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Review

CrossDJ (iPad) Review

Mixing and blending.

As regular readers will know, I’m very interested in iPad DJ’ing and music production software, having previously covered MetaDJ, djay and Figure for the site, alongside plenty of others. The ease of use of firing up the iPad at home for some quick beats is a powerful factor and great selling point, but I’ve used MetaDJ and djay in real situations and they’re both brilliant tools, easily replacing the more tactile alternatives after just an hour or so of practise.

The newest contender is MixVibes’ CrossDJ, a version of their popular desktop software designed specifically for the iPad platform (and comes with Retina visuals). It’s due out next week, but I’ve had a sneaky spin with it over the last day or so and am happy to say that it has enough neat features to make it worthy of a look, even if there’s a few minor tech-based shortcomings that the likes of MetaDJ have taught me needn’t have made it through the gap.

The difference with CrossDJ as opposed to the likes of the above is that it’s designed to actually resemble real decks, and how they’re used. By that I mean anyone used to manual beatmatching (which I assume is an increasingly rare thing these days) will feel right at home with the proper pitch control and nudging tools, which makes finding the exact BPM much less of an issue than it is with the other iPad applications.

Not that you’ll need to be an expert to use CrossDJ, though – it will attempt to calculate the BPM when you first load a track and it does overlay a ‘beat grid’ on top of the track’s waveform display which you can use to blindly (or, rather, deafly) line up the beats and – failing that – there’s a ‘sync’ button which quickly snaps the beat lines together. It’ll only cue you to the nearest four beat loop, but it works well enough.

The initial loading of a record isn’t particularly quick, it takes a while for CrossDJ to scan the waveform (much longer than djay, at least) but it does seem to more accurately grab the tempo and structure, which is useful once you’ve gone through your library or setlist and pre-loaded the music so it’s ready. The grid lines can be manually adjusted (moved, stretched or shrunk) but it’s not particularly smooth, and possibly better to do the beatmatching manually if required.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kMLcvU_P48c

The layout’s a little bit of an oddity too – the tiny waveform above each deck gives you an idea of how long is left on the track and where the breakdowns are (for example) but it doesn’t scale as you cue, meaning it’s hard to accurately place the ‘needle’ unless you’re also watching the larger beat-based waveform at the top. Thankfully, like most DJ applications, CrossDJ supports the dual output system where the iPad pushes out two mono signals which you can split between cueing for headphones and the external mixer.

Of particular benefit though, and something that no other DJ application has managed to master, is the gain control. There are levels for bass, mid and high above the crossfader but a tap of a button brings up a master gain (independent of the iPad’s volume control) and a gain for each record deck, which is invaluable when you’ve got two tracks of different volume. The meters and levels are brilliant, and really help, and it’s odd that nobody else has picked up on this.

Each deck, once the track is playing, can also be flipped to provide a simple FX grid, which works like a Kaoss Pad in that you have an X/Y grid from which you can trigger one from a list of various effects. Some are a little bit throwaway but the looping ‘roll’ effect is really neat and the various flanges and delays can add a lot when used sparingly. You can only have one effect at once, though, although you can ‘hold’ one with a button.

Elsewhere, there are tools for looping (and sliding) the track, but these aren’t (for some reason) tied to the beat grid, so unless you’re super accurate (or lucky) these triggers will result in a messy effect, especially if there are two tracks running simultaneously because they’ll end up out of sync. MetaDJ does this much better, but hopefully CrossDJ can at least have the option of snapping effects and loops to the beat. Likewise, the six cue points aren’t quantized, so triggering cue points will also leave the music off-sync.

That said, this is (presumably) intended to replicate the traditional DJ’ing experience, and perhaps that’s the point – CrossDJ’s scrubbing and scratching is solid (and the cross-fader crabbing works nicely) and the level controls negate the need for any additional mixing hardware. The sound quality is great, it’s lag-free and the beatmatching, if required, is almost flawless. With a few updates to bring the software alongside other applications, this could be amazing.

CrossDJ is out soon for iPad.

We don’t know the price of this application yet, but will update once we do.

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14 Comments
  1. Sympozium
    Member
    Since: Aug 2009

    I bought Djay for the iPod touch and I’ve had great fun with it, CrossDj seems interesting. I don’t really have a interest in Djing but its nice, might check it out if its compatible with the iPod and is 69p – £1.99.

