The first disc jockeys discovered that using side-by-side turntables is the best way to cue up tunes for broadcast or dancing. DJing has gone from a skill to a performance under the hands of today's turntablists, but you don't need to invest in a pair of analog decks to mix beats like the pros with VirtualDek 2.2. This digital music suite uses two virtual turntables with realistic action to make playing and mixing MP3s, WMAs, and WAVs nearly as easy as cueing up vinyl tracks with a stylus. With a central mixing panel, syncing, direct monitoring, scratching, and adjustable beats and tempo, VirtualDek is about as close as you can come to having a full DJ console where your keyboard should be. Extras include a CD Ripper, CD Burner, Recorder, WAV Editor, and an Aux input channel. VirtualDek is free to try, though session time is limited to 30 minutes, and the software inserts a frequent audible message, "Welcome to the VirtualDek demo." We tried the latest version, VirtualDek 2.2, which has an improved installer.
VirtualDek's installer lets you enter a license key, but we chose the trial option. The full-screen interface features a background similar to desktop wallpaper with a program interface we could drag around the screen, but we were able to turn off the background by clicking Options, selecting Settings, and deselecting the background check box. VirtualDek's twin turntables are nicely rendered, as is the rest of the interface. A clean, efficient layout places the decks and mixing console above the playlist and track selection panel. The operation is very simple, and quite realistic, too: load a song, choose a starting point, and move the turntable's tonearm from the cue rest to the disc to start the platter spinning and your tune playing. A demo playlist containing two selections makes it easy to get started.
We had a lot of fun with VirtualDek, even though we just scratched the surface of its capabilities. The demo's audible message doesn't appear so frequently that you can't get a feel for the software, and the full version is a bargain compared with some mixing suites.
Editors' note: This is a review of the trial version of Virtual DJ Prophet 2.2.