Review: Zerodebug d(- -)b for iPad

There's lots of solutions for iPad DJs now. But the clever team behind touchAble, Zerodebug, have come up with a unique "modular" alternative: d(--)b. Mo Volans delves in deep.  

The DJ apps for iPad are coming thick and fast, and with the recent introduction of Traktor for iOS, the competition is really heating up. Zerodebug, the Berlin-based developers of touchAble, have brought the interestingly named d(- -)b to the table and it looks like a serious contender.  

The d(- -)b Concept

If any of you have used Zerodebug's touchAble, you'll know how good they are at creating customizable control-based apps for iOS. In fact, I'd say that it's one of the best dedicated controllers for Ableton I've seen so far. 

With this in mind, I was extremely interested when I heard the same team had a DJ app up their sleeves. The new arrival is named d(- -)b ... (how we pronounce this I'm not sure) and it offers a fully customizable, modular DJ environment for the iPad user. 

The default screen looks great

The default screen looks great.

At first glance d(- -)b offers a layout that may seem familiar. A couple of waveforms, faders and some colorful buttons make up a neat two deck setup. In reality, this is only the tip of the iceberg as the whole thing can be edited, and just about any configuration you can dream of is possible. If you want 4 decks with 10 faders, or one huge waveform preview you can have it.

More complex set ups are easily created

More complex setups are easily created.

Custom Shop

I only spent a relatively short time with d(- -)b, but in that time I came to learn that this is basically a playground for the technically minded DJ. I started to make some of my own templates and was blown away by the flexibility here. 

Objects can be created from a list (faders, waveforms, meters, buttons etc.) and then placed and sized in any way you want. These configurations can then be used live and switching between them was easy.

Creating your own pages and layouts is a lot of fun

Creating your own pages and layouts is a lot of fun.

In fact, you can add pages just as easily as you can add objects. So if you like you could have a page displaying oversized waveforms for the tracks playing back, another page for levels and another full of faders and buttons. A dedicated browser page also made things easier.

The dedicated browser runs very smoothly

The dedicated browser runs very smoothly.

Of course if you are a relative beginner (or fully techno-phobic) and this is all a bit much, you can try starting with the default screens. I found these to be more than useable and in fact may be a hell of a lot better than your initial custom creations.

In The Mix

In the mini sessions I had to experiment with d(- -)b, I found it to be a great performer. The sound was crystal clear, jogging and scrubbing through audio was really quick and I didn't experience a single bug. 

A double d(- -)b set up in action!

A double d(- -)b setup in action!.

Loading files was also equally quick, as was the analysis of the audio for syncing purposes. I can honestly say that if I was going to choose an iOS DJ app right now, this would be it. Traktor is an obvious choice if you are already immersed in the world of NI, but this is a great alternative for the DJ that demands a little more control over their environment. 

Watch a video of d(--)b in action:

Discover more about d(--)b here.

Mo has been a professional in the music industry for around 15 years. He has released material with the world's leading record labels and also produces music for TV and Film. Mo is also a prolific writer and is a regular contributor to magazines such as Music Tech, Future Music and EQ magazine. There isn't a piece of music software tha... Read More


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