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.
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).
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.
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.
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.