Count The Beats: Hey DJ, play us a song...

Here in the UK, it's getting pretty chilly on the willy compared to a month ago, or so. The warm memories of the summer are slowly dwindling to the reality of earlier, darker evenings (the clocks have just gone forward) as well as tentative first visits from our old friend Jack Frost. Generally speaking, the cold grasp of winter is steadily fastening on us (or not).

But we are blessed with a few heart warming occasions over the winter season (Christmas, New Years Eve etc) that make the cold, well, a little less nippy on the bone. One of these such occasions is, of course, Guy Fawkes night (Remember remember the 5th of November...) And, to me, that means one thing, HOUSE PARTY! And what does a great house party need? An authentic DJ.

So when I heard my main man Dan the DJ couldn't make the party (or at the least lend me his decks) I turned to the next best thing, Sonorasaurus - the first complete deejay setup for the iPhone / iPod Touch.

At this point you may be wondering what a DJ app has to do with 'Count The Beats', or, in fact making music on an Apple platform, but it quite literally has everything to do with it. Come on, we all know that deejays are real musicians too, right?

Comprising two independently controllable decks and a mixer with built in effects, Sonorasaurus is a fully functioning virtual DJ setup. You load songs into each deck, via the built-in HTML server feature, over Wi-Fi (unfortunately you cannot access your iPod library directly due to restrictions put in place by Apple), and then simply begin deejaying.

"What's the big deal about that," I hear you say? Well, for those not in the know, deejaying is actually a pretty tricky task, and literally requires you to match the beats of two different songs together (beat-matching). In reality, this is usually done with vinyl records where the tempo/speed of a song is altered (scratched) to sync up to the tempo of another song so that they can mix. With Sonorasaurus this is achieved using the touch input of the iPhone / iPod Touch.

The 'play bar' on each deck is used to alter the tempo/pitch of a song while the 'jog area' allows swipe input to dynamically alter the pitch of a song (nudging forward, back, or to slow down, speed up a song). This is where the main 'beat-matching' occurs.

Each deck has built-in customizable effects (distortion, echo, reverb etc), and high, mid and low filter passes to make you sound just like a real pro. One well thought out feature is a gain control for each deck, so you can raise/decrease the volume of a song if it's just a little too quiet/loud for your session.

Sonorasaurus ties this all together with a eye-catching interface that is easy to get your head around and use.

One draw back, at version 1.0, is that you can't have separate outputs for each deck (being that there is only one output on the iPhone / iPod Touch). So you better be on your toes whilst mixing in front of the gang at your pumping house party because they will be able to hear you doing your "beat-matching" and scratching (which, typically, would only be heard by the deejay). However, for a future release, the developers are working on building in support for a Y splitter cable which would rectify this problem.

In our quest to see if the iPhone / iPod Touch will become a real player in the musicians tool box, we think Sonarasourus has something valuable to offer, especially to DJ's practicing their "beat-matching" skills (and those 'try hard geeks at their house party's). Sure, it may not replace a set of authentic decks playing fresh vinyl, but on a shoe string, Sonarasourus goes a long way to getting the tunes out there DJ style.

Watch out for Sonorasaurus hitting the App Store in the coming weeks.