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. It is definitely a game-changer and something that makes me like Virtual DJ even more. The feature is called Stem-mixing, which is a function which replaces the traditional EQ bands with vocals, bass, hi-hat, beat, and more, meaning that you can do things like completely shutting off the vocals parts of a song on certain parts to encourage the crowd to sing or just leaving the kick-drum to transition to a different song. In short, this feature definitely distinguishes Virtual DJ even more from the competition, and you should really check it out if you aren't sure which software to use long term.
It's often said that one of the most important things that a new DJ must consider when learning how to DJ is his software of choice. And when it comes to this, two of the most popular choices over the last few years have been Serato and Virtual DJ. I personally adore both of these two programs and have ample experience with them, but have you ever wondered which one is better?
The answer to this question will obviously depend a lot, but for starters, choose Serato if you are looking for a stable, versatile software that can be used with a lot of different controllers. But if you are looking for something that has excellent video mixing and aren't afraid to stray a little bit from the pack, choose Virtual DJ. Keep in mind that you are still making a great choice no matter which one of these you pick. Both are excellent choices.
I have now written several articles that talk about DJ software and comparisons with one program and another, and I intend to do the same with this post. I decided to write a little bit about the main differences and similarities between Serato and Virtual DJ. If you are an aspiring DJ and aren't sure which software to start mixing which or prefer certain features over others, the following information will prove really useful. I hope you find this article useful!
So as I mentioned above, both of these two softwares have their own pros & cons, and so the software you choose will depend a lot on what you are and aren't willing to compromise on. Below, you will find a comprehensive account of the main differences between these two programs, and a few similarities as well. Keep in mind that this isn't a complete list of all the differences, rather it only talks about the main and most relevant ones.
I personally love Virtual DJ's video mixing feature, and if you are looking to work with videos along-side music, you really need to check out this software. Virtual DJ was the first program that decided to introduce a video mixing function, and it works wonderfully. It feels very intuitive and easy to use, and better yet: it comes for free with Virtual DJ. This is not the case with Serato though.
In order to mix video with Serato, you are going to have to buy an extension, something that will not sit very well with people on a budget. Aside from this, Serato's video mixing solution has improved a lot over the years, but I still feel like it's not as good as what Virtual DJ offers. Since I do know DJs that prefer Serato's video mixing solution, I'd recommend that you try both out to see which one you like better.
While the looks and aesthetics of a DJ software is something that is very subjective and some folks will dig some designs and detest others, the general consensus is that Serato looks better than Virtual DJ. Again, this is more a matter of personal taste, so it might be wise to check out both of these software interfaces if their looks are something that is important to you.
Most of the Djs that I know prefer Serato's interface over Virtual DJs. They say that Serato's looks much more modern and cutting edge, while Virtual DJ's one looks much more childish and less sophisticated, and that is something that I personally think it's true. I'm honestly not sure why Virtual Dj hasn't updated their interface, but they should do so as quickly as possible. While the software itself is excellent when it comes to features, I know there are several people that judge it just because it doesn't look as fresh as the other programs on the market.
One of the things that I adore about these two softwares is the fact that you can use them with a huge amount of different controllers, players, and mixers, making them very useful no matter if you have less common or older gear. This is unlike other software on the market like Rekordbox, which are made to work with a specific set of gear and being more prone to mistakes when using other hardware.
It's even more important to mention the fact that Serato and Virtual DJ tend to hardly suffer any crashes or have any bugs when using a wide amount of different hardware, which is amazing if you ask me. Serato in particular is lauded for it's reliability, so don't think for a second that a more compatible platform is also a less stable one. It's quite the opposite actually.
If you are short on cash or on a tight budget, the following information will be important. Out of these two programs, Serato is the more affordable one. The full version of Serato will cost you 129 dollars, which is dramatically more affordable than Virtual DJ and it's 299 dollar price tag. There's also something important to mention: there are a few controllers out there that come with a full version of Serato, so if you haven't bought your controller yet and don't want to pay extra for the software, it might be wise to go ahead and look for the controllers that do come with the full version.
Serato does have a particular disadvantage when it comes to price though: it has a lot of extra add-ons and extensions that are really useful and fun, but they cost a pretty penny if you ask me. If you plan to use Serato long term, you are probably going to buy several of these extensions eventually, and they definitely add up. Some of the features that can only be used by paying extra on Serato can be found at no extra charge on Virtual DJ.
Stability and reliability are two of the most important things that a DJ software must have. Your program crashing in the middle of a gig can be disastrous, and if you really care about this, I'd recommend that you choose Serato over Virtual DJ. Serato has really cemented a reputation for having rock-solid reliability, no matter the controller and computer that you are using. I can count with my hands the number of crashes that I have witnessed while using this tool over the years, no matter how crappy my computer gets.
Now don't get me wrong: Virtual DJ is no slouch when it comes to reliability. In fact, both of these two softwares are really close when it comes to stability, but I'd argue that Serato is a tiny bit more reliable, especially when using more obscure controllers or mixers.