August 15, 2011 at 11:33 am

MiniMash Skips Gimmicks, Puts New Spin on DJ Apps

The word “DJ” typically conjures a vision of someone standing behind a couple of turntables mixing vinyl records. Many DJ apps try to replicate the look and feel of that set-up.

MiniMash co-creators Tze Chun and Daniel Iglesias took a different approach, because to them, the analog DJ set-up does not always translate well to the iPhone or iPad. They invented a new DJ interface with app platforms in mind.

“We wanted to distance ourselves from the familiar model of spinning records, which many apps try to replicate,” explained Chun and Iglesias to via email. “Computers can do many things that spinning vinyl cannot, and most people buying and using DJ apps have used computers far more than records to play and perform music.”

The mash-up-friendly MiniMash ($2) strays away from the conventional DJ app style, channeling familiar features from the days of vinyl through an interface more reminiscent of early ’90s video games.

First, the app analyzes the tempo and pitch data of songs stored on your iOS device so that you’ll be able to fade between them to make mash-ups or smooth transitions. The pitch-bending feature is more humorous than useful in syncing up songs, because the beatmatching feature handles that. On the other hand, it does let you match up pitches between songs if you can manage it, as well as making Dr. Dre sound like Alvin and the Chipmunks.

If mash-ups aren’t your scene, the app features a cross-fading tool that allows you to make desirably smooth transitions between songs, should you use it while providing the soundtrack for a party with friends.

The interface is self explanatory and simpler than that of the competition, with the exception of the looping feature. The directions don’t explain that you have to slide your finger horizontally to select the starting place and length of the loop you want to create, so figuring that out took some guesswork. Once we understood it, this feature was a helpful addition for live DJing, but particularly for making mash-ups.

If you’re particularly proud of the work you create in MiniMash, it can connect to your SoundCloud account so you can publish the finished product to the world from your iOS device — no computer syncing required. Instead of just listening to music on the subway, you can make mash-ups and mixes and publish them once you get near WiFi again. (Bonus: people can tune into those mixes on their iOS devices too.)

MiniMash is the result of much careful thought and consideration.

“We deliberated [about] what features were necessary, and which were frivolous,” explained Chen and Iglesias. “In the end, we focused on something that music-performance neophytes could still use to make exciting-sounding results, while still powerful enough to encourage additional use and attract more experienced DJs.”

Our testing confirms this to be the case. Not only is MiniMash a fun, exciting music app, but experienced mash-up artists can use it to make pretty amazing stuff, as the above video indicates.