Hi Lukas, thanks for your response, I probably didn’t explain some of these points very well. I’ll try to explain better why some of these features are so important and try to give more detail.
- Consistent sync behaviour. “Triggering a cue point while both tracks are in active Sync state should flawlessly transition. Are you getting a lot of Cue points which are not set on Beat?”
Try this for yourself; get two tracks playing in sync, then on a downbeat, trigger a cue (the cue should be set on another downbeat anywhere else in the track) but you should try to intentionally trigger the cue point just a tiny bit late after the downbeat so you can see what I’m talking about. If you trigger the cue just a split second late after the downbeat, you will find that the software will move sync to the NEXT beat (the second beat in the bar) instead of syncing to the NEAREST beat in the bar (eg the beat that you were ‘aiming’ for but just missed by a few milliseconds). This is an error pure and simple, not a matter of preference. In every scenario the software should assume that when a user triggers a cue, they are aiming for the NEAREST beat.
As a comparison, now set up one track playing and one track paused, with the paused track cued at a downbeat, with sync turned on for both tracks. Now practice triggering the paused track, but intentionally triggering just a split second late (or a split second early). This time you will see that the software now CORRECTLY syncs to the NEAREST beat. You can trigger up to 1/2 a beat late/early and the software will correctly maintain sync with the downbeat.
This is one of many examples of INCONSISTENCY in the software and it’s preventing me from confidently using the software in a pro environment. Imagine I’m mixing in front of an audience with two tracks playing and just because I am a few milliseconds late triggering a cue, my track suddenly jumps 1 whole beat out of sync - much worse than if I wasn’t even using sync at all! We’re not talking about triggering half a beat late we are literally talking about triggering a few ms late and your tracks jumping one whole beat out of sync - it’s just not an acceptable risk for live performance.
Other examples of when this becomes an issue could be if for some reason you are forced to use an audio interface or monitoring solution with a bit of extra latency (exactly the type of situation where you need to rely on sync) or users who suffer from impaired movement or other disability that may mean they are not able to trigger with 100% accurate timing. It’s just an absolute no brainer, in all circumstances sync should use the NEAREST beat instead of the NEXT beat.
- Quantisation. “Sync quantisation is automatically set on beat at the moment as this applies to most cases. Could you tell us in which cases you would like to have other selection options?”
This is not a major issue but is related to the previous point. Let us first pretend that we have already resolved the previous issue, so that now when triggering cues, sync is always syncing to the NEAREST beat instead of the NEXT beat. Great. What if we now want sync to use the nearest BAR instead of BEAT so that we can trigger a cue up to 2 beats (1/2 bar) early safe in the knowledge that it will trigger correctly and the downbeats will maintain sync. It’s really helpful when you are performing multiple tasks alongside djay so maybe you are synced with Ableton and triggering other loops and maybe playing some notes on a keyboard as well as reading the crowd and your surroundings. If you know you are only going to be triggering cues on the down beat, which is probably like 90% for me and most house/techno dj’s, being able to quantise to 1 bar instead of 1 beat gives you that added freedom to be creative and takes a bit of pressure off of timing your cues exactly. Or alternatively in some situations we may want to keep sync turned on but benefit from increased precision and freedom/creativity when triggering cues and want to be able to trigger cues with 1/16 BEAT syncing. These options should be available to the user so that there is some granularity in-between SYNC ON and SYNC OFF.
But it’s really important that regardless of what options there are, sync/quantise features are handled consistently for djay to be considered as a professional djay tool.
- Precision. “Going to the next on beat with the playhead is not supported, but if you sync play the track it starts automatically on beat. Cues are quantised if the track is playing. If you want to set unquantised Cue points please stop the deck and navigate to the desired Cue point position.”
This is such basic functionality I feel like I must be missing something. I cannot find any way to quickly and easily add cue points to a paused track exactly on beat or to snap the playhead to a beat to set a cue, without having to meticulously and manually adjust the playhead myself to line up perfectly with the beat. If you add cues while a track is playing, they snap to the nearest 1/2 beat so why isn’t there a snap option for adding cues to a paused track? Here are some ways this could be resolved: 1. A global setting for whether adding cues to both paused and playing tracks snaps to nearest beat or not. 2. Long-press on beatskip forward/back button nudges the playhead forwards or backwards to the next beat. 3. Keyboard/midi shortcut for ‘seek to nearest beat forwards/backwards’. 4. Global setting to switch between whether clicking/pressing/dragging on the waveform with finger/cursor works as it currently does (scratching etc) or whether it moves the playhead through the track snapping to beats.
Basically there just needs to be a way to give users the ability to work precisely and quickly setting cue points on beat without having to perfectly line up the playhead themselves. Yes it’s great that cues are snapped while the track is playing but this is just yet another example of inconsistency if it doesn’t work for paused tracks. If you want to set a cue exactly on the first beat in a track without manually fine tuning you have to click play then immediately set the cue, come on guys snap is such a basic feature!
- Looping. “This is a nice suggestion, I would assume that you would like to have the loop end on the next beat, otherwise an out would be a bit harsh in most cases, what do you think?”
There is currently no easy way I have found to deal with the common scenario where a section of a track is already playing and you realise you would like to loop back and repeat that section. Maybe you have one track playing that is within 8 beats from a drop and the other track is 32 beats away from a drop and you want to loop the 8 beat section 3 more times then drop together. This is a common scenario but as far as I can tell, currently the software only really supports looping where you already know that you want to loop a section at the point that it starts playing. The only workaround I can find right now is to quickly set the correct auto loop value for how long the section is, then set the beatskip value to the same beat amount, then at the end of the section hit beatskip back and immediately trigger auto loop. There are loads of obvious reasons why this doesn’t work in practice during a live set.
