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+Integration with iTunes +Surprising depth +Flexibility +Automix +Trackpad control +Price
-No waveforms -Poor effects -MIDI mapping
Off The Record:
"The best 'Potty Training' DJ software you can buy."
"The little (DJ) engine that could..."
"What makes djay works is that its not trying too hard to be Traktor."
"Clever little bit of kit, too bad the effects are a kick in the groin."
"Feels like its part of iTunes..."
April 26, 2011
../ TestDrive: Algoriddim djay 3 Review
djay 3 is the latest incarnation of Algoriddim’s living room DJ software and it hits a new high water mark for ease-of-use, simplicity and depth. djay's core attribute
is that it doesn't try to be the end-all, be-all of DJ software, it simply allows anyone, from first time DJs to true professionals, to mix tracks from their iTunes library.
djay & iTunes are so compatible, it's like they met on eHarmony
Even though the program doesn't appear to be "trying too hard" it is surprising powerful and is able to execute its core competencies almost to perfection. The interface is the typical
DJ paradigm of two turntables, emulations of the venerable 1200s, with moving vinyl, tone arms, pitch control sliders, and a mixer with a crossfader, individual gain control for each
channel and EQ. The GUI is very Mac OS with slick, realistic graphics and plenty of negative space to achieve a non-cluttered view. All the advanced attributes are cleverly hidden along
the bottom including effects and a sampler. On the right hand side is your iTunes catalog with seamless browsing of all the tracks in your library.
It Couldn't Be Easier To DJ Your ITunes Library
It couldn't be easier to start mixing, just drag a track from your iTunes library onto a deck and its ready to rock. If you have the album artwork, it appears as the slipmat, or you can
have it just appear as the label via a preferences setting. The record/artwork actually spins and the tone-arm moves across the record - just like the real thing. Want to move ahead in
the song? Just "grab" the tonearm with the mouse and move it over. The downside to strictly adhering to the two decks and a mixer scenario is that you can never view a tracks build
ups and breakdowns like you can with a waveform. (see The Future below). That being said, djay 3 is the easiest mixing software to use on the market today.
djay 3's more advanced features show up on the bottom of the interface when accessed.
What's better is that djay is incredibly robust. None of our reviewers reported a single instance of a program crashing, hanging or any other problem which stopped playback. Again,
not a single instance of stopped playback. No other mixing software that we've tested to date has achieved this accomplishment, and it says a lot about the quality of this program, which
can easily be dismissed as consumer-only.
However, the standout features on djay target automation and achieving quality mixes without fanfare. The enhanced Automix function now allows you to queue tracks so you can
precisely play music in a particular order. Automix provides practically seamless transitions by automatically beatmatching tracks and even incorporating a predetermined or random
transition. The results are so good that non-DJs may purchase djay just for this feature. Transitions include a basic crossfade, backspin, brake, echo, reverse and random.
The "autopilot" features don't stop with Automix, djay also provides AutoGain, Auto Beatmatching and Auto Cut-Scratching. AutoGain matches the volume levels of the
two tracks you're mixing for more seamless transitions and Auto Beatmatching complements the tempo of the two tracks and automatically lines up the transients eliminating the dreaded
train wreck. Auto Cut-Scratching is another attribute that attempts to eliminate spastic scratching by rhythmically uniting your scratches to the song's tempo in realtime - a huge feature
that combats latency and poor technique. It's important to note that this feature won't turn you into DJ Shiftee and should only be used sporadically for quick transitions.
djay contains many of the typical attributes that you'd find in today's mixing software, but they are adroitly tucked away along the bottom. For users who will never get into Cue points,
looping, or even the included Sampler, they're out of sight and out of mind. For the more advanced, these features are unexpectedly robust and can be accessed simply by revealing their
controls. djay includes a basic looping function that will cycle a section from an eighth note up to 32 beats (8 measures). Each track can have up to 3 color-coded Cue points for jumping to predetermined
sections in a track. Three of our reviewers all wanted "at least four" points with others claiming "today's mixing software should all have up to eight cue points for creative beat juggling
and remixing." djay also contains a Skipping feature, which allows you to jump to certain points within a track and play that section for a particular set of bars. Modern cueing technique has eclipsed
this feature in most mixing software, but Algoriddim added this to fray.
Considering the overall quality of djay, we're sad to report that the included effects came up wanting to our reviewers. The effects are limited to a "washed out reverb" (Hall, Room,
Club Arena), a very-basic echo and a pitch changer. No filter or flanger, no phaser or deft reverb, just your garden variety that didn’t impress. "I don't know if the programmers just ran
out of gas, or left the FX set for last, but they just don't cut it," one reviewer remarked. It's a shame really, with more acute attention to this arena, djay would easily overshadow more
The iPad and iPhone versions of djay have basic waveforms, but for some reason Mac OS users got left out of the party...
This is not to say that Algoriddim didn't put some deeper thought into some of the other features. Everyone loved the ability to either put the cover art on the record (like a picture
disc), just on the label, or even incorporate your own customized image in these locations for personal branding. djay also gives you the latitude to adjust the range of the pitch sliders
and alter the crossfader curve. Additionally, you can set a preference to affix tape to the records to showcase your cue points, but as one reviewer commented, "this is cute,
but ridiculous." One thing that we all enjoyed is how Algoriddim decided to visually depict a crossfade using perceivable brightness. As you crossfade to a new track, the prior song's
album art fades out, and the new song's album art gets brighter, subtle but savvy. Finally, you can also use multitouch features on Apple's new trackpads to control certain attributes
such as scratching and crossfading.
As an iTunes mixing program, djay 3 really delivers. When the software first bowed, we even ventured that Apple should buy Algoriddim and incorporate djay directly into iTunes,
it's that clever. As a consumer mixing program, it's the best value proposition on the market. Fifty bucks provides a lot of joy and the Automix feature is worth the price alone if you
want to "set and forget" iTunes and let djay work its magic.
However, having a lot of sophisticated functionality is going to bring the program under more intense scrutiny. The conundrum for Algoriddim is how much should they divert from
djay's core competency to satisfy more advanced users. Aside from adding waveforms to the graphical user interface (see The Future below), the answer should be
not much. djay offers a terrific feature-set, and Algoriddim should really focus on enhancing each attribute instead of trying to do too much, such as falling down the
third-party plug-in support rabbit hole. Algoriddim was very astute in disguising the power of djay with "hidden" powers that the majority of users will never utilize, and hopefully they
won't fall victim to evolving djay into bloatware. That said, some of the features really need to be refined in order to make this more compelling for budding DJs who have used djay as
their on-ramp to the exciting world of software mixing. Increasing the quality of the features, not just heaping on more, will limit the abandonment rate and maintain djay as a compelling
proposition to newbies and advanced users alike. Recommended
The Future:Waveforms. Why djay doesn't contain waveforms is a complete mystery.
There's no way to detect the "arc" of a track so that you can plan your mix in/out points accordingly. Leaving this attribute out was a serious fumble, which is why it must be included in the
next version. Must. Additionally, please stack them for better visual mixing, and allow some degree of interaction such as the ability to zoom in & out.. Effects. This is another area where Algoriddim really needs to step up. At the very least, include a filter and flange in the repertoire, and while you're at it revisit the reverb algorithm, it's just
plain lousy. The Sync function needs some tweaking. It often takes a few taps to actually get tracks to fully sync, and it sometimes loses its "tightness" after a couple of bars. MIDI mapping is
somewhat wonky with no support for jog wheels, and needs to be addressed.
Algoriddim's djay 3 retails for $49 and is available now. More information on the djay 3.