The most basic DJ software known to humanity?
June 21, 2011 5:36 AM   Subscribe

What's the most basic MP3 DJ software for an hour-long laptop set?

I'm going to be "DJ-ing" for an hour on Friday. I'll have a laptop running Windows 7, and a bunch of MP3s. How best to do this? Simplicity is key!

I have thought about running two MP3 players simultaneously. Then having two folders open, one containing "played" items, one containing "to-play" items. This would be perfect -- other than I wouldn't be able to cross-fade from one track to the other.

Cross-fade is important, since everyone will be drunk and will want to keep dancing. Silence between tunes isn't really an option. Certainly not silence that I can't control to some degree.

Other requirements:

Free software please! :)

A pre-mixed set is out, since I'd like to potentially improvise and alter the track order on the night.

I'd need to easily keep track of which tunes I've played, and which I haven't. Dragging files from one folder to another is absolutely fine.

I won't need any fancy effects. No scratching, no beat-matching, absolutely nothing.

Even cueing isn't really totally necessary -- although it would be preferable. I'll know all the tunes, and I'll simply want to fade from one to the other. This really will be DJ-ing in the loosest possible sense :)

I'd need to be able to skip to the next track as required. Some of my selections have long fade-outs, or lengthy codas. I had thought of a playlist plus fade-out/-in plugin for Winamp, or something like that. But I don't think that would work, since they all seem to play tracks sequentially. Unless anyone knows different?

Audio quality really isn't an issue. Everyone will be drunk, the speakers/desk aren't going to be amazing, the room acoustics are unremarkable. MP3 straight off my laptop will be just fine.

I've checked a few threads on MF, but haven't found anything that appeals. The free DJ software that's out there is a little too fancy for me. I really am looking for the most basic option. If it's got fancy graphics, lots of knobs, and emulates turntables, it's probably not for me :)

I don't have an iPod, or any other stand-alone music-playing device. One single laptop. I may bring a back-up laptop just in case.

Hmm. The more I think about this, the more I suspect a Winamp plugin would do the job. But the only plugins I can find are years old. I'd very much appreciate anybody's suggestions :)

Many thanks MF! :)
posted by ajp to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
If you don't need all the fancy stuff with turntables and knobs of Virtual DJ, then I suggest Winamp is your best bet. I personally use a karaoke program, it lets you que up people's name's and the song they requested, and it has a monitor for you to see the track list and outputs to an external screen or projector with visual effects or music videos/lyrics. It works great for just a jukebox but it doesn't have the crossfade features you'd want if you just want music. I was using Sigalos but found a free program that works pretty good as well called
posted by udon at 5:55 AM on June 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks -- I think you're right. And I think I've just answered my own question too :)

Solution that appears to work: Winamp "lite" plus Fadeamp plugin.

Enable Winamp to start multiple instances (options -> preferences -> general preferences). Fire up the plugin, which is a simple standalone executable. After a couple of seconds it detects all running instances of Winamp. Enter a time delay value and click one of the fade buttons.

Piece of cake.

As a bonus, I've used these instructions to create a "lite" version of Winamp that runs on a USB stick. So everything -- Winamp, crossfader, and MP3 files -- are all on the same stick.

I'll give it a trial run tonight when I'm home. If it works as expected, I'll mark the question resolved.

Anyone else, feel free to add comments in the mean time.

Thanks MF :)

PS. I'm going to check out what looks like a lovely piece of free DJ/mixing software at later.
posted by ajp at 6:25 AM on June 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Mixxx works pretty well, actually. I've used it a number of times.
posted by General Malaise at 7:06 AM on June 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

What kind of music? Is it all going to be roughly the same tempo?

Ableton (free demo) is a bit intimidating to look at, but it's really not hard to use, and if you spend a couple of hours before your set preparing, it makes the actual djing a lot less stressful. It's basically point and click at that point, which means you can DJ and drink beers and hang out between songs.

It's a lot easier to use than it looks (especially if you don't care much about beatmatching) -- memail me if you want help.
posted by empath at 7:19 AM on June 21, 2011

(also, if you have an iphone, you can control everything from your iphone with the right app -- I did a DJ set at a bar once while just walking around the dance floor and hanging out with friends, just to see if i could.)
posted by empath at 7:20 AM on June 21, 2011

MediaMonkey basically organizes your entire music library. It plays from a "Now Playing" list that you can drag and drop into on the go, and it has a cross-fade option built in.
posted by segfault at 8:38 AM on June 21, 2011

Tap DJ for the iPhone is $2.
posted by Blandanomics at 9:32 AM on June 21, 2011

iTunes has up to 12 seconds of crossfade. Put it in iTunes DJ mode and it does everything you need. Although don't underestimate the value of beat matching. The only thing worse than silence is a train wreck.
posted by awesomebrad at 12:30 PM on June 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Hi all.

My Winamp + plugin solution is the simplest, I'm going with that.

Thanks for all the replies. As I said in the question, this is for a laptop -- I own no i-devices or other standalone media players. Laptop only.

I do have Ableton, but that's far too glitzy for what I want: a drunken one-track-after-the-other spree with minimal fuss.

Thanks again :)
posted by ajp at 5:05 AM on June 22, 2011

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