Tablets

How to DJ on your iPad

You don't have to lug decks across town any more to mash up some tunes at a party. Just whip out an iPad and start DJing with this guide.

Often surrounded by a mass of cables, inputs and high-end equipment, one could be forgiven for thinking that DJs indulge in an expensive, complicated craft. But all you need is a DJ app on an iPad to blend your favourite tunes and cast your sorcery on the dance floor.

Apple's versatile tablet has made the art of mixing more accessible than ever, with apps such as djay for iPad and iDJ making it a great stepping stone into the world of turntabling. Have you always fancied trying your hand on the decks? If so, here's how to set yourself on the path to becoming the next Tiesto.

Getting started

To begin your illustrious career as a tablet DJ, you'll need an iPad packed with your favourite selection of high-quality tunes. Your mobile DJ station will need to be running iOS 4.2 or better, with at least 20MB of space -- not including your chosen tracks.

You'll also need $20 (£13) worth of iTunes credit to buy djay for iPad. Download it here. One of the most impressive apps on the market today, djay for iPad is easy to use but packed with features -- perfect for seasoned vinyl heads or MP3 newbies alike.

There's also a range of easily expandable features. One great accessory, if you want to take things up a notch, is the Griffin DJ Cable. It lets you hear what the PA is playing and the track you're cueing up, giving you even more control over your mix -- once you know what you're doing. You'd also be well advised to invest in some quality headphones.

The basics

djay

A DJ is nothing without his record bag, or in this case, his iTunes library. Your first step is to assemble a mass of your favourite tracks in the highest-quality format you can afford. This will make all the difference.

After downloading djay, you should be able to easily access your songs. One of djay's many plus points is its ability to see your iTunes library in its entirety -- making importing tracks to your decks a painless experience.

When you first open djay, you'll be presented with a familiar DJ scene -- left and right decks with a horizontal cross-fader in the middle and vertical pitch faders either side. The pitch faders control the speed of the song, while the cross-fader is the tool that does the blending -- the most important control for a DJ.

Mixing is the blending of tracks -- not the twisting or forcing together of them -- so it's always a good idea to find two songs that complement each other, with a similar tempo or beats per minute (BPM).

Once you've chosen your two tracks, you have a couple of options. Firstly, pressing the sync button will adjust both tunes to the same speed -- so mixing is as simple as choosing when to start the second song and moving the cross-fader along. The more difficult, but ultimately more rewarding, method would be to ignore the sync button altogether and instead sync the tracks using your own newly discovered DJing skills.

Advanced features

Although simple to use at first glance, djay buries many of its features under the surface. After you get to grips with simple mixing, you can then delve into the advanced world of equalizing, looping and pre-listening (when you listen through headphones to the track you want to mix into). Although complicated, it's techniques like these that will turn your set from competent to show stopping.

Like the most expensive set-ups such as Native Instrument's Traktor (see below), djay for iPad lets you save and stream your sets. Whether it's to critique your last set, play to your friends or for that energy-sapping run in the gym, it's one of djay's most essential features. From then on you can upload your mix to popular sites such as Soundcloud or Mixcloud, the latter of which is one of the biggest mix sites on the web.

Alternatives

Traktor

Djay for iPad offers much of the DJing experience but without the cost and space. If you do want to experience the real deal, a pair of vinyl/CD decks and a mixer would set you back thousands of pounds.

Native Instrument's Traktor Kontrol S2 strikes a novel blend between the two, offering industry-leading software coupled with one of the best MIDI controllers you can buy. With platters that offer the tactile experience of vinyl and a detailed on-screen display, Traktor is the hybrid taking the mixing world by storm.