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A Computer DJ is defined as a DJ who uses a computer or laptop to play digital music encoded audio files, to a public crowd. Originally due to file size storage issues, this was usually using lossy codec files (e.g. .mp3/.aac), however as drive space increased, this improved to using original uncompressed PCM files (e.g. .wav/.aiff) which do not offer support for metadata, hence why latterly the metadata included and smaller file-sized lossless codec files (e.g. .flac/.m4a, ALAC) are used.
As well as a laptop or computer, MIDI controllers are also used to provide a more tactile and useful interface for control of DJ software by providing physical controls similar to those of record decks or CDJs and DJ mixers. External hard disk drives and audio interfaces (sound cards) are also commonly utilized. By using a sound card with multiple stereo outputs, or two sound cards, a Computer DJ can use a conventional DJ mixer by routing one software deck out of one sound card into one channel of the mixer, and likewise for the other deck. Some DJ software packages allow a single stereo channel to be broken into two mono outputs which correspond to two player decks.
Most DJ software allows the integration and manipulation of external audio inputs, and this has encouraged many DJs who have previously only used vinyl or CDs to integrate a laptop into their setup. Computer controllers can also be plugged in via a USB port for the convenience of their moving controls like knobs and sliding buttons in order to control the software in realtime. The setup allows for a single audio output from the sound card to the amplifier/powered speakers. The controller is beneficial also with scratching, smoother pitch & crossfading adjustments, and overall ease of performing functions as opposed to mouse-controlled DJ software operation.
A CPS (Computerized Performance System) can be programmed to manipulate audio and/or video, symbols, perform complex and repetitive mixing procedures quickly, precisely and reliably for recorded or live performance. CPS systems don't jump like traditional Compact Discs.
In 1998, manufacturers joined with computer DJing pioneers to offer professional endorsements, the first being Professor Jam (aka William P. Rader), who went on to develop the industry's first dedicated computer DJ convention and learning program, the "CPS (Computerized Performance System) DJ Summit". Computer DJing has since become popular with many professional electronic artists, though there is still considerable debate as whether or not the dependence on a computer in performance renders it ineligible for inclusion in the humanities. Producers like Magnetic Man, deadmau5 and Daft Punk use computer technology.
Some notable DJ software:
- Ableton Live
- ACID Pro, by Sony Creative Software
- DJ Mixer for iPad, iPod Touch and iPhone, by Musicsoft Arts, LLC.
- DJ Music Mixer, by Program4Pc Inc.
- DSS DJ, by MyXOFT
- DUBturbo, by DUBturbo
- Final Scratch, by N2IT
- FL Studio, formerly known as FruityLoops
- Live Touch XJ for Android Honeycomb 3.0 tablet, by Ematrade
- Logic Pro, by Apple
- Mixed In Key
- OtsAV, by Ots Labs
- PCDJ, also distributed as DJ Decks
- Reason, by Propellerhead
- Serato Itch
- Serato Scratch Live
- Torq, by M-Audio
- Touch DJ for iPad, iPod Touch and iPhone, by Amidio Inc.
- Traktor Scratch
- Transitions DJ
- Virtual DJ (VDJ), also distributed as Numark CUE
- Visual Discomix, also known as VisualDiscoMix (VDMX)
Note: Some of these software are not commonly used for live performances, but are used as digital audio workstations (DAW) for the modification/creation of audio files to help mix, edit, and sample audio for live performances. Namely, FL Studio and Logic Pro.
Some notable MIDI controllers designed for Computer DJs:
- American Audio VMS4
- Hercules RMX
- M-Audio Torq Xponent
- Novation Twitch
- Numark NS6
- Numark NS7
- Numark V7
- Pioneer DDJ-S1
- Traktor S4
- Vestax Spin
- Vestax VCI-300
- Xone DX