Review: The iPad, iPhone & iPod Touch DJ’s Christmas List
Got an iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch? Why not set it up as an ultra-portable DJ rig? With just a few accessories, you can turn your humble phone or web surfing device into a DJ set-up that you can large it up on anywhere.
Today we’re going to look at some products that any self-respecting ultra-mobile DJ might love to find in their Christmas stocking this year – the kind of gear that’ll help complete your iOS DJ set-up. Time to start dropping hints to the family…
Griffin DJ Cable
Most DJ apps have audio splitting as an option to allow cueing of one track while another is playing. Both cue and master audio signals are mixed down into two separate mono channels, and you need an audio splitter cable to double up each mono channel to provide two (left and right) channels for headphones and output into your mixer/amp/speakers
While this cable is endorsed by Algoriddim (the makers of djay for iPad and djay for iPhone/iPod Touch), it will work with all other DJ apps that offer audio split cable as an option.
The cable is relatively simple and connects directly to the headphone socket, providing you with two female jack sockets, one for the phones and one for the main output.
This is a similar cable to the Griffin model (but with gold connectors), however the it provides lots of options – it’s like a Swiss Army knife of cables!
It connects to the 30-pin base connector on the iDevice (in theory a better source of audio output than the headphone socket) and gives you a 3.5mm jack for headphone monitoring, L+R RCA plugs which can go directly into your mixer line input, as well as a USB cable for charging (and possibly data transfer too?).
It seems possible that you could use this cable to connect to Vestax Spin / iDJ Live with the djay app and split your audio as well – I haven’t tested this set-up, so I’d be interested to know if it works.
Griffin Survivor Case
After spending a few hundred dollars on an iDevice, you want to make sure it’s protected against the trials of playing out. There are a number of rugged cases out there, however I opted for this one: The US/UK military standards of testing on this product convinced me.
The case is very rugged. You put the iPod Touch, iPhone or iPad 2 into a sleek hard-plastic looking case which includes a perspex protective cover for the touchscreen. Then you slide the unit into a larger rubberised case which does all the shock absorbing.
I’ve seen this product thrown around car parks on YouTube and blown up on UK TV Channel 5’s Gadget Show, so I am fairly happy that my iDevice is safe in there. You will need to ensure that the cable you connect to the headphone socket doesn’t have any bulk around the connector, since the case is fairly deep and could block the cable short of the headphone socket. (They unfortunately don’t do these for the original iPad.)
MiniRig portable speaker
The speakers on iDevices are obviously not good enough to DJ through. You need a bit more volume and quality in your audio output, and that means an external speaker. In order to keep my iPad set-up as trim as possible, I went for this truly tiny product, from Pasce UK Ltd (based in Bristol).
The unit arrived very quickly and had a nice “This belongs to DJ Hombre” stamp on the base! Both build and sound quality were exceptional, much better than you may expect from such a small speaker (three-inch driver). The speaker is charged via USB with one charge lasting up to 50 hours. The unit has a neat power monitor LED on the top, so you can tell when it’s running out of juice.
It comes with USB cable and a 3.5mm jack cable which plugs directly into your iPad headphone socket, or audio splitter cable. There are no knobs, buttons of dials to control the volume on the speaker, however you can choose whether to plug your cable into the low volume option (bottom socket) or the high volume option (top).
The unit boasts 15W output, which is incredible from a unit of its size. Although the unit is a single speaker, it does present all but the lowest frequencies well – you can even boost the bass a bit by positioning the speaker near a corner or on the floor. You can also daisychain a number of speakers together. Instant pint-sized party!
Joos Orange Solar Charger
If you’re away from home for any length of time, then you may need to charge your iDevice (plus MiniRig!). I love the portable nature of these devices, but regular charging at a wall-socket does restrict your movements.
So, why not consider something like this? The award-winning Joos Orange solar charger claims to be the most effective portable solar charging device on the market. Pop it next to you on the beach (or if you’re lucky, on the boat!) while you sip sangria during the day and it should have enough charge to give you power for a sunset / evening DJ set by the pool!
This would make your DJ set-up truly mobile and wall-cable free, allowing you to DJ pretty much anywhere as long as you had enough sunshine during the day.
Arktis Medusa & Gooseneck iPad stands
Most of the previous accessories are aimed at taking your iDevice out of the home, club or bar and playing music in unconventional locations. If you’re unlikely to do this and really want to get your iPad(s) embedded near your hardware mixer, then you will need a stand of some sort. Balancing an iPad on the top of a turntable or CD deck isn’t a wise option.
At the launch of the Red Bull BPM DJ app at Amsterdam’s Dance Event in October this year, I saw these screwed in place on both sides of the mixer, placing the iPad at just the right height with an adjustable position to suit the DJ. Medusa comes with a round flat base (no need for screw fixing) while Gooseneck has a small round base and will need to be screwed to the DJ console.
As well as being aesthetically pleasing, they are very rugged so very little vibration or movement is felt when tapping on the screen. The company also sells an anti-theft device which can be used to secure the iPad in place on the stand – a useful addition if you’re the club owner, perhaps! They’re not cheap, though…
Most of the above products have alternatives, but these are the few that really stood out when we were compiling this list. There’s definitely something there for every iOS DJ this Christmas!
Where’s the most obscure place you’ve ever DJed? Have you used an iDevice to have an impromptu party in a hotel room, on a train, or someone equally unusual? what’s your favour ultra-portable gadget? Let us know in the comments!