Review & Video: DJ Player Pro 9 for iOS

Review Summary:

A new "Modern" waveform view, Stems, solid stability, and impeccable sound confirm this is a serious contender for pros interested in a powerful and reliable platform for iOS. But with many features bound to a monthly subscription model or a hefty one-time fee, will more DJs make the commitment?

DJ Player Pro
  • DJ Player Pro
  • Rating: 4
  • From:: iMect
  • Version: 9
  • Price: Free to start, $1.67/month or $89.99 to remove trial notifications
  • Reviewed by:
  • On March 6, 2017
  • Last modified:March 6, 2017
dj Player Pro 9

DJ Player Pro 9 is a major overhaul of this platform for iOS, seen here with Numark hardware controlling it - but is it good enough to attract a decent number of users to its subscription model?

Full DJ Player Pro 9 Review

Developer iMect boldly touts DJ Player Pro 9 as the “Formula 1 car for the DJ world”, and a quick look at the features tells you why – you get four decks, full support for any DVS system, full mapping capabilities for any Midi device, dedicated cloud storage, support for the Stems audio format, and more. And everything that makes up the software is built literally from scratch.

The app is free to download as a fully featured trial version, but the periodic nag to subscribe starts after roughly five minutes of activity. It’s worth noting that there’s also a cheaper EM (essential mixing) version, although the absence of most features that make the app truly pro make it a rather crippled version intended for bedroom DJs only.

First impressions

As the first "pro" version, DJ Player Pro 9 has its key components reworked from its previous incarnation into a matured interface. Gone are the graphics that looked straight out of Star Trek: The Next Generation – instead there’s now a cleaner GUI that gives more definition to the control zones.

pro 9

The modern layout mixer view inside DJ Player Pro 9.

By default, you have a standard two-deck layout in the "Classic" view (there’s also an alternate "Modern" view, but more on that in a bit. When a deck is loaded, you’ll see detailed spectral waveforms, and the decks display EQ, transport, and looping functions. Useful track info like BPM, key, and pitch percent are all in one place – no longer is this information scattered up top and to the side in fine print. And there’s the addition of handy, albeit minimal level meters, something that was absent before.

In use

New and reworked interfaces

DJ Player Pro now features two different "Performance" views. The default "Classic" view is slightly more geared towards standalone and DVS users, the Serato-style deck platters and vertical waveforms feeling instantly familiar. The inclusion of both beat-plus-tempo and tempo-only Sync types will also make Serato users happy. And the tempo-only variant is quite handy for using Sync with tracks that have beatgrid issues after analysis, as it does not sync track phase.

The new "Modern" view really gives the track waveforms the spotlight and will likely be the style of choice for controller DJs who won’t need to use most controls directly on the screen. Like the Classic view, everything you see here is built on a mirror-image principle, only here things get a little trickier on the horizontal axis. To the far left in between both waveform decks, there’s a tiny eight-circled button that reveals minimal yet complete access to the decks’ FX, gain, volume, EQ, filter, cue points, and even stem level. As in previous versions, both views also translate well to portrait mode (so owners of a Numark iDJ Pro, for example, can also explore the new layouts).

But if you consider that an app’s functions need to be as accessible on its own as they are with external gear, there’s still room for improvement. This version is much tighter but depending on which view one prefers, some might find the persistent need to hold Shift to access basics like deck volume, headphone cue, or gain a little cumbersome – unless they’re mapped to dedicated controls on connected hardware.

Navigating the Library is relatively fast and simple. If you make use of their DJ Cloud service, you don’t even need to remember if the track you want was on the device or in the cloud since they can both be linked. Deezer and Dropbox users can sync up their accounts here, and if you use your own network for storage, DJ Player Pro can connect to this as well.

Stems

Stems

The Stems pane, showing control over individual stems within a stems.mp4 file.

When Native Instruments launched its Stems open file format, the original vision was to have developers embrace the format in their own projects, so it’s great to see that DJ Player Pro 9 is the first DJ software for iOS to support the format.

When a stem.mp4 file is loaded onto a deck, you can access its individual stem tracks by holding the shift button and selecting Stems from the menu. This brings up the level and filter controls for each stem track with the Stem track name metadata neatly labeled onto each level knob. And to access their respective kill switches, you guessed it: hold shift to reveal.

What’s great here is you can zoom in and out of the stacked waveforms or just collapse them when you can't remember which waveform is the drums and you just need to see the downbeat. Each stem has its own dedicated filter but on the other hand, using FX with them doesn’t seem very useful as the kill buttons only serve to bypass the stem from whatever effect is in use.

