MixVibes CrossDJ for iPhone Review

Review Summary:

While the iPhone's smaller screen makes scratching difficult, the CrossDJ interface adapts well to smaller iOS devices. It feels like a quality app especially because of the good-sized buttons and the space dedicated to each feature. Unfortunately because the decks are obscured during use of these features it can prove to be frustrating, especially when you want to set hot cues accurately. Also, the absence of a Key Lock feature will be a turn off to some.

MixVibes CrossDJ for iPhone
  • MixVibes CrossDJ for iPhone
  • Rating: 4
  • From: MixVibes
  • Price: Free (in-App purchase of US$2.99 to unlock all the extended features)
  • Reviewed by:
  • On February 6, 2013
  • Last modified:February 16, 2014
Mixvibes CrossDJ arrives for smaller iOS devices!

Mixvibes CrossDJ arrives for smaller iOS devices!

Review: MixVibes CrossDJ for Iphone

MixVibes has recently released an iPhone version of its excellent Cross DJ software. DJing on smaller iOS devices has its challenges, mainly that the smaller screen means apps can tend to feel cramped and busy. However, we loved the sleek interface and functionality of the iPad version, so were interested to see how the experience translated to the iPhone version.

First impressions

From the start, the welcome sight of MixVibes's sleek, black interface is in evidence. MixVibes has used the available space wisely ensuring that none of the screens feel cluttered; even my shaky hands could, I found, tap the right buttons accurately. The main transport controls of Play, Cue and Sync together with the crossfader at the bottom of the screen remain nearly identical to the iPad version. Once a track is loaded, the BPM is shown on the Sync button which feels like a clever use of space.

Rather frustratingly there seems to be no way of adjusting the BPM detected; there's no manual tap and no double/half of the value possible. This would maybe more of an issue for anyone wanting to mix drum and bass with hip-hop perhaps, but I'd like to see it included.

Pitch bend on the deck view

Pitch bend built into the deck view is a clever way of space saving for smaller devices

The section that always grabs my attention with CrossDJ is at the top, where the unique waveform is displayed. By default the app will show an overall waveform with progress bar during playback and coloured cue point markers positioned accordingly.

In the central section, the circular beat display rotates round with every four beats (this is configurable, you could set it to cycle on 16 beats). If you miss the scrolling, more detailed waveform don't worry. A single tap to the centre section will show that instead, along with the beatgrid lines marked.

A point to note here is that the app (unlike the iPad version) doesn't currently allow you to manually adjust the beatgrids. Perhaps this will come in time, I hope so as it was one of the big advantages of CrossDJ for iPad over some of the competing DJ apps.

The spinning vinyl can be used to scratch (difficult to get into on a small screen) and also pitch bend. Through the settings, you can configure the deck to only operate as a pitch bend giving you an easy to use (and big) area for nudging the pitch. I found that you can trigger this even if the deck is in vinyl mode by pressing on the centre (ie the label area) of the vinyl which was handy. Something to remember is that you can only nudge the pitch while on the deck view; if you're using any of the other screens this functionality gets obscured. So make sure your tracks are aligned before getting too creative with the mix!

CrossDJ Library Access

Choosing the next track is quick and simple.

If you've noticed that the pitch slider control isn't displayed, then you're correct. It's hidden by default and displayed by pressing the pitch slider button to the left of the left deck. Incidentally, the button to the right of the right deck (a plus icon) takes you to the settings for the app.

Loading a track is simple, with the library screen giving you access to Playlists, Songs, Artists, Albums and Genres with the ability to search as well as sorting by Title, Artist or BPM. The option to analyse tracks as a batch is also available; this would mean you could load tracks instantly with the waveform, beatgrid and BPM pre-calculated.

Extended features such as FX, cues, loops and mixer are accessed using the three buttons in the centre section, each slide a window over the deck view obscuring it completely (with the exception of the top and bottom bars of the screen).

Cues and loops

Hot cues and loops with CrossDJ for iPhone

Big buttons make cues and loops easy to use.

The main cue is set easily enough on the deck view, however the app also has six hot cues for your use - all stored ready for the next time the track is loaded. The problem with trying to set the hot cues is that the deck is obscured, so for trying to set them accurately you'll need to position the track correctly first then go to the hot cues page, set the cue and then go back to the deck view to move to the next desired location. Of course you could do this on the fly during playback but it is likely to be less accurate. The hot cues are all marked on the waveform with colour coded indicators.

The loop functionality is displayed in the same window as the hot cues. The loop increments are detailed from 1/32 beat up to 32 beats and can be fired in "Slip" mode. There's no manual way to set the in/out points for a loop and as such they're all tied into the beatgrids.

The mixer screen is self-explanatory featuring a good-sounding EQ section with double tap action to return the sliders to centre. There's also a volume slider for each deck displayed.

FX

FX screen in CrossDJ for iPhone

FX screen with good sized X-Y pads and FX options.

The options for FX are the same as on the iPad version (Low-Pass, Flanger, Delay, Echo, Phaser, X-Phaser, Hi-Pass, Jet, Cut, Chopper, Crush, Bliss, Brake, Roll) although only the first three are available for free - the rest can be unlocked with an in-app purchase.

You can lock an effect so it is permanently on, allowing you to navigate back to the mixer page and adjust the pitch or perhaps play with the loops at the same time. The X-Y pads are reassuringly good to use, probably because of the generous space they are given on the screen.

