EDIT: I wrote this article a few weeks ago, but the Virtual DJ developers have come up with a brilliant feature that comes in Virtual DJ 2021 so I decided to write a little bit about it here. This feature is called Stem-mixing and it has the potential to bring in a lot of people to Virtual DJ. The feature works by silencing certain parts of a song, such as the vocals, bass, or drums, just like a traditional EQ can modify the treble, mids, and bass. Many people have been raving about this feature so I'd recommend that you check it out if you are thinking about which DJ software to use.
One of the most important things that a new DJ must consider is which software is he or she is going to start using. And while some people are forced to use a specific program because it comes with their brand new controllers, others are a little bit luckier and are able to choose between several choices on the market. In this article, we talk about two popular options when it comes to DJ software: Rekordbox DJ and Virtual DJ, and we talk about which one is better.
And the answer to that is that it depends. If you are looking to use Pioneer gear exclusively and want something that looks futuristic and modern, choose Rekordbox. If you are looking for something that is more versatile when it comes to which controllers you can use and want more diverse price points, choose Virtual DJ. Both are excellent for any aspiring DJ for sure.
While both of these software choices are excellent for any DJ no matter their skill and both are very capable, they each have their own similarities and differences, and so that why I wrote this article. I wanted to write a comprehensive article of the main differences between both Rekordbox and Virtual DJ, and I wrote a little bit about their similarities too. This article will be really useful if you are looking to use one of these two but aren't sure which one to choose.
As I mentioned above, both of these choices are very capable and I'd recommend both of them to anybody just starting out, they do have their own key differences. There are a few features that are found on one software that are not found on the other and so if you are looking for something specific, the following paragraphs will be really informative and useful.
One of the main pros of Rekordbox is the fact that it tends to be slightly more affordable than Virtual DJ, and so I'd recommend that you choose it if you are on a budget. First of all, If you bought a new Pioneer controller as many newbies do, I have good news for you: most Pioneer controllers come with a free license of Rekordbox! That means that you don't need to pay extra for a license of said software. Pretty neat huh!?
However, if this isn't the case, then you are going to have to pay full price for it. As I mentioned above, Rekordbox is a little bit more affordable than Virtual DJ. You can find it at 99 dollars for a full license. A full Virtual DJ license can be much more expensive than that. Atomix is charging more than 300 dollars for one of their permanent licenses, so as I said if you are on a budget it might be wise to choose Rekordbox instead.
Something that I wanted to point out is that while Virtual DJ can be more expensive, Virtual DJ does give you more diverse price points. In fact, Virtual DJ has both business and individual plans which can be really useful if you are looking to use the software in a more professional ambiance. These monthly plans are great if you want to try out the software without fully committing to it.
A big pro of Virtual DJ is the fact that you can use the software with a wider array of controllers on the market when compared to Rekordbox. In fact, when Virtual Dj first entered the market, it was said to be specifically made to take as many controllers as possible, which is perfect for people that like or need to be swapping controllers often.
There's one bad thing about this though. While Virtual Dj does give you the ability to use a wider choice of controllers, software-hardware combinations with more obscure controllers tend to be less stable or harder to use, so if you have a less known controller and want to start using it with Virtual DJ, it might be wise to go to the Virtual DJ forums to see if there's a specific quirk or problem associated with your controller.
While you can use Rekordbox with a good amount of different controllers and players, the truth is that said software was specifically made to be used with Pioneer controllers. If you didn't know, Pioneer owns Rekordbox, and they have really made sure to make their software as reliable and dependable as possible on their hardware. This is perfect for people that want to "plug and play" and have that peace of mind of knowing their gear will just work every single time.
If you care a lot about how your gear looks, then I'd recommend that you choose Rekordbox over Virtual DJ. Rekordbox looks super cool: it really nailed that state-of-the-art, futuristic look without feeling too loaded or convoluted. I have used a lot of DJ software over the years, and Rekordbox is definitely the best one of them all, at least when it comes to the looks department of course.
On the other hand, it's often said that the Virtual DJ interface looks inferior to the one found on Rekordbox. I personally think that Atomix tried to go for that modern look that is so common in modern DJ software, but the end result looks a little bit too childish, at least for my taste. Others think that the interface looks outdated and old, and I personally think that's true.
The good thing is that Virtual DJ does give you the ability to use skins to change the look of the UI, so if you are not satisfied with the way it looks, you can always change it up a little bit. Just keep in mind that using skins might have a negative effect on the platform's reliability.
Something that we mentioned above is the fact that Rekordbox tends to be best used with Pioneer controllers, but I'll talk about it more in the following paragraphs. The truth is that if you want the most reliable platform and are looking for something that you don't need to worry about and can simply plug and play, choose Rekordbox with a Pioneer controller. This is because as I mentioned above, Pioneer owns Rekordbox and they made sure to make their gear work the best with their software.
The end result is that Rekordbox rarely crashes with Pioneer controllers and not only that, but you also do not have to worry about things like complex mapping, giving you more time to spend on what really matters, which is actually mixing. On the other hand, consider Virtual DJ a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none: the software will do really well with a lot of controllers, but it won't excel at any of them. You will also have to do custom mapping with some controllers which can be a time consuming and daunting task.
One of the negatives of Virtual DJ is the fact that it's a little bit less stable as a platform when compared to Rekordbox. This is because of the fact that it's made to be a program that works with a wide array of controllers out there. The fact that it's compatible with all kinds of different hardware means that overall reliability suffers a bit.
Now don't get me wrong: Virtual DJ is excellent when it comes to stability, but when compared to Rekordbox, it falls a little bit flat. I personally consider Rekordbox to be the ideal platform when it comes to reliability, but only when you use the software with Pioneer gear. If you use a different controller, the reliability drops down to Traktor/Serato/Virtual DJ level, which is still really good.
A big pro of Virtual DJ is that it gives you the ability to sync and mix both audio and video. The software gives you some really cool tools so that you can play around with the music video of a song for example or any other video to go with the mix. This feature was initially introduced by Atomix for Virtual DJ and it's definitely one of the main distinguishing factors of the platform.
Pioneer does offer a similar feature for Rekordbox, but you need to pay extra to use it, which is a bummer since you already paid 99 bucks for the full version. And not only that, but the video function isn't as comprehensive and simpler to use as the one found on Virtual DJ.