- IK Multimedia must have a master plan to own the iOS music accessory market. There's the iRig guitar interface, iRig MIDI interface, iMic, iKlip mic stand accessory, and the apps that work with them, like Amplitube and VocaLive. This could be overkill in the wrong hands, but so far all of IK's moves have made sense, and they come in at good prices, too. Here we're looking at DJ Rig, an iOS DJ app; iRig Mix, a mini DJ mixer that'll connect DJ Rig running on one or two devices at the same time; and iKlip Studio, a tabletop iPad stand that could be useful when you're rocking two iPads with the iRig Mix.
DJ Rig is a pretty typical DJ app, with turntables, iTunes browsing, cue and loop controls and effects. It'll display one or two decks, and you can swap the default "vinyl" for sample pads, EQs, effect controls and so on. There's a crossfader, of course, and volume controls for each deck. Beat detection means one deck can sync to the other, and there's X-Sync, which we'll come back to later.
iRig Mix comes with a printed manual, mains power supply, phono cables to connect it to amp or monitors, and two 3.5mm cables to connect your iOS devices; these have the three rings necessary to send audio into the headphone jacks of iOS devices—the same way that IK's iRig guitar device works. The mixer itself is a compact white plastic slab measuring 217 x 110 x 46mm; it's essentially a 2-channel DJ mixer, with level faders, a crossfader, gain/treble/bass for each channel, cue switches and master volume, with level and clip LEDs to give some visual feedback. The rear panel has a power switch, DC input, stereo phono outs and stereo inputs for channels 1 and 2. The front panel hosts input 3, which is for microphone or instrument, and a 1/4" headphone output; there are separate volume controls for each of these. iRig Mix can be powered via USB from a computer or compatible power supply (the mains in at the back is a mini-USB slot), but no, the iPad can't do it—the mixer needs too much power.
iKlip Studio is yet another table top iPad stand, although what makes this one different is that it has a generous seven angles to choose from, and there is a removable clip which can be used to attach IK's iRig guitar device.
I connected an iPad to iRig Mix and launched the app. Disappointingly the app only works on iPad with the nasty 2x zoom. iRig runs in portrait mode if you want to see just one deck, landscape if you want both. I should point out there are different levels of app—free, the regular pay version, and the in-app purchase which includes six more effects, extra pad sound banks, and a "digital" deck. This app is all about the settings; I went in and set the audio output to "DJ," which meant that I could hear the main output on the left in my headphones, and cue output on the right. Next thing was to let the app analyse my iTunes library. This means faster song loading later, and BPM display while browsing. DJ Rig works with MP3, .wav, .aif and .aac formats, basically anything that'll play in iTunes, except it won't read DRM protected files, although of course you can unlock these for 20p each using iTunes Plus.
After the library analysis, I jammed around with a few songs. It's easy to assign up to four cue points per song, and the auto looping, which snaps to the nearest beat, is tons of fun. DJ Rig can beat sync between decks, and does it very well, once you remember to enable it in settings. By this point I was itching to try X-Sync, which supposedly allows beat matching between two devices, so I plugged an iPhone into channel 2. Settings time again: it's necessary to make sure that both devices are sending full stereo outputs to their respective channels, and then configure DJ Rig on one of the devices to sync to incoming audio; you also have to enable X-Sync using the switch on the mixer.
I synced DJ Rig on my iPhone to beats coming from iMS-20 and then BleepBox on my iPad; anything that's putting out a recognisable beat should work, as long as it's a good loud signal. I also got it working with Ableton Live on a Mac, just to see it happen. It's worth noting that X-Sync doesn't need the iRig Mix to work—you can do it with any device that uses the 3-ring iOS audio input connection. X-Sync worked great; DJ Rig's Sync button flashes, and it displays incoming BPM. This is a great way to add some sync value to an app that doesn't sync in any other way.
Scratching with the "vinyl" was fun enough, but in the end I preferred the Digital Deck jog wheel. The settings page also features options for crossfader curves (with a nice option to filter out lows or highs during transitions), BPM slider range, tap tempo, artwork views and so on. The Sampler content can be customised via iTunes import or direct recording. The effects decks use an XY touch interface, and have a good range of latchable effects, including various filters, delay and compression. I got hypnotised playing with synced loops over two decks and then throwing some effects on top. One thing I didn't realise until I read the help guide was that double-tapping the EQ knobs acted as kill switches. Tap the record button and name your set before you start playing, and you can export the resulting stereo .wav to your computer afterwards.
The iPad sat securely on the iKlip Studio stand for our test time. It's plastic but it's solid and stable. Because of the many angles available, and the removable iRig clip (making it a no brainer for iPad guitar practice), it was immediately promoted to being my regular iPad stand.
DJ Rig really perks up when you experiment with the view options, and use the digital decks and pads instead of the default "vinyl." The audio effects are very well chosen. iRig Mix makes a perfect iOS DJ mixer, and probably has another life ahead of it as an all-round USB-powered mini mixer, as well. The app over two devices with the mixer makes a very strong setup; just give me full-scale iPad graphics and I'll be happy. iKlip Studio works great as a table top stand for an iPad running DJ Rig (or any other app), and deserves to scoop up some extra sales because of the attachment for the iRig guitar interface. This is a fun, slick, little DJ rig for the money, however you look at it, and X-Sync is a really useful tool for iOS musicians.