Seeing as how the ‘OUT’ loop button does nothing if you press it without setting an ‘IN’ point, it seems a no brainer to allow this functionality so that in the scenario above I would simply set the auto loop value to 8 beats then hit ‘OUT’ at the end of the 8 beat section to loop back. With regards to your question about timings, this ties back into what I have said about quantise/sync settings. Let’s say you were able to set your global quantisation value to 4 beats (1 bar). You could hit ‘OUT’ any time within the last two beats (second half) of the last bar of the section, safe in the knowledge that the ‘OUT’ would be triggered at the end of the section, without having to trigger perfectly in time.
This type of thing just provides a level of confidence that is essential in a professional/live environment. We can’t function with the constant risk that if we aren’t triggering 100% perfectly something will go wrong and we’re also having to remember depending on what part of the software we’re using and what scenario we’re in, how the software is going to handle snap/quantise for that particular situation. Basically in all aspects of SYNC, QUANTISE, LOOPING we need CONSISTENCY and ideally the ability to adjust the level of precision to our preference. It’s like in a video game, you may have full manual aim, full auto-aim and then a semi-auto aim support, or you may have settings for adjusting aim sensitivity. This is because we understand that everyone has different reflexes and preferences that need to be accommodated if we want everyone to be able to perform to their best.
- User Interface. “If you could provide more specifics about what you’d like to see improved with the UI, that would be very helpful.”
There are some basic things. For example using djay on iPhone in 2 deck pro mode, in either portrait or landscape, when you hit the little pencil icon on waveform to bring up the grid/waveform options, the dialog covers the view of the playhead position so it’s impossible to actually edit the grid etc as you can’t see the playhead position. Otherwise I would love to see the following:
- 2 deck pro mode in landscape, waveform view; the jog wheels at the left/right of waveforms should be optional or removed to give more screen space for waveform.
- 2 deck pro mode in landscape, split browser view; where the jog wheels are currently shown at the left/right of waveforms should be able to be replaced with a small EQ/Vol section at each side so you can actually mix and maintain control while in the split browser view. There is a view combination in the Mac software which achieves this exact thing with browser at the bottom, the waveform in the middle and Vol/EQ at either side left/right of the waveform.
- The previous two points could be a single option so basically if you have one setting to hide the jog wheels it gives you more waveform in the waveform view and it gives you the EQ/Vol controls in split browser view.
- 2 deck pro mode in portrait; the waveforms are fixed in vertical mode this must just be a bug? I previously emailed separately about this.
- 2 deck pro mode in portrait; there is no alternative view modes like there is in landscape, so no access to browser split view or samples. I would like to see at least a browser split view in portrait, there is definitely enough room for the waveforms, pitch sliders, crossfader sections to be vertically compressed.
- I can’t find a way to access saved loops?
- 2 deck pro mode landscape; in addition to the 3 view modes of Samples, Waveform and Controls, there should be a 4th option or just a variation/option for the Waveform view adding EQ knobs, Vol/Filter, Meter/Gain on either side left/right of a central waveform view. In portrait mode you can access a view which gives you this combination of waveforms, and channel EQ/Filter/Vol etc but we need this in landscape too. This is similar to my request for the iPad adding EQ/Vol to the sides of the waveform view.
- No keyboard shortcuts available for specifically 16 and 32 beat skipping unless I manually use the shortcuts first for increasing skip amount.
Djay is an amazing application and I’ve been a paid/pro user for many years on both Mac and iOS. However… We all know that there have been two key reasons behind the success of Djay: 1) Spotify Integration and 2) Advanced features/performance on iOS compared to other iPad/iPhone djay iOS apps. It’s always been the case that other desktop DJ apps like Traktor offer more advanced features than both Mac and iOS Algoriddim apps but there hasn’t been any competition when it comes to iPad DJ apps.
Like many people I pay for a family Spotify subscription so that other members of my family can benefit. I use Spotify to listen to music of many different genres and djay has allowed me to try out new tracks and practice sets without having to spend money first buying tracks just to try out mixes, I can still purchase the actual audio files for tracks that I want to play out. Basically I can’t give up my Spotify subscription because I prefer Spotify over other options for general day-to-day music and my family members also wouldn’t want to change. So if I want to continue enjoying the features I have enjoyed until now it will require that I take out an additional Tidal subscription, which together with the PRO subscription means I now need to fork out £15 monthly! (Yes I know that as existing PRO users we were given basic PRO functionality in the new app but in 2020 I can’t accept not having access to iOS file browser to load an MP3 file… This is still a paywalled feature.)
Regarding the second advantage - advanced features on iOS - Traktor has recently released the rebuilt Traktor DJ 2 for iPad which is very basic right now but pretty much everyone believes that over the next year this app will develop/merge into the core Traktor Pro experience, especially with the introduction of Apple’s Catalyst which allows Mac / iOS apps to be more easily developed from a single codebase. Tidal support in Traktor is also just a matter of time…
So basically the main challenge for Algoriddim is to develop their iOS app to offer most of the pro feature set and precision of a desktop app like Traktor before the competition catches up. If they can resolve the issues I’ve outlined and continue to develop the app into a professional application worthy of a ‘PRO’ subscription model, I will happily fork out for a Tidal subscription and Djay pro sub as it will let me DJ professionally on my iPad. But if they don’t rise to the challenge before Traktor add Tidal streaming to their desktop app I will probably just sacrifice the portability of the iPad and stick with Traktor on my Macbook without any subscription pricing (I already own Traktor Pro so there’s no more cost to me for the app if Traktor add Tidal).
I really hope Algoriddim can rise to the challenge!