Any true DJ knows the job doesn't just require creativity to spin tunes; it also requires a professional table, stacks of records and the right knobs and dials every time you play. For budding DJs, investing in all of that equipment isn't very realistic.
But many of us already own the only device necessary to play music: a tablet. With a tablet, DJs can download a number of different apps, add a few small gadgets (like movable knobs) and create the same — if not better — sounds they could make with a professional set.
We're here to help you start. Below are the best apps that will help turn your tablet into a DJ table. No heavy lifting required:
Great for: any beginner
This app lets you mix music right from your own music collection, whether that's the music downloaded onto your device or what you listen to on Spotify. Integrating with Spotify opens up a world of musical possibilities for the user.
The app creates an interface that copies the traditional turntable, and the touchscreen lets musicians mix music quickly and naturally, just like they would on a full board.
Great for: the more-advanced beginner
At $49.99, this app adds a few key features so the professional music mixer has everything they need to work from a tablet. The app connects with iTunes and Spotify, giving DJs plenty of possibilities in terms of music selection, and it lets users update and change playlists as they go. Users can also drag and drop music from the Spotify app right into their turntable. Going one step past the original Djay, Pro lets users mix video and mix up to four decks at a time.
Great for: intermediate to advanced experience
This app at $9.99 is one of the most popular professional DJ music apps on the market. Created by Native Instruments, a company that also develops professional DJ software, Traktor DJ transports that software and adds the functionality that any DJ needs to an app. Traktor lets DJs change music in the moment: Users can grab their music on the interface to live edit, set loops and create scratches. The home screen gives DJs a number of mixing tools to work with at the same time.
Great for: mixing for fun
This app is useful for DJs mixing music on their own time or casually with a group. It has an easy-to-use interface and integrates with Spotify to give you plenty of music options, but it does cut out some features to keep it simple, like beat matching. It's also free, so it's a good one to try if you just want to play with it but aren't ready to commit to a more serious software.
Great for: experienced DJs looking for plenty of music
This app download opens up a number of possibilities for the more-experienced DJ, and it's free. If you're searching for music variety, edjing is your best bet. It syncs with SoundCloud and Deezer libraries, and it includes a search function that helps you find music quickly. The interface has two turntables and a crossfader, and it has unlimited cloud storage space for all of your mixes.
Great for: finding your unique style
DJ Player is a great choice if you're still figuring out your signature DJ sound, because it supports almost every kind. Its features work for EDM, classic, scratch and house-party DJs, and you can adjust settings or use it in different ways to find your own. It has all the features you need, and it gives you plenty of choices. You can use two to four decks at a time, with a number of FX slots per deck, and it can connect with outside MIDI-controlled devices, if you have the equipment.
While these apps are popular among pro and novice DJs, just downloading apps can't fully replicate the DJ table experience. A few Kickstarter campaigns are working to add in the missing pieces.
Tuna Knobs lets users add small, portable knobs to any touchscreen in order to replicate the function of real music hardware on any music-making or DJ app. While apps provide all of the basic functionality for DJs, users still have to touch the tablet screen to make the same sounds as a turntable. The dials and knobs of a traditional turntable are flattened on a tablet screen. Tuna Knobs is meant to solve this problem. At 22 euros (about $25) for a two-knob pack, they aren't exactly breaking the bank either.
Mixfader, created by the DJ app- and software-making company edjing, brings the mixing and scratching feature of a crossfader out of the touchscreen as a tablet accessory. The product connects to any DJ app through Bluetooth, but gives the user the ability to make certain DJ sounds in a more tangible way than just sliding a crossfader with the touch of a finger. Right now, it's still only available for preorder, but expect to see it in DJs' hands by the end of the year.
Spending a couple hundred dollars between apps and accessories is still a small fraction of the cost of a full DJ turntable, which can run upward of $1,500. With these apps and tools, any person with a tablet can start working on becoming the professional DJ they've always fantasized about.
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