Today’s disk jockeys (DJs) face unique challenges when attempting to fuse the control of vinyl disks and the convenience of digital audio. Each year, new software and USB devices are engineered with the intent of providing an exceptional spinning experience; however, they have yet to deliver an optimal alternative to classic turntables. Digital DJ rigs are expensive and typically provide their users with as many challenges as they do conveniences. With its touch-controls and innovative software, the iPad may be poised to change the face of digital deejaying.
Advantages to iPad DJ Use
The iPad has many distinct advantages over its competition. First, its price makes the iPad infinitely more accessible than large-scale rigs. If an enterprising DJ purchased two brand-new iPads, he would still slash the price of most professional digital equipment solutions. The iPad has integrated storage and a music store that can be instantly accessed through a wireless Internet connection to download the hottest new songs without any extra hassle.
Several applications, including Touch DJ, Quixpin and Virtual Dec, have already been developed for use on the iPhone. While these and other apps are operational on the iPhone, the size restriction of the smartphone and the buzz-killing affect of an incoming call makes the device a poor choice for serious DJs. On an iPhone, these applications are mere toys. The use of these same applications on the iPad, however, is documented on Youtube and seems to be very promising.
Disadvantages to iPad DJ Use
The iPad has serious drawbacks to consider, however. The iPad supports only one stereo audio output. Professional DJ rigs require the use of at least two outputs. The extra audio output connects to headphones and allows the DJ to preview the music on one channel while the other blares to his or her audience. Using two iPads in conjunction with a standalone mixer would solve this issue, however. Most importantly, iPads start with only 16GB of memory. While this is plenty of space for the average music lover, a DJ, who needs a far larger array of songs, may even find the 64GB iPad to be restrictive. Another consideration is the sensitivity of the home button. When pressed, it forces every open application to close, which would spell doom for any DJ who accidentally bumps it during a set. The iPad also has a rounded back, which may wobble and spin during spin sessions. This could easily be eliminated with a rubberized case, if necessary.
It is unlikely that tablet computers will overcome laptops for serious DJs any time soon. Still, the iPad could become a popular accessory for those that operate their business with an Apple laptop. They can be plugged into a USB port and used in conjunction with Serato, Ableton and Traktor. In this capacity, iPads can operate as controllers or platters–the spinning apparatus that is used to scratch vinyl. They would bring the high-performance physical control back to spinning that has been lost in the current array of flimsy USB jog-wheels.