Settings

You can customise the functionality through the settings page (via the plus icon on the right deck). Standard items such as pitch range, pitch bend strength and vinyl mode can all be adjusted here. There's also an option to use a splitter cable and also an external mixer mode. Via the in app purchase (the same one that would unlock the extended FX) you also get USB audio sound card support (identical to the iPad version).

Conclusion

Mixvibes has been busy recently developing the rekordbox app for use with Pioneer products (such as the XDJ-Aero or the CDJ2000), launching version 2 of CrossDJ and their video plugin. With all this activity I was worried that they had forgotten about the iOS platform, but thankfully not! During the winter period they have also updated the iPad version of CrossDJ to bring multichannel audio via USB sound card support, external mixer mode and audio via Bluetooth. The arrival of the iPhone version of the app came as a surprise and certainly spices up the competition for high quality DJ apps on smaller iOS devices.

From using the app over the past couple of weeks, it feels like a quality app especially because of the good-sized buttons and the space dedicated to each feature. Unfortunately because the decks are obscured during use of these features it can prove to be frustrating, especially when you want to set hot cues accurately, but I guess that's a result of squeezing in detailed functionality into a small screen space. With the slightly larger screen space of an iPhone 5 or 5th generation iPod Touch you'll see a black bar on the display at either side, so there's the potential to display the pitch slider permanently (or something else) if using these devices. As with the iPad version, there's no Key Lock feature which may put some folk off. Midi support would also be a welcome addition in the future for both apps; I think the Vestax Spin2 would make a good match.

DJ apps that replicate hardware such as spinning vinyl or CDJ style interfaces are not to everyone's taste, however they do represent what most budding DJs can easily recognise as being part of the "DJ" experience. Without Midi support I would be unlikely to use the app for anything more than casually forming mix ideas. If those two areas of functionality were implemented, I could see this being an effective and fun solution to any immediate small-scale party!

The big surprise is that the app is free. This will certainly cause a stir among other DJ app developers. The advanced features such as extended FX and detailed settings can be unlocked at the cost of US$2.99 which is good value for money. By being free, it will attract would-be DJs to take a closer look and possibly shift focus away from already established and popular DJ apps.

Product Summary

Review Summary:

While the iPhone's smaller screen makes scratching difficult, the CrossDJ interface adapts well to smaller iOS devices. It feels like a quality app especially because of the good-sized buttons and the space dedicated to each feature. Unfortunately because the decks are obscured during use of these features it can prove to be frustrating, especially when you want to set hot cues accurately. Also, the absence of a Key Lock feature will be a turn off to some.

MixVibes CrossDJ for iPhone
  • MixVibes CrossDJ for iPhone
  • Rating: 4
  • From: MixVibes
  • Price: Free (in-App purchase of US$2.99 to unlock all the extended features)
  • Reviewed by:
  • On February 6, 2013
  • Last modified:February 16, 2014

Give CrossDJ for iPhone a go for free and let us know what you think! Is DJing on a smaller iOS device a step too far? Which features of CrossDJ would you like to see included that are currently missing on iOS? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

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Comments

  1. JonnyFlash says:

    I think that this app is one of the best dj apps for the small screen iOS devices due to the great beat detection/beat griding. Coming from using Cross DJ on my Mac and now this and the iPad version it has been a very easy transition. For me this app is great for showin up at a friends house and rockin out a little set with out any need prep time or extra gear. I am with you Hombre in the need for a controller for this app. But MixVibes also needs to add that feature to the iPad version. I do not understand why they have not made that app to accept a controller as they make and sell teir own very capable controller which is perfect for two deck mixing.

  2. DJ Forced Hand says:

    I think what really needs to be reviewed with products like these is how well does it work over an FM Transmitter (so you can play your songs through one or more boom box(es)) and/or how well does it work with portable (read as: self-powered backpack) P.A. speakers?

    BTW, I’m working on that how to throw a micro event (you called it mini party in this post) document.

  3. DJ Forced Hand says:

    Dammit! you called it a “small-scale party”… I must have confused your statement with some other communications I’ve had recently.

    • JonnyFlash says:

      I have been looking to do the same thing. Two minute set up time and everything that you use must be carried in one trip. So that would include iOS devices, pacemaker, nextbeats, and Stanton SCS4 only basically. I think it would be a great idea.

  4. Bill Greenberg says:

    I dunno – I still like djay better for an iOS app. I am barely a hobbyist DJ but managed to keep everyone entertained and got the girls dancing at a friend’s impromptu house party a few weeks ago. Just hooked my iPad Mini up to their stereo and away we went for a couple hours.

  5. Mario García says:

    I have to inform a complaint, i bought the full app, but if someone bought the app within an iphone, tha app needs to be paid again if someone (I in my case) wants to install the app into the ipod touch or an ipad

    • JonnyFlash says:

      There is an iPad version of the app and a iPhone/iPod touch version which is free but has in app purchases for full use.

  6. Ive been using Cross DJ for a while now on the iPad and its ok, definitely one of the better DJ apps out there BUT my absolute favorite is DJ PLAYER! DJ Player offers a ton of features and in my opinion far exceeds any other DJ app available right now. Thanks for the article Phil.

  7. I think it is one of the best iOS free dj apps out there. The only thing that I really recomend and want is that MixVibes should implement a record button. It’d be amazing to save all mixes that I create on this app.

  8. It’s a great app just download it love it
    …. but with no keylock it kinda sucks !!!!

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