Pioneer rekordbox app review (1)

Cast your minds back a couple of weeks, when Pioneer publicly dipped its toe in the trendy new tech pool of streaming via the new XDJ-AERO. Apps were mentioned but nothing was really talked about in terms of functionality. But today the apps are released, and I’ve had a quick play on the worxphone.

UPDATE: It’s not often this happens, but the press release arrived after I wrote this mini-review. So here it is.

Pioneer’s rekordboxTM software goes mobile – rekordbox is now available as an app for iPhone and iPod touch

21st August 2012: Music management for DJs is on the move with the new rekordbox app – the mobile version of Pioneer’s music management software. Since its launch in 2008 rekordbox has been popular among users of CDJs. And now the rekordbox brings a whole new dimension to set preparation and performance, giving DJs mobile access to all of the software’s key features and functions.

The rekordbox app allows DJs to view beat grids, analyse BPM, load waveforms and set cue and loop points straight from their smartphones. DJs can use the rekordbox app to load tracks and prepare playlists on their iPhones and then wirelessly transfer their creations to their laptops and vice versa.

The rekordbox app can also be used in conjunction with Pioneer’s new XDJ-AERO, the industry’s first Wi-Fi enabled all-in-one DJ system. DJs can load music wirelessly from their iPhones straight to the XDJ-AERO for truly hassle-free set up.

DJs using the full laptop version of rekordbox software are able to upload tracks and create playlists on their laptops. These playlists can be easily transferred to multi-format players via USB, and then edited on the fly for true spontaneity on the night. Plus, rekordbox’s quantized loops feature means that loops made with rekordbox-ready tracks will be snapped to the beat grid – for perfect loops, every time.

The iPhone version of the rekordbox app will be available to download FREE OF CHARGE from Apple’s App Store from 21st August 2012. For information on how to download the rekordbox app visit the official rekordbox website at http://rekordbox.com.

Key features of the rekordbox app

  1. Manage music on the go using iPhonesBy downloading the rekordbox app DJs can prepare tracks in transit using their iPhone or iPod touch. DJs can view beat grids, analyse BPM, load waveforms and set cue and loops points from their mobile devices. Plus, they can use the rekordbox appi to wirelessly transfer music to their iPhones straight from their computers.
  2. Wirelessly sync music to Pioneer’s XDJ-AERO all-in-one DJ systemThe rekordbox app allows DJs to sync tracks wirelessly to the new Pioneer XDJ-AERO, the industry’s first Wi-Fi enabled DJ system. A combined player, mixer and MIDI/HID controller, the XDJ-AERO is the all-in-one DJ kit that reveals the rekordbox app’s true potential. DJs can manage their music on the road using their iPhones then wirelessly load their playlists to the XDJ-AERO before each set.Plus, the rekordbox app allows DJs to use their iPhone or iPod touch as a remote control for the XDJ-AERO. With the XDJ-AERO in USB mode DJs can search track lists and load music using their devices’ larger, touch-sensitive screens.3. Other features
    • Music file browser allows DJs to customise the appearance and order of items on the rekordbox app’s display
    • Tracks played on supported DJ equipment – CDJs or the XDJ-AERO – are automatically logged by the rekordbox app and can be saved as playlists
    • Display supports nine languages Main specifications – rekordbox app

    Find Pioneer DJ online at:

    • www.djsounds.com
    • www.facebook.com/pioneerdjglobal
    • www.twitter.com/pioneerdjglobal
    • www.youtube.com/pioneerdjglobali Supported in rekordboxTM version 1.6.0 and above

    Supported devices/OS – iPhone 4S, iPhone 3GS /iPod touch 4th generation and 3rd generation /iOS 5
    Supported music file formats – MP3, AAC

The rekordbox app is available for Android and iOS, but on the iOS platform, this designed for iPhone only. Yes you can 2x it for the iPad, but the experience has been optimised for iPhone at this time. Not a bad approach – make it work on the small screen first (and it does) and then hopefully Pioneer will release an iPad specific version.

Opening the app gives you 4 options:

Load: This allows you to send music to suitably enabled Pioneer devices, which at the time of writing is the XDJ-AERO. Sadly, I don’t have one, so the app told me that “No Pioneer DJ device is found”. I guess that there will be more to come beyond the AERO then.

Prepare: This is where you do all of your editing of playlists and tracks.

Connect: Turns your smart device into a dumb one and makes itself available via wifi for the desktop app to communicate with.

Import: Looks at the music on your mobile device and imports it into the rekordbox library.

Working is relatively straightforward – you can drop tracks and playlists from your computer to your mobile device, edit them and send those edits back in the original playlist or into new ones. What you can’t do is transfer tracks from your mobile device back to your computer – they must exist in your rekordbox desktop library, as all you’re transferring back is library and track info. You can edit them on your mobile device e.g. iTunes tracks and use them within your rekordbox library on that device, but that’s it.

From a playback perspective, I was unable to play tracks on my iPhone via the desktop app either. I guess that functionality is reserved for the XDJ-AERO for now. So it seems that while anyone can download the app and put their own iPhone music through it, you won’t be able to transfer actual music back to a computer. I figure that’s a security thing, and will only exist in the ether somewhere between the dance floor and the AERO.

On a side note, the mobile app doesn’t seem to offer playlist playback either – strictly one track at a time, so don’t expect rekordbox to be an alternative music player for your mobile device. I expect that’s an Apple restriction though – they don’t like 3rd party apps to have function overlap with their own apps.

Pioneer rekordbox app review (3)Pioneer rekordbox app review (4)

In use, the app is remarkable adept given the small screen real estate. It can operate in portrait or landscape, the latter being more useful for editing. Full and zoomed waveforms, transport controls, hot cues, and auto manual loops are all excellently shoehorned into the small space. Access to grids is via a drop down, moving away everything and just leaving the necessary controls. Smart stuff.

Pioneer rekordbox app review (5)

Essentially you get the full functionality of the desktop rekordbox on your mobile device. Linking one to the other is managed by the desktop app though. It scans the wireless network for devices and once found, takes control. The mobile device becomes a dumb device, and all management is done via drag and drop to and from the mobile device via the desktop app’s library window. Interestingly, it doesn’t work via the iPhone cable. Yes, you can have the iPhone plugged in and powering from your desktop machine, but all transfers are still handled via wifi.

In use, I found the mobile app to be really easy to navigate and operate. Because of the latency, I found creating cue and hot cue points more accurate when not playing the track. But that’s not really an issue as this is an editor rather than a performance tool. So from this perspective, it’s really hard to criticise as it does this incredibly well – an impressive task given the small screen space. I am however really keen to see how well it performs with “Pioneer DJ Devices”, and also to see just how practical the streaming from the dance floor feature works in reality.

Pioneer rekordbox app review (2)

It’s all well and good have the dance floor full of punters with smartphones, but their libraries are likely to be an absolute mess – simply thrown at rekordbox and nothing done with them. So it’s more likely that the streaming thing will be most effective in being able to share other DJ’s libraries, or having different wifi devices of your own available for sharing – an Ambient Android device, or Funky House iPhone for example. It does open up all manner of possibilities – much like having CDs thrown at you in the booth, it can be as easy as scanning and playing hot tracks from the pocket of trendy A&R types. There are also a few interesting questions to be answered around the issue of licensing.

But pulling myself back from a tangent, the rekordbox app seems to work exactly as prescribed. It does the task really well, and exceeds my own expectations of what was possible from a small screen in your pocket. A full review will follow once we’ve had an AERO through the door.

You can try it all out for yourself: Windows and OS X  •  iOS  •  Android