DJing on a laptop is now becoming quite commonplace. As long as the DJ rocks the party, it doesn’t really matter what's playing the music. Similar to choosing a favorite mixer or CD deck, the DJ software market has just as many options. Each brand of software tries to capture the attention of the club crowd by offering features that no one else does. I’ve tried most of them with great success in the club. The sound, the feel, the quick song searching is amazing. My laptop became my ‘decks.’ But there is one part of my sets that I love and I dearly miss... music videos.
Up until recently, to play music videos in the same manner as CDs took a large investment. The table top video players that my club owns are way too expensive. When researching the options on how other DJs have been able to rock music videos from a laptop without spending a fortune, one brand of software kept coming up.
Virtual DJ 6 is a full featured DJ software for the Mac & PC. All of the features that any digital DJ would need are included. You can control the software with a MIDI controller, timecode CDs, or the mouse. You can play audio files and music videos. You can use one or more sound cards at one time. All of these come with the software, no need to pay extra for these features. This puts them ahead of the other products where time code or video is considered a paid upgrade.
Virtual DJ Screenshot - Video Mixingwww.VirtualDJ.com
Installation was quick and easy. Within minutes, I had the software launched and running. The layout is very similar to most other DJ software with the top of the screens showing the virtual decks and the bottom of the screen showing the browser area. I found my iTunes library of music instantly accessible on the lower left, showing all of my playlists that I had. This is a huge timesaver to be able to organize your sets in iTunes, and find the songs all ready to go in Virtual DJ.
My first mix was this easy. I loaded by dragging a song from the list below, into the deck on the left. Then I pressed play. I proceeded to drag another song into the deck on the right. I pressed sync and then play. Clicking and dragging the crossfader from left to right, I had a perfect beatmix. Virtual DJ automatically analyzed the BPM of both tracks and synced them without any effort on my part. Another huge time saver, no need to prepare the files or set any type of markers in the song. I was really amazed how effortless it was to get a flawless beat mix without any skipping drums at all.
The rest of the layout is really intuitive. All of the buttons you would find on a DJ CD deck or a club mixer are right there on the screen. Six different effects, six samples, EQ knobs for high, mid, and low, and even a virtual platter to click on and scratch with are present. I was able to click away on the screen to set loops, tweak a flanger, and launch an air siren sound, all instantly with great sound quality. Being creative with sound was quick and easy, launching my mixes to the next level.
Music Videos in the Mix
My goal for Virtual DJ is to mix music videos during my sets. I have been using the Pioneer DVJ-X1 players since they came out. Now that laptops are powerful enough to mix video files, here is my chance to try this. With minimal preparation, videos were just as easy to work with as audio. I used a external firewire hard drive to store the video files. For my video content, I simply copied .VOB files off of my DVDs. Virtual DJ also comes with a video ripping software to help get the content off the DVD to your hard drive.
The music videos were listed just like audio songs, I dragged them up to the decks the same way, and they mixed just as easy. I was amazed how fast I was able to get off the ground and get to rocking. In comparing the quality to a Pioneer DVJ-X1, the videos sounded just as good as long as keylock was not used. The videos on the Pioneer did look better, but I feel that is a limitation of my laptop and converter.
Video Setup for a MacBook Pro with Mini Display Port
Virtual DJ - NetSearchwww.VirtualDJ.com
The video quality in the software is great, but getting your videos
out to the club can be tricky. Since the goal of most live
performance DJ’s would be to show the video mixing on TVs or Plasma
screens in a night club, a video mixer is generally needed. Make sure
the video mixer has inputs that match the output of your computer.
Most DJs would just use the S-Video out, use an adapter from DVI to
S-Video. In my unique situation, I'm using a new MacBook Pro with a
mini Display Port output and I need to hook into a video mixer that
only has Composite or S-Video inputs. Which means, I'm trying to plug
digital video into an analog video mixer. For this to work, I needed
an adapter to go from Mini Display Port to VGA, then a converter to
change the signal from VGA to S-Video, and finally another cable to go
from S-Video to the mixer. Such a long conversion process degrades
the video quality. Either the club needs a digital video mixer, or I
need an analog laptop.