Audio Artery’s One DJ: New Mixing Software [REVIEW]

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It should go without saying that the growing interest in EDM over the past few years has spawned an expanding interest in DJing and the culture that goes along with it. Today, we have DJs of all experience levels and varying aspirations—from global stars to bedroom wannabes and everywhere in between—wanting to use professional-grade tools to learn, hone and perform the craft. And while the big names in the business are still going strong, there are also newcomers wanting to get a piece of the action.

And so it is with DJ software. Where Native Instruments’ Traktor, Atomix Productions’ Virtual DJ, and Serato Audio Research’s Serato DJ may well be the long-established players, some new entrants are on the scene, bringing along for the ride some new approaches. In this article, I take a look at Audio Artery’s One DJ.

Finland’s Audio Artery introduced One DJ to the market in late 2013. I first saw an early demo of One DJ clear back at Winter NAMM 2012, and felt right away that some out-of-the-box thinking was brought to bear on the project. When I finally got the opportunity to review it, I was pretty stoked to dig in—which I did with the recently shipped 1.5 update of the software.

On the surface, One DJ presents a fairly standard approach to things that’s not unlike established applications: two decks, waveform displays, standard mixer controls like EQ and faders, and a browser interface for managing your music library. Plus, it supports a small range of controllers, and has MIDI Learn to support others.

But beyond the surface lies the unique capabilities of One DJ—namely what the company calls its “smart user interface,” and modular audio routing support.

The smart user interface allows you to configure your virtual “gear,” such as players, effects banks, browsers, and other elements, adding or removing as desired. The interface also allows fast zooming and unzooming to improve visibility and control when needed—handy on smaller laptop screens. You can also move things around, creating custom layouts that meet your own needs.

One DJ also supports live editing of tracks, letting you chop things up and move them around—perhaps most useful for mash-up jocks, but also providing any DJ a means to trim unwanted breakdowns or other undesirable segments out of otherwise satisfactory tracks, or for maximizing the strongest parts of any given mix.

Also among One DJ’s unique capabilities is a sophisticated audio-routing capability. Frankly, I’ve always envisioned something like this for DAWs and the like as well, but in short, it’s an interactive, visual way of configuring the signal flow, fine-tuning it as you see fit.

Getting up to speed with One DJ was simple and straightforward enough—at least with the basics—but it wasn’t without some amount of heartburn.
To start, the One DJ website shows that the American Audio VMS 4 is a natively supported controller, and since it’s the only such controller I had in my possession, I thought it best and easiest to start there. One DJ provides a single-step wizard that supposedly gets things going, but while the mappings were generally correct, the main channel faders seemed to be double-mapped; one fader controlled the audio in both players, while another controlled just one of them. The crossfader was backward as well. In both cases, I couldn’t seem to figure out where the problem was, or how to fix it. Frankly, this probably says more about the difficulty of supporting all the myriad controllers on the market in any reasonable way than anything about One DJ specifically, but it was disappointing just the same.

Perhaps the greater disappointment was that, on my iMac, One DJ performed somewhat slowly in terms of the user interface. Movement of the waveforms was jerky rather than smooth, and mouse click response was slower than expected as well. Considering my system performs well for other music applications, including my DAW, this was a bit surprising.

Finally, with flexibility and power comes complexity. While the interface configurability is novel, it involved a lot of clicking, and lots of menus. As with any software, practice makes perfect—but it was a bit intimidating. Thankfully for most new users, the default interface is likely just fine as-is.

One final nit I might have to pick with One DJ: It appears that metadata is not stored in a central database as with many DJ applications, but rather, with small files stored to the file system alongside the audio file. That makes for a lot of file-system detritus—not a plus in my view.

In any event, One DJ is new to the market, it’s currently in its 1.5 version, and as such, one can be confident that it’ll continue to improve over time. And despite some minor annoyances here and there, it’s usable, offers a number of innovations and, at just 50 Euro (roughly $68 at press time), is worth consideration—especially among DJs looking for greater control over their working environment, and an ability to slice and dice material to their heart’s content.
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