The best DJ software for DJs: the ultimate guide for 2022
No matter how long you’ve been in the DJing world, it’s never easy to keep up with the latest news on DJ software, right?
With the new features coming out faster than you can use, it’s important to understand which DJ software you should go for! Well, worry no more!
If you’re looking for an article to cover the highlights of the most used DJ software in the market and have a better understanding of the choices you have, you’re in the right place. 👇
Here at Phase, we’re all passionate about tech and DJing: we’re a mix of engineers, club DJs, musicians, and industry professionals, therefore we thought of sharing our knowledge from within to help DJs choose their next favorite DJ software!
We’ll be talking about the points that distinguish each and every DJ software we’ve selected, and what makes them powerful and unique. And before you make that big step in selecting one, we’ve also prepared some points to check out first and consider well before deciding which way to go.
So, shall we start?
Serato DJ Pro - the timeless choice
We’re starting our dive with the DJ software you probably heard of the most: Serato DJ Pro. As an innovation of its time, it hasn’t disappointed since day one. This DJ software is largely used in the professional DJ industry for its stability and good performance in any situation. With a clear and easy layout, it has all the “classic” DJ software features to mix anywhere, anytime.
To expatiate on the points above, here’s what makes Serato a rock-solid choice:
✅ The most optimized integrations
With their philosophy of having a seamless experience, Serato strives on creating integrations with every piece of equipment it works with. Not only do they make integrations with every hardware product it’s compatible with, but it’s also designed to work seamlessly with the main DJ equipment brands like Pioneer, Rane, Numark, Roland, you name it! Let’s say you have a club gig, it’s most likely that the equipment available is gonna be something that works with Serato.
✅ The DVS precision
Love the feeling of the old vinyl under your fingertips? Serato is the go-to software for every DJ loving the control feeling of a turntable, as it’s probably the most advanced software in the DVS (Digital Vinyl System) field. In addition, the latest Phase x Serato HID integration offers one of the best true vinyl-like experiences on the market.
✅ Personalized interface
Serato DJ Pro is modular, so you can choose which type of add-ons you need to create your own version of the software and only pay for the expansions you actually need. For example, you can add Serato Video, if you want to add videos to your sets, or a Serato FX expansion pack, that gives you 60+ new customizable effects.
✅ Feeling of the community
With putting the DJs at the heart of their strategy, Serato thrives to support DJs with any types of questions or issues via social media, dedicated forums, and more, to keep a very active and big community alive.
What to consider before moving forward with Serato DJ Pro:
🤔 Even though Serato is compatible with a wide range of hardware gear, it is imperative to make sure that your current DJ equipment is supported. If it is not, you will not be able to use it. However, If that’s not the case, then there’s nothing that should stop you from using this very solid software
Traktor - DJ software with a wide range of possibilities
Traktor is an all-in-one DJ software solution that owns the freedom to be used with all types of configurations, midi controllers, sound cards, hybrid setups and so much more.
A well-rounded software that brings some interesting features on the sound and track editing like nowhere else, giving you the freedom to create unique remixes.
But above all that, here’s what makes Traktor stand out from the crowd:
✅ Seamless hardware and software blend
Probably a point we can’t insist on enough, is that Traktor was created to perfectly integrate with Native Instrument hardware. Ideal for an intermediate or a beginner DJ, it goes a long way to how smoothly the software works with any type of Traktor controller.
✅ Special modules
One of the unique functionalities of Traktor is undoubtedly the remix decks feature, which allows you to control your loops or samples independently. It means that you have one-shot samples and loops to have the smoothest transitions, which is perfect for live mixing. In addition, you can use the Stems feature, which allows you to dissect the track into independent musical lines, like splitting drums, vocals, bass, etc. This definitely opens another level of creativity for remixes.
✅ Quality custom effects
Traktor is famous for the quality and the number of effects it proposes to a DJ. Traktor Pro 3, for example, comes with 40 special effects for modulation (which is 2 times more than in other regular DJ software). More so, you have the ability to combine the effects with each other and create something truly unique and truly yours!
✅ Midi Mapping
Even though Traktor is made to work with Native Instruments gear, the software has advanced midi compatibility that allows you to map almost any MIDI-enabled hardware in the market. In addition, Traktor has a big community that creates and provides free mapping to expand the possibilities even further.
But before you decide to have a go at it, there are a few things to consider:
🤔 If you have or planning to buy Traktor hardware, this software is probably the best option, which isn’t the case with other software brands and their parent hardware companies. However, there haven’t been that many major updates in the past few years (especially, if we’re talking about the DVS and turntablism). That’s an important point to keep in mind if you’re looking for grabbing a turntable setup.
