Sunday, May 22, 2011

Top 5 DJ Apps for your iPhone & iPad

The iPhone vs Blackberry debate has not died down over the past few years, so you can imagine how difficult it was for me to buy a new phone. As the proud owner of two MacBook Pro's, it should have been a no brainer- but it took me months to decide. Then I started thinking about what I might use my smart phone for and I realized that I wanted something that would allow take my DJ'ing experience to the next level. I saw the iPhone as something that would allow me to express my creativity in so many ways that unfortunately  a Blackberry or an Android phone could not. So, naturally, I bought one.

Then I was faced with another dilemma- what on earth do I download ?? The app store is inundated with literally hundreds of apps for music. Mixing, production, voice recording, weird sounds- you name it. After some careful research and mad testing I realized that it's not that effective to actually attempt to mix music on an iphone - however for producing on the go, its an excellent tool.  Here are my Top 5 iPhone & iPad apps for DJ's & Producers. 

1. LoopJ
This iPad only app is unbelievably cool.  Released in January this year- it brings together cutting edge technology with an easy-to-use interface. LoopJ allows you to seamlessly loop and sample and mix electronic dance music. Based on research conducted, almost any track  can be split into five layers and always sound good. The great thing about it is that there is no need for a separate external mixer since the app has two built-in decks. The developers have also described it as a compact DJ-optimized version of Ableton Live.  Those are some pretty daring words to use- but they are so right. What's the best thing about it? It does not even come close to costing as much as Ableton does- It's Free!

2. FL Studio (coming soon!)
Now this baby I am really excited for. The rumours are heating up and people are really looking forward to bashing this one- I can just see it. Image Line's application for FL Studio for iPhone and iPad is going to be a monster hit in the DJ/Producer world- not to mention for people who are juts getting into the scene. You'll now be able to create multi-track production on the go. You'll be able to load any mobile projects to FL Studio to really tweak things. The Step Sequencer , Sound Fx, Drum Kits and everything that the regular version of FL has right but now in a touch environment. The touch environment is probably the most exciting part. Normally while using FL most people are tied down by the mouse and their midi controllers- now that wont be a problem. The cost of this APP is yet to be announced!

3. Beats by Bjango
This particular iPhone app has been a hit across the board. It's not one that will mix your music for you or anything of the sort. However, what is does do is something extreamly useful to both Dj's and producers. It keeps time.The versatile metronome in Beats supports beat, duple and triplet timing, and can be “pushed” and “pulled” to get it in sync with songs in the same way DJs beatmix with CDJs or Technics 1200s. It's features include:

  • Accurate tap tempo, anAdvanced DJ metronome
  • Duple and triplet timing
  • 2/4, 3/4, 4/4 or no accent
  • Several metronome soundsets
  • Key mixing aid

One of the things that really drew me into this app was the sleek design which is easy on the eyes and very user friendly. Price: $1.99

4. Touch OSC
In my opinion, the Touch OSC is the best midi control surface that I have seen out there in the world of touch technology. It's basically a modular OSC and MIDI control surface for iPhone / iPod Touch / iPad. It supports sending and receiving Open Sound Control messages over a Wi-Fi network using the UDP protocol and supports both CoreMIDI and the Line 6 MIDI Mobilizer interfaces for sending and receiving MIDI messages.The application allows to remote control and receive feedback from software and hardware that implement the OSC or MIDI protocols such as Apple Logic Pro/Express, Renoise, Pure Data, Max/MSP/Jitter, Max for Live, OSCulator, VDMX, Resolume Avenue 3, Modul8,Plogue Bidule, Reaktor, Quartz Composer, Vixid VJX16-4, Supercollider, FAW Circle, vvvv, Derivative TouchDesigner, Isadora and many others. All of this basically means that you can sync this baby up with almost any midi run application. This would also include Ableton Live 8 Full Version and Native Instruments TRAKTOR PRO, ¹

The interface provides a number of different touch controls to send/receive messages:
  • Faders
  • Rotary controls
  • Push buttons
  • Toggle buttons
  • XY pads
  • Multi-faders
  • Multi-toggles
  • LEDs
  • Labels
  • Time & battery displays
Additionally the program can send Accelerometer data. The application comes with example default layouts but completely custom layouts can be constructed using the free TouchOSC Editor application.
As you can probably guess- I was attracted to this beauty because if the clean cut layout- the user-ability yet the complex nature of the whole thing. You can do ANYTHING on it. The Bonus: It's only $4.99.
5. NanoStudio
Here lies another great canter. NanoStudio for iPhone is a great work of art. It's a recording studio that you can literally carry around in your pocket. It has virtual analogue synths, sample trigger pads, a comprehensive sequencer, a sample editor, a mixer and multiple effects all integrated into a single application.
You can record your ideas in real time, mix synth layers with samples, compose and arrange your tune using the powerful sequencer and bring the mix alive with effects such as reverb, compression and EQ. Share your tune on SoundCloud from wherever you are or use the comprehensive audio mixdown options and MIDI export feature to get your ideas over to your desktop DAW when you get back home. 

One of the best features this app has is the Edith Synth. Eden creates analogue sounds ranging from deep basslines and fat pads all the way up to squealing 303 lines and heavily distorted leads. Each voice has 2 anti-aliased oscillators modulated in mix, ring or sync configurations fed into a low, band or high pass 2 pole resonant filter.
Eden's virtual patchbay allows you to connect 3 envelope generators and 4 beat-sync LFO's to create modulation mayhem. Real-time performance becomes a truly interactive experience with dual X/Y controllers, accelerometer input and a pitch bend wheel, all totally configurable via the patchbay. Controller movements can be recorded and edited using the sequencer
It doesn't stop there. NanoStudio allows you to use multiple synths simultaneously, each with its own insert effects such as waveshaping, chorus and delay. When you want to go beyond basic oscillators, load up a sample and process it just like a normal synth voice - great for mashing up vocals or even the whole mix.
When you're ready to get really creative, NanoStudio allows you to resample its own output and trigger the sample via the pads or keys, freeing up synths and effects to add even more sonic goodness to your composition.

Price: 8 Euros, or about $11 CAD- Not bad for an entire studio!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Omg i spent an hour writing about some great apps u forgot explaining pros and cons of each and it wouldn't let me paste it here in the real comment zone grrr i talked about djay amazing $1 app tap dj $1 nano studio and beatmaker1&2 and how they make music studio and Fl studio obsolete in extreme detail that's taken me months to research and findout on my own that would have been extremely valuable to anyone reading this and now I have to remember what all I typed without being able to copy paste it was so well written to :( why is there a fake comment area it should have just taken me here In the first place to write my comment that makes no sense at all what a waste of time and greatly written reviews and insight arg and no way to paste still maaannnn