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Rekordbox vs Serato vs Traktor vs Virtual DJ 2021

By Ferdi Vol
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Aside from using a controller or a CDJ, one of the most important pieces of equipment that a DJ must learn how to use is DJ software. And when it comes to DJ software, there are several solutions in the market.

The most popular DJ programs on the market are Rekordbox, Serato, Traktor, and Virtual DJ. All of these are excellent options for both seasoned DJs and newbies alike, and all of them feature industry-standard features such as customizable mapping, library sorting, among other things.

Because I know that choosing between these great programs can be pretty hard, I decided to write a little bit about all of them so that you can make a more informed decision.

In this article, I will be talking a bit more about these four DJ software, their main pros & cons, and which one is better for you. This article will be really useful for anybody looking for a comparison between DJ software. I hope you find it useful!

Things to look for in DJ software.

First of all, I think it’s important to know what you should be looking for in a DJ software. As we all know, they each have their own differences, and some of them you might not like but do I think that most great DJ software has the features listed below.

  • Ease of use: The most important quality that a DJ software must exhibit in my opinion is the ease of use. The easier to use a DJ program is, the more time you can spend actually learning how to mix and experimenting with different passages. Thankfully, all of the softwares being reviewed are well known for being accessible and beginner-friendly without sacrificing depth and usability.
  • Reliability & compatibility: Another very important quality that you must make sure a DJ software has is reliability. After all, you do not want the software to crash on you in the middle of the set. This can obviously be disastrous to any DJ, especially one looking to make a name for himself in the local scene. It's also very important that the software be fully compatible with the computer you are using.
  • Price point: This is very important if you are on a tight budget or just do not want to spend a lot on software. Some of this software can be found on a free version or a free trial, while others can only be found by paying the full version. There is a way to get Rekordbox and Serato DJ Pro for free if you buy certain controllers, but aside from that, there is usually no other way to get full DJ software other than paying about 99 dollars.

These are the three main things to keep in mind when choosing a DJ software. You might want to compromise one over the other depending on what you are looking for. However, keep in mind that DJ software that makes too many compromises are often inferior to other choices on the market.

Below, I talk a little bit more about the main four softwares on the market today, and their main charactericstics and differences. I hope you find the information below useful!

Rekordbox

Rekordbox is Pioneer's proprietary solution to the DJ software problem, and it's definitely one of the best ones out there. Not only is Rekordbox known for being one of the most reliable DJ software out there, but it's definitely one of the most intuitive and easy to use programs too.

All in all, I consider Rekordbox to be similar to Apples IOS: easy to use, reliable, intuitive, and of course exclusive, and if that's something that you are looking for in DJ software, then it might be wise to check this software out as soon as possible. You won't be disappointed.

One of the main reasons why you might want to use Rekordbox is if you own or are looking to own Pioneer controllers in the future. In fact, I think that the Pioneer - Rekordbox combination is the most reliable pairing you can find on the market, and it's also the easiest to use too.

This is perfect for newbie DJs that do not want to be overwhelmed with features and instead want something simpler so that they can focus on the fundamentals of song mixing.

Now, while rekordbox is perfect for people that have Pioneer controllers, the compatibility isn't the same if you are using a controller for a different brand. In fact, I would argue that Serato is a little bit better when it comes to being compatible with a wider array of controllers.

This doesn't mean that you can only use rekordbox with Pioneer controllers, but the compatibility isn't guaranteed though.

When it comes to library management, Rekordbox is perhaps one of the best in the business. Not only it is very capable when it comes to the organization of the songs, but it also gives you a few extra things that are not found on other software on this list, such as Serato for example.

One of these features is the star rating, which gives you another tool up to your disposal to sort songs. I strongly recommend that you at least try out Rekordbox, especially if you have a Pioneer controller. It's an excellent program loved by DJs worldwide.

Serato

Perhaps the most versatile option on the list, Serato is a crowd favorite of many, and for good reason. In fact, People often say that Serato is the best option if you are going to be using a more obscure controller.

This is because Serato is able to work with a wide array of controllers & players on the market, well known and obscure as well. This combined with an easy to use layout and great looking interface makes this one of the best choices on the market for sure. I highly recommend that you check Serato out if you are just starting out in the DJing world.

Serato is one of the most popular DJ programs on the market, with them providing awesome solutions since the 90s. Many famous DJs currently use Serato for their usual playing, and this is proof that this program is among the best ones on the market.

Serato is well known for being compatible with a wide array of controllers, without suffering from performance dips or any types of crashes, which are things that you definitely look for in a DJ software, especially if you are looking to use it long term.

Serato is also well known for innovating a lot and introducing new features to the market. Some of these new features introduced have become standards on the DJ software market.

Aside from this, Serato does okay on the other things where it can be reviewed. I like its library management system, but it's nothing to write home about either.

When it comes to pricing, Serato also gives you the ability to purchase a monthly subscription or just buy a permanent license for 130 dollars, unlike some other software out there that only gives you the ability to buy the permanent license without any other alternative.

Serato is often said to be the most popular DJ software on the market. While I'm not completely sure that's true, it's something that it's often debated among DJ circles.

There's also a very popular debate that's common among DJs, experienced and newbies alike, and that is which one is better: Serato or Rekordbox. And when it comes to my opinion, I think it strongly depends on several things.

Some of these things include the controller that you are using, how likely it is that you are going to buy expansion packs, among other things. I personally think that Serato is a bit better than Rekordbox but the difference is so small that it honestly doesn't even matter.

Traktor

A powerful DJ software that is the favorite of several big names in the DJing business, Traktor is another very popular program that has a lot of advantages, some which you can't find on Serato or Rekordbox, but some disadvantages too.

