Learn to DJ with OS X – Freeware / Shareware for the Beginning DJ

Ever dream about making professional quality DJ mixes at home, without having to buy all that expensive DJ equipment? Years ago, this wasn’t possible but now it is, with the same Mac you use every day. While learning and mastering the art of DJing is a completely different subject, requiring practice and patience, with the following programs you will have the tools you’ll need to learn.

Freeware / Shareware for the Beginning DJ:

For the beginning DJ, I recommend learning the concepts before getting into the advanced features that the professional packages offer. I also recommend something either very cheap or free. The following applications will allow you to learn the concepts of mixing and beat matching, without spending a ton of money.

Algoriddim’s djay:

Algoriddim’s shareware djay is a simple, easy and inexpensive way to learn DJing. It’s interface mimics two turntables and a mixer. Scratching is supported via the trackpad / mouse. It’s even multi gesture enabled. It seamlessly integrates with your iTunes library so you can forget about learning what a pain carrying crates of records is!

In addition to the scratching and mixing, what makes djay great for you is the following features that a real DJ needs:

– Pre-Cue Channel: With an external audio interface or USB headphones, you can monitor and set up mixes before they go over the main speakers.

– Live Microphone: Do voice-overs or have someone else sing / rhyme over your music.

– Real-Time Sampler: You can record sound clips and play them over a mix or loop beats.

While djay is a great application, it’s not free. I’d download the demo and see how you like it before paying for it.

More Info: Algoriddim’s website.

Native Instruments – Beatport Sync:

NI’s Beatport Sync is another free DJ platform. What makes Beatport Sync great is that it’s built on the actual Traktor engine, giving you a good idea of how the more professional Traktor works. In practice, after using Traktor, it is a serious step down.

What makes Beatport Sync great for the beginning DJ is the simplistic approach to a professional DJ engine. Setting up mixes is exactly like Traktor, just without the cool features.

Notable features include:

– Supported Audio Formats: In addition to the formats iTunes can use, it supports Ogg Vorbis and FLAC.
It does not support DRM songs from the iTunes Music Store.

– High Quality Audio: When you get into time-stretching (Speeding up / slowing down) songs, a high quality engine really matters. NI’s one of the best in this field.

Overall, it’s free so its worth taking a look. Personally, I think it’s way too cut down to do anything more than frustrate a beginning DJ. Auto Mix features are nice, but learning to push a button isn’t what you want.

More Info: Native Instruments website.

Open Source – Mixxx:

The open source community’s Mixxx is an application created by DJs, for DJs. This is a huge plus because in addition to being free, the DJs and enthusiasts who’ve spent time creating this application know what features are needed and what features aren’t. While it’s missing the automatic “robo-mix” features, it’s the best software out there to learn what digital DJing is all about. While you can’t use the trackpad / mouse to scratch, an experienced DJ would know that that’s not really the best way to scratch anyway.

Why Mixxx is the best software for a beginning DJ:

– Professional level Application: This isn’t a cut down version of a more expensive product, missing things you will want after a few weeks.

– Cue channel support: Mixxx allows you to listen and cue mixes before they go out over the speakers. A must for a working DJ.

– Vinyl Support: No, you can’t scratch with the mouse but you can use Mixxx with turntables and timecoded vinyl to scratch like a real DJ.

– Hardware Support: You can use separate DJ MIDI controllers / mixers with Mixxx to control it like a DJ rig.

– Mix Recording: Record your mixes and listen back later.

– Audio Quality: High quality audio engine written by DJs, for DJs, you can put on a set with this software.

For a beginning DJ who really aspires to becoming a professional, Mixxx is the application for you. Some of it’s advanced features may even have you using it years later as a professional. Personally, I’d love to see an included sampler / looping mechanism but in all honesty, if you want to learn DJing, use Mixxx.

More Info: www.mixxx.org

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