Hey boys. Hey girls. Superstar DJs? Here we go – on a touchscreen, rather than a set of physical decks.
DJ apps can be a touchy subject in dance circles, but they shouldn’t be. Rather than posing a threat to the traditional, physical craft of professional DJing, they’re more aimed at interested amateurs.
People who want to experiment with putting their own mixes together, and perhaps to soundtrack the odd house party or wedding reception. Pro DJs can get some use out of them, but their core audience is the rest of us.
Here are seven worth trying. Prices are correct at the time of writing, with “IAP” indicating the use of in-app purchases.
With its cheerfully neon visuals and simple controls, Pacemaker is the most accessible app for budding DJs. You can pull in tracks from your iTunes collection as well as streaming service Spotify (if you’re a subscriber), then mix them easily with the help of the built-in sync feature. Extra effects, from loop and reverb to “ChopChop” and “8-bit” can be bought as in-app purchases. If you’re feeling lazy (or want to dance) the app will also choose suitable tracks and mix them for you, too.
Developer Algoriddim is one of the longest-established companies making DJing apps, and it shows in the latest version of its flagship software. djay 2 models itself on a physical set of decks, and like Pacemaker it works with your local collection as well as with Spotify Premium. In the former case, you can also record your mixes for later listening and sharing. djay 2 is a good bridge between people who are just getting started with DJing, and those who want to play with more powerful features and audio effects – some of which are sold as in-app purchases.
Serato’s reputation in DJ circles comes from its pro software, but its Pyro app is aimed much more at music fans. It’s another app that can pull songs from your iTunes and Spotify Premium collections, and once you’ve chosen a few for your mix, the app will suggest others that it thinks will fit nicely. Pyro handles the mixing for you, and will re-sort your playlist for smoother segues if you ask it to. It’s an accessible way to prepare mixes for parties or events.
Another well-established DJ app alongside the djay series, and this too has been through several versions to reach its current, slick incarnation. Edjing has some different sources too: besides the songs downloaded to your device, it can access music from streaming services SoundCloud and Deezer. Mixing is simple, with tools to help novices, and like rivals you can buy various effects and tools as in-app purchases. There’s also a useful recording feature. More experienced DJs may wish to try the separate Edjing Pro app.
Worth its own entry in this roundup, not least because djay Pro has just won an Apple Design Award, showing that Cupertino’s app bosses hold it in high esteem. That’s because it’s been heavily optimised for the latest iPads, including the iPad Pro, with all manner of shortcuts for owners of the big-sized tablet. Like the consumer version of djay, it supports iTunes and Spotify Premium for music, but the emphasis here is on pro features, from recording and sample packs to its video features.
This app’s creator, Mixvibes, is another veteran of the digital DJing scene, with its app a good free option even if you don’t want to spend money on the effects sold as in-app purchases. It can draw from your local music collection as well as SoundCloud, with a good range of mixing controls, plus an automatic option if you want to take a break. That’s another in-app purchase, as is the ability to record and share non-SoundCloud mixes – these features are £0.79 each – so you can build Cross DJ into a tool that suits your needs with relatively little cost, or buy the separate Cross DJ Pro version instead.
Finally, this is another app for more experienced DJs, from one of the most well-known companies – Native Instruments – in the DJing world. Traktor DJ ditches the idea of virtual decks in favour of getting you hands-on with songs’ waveforms via some inventive multi-gesture controls. It works with your iTunes library, with as much or as little help mixing as you need. It also plays nicely with other music apps on your device, and can work with Traktor’s DJing hardware. A separate iPhone version is available.
That’s our selection. Now tell us your thoughts. If you’ve used some of the apps above, how did you find them and in what contexts did you use them? How would you like to see DJ apps evolve in the future? The comments section is open for your views.