Playing and Broadcasting
Having all this powerful fun in your hands is all well and good. But what is you want to play out? Well vjay has that covered quite a lot more than I expected at this point. Like djay before it, you can hook up Numark’s iDJ Live controller and mix and scratch. And with the split audio and video crossfader, you can control each independently. It is however hard-coded so it does what it does. That said, it does add that oh so important tactile feel.
That tactile feel is really important, and adds a lot more polish to an otherwise touchscreen set. Numark’s iDJ Live brings vjay alive – proper jogwheel feedback, buttons that respond the first time you press them and EQs that are instantly accessible, freeing up the screen for other work. And it’s all pretty instant. Granted, the jogwheels will never rival turntables, but for me the partnership of app and controller makes this a considerably more enjoyable experience.
As for video output, owners of iPad 2 and 3 (or whatever Apple call the new one) should be able to hook up their favourite screens and projectors via the Apple HDMI adaptor. It’s only 720p though, but more than adequate for people likely to be using an iPad for video. Let’s remember that while vjay is highly capable, it’s not going to rival dedicated systems costing many thousands.
About audio – as mentioned before, vjay uses the same split audio capabilities as djay Basically a stereo signal split for monitoring. Tests show that the HDMI and headphones share the same output. This means that whatever you hear in your headphones is exactly what you’ll hear through your HDMI device. This does make audio slightly more tricky. Seems that if you want to cue, you’ll have to turn off the HDMI device’s volume and use the split audio cable with headphones and speakers.
One caveat about the adaptor – I had no issues hooking up iDJ Live and my 24″ LG monitor independently. But together the iDJ Live lost connection. It would appear that the adaptor doesn’t much care for MIDI. And I couldn’t get my iPad to hook up to my 40″ Samsung TV. So before running off gung-ho, it would be worth doing some research online as to exactly what this adaptor will work with. Or at least be prepared to buy something that it will work with.
The other very Apple way is via AirPlay. If you have suitable hardware e.g. Apple TV, vjay can broadcast wirelessly to big screens. This obviously helps get round the above possible compatibility issues.
One last gem in the vjay crown is recording. Yes, you can perform and record your sets to an easily shareable file. Hit record and you’re putting your master mix to a file that can be pulled off via iTunes or shared to your camera roll and mailed or sent directly to Youtube. Some issues worth noting – even on this new iPad, recording can effect performance. I noted that hitting cue points was met with a definite lag, which basically will make your recorded performances less than perfect.
Output is also SD only, so if you planned to use vjay for making HD video mixes… well you can’t. That said, a better approach might be to hook up something like a Blackmagic Intensity box or the new Elgato Game Capture HD to grab HDMI output directly. This way, you don’t drain the resources of the iPad by recording live, and you can get 720p output too. That is provided Apple’s HDMI adaptor works with them.
Given the amount of time I’ve spent with vjay and the iPad, the real achilles heel here is battery life. Working with audio is hard enough on power, but routinely tossing videos at each other laden with effects is obviously going to be incredibly tough on your iPad’s power. It’s also going to be very hard on older iPads. My new one seemed to handle everything with aplomb, but I imagine that an original iPad is going to complain a little.
On its own, the iPad is likely to give you no more than 90 minutes hardcore play. With iDJ Live, you’re looking at 60 minutes and no way to plug in the power. Thus you hit the hardware limitation of the 30 pin connector. The HDMI adaptor can plug into a power supply, but doesn’t allow for the iDJ Live to be connected. And iDJ Live has no power. One can only hope that Numark have an iDJ Live 2 planned that has a power supply.
Algoriddim’s only comment with this review has been the battery life findings. We’re looking into this to see if there’s something funny with my iPad 3 that is causing massive battery drain. This part will be updated in due course.