The mighty Ars Technica regularly takes on technically-intense reviews of processors and operating systems, but this time they’ve turned their attentions to something else altogether: DJ software. Dave Girard helms the review, with an exhaustive look at both basic DJ virtual decks (Disco, FutureDecks Lite, DJ1800) and full-featured software (VirtualDJ, Traktor DJ Studio from Native Instruments, and MixVibes Pro). (Thanks for the tip, Ryan Pollack!)

DJ Software for Windows and Mac OS X [Ars Technica]

The DJ apps get the full Ars Technica treatment, down to helpful figures explaining how DJing works for the uninitiated. Traktor DJ wins handily on Mac and Windows at the high end; for casual use on Windows VirtualDJ gets a nod. Girard also tests the hardware with the cheap Hercules DJ control surface / interface. This is exactly the kind of review from which I run screaming — round-ups are a total, life-sucking pain as a reviewer. (Yeah, I’m sure there’s a Logic 8 / Live 6 / Cubase SX 4 / DP 5 mega-review in my future, but in the meantime I’m going to try to keep enjoying life.)

The review also wins extra points for including an image of this business card. I wish Ashok had played my puberty party.

It’s a rare treat to see Ars doing DJ software, but there are some notable omissions.

djDecks — too hip for the room?

I can understand not covering Ableton Live. While Live has become a surprise runaway hit among DJs (and has arguably expanded the definition of what DJing is), the focus here was clearly on traditional 2-deck setups, which Live is not. But I’m surprised the Windows-only djDecks didn’t make the cut. At EUR38, this “indie” DJ app has robust features and hardware support usually found in apps costing eight times as much, time-coded vinyl support, mix recording, OGG support, library organizing, drag-and-drop from Windows Explorer, lots of build in effects … well, just read the incredible feature list.

Most notably, djDecks is the only DJ software I know of with not only full MIDI support, but compatibility with the Behringer BCD-2000, Hercules DJ Console, EKS XP10,FinalScratch, VirtualDJ, SSL and (my personal favorite) MsPinky vinyl records. And, Native Instruments, I hope you’re listening: unlike Traktor, djDecks has VST effect support. (Not that you need me to say this, of course; I think that’s been the topic of about 50% of the posts on NI’s own forums.)

The review’s definitely worth a read — just visit djDecks last; it could even be a reason to boot your MacBook into Windows XP. Live is still my top choice for creative music-making, but if I were a traditional DJ and not, well, me, djDecks would jump to the top of my list.

Fun Mac freebie

In other DJ app news, The Unofficial Apple Weblog recently spotlighted djday, a very pretty / Mac-like DJ app that’s free. Could be great fun to play with, but it’s missing some key features for hardware control, etc.; see comments.

Which DJ app would be in your round-up? (Particularly on Linux, which got left out entirely here but I know has some evolving offerings.)