iPhone Apps for DJs


By Stu Chisholm, “The Complete Disc Jockey”

I’m not what sales people call an “early adapter,” a term marketers use to describe those consumers who buy into new technology early on. I used to be, but there’s a reason for my change: experience.

Early adapters get to discover all of the bugs, glitches and drawbacks of any new technology. I let them, and then once all of those bugs get fixed or consumers discover a better product, I then eventually follow their lead, sans the headaches.

Thus, I’m happy to say, I can finally be counted among the many millions of iPhone toters. Now, I have little doubt that all of the readers here are WAY ahead of me, so there’s no need to go into all of the usual benefits such a gizmo provides. My focus is on the DJ stuff.

iPhone Calendar

While not DJ-specific, one of the very first things I did was commit my schedule to the iPhone’s calendar. This is a very handy thing to have with you at all times. Many software utilities will automatically synch your office computer/laptop with your iPhone calendar.

The advantage: you’ll always know, when asked, whether a date is available. But this is just the start…

Name That Tune

If you’re like me, you like to haunt various bars, clubs and other venues to get a taste of the music that is popular beyond the charts. Getting the title of some selections from the DJ can be akin to asking KFC for their secret recipe! No worries: there’s an app for that! (Actually, I use two.)

The most popular is SoundHound, which can identify a tune by listening to it. The beauty is that you don’t even have to be playing the actual tune; you can hum it, sing it or even noodle it on your keyboard at home. Being the most popular app of this type, SoundHound seems to be the best at coming up with information on the more off-the-beaten-path tunes and club remixes.

Still, sometimes it misses, so having a second app is a good idea, and the best I’ve found is simply called, “iD” by In8 Mobile. On many occasions, it was able to identify a song that baffled SoundHound. Even cooler, it can identify a CD/album by its cover or photo!

How Loud is Loud Enough?

Another extremely useful app is the dB volume application. Like my handheld unit, it allows adjustment for various weighting (setting the meter for actual response vs. the way the human ear perceives sound), response time and a peak hold. Being a free app, I was skeptical as to how well it might compare to my dedicated meter, so I ran them both together.

Through all of my tests, the meters were in complete agreement, as long as I held the iPhone up and pointed it toward the source of the sound. The advantage, besides your usual room sweep after setting up, is you how have an instant “applause meter” for any events requiring an audience “vote!”

Real Time Spectrum Analyzer

Speaking of skeptical, when I saw a free app for a real time spectrum analyzer, my first reaction was, “who are they kidding?” The original RANE studio unit I had used to sweep installations had cost well over $300.00 and had a dedicated, highly calibrated microphone.

For use on the road, I found a handheld unit that was around $100.00 that offered similar performance with only slightly less versatility. With these in mind, I downloaded “RTA Lite” and, despite my trepidation, have to admit that it’s a cool little app. When running side-by-side with my handheld RTA, the two units paint a very similar picture.

Obviously the app’s designers have taken the shortcomings of the iPod’s microphone into consideration, calibrating the app specifically around it to allow for some semblance of accuracy. For anything a mobile DJ might require, this app is more than sufficient. The only glaring omission: a lack of a pink noise generator.

More Geek Apps

If all this free stuff isn’t enough for you, the RTA app seems to be a part of a larger $20.00 bundle called “Audio Tools” by Andrew Smith, which contains its own SPL meter, analytic apps, an FFT, speaker polarity test generator, audio scope and more. Oh, and there’s one more advantage: it removes the annoying banner ads that comes with the bare bones RTA app.

Life Simplified

Still, having had this new (to me) bit of technology for about a month now, I must admit that it has simplified my life as a working DJ and lightened my load just a bit.

To my fellow non-early adapters, I say: wait no longer! The phones are well burned-in and the apps work much better than expected. Oh, and they’re only slightly less addictive than heroin!



  • Stu Chisholm of Stu & His Crew Professional Disc Jockey Service in Michigan has worked in several areas of the DJ Universe.

    He’s been a radio, mobile, club and roller skating rink DJ in the Detroit area since 1979, and done commercial voice-over work, as well.

    Stu has been a keynote and featured speaker at DJ trade shows in the U.S., Mexico, and Canada. He is the author of the book, “The Complete Disc Jockey” and is a regular columnist with Mobile Beat Magazine.

    To contact him, email DJStuCrew@gmail.com. You can grab Stu’s book at TheCompleteDiscJockey.com.

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