FIRST LOOK: Zerodebug d(- -)b — silly name, smart DJ app

Zerodebug d(--)b DB ipad DJ app djworx (1)

Things sure are hotting up in the iPad DJ scene. Algoriddim’s djay and DJ Player had a pretty clear run for a good length of time, but with MixVibes Cross and especially Traktor DJ hitting the app store, DJing is being taken seriously on the platform. And a new contender comes from Zerodebug, makers of touchAble. The very weirdly named and search engine-hostile d(- -)b, henceforth known as Zerodbug DB (if only to help them with search engines and it’s what they call it internally) pulls together the best bits of everything to make a solid and professional DJ app.

Firstly, let’s get the official PR out of the way before I write some opinion. There’s video, pictures and words:


d(-)b – the first Modular DJ App

Zerodebug, formerly known as AppBC, makers of the popular touchAble app, today announced d(- -)b, the first Modular DJ App for iPad

March 13th, 2012, Berlin, Germany – Zerodebug today announced d(- -)b, the first Modular DJ App for the iPad.

Mаԁе bу thе team behind touchAble, the popular controller app for Ableton Live, d(- -)b provides endless possibilities for DJs with an iPad. Its modular approach lets the app adapt to the user, not the other way around.

DJs can choose from pre-installed templates or create their own interface with up to 6 decks – on one or several pages – making it the perfect tool for any use- case.

The comprehensive in app editor makes it simple to configure your very own DJ setup. The numerous modules include everything a DJ needs, and allow for an incredible amount of flexibility and customization.

With beautiful color-coded waveforms instead of fake vinyl platters and accurate tools for both worlds of beat-matching: Grid & Sync or Pitch & Nudge – it opens the door to a whole new world of touchable DJing.

With support for Multi-Route Audio, d(- -)b turns the iPad into a professional DJ setup – powerful, customizable, portable.

“We waited a long time for a professional DJ application for the iPad ..and ended up doing it ourselves. We are very happy to finally share this with the public.”, states Christian Blomert, head of development.

Feature Highlights:

  • Custom browser with access to the iTunes library.
  • Ultra low-latency touchable waveform with spectrum color-coding.
  • Comprehensive in-app editor lets you create your own interfaces with up to 6 decks – on one or several pages.
  • Track analysis with automatic tempo and grid detection.
  • Manually grid tracks if the detection is off.
  • Stereo-Pre-Cueing:
    -> multi-route audio to precue tracks in stereo. Works with any class-compliant audio device via USB and the iPad Camera Connection Kit.
    -> split output audio to do mono monitoring.
  • 4 cue points per deck.
  • 3 band EQ with kill switches.
  • optional limiter with variable headroom
  • EQ Snap and EQ “Magic Triangle”.
  • Pitch coarse & fine faders for 10% / 1% pitch control.
  • Loops from 1/64th to 8 bars.
  • Loop roll while track keeps playing.
  • Listen to the dry/wet monitor signal on headphones while recording the main stereo mix – without multi-route or split-audio!
  • Wide range of settings make the app less restrictive, more customizable.

d(- -)b is just at the beginning of its journey and will be updated regularly. The already impressive list of planned features spans audiobus support, MIDI mappings, MIDI Clock aswell as several Effects.

d(–)b is available at an introductory price of $9.99 from the Apple App Store, normal price $16,99. d(–)b officially supports the iPad 2 and up, including the iPad mini, running iOS 6 and above.

Dispensing with a pointless breakdown of the obvious, which is largely negated by reading the short quick help PDF, let’s look at the real plus and indeed minus points of Zerodebug DB. The selling point seems to be that it’s modular, and by that they mean having the ability, much like The One, to define your own layouts, from being a single deck (definable as left or right) right up to 6 decks (why?). You’re also able to define your own templates as well, and tailor the screen to pretty much whatever you want. The very cool thing about all this is the responsive switch between the natural landscape and taller portrait mode. It just works.

Editing these screens isn’t the easiest thing in the world to do, and I’d suggest to Zerodebug that a computer based editor, much like Emulator’s Editor would make this task much easier, and allow for layouts to be shared. But despite the learning curve, this is a very powerful feature, and one that may well push Zerodebug DB ahead of others for some people. Never underestimate the power of personalisation.

In its generic state, Zerodebug DB offers all the basics and more with a few twists of its own beyond the whole make your own template approach. It has the requisite full and multi-coloured zoomable waveforms, which via the iPad touch screen actually feel useful rather than just being screen eye candy. These waveforms also have a high level of touch tweakability too. But this touch usefulness extends beyond manually wrangling waveforms — the button functions like loop divisions are actually considerably more useful than doing it via a hardware knob.

Using the iTunes library, Zerodebug DB does its own analysis of your tracks — making overviews, full colour wave forms, BPM as well as applying a beat grid. There are also full controls for the beat grid as well as defining the first beat aka the cue point. The analysis is fast (you can do it individually or the whole lot) but did yield the occasional half speed result. Still, nothing that can’t be fixed manually, and what software gets everything right first time anyway?

Zerodebug d(--)b DB ipad DJ app djworx (2)

From an audio perspective, it offers the now normal options of split cueing, as well as working with class compliant audio interfaces via the Apple USB camera connection kit. The NI Audio4 didn’t work because it drew too much power, but the powered Audio6 did, and gave considerably better audio quality than the headphone port, as well as proper stereo cueing. I’d wholeheartedly recommend grabbing a class compliant interface right now if you intend to use the iPad for DJing on anything more than a casual home level.

Some of the methods for getting into the interface are a little different, requiring keeping a button pressed at the top and then selecting an element on-screen to adjust — an iOS shift function if you will. It takes some getting used to, and overall elements of the interface feel less intuitive than they could be. But then again, NI chucked years of resource into Traktor DJ, so it’s understandable that they’d more or less nail it in V1.

If I bring the previously mentioned bad things… well there’s not really that many at first glance, more things that are missing. There’s no crossfader for a start, which seems like a near essential for most people. It also lacks effects and MIDI. It also has a weird split pitch that I’m not a fan of at all. But I feel it’s best to start to start with the basics, nail them and then add to it. Trying to cram everything in will result in a mess from day 1 and a lot of angry buyers. It’s easier to add and please than fix and placate. I know people will say it fails for not having DVS or other such big features, but it has to start somewhere.

FIRST LOOK: Zerodebug d(- -)b — silly name, smart DJ appZerodebug DB has a lot going for it, including a logo that looks like all manner of sexual organs. It’s certainly clean, has the basics and should grow healthily. In this bells and whistle hungry age, some may find it a little lacking, especially with the industry standard Traktor having more going for it out of the blocks. That said, DJ apps are priced to go. It’s not really a stretch for those who can afford an iPad to grab this, DJ Player, djay etc and try them all out, so I’m not going to get screwed up about value for money. When we do the full review, we’ll focus more on how well the features work, which really is the differentiator in the app game.

Bottom line  — the iOS DJ market just got another serious runner with Zerodebug DB. V1 is pretty good. The future looks even brighter. Grab it now from the app store while it’s on offer.

Oh and come back tomorrow as well – we’ve got 2 app store codes to give away!