Conclusion

iMect has truly stepped up to the plate with DJ Player Pro 9. It’s a huge improvement in terms of design and usability. But while it’s true the app has managed to elegantly reinvent itself without losing its core identity, this might not be a selling point for everyone – iMect has radically revamped the GUI before and most software-based DJs won’t fancy the threat of a drastic GUI revision at any major version. And there’s also the learning curve behind the regular need for holding the Shift button to access key controls.

And then there are the payment options. Though the work put in merits a pro price point, iMect have largely favoured a monthly subscription-based model. It’s always risky implementing this kind of software licence but DJ Player isn’t exactly alone, with several DJ software platforms nowadays offering this option.

But there is no doubt this is a powerful and impressive app and DJ Player Pro could easily be adopted by DJs who need a compact set-up for regular gigs in extremely tight DJ booths (iPads don’t get sticky keyboards from beer spills), or even as part of a full club-ready set-up for DJs looking for a more tactile and portable alternative to the laptop.

Until recently, DJing with mobile devices was an unlikely option for serious gigs due to limited functionality and integration with external pro gear. But with the impressive appearance of Apple’s iPad Pro and apps like Algoriddim’s djay Pro, DJ Player Pro 9 is the latest to flaunt its plumage in the bid to change popular perception that iPad apps are mere toys for the casual wannabe.

If the currently accepted notion that iOS apps are on a lower software tier than their desktop counterparts continues to change, it will be interesting to see just how far DJ Player Pro goes from here.

Review Summary:

A new "Modern" waveform view, Stems, solid stability, and impeccable sound confirm this is a serious contender for pros interested in a powerful and reliable platform for iOS. But with many features bound to a monthly subscription model or a hefty one-time fee, will more DJs make the commitment?

DJ Player Pro

  • DJ Player Pro
  • Rating: 4
  • From:: iMect
  • Version: 9
  • Price: Free to start, $1.67/month or $89.99 to remove trial notifications
  • Reviewed by:
  • On March 6, 2017
  • Last modified:March 6, 2017

Video talkthrough

Do you use DJ Player Pro 9? What do you think? Does iOS have a future as a software platform for DJs? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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Comments

  1. Very impressive, I really like it.
    However I couldn't get myself to use something like this without having access to an external hdd.
    Perhaps for a quick 1 or 2 hr set yes, but I'd be way to nervous to do a gig (a wedding for example) & have the majority of my collection relying on a connection to iCloud or similar.
    It just seems too risky. But that's just me.

  2. DJ Hombre says:

    Just to clarify...

    The $89 subscription is for 5 years, the lesser price you've given achieved the same thing but for less time.

    So far DJPP is the only DJ app on iOS that supports STEMS. Rather than being one of the first, it is the first!

    The recent addition of midi startup mappings, LED jog wheel mappings and secondary LED settings are once again way ahead of anything else available on iOS. I've got my Reloop Mixon 4 set up with DJPP for 4 deck mixing, LEDs all working nicely and a few neat little flourishes too which makes it a sweet pairing for the app.

    It's always interesting to see where this app will go next.

    btw - I tend to load my iPad with the tracks I want to mix, sync to the cloud before playing the gig, so I don't need to be online in a dingy basement or whatnot!

  3. I really like DJ Player Pro. I would really like a mono external mixing mode, though. I only have at 4 (4 mono/2 stereo) channel sound card, but I still would like to mix externally using all 4 decks with my sound card. -Lecroix

  4. You forgot to mention one thing in your review: The sound-quality is superior. This app is so tight that nothing compares really. Immediate response in levels etc. You get the "fender-feeling", if you know what i'm talking about :) Also, the time-stretching is out of this world even when extending the speed a lot. try it, i think you'll love it! I'm a very happy user since a couple of years, and i use it on a regular basis. Never failed on me so far. Totally pro-level!

  5. I've recently got DJPP up and running with my iPad and iPhone + Traktor A6 + Serato vinyl and I'm well sold on it. I mostly play vinyl but I have some edits and unreleased stuff that I'd like to play at gigs where there's no CDJs. This fits in the vinyl bag really slim and is very easy to setup. Rock solid too. Really stoked on it, at least until I can afford some CDJs.

    Looking forward to trying it with a controller one day.

    Also it's not $90 to remove trial notifications. It's $90 for 5 years of subscription (much much cheaper than Rekordbox DJ or other subscription programs).

  6. "DJ Player supports external drives with the WebDAV protocol"
    I actually didn't know what that was & so I had to google it.
    That is very cool, but taking your laptop with to dj on your iPad just doesn't make any sense to me.
    Isn't there a way to load music from a external hdd directly to the iPad? - Then I'll splash the cash 😉

  7. Will this work with the Reloop Beatpad?

    • Jason George says:

      Yes it will, I have a Beatpad 2, which I mapped myself, with help from the slack community. Its a good solid app for house music. Only gripe I have is with old skool music 86-89 the grids are off a bit. You can adjust the beat grids Traktor Dj style.

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