Oh boy, I'm typing up my first DJ software review, not really. If you've ever seen my personal facebook page you've seen many many many opinions about all sorts of gear and software, but this is where it will matter because this is the RozzvilleMansion blog baby! Let me cut that out and get to this already.
I was just minding my business scrolling away on facebook when this ad comes up from NCH Software. Now, for those of you that are new to DJ gear and software, NCH Software is this company that offers a ton of alternative software programs to most if not all of the major name brands. Zulu DJ Software is one of those programs in the fold.
I, like many of you seasoned DJs and bedroom DJs know about this brand and really, it's a love hate or a do or don't bother relationship. There are many reasons for that, but one has been the removal process of this software from NCH. There was some extra steps. I will find out if that's still the case after this review.
The install was easy and quick (of course it was). When I opened it up, the first thing that came to mind is Traktor. The layout is very similar, so for some of you that will be a plus. (review continues below)
Easily crossfade between tracks
Real-time pitch and tempo adjustment
Auto-play mode for hands-free, seamless music mixing
Supports mp3, wav and all other popular audio formats
Automatic beat detection
Beat synchronization between the decks
Apply effects in real-time, includes all popular effects like distortion and reverb
Record DJ mixes and save as an audio file
Loop sections within a track and synchronize to the BPM
VST plugin support for additional effects
Stream your mix in real-time on YouTube
Compatible with MIDI controllers
Preserve track pitch when adjusting speed
Set playback markers for your tracks
Add loops and samples to the sample bank
Safe live mode prevents accidents for flawless shows
System requirements are as noted and with not very much detail: Works on Windows 10, XP, Vista, 7, 8 and 8.1. Works on 64 bit Windows, Mac OS X 10.5 or above. Android version runs on 2.3.3 or higher
(Above picture) As you can see, you have your rewind back to the start of track button, along with the play and pause. Pitch control is responsive, but during our first test run without an actual controller it was touchy. When you adjust the pitch using the up or down arrows in the software the new adjusted BPM flashes for just a moment. The main BPM you see just below didn't change. If you select the BPM before you start a track you can match it up at the same pitch. You can even enter in the BPM manually. You'll have to dig into this software to see exactly what I'm talking about.
Again, my testing was done just using the software, no actual controller and the sync was something that didn't seem exactly on the spot. I will test this further with a controller and tell you if this was user error, a software only mixing issue or processor issue (which in the system requirements no CPU speed was mentioned). The volume controls seem to be set in increments that kill your controlled fade down quick. The EQ works fine, but it seems silly to use in the software without a controller. I didn't even take the time to learn keyboard controls. That's not how our readers will use this software so I'm going there with this review.
No deck effects or YouTube streaming were used or done during our first testing, but don't worry, I will take it there and let you know how that goes. From what I can see and tell YouTube and another NCH software are the only ways you can stream. Perhaps in the Master Edition of this software you have more streaming options.
Just like most DJ software there is a auto playlist feature. I don't know any DJs that use this feature, but it's there for you if you want it. In the effects some features like compression definitely can be a big help, especially when it comes to mastering your mix for levels (makes for crisp sounding PODCASTs). Samples and loops are standard features that help make this a well rounded offering.
Keep in mind just like all the other programs out there, there's a LE version and the full. We're currently using the LE.
After not touching this software for many years and seeing the upgrades I'm pleasantly surprised. Streaming features are comparable to that found in top name software and open source software like MIXXX.
I was interested to know which controllers this software will work with. When I looked in the software FAQ no controllers specifically were listed, but the website told me to see the midi options in the software. Upon downloading the software and checking out this list of controllers I was not as disappointed as I thought I would be. On that controller list we have the Behringer BCD3000 (not even close to standard, but I got my start on that gear so I won't really bother to slam it). Next on that list we have the MC3000 and MC6000 from Denon. Now, that was very nice to see. We have an issue though, the MC3000 is not in production anymore and will be somewhat a challenge to find. Also note that the old MC6000 is now the MC6000MK2. The probability of it working mapped out the box are high, but no confirmation on that at the moment. The Denon MC6000MK2 is retailing for somewhere around $693.00 on Amazon. (Continue to read below)
A bigger surprise is that the Pioneer DDj-SB series and DDJ WeGo is also mapped to work with Zulu out of the box. That's outstanding. (Pictured below in order top to bottom)
I'll be back for part two of this DJ software review. I will have some more time to play around with this product and give you my final two Abraham Lincolns on this product. IS it worth $40 over the other well known competition? We shall see. Stay tuned.