Competent, Easy-to-Use Magix Digital DJ
At a Glance
Magix Digital DJ 2 ($50, feature-limited demo) is very nice representation of what would've once been about $10,000 worth of DJ audio equipment. It's rather sedate in appearance compared to the skinnable VirtualDJ and Mixxx, but it's also logically designed and makes it very easy for you to get to relevant tools and functions.
As with nearly every other DJ program, Digital DJ 2's interface is based around a library, two players/turntables, and a balance control to manage the output level of each player. You load files from the library into the players, play them, and do your cross-fades with the balance control. Also on hand are other DJ essentials such as cue for auditioning, one-hundredth second precise alignment forward and back, waveform display with loop marking, individual tempo and volume sliders, and so on. There's an entire section dedicated to looping as well.
I have two very minor complaints about the Digital DJ 2 interface. First, it lacks tool tips--those little hints that pop up when you hover over screen elements and controls. Their absence makes it a bit harder to get up to speed, though it should still be very intuitive to anyone with DJ experience. Second, I'd like to be able to right-click and send all the files I've selected in the library to a new playlist. As of now, you must drag them to an existing one.
As far as file support is concerned, Digital DJ 2 understood WAV files up to 96 kHz/32-bits, WMA, MP3, Apple normal and lossless, OGG, and FLAC. It didn't recognize APE, and it loaded, but wouldn't play, Windows lossless files--but those are two rarer file types. Digital DJ 2 ships with and utilizes the free ASIO4ALL audio driver, which reduces the latency of your audio system down to around 5 millisecond. Though adequate for playback, the normal WDM audio drivers respond far too slow for implementing real time FX such as tempo changes or scratching.
A DJ's most important talent is people skills--knowing what a crowd of people want, what they will react to, how they'll react, and when to press the right button. Digital DJ 2 will only provide the button, but it does so in a very comprehensive and logical, if not glamorous, manner.
Note: The Download button takes you to the vendor's website, where you can select the correct version for your system. Also, the audio drops out every 4 minutes in the Digital DJ 2 demo, but it is otherwise feature intact. Take it for a spin (very bad pun intended).
--Jon L. Jacobi