May 18, 2011  |   Tips & Tricks

Top 5 Free DJ Apps

Everyone loves a freebie right? Especially a freebie that helps to expand and build on your DJing skills. It’s part of the DJing journey that you spend time and money developing your style and act and sometimes when pushed the choices can be a little daunting, especially when you’re on a budget.

The good news however, is that there are a number of applications and plug-ins available for free on the interweb, that can seriously help with your quest for DJ super stardom and production prowess, whilst saving you a few pennies in the process.

Here are 5 free applications/ plug ins that could be just the thing you need:

1. Rapid Evolution Audacity
http://www.mixshare.com/wiki/doku.php?id=rapid_evolution

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This very handy bit of freeware offers a multitude of functions, including tempo / time signature detection and  ID3 tag editing. The best thing that it can do (in my humble opinion) is detect the musical key of your tracks.

This opens up a world of possibilities when mixing, as it enables you to easily see which tunes are in the same musical key and therefore identify which tunes will sound good together (in theory anyway- it’s not 100% accurate!).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can also use this in conjunction with the Camelot wheel (download here), a system which assigns a code to each musical key and shows which keys are compatible, allowing you to work out which tracks in different keys will sound good when mixed together.

This is an extremely useful tool as it allows you to find amazing combinations of tracks that you may never have stumbled upon otherwise! It’s applications are endless – you could build the mood of a set by steadily increasing the keys of the tunes (useful for trance), or maybe keep everything in major keys so it sounds more upbeat…or minor keys so it sounds darker….the list goes on.

The Camelot wheel is designed to be used with Mixed in Key Software, which costs $58 – so this is a much cheaper alternative. However, there is one small downside- Rapid Evolution doesn’t assign the mixed in key code to the tune, just the actual key – so you would have to change the tags yourself if you wanted the code included as well. You also have to re-analyze your music in software such as Scratch Live or Traktor for it to see the new tags, which can be a bit laborious, but it’s a small price to pay for the fun you can have with it.

2. Analog X Tap Tempo
http://www.analogx.com/contents/download/Audio/taptempo/Freeware.htm

 

 

 

 

This is a nifty little app that allows you to detect the bpm of a track by tapping the space bar on your computer. Useful for working out the speed of vinyl records, anyone remember those?! Or tunes that automatic BPM detection hasn’t worked on, for example acapellas or live tracks.

This can also be a useful learning tool for DJs who are just starting out and haven’t quite mastered beat matching yet – a good exercise is to try and guess the speed of a tune first, and then check it against tap tempo. The more you do this the better you will become at assessing the speed of tracks, which can only be a good thing when trying to make two tracks the same speed!

 

3. Audacity
http://www.download-audacity.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a freeware audio editing and recording package and essential for any DJ without the budget for expensive software. It’s a multi track platform and will enable you to record mixes, record from a microphone, edit tracks and add all manner of effects.

Useful for creating pod casts or demo mixes, sampling vinyl or for simply changing the file format of your music.

 

4. Tunatic
http://www.wildbits.com/tunatic/

Ever imported a CD into your music library with missing track names? We’ve all been there, having hundreds of tunes labeled ‘ Track 1′  or ‘unknown’ in your library is not going to make things easy to find, so here’s the solution.

Tunatic is pretty similar to the famous ‘Shazam’ mobile phone app, it can detect the name and artist of a track when tunes are played through it.  Very handy for tidying up your music library and keeping things in order, it’s usually pretty accurate and can be a real help when random nameless tracks crop up.

Please note, in order to send tunes that are playing from inside your Mac to Tunatic for identification you may also need to download SoundFlowerbedhttp://www.freemacware.com/soundflowerbed – this is an application that can route audio into other applications on the Mac.

Quick Guide to using Tunatic with Soundflowerbed:

* Once Tunatic is installed, channels are created named Soundflower (2 Ch) and Soundflower (16 Ch)

* Open Tunatic and select Tunatic, then preferences and set the input device as Soundflower (2 Ch).

* Now go into the system preferences of the Mac and set the output to Soundflower (2 Ch).

* Play the track you want to identify and then on Tunatic click identify song.

* Hey presto! The name and artist of the song should be displayed.

 

5. Baby Scratch
http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/baby-scratch/id338290357?mt=8

This one is for all you iPhone users out there and is quite possibly the most fun you can have with your clothes on! It’s free from the App store and features a mini turntable which is touch sensitive. It has a cross fader and a bank of samples/beats to choose from.  Beats can be played whilst you scratch over the top with some classic scratch sounds.  You can even record your own voice with the built in microphone and scratch with it! It is surprisingly responsive and sounds quite realistic, though it could get a bit annoying for other people on the bus!

So there we go, that lot should keep you busy! Hope you have enjoyed this round up of handy DJ apps, now go forth and create!

Ben Bristow is a London based DJ and DJ Tutor – for more info check out Point Blank’s DJ Courses