Virtual DJ - accessible digital DJing for everyone
Virtual DJ is considered the most used DJ software it’s one of few DJ software that comes for free with basic functionalities. It is easy to say, that to every beginner DJ, who wants to understand what DJing is all about, Virtual DJ is the first step into the DJ world. It is nevertheless a high-quality professional software with features offered nowhere else. It was, in fact, the first DJ software that introduced a video mixing function, and many more, placing them as "the innovators" constantly looking for the next cool feature.
The other strong points to highlight about Virtual DJ are:
✅ A big, and we mean, a REALLY BIG number of functionalities
Starting from effects up to custom skins created by the community, there’s a big pool of features you can pick from.
For example, it has a real-time RT source separation algorithm, a feature similar to Traktor’s. Also, it includes tools like Genius DJ, which gives you a next track suggestion, depending on what you’re playing at the moment. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! The majority of the features are made to compliment live and mobile DJs.
✅ Always up-to-date
Besides that it is a very stable software, Virtual DJ frequently brings updates to keep the users’ satisfaction level high. They will fix the bugs even before you notice!
✅ Large variety of DJ equipment compatibility
Virtual DJ is compatible with a broad variety of DJ hardware and probably the most out of all other DJ software. On the other hand, these compatibilities are generally done unilaterally on the side of Virtual DJ—Meaning, that there’s, typically, no specific integration on the hardware manufacturer's side, which, in certain cases, could be limiting.
✅ Different payment options
Virtual DJ has different plans and prices to access the software. You can choose between subscription-based, upfront payment with different types of access and deals. You can also buy the software “for life”! yup. You pay for Virtual DJ once, and then everything else that comes out after is free of charge!
Okay, now you know the structure of this article, so this is the part of the points to consider before choosing Virtual DJ:
🤔 Since it has a big variety of features, having it all on one screen might seem quite “busy” and the layout of the software can look quite charged and difficult to navigate. Also, out of all mentioned DJ software, Virtual DJ doesn’t have any “dedicated” integrations for the users to this day.
Rekordbox - organize your portable party like no other
Rekordbox, created by the leaders of DJ hardware Pioneer, was initially created as a music preparation tool to guarantee the best experience with the Pioneer controllers. Today, Rekordbox has evolved into a very proper and solid DJ software with unique features, advantages, and offers, stealing the hearts of a lot of DJs.
Why so? Well:
✅ Prepare in advance like a pro
As we mentioned before, initially, Rekordbox was created as a music preparation tool, hence the music library organization is top-notch: including star ratings, custom tags, related track searches, and a dedicated window for ID3 tag editing. You can also drag and drop your tracks very effortlessly and even pull up two instances of your library side by side for convenient comparison. All in all, you can have a deep dive into the metadata of tracks and keep a well-organized music library like no other. So if you need to prepare a set in advance, it doesn’t go better than Rekordbox.
✅ It certainly loves its CDJs
Different from other software, Rekordbox has very good integration with CDJ controllers, which facilitates the way you can perform with this piece of hardware. It provides an excellent workflow between your laptop and the hardware, as it allows you to analyze your tracks and prepare them for playing on CDJ. Overall, it’s great as a prep soft for CDJ Playlists. Also, since Pioneer provides a big chunk of DJ gear (especially in the club scene), it will be most likely compatible with Rekordbox.
The outcome? It saves time on setting your cue points / preparing your music twice!
✅ Good collection of recent features
Some latest integrations by Rekordbox have brought even more comfort for mobile DJs. For example, Rekordbox added a cloud library option, that allows you to sync your whole music library on multiple devices via Dropbox. So now, you can even choose your tracks or playlists directly from your iPhone or another device, as well as do some upgrades on your tracks, like setting hot cues, and all the updates will be transferred to all of your devices. Also, this gives a bit of reassurance in case your laptop goes missing or damaged, the music and the metadata in your DJ library will be up-to-date and safely stored in the cloud. The list could go on and on, with built-in streaming services, video playback features and so much more.
“All of this sounds great, so what should I pay attention to before going the Rekordbox route?”:
🤔 Overall, it’s very powerful software, and it works very well in the Pioneer DJ ecosystem. However, you still need to check the compatibility with your hardware: some Pioneer hardware works with Serato DJ Pro only and doesn’t support Rekordbox (like DDJ-REV7, for example).
Well, we hope this has covered the fundamentals of DJ software, and you can now understand it better! At the end of the day, the decision lies behind the hardware you want to use and the style of music and performance you want to play. With Serato having a great background with turntablists and Traktor with producers, each platform certainly suits a different style.
Of course, there are many other great points of each software that we did not address (because in reality, the list is definitely never-ending!). Nonetheless, if you feel like there’s something crucial missing in the list, we’re all ears.
Don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments below so that we can discuss and complete our article! 👇