bizarroMUSIC: Until.am DJ software review

Saturday, June 2nd, 2012

Until.AM: Keeping DJs on the Move

DJ software has always been an expensive and time-consuming undertaking, and considering the array of equipment involved, as well as the complexity of software such as Cubase and the hours needed to master it all, the experience of making music using technology can be daunting for the layman.

However, music software has evolved over the last five years, with products now more compact and simpler to use, running relatively bug-free and, in its most promising development, more mobile. Literally putting the power of music creation in the palm of your hand, a growing number of smartphone and tablet music-making apps can now turn anyone into a mini-Skrillex, an amateur Beethoven or a Springsteen on the run.

One of the more promising new products available today is Until.AM, a simple, free web-based application that’s an all-in-one interface for professional and amateur DJs alike.

Created in 2011 by two Finnish developers, Aaro Väänänen and Tuomas Karhu, Until.AM is currently still in beta format, but gaining in popularity with each new tweak. The developers’ previous app, the music production software Audiosauna, was a highly-acclaimed web-based freeware product that took the complexity out of sampling andMIDIsequencing. For DJing, Until.AM is even more basic, but with a formidable ace up its sleeve: access to the SoundCloud music library.

In addition to the mixer and decks setup, as well as full FX, live-scratching and sampling capabilities, Until.AM allows users to search and load any of the millions of tracks available on SoundCloud in real-time, with seamless data buffering and exceptional audio streaming quality. If this was not enough, you can also load music from your own hard drive directly onto the virtual decks.

The browser interface (Google Chrome works best, but is sufficient on all platforms) is sleek, but simple, incorporating the standard two decks, a set of clearly marked controls and quickly accessed SoundCloud search box. Graphically, it is unobtrusive, but still has adequate animation effects to give you the experience of real DJing.

Trying it out in performance is just as simple, although a little practise is needed before going out in front of a paying audience. Even operating the program on an iPad with a strong 3G connection home alone, with no wires or connections to distract you is quite liberating for even the shyest bed-sit DJ.

The work-in-progress aspect of Until.AM does however have its drawbacks. The SoundCloud relationship can be seen as limiting, and if the rumours of integrating other sites such as Youtube and iTunes are correct, this glitch could be solved soon.

Other shortfalls include a lack of a playlist function and problematic controls, particularly on a touch screen. But these and other issues are effectively addressed directly to users by the developers on their detailed and informative blog, which is updated regularly. The developers’ Facebook and Twitter pages are also great places to share information with other users and help explore all the possibilities of the program together.

Altogether, Until.AM has the makings of a great music tool, using the most up-to-date technology in a truly unique user-friendly way, all packaged simply and open to anyone with even the most basic DJ aspirations.

* Until.AM is available at the Google Chrome App Store or directly at

http://until.am/

* For more information on the latest Until.AM tweaks, news and views, see the Until.AM blog, Facebook and Twitter pages:

http://untilam.blogspot.com/

https://www.facebook.com/untilam

https://twitter.com/#!/until_am

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