For many DJs, the most exciting thing about having a DJ app on their iPad is the idea that the unit can be used as an “extra deck”, plugging in alongside a normal DJ set-up for adding an extra audio source, rather than as an all-in-one DJing solution. TraxPad is an iPad app which does just that.
I’ve had it for a while now, and I tend to use it alongside two turntables when playing mostly vinyl when I want to occasionally mix a track from the iPad into my set.
The simplicity of the screen is one of the big benefits of this app; the large scrolling waveform takes up nearly the whole display with a small slimline summary waveform presented to the side.
Currently, you can’t “scratch” the waveform while it’s playing. You can nudge the track (as you would with the edge of a turntable platter) by using a single digit on the waveform. If you use more than one finger then you will be changing the speed of the track (the pitch slider is shown at the top of the screen) – the more fingers you use, the greater the speed change.
If you have the track paused and move the waveform back and forth with your finger, the audio is played out (audio scrubbing). What you soon notice is that if the waveform is positioned on a peak, the audio produces some noticeable buzzing – this might be a reason behind no scratch functionality during playback.
The loop functionality is currently only available for MP3s; this is slightly frustrating especially since the app supports a number of other file formats (such as M4A and AIFF).
The limitation to MP3s may be because when the app was first released it only supported the one file format. The looping is fairly basic (again when compared with other DJ apps) and is all done on-the-fly without bouncing the track to the point at which it would have normally been at.
For loop to work, the BPM ID3 tag must be populated on the MP3 file; however, the developer is currently working on BPM detection within the app (for those tracks without BPM data) that should hopefully allow looping with other file formats too.
Currently, the FX options are limited to reverb, filter and echo. When you press one of the FX options the top half of the screen is used as an X-Y pad with the waveform still scrolling underneath. What’s missing on this is a grid to show you the parameters of the FX – if this was present then you’d be able to gradually fade-in the effect, whereas at the moment it is guesswork. The developer is currently working on linking the FX to the BPM so that it all sounds in-time when used.
The sound quality from the FX could do with a little tweaking since they don’t sound quite as polished as those offered in other iOS DJ apps. Also, in an ideal world, there would be one or two other effects such as a flanger and maybe bitcrusher available too.
In an earlier version of TraxPad, there was a custom crates type of system. This felt a little clunky so the move to utilise the Music Playlists on the device is a good one. The library screen is well implemented and presents the data and sorting options you want. I believe it was the first app to offer sorting of tracks within the library by comment (allowing for harmonic mixing – assuming your key data is held there!).
Thankfully the developer decided to go with a custom UI approach which means you get a more professional view of your tracks; they’ve even managed to squeeze a tiny cover art icon in the track view as well. The only downside with this approach is that on first load up of the app, it takes a while for the app to build a list of tracks in the format the app can display. Any app which has its own music library screen (and not the generic one) suffers a similar pause in proceedings.
The obvious comparison here would be with the DJ Player track library, so a couple of key features would be very welcome:
- A quick index (removing the need to scroll excessively down the list to find a track)
- Tracks played highlighting (removing the risk of playing the same track by mistake twice in one set)
There are a few options for configuration in the app; a nice touch is the ability to change the direction of the large waveform scroll and also the way you can change the inner & outer waveform colours as well as the background. A jet black background makes the display of the waveform very bold and easy to see.
I’ve had TraxPad on my iPad and part of my set-up since the app was first released (at a much lower price than it is now, originally US$9.99 now US$29.99). The developer is working on a new release which should improve the effects and looping features as well as bug-fixes and stability improvements.
Although I do still have a soft spot for this app, it lacks many features of similar (and lower) priced apps (such as DJ Player, Red Bull BPM DJ, MixmoDJ, Touch the Wave for iPad and the forthcoming DJ Rig app from IK Multimedia).
As these competing apps are pushed further with updates adopting new iOS functionality (such as cloud, WiFi or even Bluetooth data sharing between devices), it leaves TraxPad playing catch-up, Let’s hope the one-man team behind the app is up to the task.
Have you used this app? Do you think the iPad makes more sense as a “single source” rather than a self-contained DJ app? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments.