DJs are just like any other creative professional.
If you want to be the best at your skill, you really do need the best DJ software for your needs.
Just like a carpenter needs a saw, and a painter needs a brush, a DJ needs the audio and best DJ software tools that bring his or her mixes to life. This includes things like decks and speakers. However, many of today’s leading DJs rely heavily on DJ software to power their set.
DJ software ensures that creators can design varied soundscapes, complete with inspiring symphonies, and unique special effects.
So, how do you choose the best DJ software?
What is DJ Software? An Introduction
Let’s start with the basics. What do we mean when we mention “DJ Software?”
DJ software is a program or tool for your computer that can recreate physical turntables and mixers in a virtual environment. This allows you to create new sounds on your computer, just like you would with your physical set-up.
The best DJ software solutions all come with an extensive storage system for your music library. This means that you can access thousands of CDs and tracks in one place. The software can scan and understand your music for better insights into tempos, track keys, and other information.
Thanks to DJ software, you can automate a lot of the complicated manual work that’s involved in successful DJing. This means that you can spend more of your time focusing on the creation of incredible tracks. While some purists believe that automating everything diminishes the art of DJing, that’s not the case for most of us.
Another essential aspect of DJ software is that you handle everything on a computer screen. There aren’t as many knobs and faders to worry about, although you might plug a few hardware components in. The software you use for your tracks is the heart and soul of your DJing experience. However, the hardware is still essential if you want to really immerse yourself in the experience.
Some DJ software doesn’t work properly without the right hardware. That’s why it’s so important to get the right mixture when you’re making your investment.
What to Consider When Choosing the best DJ Software for you
Now that you know what DJ software is, let’s discuss some of the factors you’ll need to consider when you’re shopping. There’s a lot more to the choice than you might think, ranging from price and feature sets, to whether your software works with the hardware you own.
Unless you’re willing to go through the hassle of buying new hardware and learning how to use it all over again, you’ll want your DJ software to be compatible with the tools you already have. Some DJ kits require extra components, like a specific sound card. There are also software options out there that unfortunately lock you into a particular company’s gear.
When you’re looking at compatibility, think about special links that your software might have with other programs on your computer too. Do you need to invest additional money elsewhere? Is your product compatible with the operating system that you currently run? Make sure that you understand how everything blends together before you invest.
There’s more to choosing excellent DJ software than just finding the product that suits your budget. However, you probably will have limitations on how much you can reasonably spend. With that in mind, take some time to think about how much you can spend on your DJ career. You’re going to have other things to pay for besides software, so make sure you keep that in mind too.
Sometimes, you’ll find free or lightweight versions of the software you’re interested in online. This gives you a chance to test systems before you buy anything. These lite versions won’t always have all the features you want, but they’re a good intro experience.
One of the toughest parts of buying the best DJ software, is learning how to balance your budget with the features you need from the product. What are you going to get for your money when you purchase this software? Will you be able to unlock the effects that are crucial to your musical style? Can you play the right number of tracks at the same time?
Remember that the more features you have access to with your software, the more you’re going to need to spend. You may also need to spend some extra time working out how to use all of these capabilities too.
The design of your DJ software applies to more than just how it looks. Since you’re going to be interacting with the program regularly, you’re going to need an environment that feels comfortable and easy to use. Decide whether you want horizontal or vertical decks on the screen, and what kind of content you want access to all the time.
Do you like how the software feels and looks when you’re experimenting with it? Can you use the program on its own without having to plug in any extra features? How easy is it to master this product with just your keyboard and mouse or trackpad?
Stability and Quality
Finally, make sure that you feel confident in the abilities of your DJ software. The last thing you want is for your program to crash when you’re in the middle of a set at a club. Problems with your software might make you appear unprofessional when really, you’re just having technical difficulties.
Look into some of the reviews left by other customers that use the same software as you. This should help you to weed out the options that have the most stability issues. Check the manufacturer’s website to learn more about whether they update the software regularly and patch any issues.
So, What is the Best DJ Software?
Now that you know what kind of things you’re going to be looking for in your best DJ software pick, it’s time to start exploring some of the best options on the market. There are a lot of options to consider, ranging from tools intended to work with a specific kind of hardware, to stand-alone solutions.
Here are some of the leading choices that we like most.
1. Ableton Live
Ableton Live didn’t start life as a dedicated DJ software application. The company first created Ableton Live to be a production tool. However, now this is one of the most popular tools of DJs around the world. One of the things that makes this system so popular, is the fact that it comes with a Session View feature. This is a fantastic and intuitive environment where you can launch synced audio samples, tracks, and MIDI clips.
There’s a lot of built-in effects and instruments to experiment with, and you can host various plugins, alongside a MIDI learning function. Ableton Live is a fantastic one-stop-shop for musicians to explore. You can also choose from a number of great controllers to work with it.
Ableton’s Link tech also means that developers can add new wireless syncing features to their applications too.
2. Native Instruments Traktor Pro
Traktor Pro is still one of the most valuable DJ softwares on the market today, even though it’s been around for nearly a decade. Much of the appeal from this DJ software comes from the fact that it’s so well-designed. The interface is excellent for beginners and experts alike.
From an incredible set of sample decks, to a range of remix and loop recording options, the Native Instruments Traktor Pro experience has everything you need. This fantastic tool also comes with a digital vinyl system, in the form of the Scratch upgrade for Traktor.
Another massive bonus for Traktor is that it has all the hardware support you need too. Native Instruments has it’s own vast range of interfaces and controllers to consider. Plus, you can experiment with and explore a bunch of third-party options too.
3. Serato DJ Pro
Serato helped to support the birth of the digital DJ environment back towards the beginning of the early 2000s. Since then the company has remained one of the main players in the DJ mixing software landscape. The wide selection of digital applications from Serato has been updated a number of times over the years.
Serato DJ Pro is one of the more reliable, low-latency solutions on the market today. The app also offers a plug and play support system for a range of solid digital options and controllers.
There are also all the creative elements you might expect from a high-performance DJ software in the Serato DJ Pro setup. For instance, users can get to grips with Serato for free, via the slightly less feature-rich, but well equipped DJ Lite solution.
4. Pioneer DJ Rekordbox
Created for Pioneer DJ by the MixVibes developer in France, Rekordbox has existed for a few years now, offering DJs a fantastic environment for music management and track preparation. If you have a lot of experience with Pioneer’s CDJs and digital music players, then you’ll have no problem with this product.
There are lots of options to explore here, including up to four decks that you can master for track control, a library browser, and a track recommendation system. There’s also a new auto-mix feature, which includes an automated tool to do a lot of the work on your behalf. This is an excellent DJ software option for beginners that don’t want to have to spend too much time learning how to use the software.
The Rekordbox DJ software works best with the unique hardware available from Pioneer. However, there is cross-platform compatibility available since the workflow and track library is also part of the industry-standard CDJs and mixers from Pioneer. You can even get started with a thirty-day free trial if you’re not sure what you need.
5. Native Instruments Traktor DJ
Not to be confused with the Pro version of the Traktor DJ software, Native Instruments Traktor DJ is a mobile version of the popular solution. This application shares the features and looks of the desktop-focused alternative, but it’s an application that’s worth having in its own right too. While the main version of Traktor offers more flexibility, the iOS option is great for ease of use.
If you’re a beginner looking to get started with the basics, and you want a straightforward interface that makes browsing and playing tracks as simple as possible, this could be the best DJ software for you. Although this tool is relatively basic compared to some of the other options on the market, you can still do some exciting things, like freezing elements and adjusting tracks with the looper.
You can enhance the power of the Traktor DJ app with the SuperSlice addon, which comes with a new way to pitch shift, scratch, and manage your effects. Traktor DJ also works perfectly with many of Native Instruments controllers and interfaces.
So many people ask, “what is the best DJ software for beginners?” Mixxx is an exciting alternative to many of the DJ software options that we’ve discussed so far. It’s free and open-source, so anyone can start using it in no time. Additionally, you can even experiment with the code of the feature set to unlock new abilities if you have the right skills.
The Mixxx DJ software comes with twin decks as standard, each including their own scratchable elements. There’s also integration available with iTunes, four sample decks to experiment with, and various hot cues and loops too. Mixxx even comes with BPM detection to help you sync your tracks, and there’s an auto DJ function too.
Mixxx recently updated, unlocking a fantastic new user interface and a wide range of different effects to experiment with. Definitely up there as one of the best free DJ software for beginner options
7. Automix VirtualDJ Pro
VirtualDJ Pro might be one of the pricier options on the market, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth some consideration. This powerful DJ software platform can run up to 99 decks at once, so you’ve got all the freedom and flexibility that you need. There’s also the option to run this software with a wide selection of DAWs, which means you get more performance options.
The latest updates to VirtualDJ Pro make it a fantastic product for those who want to experiment with different tools and features. There’s a Sandbox feature for viewing your private mixes, and an enhanced sampler, among other things. In the most recent editions, there are also options to play with video skins too, so you can get more visual with your content.
The software also comes with mappings, line-ins, and various other components for a wide selection of DJ controllers. You can even subscribe to the software on a monthly basis, which offers a cheaper alternative to paying for everything up-front.
8. MixVibes Cross DJ
Finally, the MixVibes Cross DJ mixing software has seen various impressive updates over the years, resulting in an extensive feature set. You can choose to check out a free version, access the best-selling cross DJ for the full price, or go into premium options which add more video mixing features too.
The application is very robust, featuring a customizable interface with up to four decks, and eight slot samplers to experiment with. There are eight assignable cue points and fourteen effects to choose from. You also get a range of options when it comes to which controllers or hardware you want to use this technology with.
Another massive bonus is the integration with SoundCloud, and you can even experiment with your iTunes collection if you want some other options for accessing your music library too.
Finishing thoughts on picking the best DJ Software
Like most things in the DJ world, there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to choosing the perfect software. We’ve addressed a lot of the Best DJ Software performers in this post, but there are sure to be some popular options that we’ve missed.
We can’t give an overall favorite in this case because all of the software we’ve covered has its own pros and cons to consider. It depends heavily on the kind of experience that appeals most to you. Good luck finding the software that you enjoy most!