Review: Until AM, Virtual Turntables In Your Browser

Review Summary:

It has plenty of shortcomings and imperfections at the moment. There's no headphones cueing. No autogain. No playlists. Selecting local music sometimes causes it to audibly hang for a second (on my MacBook. at least). There's a slight but noticeable lag on the controls. No cues or loops. But this is all splitting hairs - this is an early beta that's only been around for a month. I am sure some of the imperfections will be ironed out and more features added over time. It's as much of a proof of concept as anything.

Until AM, Virtual Turntables In Your Browser
You'll be DJing in five seconds when you try Until AM, and I defy you to disagree that it's a very cool web app.

You’ll be DJing in five seconds when you try Until AM, and I defy you to disagree that it’s a very cool web app.

Review: Until AM, Virtual Turntables In Your Browser

You simply have to try this. This kind of thing is quite possibly the future of digital DJing. Not today, or next week, or even next year – but have a go and tell me you don’t see how easily it could all head in this direction.

Basically, two Finnish designers have come up with Until AM, which is a web-based DJing app (currently in beta) that combines the music on your hard drive with music on SoundCloud, and lets you mix on a simple, two-deck, online interface seamlessly with the lot.

In use

To start with, it is a gorgeous looking web app. It opens in your browser, and presents you with two decks and a list of tunes from SoundCloud. It feels very much like algoriddim’s djay, and the graphics are almost as slick – you get proper picture labels on the records, they spin convincingly – look, you’re just going to have to give it a go. Trust me, it’s clean and it looks great.

The slickness carries over to the way it operates, too. At the moment it’s quite simple – there are two decks, two volume faders, two pitch faders, a crossfader, and play/pause buttons. You can guess how all of that lot works.

Want to scratch? Just click and drag on the vinyl. It’s got a whole range of effects which you can cycle through and then use via X/Y pads. The filters especially are so simple to use like this, and filter sweeps are child’s play with the mouse.

There are loads of quality little touches: When you hit “stop”, the music slows down like a brake on vinyl, but when you hit start, it starts right away. Even the Pioneer DDJ-S1 can’t manage that! There are keyboard shortcuts for various functions including crossfader so you don’t have to reach for the trackpad/mouse. You can actually download any tracks off SoundCloud that you like from within the app (that you are allowed to, of course).

Until AM

Looking very much like algoriddim’s djay, this is one slick web app and great fun to use. (Click to enlarge.)

At the top of the library window there are a couple of tabs. One of them is for SoundCloud (there’s a search box so you can type in whatever you’re looking for, it’ll load whole mixes as easily as single tracks), the other for your hard drive.

You can locate tracks on your hard drive, and add them to the list, which creates a kind of playlist for you to work from.

And that’s it – in-browser DJing, seamlessly using a combination of SoundCloud and your local music.

Conclusion

It has plenty of shortcomings and imperfections at the moment. There’s no headphones cueing. No autogain. No playlists. Selecting local music sometimes causes it to audibly hang for a second (on my MacBook. at least). There’s a slight but noticeable lag on the controls. No cues or loops. But this is all splitting hairs – this is an early beta that’s only been around for a month. I am sure some of the imperfections will be ironed out and more features added over time. It’s as much of a proof of concept as anything.

Of course you’re never going to DJ in a club with this as it is, but I can see this quite happily being the way bars provide their music exactly as it is now! If they added the ability to stack up tunes in a playlist and autoplay them, it would be a pretty complete if basic DJ system. I’d love to see YouTube audio available as a source, and iTunes integration like other DJ apps have, so you can select from your iTunes playlists. Obviously better DJ controls including loops and cues would be great too.

Now, I wonder if it’s possible to add Midi control to web apps? That would be truly mindblowing, As it is though, as I said right at the beginning, this is quite possibly a little glimpse of the future. At the very least, you have to give it a go.

Product Summary

Review Summary:

It has plenty of shortcomings and imperfections at the moment. There's no headphones cueing. No autogain. No playlists. Selecting local music sometimes causes it to audibly hang for a second (on my MacBook. at least). There's a slight but noticeable lag on the controls. No cues or loops. But this is all splitting hairs - this is an early beta that's only been around for a month. I am sure some of the imperfections will be ironed out and more features added over time. It's as much of a proof of concept as anything.

Until AM, Virtual Turntables In Your Browser

Have you had a chance to have a play with this? What did you think? Can you see this kind of thing ever catching on as an alternative to the current software out there? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Comments

  1. I sure see some possibilities with this web app but as you state there are some essential futures lacking to really use it for actual DJ’ing. This would also be nice when you are at a party and just want to play some songs. I can see a future in this sort of an app.

  2. Nice finding Phil!

    First thing that comes on my mind is:
    It would be cool to try this on a touchscreen to see how scratch works on that :-)

  3. I like this simply as a tool I can use to plan out mixes I want to record later. Just sit at work when I have a moment and play with the tunes I selected and brought on a thumb drive.

    I so love this new age of DJing we live in. How could anyone hate the convenience?

  4. I think once the imperfections have been ironed out and some other features are added this will be great. One thing i liked was there’s no sync button, so you have to use the pitch sliders. So this could be a good tool to teach people how to beat match manually.

  5. Thanks for this awesome tip. This thing is siiiiiCCCKKK!! It is very easy to use. Put your stock into computer sound card companies. Within 5 minutes I had this thing pumping into 6 channels of 200 watts per channel. Music from the web and music from my library. Combines effects. Some of the keyboard short cuts didn’t seem to work, minimizing screen made it short loop (like stutter) but maybe that’s due to my old slow computer, but it is beta, this is great I’m excited about this

  6. By far the most innovative feature is the ability to mix tracks from your library with an online source. Other than that, I agree with D-Jam that this has little use outside of planning sets/listening. I think it would be sad if clubs started using this instead of an actual person though. I want it to go the other direction, where human capital is more valuable than gimmicky technology.

  7. I had play with this last week, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head here Phil. The site as it currently stands is quite good fun for a while. It is in Beta so there are features needed in order to add some polish to it…in addition to those features you’ve mentioned, I found the Soundcloud search widget they’ve got at the side to be a little bit clunky and didn’t return the tracks I was after (I was searching for the numerous releases that DJ Zinc generously uploaded a while ago). The problem here maybe that the widget is limiting search results by quality of soundcloud track (Zinc’s tracks were all FLAC or AIFF I think).

    It’s still worth a look and perhaps more sites like Soundcloud might open up their track libraries for inclusion too?

  8. I have to go along with what D-Jam has said up thread – could quite easily see this app as a way of planning sets without having to have your main software open as well. Will be having a look at this later today!

  9. Because this requires flash to do dual-stream audio (HTML5 doesn’t support multiple streams) it’s not usable for iPad alas. There was a similar tech demo created awhile back which I feel was more faithful to the scratching and stopping sounds (he spent a lot of time making it right as he’s a DJ).

    The demo: http://wheelsofsteel.net/#more
    The post on the demo’s technology: http://www.schillmania.com/content/entries/2011/wheels-of-steel/

    I’d be surprised if the until.am guys didn’t happen across this. The UI for loading tracks on Until is definitely cleaner.

  10. sameoldsong says:

    it doesn’t seem to include a single function that you couldn’t implement on the client.

    the web-server based nature of this app makes it susceptible to extreme latency problems.

    my prognosis: this project will remain obscure and will fail sooner rather than later.

  11. midi control works with audiotool.com so it should be possible for this as well – I look forward to seeing how this until.am develops over the next while but it is a really good start…

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