Virtual DJ Home FREE is a product which aims to assist users in making their own music and performing, virtually, the role of ‘disc jockey’ or DJ on their computer. It has existed for several years, and has recently become available for Mac users via the Mac App Store.
It features a Sampling Bay, which incorporates preset hot key samples which have their own individual volume controls; these are all over writeable, so any samples can be fitted into them at ease. An effects panel is included, upon which are many standard tools to be expected from such software, such as backspins, flanges and brakes, alongside others. Mixes can be recorded to a sound file of the user’s choice – whether MP3, or WAV.
As part of the version which must be paid for, there is also an option to broadcast live. As far as its presentation is concerned, the product has a very modern, sophisticated appearance to it, and certainly looks easy to use from a beginner’s perspective.
The use of Eurostile font for most of the text adds to this new, clean look; there is no sense of disorder as everything is perfectly organised in the display, giving rise to ease of access even for users who have never seen the software previously.
As I mentioned in the introduction, there are several prominent features of this product; the effects panel is easy to use and has many useful tools to assist the user. The sampling bay is also configured for quick access, while the ability to save files in WAV or MP3 format gives the user a wider range of options when creating his work.
New to the software are improved sound engine quality, and an optional parametric equaliser, among others.
The Centre Panel provides access to crossfader, volume PFL controls, video controls, gain, video preview windows, effect controls and timefade scratch interface; Deck 1, occupying the bottom half of the screen, gives access to the track title, beats per minute display, transport control and counters. On Deck 2 are the same as Deck 1; music can be dragged and dropped from the browser to either deck instantaneously.
The rhythm window, at the top of the screen, allows the user to keep track of the waveform of every song which is loaded or playing. There is also a Computer Beat Grid feature, which is useful for beat matching and visual fixing.
In the browser zone, the user can easily access files stored on his computer or in external places, and open these files in Virtual DJ through the file system and folder structure feature.
When I compare it to another product, Traktor, Virtual DJ can be analysed in greater depth.
Both of these products offer a way to move from vinyl or CDs to digital disc jockeying, while retaining functionality levels. Both offer a similar array of features, including automatic beat matching, automatic looping, automatic beats per minute detection and the use of effects. In terms of the number of features provided, Traktor overcomes Virtual DJ by a small margin.
Virtual DJ is and has always been very compatible with a wide range of external controllers, while mapping a controller to Virtual DJ is not complicated; this is what makes Virtual DJ a very easy software option to use as a beginner, as mentioned above.
Traktor supports less controllers, and mapping has been known to be rather difficult for users, particular beginning users. However, Native instruments do produce their own individual line of controllers which, at purchase, guarantee total compatibility with Traktor.
Both products offer the ability to record mixes directly to the user’s hard drive, which is a useful facility for digital disc jockeys who may wish to upload their work to Youtube or elsewhere on the Internet. Virtual DJ includes the ability to download and use custom skins, where Traktor does not; this is a well liked and commonly used feature in Virtual DJ, making it slightly more appealing in this area than Traktor.
In comparison, I believe that both products have positive and negative points; while Traktor outweighs Virtual DJ in several departments, Virtual DJ more than makes up for this in others.
The appearance of Virtual DJ Home (Free) makes it easy to use for beginners, amateurs, intermediates and professionals alike, and more professionals are turning to digital disc jockeying to extend the reach of their abilities and their networks. This is to promote their music to a much wider audience than traditional forms of disc jockeying ever could.
When compared to its rival products, Virtual DJ is quite evenly matched, but certainly gains an advantage on some of these products through its ease of use and being free of charge. Overall, I have come to the conclusion that Virtual DJ is, all things considered, a very useful, accessible and user – friendly product.
About Atomix Productions
The developers, Atomix Productions, have updated the software with regularity in the several years of its existence. Now at version 7.0.2, the latest incarnation of Virtual DJ includes some features mentioned above, for example improved sound engine quality and optional parametric equaliser, in addition to a great many others. These have all combined to make the latest version of Virtual DJ yet more attractive to the general public, who once considered it a rather child-like product for its simplicity and display. The company appear to have the aim of furthering the development of Virtual DJ so that it can become the model software of use for virtual disc jockeys – and professional disc jockeys – the world over. This aim is being furthered, itself, by the constant improvement of every feature both prominent and less so; I believe that Atomix Productions are moving forwards and creating a better product with every update. Indeed, the current version of the product has received good reviews from most users; The company clearly wish to see that their customers have the very best experience of virtual disc jockeying and Virtual DJ itself, regardless of the purposes for that use.
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