I recommend Traktor if you are looking for something that is a little bit more affordable in the get-go but without having to settle for less powerful DJ software. When it comes to the things that I do not like about Traktor, the custom mapping process comes to mind. Also, the software isn't as easy to use as both Serato and Rekordbox, at least in my opinion.

Traktor was first released on the market in 2000, and it quickly became a favorite among DJs, especially European ones. The last few years haven't been so kind to this software, but it is still a worthy option in a sea of programs.

The main draw of this program is its customization. In fact, this program has always been preferred because of this. You can modify and customize so many things that many users find it overwhelming. If this is the case with you, it might be wise to choose something that is easier to use, but if customization is something that you are looking for, it might be wise to take a look at this software.

One of the downsides of using this program is that customizing it to use it with a new controller is often pretty challenging. Traktor is owned by Native Instruments, and they made Traktor so that it runs best with Kontrol gear, but if you are going to be using it with other controllers, keep in mind that the custom mapping might take some knowledge and effort.

In other words, it isn't as intuitive as other programs out there. Not a dealbreaker, but something to keep in mind.

Also, I mentioned above that this software is pretty affordable, but there's something that we need to talk about when it comes to pricing. The software is affordable, yes, but you need to pay again to get the software updates, something that doesn't happen with the other programs on this list.

Traktor isn't a software that gets updated often, so it's not that big of a deal, but it would have been cool for Native Instruments to make the updates free.

Virtual DJ

Last but not least, virtual DJ has a smaller but solid fan base of people using their software, and this program definitely has several pros that you should really take a look at.

While this might be the least common program on this list, there are a few features that really put it on the map, like for example wider options for syncing audio and video, and a cool new stem mixing feature that is being lauded by the DJing community.

However, there are a few cons that I must mention, for example, the fact that the platform is a little bit less stable than other options on the list, and also I'd say that the software doesn't look as great as the other programs either.

One of the other things that Virtual DJ has over other software on the list is the fact that it gives you more pricing options than what the average program gives you.

In fact, I think virtual DJ offers you 4 different price points, for both individual users and businesses, aside from giving you the opportunity to do a one-time purchase or pay a monthly subscription. This means that you can go ahead and try out the software if you do not have the funds right now, something that is perfect for beginners.

Now, something that I do not like about Virtual DJ is the fact that the interface looks a little bit childish. In fact, this is the interface that I like the least in the software market.

I think the virtual DJ devs should do an interface overhaul because it definitely looks like it was made before 2010. Now don't get me wrong, this software is easy to use, but it is definitely outclassed looks-wise by Traktor, Rekordbox, and Serato. Aside from this, this is an excellent program, especially if the stem mixing feature is something that intrigues you.

When it comes to the stem mixing function, this feature has to do with the software manipulating certain sounds found on the mix, figuring out which sounds correspond to the beat, vocals, bass, etc..., and then just like a traditional EQ, lowering or increasing the sounds, which means that you can create cooler mixes and thus performances.

I would strongly recommend this software to people that want to try this feature out, and also people that want something that Is different than the usual Serato or Rekordbox.

How about the other DJ software on the market? (DJuced, UltraMixer, MixVibes Cross DJ, etc...)

Most of the time that people talk about DJ software, they usually talk about the big four options that I mentioned above, Rekordbox, Serato, Traktor, and Virtual DJ. Now, have you ever wondered what is the general consensus on the more obscure softwares on the market?

The truth is that less popular softwares, like DJuced, are also an excellent option for newbies and people that are looking for something more affordable or free.

A long time ago, there was a very limited amount of quality DJ software to choose from. Anything that wasn't well known or obscure typically wasn't fit for professional DJs and even newbie ones really. Today this is not the case thankfully.

In the last few years, there has been an influx of very affordable and even free DJ software that have been almost as good as the most popular DJ software used over the years.

Some examples include DJuced, UltraMixer, Mixvibes, and more. Now the question that most of you are making: are they viable alternatives to the software that we talked about above?

The answer is that it depends. While as I mentioned above most of these alternatives have 99% of the most important features that are fundamental to mixing, they are still missing some important things that should be in every DJ software.

The first is reliability. This is one of the most important things that you must look for in DJ software for obvious reasons. After all, you don't want the program that you are using to crash while you are in the middle of mixing a set in a crowded nightclub.

I'd argue that the alternatives often recommended by DJs tend to be slightly less stable, which isn't that big of a deal for people starting out, but professionals that demand the most stable of platforms might think otherwise.

The second one is customer support. While some of these alternatives feature well-funded developers and customer support teams, not all of the do, which makes receiving assistance with any bug or quirk inherent in the system a pain.

Still, using an alternative to the 4 software that we talked about above is definitely a possibility, but it's also something that depends a lot on what you are looking to do with the software and your skill level.

That's why it's always smart to check out the official website of the software that you are thinking of getting to make sure it has everything that you look for. Reviews from trusty sources like this site are also ideal.

Conclude

As I mentioned before, all of this software are great options if you are looking to learn how to become an awesome DJ, but they have their own quirks, differences, and similarities that you really should keep in mind when it's time to choose between them.

I would personally recommend that you go for Serato or Rekordbox if you are a newer user. This is because they are among the most intuitive choices on the market, which makes them the perfect option for the newbie DJ that wants to spend time on the actual mixing instead of learning how to use the software.

If you want a little bit more customization, you might want o go ahead and choose Traktor over the other choices on this list. I like Traktor because it gives you a lot of customization, which is what most experimented DJs are looking for. The mapping can be a little bit tedious, but many of you will find it well worth it.

By Ferdi Vol
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About DJ Pro Tips
DJ Pro Tips is a website that has the goal to make you a better DJ by providing useful and accurate information.
About the Author
Ferdi Vol is a DJ for several years and is here to share his passion with you.
About Ferdi Vol
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