Best DJ Software for 2017 – In-depth Pros and Cons
An efficient and ergonomic DJ software is the most important tool for modern DJs. Without software, there is no way to mix your tracks, unless you don’t want to rely on vinyl and an old-school mixer. Therefore, if you want to gain a full control of you beats, an appropriate software will guide you through performances and enhance you DJ experience. So, when you are choosing a software, you should consider if its functions would fulfill your needs. The most convenient way of acquiring one is with the included hardware, which often is bundled with Traktor and Serato.
Music software has become a standard tool for DJ-ing, which has been developed to the full extent nowadays. The current professional-made music software features easy control of different options. Nowadays, anyone can learn to handle such software fast. A DJ software is by no means harder to understand than a mixer or synthesizer, which combines simplicity with advanced customizability.
There are many options which would please your needs, but such alternatives as Traktor and Serato are ones of the most popular software that come in packed with some DJ controllers. There is also the popular Ableton Live which is designed as a Digital Audio Workstation but can be perfectly used to DJ. Such option as Mixvibes Cross is less popular, but still, it is a worthy alternative. Each of these combines parameters to fulfill users’ needs, but they also differentiate themselves in styles.
Traktor is probably the most popular DJ software out there that is very easy in use and can be purchased bundled with some Native Instruments’ hardware.
The software allows plenty room for adjustments, where the user can emulate the 2-deck system or the 4-deck. It is possible to create the own environment within which can be controlled with the specific hardware connected to it. Traktor has a user-friendly interface which helps anyone to study it fast and easy.
A great feature is its beat gridding, which not many software choices in the category have. Beat gridding is the graphical representation of the assigned beat point. DJs can profit from this immensely and rely on more precision while performing. With this option, the user can cut the track into loops and monitor every beat. This feature undoubtedly improves the DJ experience and allows to mix tracks together very quickly.
You would also enjoy Traktor’s included digital effects. The user can customize the effects to their needs and adapt them easily. Native Instruments has invested much time for making these effects sound unique and efficiently, which is a significant advantage for its users.
If you want to own Traktor, you should buy some bundled hardware for it. You might think that this is way too much, but not, because the software is designed for interfacing it with hardware, so you get it cheaper than it would be alone. When looking for one, you would like to make sure that it has the needed components. Traktor Scratch A6, for example, is a perfect choice as it features a 24bit sound card with many inputs and outputs including the Traktor Scratch Pro in its full version.
This option would gain you instant access to all updates. With this package, you also receive a set of control CDs and one of control vinyl which allows using the turntables with Traktor. Speaking of that, this is a real saving option. Traktor is an open system software, which can also be used with third-party devices. This is a great advantage as the user can route in various line mixers and devices, which are supported by Traktor. If you would like another sound card route, you would need a controller which would have a built-in sound card, like the Kontrol S2 or S4.
Without doubts, Traktor will be able to offer the required functionality and experience during performances. You can check more about it in its bundled version with S2 here:
Serato has a lot of fans, especially DJs who prefer turntables. Its users are commonly more involved in the hip-hop industry and are known as Scratch DJs. Serato has a very wide support for controllers because its design is devoted to the software and efficient sound cards.
The difference between Traktor and Serato lies in Serato’s emphasis to recreate the virtual turntable experience. With Serato supports a deep fine-tuning. Its traditional focus can also be seen in the features it offers.
A drawback is that Serato doesn’t support any devices which aren’t approved by them. So, it’s a closed system. When deciding upon buying Serato, it means you will be able to use the software only with its specific hardware. Another point is that it’s much more expensive than the comparable hardware for Traktor.
Before buying the software, you should decide upon the style. So, which one would you prefer, Serato DJ or Scratch Live? The Serato DJ is a modern version of Serato, which focuses on adjustability and the use with diverse digital devices. With this, you will need a controller approved by Serato, something from Pioneer’s collection. If you are still in the first phase – acquiring a controller, you would be best with the Pioneer Pro DDJ-SR. The DDJ-SR also has a bigger brother, the DDJ-SX, but that’s a big fish and would be a perfect choice if you’re willing a monster controller with a lot of advanced parameters.
However, the DDJ-SR is more portable that has big and responsive jog wheels being at a good price that would fit any type of DJ. You can also consider the NuMark Mixtrack Pro II which comes bundled with the Serato DJ Intro. This is a great option for starters as its functions are quick to learn. However, if you are counting on performing with this, you might grow out fast from Serato DJ Intro version.
The next alternative is the Scratch Live. Scratch Live is the classic choice that can be used with turntables or CDJs. It’s enough to own some decks and you can already make something. You’ll have to get a sound card – a Scratch Live audio interface, and you can start composing your beats.
