The Most Powerful DJ App For Everyone Arrives With djay 2 [Review]

djay iPad

Or how to be the life of the party.

djay 2 by Algoriddim
Category: Music
Works With: iPhone, iPad
Price: $1.99 (iPhone), $9.99 (iPad)

DJing used to be something only the pros did. Hardware was (and still can be) incredibly expensive, and the barrier to entry was set high. Only in the last four to five years has a new generation of untrained DJers emerged, and you can trace the movement’s genesis back to a single app.

Algoriddim’s djay is the leading consumer/prosumer app of its kind on the Mac, iPad and iPhone. With millions upon millions of downloads, djay has received a ton of love from its users, the press, and Apple itself. You may have seen it on an Apple commercial once or twice. Steve Jobs highlighted it during the iPad 2 event in 2011.

Today djay 2 has arrived for the iPad and iPhone. Algoriddim has rebuilt the app to include powerful, truly one-of-a-kind features for amateurs and professionals, while maintaining the same fist-pumping, enjoyable experience from the original version.

The Long Road To Success

Algoriddim co-founder and CEO Karim Morsy was a professional DJ for over 15 years, and he was spinning records back in the 90s. “At that time, the idea of a consumer DJ system didn’t exist,” Morsy tells Cult of Mac.

When everything started going digital at the turn of the decade, Morsy stuck with vinyl. He loved analog DJ equipment because of its simplicity, and the digital systems that were coming out we’re too complex. But they also offered more features and flexibility. Could he blend the best of both worlds?

“They wanted to make software that was simple enough for anyone to use”

You couldn't have an app, pick a song, and just play it seven years ago.

You couldn’t just open an app, pick a song, and play it seven years ago.

While they were still college students, Morsy and his roommate Christoph decided to start a software company. They decided from the very beginning that they wanted to make software that was simple enough for anyone to use. And in 2006, Algoriddim was born.

Djay started as freeware on the Mac, and Macworld called it “the DJ app missing from iLife.” The response was phenomenal, and the Algoriddim guys knew they were on to something.

Apple reached out, and boxed copies of djay started selling in Apple stores before the Mac App Store existed. When Apple introduced iOS 4.2, it opened up the ability to access the iPod app for third-party developers. It was the moment Algoriddim was waiting for to plunge into mobile. Then the iPad came out in 2010, and djay for iPad launched the same year. Priced at $20, the app was ranked first on the top-selling charts in almost 100 countries at one point. It started getting featured on Apple commercials, won an Apple Design Award, and then the ultimate form of recognition came in 2011. Steve Jobs highlighted djay during the iPad 2 event as how an iPad app should be done.

Algoriddim had made it.

Now djay has one of the most diverse user bases of any third-party app I’ve ever seen. An unsolicited search on Instagram will show everything from kids using it to mix Katy Perry with Lady Gaga, to normal people having fun at home (what Morsy calls “bedroom DJs”), to world-renowned pros playing in smokey clubs and packed venues. Snoop Lion is a huge fan. Algoriddim did a branded edition of the app with custom sample packs for David Guetta. Vestax, a professional turntable and mixer manufacturer, worked closely with Algoriddim to make the Spin controller. It’s designed specifically for djay and vjay, a sister video mixer app.

“Think of it like a piano”

For djay 2, Morsy and co. wanted to keep bridging the gap between the unexperienced and the professional. “Our question while designing djay 2 was about how we can take it to the next level and give the professionals even more professional tools while not breaking the existing experience that any kid can use.” Think of it like a piano, explains Morsy. “You can have a kid playing a few notes and a world class pianist playing a concert for thousands.”

How It Works

At first glance, djay 2 doesn’t look much different from its predecessor. Using the app is very much like peeling away at an onion, minus the tears. There’s a ton of new stuff to explore.

djay iPad 1

Time to get scratchin’.

One of the biggest improvements to the app is how you can easily analyze tracks. Colored waveforms visually show how a song is composed. “When you hear sound, it’s basically a mixture of frequencies,” explains Morsy. “Some frequencies are dominant in some parts of the song, like when there is a vocal or instrumental part.” By automatically mapping those changes in an audio file, djay 2 allows the user to see how the song is structured. Color changes give a good indication of where to start a transition, which is incredibly helpful for the novice user and professional. There’s pinch to zoom as well for a more detailed look at a song’s progression.

