not so difficult to mix!
The waveform doesn't scroll like on other apps and DVS systems, however I haven't felt so far that I've missed it.
On the Echo and Reverb screens they have a 'Sharp' switch that can ensure the effect is immediately stopped when the finger has been lifted from the screen and there is no 'tail-out' to the effect.
One thing I have noticed is that if you keep your finger on the FX pad and press the mixer screen you can gently fade out the track into the next one - an undocumented feature perhaps, but useful for those wanting to apply effects at the point of crossover to the next tune.
The 'Play' and 'Cue Play' buttons are available on the iPad only.
As you can see from the screenshot, there's an additional effect button along the bottom titled 'Loop'....more looping?! Definitely.
The 'Snap', 'Slip' and 'Bounce' buttons are a little trickier to describe.
Slip: If the 'Slip' button is on then the track will continue its progress in the background, so when you've finished with the Loop effects the track will be playing from where it would have done if you had not done any looping.
Snap: I think if the 'Snap' button is on, then the looping will be locked to the beat-grid.
Bounce: If 'Bounce' is on, then when your finger lifts off a loop increment the loop stops and playback resumes immediately. If 'Bounce' is off, then in the loop will continue - a little like being locked...until you press that increment again.
The upper half of the screen is something I haven't used much. It allows you to temporarily shift the pitch of the track, either by swiping your finger along the 'TEMPO' text section or via the accelerator (as on the other FX screens).
The layout on this screen has been tweaked to display that common section at the top and now has the artist / track name for each deck displayed too (which was something someone asked about a while back). The really clever bit here is that on track load, the EQ can be configured to reset all bands, reset mid/high and cut bass, or do nothing - my preference on this has been to reset all. However, more importantly (at least for me anyway) is that it can adjust gain automatically, reset, or do nothing - ideal if your iTunes library has allsorts of tracks from various sources.
It is similar in appearance as before. The decision to use a custom track screen rather than a standard Apple API to browse the iTunes library is a very wise one. This allows the app to sort by Artist, Title, BPM or Comment. As mentioned previously, this opens the door for harmonic mixing using the track's key (if stored in the Comment property). A marker is displayed alongside the track if played within the last 4 hours - very useful during a live gig to avoid duplication (if you want to avoid that sort of thing).
I've found the ease and speed at which I can select the next track in this app hugely faster than with other apps (which all seem to use a standardised iTunes library browse screen). I think this is down to the ability to quickly sort the tracks, the track detail displayed and because no cover art is being processed.
Of course, in the 'Tracks' screen you can access the 'More' page which previously had all the configuration settings available. This has been streamlined, giving you immediate access to the most important settings and features;
- Quick Start Guide - a neat and concise guide on how to quickly get set up and use the app effectively.
- Output Mode - this allows you to set the output for using a stereo splitter, using the app as one-deck with a hardware mixer, Auto Stereo (which seems to only output master as mono if pre-listening is on) and then the connection details for full stereo using WiFi to NetOut (more on NetOut in a moment).
- Nearby Devices - this allows the broadcast of bpm and stored cue points over WiFi or Bluetooth to other devices running the app.
- Manage Tracks - this allows the app to perform analysis tracks in the track screen. This could be an entire playlist or the results of a specific search. The results of the track analysis are stored as a very slim database which can be backed up and accessed from the app file sharing when connected. The database can also be copied onto another device and imported - thus importing all cue points etc stored on the original device. This worked a dream for me, I set a number of cue points with loops on my iPad and transferred the database onto my iPod Touch. While this is still very neat, the WiFi sync (using 'Nearby Devices') does this on a track load basis too which is incredibly handy if you're using 2 iDevices and a hardware mixer.
In order for the Full Stereo mode to work, you will need to use NetOut on another iDevice (in my case I had it installed on an iPod Touch). This was incredibly easy to set up, I ensured both devices were connected to a WiFi network and straight away the 2 devices were paired. I didn't need to enter any IP addresses, it was very very simple. Once the connection was made, I could then use the audio output on my iPad as Master into an external amp or mixer input and then use the headphone output of my iPod Touch as my Cue source. I didn't notice any lag/latency between the master output and what I was hearing on my headphones from NetOut, but the app can be tweaked in its configuration to achieve the best connection if you needed to. I used it continually for about 5 hours (much to my wife's annoyance!) and the audio and WiFi connection remained intact for the duration.
This has been a fantastic revelation as in the past I've been using audio splitters to work around the issue (on all other DJ apps). Given that Apple are likely to be selling more devices soon, then maybe now is the time to pick up a cheap second hand model on eBay?!
So in short, the development team at iMect have really upped the stakes with what professional DJs can use on iOS without the reliance of traditional style platter-based views. The app is robust, reliable and has the key features that digital DJs require (quick track access, ease of use, quality effects, multiple cue points, loop functionality and stereo output). I expect some folk may still want to see a scrolling waveform and maybe scratch functionality available at somepoint in the future, however with this huge update (don't forget it's a free update for existing users!) everyone should be ecstatic.
DJ Player is priced at $37.99 and is Universal.
NetOut is priced at $9.99