The iPad Mini is here – a digital DJ’s perspective

Yes it’s real and it’s here – Apple announced what the rumour mill had more or less nailed ages ago. The iPad Mini is the 8″ touch screen that we’d expected – a regular iPad compressed into a smaller space. And for me, this could well be the device that really makes waves in the DJ scene. Allow me to explain my thinking.

Regardless of the technical marvel that is the iPhone, using one on its own for DJing is hard. It’s just too small to be used in a hurry, and using one with a controller is still a bit of a push. The iPad however is a much better proposition. The large screen offers a lot of real estate to play with, as witnessed by the new iDJ Pro. But again, using one by itself is possible but lacks real tactile controls. The way forward for me is what is being done with Numark‘s iDJ Pro – sticking an iPad into the belly of the beast. But because of the size, as the Numark iDJ ably demonstrates, wedging one inside a controller compromises conventional layouts, because the whole centre are usually reserved for mixer controls is taken up with the iPad.

But now we have something that sits somewhere between the iPhone and iPad. The iPad Mini is still probably a little cramped to serious play in you hand, but the really big win here is how controllers can incorporate one but not necessarily have to suffer the same compromises that a big iPad insists on.

While some of you reading this may well scoff at the very thought of using an iPad for DJing, they’re all seriously powerful computers, more than capable of handling the demanding task of DJing. And having a pocket sized brain with enough screen space for interactivity, enough grunt to power it, and enough space to keep many a DJ quite happy sees the iPad Mini ideally placed to really take off for DJs.

When the first iPad dropped back in April 2010, I wrote a piece about it and said this:

“The iPad and its slew of me-toos will send a wave through the DJ scene akin to when CDJs and DVS systems hit. Big words, but I totally believe it to be true.”

And with the iPad Mini, I think that this has every chance of becoming the iPad that makes a serious dent on the DJ market. Not so much from an independent use point of view, but certainly will become the unit that manufacturers will want to put inside their controllers. And given the lower premium but same screen resolution and power, the notion of leaving your laptop at home and just putting your iPad inside a controller becomes a reality. And when the big boys finally get with the program and make iOS versions of their Windows, OS X and even Linux apps, the DJ industry will see a shift previously felt with CDJs, DVS and controllers.

But of course, you don’t have to use them or even agree with me. But the writing is on the wall. Or iPad as it were.

  • I can see using two of these as playback decks or midi controller decks with a mixer. A little easier to swallow price wise.

  • I think you are definitely leaning in the right direction with your theory of iPad-mini-inspired controller designs. As much as I love my iDJ Pro [seriously on the verge of selling my NS6 and ONLY working with the Pro], I can see the value in a redesign that allows more real estate on the controller for faders, pads, and connections. We shall see…

  • Phatbob

    I’ve been eyeing up Lemur for a while, and I was waiting for the iPad Mini announcement before deciding on hardware.

    In the end, I’ve bought a refurb iPad 2 today. It came in £10 cheaper than a Mini, and I decided that for the purposes of using as a controller, the larger screen is more of a benefit than the compact size.

    I’m not sure I buy the idea of manufacturers integrating iPads into their gear so much; already tons of third-party audio gear has been rendered kludgy by the change to the lightning connector, and Apple are not likely to consider such things when changing the form factor of future devices. Plus, Android will eventually get low-latency audio sorted out, and then there will be tons of Android tablets competing for space in the booth.

  • I would really love to see an application which is par to serato or traktor but on the ipad. An ipod dock or stand or battery pack that allows multiple powered usb connections for midi controllers would be a dream come true. It would be so perfect to be able prepare sets, beatgrids, cues, and gain on an ipad or another tablet and just just plug in an s4 or a twitch or even more complex setups just as rekordbox works for pioneer cdjs.

    • jprime

      That would be pretty awesome. I love the portability of my Twitch already, but to then only require a small tablet. o_O
      #android plz.

  • 100% Agree with you Mark.

  • jimmy

    i hope control elements in djay and touchosc are not too small on the ipad mini. the apps for the ipad are scaled down to fit the smaller screen.

  • Jared Helfer

    I see the iPad Mini being used in very specific ways, even now. I don’t think touch control for decks are going to replace hardware yet, and while storage space is quickly becoming a non-issue, I genuinely believe that hardware, physical controls are still paramount.
    Lining two of these things up next to a real mixer, having everything communicating, visualizing wave forms that can be interacted with, etc.. I see these things augmenting a modular setup before I see them replacing a physical controller. I also don’t see them changing the game quite like CDs or DVS did.

  • It would seem that the iPad mini would be the most effective in either a 1-to-1 replacement for a Kaoss pad (ie just a couple of controls and an x-y grid), or in something like the iDJ Pro where it would allow the hardware to be somewhat less bloated. As far as a standalone alternative to other dj hardware, the full sized iPad is too small for serious control, requiring more than one for anything but the most basic functionality (or an unhealthy love of sub-menus and hard-to-access modes).

  • A. Galuzzi

    i could imagine using this as audio source (if it supports multichannel) and plug it in to my mixer. deck controls on ipad touch screen and mixing on external mixer. minimalistic and versatile setup imo.

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