“The app automatically keeps both beats locked and in sync perfectly”

In the previous version of djay, it could be tricky to get two beats to match up just right. Every song has a different beat structure, and when two songs are being mixed, a DJ will typically speed up or slow down a track in real time to keep the beats aligned. It’s not a one time adjustment, and the process can be stressful in a performance environment.

Djay 2 has a whole new sync technology, dubbed “Perfect Sync,” and it works like magic. Press sync on one record to begin, and the app automatically keeps both beats locked and in sync perfectly. You tap it, you’re synced, and you go.

djay iPad 2

Trippy, bro.

“A turntable for the digital world”

Tap the tiny waveform under the record button, and djay 2’s turntables slide away to reveal the new HD Waveform mode. It’s a professional interface that gives you a more visual view of your songs.

“Our way of doing ‘pro’ is not making something that’s complicated,” says Morsy. Waveform HD is the exact same user interaction as what you get with the turntables, but it’s a different way to view music. It’s a turntable for the digital world. You can tap cues more precisely, and the spectral timeline is broken down into beat grids that show you when two songs are properly aligned. “Slice Mode” cuts waveforms into four-beat bars and allows you to trigger each beat individually. The result is the ability to do impressive remixing with little effort.

djay iPad 3

Who needs beats when you can create your own.

Peel back another layer of the onion, and djay 2 contains a powerful sampler. Tap the grid icon in the center of the app to reveal eight sample pads, or slide in one panel from the left or right if you prefer to mix or scratch one song and sample at the same time. Beyond the three sample packs that are included in the app (including some truly awesome dubstep sounds), you can create samples from tracks in your library on the fly. You can name them, create packs, and even copy and paste individual samples into other iOS apps (djay 2 fully supports Audiobus). The creative possibilities are really endless with the sampler in djay 2. It’s like an app within an app.

The new music library interface can be taken fullscreen, and it’s much easier to quickly pull up tracks and queue them. The app can batch analyze your device’s library ahead of time so that everything is ready to go before you start playing. iCloud keeps metadata like song markers and bpm edits synced between devices. Djay 2 can be used in portrait mode on both the iPhone and iPad. Everything is always a tap away no matter the orientation, which speaks to the app’s wonderful design.

The Verdict

The iPhone's Retina display allows djay to pack a ton of info into a tiny area.

The iPhone’s Retina display allows djay 2 to pack a ton of info into a relatively tiny area.

The trendy debate in the app design world is currently skeuomorphism vs. flat. Just look at iOS 7 compared to iOS 6; Apple is distinctly moving towards a more minimalistic style that relies less on real-world objects. And yet djay 2 still has turntables. The crazy thing is that the grooves in the vinyl record is intelligently mapped to match the individual track that’s loaded into the app. So you’re seeing an analog representation of the bits that make the song.

“The design is very purposeful.”

“It’s not something there for garnish,” explains Algoriddim’s Michael Simmons, who also works on great apps like Fantastical. “We kept the skeumorphic elements that are beneficial and vital and added more flat elements. The design is very purposeful. We think Apple is going in the right direction with iOS 7. They’re focusing on the content. That’s what we want for our app.”

Everything about djay 2 is very smart and yet easy to use. The design is familiar and new. Amateurs and professionals will be happy. Algoriddim is fulfilling its original vision.

For now, djay 2 is only available on iPhone and iPad. “We didn’t forget the Mac,” assures Simmons. I believe him.

To celebrate the app’s launch, both versions are discounted to $0.99 on the iPhone and $4.99 on the iPad. After the first week of sales, djay 2 will cost $1.99 on the iPhone and $9.99 on the iPad.

The Most Powerful DJ App For Everyone Arrives With djay 2 [Review]

Product Name: : djay 2The Good: Plenty of new, groundbreaking features.

The Bad: No Mac version yet.

The Verdict: Easy to use, powerful, and a whole lot of fun.

Buy iPhone Version: App Store

Buy iPad Version: App Store



Cult of Mac rating: Excellent

  • TrTlShlWhlClmp

    Did anyone notice an iPad 4 in the requirements section?

  • professerclever

    When do we get a Mac version of DJay 2?

  • professerclever

    Once upon a time there was this thing called music, until this dreadfully monotonous cacophony took over. Is this what hell will be like?

About the author

Alex HeathAlex Heath is a staff writer at Cult of Mac and co-host of the CultCast. He has been quoted by the likes of the BBC, KRON 4 News, and books like "ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation." If you want to pitch a story, share a tip, or just get in touch, additional contact information is available on his personal site. Twitter always works too.

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