    Comment posted on 03/05/2012 at 11:09.
    • nofi
      One for all.
      Since: Forever

      It’s iPad only, I think.

      Comment posted on 03/05/2012 at 11:10.
      • Lymmusic
        Member
        Since: Mar 2010

        I tend to use logic for production and have a lot of waves plugins and noticed they have a new dj app on ipad called mashup… And it includes versions of their maxx range of plug ins which are great for standing out a bit from sual bedroom dj nd producers. Dunno if its any good tho

        http://www.waves.com/content.aspx?id=12030

        Comment posted on 03/05/2012 at 19:15.
  2. Tuffcub
    On the naughty step.
    Since: Dec 2008

    “there’s a ‘sync’ button” – Words that killed DJ’ing.

    Comment posted on 03/05/2012 at 11:19.
    • McProley
      Member
      Since: Aug 2011

      Yup, its on the desktop version too. Nothing will ever compare to the feel of vinyl

      Comment posted on 03/05/2012 at 11:27.
  3. McProley
    Member
    Since: Aug 2011

    I have it for my desktop and its fairly solid but for me, Tracktor is by far the best.

    Comment posted on 03/05/2012 at 11:21.
  4. shields_t
    Member
    Since: Oct 2008

    Is there any skill involved in DJing any more? I used to practice for hours on my decks at uni learning the bars of tunes and whereabout the vocals kick in etc. If everything can be done at the touch of a button with MP3s, doesnt this do away with all the skill (and the art)?

    Comment posted on 03/05/2012 at 14:00.
    • McProley
      Member
      Since: Aug 2011

      For Mixing, there isn’t a lot of skill involved imo. Scratching etc is where a real DJ boasts skill

      Comment posted on 03/05/2012 at 14:21.
      • shields_t
        Member
        Since: Oct 2008

        Scratching always was a bit beyond my abilities, much as I’d love to pretend it wasn’t! It seems a lot less knowledge and familiarity of the music played is required these days though.

        Comment posted on 03/05/2012 at 14:39.
      • McProley
        Member
        Since: Aug 2011

        Yeah, exactly. I just mix Vinyls and use the desktop for producing. The only good thing IMO of digital mixing is there is no lugging around of massive records boxes.

        I also find digital mixing a slight more dificult when finding the next track as i tend just to look at the record cover and I know the track instantly

        Comment posted on 03/05/2012 at 14:52.
  5. aphex187
    Member
    Since: Mar 2010

    I had a full Technics set up plus any amount of vinyl but had to sell everything once my brats appeared on the horizon around 8 years ago. Always wanted to get back into DJ’ing so i’ve just got an iPad3, DJ app plus an IDJ Live controller and i tell you what it’s bloody fantastic!!

    Yip it is cheating but so is using the Traktor controller and CDJ’s to some degree, anyway i’m loving it and that’s the main thing ;)

    Going to look into the IDJ Pro next.

    Comment posted on 03/05/2012 at 21:03.
    • Lymmusic
      Member
      Since: Mar 2010

      Its not really cheating any more than vinyl decks, beat matching has never been the real art of djing, its more down to the selection of tunes and choosing tracks that you enjoy and want others to hear, as well as controlling the room with pace, while reacting to your audience… So many people i know try djing and end up creating an onslaught of continuous sound for hours and hours… And unless you are rich d james playing a sandpaper record youre not Iikely gonna get away with it…

      Comment posted on 03/05/2012 at 21:47.
      • aphex187
        Member
        Since: Mar 2010

        Lol on the sandpaper bit ;)

        Spot on comment btw ;)

        Comment posted on 04/05/2012 at 20:58.
  6. loverdeephouse
    Member
    Since: May 2012

    Vynil is irreplacable, but having said that these new ways of playing music are really offering some cool new possibilities.
    Richie hawtin king of techno has an interesting take on this matter:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1H9W_iLff0
    What he says basically is that the sync feature etc actually liberate the dj from constrains that existed in the past.
    the glass half full way to see this is that this liberates a creative time that should be used by the DJ to his advantage.
    I say go mixvibes!
    push the limit of what we can do.
    Really talent will rise from this.
    You cant stop technology.

    Comment posted on 21/05/2012 at 13:05.

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