If you’re interested in Serato and willing to check out more compatible devices check this link:
3. Ableton Live
Ableton Live features an unusual approach to DJ-ing, but despite its focus on DAW, it has been integrated by many DJs for live use.
If you’re quick to learn and interested in something which will help you expand in more directions, Ableton Live would be an extensive choice. It features 26 effects, four sound libraries and the ability to record 16 tracks simultaneously up to 32-bit/192 kHz. However, Live has another unique skill, which you find less in other software. It’s the “clip view.” With this, the user, can slice up loops and rearrange them live.
You have a bank where you can store all those audio clips and trigger them simultaneously in any order. You can hold within various audio effects and make a use of them live. In other words, you can take effect and play it over the bass from another track and maybe add some kick or pad from another composition.
To implement all the possibilities above, you would need a little bit of practice and a midi controller. You will probably invest also some time in slicing up the tracks for getting the loops you want. A midi controller would be essential to manage the whole parameters, trigger the clips and navigate through controls. The best one would be one with several control surfaces so you can trigger more tracks. You can check those from Akai or Roland, which are focused on professional performance. You can configure Ableton Live to function with more devices, what makes it very fun. However, if you want to use it with an iPad for example, you will have to map the controls yourself.
Ableton Live offers many options and the possibility to manage your tracks and mix them live. For further information, you can check this link:
Mixvibes Cross is another great mixing software that has its unique features. The software allows you configure your tracks and effects to be assigned to some videos. While performing, the user can insert some clips or some graphics that will respond to your actions and will be animated inside the software. Mixvibes Cross has many similarities with Traktor and features with additional effects and samples.
Despite its great functions, it also has some disadvantages. It supports no more than 2-decks which can be troublesome performers. If you are used to more than you probably have to develop a new method for mixing out the tracks. Another drawback is that the interface and the library system is a Windows port, which will hold back the Mac users.
Mixvibes Cross is a worthy investment if you want to bring you DJ-ing on another level. Despite its drawbacks, it has a unique feature, which is worth exploring if you want to study new approaches. You will want to consider this option to possibly improve your further performances or develop a new style based on visual effects. You can check more about Mixvibes Cross here:
Other Points to Touch On
What will you need to consider before purchasing your new DJ software? Well, despite the advanced functionality and unique parameters of each of them, there are some factors worth considering. After answering the questions below, you will definitely be able to find the exact right software for you:
Do you aim to perform live under serious conditions, or you want to just have fun while mixing?
Will the software resemble your style or you just want to experiment?
Do you prefer turntables or a controller?
Are you more into scratching or mixing?
Would a closed system satisfy you?
Could you adapt to a closed system, or you would rather rely on an open one instead?
Do you want to adjust the settings easily in the software or have more possibilities with a more complex structure?
Do you want to expand your audio interface with more devices?After thinking carefully about the opportunities you have and the needed functionality, where should you head further?
Choosing a suitable DJ software requires some time. However, in the end, counts what will you be able to do with it and in which direction can you head further. The software presented in this guide have the basic functionality of a DJ software. However, the small differences make the final impact, as they influence towards the biggest changes in style and experience.
Traktor is the best option if you want to be able to expand your audio interface easily and have access to more upgrades and new features. Traktor is a standard choice for most users as it has the functionality which will satisfy any DJ. The provided effects, instruments and the ability to loop is surely rewarding. Traktor also comes at a good price, which can be acquired bundled with lots of affordable hardware.
Serato is a great option if you love vinyl or want to focus more on scratching. The Traktor also has the similar functionality and both feature turntables via the soundcard. When choosing Serato or Traktor it is important to analyze down the smallest details to come out with the most appealing to you.
Ableton Live is the option for more advanced music performers. If you are interested in producing music and doing this, in the long run, Ableton Live you be your perfect choice. It allows to create your tracks, loops and mix them live. Many would back off from Live because it’s more complex than other software mentioned in this guide. However, with Ableton Live, it will be more fun to perform over the years and will help in gaining a deeper understanding about the modular world due to its expanded options.
Mixvibes Cross is a good alternative if you like experimenting with diverse DJ software and expand your knowledge. It will help you in developing your style and will help to make your performances more exciting.
If you are a starter and you have no DJ hardware than Traktor would be the best choice for you. It comes bundled with many controllers, which you may find to fit your needs, like S2 or S4. Traktor also has a wide support community on YouTube and around the net which contains many tutorials from the pros and will help you find the answers to your questions easily.
The choice can be hard sometimes, even when you find out that everything might fit your style. Well, in this case, you could select some DJ’s which you like and check what kind of software they use and how. It is not necessary that their platforms will be very expensive and lie in the fantastical range of prices. However, it is hard to go wrong with a DJ software, when you know what you exactly expect. Following this guide and your needs, you can find a platform that will suit you perfectly.